The ring was being used for rehearsal by the acrobats this morning, so Dakota took Apollo for a walk. At first she walked with him, and he stepped patiently next to her, but then she felt restless and climbed on to his back in order to gallop down through the fields and feel the wind through her hair.

When she returned to the circus it was late afternoon, and lunch was being served so that the performers had plenty of time to digest before the performance. Dakota took a plate and sat down, shortly followed by Jerin.

"Ready for the show?" He asked.

"Always. Yourself?"

"Well, my cats are fed so I won't be getting eaten. And neither will the audience, the troupe, or your horses." He winked.

"Glad to hear it."

They sat in silence for a few moments as they dug in to their food, and then Dakota broached a conversation.

"Do you ever wish there was just you and your cats?"

"What do you mean?"

"Just you living with them, no one else around, happy in just their company?"

"Sometimes, but then I remember that I have great friends here. Why, do you?"

"If it wasn't for my friends here, I wouldn't stay. Apollo and I would ride off and never be seen again."

"Good to know. Hope I'm one of those friends." He winked again, grinning.

Dakota smiled in that quiet way everyone had come to recognise as agreement, and nudged him gently. Jerin's grin widened and he stood, waving to her, his mouth full of food, to say he was going to hand back his plate.

Dakota finished her meal in silence, then went to see if Apollo and his two mares were eating their food, because if they didn't eat now they would not digest it in time for their debut.

The End

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