Opinions rage and secrets spill when 18 people must decide the fate of a stray horse that has suddenly appeared their community. To rescue this rare and valuable creature, two women set out on a quest that takes them through an epic snowstorm and sweeps one of them into a whirlwind romance with a heroic and aging cowboy. Worlds collide as the truth is revealed about the horse and its owner in 

A Horse of a Different Color.

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Excerpt from A Horse of a Different Color

Snowflakes began to appear. In another few miles the flurries gathered momentum and wisps of white began swirling along the roadway. Alice gripped the steering wheel. Managing the empty trailer in snow was difficult. It would be even harder with a horse in tow. Flurries flew in a more determined direction until they became snow falling in earnest. Alice's heart began to race.

Ten miles remained to Wagner's stable. It was on the northeast side of Richmond. Alice exited the interstate and followed the first of six roads. Mary Gray looked at her watch. It read 4:00 p.m. She thought they should arrive with time to spare.

Turning onto the first road, the two followed a line of cars many of which had also come from the interstate. The volume of traffic and dim visibility made the forty-five miles per hour speed limit sign unnecessary since no one was going more than twenty.

"About six miles to the next turn," Mary Gray announced, reading her phone's GPS. The cars snaked slowly along, headlights beaming into a whitening world. They reached their turn at 4:20. Mary Gray tried not to look, but the clock on the truck dashboard made it impossible not to know the time.

On the second road, they came up behind a school bus driving less than fifteen mph.

"We're on this for two miles. Then it will be a left," Mary Gray said.

Driving apace behind the bus, Alice maintained ample distance. At their turn, the bus turned right, while they turned left. Both women sighed with relief. 4:30.

"Take this about a mile to Luck Road where you'll turn right."

No one appeared to be on this road. Neither were there houses or barns. Fields stretched in every direction. Alice steadied herself for the mile drive. With no tail lights to mark the way, the road and land began to merge. The tires suddenly bumped along as Alice realized they were off-road. But where was the road? She slowed to a stop.

"There!" Mary Gray pointed. Through the snow they could just make out a speed limit sign on their left. They had missed a curve. Alice pushed on the accelerator, gradually moving in the direction of the sign and the road that must be near. The tires caught something like a surface.

Alice inched the truck along. The women strained to see more signs, trusting that the road remained beneath them.


"Here's a road," Mary Gray called, pointing to the right. "It's not labeled, though."

Alice paused their already slow progress and brought the vehicle to a stop. "Do you think that's Luck Road?"

"Have we gone a mile?"

"I don't know. I didn't look at the odometer. It's so hard to tell. What does your GPS say?"

"It's not cooperating. We're supposed to take Luck Road for .3 miles to Canter Lane. That's a right. And then we turn right on Fortune Farm Lane, and we're there, or supposed to be there."

"Let's try this right. If we don't come to Canter Lane, then we know it wasn't right. I sure hope it is, because I would rather not turn this truck and trailer around." Alice lifted her foot from the brake and applied pressure to the accelerator. The truck followed her lead and they crept along the unnamed road. Suddenly they heard a rumble from behind. Alice looked in her rear view mirror in time to see the twin headlights of a Heavy Duty Ram Charger roaring up behind her. In a moment the truck boomed by on their right, scaring them so mightily that Alice drew up her hands and lifted her foot entirely from the accelerator.

"Am I off the road again?" Alice cried. "Why would he pass me on the right?"

"Follow him," Mary Gray ordered, hoping the idiot knew where he was going.

Alice obeyed, pressing the accelerator vigorously, but as she did the truck and trailer swayed on the slippery surface, unable to gain traction. She let off the gas and slowed to a stop. The red taillights faded in the distance ahead.

"He gave us an idea of direction. Just keep moving that way," Mary Gray said.

Alice shifted into low gear and tried again, more carefully, this time gently pressing the pedal. Her truck obeyed.

They moved ahead but without any idea of roadway. The wipers gave no help, nor their headlights, because the world was completely white.

"We've got to be within a mile of this place," Mary Gray said, trying to hold her voice steady. She had never before been so disoriented. Her palms were sweating and her heart pounded.

The tires again began bumping. The snow was deepening and soon nothing would remain to differentiate field from road. Alice tried veering toward the left and the bumping soon ceased, but whether that meant she was on the road, she could not know. Snow pelted the truck and everything around. A mile from safety and Sally May, they were in a white-out. Alice brought the truck to a halt.

