Elizabeth couldn't take it anymore

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Elizabeth couldn't take it anymore. Pulling the collar of her t-shirt over her nose, she began cranking her window closed at breakneck speed. Reuben's offroading got them away from the bounty hunters, but it also transported them back into the heart of rural country.

"I hate the smell of horses," Elizabeth muttered while fighting with the hand crank.

Reuben let out a low chuckle. He showed no sign of rolling-up his window anytime soon. "How do you know it's not the cow manure making your eyes water?"

Elizabeth ignored him. It felt like no matter what she did she was being suffocated by farm fumes and B.O.. "Can we please find some functional showers? I need to was this stench off of me."

Reuben mocked a salute at her. "Yes, ma'am."

"And close your window, I'm getting nauseous," she demanded, pressing her palm to her forehead.

"Would you rather put up with a bit of a stink or bake to death?" One of his hands left the wheel when she glared at him.

Elizabeth recognized it as sign of surrender. "Serious question."

Elizabeth gnawed on her lip. "Fine," she bit out. "Keep it open."

From her peripheral Elizabeth could see Reuben's dimple digging into his cheek. "What do you have against horses?"

"I just hate them."


Elizabeth starred out the open window. "Because they're big and smelly."

"Big and smelly, huh?" The curls on Reuben's head bounced as he nodded. "Sounds like someone's had some personal experience."

Oh, had she ever. Elizabeth had a ranch-full of experience. Her parents had bought into the ideology that every little girl dreamed of having a pony. For every birthday after she turned six, Elizabeth received a new one, no matter how many times she expressed her distaste. Elizabeth knew why. It was her mother's way of living vicariously through her. While Mary Blackwell had all of life's luxuries now, she could not rewrite her past life. She did, however, have control of her daughter's.

Elizabeth could understand where she was coming from. Mary Blackwell was a mother who wanted to give her daughter everything she didn't have growing up. But it was hard for Mary to digest that Elizabeth was a different person – someone with different interests and opinions.

Elizabeth shrugged one shoulder. "My parents... they've never been really good in the gift-giving department."

"You have a horse then?"

"A few."

Reuben's lips separated, but before a word could slip out Elizabeth lifted a finger. "It's my turn."

The corner of his mouth twitched. "We playing twenty-questions now?"

"What's the story behind this truck?" Elizabeth asked, patting down on the cloth seat.

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