Suddenly, Dave heard a shot and saw Tory flying through the air. She landed on the ground and didn’t move.
Dave quickly pulled his horse up and jumped off. He grabbed his snub nose forty-five from his ankle holster and ran crouched to the ground to Tory’s side. He searched the area where he thought the gunshot had come from. Damn! I wish I had my binoculars. He returned his gun to its holster and directed his attention to Tory. When he felt for a pulse in her neck and found a strong one, he was relieved. He exhaled a deep breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding.
With squinted eyes, he searched again for a sign of movement or a reflection of any kind in the direction from which the shot had come. When he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, he waved to Sue and Brandon across the meadow as he reached for his cell phone and dialed 911.
Tory coughed. Dave turned to her while waiting on the line. When the call dropped for the second time, he threw his phone on the ground and muttered to himself, “damn thing.” Then he gave Tory all his attention. He patted her cheeks and talked to her.
“Tory, can you hear me? It’s Dave. Remember me? Tory, can you hear me?”
Tory turned her head from one side to the other while Dave ran his hands along her arms and legs feeling for anything broken.
“Dave, I’m okay, I think.”
Dave moved within view and looked at her face, and she was smiling, her eyes wide open.
“Can you tell me how many fingers I’m holding up?” He held up two fingers in front of her.
“Two. Listen, I just fell off my horse. I’ve done it lots of times before. Just gotta get back on, that’s all.” She sighed.
Dave laughed. “I think it was a little more than that, sweetheart. Someone shot at you, spooked your horse and you went sailing off. Do you remember anything?”
Tory rubbed the back of her head. “Ouch, no wonder my head hurts. I have a big bump on it.”
Dave reached behind her head to feel the lump and brought his hand away with blood on it. “I think you’ll need to see the doctor and maybe get a few stitches, Tory. Do you hurt anywhere else? Can you move your arms and legs?”
She raised her hand, rubbed his cheek and gazed into his concerned eyes. “I’m fine, really. I just have a little bump on my head. Stop worrying, okay?”
“Do you remember anything that happened before you fell?”
“Uh, I don’t know. I heard something near my ear like a big whistle, but that’s all,” she said as she sat up.
“That ‘big whistle,’ as you call it, was a bullet meant for you, me, or one of the horses. Who do you think would try anything like this?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t been in town long enough to make any enemies or cause any trouble,” she said with a grin. “Give me time though, and I’ll probably have a few.”
* * * *Sue and Brandon both heard the gunshot coming from the left, and Sue started to cross the meadow when Brandon stopped her.
“Whoever’s shooting may still be out there and able to shoot at us. We’ll head back to the barn and change out the horses for the truck and come back. Tory may need our help and a ride to the hospital. We need to call the police, too.” He flipped open his phone, punched in 911, and explained the situation. Chief Carr was on his way.
Without wasting time and at a much faster pace, they turned the horses around and headed to the barn. The return trip was always shorter since the horses were anxious to get back to their stalls.
“Miguel, would you brush down the horses and put them away? Also, be on the lookout for anyone suspicious that may have been on our property. Someone shot at Tory. If you find anyone, you’ll need to detain them until Chief Carr can get back to the ranch. I’ll have the radio with me at all times if anything comes up. Also, better keep your pistol nearby.”
Sue ran to the house for the first-aid kit, and when she returned, she and Brandon jumped into their beat-up pickup truck with rifles on the back window and headed to the meadow, taking the dirt road along the main highway. They kept their eyes peeled for anyone coming onto or leaving their property.
* * * *Sue checked Tory’s injury herself and decided she didn’t need stitches after all. “Tory, I think you’ll live to ride another day.