Read an Excerpt
Trouble Times Two
Copyright 2005 by Marsha Hubler
Requests for information should be addressed to:
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hubler, Marsha, 1947-
Trouble times two / by Marsha Hubler.-- 1st ed.
p. cm. -- (Keystone Stables)
Summary: Skye and Morgan have their hands full trying to share friendship
and God's love with Tanya, a new foster child in the Chambers'
household, who is a veteran shoplifter and a runaway but who shows surprising
devotion to a mare and her foal.
ISBN 10: 0-310-70574-6 (softcover)
ISBN 13: 978-0-310-70574-1 (softcover)
[1. Horses---Fiction. 2. Foster home care---Fiction. 3. Christian life---
Fiction. 4. Runaways---Fiction. 5. African Americans---Fiction. 6. Pennsylvania---
Fiction.] I. Title.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the
HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION . Copyright 1973,
1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan.
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,
or transmitted in any form or by any means---electronic, mechanical, photocopy,
recording, or any other---except for brief quotations in printed
reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Zonderkidz is a trademark of Zondervan.
Special thanks to the Glupker family for use of their ranch.
Interior design: Susan Ambs
Interior illustrations: Lyn Boyer
Art direction: Laura Maitner-Mason
Cover design: Gayle Raymer
Photography: Synergy Photographic
Printed in the United States of America
05 06 07 08 09 /?DCI/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Dedicated to the Susquehanna Valley
Writers' Group in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.
Whoa, Champ! Easy fella!' Skye yelled.
In his stall, the sorrel quarter horse pranced in
place and then shuffled from side to side. Blasts
of air snorted from his nose into the cold night like steam
from a racing locomotive.
Skye rushed into the stall, her thick woolen mittens
grabbing at his halter. She planted her boots firmly in the
straw and struggled to control the powerful animal with
all the strength she had in her slender frame.
Despite the cold, the quarter horse quivered in a slick
coat of lather. His wild eyes searched every corner of the
stall. Fear exploded from him and lodged in Skye's pounding
heart. Horses can sense danger, and Skye knew he was
sensing it now!
Odors of fresh manure and horse sweat were strong in
the frigid January air. The barn echoed with the whinnies
and stomps of five other frightened horses. Gusts of
wind rattled the tin roof, further taunting their fears.
'Easy, Blaze, easy!' a voice yelled from another part
of the barn.
Skye released Champ's halter and hurried out of the
stall, spinning toward the voice. Morgan sat in her wheelchair
at the end of the stall---gloves raised, panic radiating
from her freckled face. Behind a wire-mesh door, a
dun mare pranced and snorted.
'Morgan,' Skye yelled, 'we better call Dad down
here. I've never seen the horses get this stirred up over a
little wind. Could be a bear or cougar prowling in the
woods close by. You call Dad, and I'll try to quiet them
Morgan motored her wheelchair past the racket toward
the barn office. 'You're right! They haven't been this bad
since that big thunderstorm last summer. Be back in a sec!'
Skye stepped back into the stall and took hold of her
horse's halter with both hands. 'Easy, boy!' she coaxed.
Champ quickly settled into a calmer series of sidesteps,
head bobs, and trusting nickers. Skye stroked his
arched neck, while her eyes checked the rest of his body
for cuts or bruises. She grabbed a lead rope from a wall
hook, clipped it to Champ's halter, and secured him to
an iron bracket in the corner. 'You're okay, boy,' she
assured him with firm pats on his chest. 'I'm here.'
Champ's ears, still twitching, pitched toward Skye. Eyes
roving, searching---at last he stood firm. His muscles
relaxed, he nickered softly, and then he nudged his muzzle
into Skye's waiting embrace.
'That's better,' Skye said, wrapping her arms around
his neck and planting a kiss on his furry cheek. 'Now
take it easy. When the others are calmed down, I'll come
back with your supper. And you'll need your blanket for
a while. The way you're lathered up you could catch
pneumonia in this cold night air.'
Skye hurried to the next stall where a large black
Tennessee walker stomped and snorted. 'Easy, Stormy,'
she said as she reached for the latch on the door. Then
suddenly she stopped---her arm suspended in midair.
What was that? Had she heard something amid all the
commotion? Or was the storm playing tricks on her?
'Skye! Skye Nicholson!'
Skye's brown eyes flashed. She turned and swept her
long dark hair off her face, and then stopped, straining
to listen past the noise around her.
'Over here!' The voice seemed to be coming from the
Skye spun around. There---in the doorway, in the
shadows---was that someone peeking out? A face with an
earring sparkling on each side?
Skye inched toward the doorway. 'Who's there?' she
called out uncertainly.
'It's me, Tanya!' a quivering voice answered. A tall
African American teenager stepped into the doorway,
now in full view of the overhead lights. The girl folded
her arms in a futile attempt to keep warm, her shapely
frame covered with just a thin denim jacket and jeans.
Her short ponytail and long strands of ringlets in front of
her ears quivered as she tried to keep warm.
Skye stopped, her face frozen with surprise. 'Tanya?
Tanya Bell? But---when---how'd you get here?'
'I split from home!' Tanya piped above the commotion
in the barn.
'C'mere---out into the open---where the horses can
see you!' Skye angrily waved Tanya toward her. 'No
wonder they're so wound up. They picked up the scent
of a stranger, but they couldn't see you.'
'Their noses work that well? I was wondering why
they were going nuts!' Tanya said as she joined Skye.
'Yeah, but they need to put a body with the scent.
C'mere.' Skye tugged the girl's sleeve. 'We've got to
settle them down.'
'Mr. C. will be right---' Morgan yelled as she came
around the corner, 'Hey . . . what's happenin'? And who's
'In a sec,' Skye said, pulling Tanya with her. 'Follow
me. I want you to stick your hand out as we go to each
stall. Let the horses get a good whiff. When they can smell
you and see you, we'll have some peace.'
Cautiously, the two girls approached each stall. Skye
'horse-talked' while Tanya forced her hand out as though
she were sticking it in a bucket of manure. Six stalls later,
a relaxed chorus of nickering horses voiced their impatience
for their oats and hay.
'So this is what made them go off the deep end!'
Morgan said, joining the girls. 'Like I said before---who
are you? And where did you drop in from?'
'Okay, Tanya. Let's hear it,' Skye added. 'How'd
you get here from the Millers? You are staying in town
with the Millers, aren't you? Oh, sorry, Morgan. This
is Tanya Bell. I met her last summer at the county fair.
Remember when Sooze and I got in trouble because
of Kenny Hartzell? Well, Tanya was with Kenny.
'Hi. I'm Morgan Hendricks.' Morgan brushed her red
hair back and studied Tanya's tall, slender frame. 'And,
no, I don't remember. Hey, what are you doing in our
barn at this time of night anyway?'
Tanya smacked a large wad of gum and blew a bubble
until it popped.
'Tanya!' Skye said sharply. 'No bubbles in here, or
we'll have another crisis!'
'Oh, so sorry,' Tanya answered curtly. Her hands slid
onto her hips but soon made their way into her jeans
pockets. 'I took a bus from Philly to the mall down the
road. Then I met a truck