View Full Version : "Suffering Pines - The Beginning"

Aug. 8, 2000, 12:36 AM
*Warning* Frivilous thread!
Below are the first few paragraphs of a story that might get published (as Beet Pulp Fiction) if we can find a backer. The way it works is this: Read the paragraphs, add a few of your own. Bulletin Board rules most definitely apply! Anyone can contribute. If you have questions about the plot, where its going, email me please so the story can continue w/o breaks. When you want to break off, start a leading sentence, ie. "His eyes were..." "Then she said...." and let someone else take over.

General story arc is this: girl is left a fortune, girl buys horse, joins Big Name Trainer's stable, meets poor boy, trials/tribulations ensue. Questions to answer: Will she stay with Big Name? Will True Love prevail? Will Poor Boy make good? And who is that man who's always...watching...at ringside? For those who have not lived in Suffering Pines, make up places or use the ones previously mentioned. Suffering Pines folks, maybe you could start a "reference" thread for us? Characters may move around the country at will, but should not make 180 degree shifts from previously described behavior w/o a *really good reason* (Let's avoid the Dallas shower scene okay?) Humor is good, personal attacks bad. Tasteful lust (smoldering looks, like in the original Harlequin romances) is okay, Smut is bad. If a kid can't read it don't write it! The setting is Moseby's as Our Characters reflect on the events that brought them all together. Have fun!

SUFFERING PINES -the Beginning

Jackie entered Mosby's on the Friday night of the Middleburg Classic. The place was packed but over in the corner she spied her friends. As she slid in beside Muffy, Savannah and Vanessa, a casual observer could be forgiven for thinking they were related. They all had that "horsey" look.

It was hard to talk over the music and laughter but the girls managed. They hadn't been together as a foursome since Devon, and so much had happened since then...

Jackie was just glad to be a part of the group. For years she'd been the outsider looking in unable to afford the quality of horse necessary to compete at this level. She had worked the circuit as a braider and catch rode occasionally. Until that sweet old Suffering Pines matron with more money than sense left her a pile, with a cryptic bequest:

"To Jackie O, I leave the rest of my fortune with this stipulation. That you find true love and show everyone how good true love is."

That had been some years ago, and amazingly, she still had some money left. Her first order of business had been to buy a horse. After years on the circuit, she knew what she wanted. Finding it had been harder and a story in itself. But find it she had, a horse little girls dreamed of, who looked like....

Aug. 8, 2000, 12:36 AM
*Warning* Frivilous thread!
Below are the first few paragraphs of a story that might get published (as Beet Pulp Fiction) if we can find a backer. The way it works is this: Read the paragraphs, add a few of your own. Bulletin Board rules most definitely apply! Anyone can contribute. If you have questions about the plot, where its going, email me please so the story can continue w/o breaks. When you want to break off, start a leading sentence, ie. "His eyes were..." "Then she said...." and let someone else take over.

General story arc is this: girl is left a fortune, girl buys horse, joins Big Name Trainer's stable, meets poor boy, trials/tribulations ensue. Questions to answer: Will she stay with Big Name? Will True Love prevail? Will Poor Boy make good? And who is that man who's always...watching...at ringside? For those who have not lived in Suffering Pines, make up places or use the ones previously mentioned. Suffering Pines folks, maybe you could start a "reference" thread for us? Characters may move around the country at will, but should not make 180 degree shifts from previously described behavior w/o a *really good reason* (Let's avoid the Dallas shower scene okay?) Humor is good, personal attacks bad. Tasteful lust (smoldering looks, like in the original Harlequin romances) is okay, Smut is bad. If a kid can't read it don't write it! The setting is Moseby's as Our Characters reflect on the events that brought them all together. Have fun!

SUFFERING PINES -the Beginning

Jackie entered Mosby's on the Friday night of the Middleburg Classic. The place was packed but over in the corner she spied her friends. As she slid in beside Muffy, Savannah and Vanessa, a casual observer could be forgiven for thinking they were related. They all had that "horsey" look.

It was hard to talk over the music and laughter but the girls managed. They hadn't been together as a foursome since Devon, and so much had happened since then...

Jackie was just glad to be a part of the group. For years she'd been the outsider looking in unable to afford the quality of horse necessary to compete at this level. She had worked the circuit as a braider and catch rode occasionally. Until that sweet old Suffering Pines matron with more money than sense left her a pile, with a cryptic bequest:

"To Jackie O, I leave the rest of my fortune with this stipulation. That you find true love and show everyone how good true love is."

That had been some years ago, and amazingly, she still had some money left. Her first order of business had been to buy a horse. After years on the circuit, she knew what she wanted. Finding it had been harder and a story in itself. But find it she had, a horse little girls dreamed of, who looked like....

Aug. 8, 2000, 03:32 AM
...the gods of conformation had gathered together to create a template for perfection. That perfection was realized in the magnificent bay thoroughbred she now called her own. And as if his beauty weren't enough to stop the heart, he had the mind and movement to match. Their pairing promised a path to everything that she'd always yearned for--but that had seemed so unattainable. At last, the fragments of her girlish dreams were coming together. All that was needed was the trainer that would take them to the top. Someone who could make it all happen--someone with a name. He came to her in the person of...

[This message has been edited by EquiMom (edited 08-08-2000).]

Aug. 8, 2000, 08:18 AM
. . . Erik Highborne Booth III. Jackie had known of Erik for many years; his uncanny ability to transform horses with dubious promise into successful show hunters and jumpers was legendary.

Nevertheless, Erik was a mystery to most. Somewhat reclusive and always unpredictable, ten years ago he had suddenly disappeared from the horse world. Some speculated that his heart had been broken; others that the money had run out due to mismanagement or circumstances more sinister. The truth remained buried, however, and everything about Erik's demeanor suggested that inquiries about the past were unwelcome.

So, for reasons known only to himself, Erik had abandoned the horse world for ten years or more. But now he was back and was accepting clients at his new facility - and that fact was the only thing of any importance to Jackie.

Mosby's was bustling that evening. Vanessa, who had stopped and started smoking more times than Jackie cared to think, exhaled a thin stream of bluish smoke and leaned forward on the table, obviously anxious to share a salacious piece of gossip . . .

[This message has been edited by Inverness (edited 08-08-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Inverness (edited 08-08-2000).]

Aug. 8, 2000, 08:48 AM
But gossip it was not for many of the patrons had noticed the older woman that had just walked purposefully up to the bar. Her hair was silver and grey, a curly uncoifed style that seemed as comfortable to her as the well worn retro polyester outfit she wore. Her appearance made her an oddity in this setting, but it was old news to those who frequented the horse shows. Inheriting a fortune built by the automotive industry, Fiona Ford had a beautiful farm in the rolling hills of Montpepier Station, next to one of the great horsemen, The Red Fox. Her stallion had produced a long line of winning mares, many stamped with his shining chestnut coat and bright chrome. A nice lady, but a child of the Lindberg era, Ms. Ford kept to herself, never one to flaunt her fortune or behave presumtiously. One could only wonder why she was in Mosby's.

Vanessa nodded in the direction of the bar and all eyes followed her stare. "Wonder what cosmic forces have collaborated to cause this event?"

But no one had an answer, the scene was so surreal. Like a Saddlebred winning the green conformation, some things just didn't happen. And to add to the unusual nature of Ms. Ford's presence, who should join her at the bar with a forced smile, but Erik Booth. Vanessa, entrenched in horsedom for eons it seemed, recognized this pairing for what it was: an impossibility. But the two found themselves a table and one could only wonder what was being said amongst the exchnge of nods....

Aug. 8, 2000, 08:49 AM
“…Omigod!" Vanessa smokily spewed slander. "Didja hear about Strobe Halsey-Endicott? His old groom, like, showed up with a TV crew from Geraldo or somebody. They had a camera and, like, were filming all this stuff and I hear, like, the groom had it out for Strobe BIG TIME. I can’t wait to see the show on TV!”

Jackie absorbed this news quietly while the other three prattled on. Strobe had formerly been a business partner to Erik and Jackie had always known Strobe to be a fair sportsman and upheld those standards in his barn. Did the former groom, or a rival competitor, have a grudge to avenge?

Jackie didnÂ’t have time to ponder as Mosby's front door was swept open by . . .

Aug. 8, 2000, 08:51 AM
She whispered just loudly enough to be heard over the din of conversation and music, "Did you know that right before Erik dropped out of horses he was spending a lot of time outside the show ring with a certain 'shamateur' AA rider who ended up ditching him and marrying her trainer? Erik tried to keep it quiet, but there were a few of us who saw what was going on behind the scenes at WEF that year."

"Who was it?" asked Muffy, Savannah and Jackie simultaneously?....

Aug. 8, 2000, 09:20 AM
Vanessa nodded at the raven-haired beauty striding directly to the table shared by Fiona Ford and Erik Booth. She joined them without a word. Erik reached to pull out her chair without rising from his own. They looked anything but the former lovers Vanessa's gossip suggested.
Fiona was clearly in charge of the meeting and she did not look pleased...

Aug. 8, 2000, 09:23 AM
But all Jackie's attention was riveted on the unlikely pair at the bar. Seemingly oblivious to the stares of those around them, Erik and Fiona leaned their heads close together, absorbed in conversation.

Vanessa slapped the table top with an open palm; "Jackie! Didn't you hear what we said about Erik, Strobe, and the AA rider? Aren't you listening?" Apparently, the oddity of the pairing at the bar was lost on Vanessa and Muffy. "Of course I'm listening to you" responded Jackie. "I just don't know anything about the AA rider, and I've always had a lot of respect for Strobe." She glanced over at Savannah who had been unusually quiet and appeared to be hiding behind her beer. Was that a glint of fear she detected in Savannah's eyes?

It was only then that she redirected her attention to Erik and Fiona and noticed the beautiful woman who had unobtrusively joined them . . .

[This message has been edited by Inverness (edited 08-08-2000).]

Aug. 8, 2000, 10:22 AM
Also watching the Fiona/Erik exchange with rapt attention was Carleton Phipps. He had worked for Fiona for almost 15 years; a trusted and loyal employee, he was only in Virginia for another day or so before returning to Ms. Ford's farm in Southern Pines, a small town nestled among the longleaf pines in the sand hills of North Carolina. He was missing his usual evening trip to Finches, the local watering hole, and decided to give Moseby's a try after having overheard Fiona's stallion manager mention it. Carleton had been born with a silver spoon in his mouth that had quickly tarnished in a family full of abusive men and alcoholics that sqaundered his inheritance on worthless nags, the majority of which barely ever got out of the start gate. Like his grandfather, he had an eye for horses and Fiona recognized it right away. She set Carleton up at the smaller of her farms with a guest house, farm vehicle, and salary. He was quite able to provide for his 2 young boys after his wife left him for an Argentinian trainer who was working at a farm just down the fire lane. His life was taking care of his boys and taking care of Ms. Ford's interests. And right now he was trying very hard to figure out just exactly what interest she might have in Erik Boothe. He was even more surprised that Diane Amos had joined them. It was apparent she'd enjoyed another visit to the plastic surgeon and hair dresser. Her nose was smaller, her cheek bones higher and her naturally mousey brown hair was a much longer and thicker black. So shiny and black it was almost blue. To the unknowing eye, she was beautiful; to those who knew her, she could never be beautiful regardless of the amount of cookie fortune money she spent on surgeons and the like. Carleton remembered well the day Diana had come tearing through the farm when Ms. Ford happened to be in residence. She had 3 labradors trailing behind her running through the flower beds and making a hige mess. The racket had set off one of Ms. Ford's mares who was recovering from a trailering incident and knocked over the trash bins just outside the barn doors. Ms. Ford had stepped out of the house just as Diana was riding by and jumped out in front of her horse waving her hands. The horse spooked and reared depositing a furious Diana Amos onto the sandy earth. Holding the horse's reins, Fiona proceeded to give Diana Amos a tongue lashing like no other for coming through the farm with her dogs. Everyone knew only hounds were allowed to pass through other people's farms - your own dogs stayed home, no exceptions. The fray ended presently with a very indignant Diana Amos walking home leading her horse and by the next morning the story had made the rounds through Red's Exxon, the local tack shop, the laundry mat, and Whiskey McNeils. That was a long time ago, but Carleton didn't think time would change the mutual dislike the two women had for each other. He didn't trust Diana Amos and from what he'd heard about Erik Boothe, he didn't trust him either. he couldn't for the life of him understand why a woman like Fiona Ford was wasting her time in a place like this with people like that. Wishing for the comfort of his own bed, Carelton paid his tab and headed for the door, preparing himself for the dark drive to Montpelier Station. He walked past the table where the unusual trio sat, and as he passed by unnoticed, he couldn't help but overhear....

Aug. 8, 2000, 12:32 PM
a fragment of a sentance from Eric, "money and that horse", followed by a quick glance at at table where four young women sat. Carleton knew them of course, the Virginia horse community is small and close knit. He immediately suspected that the subject of discussion might be Jackie Dixon. He had known and respected Jackie for a long time, though there had never been the opportunity for them to develop a close friendship. Jackie's fresh attitude and her bright innocence made her stand out from the somewhat jaded group that she hung out with. Should he say something to her about what he had heard? But, why? He had nothing, really but a fragment of conversation, that could have been about any number of people.

As he hesitated, and gazed at Jackie, her eyes were drawn to his and held. For a moment, their glances remained locked, then both looked quickly away, shaken by the intensity of that moment. Confused, Carleton walked out of the door, into the fresh air of the soft Virginia night. He had to get away and think, before he did anything.

Jackie, in the meantime, reached over and grabbed Vanessa's arm. "Was that Carleton Phipps?" she asked. "Who cares!" replied VAnessa. "He's old news and not very interesting, if you ask me."

Jackie dropped the question, but she knew that she would not soon forget that glance. As she sat there, slightly distanced from the conversation that the other three were having, her eyes were drawn to..........

[This message has been edited by LOUISE (edited 08-08-2000).]

Aug. 8, 2000, 12:43 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Inverness:
[B] . . . Erik Highborne Booth III. Jackie had known of Erik for many years; his uncanny ability to transform horses with dubious promise into successful show hunters and jumpers was legendary.

Nevertheless, Erik was a mystery to most. Somewhat reclusive and always unpredictable, ten years ago he had suddenly disappeared from the horse world. Some speculated that his heart had been broken; others that the money had run out due to mismanagement or circumstances more sinister. The truth remained buried, however, and everything about Erik's demeanor suggested that inquiries about the past were unwelcome.

So, for reasons known only to himself, Erik had abandoned the horse world for ten years or more. But now he was back and was accepting clients at his new facility - and that fact was the only thing of any importance to Jackie.

Mosby's was bustling that evening. Vanessa, who had stopped and started smoking more times than Jackie cared to think, exhaled a thin stream of bluish smoke and leaned forward on the table, obviously anxious to share a salacious piece of gossip . . .quote]_____________________________________________

...whether anyone wanted to hear it or not. Her eagerness suggested that she'd ferreted out something really juicy--enough to warrant the ceremonial drag on her ill-considered menthol light.

"Jackie...you still planning on moving Destiny to Highborne Farm?"

"You know I am, Vanny...why even ask?

"Well...you ought to know that you might be getting more than you bargained for with Erik."

"I know all about the rumors, Vanessa..." Jackie sighed, "It's old stuff."

"Not this! Let's just say a very reliable source at Devon told me that anyone training with him had better think twice--and have really good medical coverage!"

At this point, Savannah broke in, commanding attention with the soft southern lilt of her honey voice--and a well-placed kick under the table; "Vanessa, you hush up now, hear? Jackie doesn't need to hear any of that!"

