Love Means... Renewal
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by Andrew Grey
Category: Gay Fiction/Romance
Description: A Love Means... Story
Eli Henninger is stretched a little thin. He teaches riding classes, conducts therapy sessions, takes care of his son, and helps manage the family farm. He's tired and overworked, especially because lately, no one else seems to do anything right. He and his partner, Geoff, haven't have time together in so long, he's beginning to forget what his longtime love feels like.
Geoff is just as busy with the farm, the business, and working through a complicated land purchase. He and Eli labor from sunup to sundown and then some. He knows taking care of their responsibilities is preventing them from taking care of each other, but he doesn't see anything he can do about it. To make matters worse, they're accused of behaving improperly toward some of the children in their riding programs.
Then Eli becomes ill and the investigators suspect foul play, forcing Geoff to reevaluate his priorities and hope fate will give them another chance.
eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, 2012 2012
eBookwise Release Date: August 2012
7 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [69 KB]
Reading time: 44-62 min.
Eli breathed a sigh of relief as he finished his third riding class for the day. The four teenage girls were all unsaddling and brushing their horses. Eli dismounted from Tiger and led him to his stall so he could do the same. He loved the time he got to spend with the stallion he'd helped bring into the world a number of years earlier. He ignored the girlish chatter from the other stalls as he brushed the dirt from Tiger's coat.
"I have a question, Mr. Eli," Amanda said from outside the stall door.
"Ask away," Eli called, "but don't come in here." Tiger was a stallion and he could be high-spirited at times. Amanda was young, relatively new to riding, and she could startle the horse.
"How come you didn't get Tiger gelded?" Amanda asked, and Eli could almost see her tittering outside the stall door. He knew the other girls had probably put her up to asking, and the preteen was probably turning red right about now.
"Because I was hoping to breed him," Eli answered levelly. Around the barn, particularly with new riders, he almost always got questions of that nature. He'd grown up on a farm, so he'd seen the birds and the bees in action many times when he was a child. It was part of life. But for many of these kids, this was new, so Eli answered their questions with honesty and care. "I'm coming out, so stand back." Eli carried Tiger's supplies out of the stall, stepping around a blushing Amanda before putting his tack away.
Once he was done, since it was still a nice evening, he turned Tiger out into the paddock. He was just finishing for the day, breathing a sigh of tired relief, when he heard young, high-pitched, excited voices joining the girls, and he remembered he'd forgotten about the therapy class. Checking the time, Eli began saddling the ponies to get them ready for the kids. Thankfully, he also heard Stone's and Joey's voices in the barn.
"Did you forget?" Joey asked as he peeked into the stall where Eli was working, and Eli nodded, continuing the saddling process. There was always something to do and never enough hours in the day. Eli heard Joey walk through the barn, and a few moments later he heard the next pony's stall door open, and Joey's horse-calming voice floated over the partition. He could also hear Stone managing the kids as they wandered through the barn to greet the horses. It didn't take long to saddle the ponies, but Eli was still upset with himself for forgetting.
Leading the ponies into the ring, they placed each child on a pony and led them around the ring. There were only four children, but each needed individual supervision. Two of the four had trouble walking, and one rarely talked. The last little girl, Annabelle, had recently lost her mother and had withdrawn from almost everything, but responded to Raspberry. As Eli led Raspberry and her silent rider around the ring, he motioned to her father, who stood nervously outside the fence of the covered ring. He came forward, and Eli handed him the reins. "Simply walk slowly around the ring. Mary will let you know if there's someplace special she wants to go." He looked nervous, but took the reins and led his daughter on the pony. Moving to the fence, Eli watched the horses and riders. "Billy, you're doing well, but remember to lower your heels," Eli said gently.
"Okay, Mr. Eli," Billy said with a smile, and he waved before doing what Eli asked.
"It's wonderful that you do this," Billy's mother said from near his shoulder. "The horse had done more for him than hours of physical therapy."
Eli turned to look into the mother's tired eyes. "I'm glad we could help." Eli and Geoff had decided that they wouldn't deny anyone access to their therapy program because of their inability to pay. When Billy had begun six months earlier, he'd used a walker to take a few steps. Now he could walk on his own, and his legs were getting strong enough that he might be running soon. "Kids like Billy are why we do this."