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Authors: Alison Hart

Whirlwind

BOOK: Whirlwind
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ALSO BY ALISON HART

Shadow Horse
Horse Diaries #2:
Bell’s Star

This book is dedicated to all those
who use their time and energy to foster and
advocate for animals and children
.

Contents

Other Books by This Author

Title Page

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Copyright

Prologue

June

Jasmine slid the hoof pick into her back pocket, picked up the grooming box, and headed for Whirlwind’s stall. It was later than usual—she’d had a ton of homework—but she wanted to ride before dinner
.

She hurried down the aisle of the barn. Whirlwind wasn’t in her stall, so Jas grabbed a lead line and headed for the mare’s paddock. She waved to her grandfather, who was trimming bushes around the Robicheaux mansion
.

Jas whistled for Whirlwind, surprised when there was no answering whinny. Even weirder, she didn’t see the mare at all
.

An ugly thought filled her. Had Hugh Robicheaux sold Whirlwind without telling her? The mare had gotten a lot of attention at
the Devon Horse Show. Money ruled Hugh’s decisions. If the price was right, he wouldn’t hesitate to sell Jas’s favorite horse. Even if it broke her heart
.

“Whirlwind?” Jas called as she hurried toward the paddock. By now, the mare should be hanging her head over the fence, whickering furiously
.

Something was wrong.

Jas broke into a run. She spotted the mare, lying on her side in the middle of the paddock; one eye was open, staring emptily at the sky
.

“Grandfather!” Jas hollered. Dropping the grooming box, she slammed open the gate and ran to the downed horse. “It’s Whirlwind!”

Falling to her knees, Jas laid her palm against the mare’s neck. It felt cold. Hugh and Grandfather came running
.

“Hurry!” she screamed. “Something’s horribly wrong!”

Grandfather bent and checked the mare’s pulse under the lower jaw. His face fell. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered
.

Tears streamed down Jas’s cheeks. “I don’t understand. How …?”

“This is how.” Stooping, Hugh picked up an evergreen branch. “It’s yew. What’s this doing in
the paddock, Karl?” he demanded. “Do you have an explanation?”

Slowly, Jas’s grandfather stood up. “No, Mr. Robicheaux. I don’t. I know how poisonous yew is.”

“You were the only one trimming the hedges this morning.”

“Sir, I’d never be so careless. You can’t blame me for killing Whirlwind.”

“Who else could have done it?” Hugh’s accusing glare swung to Jas
.

Startled, she swiped away her tears. “No, sir, it wasn’t Ja—” Suddenly, Grandfather clutched his head. His face twisted with pain
.

“Grandfather?” Jas awkwardly caught him as he slumped to the ground. Kneeling beside him, she grabbed his hand. “What’s wrong?”

Hugh whipped out his cell phone. “I’m calling the police.”

Jas looked up at him, stunned. “The police?”

“I have a dead horse here, thanks to your grandfather.”

“You can’t be serious.” She gaped at him. “You know he didn’t kill Whirlwind!”

“The evidence speaks for itself.”

As Hugh put the cell phone to his ear, his
gaze slid toward Jas, and she saw a glint in his eyes. The same glint she’d seen when he had sold a $50,000 filly for $100,000. The same glint when the favored rival at Devon suddenly went lame
.

She sprang to her feet. “You did this.”

“Oh, really?” He arched one brow, his attention shifting to the phone. “Hello. I have a police emergency.”

Fury replaced Jas’s tears. “You killed Whirlwind.” With trembling fingers, she yanked the hoof pick from her back pocket. “And you’re not getting away with it by blaming my grandfather!” Holding the pick like a weapon, the curved point aimed at Hugh’s face, Jas lunged
.

One

August


OW! THAT HURT
!”
JASMINE SCHULER SCOLDED
the huge chestnut horse she was grooming. Shadow pricked his ears gleefully. Quickly Jas curled her fingers into pretend teeth. When Shadow swung around to nip her again, she “bit” him on the side of his mouth.

Throwing up his head, the gelding stared at her in surprise.

Jas stifled a laugh. Shadow was special, because she’d helped rescue him from a killer auction. He’d had an untreated thyroid condition and had been in bad shape. Now that the horse was healthy, he’d turned into a brat who needed to learn proper manners.

Shadow inspected his feed tub, licking it
for leftover grain instead of trying to bite her again. “That’s better,” Jas praised.

When Shadow had arrived at Second Chance Farm, an animal rescue facility, Jas had turned him out with Jinx, a quiet quarter horse. Jinx used flattened ears and his teeth to put the bigger gelding in his place. Jas was trying to do the same, and it was starting to work.

As a reward for good behavior, she massaged the crest of his neck.
Horse massage
. Jas had been riding from the time she could walk. Yet, since living at the rescue farm, her foster home, she’d learned so many new things about animals.

While Jas brushed Shadow’s springy mane, she thought about how her life had changed. Less than two months ago, she’d been living at High Meadows, a premier horse farm. Her grandfather, Karl, was the resident caretaker. She had worked there, too, grooming and riding the farm’s top-rated show horses. Then the owner, Hugh Robicheaux, had accused Grandfather of killing Jas’s favorite horse, a beautiful chestnut Thoroughbred named Whirlwind. Grandfather had been so distraught that he’d had a stroke. He’d gone to the hospital, then a nursing home. Jas had been so angry she’d
attacked Hugh. She’d ended up in court, then in foster care.

Foster care
. Jas yanked at a tangle in Shadow’s mane. When she’d first arrived at Second Chance Farm, she’d been miserable. Now she loved it here. But soon her grandfather was getting out of the nursing home. Foster care would end. Originally, her social worker had arranged for Jas and Grandfather to live in an apartment, which meant that Jas wouldn’t be able to take care of Shadow. Miss Hahn, her foster mom, had arranged for the big horse to be adopted.

Even now, Jas’s heart twisted at the thought of losing Shadow. And not just because she’d lost so much already. She
loved
the giant goof of a horse.

But at the last minute, Miss Hahn had decided against adopting out Shadow. She had asked Jas and Grandfather to live with her at the farm. Jas would continue caring for Shadow and the other animals, and Grandfather would work as a caretaker. It was a second chance for both of them.

Jas hugged Shadow, her arms barely reaching around his huge neck. “You’re still mine to
love,” she told him.
So why am I not totally happy?

Whirlwind
. Jas slid the worn photo from the back pocket of her jeans. The mare’s head was high, her ears pricked for the camera. A tricolored ribbon hung from her bridle. Jas sat in the saddle, posing for the camera, too. Her expression was triumphant,
sparkling
. The picture had been taken last May after they’d won a championship at Devon.

BOOK: Whirlwind
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