Thanks so much to the Ladies of Wild and Wicked Cowboys Blog for hosting me today. I’m thrilled to be here. I’ve been a fan of the site since the day I discovered it…not to mention I’m a fangirl of so many of the regular bloggers here.
Since today is Halloween, I thought you might enjoy a personal short story.
I was born and raised in a large city without a horse to be seen for miles, but I love cowboys and the cowboy lifestyle mystique. Being a city girl who’d never petted a horse, much less ridden one, didn’t detour me from talking a couple of my girlfriends into a quick one day visit at a dude ranch during a trip to Texas to visit family. Our stay ended up being a little shorter than I’d expected.
I’m embarrassed to admit that my friends and I fit the stereotypical description of women who are always late and today was no exception. Our tardy departure wasn’t my fault. I swear! Okay, not totally my fault. I was ready to hit the road only twenty minutes off schedule, but Carol hadn’t finished packing when I went to pick her up, so we lost thirty more minutes. Sandy was all packed when we arrived at her house, but she was trying to tame her hair with a flatiron. Her curly hair was winning. After stopping to get gas and a snack, the three of us set off for The Ghost Horse Ranch only ninety minutes behind schedule.
Mind you, we were on an arbitrary schedule of our own making, so arriving a tad late to the ranch would be no big deal. Plus we had all day Saturday to spend at the ranch before moving on. We hadn’t, however, factored in the major road construction or the flat tire that surely came from that highway construction detour. Looking back, I suppose we should have telephoned and let our hosts, Dick and Pam Johanson, know we were delayed, but we kept thinking we’d make up the time somewhere along the way.
By the time we pulled into the gravel drive and under the Ghost Horse Ranch archway, it was almost midnight, eight hours later than our expected arrival. The lights were off in the big house but a full October moon lit the area making it clear that no one was stirring or awaiting us. In the pastures around us, the white horses the ranch was famous for breeding shone in the silvery moonlight.
In my car, we were hotly debating whether we should wake the Johansons or just go to a hotel that expected travelers to arrive at all hours of the night.
Suddenly Sandy held up her hand. “Quiet. Listen.”
The crunch of gravel under horse hooves echoed in the silence of the night. The metal jingle of spurs had goosebumps popping up on my arms. A man, sitting tall in the saddle, was riding down the drive toward my car. Chap-covered legs hugged the body of his pale steed. Even though it wasn’t cold, I could have sworn I saw fog in the air from his breathing. I swallowed hard, not sure if we should be scared of the stranger or relieved that someone might be coming to our rescue.
“Ladies.” He touched the brim of his hat. “I’m Silas. Welcome to the ranch.”
Carol and Sandy tittered. I, of course, maintained a mature composure…for about sixty seconds.
“Sorry we’re late,” I said.
“Not a problem. I don’t keep regular hours anyway. If you’ll follow me, I’ll take you up to the bunkhouse.”
He turned the ghostly stallion and headed back the way he had come. We followed up the drive, and I confess, gossiped about how good he looked. If he was this gorgeous at night, I could imagine how good he would look in the bright sun tomorrow.
We stopped outside a weather-worn building and stepped from the car.
“In here, ladies,” Silas said, his deep voice sending shivers down my spine. “There are six beds here, but you three beauties are the only guests tonight. Pick any bed and get some sleep. Breakfast is at the big house at seven.” He tipped his hat and stepped outside.
We took just a minute to glance around then I went outside to thank Silas for his help but he was nowhere to be seen. Shrugging off his disappearance, I went back in and the three of us hit the sack.
I don’t sleep well in strange beds so I tossed and turned. More than once I got up and looked outside to see the silhouette of a man astride his horse seemingly watching the bunkhouse. A couple of times I thought I heard Silas’s boot heels on the wooden porch, but when I looked through the window, no one was there.
The next morning we headed up to the main house. When we walked into the foyer, the couple looked surprised to see us.
“Good morning,” the woman said. “I’m Pam Johanson.” She nodded to the tall man beside her who bore a striking resemblance to Silas. “This is my husband Dick. Are you the D’Alba party?”
“We are,” I said. “I’m sorry we were so late getting here last night. I guess Silas forgot to tell you we made it in about midnight.”
The couple exchanged glances. “Silas met you when you arrived?” Dick asked.
“That’s what he said his name was. He was so nice to stay up all night and keep a look-out. You’re lucky to have such a dedicated ranch hand.”
“Silas?” Dick asked again. “Can you describe him?”
I did and the couple exchanged glances once more. Then Dick said, “Wait here a minute. I’ll be right back.”
In a minute, he was back with an old tintype photo. He handed it to me. “Is this the man you saw?”
I looked at the picture. “That’s him, right?” I said, showing the picture to my friends who agreed.
The couple smiled. “Silas Johanson was my great-great-grandfather,” Dick said. “He’s been dead for seventy-five years.”
The three of us pushed tighter together. “Dead? Silas was a ghost?”
The couple nodded. “He shows up from time to time when he thinks he’s needed.”
Sandy jerked my hand. “Um, we’re late. We need to get on the road.”
Carol grabbed my other hand. “Right. We have to go.”
They dragged me out the door and we ran for the car. As we drove down the gravel drive and exited the Ghost Horse Ranch, I could have sworn I heard the drumming of horse hooves following us.
I haven’t been back to a dude ranch since.
Silas wants to know what your Halloween plans are. Tell him and one lucky commenter will win Delilah Devlin’s Undeniable, a story of vampires, cowboys and werewolves. Perfect for tonight, right?
Have a ghostly Halloween from Cowboy Silas
Cynthia D’Alba writes contemporary romance about sexy cowboys and independent women and their struggle to find a happily-ever-after. On February 28, 2012, Texas Two Step, her debut novel, will be released by Samhain Publishing. Texas Two Step is about Olivia Montgomery, the woman Mitch Landry has always loved. Mitch is the one man Olivia could never forget. Olivia’s secret will shatter Mitch’s trust forever. You can find Cynthia on Twitter, Facebook, and CynthiaDAlba.com
Thans, Cynthia, for a very spooky story! Readers, please leave a comment for your chance to win Delilah Devlin’s Undeniable. Winner will be announced tomorrow!