Vee appeared at the entrance of the dressing room. “There you are. Better get ready for the next class.”
Cory started to object when Jack appeared by Vee’s side. “Cory says she’s sick. We’d better load up and get home.”
Vee turned and reached a hand up to feel Cory’s forehead. “Really? Do you suppose you picked up that awful twenty-four-hour bug that’s going around?”
Cory ducked past her to where Epi was tied by the trailer. She began rubbing her down with a damp rag.
“If you’re sick, we’ll leave, of course. It’s just that you finally nailed that triple combination thing. I figured you were on a roll.”
Cory wheeled around. “But I totally screwed up the first part of the course.”
Vee shrugged. “You weren’t concentrating, and you made some mistakes. But the important thing is you learned how to ride the combo. So, this show’s a success.”
Cory rubbed harder. “I’m not really that sick. It’s just that I don’t feel comfortable with these people around, watching and stuff.”
“People are always at shows watching.” Vee’s brows bunched together. She stepped closer. “What people?”
“Those Florida circuit people.”
She made a dismissive gesture. “They’re nobody special.”
Epi took a step away from the brisk rubbing.
“Here.” Vee gestured for the rag. “Give me that before you rub a hole in the girl’s side.” She tossed the rag into the brush box. “Now, what exactly happened?”
Cory looked at the sky.
Vee brushed a hair away with the back of her hand, but it immediately flew back across her face in the breeze. She stared at Cory.
“It’s just that I don’t feel we belong here.” Cory took a deep breath and rushed to add, “These people have been showing all winter, and they have Olympic trainers, for God’s sake, and their horses are like million-dollar jumpers . . .” Her voice trailed off when Vee’s eyes narrowed.
“So, Cory, are you ashamed to be here with me and Jack?” Her voice was low.
“No! God, no, not at all.”
“Then you think your horse is no good. Not as nice as any of the others here?”
Epiphany swung her big head around to look at Cory.
“No, of course not. I love Epiphany, she’s awesome. It’s just, well, what Angela said.”
“Angela!” Vee spit out the name. “Where did you see Angela?”
“At the Merchants Village. I was outside The Journal’s tent, and she came out and I couldn’t get away.”
Vee sucked in a deep breath, then asked, as if speaking to a toddler, “So, did she speak to you? What did she say?”
Jack put his hand on Vee’s shoulder.
“She said nice things about Epiphany, how she’s doing so well this year.” Cory kicked at one of the trailer tires. “But then she said real loud how it’s great Epi’s gotten so far considering she came from a slaughter pen.” She looked up into Vee’s eyes. “And she said it right in front of all those reporters and people hanging around.”
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