Ginny stood at the sink, hugging a mug of tea, gazing out the window. Like a magnet to metal, Thatch found the horses. The fence ran almost to the house, and he bounded over it without hesitating or asking. A yearling dappled cantered up to him, and within minutes, they were running back and forth with one another. The yearling kicked up its heels, and Thatch wore an expression of pure glee.
Nick entered the kitchen, wiping his hands on a paper towel. Everything about him, from his disturbed expression to his fine shoes, was out-of-place. He stood at the back door, and watched him. The concern on his face faded. He snickered and shook his head.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy.”
“He’s always like that around the horses. No matter what’s going on in his life, get him around a horse, and he’s… home.”
“I’m surprised he never came here to stay.”
She frowned. “I’m not.”
“What happened here?”
“That is not mine to tell.” She shook her head and took a sip of tea. “And I wouldn’t–”
Thatch threw open the door, making Nick jump back. Thatch’s shoulders rose and fell with deep breaths, his mouth wide and smiling. He looked around the kitchen, then inspected the door frame. He thumbed the wood, knocked on the wall, then turned to Ginny.
“Let’s burn it down,” he said breathlessly.
“Wait – what?” Nick shook his head. He turned to see if she had misheard as well. She stared at Thatch with wide eyes, then nodded deeply. “What?”
With a whoop of joy, Thatch threw his arms around her, lifting her off her feet and spinning her as if she had just accepted a marriage proposal. When he lowered her back to her feet, he looked down at her awkwardly and released her. Ginny stepped back, giving him an uncomfortable half-smile.
“Did I miss something?”
“You’re always missing something, Nick.” Thatch clapped a hand on his cousin’s shoulder. “Come help me stable these horses.” He stepped outside and whistled for his new best friend, who frolicked up to the fence.
Nick followed him onto the back porch. “Wait, what are we about to do?”
“We’re about to burn the house down!”