"I can't see," she said. "I simply cannot see."

"I know," Mary Gray replied.

"I don't know what we can do," Alice said.

"Let me get out and see if I can tell anything from outside," Mary Gray offered.

"Here, put this hat on," Alice said, reaching into the back seat. "You'll need it. And take these gloves." Alice pulled gloves from her coat pocket and handed them to Mary Gray.

Mary Gray popped the hat on to her head and pulled the gloves onto her hands.

"Don't go far. Not more than ten feet or I won't see you."

"Agreed," Mary Gray said, then opened the door to exit. Snow immediately began falling into the truck. Mary Gray quickly shut the door after herself.

Outside a fantasy of white met her. The world was silent except for the truck's engine and the crystalline sound of falling snow. She couldn't even see a foot ahead. The snow was impossibly heavy, like skeins of cotton pelting down. She guided herself by touching the hood of the truck. Venturing beyond the vehicle she walked five more paces, counting each one so she would know how far she had gone. She squinted to improve her vision. The only difference was the quality of white where the truck lights illumined. Mary Gray inched her way back to the truck. Opening the door, she slid onto a now damp seat and slammed the door shut.


"I can't see a thing. It's a blizzard." Mary Gray said.

"Let's call. I shouldn't have waited until now. I thought we would make it. Can you use your cell phone? Jerry's number should be in your phone."

Mary Gray pulled out her cell phone and scrolled to his earlier call. She wondered if Wagner's would already be closed. Could they have closed early due to the weather? Certainly they wouldn't have left if they knew the women were coming. Or would they?

She dialed.


She tried again and got a connection.

Voicemail answered but said that the mailbox was too full to leave a message. She held out the phone for Alice to hear.

Silence landed between the women.

"Now what?" Mary Gray finally asked.

Staring ahead in numb disbelief, Alice answered, "We wait. We wait out the storm until it lightens. It can't snow like this forever. We'll keep running the truck at intervals to keep ourselves warm." Alice then began taking a verbal inventory of the truck's contents. The trailer included two blankets, an empty water bucket, rope, hay, sawdust, trailering boots for the horse, a few tools and a shovel. They had no food other than hay for the horse.

"I'm going to retrieve some things from the trailer that we might need," Alice said. "May I have the hat and gloves?"

"Sure." Mary Gray handed these to Alice who put them on and left.

In a few moments she heard Alice shout, "Here," as Alice opened the truck's backdoor. She thrust the handle of a shovel toward the back seat. Mary Gray wheeled around and guided the shovel to the floor.

"And these," Alice said, throwing blankets toward her seat.

In another moment Alice was in the front seat of the truck, snow cascading down her hat and coat. The truck engine still ran.

"I should have thought to bring granola bars and water bottles for the road. I just thought we would be home in time for a late dinner," Alice said. She looked at her gas gauge: half full. "I'm a girl scout, but I'm not sure I am prepared for this," Alice admitted.

"I should have been a girl scout," Mary Gray said. "Or watched some of those survival shows. I don't pay attention to the Weather Channel because they're always dramatizing storms."

"They didn't over dramatize the storm that hit us last fall," Alice said.

Mary Gray immediately felt guilty for her remark. "I'm sorry. I should have thought about that before I opened my mouth," she said.

"No apology necessary. I don't usually watch the weather reports myself because I can generally tell from the ache in my bones what's coming. I should have known this blizzard was headed our way, but then, maybe it's not headed to Halifax. It sure seems like it wants to be everywhere. We'll wait this out and see how far we are when the snow slows down. No one's going to move Sally May in this weather, I can tell you that," Alice said with more confidence than she felt.


Mary Gray awoke from a long nap. She was dreaming she was inside a castle of white crystal. Men in tuxedos were rushing around holding serving trays. She was hungry and was trying to get their attention but they kept whizzing by without seeing her. When her eyes focused on reality she remembered she was in a Ford F-250 in Virginia waiting out a snow storm. The truck was cold. She was wrapped in a blanket that smelled of horse. Her ears and head felt cold. It was dark in the truck, almost completely dark. Could the snow entomb them? What if they lost oxygen? Is this how people die? Mary Gray wondered. Her heart began to pound. She shot a look to her left. Alice was dozing under her own blanket, her head resting on the door. Should she wake her? Ask her to start the engine? Mary Gray then wondered if maybe she should just open her own door and see if the weather had cleared. She tried opening her door. It wouldn't budge. She pushed harder. The door would not move. Bile began rising from her empty stomach.