"Fine!" Vanessa shot back, "I won't say another word about it--but don't blame me if Jackie falls off the face of the earth the way Lacey Simmons did! If you recall, she disappeared from the circuit right around the same time as Erik! That's all I'm going to say!" With that, she tamped out her wasted cigarette and immediately fired up another to accompany her silenced pout.

[This message has been edited by EquiMom (edited 08-08-2000).]

Aug. 8, 2000, 01:56 PM
QUOTE: LOUISE "her eyes were drawn to ..."

The group of three in the opposite corner. Jackie wondered to herself why Carleton had not stopped to speak or even acknowlege Fiona. It was common knowledge that Fiona's largesse had financed Carleton's success and that Carleton managed one of Fiona's properties and several of her best breeding stallions. And why would he so deliberately have looked in her direction - what could that have meant?

Shaking her head, Jackie decided she was being silly and quickly dismissed Carleton's backward glance from her mind. "Don't be ridiculous" she thought to herself.

Vanessa, still pouting, crinkled her nose in distaste and shot an expertly formed smoke ring at the departing Carleton. "I'm telling you Jackie-O, he's past his prime."

Jackie nodded in mock assent. There was no point in arguing with Vanessa when she'd passed judgement on a man.

But Vanessa's comment about Erik continued to nag at her. However crass and unthinking Vanessa's opinions might be, where Destiny's well-being was concerned, she would not take any chances. Jackie determined to talk with Savannah about it later. If there was even a grain of truth in Vanessa's scurrilous remarks she was determined to know.

[This message has been edited by Inverness (edited 08-08-2000).]

Aug. 8, 2000, 04:58 PM
Erik lay motionless amid the rumpled sheets and wayward pillows of a sleepless night. Now, as the dawn struggled to break through the interminable hours of darkness, he breathed a sigh of weary relief.

He welcomed the long days devoted to the farm's startup. They provided an escape from the ghosts that wanted to claim his sanity. Nighttime had become his enemy. He hated it...almost as passionately as he had loved her.

His gaze wandered, coming to rest upon the framed photograph of the golden girl who was no more. "Lacey..." he heard himself whisper, his steel-grey eyes clouding with the ache of longing.

The stillness of the moment was broken by the sounds of the barn coming to life. Whinnies punctuated the morning air, and Erik found himself wondering what this particular day had in store. The new horse was arriving, as was his owner. He only hoped that she would...

[This message has been edited by EquiMom (edited 08-13-2000).]

Aug. 8, 2000, 05:33 PM
He only hoped that she would prove to be what he expected. His new business venture was beginning to clear the red, but the addition of a talented new client with a fancy horse was always welcome. His eyes again found the photo on his nightstand. "I promise, Lacey, I'll do it right this time. I'll. . . "

Ben and Me
Aug. 8, 2000, 05:49 PM
...I'll never forget you" he thought as he pulled on a pair of clean, crisped jeans, a starched white polo shirt, and a pair of black Grand Prix paddock boots. Erik grabbed a quick bite of breakfast and headed downstairs from his hayloft apartment to the barn.

He passed by his newly purchased collection of winning hunters, a collection that was soon to grow with the addition of a gorgous bay Thoroughbred, owned by a new client.

His thoughts were interupted by the sound of a van, followed by a BMW, pulling up into the gravel driveway. His heart skipped a beat as a young woman climbed out of the BMW and walked up to the barn...

Anyplace Farm
Aug. 8, 2000, 06:39 PM
Still a little groggy from the sleepless night, Erik focused intently on the stranger. He felt his heart nearly skip a beat as he realized the newcomer, his new client, bore a striking resemblance to Lacey. His dear, dear Lacey who had died so tragicly from a violent fall from Erik's best Grand Prix horse. The horse that he had spent countless hours tuning. He tried to push back the memory of her death, still fresh in his mind although it had been nearly seven years since her passing.

Erik walked, albeit tentatively to his new client, "You must be Maribeth Charles." The tall, leggy blonde responded by thrusting her hand out, "That I am! What a fantastic place you have here. I'm sorry I never had time to come out and see it for myself before shipping Rex here but I'd just heard such great things, I knew this would be the place for me."

Needless to say, Erik was taken by the young woman. Not only for her gregarious personality but for the resemblance of his past love. Taking a deep breath, Erik attempted to keep his mind on business, "I've got a nice big stall for...Rex is it?" Maribeth replied, "Oh, yes! That's my baby." After a smile, Erik continued, "Well, it's ready for him. Maybe you can fill me in on what I need to know about him."

Maribeth's expression changed immediately and Erik knew there was something behind it. "Well..." she started, "I should forewarn you that...."

[This message has been edited by Anyplace Farm (edited 08-08-2000).]

Aug. 8, 2000, 07:07 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Ben & Me:
... His heart skipped a beat as a young woman climbed out of the BMW and walked up to the barn...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

...and for a maddening instant the sun-streaked hair framing the clean-scrubbed, smiling face made everything else fall away. It registered with his sleep-deprived brain that what he perceived was nothing more than a cruel trick of the mind. Yet as her purposeful stride brought her closer, the impression only intensified.

"Hello..." she said, extending her hand, "hope we're not too early!"

Even her voice reminded him of Lacey, light and almost musical to the ear.

"Better early than late.." he answered, wincing at the terseness of his own words.

Just then, a nicker of recognition came from the two-horse. The sound of Jackie's voice made Destiny eager to be off the trailer, and he shifted a bit in anticipation of her always welcome touch.

"Let's get this boy out where I can see him." Erik said, willing himself back into the moment. He was prepared to see a quality piece of horseflesh--but this was something more. He was...

[This message has been edited by EquiMom (edited 08-08-2000).]

Aug. 8, 2000, 09:25 PM
He was perfection brought to life. The horse's classic lines bespoke the centuries of breeding which had produced him. Destiny invited comparison to the horses of Stubbs' paintings. He stepped alertly off the van, of course wearing shipping wraps and a bumper. He lifted his sheepskin-haltered head, looked around, and sighed deeply at Jackie, who was holding the other end of the brass and leather shank. Destiny stood quietly for Erik's appraisal.

"Frankly, Jackie, I don't know where you found him, but I wish I could find another. And he goes as good as he looks?"

Jackie's answer was to lead the horse in a circle. Erik noticed the massive overstep even at the walk.

"Yes. He's a Kentucky-bred, a Keeneland July yearling, race trained, but he never started. He's not made up over fences, but he's smart, has an auto change, and he's already bailed me out a time or two. He's going to be the perfect amateur owner horse."

"We'll see about that," Erik answered. "He's too pretty not to do the conformation divisions too, and I know just the professional. . . "

[This message has been edited by Anne (edited 08-08-2000).]

Ben and Me
Aug. 8, 2000, 09:47 PM
...Jeffery Stewart. And I'm sure that once he catches a glimpse of this boy, he'll be dying to throw his Butet up there!"

"Oh wonderful," gushed Jackie. "I've always loved his style, what a wonderful rider! I just know he'll be able to take Destiny to the winner circle at Devon!"

"Well, thats what we all hope for Jackie. But first lets get this fellow unwrapped and into a nice stall," replied Erik. Jackie quickly nodded and led Destiny off to the barn.

Erik walked back up the gravel sidewalk, lined by perfectly groomed flowerbeds. He paused and thought about the resemblence shown between Lacey and Jackie. It was simply uncanny. But he couldn't let that bother him. After all, Lacey was a thing of the past. But Erik couldn't stop blaming himself for her death. He had been witness to the tragic accident and the flashbacks haunted his sleepless nights.

But he had to forget about it. Lacey was gone from his life forever. He had even sold the horse; he simply couldn't bear to bring back the memories.

Erik continued to walk up the sidewalk and walked into the wide barn aisle. He went down to the stall that Jackie was leaning up against, peering in on Destiny, watching him eat a warm bran mash.

"Has he settled in okay?" asked Erik.

"Oh yes," Jackie replied. After all, he has gotten fairly used to travelling. He did do a few smaller A's in the Baby Greens before I purchased him. But I'm not sure if you're familiar with his former owner's story...

[This message has been edited by Ben & Me (edited 08-08-2000).]

Aug. 8, 2000, 10:02 PM
Erik and Jackie both turned to where Maribeth was standing holding Rex's shank, eyes slightly narrowed while maintaining the magnolia smile of the true Southern Woman.

Erik hated it when his schedule went awry. Jackie was early, and he found it hard to concentrate on not one, but two women who brought Lacey's ghost to haunt him.

Jackie, still new to the privileges money could bring, instantly backed down. "Oh, I am early! I'm sorry I didn't mean to interupt; your horse must be arriving today too."

Sensing her advantage, Maribeth worked quickly to establish permanent domination that would ensure that Rex got the lion's share of Erik's attention, and perhaps drive this tacky golddigger back to the working class she'd unexpectedly risen from.

"That's right sugah, and Rex is already pointed for Devon, so I'm sure you can understand that Erik and I need to review our training program, right now.

Although he'd spent the last seven years alone, Erik was not so dense that he couldn't see the start of a potentially business damaging catfight. Ms. Charles had family money, Jackie was definitely "nouveau". He made his decision quickly.

"Yes, that's right. But Heath will help you get Destiny settled." At his call, a tall well built young man came from the barn. Rugged, certainly, handsome? Well, if you could see past the terrible facial scars. He looked at Jackie and mumbled something which sounded like "Fa La La?" but clearly was supposed to be 'follow me'. What's up with him Jackie wondered. He sort of looked like that TV actor who action series was cancelled when a offscreen tantrum by his costar resulted in his death. At least Jackie thought he died. It had been years ago....

Ben and Me
Aug. 8, 2000, 11:05 PM
But Jackie quickly dismissed the idea that it was the same man. After all, the story HAD been all over the place. Jackie had even watched the funeral, broadcasted on a large cable broadcasting netwook. It simply couldn't be the same man, she thought as she followed Heath down the aisle.

Heath opened the door to the large, spacious tack room and ushered Jackie inside. It smelled pleasantly of the high quality leather that lined the walls. He pointed out an empty bridle and saddle rack and an open space where she could place her tack trunk and left. Jackie followed him out and led the way down to her trailer, where all her tack was stowed.

She grabbed her new Delgrange and Edgewood while Heath lowered her Warner into a wheelbarrow. They made their way back up to the tack room and quickly placed the tack in the proper place. Heath left, murmering something about Vetrolin and poultice. Jackie poked around for a while, as was her habit, before leaving the room. But as she stepped forward to open the door, she noticed something truly disturbing...

Aug. 8, 2000, 11:10 PM
It was a picture of Diane Amos that had fallen between the desk and the liquer cabinet. Heavy black ink exes covered her face. In fact, if you didn't know that ONLY Diane wore TAUPE Tailored Sportsmans, it would've been impossible to recognize her. Why would Erik have a defaced picture of Diane Amos in the tack room? What did it mean? Vanessa had implied they'd been involved, but this? What had she gotten herself into?

[This message has been edited by Kryswyn (edited 08-08-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Kryswyn (edited 08-10-2000).]

Aug. 8, 2000, 11:19 PM
She looked up at the sudden sound of rapidly receding hoof beats in the aisle. She poked her head out just in time to see a horse that looked surprisingly like hers quickly being led toward a waiting horse van just outside the barn. The horse wasn't wearing wraps or a head bumper, which Jackie found peculiar.

The old, dust-covered, beige van was conspicuous in that it had no farm name on the sides, and the license plates were mud covered despite weeks of no rain. The person leading the horse was no one she recognised, but she thought it unusual that they were wearing big, dark sunglasses on this overcast day, an over sized baseball cap, pulled low on their head, navy full-body coveralls, and what appeared to be combat boots. Unusual dress around a horse farm, indeed!

Jackie stood at the barn entrance, dumbfounded; her brain not quite comprehending that it was indeed her Destiny that had just been loaded onto the van. It wasn't until she headed back up the aisle and noticed her horse's stall door wide open and the halter missing from the brass horse shoe hook that she realised, it WAS her horse that had been taken! She ran back down the aisle in time to see the van quickly disappearing down the drive. The sounds of hooves kicking the truck's sides, protesting the rough ride, echoed in her ears. Her head was spinning....who had taken her beloved Destiny and why? Where were they taking him?? Would she ever see her beautiful horse again???

She ran back inside the barn, looking around in vain, trying to find somebody...anybody who could tell her who the oddly dressed stranger was who had just taken her horse. The barn which moments ago, had seemed so full of activity, was now ominously desolate and quiet.

Jackie trotted quickly back towards the tack room to phone the police. As she burst through the six-panel mahoagny door, she stopped dead. The sight that met eyes her nearly sent her over the edge; she completely forget why she'd come back in to begin with.

The seat of her sumptuous Delgrange PJ saddle had been viciously slashed; the padding ripped out and strewn about the tackroom like trash after a HITS show. Her beautiful Edgewood bridle lay soaking in an open bucket of tar fence paint.

But the vision that would haunt her for years to come, and made her blood run cold was a message carved in the highly polish ed wood and brass-trimmed lid of her Celebrity Tack trunk that forwarned her....

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-09-2000).]

Aug. 9, 2000, 01:12 AM
Meanwhile, poor Destiny was struggling just to keep his feet during the wild van ride. He hadn't been trailered this roughly in several years. Jackie had always made sure he'd been hauled carefully and gently with lots of soft pillows on his legs.

As the van sped down the twisting country roads up and down hills, Destiny was beginning to panic. The van ride was bringing back memories of that frightening trailer accident from three years ago. Although he escaped uninjured, Destiny still remembers the panic he felt when the trailer slipped off the road and side-swiped that oak tree and tipped on its side.

He couldn't see as there were no windows, and the van was stiflingly hot. He began to kick and thrash about in his box, banging and scraping his delicate legs on the sides of the trailer. In his struggles, Destiny breaks one of his trailer ties....

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-09-2000).]

Aug. 9, 2000, 01:12 AM
...and a warning carved in the wood of her Warner's Celebrity Tax Box. The letters were hardly more than crude slashes--but clear enough to be discernible--spelling out the word, "ELIMINATED"...!

Jackie felt the blood rushing to her head in a sickening wave of heat. Everything suddenly seemed intensely bright. In the instant before her vision narrowed into a swirling, black vortex, she was dimly aware of being swept up and borne away.

[This message has been edited by EquiMom (edited 08-09-2000).]

Aug. 9, 2000, 02:14 AM
A pungent smell assaulted Jackie's senses. It made her choke and feel nauseated. Opening her eyes, she saw Erik's face poised above hers--and behind him stood Vanessa, her head wreathed in cigarette smoke. It was all coming back to her now. She, driving the lead to Highborne Farm, followed by Savannah trailering Destiny...accompanied by Muffy and Vanessa. The rest was still a blur.

When she tried to sit up, the world turned upside down. Falling back in the moist grass, she desperately tried to regain her equilibrium.

"I saw the tack room..." Erik's comment jolted her back into the reality of her waking nightmare; "The police are on their way."

Just then, Heath stepped into view. His were the strong arms that had caught Jackie and carried her to her present location outside the barn.

"Destiny...where--oh, God! Someone's taken him..!"

Vanessa sidled up to Savannah to whisper in her ear; "I tried to warn her--but you wouldn't let me!"

"Shut up, Vanny! Now isn't the time!" Savannah pushed her in the direction of her Tahoe, where a pale and sniffling Muffy sat curled up in the back seat. "Go keep Muffy company."


"Just go, Vanessa! And don't go burnin' up my leather with your damned cigarettes!"

