Chapter 4: Justin

Rick and Justin got home around seven. I was cooking the chicken I had picked up while I was out.

“Smells good.” Justin smiled and sat down on a bar stool at the island.

“Good timing.” I pulled the chicken from the oven and put a piece on each plate. The meal was complete with corn on the cob and red potatoes. Rick sat down and I stood on the opposite side of the island and ate with the two men of the house.

“How was your day? Did you get what you needed Kelly?” Rick spoke between bites.

“Yeah, I did. Thank you again. I hope you don’t mind, but I bought paint for the room. White isn’t exactly my color.” I watched as the two ate their dinner.

“What color?” Justin smiled.

“Like a baby blue. It was called like soft skies or something like that. Something neutral but keeps the room light.” I continued with my dinner.

“I can help you paint tomorrow, if you want. It is my only day off before the weekend of races.”

“I’d like that. Thanks Justin.” He smiled and the rest of dinner was silent. Rick and Justin left their plates in the sink and I cleaned up before going to the room.

I made the bed up and started to unpack my clothes. Most of my wardrobe was made up of polo shirts, long sleeve, riding breeches, and riding boots. I only owned one pair of jeans and one pair of non-riding shoes. I guess accumulating California clothes would come with time. I then unpacked all of my personal items for the bathroom, such as hair accessories and make up. It was slowly feeling a little bit less like a hotel room and more like a bedroom. I finished up for the night and laid down in bed with my book I had been reading. It was a cheesy romance novel, but I liked the fairy tales that included love and happily ever after.

Justin woke me up the next morning, which scared the living daylights out of me.

“Ready to paint?” He was sitting on the edge of my bed. I sat up and wiped my eyes.

“Let me get dressed.” Justin nodded and scurried out of the room. I hopped out of bed and put on some running shorts and an old shirt. If I got paint on these, I wouldn’t worry about it. I walked out to the kitchen for some cereal, but discovered an empty box of Cheerios and no milk.

“No food in the house, awesome. Let’s get to painting.” Justin followed me back to the room with some tarps, brushes, and the paint. After six hours and two coats of paint later, the walls needed to dry.

“Hungry?” Justin and I sat in the middle of my room, on the floor.

“Yeah, you ate all the Cheerios.” I smiled.

“Let me take you to lunch. Come on. I know this really great spot.” He hopped up and offered his hand.

“Can I change?” I stood up and threw my hair over my shoulder, which had a streak of blue paint as a result of a small paint fight earlier.

“You look fine. Let’s go.” Justin ran out of the room to get his keys. I let out a sigh and followed in pursuit. His truck roared to life and he took me into town. I was really hungry and hoped that he knew one of the best places in town. Shortly after leaving, he pulled into a street parking spot and killed the engine. Shops lined the street and I smiled.

“Come on. Matt Denny’s is a really good pub style place. Hope you’re hungry.” We walked into the bar, discovering a very nice looking restaurant. We sat down at a high-top table in the corner.

“Nice place.” I looked around. The old photographs and the taxidermy was a nice touch to the classic look.

“Wait until you try to food.” I smiled. The waitress came and took our order. The fish and chips was the obvious choice in the pub style building, so Justin and I ordered and waited.

“So, your dad mentioned he asked you to start exercising his horses. I think it’s a great idea. It gives you experience, ride time, and some money in your pocket.” Justin sipped on his water.

“I don’t know the first thing about riding racehorses, and I need to find a place for Bumble. He can’t stay at the track forever.”

“But it will give you ride time. I know you are dying to ride.” He really could read my mind, or was it that obvious? I had ridden Bumble yesterday, but only at a trot around the training track. I needed speed and open space. Bumble needed it too. I hoped I could find a place to board him with pasture and open space to ride. He already seemed miserable at the track.

“Yeah, I am. I want to gallop Bumble over the fields of Montana again. I want open space and to be one with my horse.” I looked at my water and stirred the ice with my straw.

“You can get that feeling of speed and freedom on the back of a thoroughbred. What if I could teach you to gallop? We could use Bumble on the training track, and when you are comfortable, start riding for Rick.” Justin seemed to have a light bulb go off in his head. He had an enormous smile on his face and a stupidly happy look in his eyes.

“It’s not a bad idea, but we couldn’t gallop Bumble with the rest of the horses in the morning. Rick said keep the track open for actual racehorses and people actually training.”

“That’s perfect. We can gallop him in the evenings when it’s cooler. Most train in the early morning and the evenings are used for races and relaxation. It’s perfect. C’mon Kelly. You can do this.” He touched my hand and I looked at him. Were his eyes always so crystal blue?

“Fine. Let’s run it by Rick first, though.”

“Deal.” Our food came and the rest of the afternoon, we sat and chatted about my life back in Montana and about Justin’s life before moving in with Rick. He was from Arcadia, but his mom was a trainer and his dad was a jockey. He must have gotten his height from his mother, because he was way too tall to be a jockey. Justin was Rick’s assistant trainer and had been living with him since he was eighteen. He was twenty and just starting to get the hang of training. Justin had grown up riding and exercising horses before he got hurt in a training accident when he was fifteen and hadn’t ridden a horse since. He knew how, but he wouldn’t chance getting hurt again. He had spent weeks in the hospital with several broken bones, a concussion, and a punctured lung.

“It’s getting late. We better get home.” Justin paid the tab and we headed out. We checked out the paint, which looked perfect. I could start hanging pictures and other decoration tomorrow.

“I am headed to my room. Thanks for a fun day Kelly.” I turned to see Justin standing in the door.

“Oh, yeah. Thank you for all your help and for lunch. I really appreciate it. Goodnight.” I smiled and he backed out of the door, closing it as he did so. Maybe living in Arcadia wouldn’t be so bad after all.

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