by Heidi Hutchinson
In Cold Mud novel
Publication Date: March 11, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Ryan Zacherson’s life was forever altered the moment her mom passed away. Thrust into a family feud decades old, she attempts to hold tight to the reins of her life without losing control. She embarks on a forced journey of self-discovery. As she becomes more deeply involved in the world of horse racing, liars, gamblers, and cheats, she learns harsh lessons as the girl no one wants. She’s taught the value of love, compassion, loyalty, and resilience. With the help of her closest friend, Jesse Hart, she learns what it really means to be brave.
With every lesson she learns, Ryan proves time and time again: nothing can break her spirit without her permission.
Companion to Brand New Sky.
Red hadn’t run since the last threatening note had caused so much strife and upheaval in Louisiana. They also hadn’t changed his schedule. They proceeded as if everything was normal. But Ryan was a bit apprehensive, especially in light of the things Jesse had shared with her over Thanksgiving.
Red’s next scheduled race was in a week.
Jesse straightened and held his stopwatch in his hand. “Let’s see how he’s feeling.” He lifted his hand and signaled the jockey to bring him around and open it up.
Red was the kind of horse who didn’t just like to run.
He liked to run.
Full out, no restrictions, no limits.
The trouble these days was horses’ bodies were degrading at a faster rate than they did fifty or a hundred years ago. Ryan had her theories, so did Jesse. They’d discussed them in depth. Horses were being pumped with too many performance enhancing drugs and their bodies were deteriorating. Sometimes only allowing them six good races before being called into retirement due to weakened bone structure and the higher rate of injury. Breeding was where the big money had moved and Ryan could see why, a single horse winning a dozen stakes races in a year was unheard of anymore.
However, it appeared, Red was immune to the things that held back the other horses and their teams. And under Jesse’s training, he had blossomed into a horse no one saw coming.
A legend in the making.
It had a lot to do with Jesse being old school. No drugs, no enhancements. He wanted his colt to feel every moment of the race, not be numbed stupid. The diet was important, too. For years, there was a belief that feeding a horse a higher amount of protein would contribute to muscle growth and better performance. It had the opposite effect. Horses need a high carb diet, it was just body chemistry. Which Ryan had studied extensively in college.
Putting Ryan, Jesse, and Red on the same team? It made them unstoppable.
Red stood still at his start, then Eddie made a slight move and the horse jumped forward. The power in his hindquarters propelling him to a phenomenal speed instantly. He thundered by, the ground shaking beneath them and ricocheting through Ryan’s rib cage.
Red picked up speed as he came around again.
It was an eight furlong dirt track, or one mile. Usually taking a horse a minute forty. Jesse stiffened, his head jerking back and forth from his clock to his colt. Ryan could sense it, but she didn’t take her eyes off of the fastest horse she had ever seen. If it were even possible it looked like….
“That’s not possible,” Jesse said out loud.
“What?” Ryan asked as Red went by a third time. Eddie was standing in the stirrups, trying to get him to slow down.
“He… damn.” Jesse laughed out loud and shoved away from the fence. Ryan spun to watch him. His smile was enormous and unsuccessfully hidden by his hand.
He charged forward, getting close to Ryan. “He just broke a track record.” He shook the stop watch in Ryan’s face excitedly. “Twice!”
“What?” Ryan asked, not following.
Jesse’s flushed face was beaming. “The track record was a minute thirty-five for a mile. He ran the first mile in a minute thirty-four-five. And he ran the second in a minute thirty-three.”
“That’s not possible,” Ryan said, feeling the blood drain from her face.
Jesse laughed again, running a hand through his short hair so it stood up all crazy on top. “But he did it anyway.” He kicked his boot in the dirt and pointed the watch at Ryan. “I told you! Didn’t I tell you?”
Heidi Hutchinson was born in South Dakota and raised the exact right distance away from the Black Hills. She had an overactive imagination very early on, and wasted no time in getting most of her friends in trouble due to her unrealistic and completely ridiculous ideas. Seeing as she was so lazy and also afraid people would think she was bonkers, she didn’t write down any of the story lines that played out in her daydreams.
During her high school years, she took pen to paper and filled more notebooks than she is proud of with angsty, depressing, self-deprecating poetry. This led to her writing down more things: notes, ideas, character bios, plot twists that had no plot yet to twist. After years of cleaning up her own scraps of imagination with nothing solid to hold on to, she sat down and wrote the story that had been in her head the longest. Fueled by coffee and her unwavering and perfectly normal devotion to Dave Grohl, she discovered a writer living inside of her.
She still lives in the Midwest, though not as close to the Black Hills as she would prefer, with her alarmingly handsome husband and their fearless child. They eat more pizza than God intended and she listens to her music the same way she lives: loudly.