We reached the hotel finally and my father offered to go get us checked in. I sighed and leaned back in the driver's side seat. No one had spoken in several hours. We were all tired; Nathaniel the most having stayed awake the whole trip. His yawns were becoming more and more frequent.
"Well, we're all checked in," my dad said. "Let's go sign in, get Flame and Eagle settled, then get some rest."
"That sounds amazing," I said and carefully backed out of the hotel's parking lot.
The barn was only five miles down the road but it took a long time to get to because there were others coming in. My dad got out so that he could direct me into backing up straight to where our horses were assigned. Matt, once again, stayed in the truck while Nathaniel got out to help supervise Flame getting into her stall.
"Matt, get out and take care of Eagle," I said and he glared at me.
"Why?" he demanded.
"Because he's your horse," I snapped, remembering what Nathaniel had said before. "I have to go get a tag for the trailer."
"Have city boy do it," he snapped back.
I got out then opened his door, snatching his phone. He looked furious.
"Get out and take care of your horse!" I yelled.
"God, you're a bitch!" he yelled back but got out anyway.
I stormed off and into the supervisor's building. I was still blowing off steam when I got to the tables they set up. I waited patiently, taking deep breaths and yawning a little. When I got up to the table, it took them a while and I started to get nervous.
"You have four people, right?" the woman asked.
"Yes but what does that have to do with the tag?" I asked as she passed me a green one.
"It's just how they're doing it this year," she answered. "Your trailer will be put in the green block for when you pick it up tomorrow evening or Monday morning. If you get it Monday morning, you need to get it by 10." She passed me a piece of paper with a scanned image of a map on it. "This is a map of the trailer blocks. That's yours."
She circled it with a pen and passed it over.
"Thanks," I said.
"Good luck, Miss Turner!"
I smiled and went back to the trailer. I suppressed my smirk. Matt was having trouble getting Eagle into his stall and neither Nathaniel nor my father were bothering to help. I stood beside them and explained how they were doing the trailer placement this year.
"That makes a lot more sense," my father said and I put the green tag on the front of our trailer.
"What do you mean?" Nathaniel asked.
"Last year they put them wherever," I answered. "It was pandemonium. This will help us find it easier."
"We'll take it for ya," a man with a bright orange shirt and a horse stitched onto the front and back said.
"Really?" I asked and he smiled.
"We want this to be as easy on ya guys as possible this year," he said. "Ya got your tag on there? Ah, you're in the green block! You're lucky!"
"You'll be the first to leave."
"Oh, thank God," my father breathed. "Last year it took us three hours just to get out of the parking lot!"
"Good luck," the man said after we had unhitched the trailer. "Ya'll get your schedules?"
"Yep," my father said, holding up a folded piece of orange paper. "Take care of that trailer for us."
While I had been checking the trailer in, they had unloaded the feed and water and we got back in the truck.
"I'll drive," Nathaniel offered and I nodded, passing him the keys. "Where do I go to get you guys checked in for the show?"
"Turn left and follow the cars," I answered. "Looks like we weren't the only ones to get here early."
"Early?" he laughed. "It's 6 in the evening!"
"Check in doesn't start 'til 5," my father explained. "I'll check us in this time. Find a place you want to eat dinner at and we'll go there before going to our room to sleep."
"Why did you bring your own feed?" Nathaniel asked. "They had a shit load of feed in there."
"The feed they provide is also a lot of money," I answered. "It's cheaper to just bring your own. Besides, Flame needs special food after giving birth to Little Bit."
"What a stupid name," Matt scoffed.
"I happen to like it," my father, ever the optimist, said happily. "Okay, Nathan, drop me off here and go ahead and park. I'll find you when I'm done."
"Aye, aye Captain," he said with a mock salute.
He laughed and got out. I watched him go with a sigh.
"What's wrong?" Nathaniel asked, pulling into a parking spot and putting the car in park.
"Just worrying about him," I answered. "Let me guess: he put the hitch on the truck this morning."
"Nope," he said. "I did it."
I looked at him in surprise. "You did?"
He nodded. "He helped show me how to do it but it was heavy and I didn't want him throwing his back out."
I smiled at him and he returned it. Our eyes met for a second and I cleared my throat.
"What kind of food do you two want for dinner?" I asked.
"Chinese," Nathaniel said immediately.
"I don't care," he said. "I guess we can get Chinese."
I smirked. "Which means you want it, too."
I shook my head and looked out the window, waiting for my father to get back. When he did, he looked ecstatic.
"You're not going to believe this," he said and I turned in my seat.
"We've been given priority!"
I gasped. "You're shitting me!"
"Nope," he said happily.
"What does that mean?" Nathaniel asked.
"We get the first pick of everything," I explained. "We get to choose where to park, where to put the horses during the show, and what kind of barrels we want! That must be why we got the green tag! Holy shit this is awesome!"
"Did you guys decide what you want for dinner?" my dad asked.
"Chinese," I answered.
"Ooh, yummy." He pulled his phone up. "There's a restaurant about a mile from here, Nathan. I'll tell you how to get there."
"Engage," Nathaniel said in a good impression of Picard as he put the truck into reverse. "Make it so."