tagRomanceHoliday Wishes Upon the Wind

Holiday Wishes Upon the Wind

byLunaEroticaMystica©

Author's Note: "Holiday Wishes Upon the Wind" is my entry for Literotica's - 2011 Winter Holiday Contest.

This is a Romance story through and through, but there are strong paranormal elements present, which made categorizing this story difficult.

I have been blessed with some amazing people in my life who have lent their life experience and inspiration to the story.

But it really is all about the lovely, impish Spirit who guided it along. I hope she is pleased with "her" love story.

The italicized words in the story represent flashbacks in time.

Please Read, Vote, and/or Comment and ENJOY! I love feedback, and constructive criticism helps me grow as a writer. One vote per reader, please. Thanks so much!

(My "thanks" and "mentions" follow after the story.)

~~~~

Raechel looked around at the modest pile of wrapped presents beneath the Douglas Fir, noting the lovely contrast between colors and characters. Glancing around, her blue eyes landed on several piles of yet-to-be-wrapped gifts. She sighed. It was Christmas Eve and she still had so much to do! They had to deliver the gifts in the morning. She was in charge of wrapping all of the gifts for the Toy Drive this year. She had been given the choice of crafts, cookies, or gift-wrapping. She chose, in her opinion, the least of three evils. She had no patience for crafts. Her sister-in-law's kitchen was not wheelchair adapted the way her own home was. So she had begrudgingly accepted the wrapping task, wondering just how much work could it be to wrap a few gifts for kids?

She yawned, stretched, and lightly banged her head on the table. "Just a little break," she told herself as she closed her eyes.

"Raechel," a voice called softly in the distance. "Raechel." She lifted her head and looked around.

"Who said that?" She reached for another package lying on the low card-table, knocking over her mug of tepid cocoa in the process. The cocoa spilled, running all over the roll of festive wrapping paper and ruining the cardboard box containing a babydoll. With a groan of annoyance, she grabbed up the box, ripped the sopping cardboard open and glared at all of the plastic twists and security ties holding the doll in.

"You've got to be kidding me!" she growled. After unsuccessfully trying to untwist the ties, she picked up the fancy pair of pinking shears and attacked the box with them, cutting her thumb on the cardboard in the process. Disgusted, she pushed away from the table, grabbed a paper towel and wheeled over to the coat rack. Flinging her woolen shawl over her shoulders and slipping on her leather gloves, she pushed fast and hard, escaping out into the cold night air.

The hair on the back of her neck stood up as she made her way down to the barn. She felt like she was being watched and the sooner she got herself inside, the better. A howl broke the stillness of the night startling her. Despite the fact that she knew it was just the old husky that lived down the lane, she still picked up her speed. Sarah wasn't due back for another couples of hours. She would hide out in the barn, check on the horses, and spend some alone time with her horse Windust. Her heavy heart lifted remembering when Windust had come into her life and the man who came with him.

"I miss you," she said as she opened the barn door and rushed inside. Slamming the door shut, she breathed a sigh of relief, chuckling to herself at her silly imagination. Of course no one answered her and no one was watching her. She unlatched the stable door. Wind nearly knocked her out of her chair, greeting her, and nudging her body. She pushed on the brakes to ensure she wouldn't move and then wrapped her arms around his gray neck, breathing in his horse scent and loving him.

"I can always count on you, friend." She stroked his neck and kissed his muzzle, closing her eyes and allowing the memories to overtake her of that very first day.

*** After the accident that took away Raechel's mobility, she had reluctantly started going to counseling. She even joined a support group for newly disabled women. At first she had been in shock. She was grateful she had survived, but railed at the unfairness of losing her ability to walk. Depression had set in and she had disconnected from the world. Her therapist had worked diligently to try to bring her out of her shell and after months of working with her, she was able to reawaken Raechel's love of horses.

She had immediately put Raechel in touch with a therapeutic riding organization that helped people with disabilities. Raechel had her doubts, but Angie asked her to give it a chance. That's what brought her to Loving Care Farm in the first place. She slowly wheeled into the stable. She'd had a few lessons as a little girl and loved horses since before she could talk. But she never imagined she might be back up on one again.

