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Excerpt from Third-Time Lucky
Kirstie Scott yawned as she crept out of her warm bed and struggled into cold jeans and sweatshirt. She groaned as she fumbled her way downstairs, glancing at the clock in the hall. Two o'clock in the morning!
"Get a move on, Kirstie!" her brother, Matt, called from the porch. "You're the one who wanted to see this, remember!""Uh-uhh!" Eyes wouldn't stay open; fingers refused to work. "I've got a problem pulling my boots on!"
Matt grunted. "Follow me to the barn when you're ready, OK?"
Kirstie heard his footsteps cross the yard. Two o'clock! She should be fast asleep, not struggling with stupid boots. With three hard stamps she forced the second foot inside the tough leather casing, grabbed her cap from the hook by the door, and followed her brother outside.
Stars. A crescent moon. No clouds. Kirstie's slow brain registered the fine night. Pure habit took her from the ranch house across the yard to the open barn door. She yawned again, then shivered. It was cold at night, even in late April. Her breath came out as a small cloud of steam, and frost glinted on the cabin roofs up Apache Hill.
The barn was warm. Kirstie smelled the sweet scent of hay; cats were sleeping in dark corners. She stepped inside and pulled the door shut.
"Is that you, Kirstie?" Matt was already hard at work in the stall where the mare was due to foal. Overhead, there was a bare electric bulb. "Get rid of this soiled bedding, will you? And break open a new bale. We need extra straw in here."
She gave a final yawn, blinked, then shook herself fully awake as she rounded the corner. "Oh my!"
Taco, a black-and-white paint, was struggling to her feet. Then she raised her back feet to kick at her belly and tried to bite her swollen flanks. Through all this, Matt was attempting to wrap a bandage around her tail to keep it clean and neatly out of the way.
"She's already in labor," he gasped. "We've gotta move fast!"
Quickly Kirstie grabbed a rake and removed the soiled hay. She ran to break open a fresh bale and came back with armfuls to spread under Taco's feet.
"What now?" she asked Matt, the expert.
He'd managed to fasten the bandage and now watched closely as the mare lay down and tried to roll. "We wait," he murmured.
"Can't we do something for her?" To Kirstie it looked like Taco was in a whole lot of pain.
"Nope." Firmly he backed Kirstie out of the stall.
"Don't crowd her, OK? The foal's presenting normally, head first. Now it's up to Taco."
"Wow, how can you be so laid back?" Fully awake and alert to every movement of the mare, Kirstie began to pace up and down.