Aug. 9, 2000, 02:27 AM
Vanessa saunters off towards the Tahoe, with just a bit of a smirk on her face, thinking to herself, "I tried to warn you, but would anybody listen to little ole me??? Nooooooo."

As she walks across the manicured lawn, she uses the butt of her cigarette to light up a new one. Dropping the spent fag in the clover, she grinds it in with the heel of her French Calf Dehner Paddock Shoe, leaving a dark smudge on the otherwise perfect landscape of Highbourne Farm.

As she takes a deep drag off her Menthol, her thoughts continue, "No one ever takes Little Vanny seriously. Well, one of these days, they'll wish they'd paid more attention to me. They will regret treating me this way....."

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-09-2000).]

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-09-2000).]

Aug. 9, 2000, 03:03 AM
Several hours later, the van crawls up a long mountain grade, then pulls off onto a washboard gravel road. The broken cross tie swings through the air like a whip, coming down across Destiny's beautiful head, leaving a two inch wide welt.

The van rolls to a stop. But where? Destiny shifts back and forth, anticipating being led off. The doors open, and he is brought off the van straight into a dark hole cut into the side of the mountain.

As soon as the lead shank is removed, two 2x6 planks are dropped into slots carved into the rock facing, barring his exit from the cave. A natural spring drips down the wall of the cave, forming a shallow pool to one side. Several flakes of moldy cattle silage are haphazardly tossed into his rock prison. Destiny shies away from the sudden movement, leaving spatters of blood on the floor from his cut and scraped legs.

The Coverall Man pulls out his Verizon Wireless and punches in a number. "Delivery complete".

An electronically altered voice, cold and sinister on the other end answers. Coverall Man doesn't know or care who is at the the other end. He doesn't even know if it's male or female. He only cares about the fat Swiss Bank Account that will be waiting for him.

The disembodied Voice says, "Well Done. You know what you need to do next....."

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-09-2000).]

Aug. 9, 2000, 04:16 AM
Heath stepped away from the worried circle hovering around Jackie. Feeling like a peripheral character in a bad soap opera. he suppressed the urge to laugh out loud at the irony attached to his self-deprecating observation--and exited the scene.

He decided to drive up the road to wait for the police, and hopped into his old pick-up. As he crunched along the winding drive, it suddenly occurred to him that--as the old theatre saying goes--there are no small parts...only small actors. With the sort of willful abandon that had once earned him applause, he revved up the engine and sped down the highway, following the same direction that the trespassers had taken.

Just as he was wondering what he'd hoped to accomplish with this exercise in futility--for surely, they were long gone--he saw the trailer! It had veered off into the soft shoulder. The truck was oddly angled--and the trailer was agape and empty of its living cargo.

Heath screeched to a halt. Jumping down, he inspected the perimeter for signs of the horse thieves; no one.

Then a sound far off in the adjacent open field caught his attention. He squinted in disbelief at what he saw. Two furiously animated figures were running--chasing, in fact--after the fleeing force of nature that was Jackie's horse!

Without thinking--for there was no time for that--Heath raced for the pick-up. Gunning the old engine to life, he lurched the truck into the field, driving a barrier between Destiny and his abductors. As he'd hoped, they turned tail and ran. What he hadn't thought about was what he did next. If he had, he might not have attempted it. Rushing headlong into the terrified stallion's path, he raised his arms and abruptly rooted his feet into a standstill.

"Whoa, boy...easy now..." Heath heard the soothing sing-song of his own voice in the detached manner of the insane...for that is exactly what he deemed himself to be.

Fully expecting to be trampled, he nevertheless held his ground. Amazingly, Destiny's pounding, turf-churning stride diminished to a trot as he circled around the crazy-man-with-the-reassuring-voice.

Blowing and snorting, Destiny finally came to a stop, with his flaring nostrils just inches from Heath's face. He even allowed the stranger's hands to wander over his heaving, sweat-sleek flank. Heath tentatively loosened his belt, freeing it to serve as a make-shift leadshank. All that remained was getting it run through the halter. If that could be accomplished, Act One of the unfolding drama would play to a standing ovation back at the farm. Getting there was going to be the fun part--if only Heath could manage to...

Aug. 9, 2000, 08:12 AM
to get the horse to the van. But his quiet demeanor and soft mummerings were almost mystically soothing to the frightened TB. It was the reason Erik had kept him on when his horribly scarred face had sickened more than one wealthy client. Before you could say "Ready on the Set" Destiny was loaded and Heath, remembering his mis-spent youth on the streets, hot wired the van and headed back to Highborne Farm.

Aug. 9, 2000, 08:22 AM
The reunion between owner and horse had been wonderful to see. The police had been and gone, although Vanessa had made it obvious she LOVE seeing the deputy who'd interviewed her again.

The efficient staff had cleaned the tack room as soon as the police gave their okay. The barn manager, an energetic young woman named Ruth, had even called and ordered a new Delagrange for Jackie to be shipped overnight.

Maribeth Charles, definitely miffed for not being included in the attention-fest was stamping her pretty shod foot and demanding to be taken out to lunch since "there's just too much going on here to hold a meaningful conversation."

Aug. 9, 2000, 08:29 AM

Destiny showed no lingering effects from his abduction two weeks earlier. His training was going smoothly and Jackie had had several good lessons on him. Jeffrey Stewart had been contracted to ride at the HITS in Florida.

The police had turned up nothing, and although, Southern Pines depended on the horse industry, since the horse had been returned, they had turned their efforts to the rash of break-ins at the local golf clubs.

Life was pretty much normal except for seemingly unrelated little things like....

[This message has been edited by Kryswyn (edited 08-09-2000).]

Aug. 9, 2000, 12:06 PM
...the same dark green sedan that has been observed driving up and down the main road nearly every day for the past two weeks. While it wasn't unusual to have people drive by and gawk at the magnificent farm, no one seemed to notice that the vehicle only stopped when the horse everyone believed to be Destiny was in training in the main ring.

No one noticed the same man, with big dark sun glasses, dressed in navy coveralls leaning against one of the ancient oaks observing the sessions through his high powered binoculars.

As today's session ends, the man returns the binoculars to their worn leather case, and pulls out his small cell phone. Dialing a number, he waits for the other party to pick up.

"They still don't suspect a thing."

The altered voice on the other side replied, "Exxxxxxcellent. Just wait until our little Jackie tries to take this horse into the show ring <evil laugh>. Just make sure when it happens that the show's EMT's are..."busy"...elsewhere. <click-beep>" Unknown to them, Jackie had hired Jeffrey to ride her horse in his first big show.

Coverall man returns the phone to his pocket and slips back into his car. While he drives slowly down the road, he's mentally counting the Krugerand in his bank account...and laughing.

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-09-2000).]

Aug. 9, 2000, 12:51 PM
Leading her beloved Destiny back to the barn, Jackie spies Heath approaching to take the sweating horse to be cleaned up.

"Thanks anyways, buy I'll give him a bath myself. I miss doing the little things with my horse."

"But, ma'am, it's my blob to bake care of the chorus so the winters don't have to!"
"Slow down Heath..."
"My job to care for horses"
"But I don't mind. Really, I enjoy it!"
"You're filtered. You shouldn't be doing the wordy fork of the moon." replied Heath, as he reached for the reins.

"Again, sloooowly...", said Jackie.

"Grooms job is dirty work".

"No, that's ok. I don't mind. Really!"

"But, ma'am..."

Jackie stared into the scarred face. Was Heath upset about something? He seemed a bit pushier than normal, and maybe just a bit...nervous?

"I can take care of my own horse", she smiled. "But thank you for your concern. You may come collect him from the wash stall when I'm finished if you want to make sure he's been properly attended to."

Heath stood there for a few nervous moments, then mumbled, "Yes, ma'am", and shuffled off.

Jackie was enjoying her quality time with Destiny. She was still getting used to the thought of being able to afford to let others do the so-called dirty work, but she missed being so involved with her horse. She liked to know every little thing about them, what makes them tick.

She had noticed a few minor personality quirks had surfaced since his arrival at the barn, but simply attributed them to the strict training regiment to prepare for Florida. She resolved to spend more time with the horse, to learn him inside and out.

As she was sudsing the Rio Vista into her horse's legs, she bent down to take a closer look. Funny, she'd never noticed that he had some whitish hairs mixed in with the black around his coronet band. The area had some small crusty deposits, too, almost like after a horse has been blistered. She continued to run her fingers up and down her horse's leg, trying to figure out what had caused this reaction.

She glanced up and noticed Heath watching her from the tack room. How long had he been there watching her? When he saw her look up, he jumped back as if he'd hit an electric fence. Why was he was acting so skittish?

"Heath? Can you come here for a moment? I want to ask you about these white hairs on my horse's leg." As Heath approached, Jackie asked him if he knew what could be causing this skin condition, and was it why the hair on his leg was turning white?

Heath stood there, nervously shifting his weight back and forth, a deep crimson blush slowly creeping up from his neck. What could he tell her that would appease her? Was she beginning to suspect.....?

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-11-2000).]

Aug. 9, 2000, 02:37 PM
Jackie frowned, looking at Destiny's leg. "I want to call a vet - now. I can't afford to take any chances with this horse. Eric would agree" She ordered.

But instead of calling the farms vet, whose number Hearth immediately began to dictate, she picked up her cell phone and began to dial another number.

"Who are you calling?" Hearth asked, trying to keep his voice from sounding desperate.

"Dr. Lock Thompson." Jackie said calmly, "he's the vet I've always used and luckily he's here at the show grounds."

Jackie turned away and spoke quietly into her cell phone while Hearth cursed quietly in the background.

After arranging for Thompson to meet her in 15 miuntes at the stall, Jackie hung up the phone, and found Hearth gone. As she walked to the end of the aisle to look for him a passing horse caught her eye, it was a tall elegant bay, complete with chrome, a total eye catcher. Then she realized who the horse was, it was, Riveredge, the horse who had been second year green champion at all the shows this year.....then she gasped when she reconized the rider - Vanessa! But she thought Vanessa was broke, there was no way she could have afforded this horse, and no way anyone would have offered her a ride this prestigious. Vanessa didn't see her, and as she rode away a man in a blue shirt came up to her and pressed an envelope into her hands. Vanessa smiled and said something Jackie couldn't hear, then opened the envelope and counted the money it contained. Then Vanessa stuffed the envelope in her pocket and trotted off, fading from view. JAckie puzzled over the scene, then turned back to studying Destiny's leg and waiting for Dr. lock Thompson to come....

15 minutes later...
Across the show grounds Hearth picks up a pay phone and dials a number he has memorized....

"Listen," he says "We've got trouble here. The bitch is calling Thompson in to look at her horse. We have to take action immediately or else....."

On the other end of the phone a low, gravelly voice gave Hearth precise intstructions as to what to do. And then he walked away from the phone, and head towards....

Aug. 9, 2000, 02:51 PM
As the sultry days of summer gave way to the passing of the seasons, Jackie's life gradually began to take shape. At the center of her world, as always, was Destiny. With him happily ensconced at Highborne, everything else just fell into place. She developed a solid working relationship with Erik, became thoroughly at ease with the soft-spoken Heath, learned to tolerate the egocentric and petulent Maribeth--and took up "digs" with her ever-present friends.

The last came about as a logical progression after Savannah decided to move--horses, tack and attitude--into the training board barn at Highborne. Muffy and Vanessa soon followed. They decreed themselves the "Fabulous Foursome" and reveled in their combined presence being an obvious source of consternation to the maven of malcontent, Maribeth! Even more a thorn in her side was the fact that Savannah's Old-Money-Southern-Pedigree out-gentrified her own! And not all the foot-stomping, primadonna-posturing, prerogative-protesting, pouting and presumptiveness could change that. Savannah simply had her out-classed.

They came to preside at Mosby's as the most scintillating group among the regulars--and even persuaded the affectionately referenced "Hermit of Highborne" to join them. It hadn't been easy to convince Heath that he should show his face in public--but when Jackie urged him, personally, to accompany her...

[This message has been edited by EquiMom (edited 08-09-2000).]

Ben and Me
Aug. 9, 2000, 04:11 PM
How could Heath turn down Jackie's personal invitation? After all, he hadn't had a good time in a long while, and it would be nice to get away from the farm. He liked all the girls and enjoyed their sense of humor. But he especially enjoyed Jackie.

As he dressed that envening, wearing a pair of crisp khaki Dockers and a navy blue polo shirt, he smiled at himself in the mirror. For the first time in years it was a genuine smile, and he liked it.

As he walked briskly up towards the barn from his trailer, near the back of the property, he wondered what the night might have in store. He was excited at the prospect of spending time with a group of friends, and one who might become something more...

Aug. 9, 2000, 09:00 PM
With the approach of the fall season, so comes the preparation for the Indoor shows. Although Destiny isn't qualified, Jackie continues working hard with her horse, and with Erik. Still, she cannot shake the nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right about Destiny. If she could only put her finger on it.

The medical report that Dr. Thompson had given her still weighed heavy on her mind. An allergic reaction. Why had someone used black dye to conceal Destiny's white sock from her? When had it been done? Was it before she'd bought him? Who did it? The answers were out there, with Coverall man.

The cooler fall weather brought on the growing in of winter coats, and with the new hair came the appearance of a full white sock extending up above the fetlock on Destiny's left fore. The small star on Destiny's forehead grew a comet's tail, which curved down towards his muzzle. Oddly enough, there had been no reaction to the dye on his face. Perhaps it was the use of the Bickmore's White Liniment, combined with the dye on his legs that had caused the blistering.

Heath avoided Jackie completely these days. Jackie wondering about Heath's involvment, vowed to get to the bottom of the goings on, which is why she invited him to Mosby's with the rest of the troup...

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-09-2000).]

Aug. 9, 2000, 10:24 PM
Jackie was certain Heath knew why Destiny's markings had been altered, it was the only logic reason he would have wanted to keep her from calling Doctor Thompson, why else would he have objected? With top show horses is was certainly common enough to have vets check them over before they competed - after all an injury could become serious if ignored. So obviously there had been some reason he hadn't wanted the horse's markings revealed. But now they were growing out - did that mean Heath and whoever else was behind this had simply accepted that whatever plan they had had failed? Or where they merely bidding their time?

Jackie tried constantly to push these thoughts from her mind, but she couldn't shake this lingering feeling that something was wrong about Destiny and the stable. Furthermore why was Heath avoiding her and her horse?

She decided to do a little research of her own, hoping that in the casual atmosphere or Moseby's, after a few drinks, that perhaps Heath would unwind and revel something to her.

So there they were sitting at Moseby's. They had started out being with a group of people, Vanessa (who strangely enough never had explained her connections with Riveredge), Savannah, Muffy, and their various admirers. But as the night advanced after a bit of whipsering and nudging, Jackie and Heath found themselves alone in a booth. Heath kept trying to catch Jackie's eye and she felt rather uncomfortable - this was a man who she had reason to believe might put her horse in danger - yet at the same time she had to admit he was everything she might have otherwise enjoyed in a man - good looking, intelligent, and horse wise as well. As she raised her drink to her lips, Heath slipped and arm around her shoulders. "Jackie....." he whispered in her ear "Do you know how long I've had my eye on you?" He pulled her close and inside Jackie was screaming - part of her trying to push away out of his arms and the other part wanting to be pulled closer and never leave. She took a deep breath and...

Aug. 9, 2000, 10:53 PM
"Heath, I need to ask you something..."
"Yesssssss?" he whispered huskily into the back of her neck.
"I need to know...." Her question was cut off by a loud commotion at the back of the pub. Shouting, followed by a piercing scream. Then deafening silence. Jackie and Heath both jumped up to see what had happened, neither knowing what to expect. As they pushed their way to the back of the pub they found...