A horse's whinny caught her attention and she wheeled up to its stall. It was a mournful sound that made her want to hug him. It was love at first sight. She stared in at the stallion and watched. Unable to stand any longer on weakened legs, he bent to the knee and laid himself down. He rested his dark head on a bale of hay, blowing out air with such effort. His hide was dull gray, but Raechel imagined at one time it was probably lustrous and beautiful. She was about to talk to the horse, when she saw a man pick up a syringe and walk over to him. She pushed forward. Her wheels crunching on the ground must have alerted the man to her presence, because he turned to her and lifted his brow.

"Can I help you?" he asked her.

"What's his name?" Raechel inquired, pointing to the stallion.

"He used to be Wind Dancer, but now we call him Windust." The man walked over and set the syringe on a bale of hay, turning to her.

"Windust, like Stardust," she said, her blue eyes sparkling as she wheeled up to the gate.

"Yeah, something like that." He filled the food bucket.

"It suits him." She unlocked the gate and before he could stop her, she wheeled herself into the paddock.

"You really shouldn't be doing that. You might frighten him with your-- "

"Wheels? Last time I checked, horses are used to carriages and wagons. I'm sure he'll be fine." She smiled sweetly. Windust lifted his sullen head up as she entered his paddock. They gazed into each other's eyes. Despite her calming presence, she could see that Windust couldn't relax.

She noticed out of the corner of her eye that the man remained at the gate, watching her. She rolled up to the great gray body and reached her hand up. Windust lifted his head up so she could touch him and snuffled at her sandy hair. She laughed joyously.

"Nice to meet you as well, Windust. Who owns him?"

"The track owns him. I'm Larry, his trainer and he isn't long for this world. When a horse is as badly injured as he is, he is no longer valuable to the sport. Veterinarian bills are exceedingly expensive. It pains me to have to end his short life." He explained, his voice full of emotion.

"Then why end it? It's up to you whether he lives or dies, right? Maybe he just needs to be given a chance." Raechel saw from the startled look in his eye, that what she said might have registered. She pressed on.

"If he had some love and care and a lot of patience maybe he could be nursed back to his full strength. Maybe he needs someone in his life that understands him."

Raechel gently stroked Wind's muzzle and crooned softly, her heart going out to him. She knew what it was like to have people give up on you before even giving you a fair chance. She felt connected to this horse and shared his pain and his fate. She would fight for him!

"If I don't do what I'm supposed to do, I will have many to answer to. I have no room for him in these stables and he is costing my wife and I a fortune." Raechel saw a young woman enter the stables. She introduced herself as Larry's wife Sarah, and smiled at her pleasantly.

"Larry, you should speak for yourself. This is my farm and the welfare of the horses are my decision." Sarah admonished her husband.

"Sarah, honey you know he's hurt. I love the horses just as much as you do."

She glared at him. "I never signed on for working with the track. That was your doing."

"We needed the money."

"I know. Okay? I know! You don't have to remind me every single day about the money. Once we are back on our feet, we are leaving the racing business behind. Understood?"

"Yes, dear." Larry walked away, defeated. Raechel felt uncomfortable listening in on a private conversation, but relaxed when Sarah turned to her with a smile. She didn't look to be that much older than she was.

"Now, what's your name?" she asked Raechel.

"Raechel."

"Raechel, have you ever ridden a horse before?" She saw Larry looked over at them doubtfully and she pursed her lips.

"I have. It was a long time ago, though. I was just a kid. It's always been a dream of mine to have a horse of my own, to learn to ride one an-and then this happened to me." She pointed to her legs. "I felt this freedom and that was when I could still walk." Tears filled her eyes. "It felt like I was flying. It felt like I had no cares in the world." She cried softly and Sarah embraced her gently. "I'd love to feel that again. I bet I could even forget about this damn chair then."

"You okay, honey?" Sarah asked concerned.

"I'm sorry. I don't know why I'm crying."

"Listen, you come back tomorrow and get to know Windust. I'll give you a few riding lessons and when he gets stronger, we'll get you on his back and see if he can hold you." Sarah suggested.


