“Let me try it from the back this time,” Pinkie Pie said, circling around behind Applejack. “You ready?”
“I think so, sugarcube.” Applejack gritted her teeth and braced herself.
“Okie dokie, lokie!” Rearing up on her hind legs, Pinkie pushed forward with all her might as she squeezed her eyes tightly shut.
Grunting with the effort of holding herself steady, Applejack let out the breath she’d been holding. “Owwww! I’m not sure this is gonna work, Pinkie. Any other ideas?”
Pinkie got back down on all fours, panting with effort, and shook her head. “Not without help, but... it’s not exactly the kind of thing you want other ponies knowing! Hee hee!”
“Let’s give it one more shot,” Applejack said with a grim smile. “One... two... thr—”
A loud gasp sounded from Carousel Boutique’s doorway as Rarity dropped her bag of groceries, held her hooves to her face, and backed into the door, slamming it. “You... here...?”
Applejack jumped as much as she could in her constricted position and blushed a deep crimson. “Rarity! I... We... didn’t think you’d be back already!”
Holding a hoof to her chest to steady her heartbeat, Rarity used her magic to draw the blinds on all the windows. “It’s alright. Really. At least I can help you be a bit discreet.” She gave an amused little chuckle as her eyes sparkled. “I must say, I’m happy to see you using that again.” Applejack forced a toothy grin as Rarity walked over. “At least the expert is here now. We’ll get this all sorted out.” Prodding about with her hooves, Rarity frowned at Pinkie, who eagerly awaited instructions.
Applejack only heard snippets of the ensuing conversation as she watched a shadow darting about the second-story windows.
“...can’t just force that in there... must treat it like a delicate flower...”
Finally, Applejack had had enough. “Rainbow Dash! I see you eavesdroppin’! You get down here on the double!”
The shadow outside drifted toward the door, then Rainbow slunk through, her head hanging. She flashed an apologetic grin. “Look—I’m okay with it if you two... or three...” When she looked up, she nearly fell over.
“It’s still late winter, so I ain’t in shape yet, and I gotta squeeze into my Gala dress for a family weddin’. You keep this under your hat!”
Rainbow nodded quickly, never before having felt so much pain from holding back laughter.