Aug. 9, 2000, 11:00 PM
A crowd of people huddled around Vanessa, crumpled on the floor, blood pooling around her head.

Aug. 9, 2000, 11:07 PM
While they stood there, in the distance, the sound of a vehicle's engine brought to life, followed by the squeal of tires was heard.

With the sound of the mystery car's engine dispersing in the fog came the shrill peal of a distant siren approaching rapidly. Moments after the rescue squad came to a halt, sending gravel flying, the EMT's rushed in. The taller of the two knelt down next to Vanessa's prostrate body...

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-09-2000).]

Aug. 9, 2000, 11:13 PM
Jackie bit her lip to keep from screaming, and turned away to avoid the gruesome site. Heath stepped behind her and placed his arms around her, to support her. Jackie broke free of his grasp, breathing hard from shock.

She saw Savannah and Muffy sobbing in the corner of a nearby booth. Police officers were gathering around Vanessa's body. One of them knelt down and pulled an object out from under the table - a black handgun still warm from shooting a bullet. The crowd gasped loudly. Jackie, shaken with terror, turned and tried to run from the scene. But a policeman held out a hand to stop her at the door, saying they would need to take a statement from her about the accident and they had reason to believe what happened to Vanessa was linked to her because....

Aug. 9, 2000, 11:19 PM
Using the chaos at Mosby's as cover, he escapes down the narrow, unlit, country road. Keeping one hand on the wheel, Coverall Man pulls out the wireless and punches in a number. Things did not go as planned. Too late, he realised he had chosen the wrong girl, but in the smoky gloom of the pub it was difficult to see. He was advised to lay low, and await further instructions. Any further mishaps would not be tolerated, and would be dealt with....appropriately.

The ominous click of the phone going dead gave Coverall Man cold sweats. He'd heard the rumours and speculation about the fate of his predecessor after his final mistake. He did not wish to become another rumour, for as surely as he sat there, that is all that would be left of him if he failed in his directive. He headed out of town, back to the mountain retreat where the real Destiny was imprisoned.

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-10-2000).]

Aug. 9, 2000, 11:19 PM
Carleton Phipps knelt at her side. "What happened?" Jackie demanded to know.

He looked up at Jackie and said, "I don't know, I came out from the Gents, and bumped into the woman who screamed."

With that there was a faint moan from the floor and Vanessa's eyelids fluttered,
"Ohhhh, Erik," she said stupidly, "I know it's not approved but I just wouldn't be caught dead in a bubble helmet"

"I'm Carleton, not Erik, and you don't have to wear a helmet in Mosby's, well, not usually. What happened to you, do you remember?"

Vanessa took the towel that was offered to her and pressed it to her scalp. "I was coming down to the oxer..."

"You mean the bar"

"NO, the single is after the oxer"

Carleton looked confused, "You mean you were getting a malt whiskey?"

Now Vanessa looked confused,"What are you talking about? Were you hit on the head? I was visualizing my course, duh, and I was coming down to the oxer when someone whispered something and then BAM."

"What did they say Vannie?" Jackie touched Van's arm.

But suddenly, Vanessa's eyes grew vague. "I don't remember, I'm not sure, my head hurts. OOoohh! Look at the cute EMT!"

Muffy said to Savannah sotto voce, "Nothing to badly damaged if she's still noticing the guys."

Carleton looked at Jackie. His eyes caught hers and the feeling of deja vu intensified. Yes, it had been the last time he'd been here. She'd made him start thinking of things he thought he'd put behind him.

For her part, Jackie felt like a doe caught between headlights on the left and a spotting light on the right. Now Carleton was looking at Heath, and Heath was closing down, she could feel him drawing away. Damn@! she needed to ask him some questions!

[This message has been edited by Kryswyn (edited 08-09-2000).]

Aug. 9, 2000, 11:36 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Regalmeans:
...a policeman held out a hand to stop her at the door, saying they would need to take a statement from her about the accident and they had reason to believe what happened to Vanessa was linked to her because....<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

witnesses at the bar had reported seeing a strange man, dressed in a dark uniform, just before the incident. He had been asking at the bar about the group of pretty ladies; who they were, did they come here often, and what not.

Jackie had been so taken in by Heath's wishing-well gaze, she'd hardly noticed any longer that they were in a busy pub, surrounded by other party goers. She was oblivious to anyone else who might have been there.

She didn't know anything about this man, or who he might be. She could only speculate...was Vanessa being stalked all along? Maybe that's why she'd been so elusive about her past at Riversedge. Jackie had no way of knowing that the tragedy that had befallen Vanessa was really meant for...

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-10-2000).]

Aug. 10, 2000, 12:22 AM
her. Life was complicated enough and if Jackie had ever taken the time to put two and two together, she might have realized she was in great danger. But she was relatively new to this game and it hadn't occured to her that the horse world might be saturated with unsavory characters who played only for the money.

Fortunately for her, Carleton Phipps was a man who understood it all too well. He'd cut his teeth watching family members booze it up, insure horses, kill them off, lose the family fortune.... He was recognized by some of the horsey set, but mostly he was just an unobtrusive observer; people weren't very careful about what they said or did when they thought no one was watching. And he had been very interested in events as they pertained to Jackie. Carleton Phipps was like an old dog; once he chose to look out for you, that was that. Fiona Ford could certainly attest to that and Jackie would soon find out just how valuable a friend she was to have in the strong and silent type.

Her initial interest in Heath, had transformed into paranoia. His behavior regarding her ever changing horse was beyond suspicious. And she was certain he was privy to the strange happenings involving Vanessa, from the unbelievable catch ride to the gun shot fired just moments before. She felt like an outsider; even though she could afford to live like the old money and was tolerated in the best (or worst) of company, she knew she was viewed down the slope of perfectly constructed noses with disdain and oft times jealousy. As the events of the past months and the evening sunk in, she felt quite weak because it dawned on her that she was unwittingly involved in something sinister. She didn't know the rules or even what the game was. She did know that the horse she'd been calling Destiny was in all probability not the horse she had purchased; and while she couldn't be sure, she had more than a sneaking suspicion that whatever trouble Vanessa was involved in, was about to come knocking at her door.

She headed for the bar and ordered a double malt Scotch. Carleton followed and took a seat beside her. His concern was genuine, his intentions, honest; his next words, a surprise to even himself.

Aug. 10, 2000, 12:50 AM
As Coverall Man pulls into the narrow hidden entrance, the headlights cast a baleful glow upon Destiny's stone prison. Through the fog, he cannot be sure of what he is seeing.

Suddenly, reality hits him like a ton of bricks. His body is quickly drenched in a cold sweat, and he begins to shake uncontrollably.

"No....it can't be....how could....oh, noooo...."

Aug. 10, 2000, 01:07 AM
Back at Highborne, it was life as usual. Everyone wants the night off, so the manager has to hang around. How in the world was Ruth going to meet the girl of her dreams stuck on the farm on a Friday night?

But Ruth was nothing if not concientious. If she was being paid to watch the horses, she darn well would. She left her apartment for the 9 p.m check. What bozo left the lights on in the tack room?

As she reached the barn, the tack room light went out. A piercing "MmmmRREEEAAAOOOO" split the night as a foot trod on a barncat's tail. Ruth hit the lights, and took Diane Amos by complete surprise.

In her best manager's voice, Ruth said,
"You know the barn is closed now, Ms Amos. May I ask you why you're here?"

With the speed a chamelon would surely envy, Diane went from frightened trespasser to startled invited guest.

"Oh, how you spooked me, Ruthie!" she said clutching her pearls, "I was just leaving Erik a note..."

"Ms. Amos, Erik told you he never wanted to to see you again. Why are you really here?"

"Oh, he didn't really mean it, Ruthie, he was just being, well you know how men get. Nudge nudge wink wink knowhatImean?"

With total candor Ruth replied, "No ma'am, I can't honestly say I know how men get."

Diane's eyes narrowed as she reviewed Ruth's lithe, boyish figure, the slim hips, the short sandy 'butch' cut of her hair. "Nooo," she said consideringly, "maybe you don't. But," she said in a false, bright tone,"it doesn't matter anyway, because Erik's not here, so I'll just be leaving." She pushed her way past as Ruth said softly,

"I know why you're here Ms. Amos."

She whirled like a striking cobra and said in a voice filled with cold and dripping malice,

"Then you know better than to tell anyone I was here, don't you, you little Virginia Pool Boy?"

Diane smiled in satisfaction at Ruth's blanched face and strode out of the barn into the night.

[This message has been edited by Kryswyn (edited 08-10-2000).]

Aug. 10, 2000, 01:37 AM
...really meant for someone other than Vanessa. Her mind simply wasn't processing the jumble of of seemingly unrelated occurrences because nothing made sense. Everything was out of control. Like a crazy-quilt put together by the inmates of an asylum, none of it hung together right--nor fit any discernible pattern.

Too emotionally drained to even think of driving, Jackie relinquished her car keys to Heath; "Please...take me home." she said, pressing them into his hand, "Vanessa has to spend the night under observation--she needs stitches for that awfaul gash--and the EMT said she has a probable concussion."

"More than likely..." Heath responded, "And I don't think she minds if we don't go along for the ride..!" He cast his eyes in her direction; Jackie could see what he meant, for Vanessa, although still somewhat stupified, was coquettishly batting her eyes at the handsome young medic as he lifted her onto the stretcher.

"Let's just get out of here" Heath said, grabbing Jackie's hand to lead her through the maze of gawkers.

Alone at last, Jackie thought that the drive might offer the perfect chance to get inside Heath's mind and motives. But she was so tired! It was the kind of bone-aching weariness that she felt after a dawn to dusk show day--with no ribbons. Just totally whipped.

By the time they reached the house, she'd said nothing--and asked nothing. Yet oddly, the longer she remained in Heath's company, the more comfortable she became...almost peaceful. He'd seemed so much in control during all the chaos--so strong, so...


His speaking of her name brought her out of her reverie, wherein the word she was searching for was 'masculine'...yes, that was it; Heath was all man--and his nearness sent a shiver up her spine that was an altogether new sensation. She turned her head to look at him--really look--and what she saw wasn't a scarred enigma. He was just Heath. The man who had put himself in harm's way to save her Destiny--which was tantamount to saving her. But it wasn't just gratitude that she felt towards him--it was something more.

As if reading her thoughts, he tentatively caressed her face, tenderly tracing the delicate curve of her mouth with his fingertips. Without another word being spoken, he covered her lips with his own.

In that moment, the world fell away. Jackie felt as if a part of her had been unborn until that instant--that frozen moment in time when she at last understood what it meant to be a woman. She returned the undemanding pressure of his kiss, wanting it to to last forever. She...

Aug. 10, 2000, 06:54 AM
gave in to the feeling of warmth and safety for a moment, then pulled back, confused and upset with herself. This was neither the time or the place to let her feelings overwhelm her. Heath had so many good qualities, but, there were also too many unanswered questions about him for her be able to trust him completely. Moving slowly away from him she whispered "Good Night Heath."

In bed later that night, she found that she couldn't sleep. A confused series of events and questions ran through her mind. She could make no sense out of the happenings of the last few months. Jackie decided that she needed someone to talk to, someone that she could trust. With that thought, her mind turned to Carleton Phipps. He had always been somewhat of an observer, yet he was close enough to the situation to have some ideas about what was going on. Besides that, he had a reputation for unswerving honesty and reliability. Jackie decided that she would call him in the morning. She found quick comfort in that thought and drifted off to sleep, secure in the fact that she at last had some sort of plan of action.

In the morning.......

Aug. 10, 2000, 11:52 AM
Jackie woke to the phone ringing loudly. It woke her from what had been a troubled sleep, she had tossed and turned all night, dreaming first of the terrible events in Mosby's, then of twisted versions of them, sometimes she was the one who was hurt, sometimes it was Heath, sometimes all she knew was that she was screaming so loudly that nothing else seem to exist. When she woke up she realized that she was trembling. The phone kept ringing, it almost seemed to get louder. "Dammit." she muttered. She decided to let the machine get it, then at the last minute decided it might be important and ran accross the room to the extension. But she was too late, the machine had already picked up and all she could hear was her own voice, dictating the usual message "Hey, you've reach Jackie at 456-0798, I'm nt home right now so leave a message and I;ll get back to you." Then she heard a CLICK and the caller's voice came on.

It was a deep masculine voice, but it was muffled and almost unreconizable. "Jackie....." the voice intoned "Jackie....I'm watching you....and your horse...be very very careful" then the voice exploded into a taunting cackling laugh - the hung up

"Oh my god!" Jackie exclaimed. Quickly she hit caller ID - and realized the call had been made from Highbourne Stables. she had no idea what to think then she picked up the phone and called......

Aug. 10, 2000, 12:49 PM
Carleton Phipps. Who fortunately was free for lunch. He invited her to his home since his boys were with him. Jackie had never visited Fiona's farm in Suffering Pines before. Smaller that her Virginia expanse, the farm was nonetheless breathtaking. Old money, class, taste, and more money was evident everywhere.

Once the simple but tasteful fare had been consumed and the boys sent outdoors to play, Jackie explained the latest in a lenghtening list of odd occurances. Carleton listened thoughfully, not interupting, never dismissing as outlandish the car that continually pasted the farm, or the slashing of her tack. The kidnapping of Destiny caused him to gasp, and he was very interested in the mutilated picture of Diane Amos.

He filled her in with the little he knew about Heath (he walked up to the farm one day, looking the way he does now, and asked for a job. One of Eric's fractious fillys took a shine to him and he's been with him ever since. Nobody knows where he's from) and Ruth (good kid, came with references from Virginia, but left there in a hurry though).

About Eric, Carleton was very careful to say nothing that could be taken negitively. As a competing trainer, it would be poor sportsmanship to say much of anything at all about him, other than what was known to the general public. But he did disclose his doubts about the meeting between Fiona, Erik and Diane Amos. He said candidly,
"I can't imagine what Miss Ford would have to say to either of them. The remark I overheard meant nothing at the time. Something about "that horse and money" is all I can remember. "

Jackie pounced on the remark, "Now do you think they were talking about Destiny?" He shrugged.

"The only horse Miss Ford is really interested in right now is called "lovey" or something like it. It was a colt we bred here, nice from day one. Looked like his Momma, colorwise, but you could see English Lord in him."

Dregging her memory, Jackie asked, "English Lord was Fiona's stallion wasn't he?"

"Yes," Carleton replied. "A great one. Though his fillies were better known, his sons were good too. I think Miss Ford wanted to keep him as a stud prospect, but a friend of her's fell in love with him as a foal and persuaded Fiona to sell him to her. We kept him here, gelded him, and sent him to the training barn as a 2 yearold."

Jackie was puzzled, "Surely she knows where her training barn is? Why is she looking for him?"

"The friend sent a letter saying the horse was to be moved while Fiona was in Kentucky. A van came, took him away. When Miss Ford came back, she tried calling her friend and was told the friend was very ill. Soon after, we heard the woman had died and no one in the family knew where the horse was."

Carleton poured Jackie some more iced tea and said, "I think Miss Ford wanted to buy him back out of respect for her friend. The foal meant alot to both of them. Even if he couldn't be used as a stallion. That's just the kind of classy lady she is."

Perhaps it was the stronger brand of tea he used but a small, albeit dim, lightbulb was peaking through the fear-inspired fog of Jackie's brain. "This friend, it wasn't Madeline Evers-Oftinhead, was it? She's the woman who left me her fortune!"

