“It’s a beautiful place, isn’t it?” Stefan breathed as he looked around. He had caught up with Katrina on their way to the outbuildings behind the ranch house that was now considered their “home”. “So beautiful, but different. Reminds me more of western Alberta than of the Maritimes.” He mused as he glanced over at the woman, who merely grunted in reply and hugged her coffee mug closer to her body.
It was far too early to be up. Only 2 am by her internal clock and her body was definitely not coping to the time difference, with only one day to adjust thus far. Giving a quiet sigh, Katrina took a sip of her coffee and shuffled into the barn behind her companion, where the rest of the staff was already waiting. Most of the horses had already been fed their morning hay and were dozing or munching quietly at their haynets. Only the resident horses in the stable seemed truly awake and Katrina eyed them curiously as she continued to sip on her coffee. She counted three pale faces and two black faces, all with different levels of curiosity towards the group.
As she studied the strange horses, even taking a few steps closer to get a better look at the curved horns some sported, a noise, like the clearing of a throat, caught Katrina’s attention and brought her out of her reverie. At the doorway of what she assumed was the feed room, stood the man from last night, still looking very foreboding.
“As you have hopefully noticed, the horses on the end are mine. Four are free range and can come and go as they please, but the unicorn is not. He is also not to be handled by anyone other than myself. “Stormy dark eyes met each person’s, his brow furrowed and sharp.
Katrina shuddered slightly as his eyes passed over her and an unsettled feeling arose inside her and she tried to put it away. She was sleep deprived and jetlagged. She was probably being oversensitive to everything currently. Whatever vibe she was getting off this guy was only a figment of her imagination.
Her attention snapped back up to the front as the man, Gavin, strode past them and out the door, apparently done with his instructions. Stepping up in his place, Lark gave the rest of the staff a few instructions regarding the horses for the next few days and dismissed them for the day. Thankfully, Katrina wasn’t on duty today and with a sigh of relief, she drug herself out of the building, her coffee now depleted. A nap would be amazing, 7:30 am or not.
“Kat, Kat, wait up!” Stefan grinned at her as he jogged up beside her, hatefully exuberant right now.
“Wanna go explore? Lark says nothing in the town will be open till 10, but we can always start here and work our way off the property, right?” He nudged her playfully. “Besides, it’ll be fresh air and exercise. The best way to work off jetlag.”
With a poorly hidden groan and a longing look at the ranch where she knew her bed waited, Katrina allowed her younger coworker to drag her away. “I suppose…” She muttered. “Where were you thinking? Towards the river or behind the main barn?”
“River. Unless you’re too tired to keep from falling in.” He teased, poking her gently and bouncing away when she glowered. “Ok. No river. Let’s go see what these other buildings are.” He tripped away from her, heading towards the other outbuildings. Ugh. Boys. Where did they get all this energy? With another sigh, Katrina slowly followed, taking a sip from her mug and frowning as no coffee came. Right. All out. An animal-like groan was let out and she pouted.
“Well, that was interesting.” Lark mused to Victoria as she finished checking water buckets and headed out to the paddocks to check the fences. “The way Chase talked about their communications, I expected someone a bit more… welcoming. And happy to see us.” She tugged a few posts and tapped a few rails, checking to ensure the outside gates were closed as they went around the perimeters.
“That’s for sure.” Rolling her eyes, Victoria blinked as one of the resident horses, the black one with a weird facial marking, strolled out of her paddock and headed down towards a small house near the river. She had an odd ambling gait and the petite woman watched her for a moment before turning her attention back to her boss. “Maybe he’s just used to telling people how it is. I don’t know. He’s European. They do things differently. I’m not sure why Chase didn’t come along for this first rotation as they’re apparently buddy-buddy.” She pouted a bit and yanked on some random weeds.
“I’m sure it’s fine. Once we get settled and get to know him, I am sure he will seem much more friendly.” Said in a tone that was more about convincing herself than Victoria, Lark finished her rounds and ducked into the paddocks to open the outside doors for the horses. “It just takes time. For now, lets just focus on getting the horses and ourselves settled in here. Then we can worry about unfriendly landlords.”
“Right.” Victoria huffed again. “And how are we supposed to do that?”
Lark glanced over at her and decided to ignore her. She would get over this little pouting fit soon, once she realised she wasn’t going to get her way. Maybe being in the team to go shopping would force her to be thankful to be here. Probably not, Lark thought after a moment, but at least it would get Victoria out of her hair for awhile.
“I don’t want to talk to you.”
“What? Still grouchy about the changes?” Serina snorted, the black mare coming up onto the porch where Gavin was brooding. “Don’t be a baby. It isn’t healthy for you to avoid others of your own kind. You’ve hidden yourself away from the world for far too long. These humans seem rather nice, although put off by your curt, rude manner. You could be a bit more welcoming.”
“This was a stupid idea. I hate it still. Moreso now that they are here.” Gavin grunted, looking over at the mare. “You know I don’t socialize. I’m not even into this new culture.”
“All the more reason for you to get to know these people. Catch up with the culture and the people in it.” The mare nudged his arm. “You frighten the villagers. A real loner. That’s suspicious in this day and age, even you know that.” At his silence she sighed. “Make friends. Be nice. Be human. Ok?”
Gavin snorted at that. “Sure. Whatever you say.” He pushed her away and picked up his coffee mug. “I have things to do. You can do what you want. I’ll get Kiwi to take me into the village for supplies. I suppose I’ll have to put off my capital trip until after these people are broken in and aren’t going to get killed by Czar. Or ruin my property.”
He slapped her shoulder and headed into the house, letting the door slam shut behind him and leaving her alone on the porch.