I gave Calico her head when we came racing down off the ridge. Her legs - short and all as they were - stretched out before her. The wind whipped through her black mane and my hair, and I glanced behind us to see Luke gaining with Cole. I nudged Calico with my spurs and she went faster, through the place called Deadwood. Nothing ever grew there. Mom said there had been a fire in the old days and that was why, but around her who could be sure?
Calico and I made it through the rocks unscathed, taking one corner especially tight. Luke was a little more cautious and he fell behind when she jumped into the river and swam to the opposite bank. But he re-gained some of his lost ground when we were back on the flat. Soon we were neck and neck, and he was laughing. Calico didn’t need any more incentive than that to go faster, although I knew that she would soon be worn out.
The sun was setting in the canyons behind us. The sky in front of us was the color of blood. Calico got her second wind. I could see the lights of the ranch in front of us. Luke caught up again. Two minutes and we’d be home.
The though had hardly crossed my mind when I felt a familiar wave of dizziness and we disappeared, appearing in the yard seconds before Luke did. I walked Calico around and heard her panting hard as her breath came back to her.
“Good girl, Calico,” I said gently, patting her neck. “Good girl.”
“Aaw you cheated, Cindi,” my twin brother said from behind me and I turned Calico around to face him.
“No I didn’t, Luke,” I said, sliding out of the saddle and un-cinching it, then putting it on the side of the corral. I slipped my filly’s bridle off next and she nodded at me, still blowing. “Easy, girl. Easy.”
“You clearly did! I mean, you time travelled and all!”
“Now, Luke,” our father’s voice said from behind us and we both turned around to face him, “Cindi beat you fair and square.” He smiled and took a lost puff of his cigarillo before he dropped it into the dust and crushed it with the heel of his boot. “It’s Comanche’s genetics coming out in her horse.” The note of pride in his voice made me grin. Comanche was his own horse, and must be at least five hundred years old if he was a day. “Go on in Cindi and tidy up for the party. I’ll fix up Calico for you.”
“Thanks, Dad,” I said and reached up, kissing him on the cheek. It was a stretch, he was a good eleven inches taller then me, but I did it anyway. He smiled and pretended to bat me away. I giggled and made my way to the house, then up to my room.
I showered and dried my hair, and put on a little make-up but not too much. My dress was laid out already on the back of a chair. It was a rosy shade of pink that complemented my golden blonde hair nicely. I wasn’t normally a fan of pink, but this dress was just exceptional. Of course, I had to pull out all the stops for this party. It was Vlad Dracula’s annual Valentine’s Day celebration, an occasion for festivities right around the Vampire world although Dad usually sank into depression about this time of year. His first wife had been killed the day after Valentine’s back in 1777, and it had destroyed him. I’d heard enough of the stories to know that. But on the other hand, if things hadn’t happened that way he’d have killed my mother out of hand the night they’d first met and none of us would be here. I knew that full well too.
I sighed as I thought about it all. That had been very long ago, but it was still fresh in his mind and ours at this time of the year. I shook my head to get rid of the troubling thoughts and worked my hair into an elegent chignon., then twirled in my dress in front of the mirror. I was a Princess, going to a Valentine’s ball. It was an odd feeling to know that down through history some things never changed even when the world around them did.
I fixed a last few pins into my hair then left my room and went to the stairs. Mircea Dracula stood at the bottom, talking with Dad. They were both dressed in tidy dark tuxedoes, and Dad was wearing his customary cowboy hat. They laughed, and Mircea glanced at the stairs, freezing when he saw me coming down. Dad looked at him puzzled like, but when he saw me he shook his head then looked again. I giggled and walked down the steps, careful not to fall in my heels. I wasn’t used to them.
Mircea offered me his arm when I reached the bottom step and I took it. He was Vlad Dracula’s eldest son, and someday would become Count after his father, but for tonight he was to be my date to the most elite ball in this world. He kissed my forehead gently and smiled at me.
|Lindsay Sears||as Cindi|
|Justin Gaston||as Cody|
|Ben Barnes||as Mircea|
|Logan Lerman||as Luke|
|Ian Somerhalder||as Chris|
|Hillary Scott||as Luan|