Suddenly the air was still as the ramifications shot through both their brains. "What did "Lovey" look like, Carleton?"

"I don't remember, it was several years ago and we have a ton of bay foals every year." He reached out for Jackie's hand.

"Jackie, you must be very careful...."

[This message has been edited by Kryswyn (edited 08-10-2000).]

Ben and Me
Aug. 10, 2000, 01:29 PM
Meanwhile, the real Destiny was still trapped in his cave somewhere in the rolling hills of the North Carolina piedmont. He had lost his show ring appearance, dropping a lot of weight and the glowing luster of his coat. He wounds he had obtained during his rough trailer ride had not been cared for, and his legs were covered in scabs. No longer would he be a conformation champion.

Destiny had, in fact, lost his will to live. Each day he was eating less and less of the damp, dirty hay thrown to him in the early morning. His eyes lost their spark and his feet were being eaten away by thrush.

If he wasn't discovered soon...

Ben and Me
Aug. 10, 2000, 01:37 PM
Carleton's warning was playing on Jackie's mind that night, as she tossed and turned. Where was the real Destiny? Was that him back at Highbourne, or elsewhere?

* * * * * *

Erik was also having trouble sleeping that night. Lacey's face kept flashing through his mind, along with Maribeth's. He had promised himself that he would never fall for another client, but they were so alike. Even their riding styles and talent were similar. It would be almost like bringing Lacey back...

Aug. 10, 2000, 01:59 PM
Meanwhile, Savannah was struggling with her loyalties. Jackie was, afterall, her friend, but some things were more important then friendship - like her life. After all she didn't want to end up like Vanessa. So Savannah lay low, avoiding Jackie and spending more and more time at the other farm she frequented, in Northern Virgina. Under the protelege of a young rising star trainer Hillside Farms could easly be the next ' top barn ' of the A circuit and Savannah wanted to be there to see it happen. In addition, she was considering purchasing a top class new hunter from one of the trainers at a nearby barn, thus Savannah spent less and less time in Suffering Pines.

On afternoon, while driving the 20 miles from the barn to the country house she owned in Northern Virgina, her car stalled out along the road. "Dammit!" She muttered under her breath. She was supposed to run home, get dressed, and meet one of the local trainers about a critical horse deal. Being late would be a sure way to make the deal run sour. She reached for her cell phone and tried to dial - only to realize that the number was out of service. Savannah sighed, and realized exactly how deserted the road she was on was. It could be HOURS before anyone passed by. So she decided to walk down the road towards a gas staion she knew was a few miles down.

An hour later Savannah was truly lost, and had no idea where she was going. She wasn't even sure where her car was in fact. She frowned. She saw a dirt road, and turned on it, thinking it might lead her to a house where she could use the phone. She turned down the road and found herself walking uphill into a very hilly section of woods. Then she heard two sounds - a man's voice, yelling, followed by the sickening crack of a whip. Then she heard the most terrifying sound of all - a horse's desperate cry. Forgetting her oringal intetions, Savannah crept towards the sounds, and found herself at the entrance to a small rocky cave. Parked nearby was a red rusted out pickup truck, with the doors left open half hazardly. She was uncertain whether to call out for help, investigate further, or tur and walk back towards the main roads. She took a deep breath and....

Aug. 10, 2000, 02:07 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Ben & Me:
Carleton's warning was playing on Jackie's mind that night, as she tossed and turned. Where was the real Destiny? Was that him back at Highbourne, or elsewhere? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The thought haunted her mind. She decided she had to find out. She called Dr. Thompson again and had him do bloodwork on the horse to see if the blood samples would match those drawn during the pre purchase exam.

Dr. Thompson came out and drew the samples. He too, was suspicious, and promised to call Jackie was soon as he knew. Then the call came.

"Jackie? It's Lock Thompson here."
"Yes, do you have the results."
"Yes, they're rather interesting. I think I ought to meet you in person to review them. Can you come to my office."
"Good. I'll see you in fifteen miuntes:

Jackie was a nervous wreck as she drove to the office. Thompson met her at the door. "Come in" He said. "I'm afraid I have some bad news."

Jackie sat down on the sofa and looked at him expectantly. "Yes?"

"First off all the bloodtypes don't match. The markings should have tipped us off to the fact that something was wrong. Second, I found large amounts of mood altering drugs in his system - ace for example, and cocaine, and god knows what else is there that my tests can't trace. Alot of those designer drugs..."
Thompson's voice trailed off. "Jackie, I think you're in over your head."

Jackie was speechless. Her beloved horse was missing - and had been replaced by a horse whose system was chock full of drugs - who would have tested positive at any show. Who could be out to hurt her? Or was someone trying to get to Erik through her? After all if the horse drug tested positive, as Trainer, Erik would be liable.

"What do I do now?" Jackie wondered allowed...

Ben and Me
Aug. 10, 2000, 02:17 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Regalmeans:
She took a deep breath and....<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

walked foward towards the sound of the noise. A tall woman wearing dark sunglasses, tight Levis and a black tank top was standing next to the truck. She had raven black hair. Savannah realized that the only person that she knew who had hair that color was Diane Amos. But Diane was supposed to be at her farm in Middleburg. Savannah was supposed to be closer to Warrenton. But then again, who knew where she had wondered to.
Standing next to Diane was a man wearing coveralls and combat boots. He was holding a skinny, undernourished bay gelding and hitting him with a stick, trying to get him back onto a tan van. The gelding had a chain through his mouth and was throwing up quite a fight for a horse so underfed.

Savannah had no idea what was going on, but she realized she had to get out of there before they realized she was there.

But, as she turned around, her Dehner clod foot tred a on twig. It gave a loud snap the gelding spooked, taking off into the woods.

"You go after the horse. I'll see what made that noise," Savannah heard Diane's voice say. Savannah ran for her life...

Aug. 10, 2000, 02:25 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Ben & Me:

"You go after the horse. I'll see what made that noise," Savannah heard Diane's voice say. Savannah ran for her life...
Praying she wouldn't get caught. As she turned back towards the road she saw the horse bolting across the road, just as a large 18 wheeler came rolling around the corner. The horse kept running. Savannah closed her eyes and choked back a scream.....bt she didn't need to because Diana had come running up to the road from a different way and was screaming just as loudly.....
At the last minute the 18 wheeler swerved. The horse was safe but the truck had cut dangerously close to where Diana was standing. Just then the coverall clad man had come running up next to Diana. Blind to everything but the horse he kept running.....and there was a sickening crunch when he collided with the still moving eighteen wheeler. And then Diana's scream got louder....

the only thought Savannah had was that Diana was distracted now. She ran frantically through the woods in search of the main road....

Ben and Me
Aug. 10, 2000, 02:51 PM
Savannah continued to run until she was totally out of breath. Then she walked. She finally came to a road that she recognized and gave a sigh of releif. "Diane's barn should be somewhere up along here," she thought outloud. But then she remembered the scene she had just witnessed.

The horse seemed oddly familiar to her. He was a big bay, white star, perfect conformation, except for an assortment of scars up and down his legs, and the sort of attitude that always comes with a champion hunter. Hadn't Jackie just bought a horse like that? But Savannah quickly pushed the thought out of her mind. After all, Jackie's horse was down in Southern Pines at Erik's farm. Or was he?

There had been an awful lot of rumours going around about Jackie's new horse. Savannah thought she remembered Jackie saying something about mysterious white markings that had been dyed black, but she wasn't quite sure. Everytime Jackie even mentioned her horse, Vanessa suddenly changed the subject to what color Van Teal shirt she would be next purchasing.

But, if that had been Jackie's horse, why would he be in Northern Virginia? And why would Diane Amos have him? Suddenly she made the connection. She had to get to a phone and call Jackie!

Savannah had been so preoccupied with her thoughts, she hadn't realized that it was nearly dark. Nor had she realized the rusty pickup that had suddenly come up behind her until it was too late.

Savannah turned around just in time to see headlights bearing down on her. The fender made contact and threw her into the ditch next to the road.

The raven haired woman behind the wheel of the pickup picked up the phone and said, "Mission accomplished. What should I do with the horse?"...

Aug. 10, 2000, 03:18 PM
"What should I do with the horse?"...

... Diane Amos had seemingly been born with an evil streak. But despite having hatched and participated in numerous villainous schemes over the years, she had never learned to be careful. Thus, she sped off down the dirt road without bothering to verify that she had, indeed, silenced Savannah permanently.

In addition, figuring that Destiny's recapture was imminent (after all, how far could a malnourished and injured horse travel in unfamiliar territory?) and not wanting to raise the ire of the formidable "voice" on the phone, she neglected to mention that the key to the entire plan was, at that moment, wandering the Northern Virginia backwoods. . .

[This message has been edited by Inverness (edited 08-10-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Inverness (edited 08-10-2000).]

Ben and Me
Aug. 10, 2000, 03:34 PM
Destiny was actually happy for the first time in quite a few days. Sure, he'd had quite a scare with that truck, but everything was okay.

At the moment he was standing in the middle of a sandy creek bed, water up to his knees. The water was just right and much more refreshing than the stale water he'd been drinking since his capture.

The soft, fine sand felt wonderful on his sore, thrush-eaten hooves. The tall grass next to the creek looked as if it would be even better.

Destiny walked up the shallow bank to the field of grass, and lowered his head. He hadn't had grass this good since his days as a yearling in Kentucky. As a top hunter, he was rarely turned out, and he was going to enjoy himself.


Jackie got out of bed at 6 am that morning, as the sun rose. She quickly glanced in the mirror. Her hair was a mess, her eyes bloodshot, and her face tearstained.

She grabbed a towel and headed into the bathroom for a quick shower. As she washed her hair, Dr. Thompson's results played in her mind, as they had all morning. How could this be a different horse? What did they want with her Destiny?

Jackie had never done anything mean towards anyone. In fact, she was one of the most liked people on the circuit. Or at least she thought she was. But, Jackie was forgetting one little emotion. Jealousy.

[This message has been edited by Ben & Me (edited 08-10-2000).]

Aug. 10, 2000, 03:46 PM
Gerhard Roessel was, first and foremost, an animal lover. This fact only, explained why, at 5 a.m., Roessel left an abrupt message with his pilot that he was cancelling long-held plans to return to Brussels that morning. Instead, Roessel hurriedly pulled on his Royal Robbins and a pair of hiking boots and set out after the unfamiliar horse he had seen wandering in his back fields only moments earlier...

Ben and Me
Aug. 10, 2000, 04:12 PM
Roessel hurried through the woods to his back fields with a leather halter and lead. "I must be crazy," he thought. After all, he was breaking plans he had held for months to return to Brussels. But, if it was a horse, and it certainly had appeared to be from the driver's seat of his truck early that morning, he certainly couldn't let it just sit there in the fields.

"I'll take it back up the old barn behind the house, where Kerpetriz used to stay," Roessel decided. "I think I've still got some of his oats in there, if the rats haven't gotten it all."

Roessel rounded the bend and the woods ended abruptly on the edge of his hay field. There, in the middle, stood a thin bay gelding. Roessel knew his horses; he had once ridden for Belgium's dressage team. Kerpetriz had, in fact, been his champion Swedish warmblood.

The horse appeared to be an American thoroughbred, although it was hard to tell because he was so undernourished. As Roessle carefully approached the horse, it lifted its head and trotted off.

"My goodness," thought Roessel. "Look at that movement. Horses of this caliber don't just go wondering off."

After an hour of trying to catch the horse, Roessel finally succeeded. "First," he told the horse as he led him back to the barn, "we'll get you fed. Then I'll give you a nice long grooming, and get you back into tip-top shape. I guess I'd also better put an ad in the paper and alert some of the local farms"...


"Well, Ms. Ford, I was glad to help. I'm just glad your horse is okay. Thank you. Bye." Roessel felt a slight relief as he hung up the phone with Fiona Ford. It would be nice to be able to get back to Brussels, although it had been nice to have a horse back in the barn.


"Diane, you stupid thing! You almost ruined everything! Just be glad that stupid Roessel was kind enough to call us!" yelled Fiona.

Diane ducked as an antique vase was thrown her way. "Well it turned out okay Fiona!"

"Thats besides the point! You almost ruined everything! And with John dead, we've got no one to take care of the dirty work! You'd better get in touch with Highbourne Farm."

"Yes, Ms Ford," Diane muttered in a voice heavily loaded with sarcasm...

[This message has been edited by Ben & Me (edited 08-10-2000).]

Aug. 10, 2000, 04:18 PM
Roessel's actions would have come as no surprise to anyone who really knew him. An eminently successful banker and financier, Roessel was not ordinarily given to unscheduled changes in plan, particularly those with financial consequences attached - unless the welfare of one of his beloved animals were involved. His friends joked that Roessel would fly through a hurricane to close a deal provided it was not during foaling season.

A steady drizzle met Roessel as he left the main house and headed to the barn to check on the horse. Austin, a five year old flat-coated retriever, sensing fun and games and relieved to see the dreaded suitcases still at the door, flew to Roessel's side.

It was extremely lucky to have found Ms. Ford without much delay. She had sounded terribly anxious about the horse. Odd, though, that she hadn't mentioned a name. Even more curious, she'd intimated that the horse had gone missing only yesterday. If that were the case, why was such a remarkable animal in such poor condition? The scratches and cuts on the horse's legs and head could be explained. The malnourishment was another matter, however.

His suspicions now sufficiently aroused, Roessel determined that he would find a reason to delay returning the horse to Ms. Ford. He needed time to do a little digging on his own . . .

[This message has been edited by Inverness (edited 08-10-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Inverness (edited 08-10-2000).]

Ben and Me
Aug. 10, 2000, 08:33 PM
Roessel thought about it for a few minutes and decided he would call Carleton Phipps. After all, he and Carleton went way back; Carleton had just been starting out as a trainer at the same time Roessel was at his peak. And, they both knew Fiona. "Yes," Roessel decided, "Carleton is the person to call."

30 seconds later, Roessel was on the phone with his secretary, Stacey. "Hello, Stacey? Can you find me a Mr. Carleton Phipps? No, I don't know where he lives, but its probably in a horsey town like Southern Pines or Middleburg. Thanks."

Ten minutes later, Stacey had found a Carleton Phipps, located in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Roessel gave it a try.

"Hello, Carleton? This is F. Roessel, I used to train dressage horses? Oh good, you remember me. Well, to get right to the point, I found a gorgous bay, undernourished, thoroughbred gelding wandering around in my back pastures. Looks like he's been to hell and back; got scrapes and bumps all over his legs. And his hooves are eaten up by thrush. But he looks, moves, and acts like a champion hunter. Anyways, why I'm calling is that Ms. Fiona Ford, I'm sure you remember her...Oh you work for her? Oh well then...Well, Ms. Ford is very interested in this horse and claims it to be hers. But, if I know anything about Fiona...Oh you want to come see the horse? You think there might be something going on here? Well alright, anytime's convinient...Tomorrow afternoon? Okay well I'll see you there! Thank you Carleton."

The second Roessel hung up the phone, a rusted up red truck, followed by a tan trailer, came barreling up the drive...

Aug. 10, 2000, 10:08 PM
The doors of the truck burst open, and Fiona and Diane both pop out like jacks-in-the-box.
Fiona, putting on her best smile, "Oh Mr. Roussel! We can't thank you enough for finding our horse. Where is he?" Diane pipes in, "We need to get him loaded up as we're in a bit of a hurry to get to Southern Pi-i-iyyouch!"

She shoots a look to Fiona to see why she'd just piched the back of her arm. Seeing the dark look returned to her, she sheepishly explains, "Oh, sorry. Er...A deerfly bit me."

