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Authors: Bonnie Bryant

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BOOK: Cutting Horse
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“Okay, Lisa. What do you say?” John asked, standing on the threshold.

Lisa beamed, first at Skye and then at John. “I say let’s hit the barbecue. We deserve it!”

“See you there, Skye?” John asked.

Skye nodded. “See you there.”

O
UTSIDE
,
THE RAIN
had ended. Lisa looked up. There were a few big, billowy, fair-weather clouds dotting the brilliant expanse of blue. In the west, the sun was just beginning to set over the Rockies. She and John walked side by side. All at once Lisa felt awkward and very conscious of John’s presence.

“You’re right, you know,” John said finally. “Skye’s a great guy. He’s modest, funny, down-to-earth—nothing like what you’d expect from a big teenage star.” He paused
for a minute. “You know, I said in there that I lumped Skye together with all the other Hollywood people, and that’s true. But I guess I separated him, too—I mean, since he was your—your friend.”

“We’re all friends with Skye,” Lisa said.

“I know, but …” John seemed to be having trouble continuing.

“I—I do like Skye a lot, John, but, um, only as a, well, as a friend,” Lisa managed to stammer out.

John let out a huge sigh of relief. “I was hoping you’d say that,” he said.

So it was true! Lisa thought. John had been jealous of Skye! “You were?” she said.

“I sure was.” Instead of elaborating any further, John took Lisa’s hand in his. He didn’t let it go until they got to the barbecue. Lisa blushed so hard she thought her face was going to go up in flames.

When they got to the Devines’, Stevie and Carole ran up to meet them. “Come on, you guys! You have to go say hello to the guest of honor!” Stevie cried. “He’s the Bar None’s newest heartthrob—Stewball!”

T
HE COOKOUT WAS
a wonderful affair. All the girls stuffed themselves to their hearts’ content. Skye and John stuffed themselves, too. About halfway through dinner, Carole
noticed a small man lurking on the fringes of the party. “Say, isn’t that the director?” she asked.

They all turned to look. Blake Pratt waved hopefully at them.

“I know why he’s here,” Stevie said. To the director she called, “Come on over!”

“I don’t want to interrupt, but I thought perhaps I might be able to speak with Stewball’s, er, hair consultant?”

“I’m the consultant,” John said.

The director nearly jumped out of his skin. “You’re the consultant?” he said.

“Yes,” John said. “I’m the consultant. I’m also the coffee-bringer and the dogcatcher, as I’m sure you remember.”

The director grimaced. “I thought I recognized you,” he said resignedly. “Look, I was in a horrible mood on both of those days—and the dog
could
have killed me! If I seemed rude—”

“It’s okay,” John said.

“It’s okay?”
the director and The Saddle Club cried in unison.

“Yes,” John repeated, “it’s okay. We all have bad days once in a while—days when we don’t act like ourselves.”
He looked directly at Lisa, and she nodded understandingly.

“Right!” the director said. “That’s what I was trying to say. Now, about Stewball’s dye job …”

W
HEN THE FOOD
was almost gone, Frank Devine stood up and waved his hands for silence. “I know there’s been a lot of extra work getting ready these last few weeks and coping with the Hollywood presence this week. You’ve all been great. I just wanted to thank you and let you know that part of the Hollywood money will show up in everybody’s paycheck as a nice-sized bonus at the end of the month.” Frank smiled at the loud cheers that greeted his announcement.

“Now, I’ll let you get to your brownies in a minute, but first I want to thank two boys in particular. One of them is an employee of mine: John Brightstar. He worked harder than I thought possible all week, but all of it was behind the scenes. That’s the way John is. He doesn’t show off, he just gets the job done. And I’m told he’s responsible for turning our own crazy old Stewball into a movie star. Which brings me to the next boy. Some of you asked me tonight if this barbecue was for Bar None people only, and I said yes. You might have been surprised to see Skye
Ransom, the star of
Cowboy Come Home
, joining us for dinner. Well, I’ll tell you why I asked Skye to come: He may be a Hollywood star, but over the past few days, he’s become a Bar None person, too. I don’t think I need to say more. You’ve all gotten to know Skye because he made an effort to get to know you. He’s made this show run a whole lot better than it would have without him. So, Skye, let me tell you: Cowboy, forget going home. You can stay right here if you want! Now let’s eat dessert!”

