Authors: Rachel Harris
Copyright Â© 2016 by Rachel Harris
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by in any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher, except in cases of a reviewer quoting brief passages in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Use of any copyrighted, trademarked, or brand names in this work of fiction does not imply endorsement of that brand.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data available upon request
Published in the United States by Spencer Hill Press
Distributed by Midpoint Trade Books
Cover design by: Lorin Taylor
Interior layout by: Lorin Taylor
ISBN 978-1-633920-68-2 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-633920-69-9 (e-book)
Printed in the United States of America
For Megan Rigdon,
whose enthusiasm and heart
influenced every page,
and for Mindy Ruiz,
who inspired such a vital part
of this story.
Thank you both for the gift
of your friendship.
Spencer Hill Press
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say that once rodeo gets into your blood, you're never the same.
The scent of sunbaked dirt and salty popcorn, the thunder of hooves pounding the earth. Dust circling the air and coating your tongue, wind biting at your cheeks. It becomes a part of your DNA. Supple leather reins leave their mark on your fingertips, and regardless of where you are or what you're doing, you can simply close your eyes and hear the crowd scream as you make that final turn. Ghosts from riders past whisper in your ear, daring you to give it everything you've got, to push yourself to your very limits.
It's exhilaration and devastation. An addiction, really. Rodeo used to be my entire life, and I was awesome at it.
Heck, some even said I was on par to becoming one of the best barrel-racers in our circuit. But that was before. Three years ago, my weak body forced me to admit what I'd feared and fought ever since I rolled out of the hospital a few months beforeâit was all over.
Well, until now, that is.
As classmates stream through the open door, dropping backpacks and gossip about their fun-filled weekends, I copy the words I just read on Rodeo America's website into my notebook:
Barrel racing clinics are a growing trend. Day camps for professionals and fans on the rise. Businesses boasting HUGE profits
Those last two words? Yeah, they pretty much glow in flashing neon. In fact, they're the only reason I'm not completely freaking out about Mom's idea, frantically scouring the internet for a different option.
After a quick glance around the room, making sure no teachers are about, I grab my phone and pull up my messages. Countless conversations about dog food, horse shampoo, and YouTube scroll across the screen. Faith thinks it's absolutely vital to alert me whenever inspiration hits for her popular web channel... even if it's three A.M.
When I find the last group text, my frantic S.O.S. from this morning, I type with shaking fingers:
Crap on moldy toast. This time, Mom's onto something
I eagerly wait for a dose of positivity, a little “Hey, this ain't so bad” from the two people who truly understand, who get my fears, and startle when a
comes from the desk behind me.