40. The Jet Set

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Sundown had cooled the temperature and brought with it a pleasant surprise, wind

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Sundown had cooled the temperature and brought with it a pleasant surprise, wind. Nothing extreme, just enough to cool the sweat from our skin and make life a little more pleasant. Add to that the relief of getting through the first portion of the pageant, and the sense of giddiness everyone gets from being at a carnival, and I was feeling really happy.

The fairground was packed to the brim, a true Redneck-a-thon featuring a sea of pink Stetsons, rhinestones, and tee shirts with offensive slogans. The sugary scent of kettle corn and funnel cakes filled my nose, the sound of people screaming and roller coasters swooshing deafening in my ear. All the pretty bright blinking lights and peppy jingling music were fine and dandy too, but my focus was singular.

I'd been trying to get on the Ferris wheel at this fair for three damned years. The first year, mom didn't keep her promise to bring me. The second year, I'd come with Shana, but we'd had to leave early because Cadence had started puking uncontrollably. Last year, I came with Peyton, but he didn't like crowds and I knew he wouldn't like waiting in the line, so I didn't mention it. This year, I was getting on that wheel if it killed me.

Nibbling on my Elephant Ear, I eyed my mark.

Beth was bent over at the waist, hemming and hawing over something or another at the tack booth. We'd picked up extra hours staffing the show, so we'd worked a shift after the parade and were free until eight o' clock, when the auctions started. She'd made it pretty clear that she wasn't interested in the rides and wanted to spend time at the barn looking at horses. But I'd managed to lure her over to the carnival side with the promise of BBQ corn and slushies. Now, I had her right where I wanted her, a mere steps away from the Ferris wheel.

I squeezed past an older gentleman decked out in denim overalls minus the shirt. "Oh look, Beth," I said as casually as I could. "There's the Ferris wheel. We should go on it."

"No way, look at that line. Besides, I wanna go back and check out the stud horses from MacDougal's. I'm thinking about breeding Pheonix and-"

"We have all day tomorrow to do that, come on, pretty please?" I batted my eyelashes at her. I mean, she liked girls, so it had to count for something, right?

"Don't bother, Layla, you're not my type."

I offered her my Elephant Ear. "I'll let you eat the rest of this."

"Eww, no one wants your chewed up food. You've been gnawing on that thing for the last half hour."

"But I did so well today! I did everything you told me to do and then some. Every handler knows the show horse gets an apple after a job well done."

The judges had released the results of the evening gown competition. The Twilight Jubilee/Layla combination had been a huge hit, putting me in the lead. Carmen was in second place, and Miranda, third. Kylie was last. It probably didn't help that she'd decided it was too hot to ride in the "float" and had commandeered the passenger seat of one of the trucks. Beth had been over the moon at the victory - turns out she was ultra competitive when it came to things like this. In hindsight, that shouldn't have surprised me as her horses always placed in shows.

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