I had never seen Willow so panicky. She jogged down the stairs at one in the morning with her suitcase.
"Costumes," she muttered to herself. "Coat closet I think.... Trailer hitch... in the barn, last I checked.... Food for the horses.... Damn it! I don't know where I put it!"
"It's in the truck," I said. "You had me put it in there last night after dinner, remember?"
She frowned in thought then relaxed. "Thank God. Shit. Where's the cooler!?"
"Also in the truck," I said and shook my head. "Go get the costumes. Your dad is going to show me how to hook up the trailer."
"Right," she muttered distractedly.
I picked up both of our suitcases and tossed them in the back of the SUV that they insisted on calling the truck. I heard a clunking noise and looked around. Aaron was lifting a heavy looking metal part.
"How about I do that?" I said, taking it from him.
"Thanks," he said, panting a little. "It gets heavier every year."
"That or you're running out of steam," I said softly.
"You sound like my daughter," he grumbled. "Now, you'll back up to the trailer slowly while I direct you. The hitch has to be directly in line with the trailer. Then Willow will get Eagle and Flame into the trailer. Assuming she stops panicking long enough to do it," he added.
"Is she always like this before a competition?" I asked, taking the keys from him.
"Every single time," he nodded. "Now, I know you're worried about her, but Dr. Mack is taking Little Bit while we're gone."
I blushed but tried to hide it. "Is she...?"
"Dr. Mack is the one that delivered Little Bit while we were away," he said. "She'll be good with her, don't worry."
"Okay," I said but I still felt a little nervous.
The only time I had met this Dr. Mack was when she put Spirit down.
I got in the truck and turned it on. I rolled down the windows and adjusted the side mirrors so I could see everything.
"All right!" Aaron called to me. "Now back up straight slowly!" I obeyed. "A little to the left! You're doin' great, Nathan! Slow 'er on down! And pull to a stop!" I did and got out. "You did great," he praised and I smiled.
"Don't get cocky," a snide voice said behind me and I turned, glaring at Matt.
I hadn't realized he had pulled up in a fancy black truck. I frowned and looked at the SUV. It was covered in dried mud and sand. It was clear who did the work for these competitions.
"Come to mooch of the Turners some more?" I asked coolly.
"What's that supposed to mean?" he demanded, balling his hands into fists.
I opened my mouth to respond but Willow had come rushing down.
"Oh good, you have the trailer hooked up," she said breathlessly and shoved a large bag in my hands. "Lay that carefully in the far back seat. It's got the costumes in it."
"Aye, aye," I said and did as she asked.
The cooler was on the floor in between the two middle seats. It was full of water, beer, and sodas. Behind it was a box full of random snacks. There were also some blankets for when they would nap in the truck. We'd stop at restaurants and fast food joints on the way. The competition was down in Dallas so it would be a long drive and they didn't want to stop.
"All right, you two," I heard Willow call and, interested, I shut the door and walked around. "Let's get in the trailer."
She started with Eagle and Aaron grabbed the reins to help her. Matt had disappeared. Eagle was reluctant at first until he saw the food bucket in her hand. She backed carefully into the trailer and I frowned. Wouldn't she get stuck behind Eagle?
When she got to the far back, still sprinkling food for him on the bottom, she put her hand on his back and kept it there as she walked around him. She closed a large gate door inside the trailer while Aaron reached through the bars to take off the bridle and reins.
Flame was easier to get in. She followed Willow without much fighting. She stopped once and that was to graze on some grass until she realized that what Willow was holding was much better. Willow did the same thing she did with Eagle, stopping to take off the bridle and reins.
"Okay," she sighed. "Just need to do one more check and we're good to go."
"Just let her do it," Aaron said when I was about to point out I got everything.
"All right," I said and stepped to the side.
She checked the gates in the trailer first then the back gate, making sure it wouldn't pop open on the trip there. Then she jumped a little on the hitch, nodding once. She opened the back of the truck and made sure the feed, suitcases, and water jugs for the horses were in securely. Next she checked the costumes and the cooler. She nodded again.
"We're good to go," she said, mostly to herself.
She was about to get in the passenger's seat but Matt was in there, scrolling through Facebook on his phone. I clenched my jaw. She looked furious but I opened the door behind it.
"You've been stressing yourself out," I said, pushing her. "Just get in."
She huffed but did as I said. "Bastard."
I chuckled. "Which one? Him or me?"
"Both," she grumbled and I shut the door, going around to the other side.
"So, here's how we'll rotate," Aaron said and we looked at him except for Matt. We waited then Willow leaned forward and snatched his phone from him. He glared at her. "I'll drive for the first six hours then Matt will take over for the next six. Willow, you'll drive the final stretch."
She nodded but Matt sneered, "What's wrong? Don't trust city boy with the trailer?"
"Actually, Nathaniel will have the hardest part," Willow snapped and I looked at her.
"The hardest part?"
"You, my friend," Aaron said, "get to stay awake and make sure we all get enough to eat and drink when we're not stopping."
"You're too kind," I said sarcastically and they laughed.
"Can I have my phone back?" Matt snapped and Willow rolled her eyes, throwing it over his head.
"Lean your seat back," I said, moving the food box. "You've got enough room."
She yawned. "Okay," she mumbled and closed her eyes as Aaron started the truck.