As if on cue, the crowd rose and burst into applause for John and Skye. Stevie, Lisa, and Carole cheered the loudest. When the clapping had died down a bit, Stevie turned to her friends. “Now, that’s what I call a Hollywood ending!”

“S
AME OLD
S
ATURDAY
night,” Stevie said listlessly. It was a week after the girls had returned from the Bar None. Stevie was still suffering from the let-down feeling she always had after an exciting trip. She had invited Lisa and Carole to her house for a sleepover to try to get out of her blue mood. “No movie stars, no horse swapping. You know, I even miss Blake Pratt, Director. He sure livened things up.”

“No, we don’t exactly have those things, but we do have this,” Lisa said. She pulled a video tape out of her overnight bag. “Of course, it’s way too early for the movie,
but Skye sent me some clips of the filming they did on the ranch.”

“Go ahead and load it!” Stevie urged, switching on the TV and the VCR.

Lisa popped the tape in, and they all settled back on the Lakes’ living room couch to watch. A card flashed across the screen. In black marker it said Cowboy, Come Home, with a bunch of numbers and dates.

“They should have called it
Stuntman,
Go Home
,” Stevie joked.

“Was he ever upset!” Carole recalled. After having been flown in from Los Angeles, Skye’s double had been dismissed as soon as Frank Devine had signed a contract for Stewball.

“Little does he know that it was his own fault he didn’t get to ride,” Stevie said.

“Shhh—they’re on!” said Lisa.

The girls watched, enthralled, as the scene they had watched in real life unfolded on the screen. It had already been edited and touched up, so it looked very professional—nothing like the home movies Stevie liked to make of her brothers clowning in front of the video camera.

“I can’t believe we really know him,” Lisa breathed, starstruck all over again by Skye’s on-screen persona.

“Who, Stewball?” Stevie said, feigning innocence. “Why, he’s just a little ole cow horse.”

“Ha, ha,” Lisa said. “And anyway, that’s not true anymore. Stewball’s famous … sort of.”

“Do you think he’ll find ranch life boring now that he’s ‘gone Hollywood’?” Carole asked.

“I think Stewball will always find ranch life just fine—anywhere where there’s a calf to cut or a cow to herd,” Stevie said, her voice choking up a little. Even though it had been great to ride Belle again, she missed Stewball.

The girls clapped when the scene ended, then laughed when the film cut to a close-up of Sir Prize looking off into the distance. “At least he can prick his ears up pretty well,” Carole said.

Stevie went to stop the tape, but Lisa told her to wait. “I think the preliminary credits are here, too.”

Sure enough, music swelled on the sound track and the credits rolled. They all watched until Kate’s and their own three names, as well as John’s, came up under “Technical Advisers.” John Brightstar was also listed under “Makeup.” And under “Stuntman,” there was only one name: Stewball.

“Did Skye say anything about his upcoming projects?” Carole asked.

Lisa shook her head. “No, he’s not sure what’s next. When I said good-bye to him, he just said, ‘Until we film again.’ ”

“And what about John?” Stevie inquired. “What did he say?”

“Oh, we’re planning to keep in touch,” Lisa said nonchalantly.

Stevie and Carole didn’t push Lisa to talk about it. They knew that sometimes sharing every last detail with friends could make something less special. They could guess that Lisa’s good-bye with John was something she wanted to keep to herself for now.

“Do you think he’ll ever teach you what’s in the special dye?” Carole asked, her voice dreamy.

Lisa bit her lip. “I kind of doubt it,” she said.

“Maybe the next time we go out West, he’ll take you berry picking and show you what plants are the best, and how to mix them to get just the right hue,” Stevie said, imagining a romantic scene.

“I’m not so sure about that,” Lisa said.

“Because the techniques are too complicated?” Carole asked gravely.

“Not exactly,” Lisa said. She took a deep breath. “Have you two ever heard of Luscious, Lustrous Red?”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

B
ONNIE
B
RYANT
is the author of more than a hundred books about horses, including The Saddle Club series, Saddle Club Super Editions, the Pony Tails series, and Pine Hollow, which follows the Saddle Club girls into their teens. She has also written novels and movie novelizations under her married name, B. B. Hiller.

Ms. Bryant began writing The Saddle Club in 1986. Although she had done some riding before that, she intensified her studies then and found herself learning right along with her characters Stevie, Carole, and Lisa. She claims that they are all much better riders than she is.

Ms. Bryant was born and raised in New York City. She still lives there, in Greenwich Village, with her two sons.

BOOK: Cutting Horse
12.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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