Stan Embraces His Gift – A Short Story Bonus

                                                       Stan Embraces His Gift

This story takes places after Desert Sunrise ends, so if you haven’t discovered what Stan and Lucy’s natural gift is, you may want to keep this story for later on.

As always, writing about Stan and Lucy moved me.

***

The first cool fall evening was refreshing enough to walk in.  Blazing summer heat had left its markers all over Joshua Tree, with cholla pieces dotting the ground, and giant goat heads making their way into everyone’s homes.  Keeping the painful stickers out seemed impossible.
Lucy and Stan strolled in the dusky air to Bandido’s stall to say goodnight before they headed home.  It wasn’t even a typical Wednesday night since they had enjoyed a gourmet feast for the four of them instead of the usual cookbook tasting with as many people as they could gather.  Dana liked to stretch her gourmet muscles from time to time, and she needed adventurous palates for that.  With all of the teens busy at school, or with school, and the ranch staff having other places to be tonight, she had taken advantage and made some of her fancier Indian dishes for them.
The scent of the Jacobs’ kitchen when they walked in that night was one Lucy hoped she would never forget.  She was proud of Stan for trying foods he’d never heard of or seen before they were presented to him to eat this evening.  His horizons were broader, and so was his smile.
Joe and Dana’s first official date had been to an Indian restaurant in Palm Springs, making the evening special for him by reminding him of the addicting, heady flavors, and feelings, of that night.
Stan saw a fast movement on the ground out of the corner of his eye.  He placed his hand on Lucy’s arm and motioned for her to be still, and quiet, while he searched for the cause of it.  They didn’t have many predators at Sunny Skies Stables, but they did get one from time to time.
Stan could see that the blur was a small animal, now hiding under Dana’s minivan in front of the house.  Its sides were moving in and out quickly as it panted in fear.  That’s when he heard the flapping of a bird’s wings, and found the great horned owl that was hunting it perched in a nearby Joshua Tree.
“Shoo,” he told the owl, waving his arms.  At best, he could hope to get it to leave long enough for the animal to get itself to safety.
“It’s a cat.” Lucy knelt down to look under the minivan.
The cat was startled again, and started running from safety, to the small barn.  The great horned owl swooped in, not the least bit afraid of Stan’s waving arms.  Once the owl’s powerful talons clasped the cat’s silver and white fur, Lucy and Stan could see red blood leaking from the punctures.
Lucy thought fast to find the words to save the cat’s life.“Place it gently on the ground.
That is not food you’ve found.
That kitty cat is someone’s pet.
Place it gently on the ground.
Then go and find some other food.
You’ll have your dinner yet.”It still amazed Stan that Lucy embraced their gift the way she did.  The owl did exactly as Lucy asked, and placed the cat on the ground before using its powerful wings to fly away.
Lucy sat on the ground, far enough from the cat to let it know that she wasn’t trying to touch it.  The cat was stunned and frozen in silence.  Then it realized that there was nothing to stop it from running away.
Lucy thought fast again, knowing that they should treat the cat’s wounds if they could.

“Wait, little cat.
Wait for us.
Stay there.
We want to help.
Let us help.
Stay there.”

Something stronger than Lucy’s gifts compelled the cat, who ran into the small barn.
“That’s odd,” Stan said, and then realized he had said it out loud.  “They usually do everything you ask them to.”
“I know,” Lucy agreed.
“What’s happening out here?” Dana opened the screen door to see Stan and Lucy walking toward the small barn.  “Is everything okay?”
“An owl attacked a cat out here just now.  We were going to treat the cat’s wounds, but it wouldn’t stay here long enough to let us see to it, even when Lucy asked it to.”
“That’s strange.”  Dana agreed.  Joe joined her on the porch, searching the sky for signs of the owl.
“I want to go into the barn and see where it went.  I have to try again, in case the cat is badly wounded.”  Lucy explained as she started walking toward the barn again, watching the ground for blood to help her see where the cat went.
There was enough blood for the four of them to track the cat into the barn, and into a part of the barn they weren’t using at the moment.
That’s where they found the cat, and her six fluffy baby kittens.
“Mama Kitty,” Lucy called to her, feeling incredibly sad.  Her exposed stomach showed the extent of the damage the owl had inflicted.  She would not be able to nurse those kittens until she healed.
Mama Kitty hissed and spat at them, determined to protect her kittens.
Stan decided that if Lucy could save the cat’s life, and the kitten’s by extension, he should do his part.

“Mama Kitty.
Relax your claws.
Relax.
Relax.
Relax.
Relax.”

Repeating the word over and over in his soothing voice, Stan approached the cat, who sounded a pitiful, painful meow, before curling herself around her kittens.
“Shh, Mama Kitty.  It’s okay.  Relax.  Stan is here to help you.”  Stan scooted slowly forward, holding his hand out for her to sniff.
Her mother’s instinct was almost too strong to be compelled by Stan’s voice after he started moving toward them, but by repeating the word together, Lucy and Stan convinced her to allow him to gently touch her head.  Mama Kitty looked up at Stan with a plea in her eyes.
“I’m calling Melissa,” Dana announced softly.  “Hopefully she isn’t too busy right now to come and look at Mama Kitty.”
Melissa Bodine, D.V.M, and friend to Dana long before she fell in love with a horse rancher, answered Dana’s call right away.
“I’ll be right there.  That is one lucky cat.”
Stan and Lucy continued to soothe Mama Kitty, who was now letting them pet her and the kittens.
Dana and Joe waited outside for Melissa, and quietly led her into the small barn when she arrived.
“Poor kitty,” Melissa soothed as she approached her carefully.  “I can get you fixed up.”  It didn’t take long for the vet to confirm that the kittens were going to need to be fed by someone other than their mother.
Melissa explained that she would take Mama Kitty with her so she could see how far the damage went, and do her best to help repair it.  She had a kit with her to show Dana and Lucy how to feed the kittens in case they needed to, which they definitely did.  Of course, Stan and Joe already knew what to do for the kittens from their years of ranching.
Lucy gently kissed the Mama Kitty’s resting head, drowsy from the sedative Melissa gave her, and promised to take good care of her babies until she could come back and take over.
Lucy, Stan, Dana, and Joe decided that the kittens would be safer in the house.  They made a bed for them out of a box and put them in Jenny’s room.  They loved feeding them.  Even Jason.  Peaches, Cream, and Dan poked their heads over the edge of the box, risking the scrapes on their noses to see what all the fuss was about.
Melissa called with good news the next day, letting them know that Mama Kitty had only surface wounds and would be back with her kittens in no time at all.
Now all Stan and Joe had to do was keep their ladies from falling in love with the kittens.

As always, thank you for reading,
Gina
Desert Sunrise is the second book in the Natural Gifts series.  It is available now on Amazon.com.  Reviewers, I will gladly supply you with a complimentary copy of Desert Sunrise in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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