Fiona continues, "Yes, actually we are in a bit of a hurry, so if you could just point the way..."

But Roussel doesn't budge. "Ladies, ladies. Please. Before I just let you waltz in and take this horse, who has plainly been through an awful lot, you need to explain a few things."

Diane and Fiona glance nervously at each other. Dimpling at Roussel, Diane starts to stammer out an explanation.

"Stop. I will ask the questions, and you will answer them. If you cannot answer them to my satisfaction, then the horse stays until I am satisfied that he is going back where he belongs and will receive the care and attention he requires."

Now that he had their full and undivided attention, he sends the first missile across their bow.

"You see, you ladies aren't the only ones who claim to own this horse. So, as you might guess, I'm in a bit of a quandry." Roussel, leans back against the truck, resting a hand on his hip, exposing the bone grips of a chrome Colt 45 revolver neatly tucked into his wranglers under his Land's End Chamois cloth shirt. "Before I release him to anybody , I'm going to need to see his registration papers, and proof of ownership. If you are his rightful owners, as you say you are, then this should be only a minor inconvenience."

"Now, if you'd like to come sit down on the sun porch, I'd like to ask you a few simple questions..."

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-10-2000).]

Aug. 10, 2000, 11:01 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Ben & Me:
How could this be a different horse? What did they want with her Destiny?

Jackie had never done anything mean towards anyone. In fact, she was one of the most liked people on the circuit. Or at least she thought she was. But, Jackie was forgetting one little emotion. Jealousy.

[This message has been edited by Ben & Me (edited 08-10-2000).]<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Although it had never consciously been her intent to flaunt Destiny's superiority over anyone else's horse, someone might have interpreted his impending emergence on the circuit as a threat. Jealously--combined with a perceived threat to the status quo-- were a powerful combination. The insidious power of such destructive emotions couldn't be discounted. But whatever elusive forces were at work to destroy her, one thing they hadn't taken into account was the almost empathic link she shared with her horse.

Destiny was a part of her--her heart and her soul! She knew every inch of him, every subtle nuance of his physicality. She needed only to sweep her eyes over him, to know if something wasn't right--to run her hands over him, to feel what he was feeling. No, it wouldn't be possible to fool anyone who had such a bond with their horse. Only someone who couldn't understand would think it could work.

Everyone she counted as a true friend never laughed at her insistence on taking care of her horse's daily care--even if they didn't adhere to the same personal hands-on attention, themselves! Even Heath, who was always there and ready to do the "grunt" for her, agreed with her way of doing things. In fact, that was one of the first things about him that allowed her to feel so comfortable with him--even early on. He had the ability to create the "link" with horses, too. Nothing else would have landed an outsider, with no known past, a job with so prestigious a barn as Erik's. Jackie had even taken to calling him "The Whisperer"--as much for this--as for his peculiar mumble and jumble of words.

Later, she shared these very thoughts with Vanessa, saying; "...Only one thing out of all this insanity is for certain, Vanny! If that horse in Destiny's stall isn't Destiny, then I'm ready to hang up her Vogels--for good!

"Are you willing bet your new Butet on that, too?" Vanessa laughed, eyeing the big bay up and down.

"You bet I am--and I swear to you--I'm going to get to the bottom of all this, even if it kills me!"

[This message has been edited by EquiMom (edited 08-10-2000).]

Aug. 10, 2000, 11:17 PM
On the sun porch of F Roessels farm, the owner felt alarm bells going off in his head. My, my but 70+ Fiona Ford was a fit grey panther! She didn't look a day over 49 and surely her tastes in fashion had changed? The Fiona Ford he'd met at the reception for Olympic riders years before had caused quite the stir with her polyester outfit. Roessel could tell the quality of the Nordstrom's raw silk ensemble from across the porch. Not to mention she had not mentioned their earlier meeting...

Aug. 10, 2000, 11:56 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by EquiMom:
Later, she shared these very thoughts with Vanessa, saying; "...Only one thing out of all this insanity is for certain, Vanny! If that horse in Destiny's stall isn't Destiny, then I'm ready to hang up my Vogels--for good! .....-and I swear to you--I'm going to get to the bottom of all this, even if it kills me!"

"Jedi knight, Jackie" Heath said from the doorway.

"Excuse me," Vanessa said,"but what does Star Wars have to do with this?"

Screwing up his face in concentration, Heath said deliberately, "Can I walk with you Jackie?"

Going down the barn aisle behind him leaving Vanessa in the tack room, Jackie said, "Sure I've been wanting to talk to you for weeks."

Heath shook his head and grabbing a shank, went down one of the many paddock lanes to bring in a horse from turnout. "I said 'walk' and I meant 'walk'. This time anyway," he said morosely. "It's not safe to talk around her. Or anywhere in the barn. The walls have mice."

Jackie puzzled a moment and said, "Mice... mouse... mouse ears... The walls have ears! I get it! Look Heath, this could take forever and I'm really bad at charades. Why don't I ask the questions and you answer. Okay?" He nodded.

"First, is the horse in the barn Destiny?"

Looking down at his shoes, Heath shook his head 'no'.

Jackie felt something burst inside her. "But it HAS to be! I know that horse! Every hair, his way of going, his little likes and dislikes, his sweet spot! That is MY HORSE!" she cried.

Heath looked out from under furrowed brows. "Your horse, not Destiny, fried eggs."

"What!" Jackie exclaimed. "What the HELL do fried eggs have to do with Destiny? What are you trying to say?"

But the pressure Jackie was putting on Heath was not helping. Feeling an intense empathy with Ken the Stutterer from "A Fish Called Wanda", Heath tried again. "Destiny doesn't have fly sheets."

Jackie literally turned and began banging her head on the oak board fence.

"White legs! Destiny doesn't have white legs!" Exhausted with his effort, Heath sank to his knees. "But that's your horse in there."

Jackie dropped to her knees beside him and took Heath's hand. "But Heath, I bought Destiny, or did I? Are you telling me that's the horse I bought, but his name's not Destiny?" Heath nodded vigorously. "Who is he then? What's his name? And where is the real Destiny?"

"I can't sell shoes...tell you that. I was just supposed to keep him looking like a black pointed bay with a star."

"YOU were?" She pulled her hand from his. Jackie stared at him, "It was YOU?!?"

Looking deeply into her eyes, Heath said fervently, "I'm really sorry, Jackie. I had to, but I don't want you to get Kurt.... HURT...

Aug. 11, 2000, 10:00 AM
. . . As if by primordial design, Savannah began to regain consciousness just as the inky darkness began fading to grey.

At first, the pain was merely a suggestion. As Savannah's mind began to clear, however, the pain became punishingly real. Turgid and roiling, the pain rushed from her ribs to her head and then back again in a sickening spiral. Savannah knew the ribs on her left side were broken - the sensation was menacingly familiar. Before, when she had fallen in the hunt field, help had been only seconds away. Now, however, she was hurt, alone, lost . . . and terrified.

Savannah was unwilling swept back in time to the summer she was fifteen. Angry at her parents for some transgression now long forgotten, Savannah had taken the family's Boston Whaler and aimed it deep into the black water and green marshes of the Carolina Low Country - her adolescent defiance and righteousness proclaimed by the roar of the engine and the rhythmic slap of the bow on the water.

She'd been lost and alone and frightened then too. Her anger being slow to abate, Savannah had piloted the boat deep into the marshes. In trying to make her way back out to open water, the whaler had run out of gas. With sundown fast approaching and knowing that it was hopeless to try and find her way in the dark, Savannah steeled herself to the prospect of spending the night in the marshes. Her all-night vigil was complicated by a torrential rain and she had spent the better part of night bailing the collecting water from the bottom of the boat.

The following day, it took her 13 hours and an absolute force of will, but Savannah had taken up the canoe paddle stored in the whaler and slowly threaded her way out of the marshes.

She knew that she would have to draw on that same determined will now . . .

[This message has been edited by Inverness (edited 08-11-2000).]

Ben and Me
Aug. 11, 2000, 11:32 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by creseida:
"Now, if you'd like to come sit down on the sun porch, I'd like to ask you a few simple questions..."

"First of all," started Roessel, "where is the REAL Fiona Ford?"

Diane gave a yelp of terror before being pinched again by the white haired woman next to her. "I am the real Fiona Ford, Mr. Roessel. Why would you think otherwise?"

"Well," started Roessel, "Fiona was NEVER this well dressed. She didn't even know what silk was, much less wear it."

"Umm, they say taste comes with age!" stammered Diane. "Right Fiona?"

"Oh yes definetly. I just grew tired of all that polyester you see," replied the woman.

"I see. Well, what was the name of the horse that I rode in the 1974 Olympics?"

"Umm...Destiny?" said Diane.

"SHUT UP DIANE!" yelled the woman. "Your horse would've been Wowatzik," she said with an air of determination.

"Okay, I beleive I've heard enough. You are obviously NOT Ms. Ford and therefore you do not have permission to take this horse. You ladies are kindly excused from my property. Please leave immediately, before I'm forced to call the proper authorities."


"SHUT UP DIANE! Mr. Roessel, you have our horse in your custody, illegally. Unless you return him to us immediatly, I will be forced to call the proper authorities ON YOU!" said the woman. "I may not be Fiona Ford, but I still own that horse, and I want him back," she said with a forced calmness.

"Unless you can present me with papers of ownership, I'm afraid I cannot do that. Now if you ladies will please escort yourselves out to your truck..."

"But here! Here are papers!" said Diane. She handed the papers across the table.

"Umm, excuse me Ms. Amos, but these papers appear to be for a chesnut mare, 12.1 hands, with 4 white stockings."

"DIANE YOU IDIOT!" screamed the woman. "Go get in the truck!"

Diane sulkily left the room, but instead went to the barn. As the woman handed Roessel papers for a bay Thoroughbred gelding, 16.3 hands, white star, they heard the spitting of gravel. Roessel ran out to the driveway and saw the truck and trailer barreling up the drive, with the haunches of a bay gelding clearly visable.

He turned around to find the woman, but found that she had disappeared into the woods. In his younger days he would have gone after her, but now his arthretic knees wouldnt allow it. Instead, he called Carleton...


"Jackie, this is Carleton. A man named Roessel had your horse, but he was stolen back by Diane Amos and a woman pretending to be Fiona Ford." There was a sound of sudden sobs on the other end of the line. Carleton sat in silence on his end, at a loss for words. They had been so close. "Well Jackie, at least we all know who has the horse, and everybody knows that Diane is not the smartest banana in the bunch. So, there's hope...

Ben and Me
Aug. 11, 2000, 11:43 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Inverness:
[/B]She knew that she would have to draw on that same determined will now . . .

Savannah tried to sit up, but felt her head swimming. "Stupid me," she thought. "I left my phone in the car." But then she remembered that there was no signal. She would have to remember to get a new phone company when she got back.

"First things first. I have to sit up. I am GOING to sit up" she said outloud. Savannah sat up. "Now, I am going to stand up. It isn't going to hurt." Savannah stood up, but the pain was almost unbearable. This was going to take a lot of work...


Three hours later it was completely dark. Savannah looked at her watch. It was 10:27. "Well," she thought with a sigh, "at least its not hot." She had walked only about a mile, but the scenery was still the same. Woods on each side, with deep underbrush. Savannah was not at all tempted to go see what creatures emerged from the woods at dark. The thought alone sent a shiver down her spine, which in turn made her almost collapse with pain.

But Savannah wasn't a quitter. She was going to make it.

Were those lights on the horizon? Was that Middleburg?

Kathy Johnson
Aug. 11, 2000, 06:28 PM
"YOU were?" She pulled her hand from his. Jackie stared at him, "It was YOU?!?"

Looking deeply into her eyes, Heath said fervently, "I'm really sorry, Jackie. I had to, but

I don't want you to get Kurt.... HURT...


"I don't believe you! It is Destiny! It has to be. I'll prove it."

Jackie ran to the barn, Heath at her heels. She pulled the stunning bay from his stall. Without touching a brush to him, she plopped a saddle on his back.

"My Destiny will do anyting for me. You watch."

"Watergate," Heath pleaded nervously, meaning "please wait."

Before he could restructure his sentence, she was mounted. Not bothering to warm the big horse up, she started across the arena. His trot was big, rhytmic and poweful. He thrust her from the saddle in her posting motion.

She flung back her head, shaking her hair in the breeze, enjoying the freedom of riding without a helmet. She pushed Destiny into a canter, faster and faster. His stride flowed like liquid fire.

"Watch this," she shouted to Heath. At a strong canter, she headed Destiny straight for the wall, the solid wall. The wall that represented all the hopes and fears of the show ring rider. The wall they must all leap before they were considered real riders by Eric and his group. The wall had become a symbolic right of passage, a solid four feet of wood and nails, the entry into the jumper ring.

"Watch me," Jackie laughed exultantly, as she opened Destiny's stride.

"Gallop wall, don't fall!" Heath garbled hyserically, meaning "the damn wall won't fall!"

Eric, quietly reading The Chronicle of the Horse inside his office, heard those words and looked at his window, only to see Jackie approaching the jump, too fast, too flat.

Jackie threw her heart over. Unfortunately, Destiny found the wrong spot and slammed on the brakes. Jackie flew over the wall, and crumpled in a heap on the other side.

Eric ran full speed from his office. Before he knew it, he was in front of Heath.

"What are you doing, coaching one of MY clients?" He punched Heath so hard he heard the nasal bone crack. Blood flew.

Heath, for once speechless, started for Jackie....

Aug. 11, 2000, 06:58 PM
I'd like to interupt our regularly scheduled program for station identification:
http://pub9.ezboard.com/fthehorsecommunitythetwilightzone.showMessage?topi cID=338.topic (http://pub9.ezboard.com/fthehorsecommunitythetwilightzone.showMessage?topi cID=338.topic)

You have admirers in low places. Keep up the good work!

We now return to the show.

Aug. 11, 2000, 09:58 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Ben & Me:
But Savannah wasn't a quitter. She was going to make it.

Were those lights on the horizon? Was that Middleburg? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

As Savannah slowly staggered towards the lights, she heard a noise. She stopped and listened carefully. She couldn't readily identify the noise, so she continued on, slowly. In the dim glow of the moonlight, she sees something move in the underbrush, followed by the noise once again.

She slowly made her way towards the apparition, knowing in her injured state she would not be able to escape any danger. Suddenly, the apparition goes into a coughing fit; she sees dark liquid spray with each cough. Then, just as suddenly, the apparition goes rigid, then lays still.

Paralysed with fear, Savannah doesn't move for several minutes. Finally she gets up the courage to approach the mysterious being. Slowly, painfully, she kneels down next to the body. She feels for a pulse. There is none.

Looking closer in the dim moonlight, she realises she has made her way back to where she found the group with the horse, and this was the man who was hit by the tractor trailer. She was close to Diana's farm, which meant that she was in danger, especially after what she'd witnessed.

Suddenly, the silence is interrupted by an electronic chirp. Startled, Savannah leaps back, falling over in pain from her sudden movement. By the time she recovers her composure the phone has stopped ringing.

He has a phone! Forcing herself back to her knees, she begins searching the pockets of the navy jumpsuit clinging damply to the body. Her efforts are doubly rewarded as she not only finds a digital cell phone, but a functioning personal GPS unit!

Turning the phone on, she is elated to find it has a full charge and a strong signal. Quickly, she dials 9-1-1. After relaying to the dispatcher her exact GPS location, she works her way back off the road, out of sight, to wait for help to arrive.

She doesn't have to wait long before...

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-11-2000).]

