Bold, independent, and free, Callie's worked hard to become the best courier on Leman. Always too adventurous for polite folks and too blunt not to make enemies, now she's got a chance to break ground and blaze trails on the newly colonized agri-moon known as Leman. She's found the life she was born for.
And she's not the only one to notice. As Callie traverses the sparsely populated prairies, two unusual stallions begin to shadow her every move. They may be young, but these native shapeshifters are as adventurous as Callie, and they're set on proving they're old enough to handle her. They've got enough "horse sense" to know this fiery filly is riding hell-bent-for-leather right into a wild ride that's more than she can handle alone.
Time for the stallions to take the reins.
-- 4 Stars from Xeranthemum, Long and Short Reviews
Wild Ones: Wild Horses
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Copyright ©2012 Zoey Daniels
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Callie paused amidst the indulgently idle task of deciding if she wanted to bother dressing in her full gear again or risk sleeping naked wrapped in the fine soft quilt she carried, and studied the dark silhouettes running across the horizon.
The two stallions were back, closer than ever this time. She'd passed a large herd yesterday, with dozens of mares and a fine red stallion, battle hardened and proudly wearing the scars of a lifetime lived defending what was his.
To Callie's untrained eye, this pair seemed far younger. Full grown, but still coltish in their ways. The smaller of the pair, a buckskin, kicked up his heels, eager to play and, if Callie were to guess, in the mood to try and tease his friend into a mock fight.
It wasn't the first time she'd whiled away the time watching this particular pair of stallions. They'd caught her eye the moment she'd first seen them, and by now she could pick them out of a crowd even in the deepening dusk. Compared to others she'd seen, the larger of the pair was a giant in his own right. Nothing like the common mustangs, the descendants of the domestic horses who'd gone wild when the men left Leman behind.
She wasn't certain of his breed. "Different" was as close as she could come, and it seemed to suit him. Broad in the withers, and dark silver-gray, with long white feathered fetlocks, he most closely resembled one of the ancient war horses she'd read about.
Shire? Was that what they'd been called? Magnificent.
The gentle giant loomed above the more playful one, looking down his nose at the smaller buckskin's antics. Any other young horse, he'd have gotten a good bite or maybe a proper kick to put him in his place. Not so with this pair. Big Man seemed to raise his gaze to the heavens, then lowered it to butt the buckskin and send him -- gently -- sprawling, a tumble that he took with the pleasure of a somersault. He rolled easily back upright, ready to go again.
Callie pressed her fingers to her lips to hold back a delighted laugh that might have spooked them. Didn't quite succeed, and at that the big stallion lifted his massive head in a move so graceful it took her breath away, and he looked at her. Straight at her.
His companion cantered into place at the bigger stallion's side, still eager to play, but when he cocked his head to look at Callie, and put his ears back, Callie reckoned the time for gamboling might just have come to an end.
Or maybe not. Callie kept one soothing hand on her mare, stroking the sweet girl's neck, though she barely seemed to need it. If anything she scoffed at the boys. All right, then, she'd just steady herself on the horse.
Because the way those two were staring at her... well. Let it just be said that if they were men, even paying customers, she'd have gone weak in the knees. They drank her up with their eyes and charged the air between them with a wave of something Callie could only call desire. Desire and challenge.
She stood up straighter, leaving off petting her mare. Crossed her arms behind her and held her hands together the way an old colonel, long retired and a favorite for his kind ways, had taught her once upon a time.
"You look at me all you want," Callie said, though she didn't guess they'd speak the Common tongue. "I'm not afraid of you."
The buckskin shook his head and whickered, trying a rise on his hind legs and pawing the air. Callie would have bet her beating heart that she could near about read the big stallion's mind when he pushed the considerable bulk of his weight against the buckskin to set him off balance and steady him down.
Big and tough he might be, but gentle too. He rubbed his forehead against the buckskin's. Callie watched as something seemed to pass between them. This time, when the buckskin began to nimbly cavort, the stallion shook his head with a whicker that sounded near about fond. And then, heads high, the pair broke into an easy canter.
Coming straight for Callie.
Well then. Callie kept her back straight, her chin up, and her gaze fixed on the stallions.
There were stories about Leman... and there was something more than horse about this mismatched team. Now, if these were "just" horses, might be she'd let herself in for a world of hurt, but Callie hadn't made it all the way from chambermaid to Mistress without learning to trust her instincts. And the things her instincts told her about these two horses promised that fortune would most certainly, one more time, favor the brave.