About the Book
Roni Oatman belongs to a crew that conducts Search and Rescue Operations for the Forestry Service deep in the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho. They save lost people, but Roni is a bit lost herself. She’s a loner who loves a woman she can’t have.
When the SAR crew is short a member, Selena Ayala is assigned to fill the empty spot. Still on the rebound from a sudden breakup with her girlfriend, Selena has issues of her own. But she has to find a way to gain the crew’s trust, and gain it quickly.
Often the missions in this rugged and unyielding wilderness are matters of life and death, and the SAR members have to be able to depend on each other. Just when Roni and Selena are forming a tentative friendship, Selena’s ex shows up, leaving both Selena and Roni with uneasy questions. Can the two women search deep within to rescue themselves and to find love right out of nowhere?
RONI OATMAN HOPED this log was the last big piece of crap she had to clear from the trail to her family’s cabin, the remoteness of which made it ideal for a Search and Rescue base camp. She’d spent nearly all of three days moving branches and other debris the winter storms had left in their wake. Roni’s grandpa used to call it “winter’s pruning.”
A few logs along the Selway River had swept up onto the trail during the melt. She’d had to chop out a section of one, but this one was small enough to tie a rope to the root ball and drag it off with the horse. Those had cost her some sweat and choice curse words, but for the most part, she was relieved this year’s cleanup was uneventful.
She guided Sparky along the cleared trail and turned her thoughts to past experiences with the Search and Rescue team. Suddenly she was aware of lying on the ground as soft, warm breath fluffed the hair off her forehead. She couldn’t yet to gather the gumption to open her eyes. She wasn’t sure if the landing knocked her out, or if she’d just had the wind pushed out of her lungs so abruptly she didn’t know where she was.
Muffled chewing and the scent of wet grass next to her cheek finally enticed her to look. Big nostrils attached to an even bigger red nose, which led to a huge body, hovered next to her left cheek. Sparky pricked his ears forward, breathed in her scent, and snorted, spewing snot and other unidentifiable crap from the depths of his sinuses.
“Jesus Christ!” Roni sputtered and wiped her face with both hands, while uttering more curses through pursed lips. She sensed more than felt two hooves moving near her armpits and took her slime-covered hands from her face just in time to see the horse take another step. He stood calmly, straddling her. That wasn’t so much of an issue as was the penis that dangled part way out of his sheath. “Goddammit, Sparky, if you take a piss on me, I’m going to do a Lorena Bobbitt.”
Roni wiggled her way out from under him. She sat up. Too fast. She plopped down on her back, and the air in her lungs rushed out from a jolt of pain in her side.
“Damn you, Sparky.”
She thumped her fists on her thighs. She closed her eyes again and waited for the stars floating behind her eyelids to disappear. She finally dared open them and noticed how the cloudless blue sky made the white birch bark stand out. Then she realized how much her ass hurt. What the hell happened? She’d been riding Sparky, and in the span of a millisecond, he had snorted and spooked. The next thing she knew, she lay splayed out like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz after the flying monkeys pulled out his innards. She pushed herself onto her elbows and took stock of the rest of her body parts. Everything seemed to be in one piece.
Roni looked over her left shoulder at the reddish chestnut-colored horse grazing under the nearby trees. His reins dangled from his bridle as he lifted his head. He flicked his ears forward and looked in her direction.
“What are you looking at, you big oaf? You’re the one that dropped me here,” she said, leaning back on her elbows.
He wouldn’t go far. He’d been trained to ground tie shortly after he’d come to the ranch a few weeks ago. Any time his reins hung freely on the ground, he believed himself tied. She flopped down, gazed up at the sky, and replayed how in the hell she ended up on the ground.