***

The stamping of hooves on the ground brought Raechel back to the present. After she laid a blanket on top of Windust to keep him warm, she left the stall and wheeled up to the Dutch door of the stable to gaze out into the December night. She blinked up at the sky. Snow had begun falling hard and she knew that tonight the temperatures were going to plummet below freezing. She shivered in trepidation looking at the snow-covered pathway, then looked at the clock on the wall. How had three hours gone by without her noticing? The stables were out of the wind, but still drafty and cold.

She pushed out as far as she could, reached the edge of the heavy wooden door and pulled with all her might. The door slammed with a satisfying thud. But just as soon as she had gotten the bottom door closed, a drift of frosty wind blew the top door open. She stared at it expecting someone to announce themselves. When no one did, she picked up her reacher from the corner to shut the top door. But it had swung too far out and she couldn't reach it.

"Raechel, how could you be so careless?" she admonished herself. She hadn't known the snow was supposed to gust so fast and so hard. She should have watched the weather channel, but had been caught up in Christmas preparations. She hadn't wanted to participate this year. It was too soon. Grief was still too fresh in her heart. But Sarah had brow-beaten her into feigning holiday spirit and helping her with her many charity events.

"I know you aren't in the holiday mood. I'm not either. But we have to get through this together. Besides, helping the children will keep our minds off of missing Collin, my pending divorce, and the disaster my soon-to-be-ex husband made of our lives and the farm with his manipulations." Sarah wore many hats in Raechel's life. She was her sister-in-law, her boss, and had become her very best friend. Raechel reached into her shawl pocket for her cell phone. Her hand went right through the satin inside of the pocket and came up empty. She lifted the shawl and gasped at the big hole staring her in the face.

"Crap!" She exclaimed. "When had that happened?" And then she remembered the miniature horse with a taste for fabric. She had been visiting Rosie just this morning and recalled scolding her for chewing on people's clothes. She had produced a carrot for her and had gotten a head bump for her efforts. She hadn't thought to check for holes. She sighed and wheeled over to the walkie-talkies that Sarah kept on hand so everyone could communicate with each other. She turned the switch on and grumbled at the red light blinking at her. Someone had forgotten to take them in and charge them. The battery was dead.

"This sucks." She went over to the video camera and prayed that Sarah had the monitor turned on inside the house. If she did, she could get her attention and let her know she was stuck. She flipped on the camera and groaned at the loud static sound. She waved her arms wildly, still hoping. But nothing happened.

"Now what the hell am I going to do?" She asked outloud. Her breath was visible in the freezing air. She blew on her gloved hands to keep them warm. Windust poked his head over the stable door and whinnied, chuffing at her. Normally Jamal, the stable-hand came out to feed and water the horses, but he was out of town being introduced to his fiance's family for the first time.

Old Mack, the neighbor was filling in and there was never any telling when he'd pop by. Yes, the Old MacDonald song jokes abounded, and funnily enough, Old Mac's last name was O'Donnell. Sometimes he didn't get to the farm chores until the wee hours of the morning. She had thought it odd the first time she had seen him out there at midnight feeding the horses. But when she had questioned Sarah about it, she had shrugged and smiled fondly. Raechel learned that Old Mack had been like a grandfather to Sarah and Collin growing up and she was just happy he was helping at all.

The thought of her beloved husband sent her back into the stable. She parked her chair and leaned her body into Wind's, drawing strength from the horse. "God, I miss you Col. "It's going to be three years on Christmas. How can that be? It seems like just yesterday we met on your sister's farm." She let memories of the day they met wash over her.

*** It was the day after she met Windust. Raechel returned to the stables. Sarah was waiting for her. She still couldn't believe that she was serious about riding lessons and was giddy with excitement. Raechel noticed there were two stable hands waiting as well. Sarah walked up to her.

"Hello Raechel. Are you ready for your lesson?"

"More than ready." She grinned. "Wind is beautiful."

"He used to be even more beautiful." Sarah nudged Windust's head with a sigh. "His coat was almost silver when he was healthy. We'll get him there again. Okay, I think that the first thing we should do is find a suitable horse and get you up on his back to see how your balance is. I have Collin and Jamal here in case you need help."

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Raechel looked over at the other horses, having second thoughts. She watched as Sarah went up to each one and assessed them. She nodded briskly choosing a chestnut gelding. She put on his bridle and bit and walked him over to where Raechel sat nervously waiting.

