At that moment the menacing wind returned with much vengeance, picked up the old man’s words and tossed them effortlessly into the closing sky. Lacey squinted at her grandfather’s strained form, now revealing his true age. She watched as his leathered neck craned slightly to the right, facing the sharp sting of the teasing rain and the moving weather, while his black eyes stared straight ahead. His lips moved slowly and purposefully but were no match for the swirling sounds of an impatient sky.
“It’s no use Papa, I can’t hear you. Just hold steady.” said Lacey with a confidence that betrayed the feeling of trepidation swelling inside of her. She squeezed her thighs together but the old bay resisted, made a sideways step and then planted his hooves firmly into the speckled wet earth. She watched his ears prick forward, then back. The Palomino gave a nervous snort.
“Stubborn horse, it’s just a bit of rain.” Just then she saw her grandfather raise his arm, palm facing up motioning for her to stop but it was in vain, Lacey had struck her heels hard into the ribs of the bay, who jolted forward against all sensibilities.
“Turn around, take them horses and go!” cried William. The large sinewy shape of the mountain lion moved into Lacey’s vision. With each stride the old beast, ragged and frenzied from years of abandoned solitary, moved closer to William. It was so close that the horses could no longer fight the instinct to pull and rear, so close now that she could feel each thud of the heavy paws, so close now that he could smell the hot breath of sweet desire and decay. William watched as his reflection in the old beast’s eyes grew bigger, he felt he was too old to fight and only hoped that the bay had runaway with Lacey powerless astride him. Watching Connie die had broken her heart.
The grizzled lion rushed past her Papa. He gasped as he hit the ground. The horses reeled around and strained against the short rein, muscles quivered getting ready to spring. In a second the weight of the old lion was behind her. She heard the horse scream as the claws sank in.