Aug. 11, 2000, 10:01 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Kathy Johnson:
Heath, for once speechless, started for Jackie....

"Jackie!" he cried. He ran to her side and took her in his arms. "Jackie, Jackie! Do you dear...I mean hear me? Jackie!" he cried frantically. Then he turned to Erik. "Fall 911! Ow!!!"

"What? You stupid bastard!" Erik cried.
" CALL 911. NOW!" Heath shouted back, unwilling to leave Jackie's side.
Erik ran for the phone. "We'll settle this later." he said menacingly.

10 mintes laters sirens could be heard approaching the farm.

Meanwhile rhe horse ran madly around the ring and finally crashed through the exit gate. No one followed. It ran out into the night, away from the tragic scene.

The ambulance pulled up and attendents emerged and hurridly attended to Jackie. Heath was pushed back by them. His thoughts swirled insesantly, he was wracked with guilt, with what ifs. Had he lost the woman he cared about? Would she ever forgive him? How could he ever have hurt her? The Ambulance pulled off, leaving Heath standing alone in the garrish lights of the ambulance and the barn, to figure out how everything had gone so horribly wrong....

Aug. 11, 2000, 10:05 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by creseida:

She doesn't have to wait long before...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

An ambulance came pulling up. Just as she was about to sigh with relief she realized there was still one problem - how in the world was she going to explain the dead body next to her? Should she tell the authorities all she knew about Diane and the horse or just keep quiet. Before she could think any further the ambulance attendents were at her side. After making her comfortable they saw the body of the man lying prone on the road. "What happened to him?" one of the attendents asked. Savannah almost panicked, instead in a flash of brilliance she......

Aug. 11, 2000, 10:19 PM
After fleeing Roessel's farm with the horse, Diane Amos headed south on Route 29 to the planned rendezvous point.

That evening, from a cozy tenant's cottage on a modest plantation outside of Charlottesville, Diane Amos waits impatiently on the phone for the party she's dialed to answer.

Finally, the disembodied voice answers. "I can assume by the timing of your phone call that mistakes have been made..." It was a statement, not a question.

"Well, we've had some setbacks. Agent P3-7 is dead, but we've recovered the horse."

"P3-7 was getting careless. He was scheduled to be eliminated. We've merely been spared the inconvenience. His replacement has already been briefed and is heading to the area as we speak", said the voice.

Diane took a deep breath and continued, "We...um..uh...well, due to certain circumstances...."

The voice cut her off. "You failed to recover the equipment and documentation, didn't you. Stupid bitch. Ever since you've become involved..." The voice stopped. Emotions could not be allowed to interfere with the plans. Not yet, anyways.
"Secure the horse, and await further instructions" <click>

Diane Amos felt a cold chill creep up her spine. She knew what happened when mistakes were made....

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-11-2000).]

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-11-2000).]

Aug. 11, 2000, 10:34 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Ben & Me:

"Jackie, this is Carleton. A man named Roessel had your horse, but he was stolen back by Diane Amos and a woman pretending to be Fiona Ford." There was a sound of sudden sobs on the other end of the line. Carleton sat in silence on his end, at a loss for words. They had been so close. "Well Jackie, at least we all know who has the horse, and everybody knows that Diane is not the smartest banana in the bunch. So, there's hope...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Jackie threw her heart over. Unfortunately, Destiny found the wrong spot and slammed on the brakes. Jackie flew over the wall, and crumpled in a heap on the other side.

Eric ran full speed from his office. Before he knew it, he was in front of Heath.

"What are you doing, coaching one of MY clients?" He punched Heath so hard he heard the nasal bone crack. Blood flew.

Heath, for once speechless, started for Jackie.... <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Jackie hung up the phone with her good hand, but still managed to knock the lamp over with her heavily bandaged right arm. She glanced over at Heath, who oddly enough looked almost normal now that his face was was swathed in bandages for his broken nose.

"That was Carleton Brooks. He says *my horse* whatever thatmeans these days was found in Virginia by F. Roussel the Olympic dressage rider. Through the grapevine he heard Fiona Ford was looking for a horse she'd regretted selling. He tracked her down at her Hiawatha Farm in Montpelier Station...."

"Buh she heah in Fluffy Pies" Heath mumbled. Jackie gave him a long look. "I do believe I understand you better with a broken nose.

"Anyway, yes, Carleton said the REAL Fiona is down here at Gitchegoomie."

Erik, who'd driven them both to Jackie's from the hospital, threw up his hands in disgust. "It's not bad enough we have to deal with counterfeit horses, but now people? Why can't people just be themselves?"

Heath, understandably, said nothing.

Erik continued, "It was supposed to be simple. You spend big money on a nice horse, bring him to me, we go to the shows, we take home the championships, you take out the full page ad in the Chronicle thanking me. I get lots more clients, build another barn...." He looked up at Jackie and Heath, nursing their respective injuries. "Well...that was how it supposed to work."

"Instead, we have two bay horses whose ownership is in question, so we may have been training the wrong horse; and one of whom has been kidnapped; we find a horse in Virginia, you've sprained your wrist and we haven't been to a single show!" He subsided into the soft leather couch, shaking his head.

Aug. 11, 2000, 10:57 PM
It was another Friday night Ruth was spending at the farm. This was definitely hurting her social life! It had taken more than an hour to capture the crazed Destiny, who'd managed to break his bridle and lose his custom Myler bit somewhere in the woods. She'd have to have one of the grooms walk the trails w/ the magnetic broom they used after the farrier's visits. The barely broken in Deavoucoux, replaced after the early tack room vandalizm, would certainly never see Devon. Maybe she could talk Jackie into donating it to 4H? Reminding herself to call Beval's in the morning, she went to check on the horses. The last time she'd had Friday night check didn't bear thinking about. How had Diane known about the Pool Boy affair?

The light was on in the tack room...NO! Ruth thought, it's deja vu all over again! But instead of Diane Amos, a tall brown-haired brown-eyed woman with a very athletic figure enclosed in a rentacop uniform stepped into the aisle.

Whether it was the uniform or the woman inside it, Ruth couldn't say. But she couldn't talk either. Finally she swallowed and said, "What are you doing here?"

"Mr. Booth called the agency. He's arranged for a night watch ma...person until further notice. I guess he thought the place...or the people..." she eyed Ruth up and down, "needed watching. I think he may be right. About the people, that is."

Ruth's only cohesive thought was that her Friday night had just improved dramatically....

Aug. 11, 2000, 11:55 PM
It was way too early Saturday morning. She'd not slept well, the final statement of the previous night's phone call twisted and turned in her mind all night long. Per the directive she'd received at 3 am, she had to get up at o'dark thirty to prepare the horse for the next leg of his journey.

With an unexpected sense of relief, Diane had seen to the transfer of Destiny into the hands of the next caretaker. He was well on his way to who knows where, and at this point, to who cares where. As she was preparing for her return journey to her farm in Middleburg, she heard a heavy vehicle drive up. Stepping out of the tan horse van was another of the Voice's goons. Great, now what?!

With the characteristic big sunglasses and dark jumpsuit of his position in the heirarchy, Agent RD-2 approached Diane.

"I'm Here for the horse," he stated.
"Whaa..?" But..but...h-he left here about 30 minutes ago," stammered out Diane.
"You let him go without asking for verification from the collector?" RD-2's face grew very dark under his shades.
"You do realise, of course, that you have jeopardised everything with your carelessness," reminded RD-2
"B-b-but-t-t I-yi..uh was so tired. The long drive down here. I couldn't sleep."
"You have run out of excuses", and with that, he pulled out a Sig Sauer 9mm with a silencer, and pumped 5 rounds into the shocked Diane. RD-2 felt her carotid, and detected nothing.

Dragging her body to the barn, RD-2 quickly builds a cairn of hay bales and conceals the body. He turns out the lights, and leaves, pulling the sliding door closed.

Pulling out the wireless, he hits the programmed number. "Ms. Amos has made a... fatal...error. The horse is not here."
"Return to quarters. We'll contact our connections and plan accordingly. <click>

Aug. 12, 2000, 02:22 AM
He subsided into the soft leather couch, shaking his head.[quote Kryswyn]

Heaving a sigh, Erik allowed his fury to abate--but not his frustration;

"Dammit, Heath! I didn't mean to take everything out on you..but let's face it! You're a part of this charade..!"

"...And you, Jackie!" he chided, "What kind of stunt were you trying to pull out there? Do you think that you're immortal? Or maybe you think that that horse--whoever he is--is equipped with some some of anti-gravity capabilities!"

Jackie's eyes lowered, her face reddening with chagrin; "You're right, Erik...it was a foolish, stupid thing to do. I'm so sorry--I...I guess I was just out of my mind, what with everything that's been happening..."

Erik's demeanor softened, even more, as he looked into Jackie's wide, green eyes. He felt his heart melting at the way her feathery lashes flickered against her tears. Impulsively, he moved toward her, gathering her into his arms;

"Don't..don't, Jackie..." I just couldn't bear it if anything happened to you." A flash of something too awful to remember tried to take hold, but he refused to let it linger...

As she melted into his embrace, he felt a surge of protectiveness--and an unexpected longing--in the sensation of her body pressed against his. He hadn't allowed himself the luxury of wondering what it would be like to hold her. Abruptly, he held her away, and tilted her face upward;

"No more stupid pet tricks, okay?" Erik chuckled, trying for some levity, and then gently kissed the tip of her upturned nose.

"I promise, Erik..." she said, gamely stifling a shuddering sob.

Heath watched this display from his vantage point across the room. His eyes smoldered, taking in the electricity that he sensed passing between them. Oddly, in the quiet place inside his brain, the words he was unable to utter aloud flowed freely. He was thinking that Erik was wrong for Jackie--she was meant to be in his arms! If only he could speak his heart--as easily as it pounded out it's unheard message!

Aug. 12, 2000, 04:11 AM
Jackie bid Erik goodnight, and then turned to Heath.

He was sitting with his arms folded across his chest, his bruised and swollen eyes diverted. He looked so utterly dejected that she couldn't help but feel sorry for him, in spite of what he'd admitted.

"Heath.." she said deliberately, "I know you can't give me chapter and verse--but just tell me this...were you really going to take this madness all the way? Were you really going to..." Her voice broke off, as she finally let the tears escape.

Heath leapt to his feet, and in an instant he was at Jackie's side; "No...Noo! Jackie--Destiny--your horse...IS yours! No cages...no changes are coming for you from me..!"

His frustration at making himself understood was almost driving him wild. Agitation made his scattered concentration even more hopeless. He suddenly rushed for the door, only to have Jackie fling herself in his path.

"No! Heath...I believe you. Don't go...I don't know how I know...but I do. I think you got caught up in something evil--and didn't know it. That's it, isn't it..?"

Heath almost wanted to cry, too. He was so relieved to know that Jackie somehow understood--even if he hadn't figured it all out, himself. His head ached from the effort of trying to piece together the puzzle that his life had become. He only knew one thing with any certainty--only one thing made any sense! It--she--was right there in front of him. She made sense!
The two of them, together!

"Jackie..." he said, slowly but vehemently, "I...I will..make it right! Promising! I love us--you!---You and me...together!"

Jackie's breath caught in her throat, making her feel almost dizzy. Looking into his imploring, amber eyes, she could almost hear his thoughts--and they were telling her something pure and real and compelling. She allowed him to pull her close, and offered her understanding by permitting the tender brush of his lips. They lingered over her mouth, then slowly moved to the throbbing pulse-beat at her throat. She held him, smoothing his tousled hair, soothing his anguish with the gentleness in her welcoming embrace.

Although she spoke not a word, she felt the "link" between them opening. An empathic message passed between them--more intense than any verbal exchange could ever be--and she knew that he understood. She loved him, too.

Kathy Johnson
Aug. 12, 2000, 08:32 AM
The next morning Heath woke with a pounding headache. He had done the right thing, the noble thing, he knew it. After a heavy bout of petting, he had sent Jackie off to bed, not quite getting what she wanted, what, he had to admit, both of them wanted.

He couldn't, he wouldn't jeopardize his job with Eric. It was too important right now. What he was sure was love last night in the throes of Percodan, this morning looked like lust. His whole nose throbbed, all the way up to his temples. He reached for the bottle of painkillers.

"Enough of this," he thought clearly to himself, "I have work to do."

The cobblestone aisles echoed as he walked down to the feed room. Each horse gave a soft nicker as he passed by. He cut open a pungent bale of alfalfa, and turned a few purple flowers in his hand. The hay was fresh and good. No way Eric would ever feed bad hay.

The horses, shuffling and nickering in their stalls, rustled golden straw, and dust motes rose in the early morning shafts of sunlight that slid through the metal bars of the windows.

"How simple it would be to be a horse," he sighed to himself. "No language barriers. Unless, of course you are owned by Jackie."

Just thinking of her recklessness in testing Destiny, he shook his head, only to make it pound more.

When he slid open the grain room door, all the horses came awake, letting out shrill whinnys, deep nickers, some pounding their doors with their hooves in impatience for their breakfast.

Hurriedly he fed them, checked their automatic waterers, then left them quietly munching, the stable alive with the sounds and smells of horses.

Aug. 12, 2000, 06:25 PM
Gerhard Roessel spotted the horse trailer entering the front gates of his Virginia estate. Again he thought to himself that this was the only truly irrational thing he had ever done in his carefully crafted life.

At age 54, Gerhard F. Roessel had accomplished everything he had set out to do in the world of finance. His children, all from his first, very happy marriage, were grown and had established successful careers of their own. Now, Roessel was looking forward to a very comfortable semi-retirement at his home in the Virginia Blue Ridge.

He planned to begin riding and training again. Roessel had amassed a considerable fortune - more than enough to stock his stables with proven, exceptional dressage horses. As in business, however, Roessel's passion was to build from scratch; to take a raw prospect and train a champion -the same way he had transformed fledgling companies and banks into powerhouses.

In sending his property manager after the horse, however, he may well have placed all his plans in jeopardy.

If the fabricated Fiona and her soft-headed sidekick were indeed the rightful owners of the animal, he may have just committed a felony. Under current U.S. immigration law, his permanent resident alien status would be revoked and he would find himself deported and unable ever to return - assuming, of course, that he first survived the American prison system.

But Roessel had learned over the years to rely on his instincts and acumen. In his heart, he knew that that horse did not, could not, belong to those women.

Pushing all unwelcome and unpleasant thoughts aside, Roessel went out the back of the house to meet the trailer as it arrived at the barn, a large black dog close at his side . . .

[This message has been edited by Razumny (edited 08-12-2000).]

Aug. 12, 2000, 09:17 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Kathy Johnson:
Hurriedly he fed them, checked their automatic waterers, then left them quietly munching, the stable alive with the sounds and smells of horses.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

As he headed out of the barn, Erik caught up with him.
"Did you see this morning's paper?" he asked.
"They found Diane Amos dead in a barn in the middle of nowhere. Shot to death 5 times with a 9-mike. Found by a whip walking his hounds. The dogs locked on to the smell, and couldn't be called off. When he got to this little barn...well apparently things were pretty ripe. Probably wouldn't have been so bad except for heat of this Indian summer we're having.

"The real kicker to this, though," he continued, "is that they believe that the bullets came from the same gun that shot Vanessa. Apparently, somewhere between Mosby's and the Sheriff's department, the gun in that shooting disappeared."

Heath's eyes grew large, as he remembered the scene at Mosby's, and feared for Jackie's safety. The killer was still at large. One dead and one injured....

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-12-2000).]