"Alice, I think we're stuck," Mary Gray cried.

"Hmm?" Alice roused. "Stuck?"

"I'm trying my door and it won't open."

"It may be frozen shut. Here, let me try mine." Alice pulled on her handle. The door gave way about an inch. Alice leaned on the door. Very reluctantly it gave another inch.

"It's the snow," Alice said. "The snow is up to the bottom of the door. Hand me the shovel," she ordered. Snow sliced into the cabin of the truck from the small opening. It had not slowed in the three and a half hours they had been there. Alice slid her seat back to allow room for using the shovel. Awkwardly she stabbed at the snow but that was all she could do. She couldn't get a proper angle to shovel it away.

"I'm afraid we're really stuck," Alice declared.

"If this doesn't stop we'll be buried alive," Mary Gray said, trying to quell her rising panic.

"Let me start the truck again. We can try to move."

Alice turned the key and the motor engaged. Both women silently praised God. This one normal sound gave them hope.

While the motor ran, Alice turned on the interior lights so she could activate the defrost buttons for both front and back. Illuminated, the cabin became a friendly place.

"What do you think we should do?" Mary Gray asked.

"I have a couple of road flairs. I can light those and mount them to the truck. They won't burn the truck, there's too much snow. But to tell you the truth, I don't know who would be out there to see them. Only someone who's crazy, or who's also stuck. I think we should wait and use them when the weather's broken a bit."

"That could be morning," Mary Gray said.

"That could be morning," Alice echoed.

Alice put the truck in gear. It would not move.


The women took turns sleeping, hour by hour, until both fell into deep, dream-filled sleep.


Mary Gray awoke. The cabin was a mask of eerie dark gray. The atmosphere was stuffy. She wondered if the oxygen was low inside the vehicle. They would need fresh air to breathe. It was like they were being drowned in snow. She immediately wanted to open her window. What made car companies think that electronic windows were superior to crank ones? She would give anything for her 1972 Chevy Vega. She shot a look toward Alice who was asleep. She thought about turning the ignition key just to the first setting but she knew it would cause the bell to ring and startle Alice. But air was important. Necessary! Mary Gray reached over and turned the key. With her right hand, Mary Gray immediately pressed her window button. A wall of snow appeared midway up the glass. Her heart raced. She grabbed the shovel from behind her seat and, as Alice had done at the door, Mary Gray began stabbing at the snow. It fell in clumps onto her and into the cab. There was nowhere to go with it. How high was it? Were they completely buried? Would anyone know they were there?

She lowered the shovel onto the backseat, raised her window and shut off the key. She told herself to think. Next, she whipped out her cell phone and dialed 911. Why didn't she call 911 hours ago? What was she thinking? What was this other woman thinking, suggesting that they just wait out the storm? Who was this woman, Mary Gray thought, noticing Alice now rousing.

Mary Gray began knocking her phone like a dim flashlight. "What? Why won't this work!?"

"I couldn't get a signal either. It's either because we're too far out or because the snow is too deep to let the phone signal reach a tower. I tried calling a few hours ago."

"Why didn't you call before all this started happening? Why did you wait!?" Civility began to vanish from Mary Gray's tone.

"I didn't think this could last. Storms like this drop their load and head on. An hour or two. This is pretty serious."

"Pretty serious?! We are completely blocked in. We can't get out the doors or the windows. One of us should have gone for help while we still could!!"

"And which way would we have gone? That person could be outside wandering in circles, now dead from the freezing cold."

"Or maybe finding the farm and getting help. We can't be that far away. The truck that roared by us tells me that we can't be that far!"

"I know. But we have to wait this out."

"And do what?!! We're going to lose air pretty soon."

"Snow carries some oxygen. Look, if you panic, you take in more air, which depletes our supply. It's best if we can both reduce our stress and try to breathe normally. Or even a little bit shallow."

"You have got to be kidding me. We really are going to run out of oxygen?!"

"We might," Alice said.

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