"We'll harness Cruise into the frame. Once he's in the wooden frame and supported we will get you up there. I know you really want to ride Wind. He and I had a talk last night. He really likes you. But he needs more time to heal. Cruise is a perfect choice to help you," Sarah explained.

She instructed the two men to harness the chestnut into the frame. Jamal looked to be a few years older than Collin. They were both attractive. Jamal had a natural dark tan to his skin, chocolate brown eyes, and a dimple in his chin. Collin's skin in comparison was light. He had hazel eyes, and hair the color of the honey-wheat tied back in a ponytail. Raechel wondered how it would look flying free in the wind when he was riding a horse. She blushed at the thought.

Once secure, Jamal and Collin walked over to her. Collin pushed her chair over and she smiled shyly up at him.

"Just put your arm around my shoulder and Jamal will pick up your legs."

Raechel did as she was told and had no problems wrapping her arms around the handsome guy. Wind watched and as she was lifted onto Cruise's back, he whinnied.

Collin said quietly, "I can tell that Wind likes you. He hasn't whinnied in weeks." She smiled at him and he winked at her. The two men set Raechel on Cruise's back, while Sarah placed one leg on one each side of the horse.

"You can let go now," Collin told her. "It's okay, you aren't going anywhere. The horse is supported and you are a featherweight besides."

She blushed, seeing Sarah watching her with a curious expression. She wondered if Sarah also picked up on Collin flirting with her. Raechel got her answer when Sarah patted Collin on his back and whispered in his ear. Collin's blush made Raechel wonder what Sarah had said to him. He moved off to the side. Jamal was frowning.

She felt off kilter at first and closed her eyes. Cruise turned his neck around and licked her, causing her to open her eyes suddenly and nearly topple over. Collin and Jamal went into action and rebalanced her. "Thanks. That was close." Cruise relaxed into the frame.

"Yup, I'd say Cruise is definitely a good match for you. If you have trouble with balance, Collin or Jamal will be of service." Sarah observed.

"Do I have to come down off his back now?" Raechel asked, not wanting to ruin the moment.

"Yes, only because I want to get you started with your lessons before I go back to work."

"You won't be teaching me?" Raechel didn't know if she liked this idea. She felt comfortable with Sarah in the short time since she had met her and felt like she could maybe open up to her.

"No, that's my brother's job. He's the riding instructor. I'm just the boss." Sarah grinned.

"I'm not so sure this is a good idea. I thought you would be teaching me. I'm not sure I will feel comfortable," Raechel lowered her voice, "having a man teach me."

Sarah stood on tiptoe to reach Raechel and whispered in her ear, "Have no fear. You are already quite comfortable with your teacher." She winked.

"What do you mean?"

Sarah grabbed Collin's arm and brought him closer. "Raechel, meet Collin, my brother and your riding instructor. Collin, Raechel is a bit nervous about her first lesson." Raechel's heart sped up at the notion that the sweet Collin would be her teacher.

"Have you ever worked with someone without legs, I mean with...." Raechel's voice showed her worries, as she gripped the saddle.

"My brother works with all of our disabled riders and special needs kids. He runs the program. You have nothing to worry about. You are in good hands. I promise you." Sarah smiled encouragement. Raechel still felt apprehensive until Collin placed his large hand over hers.

"Relax, you'll be fine. You're a natural with horses." He smiled and Raechel blushed even more. "I'll take care of you."

"I'm not sure that I can ride another horse besides Wind. I sorta feel like I'm betraying him," Raechel confessed.

"Don't worry about it. Cruise is a gentle old boy and Wind doesn't mind sharing." Collin reassured her. As if in answer Wind stuck his head out of his stall, whinnied at Raechel, and chuffed warm breath against her cheek. Raechel giggled.

Collin explained the best way to hold the reins and Raechel started slumping forward a bit. Sarah rushed over to offer aid, but Collin reached under her arms and lifted her easily.

"Ja, can you go to the tack room and get me one of my adaptive saddles?" He asked. "This will help support you better and you will feel less off balance and have a bit more control," Collin explained.

"Don't you ever get sick of being manhandled?" Sarah questioned her, and then covered her mouth, embarrassed. "Sorry."

Raechel lifted an eyebrow and looked pointedly over at Collin and then back at Sarah. "At times," she replied coyly.

"I'm guessing that this wouldn't be one of those time."

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