Blair was doing better, but he did fall off at least once and while he was more relaxed, he was having a difficult time getting into Kris' rhythm. After watching him and his trainer for a few minutes, he moved towards them.

"Maybe I can help?"

"Jim! What am I doing wrong here?" Blair sounded desperate, but he was also laughing.

"Come on, Chief. You'd never let me get away with that. What do *you* think you're doing wrong?"

He rolled those eyes. "If I knew...I don't know. Something's not clicking. He's doing what I ask, but it feels wrong."

"Like how?"

Blair thought. "We're moving at cross-purposes."


" you're dancing with a partner but one of you is off the beat. You're still dancing, but it's off."

"Good metaphor, Sandburg. What do you do if you're the one off beat?"

His eyes widened. "I...relax and let the music tell me what to do. I'm still not relaxed enough, am I?"

"Just let Kris show you what he needs. You're still in charge, don't worry about that. Just let him go."

"You mean 'give him his head'?"

The trainer guffawed. "Not Ol' Kris. It's sort of a line you gotta ride. Something between shoving him around and letting him do what he wants. And he's a stubborn cuss, Kris is. Gotta handle him just right."

Jim and Blair exchanged an amused glance. "I think you can manage *that* trick, Chief."

Blair grinned. "Oh, I've had some practice along those lines." He bent to talk to Kris in a low, measured cadence as he pressed his legs to the horse's sides. "Okay, Mr. Horse. We're just going to ride around this ring together, you and I. I'll dance with you if you'll dance with me. Yes. Beautiful."

Jim and the trainer watched with differing degrees of amazement as both horse and rider adjusted themselves to one another as they walked around the ring. Blair never stopped talking, of course.

"I know he never rode before. I don't think he'd ever been on a horse before. That guy has to be wunna the fastest learners I ever saw."

Jim beamed with quiet pride. "He's one of the brightest men you'll ever meet, and he knows how to move."

The trainer gave Jim a long look, and nodded as if to himself. "Get that lady of yours warmed up, and I'll make sure you both have some supplies for the trail."

"I can get those myself."

"It's not a problem. There are a couple of other guests doing the same thing. Like I said, nice day for a trail ride."

Jim looked at him closely, but could only detect truth in his voice. "Thank you."

"Just treat Dancer right."

Jim smiled and nodded. With a final wave, he took his horse off to do some more exercises, keeping an eye and ear on Blair all the while.


A half hour later, they were riding, more or less side by side, down the same trail they'd followed the day before. Their saddlebags held enough food and water to keep them through lunch if necessary.

They didn't talk. Blair was too busy keeping his seat and getting Kris to listen to him, and Jim had to keep Dancer from leaping around in her joy to be out of the ring.

It didn't take them long to reach the same cave as the day before. Jim took a look inside while Blair stood holding the reins of both horses. He emerged almost immediately. "Jim, what's wrong?"

"There's another crate of drugs, and it's just as pure."

"Can you see any tracks?"

Jim began to scan the area. There had to be tracks - those crates were too heavy to