Aug. 12, 2000, 11:01 PM
On the front porch of a small farm house outside of Charlottesville, a beautiful red Maine Coon Cat sat on a table, a panting tricolor rough coated Jack Russell Terrier lay panting beneath her. Any human walking past would be forgiven for thinking that the cat was merely grooming herself, and the terrier merely plotting her next act of mischief. But the cat had paused over cleaning her toes and was reading the newspaper on the table left when their human had gone to answer the phone.

"They're giving credit to those damn hounds" the cat complained. "WE found it first! Is it our fault Halfeyed-NoNose can't be bothered to get up at a decent hour?"

The terrier panted, "I like hounds, I do, I like hounds."

The cat looked through the expanded metal mesh of the table and said witheringly, "You only like hounds because they chased me once thinking I was a fox."

"No I don't, No I don't. I like hounds cause they chase foxes!"

"Well this time the fool dogs made a real mess of things. How those humans will ever find out who else was there and killed that woman, I can't begin to imagine." The cat resumed her grooming.

The terrier rose and stretched, "You shoudda tried harder to get Mom up."

"Meow, moi? You haven't been debarked! You could've opened your yap."

"No, no, no. Mom doesn't want me barking at night that's why she put in the pet door, so I could let myself out. I'm a GOOD GIRL."

The big Coon lay down regally on the table, "Well, you may be "Good", but good got those hounds the credit for finding the body."

The terrier sneezed in remembrance and said, "The stink was so bad, a sharpei couldda found it." She sighed. "I wish I could've rolled in it..."

At that moment, their human companion came out and reached for the paper. She was short and wirey, with eyes that had seen a lot and laughed in the face of it all. "Boy you two are sure talkative this morning." She glanced down at the headlines. "Poor Diane, what did she get herself into this time?"

[This message has been edited by Kryswyn (edited 08-12-2000).]

Aug. 13, 2000, 02:50 AM
[quote: Kryswyn]..."Poor Diane, what did she get herself into this time?"

Had just anyone been within earshot, it would have appeared that she was talking to herself. But to those in the horse community, Evie Beauchamps was just doing what came naturally. She often talked to animals--and to hear tell it, they talked back. And furthermore, on a fee per consultation basis, she would tell you just what they had to say!

Her clientele was varied and far-reaching. Some engaged her services as a lark, the way otherwise practical people get their palms read at the County Fair. Others turned to her with a nothing-to-lose attitude. Still others relied upon her empathic powers with nothing short of reverence--and eagerly proffered her business card, bearing the inscription: 'Evelynne Treadwell-Beauchamps...Animal Communicator.'

No one believed in Evie as much as she believed in herself. She came by her gift by way of her Native-American roots, where being in harmony with nature was as it should be. Nothing off-the-wall about that! Add to this the spice of a little Cajun Voodoo, courtesy of her late husband, Remey "Zydeco" Beauchamps, and you had the recipe for legend status. So whether you ascribed to her mojo or methods, a legend is what she was--and made herself a tidy living at it!

"I heard you two talkin'" she said, perusing the newspaper's account, "...but don't know--something's not working for me with this. Just doesn't feel right, eh!"

The porch pair exchanged glances, then both looked up at Mama Evie, who responded with a knowing chuckle; "I won't be lookin' for any trouble, children! But won't be no surprise if trouble comes lookin' for me..!"

Aug. 13, 2000, 08:39 AM
It took very little time for Gerhard Roessel to confirm with the County Sherriff's office that a horse fitting the description of the one now secreted in his auxiliary barn had been reported missing. The report had been filed by an Erik Highborne Booth.

Roessel frowned. The name was familiar. Yes, of course! He distinctly recalled meeting Booth at the Dublin Horse Show about seven years ago. He'd been very impressed with the younger man's knowledge of horses and had spent a lovely evening with Booth and his fiance at a Dublin restaurant. Booth's fiance had been equally delightful company. An up and coming international-level jumper rider, Lacey (he struggled unsuccessfully to recall her last name) was also a beauty.

Shortly after Dublin, Roessel had begun working on the DeutscheBank merger. An obsessive workaholic, he'd put the rest of his life aside for two years and had completely forgotten about the handsome pair whose company he had so enjoyed. Until now.

Roessel picked up the phone to ring Carleton Phipps again. Booth was obviously back in the states and in Virginia no less. And Carleton certainly would know where...

[This message has been edited by Razumny (edited 08-13-2000).]

Aug. 13, 2000, 09:10 AM
Austin, Gerhard Roessel's five year old flat-coated retriever, overheard the entire conversation. Looking at his master as one would a small child, he sighed and wondered at how long it took humans to figure things out.

Days ago, he'd gotten it on good authority from a Foxhound who knew a Dalmation who'd heard it from a Jack Russell Terrier near Charlottesville, that a horse had been stolen from Highborne farm. "If only humans would learn to listen to and understand 'The Midnight Barking' instead of trying to shush us up, they might learn something." With that parting thought, Austin padded away to find an uncovered water bowl in one of the home's six bathrooms...

[This message has been edited by Razumny (edited 08-13-2000).]

Aug. 13, 2000, 02:43 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Razumny] Austin padded away to find an uncovered water bowl in one of the home's six bathrooms...[/B]<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Selectively quenching his thirst from the only one that wasn't tainted 'Tide-Dee-Flush' blue, he lapped up his fill, musing; "...Wonder if Martha's Chow was actually color-blind, rest his soul..!"

Aug. 13, 2000, 08:23 PM
The hills of the Blue Ridge resonated that evening with every variation of bark and howl. "ARRughf," "ou, ou, ouooooo," "grrrrOOOWWWW;" the happy news echoed from hill to valley to hill via VAdogTalk.net - the "Lost Horse of Highborne" had been found and was safe. Did anyone know of a dog at Highborne who could convey the gleefull message - or perhaps one of Highborne's barn cats understood Canine and could receive the message? ...

Aug. 13, 2000, 08:51 PM
Erik was startled out of what was, at best, a disturbed slumber, by a 28 pound classic brown tabby Maine Coon Cat named Whiskey who launched himself from the top of the colonial highboy dresser onto Erik's chest. "WHA, WHA, WHISKEY!!" WHAT THE BLOODY HELL!!!??, Erik spat as he fought to catch his breath.

Expertly evading Erik's flailing arms and now reasonbly assured that his human was wide awake and certain to remain so, Whiskey leapt from the edge of the bed. Skidding his way to a stop across the breadth of Erik's huge mahogany partner's desk, Whiskey then flung himself at the original, beautifully preserved civil war-era map of Confederate Virginia which overhung the desk.

Had Erik not had the map framed, Whiskey would surely have had it in shreds. Standing on his hind legs, Whiskey was furiously batting and scratching at an area of the map that would now be an area around Orange, not far from Charlottesville.

Never knowing Whiskey to have Yankee sympathies or relations (despite his Maine heritage), Erik assumed that the ferocious feline was attempting to communicate something quite specific. . .

Aug. 14, 2000, 09:57 AM
It happened rather quickly after that. A phone call to Carleton by both Gerhard and Erik had gotten the wheels in motion. Not taking any chances, Carleton, Jackie, Erik and Heath hitched up the trailer, jumped in the dually and headed up for Warrenton.

Romantic tension was palpable as all three men where barely containing their testosterone levels. Jackie felt rather like a female dog being vied for by three stallion hounds. She tried various topics of conversation but all three would just answer monosyllabicly. Finally, unable to stand it any longer, Jackie announced that until her horse, which ever one it was, had gone to a show and won a championship, she was not going to date ANYONE. She made a solemn vow to God, in return for His help, guidance and blessing in getting to the show ring.

The three men traded glances in the rearview mirror and immediately began talking about the Carolina Panthers prospects for a SuperBowl title. Which was just fine with Jackie, because not knowing a thing about football, she burrowed her head into the sweater she'd brought and slept the rest of the way up.

So now Highborne was home to a stunning set of bay geldings: Destiny w/o a sock and comet tail, *Whozit* who did have a comet-like star and a sock after the dye had worn off; and Rex, Maribeth Charles' bay, who had been decidedly off form since coming to Highborne and had made some awfully green type of errors in the showring the few times he'd shown since his arrival.

Jackie concetrated on Whozit since Heath swore that was the horse she'd really purchased. Destiny was on a "back to health" regimine, and Rex spent a lot of time being ridden by Erik and loved on by Ruth since Maribeth had decided to tour Europe indefinitly.

Things were almost normal, or what past for normal at Highborne, when Jackie dropped into the Suffering Pines post office to pick up her mail. In a cream colored heavy bond envelope was a letter from Dewey, Cheathem
and Howe, Attorneys at Law. The news was shocking. She gave a slight moan and leaned against the mailboxes for support. She read over and over the words that would change her life.

"...your right to the inheritance of Madeline Evers-Oftinhead is being challenged on the grounds that you have not met the stipulation to "find True Love and show the world how good True Love can be." You are hereby ordered to show cause why you should remain in possession of the late Madeline Evers-Oftinhead's fortune."

Oh God! What would she do?

Aug. 14, 2000, 01:28 PM
As her knees failed to support her, she sank to the ground. Visions of Destiny on the auction block whirled about her as she fought to regain her composure.

Suddenly, her hand closed onto - a braiding comb! Memories of nights spent braiding horses for Indoors crowded into her head, bringing with it the suppressed rage that she would no longer have her chance. Struggling to her feet, she raised the comb in her hand and shouted, "As God is my witness, I'll never be a braider again!"

"Hmmm," she thought, "How DOES one go about getting in touch with Johnnie Cochran??"...

Kathy Johnson
Aug. 14, 2000, 08:11 PM
Heath, silent, sulking, watched Jackie school Whozit every day while Erick called commands from the side lines.

The rage in him grew until one day it engulfed him with a passion he had never felt before.

And he cursed to himself, "I can't stand it anymore. Every day I watch her, the way she tosses her hair, the way she arches her back, the way she thrusts her buttocks in the air over the fence. And every single time she jumps, it's like a stab in the heart. She is ALWAYS ahead of that horse. I know I could ride him better."

No longer could Heath contain himself. When the air grew chilly and the gloaming settled upon the grounds, he returned to the barns, and brought Whozit back out for another ride.

And sure enough, he COULD ride the horse better than Jackie. Lowly groom that he was, somehow he felt close to the horse, closer than he had ever felt to another human. And the horse felt it, jumping higher and more powerfully than he ever did for Jackie.

"I should be showing this horse," Heath hissed to himself.

Aug. 14, 2000, 11:57 PM
Carleton Phipps had tried, lord knows he'd tried. He'd stopped himself from calling Jackie at least twice a day for weeks now. On very flimsy excuses he'd rung the barn a few times hoping she'd answer. Once a brusk woman who'd announced "Highborne Farm, Security Officer Trask speaking," had answered. He'd hung up and hoped they didn't have caller i.d. (they did). Another time Heath had answered and here, Carleton was hopeful he'd be able to get some concrete information about Jackie. But Heath'd been busy, too, and had only said,"Powerball gumdrop, buzzy" and hung up.

But after what Carleton had heard this afternoon at the Cabin Branch Tack Shoppe couldn't be ignored. Jackie just had to know. He'd gone in hoping Sam Bozick could find time to repair his favorite 1/2 holed stirrup leathers while he waited. Leaving Sam in the basement, Carleton was perusing the bridles when the bell jingled and who should walk in but.....

Aug. 15, 2000, 12:32 AM
[quote: Flight Check] "Hoe DOES one go about getting in touch with Johnny Cochran?"----

Since assembling a 'dream-team' didn't seem prudent, what with the looming constraints of having to budget against disaster, Jackie decided to seek out other counsel.

She arranged for a free consultation with the junior partner in the firm of Litty, Gator and Defendum. Their commercials on TV promised theirs as 'Your friendly one-stop shopping firm for all your legal needs--with terms available.' The preliminary advice she received actually proved helpful, to wit:

1)There was no evidence nor indication that she, as the heir to the stipulated fortune, had not met with the terms specified in the will, as there had been no clearly defined time frame assigned to it's provision--ie., that she "find true love."

2)As the above delineated stipulation contained no specified time-frame, any attempt to rescind its force and effectiveness would require that an open-ended time frame be construed as the definitive measure set forth--and therefore not expired until such time as the heir's death and demise--at which point, her estate, if any, might be open to contest through litigation.

3)Since "true love" is, at best, an esoteric and/or subjective state and/or condition, it would likely be legally construed as a portion of the the will assigned to sentimental and/or non-binding frivilous addendum.

In other words, it wasn't gonna fly.

Aug. 15, 2000, 03:14 AM
[quote: Kryswyn]...when who should walk in but...

...the Doyenne of Dirt--the Grande Dame of Dish--the Dauntless Desseminator of Disparaging Disclosure! Yes! Like a cumbersome float in her very own Suffering Pines Founders' Day Parade, in huffed Letitia Pennington-Welch...followed by her ever-present coterie of servile sycophants. It appeared that their only job in life was to agree with her--and at this, they excelled. In return, they remained largely immune from her vitiolic attacks--as long as they stuck with the program.

Carleton, ever the gentleman, greeted her deferentially, smiling warmly to offset his ill-disguised amusement; "Letitia...ladies!" he nodded, as she waddled her way to the bench provided for patrons of Cabin Branch to take the proverbial load off, "So nice to see you..!"

It wasn't long before she launched into the 'Destiny debacle' as she referred to the doings at Highborne.

"Carelton, I cannot tell you how many times people have gone running around like chickens without heads--when all they had to do was simply ask--me! In any matters pertaining to the last word--I know whereof I speak! But will these hapless fools simply say, Letitia, help me? No! So now I say, they get what they deserve!"

Come, come, Letitia.." Carleton said, taking the old dowager's bejewelled hand, "would you dismiss me as summarily as that, too?"

Letitia softened, coyly inviting him to tease the information fairly dancing on the tip of her tongue; "I would not," she said, conspiratorially, "Only for you, Carleton! I could be persuaded to tell! What do you want to know? You need only ask!"

What followed was an amazing tale of duplicity, deceit and damning disclosure.

First, the duplicity involved the parties privy to the parentage of the horse(s) in question.

Secondly, the deceit involved the calculated perpetuation of the confusion--as to the 'who' and 'why' of the multiple identities--both human and equine!

And thirdly, the disclosure of many of the parties implicated would, indeed, be damning! But the kicker was in just who would be damned!--A select few could fairly be considered innocents--and merely caught up in the swirl of fraud, unwitting!

"So you mean to tell me that there were twin colts born?" Carleton gasped, "To a single broodmare?"

"That's usually the way twins of any sort are born, Carleton!" she sniffed, rather haughtily, "Yes, a very fine-lineaged English thoroughbred--a competition mare, imported for the express purpose of being bred to the stallion, Prevaricator!"

"How ironic..." Carleton observed, "even the sire's name foreshadowed the events to follow!"

"Indeed!" she trilled, eagerly leaning in, "And the best part is that no one but the attending veterinarian--and the farm's grooms--knew that two had been successfully delivered! The 'surprise' colt wasn't really a surprise to the vet, at all! Oh, he'd known since early on--through the sonogram--that twins were on the way! It was then that he'd decided that if they were carried to term--and both lived--he would...shall we say...simply avail himself of one!"

Carleton's cognitive reasoning was struggling to assimilate the rapid-fire information; "Letitia--which vet are we talking about, here?" he asked, fearing what the answer would be, "Are you saying it was..."

[This message has been edited by EquiMom (edited 08-15-2000).]

Aug. 16, 2000, 12:00 AM
. . . Dr. Mangeglove???? Letitia pursed her thin lips together in a smug, all-knowing attitude. "I'm sure I can't say, my dear. And I certainly would never speculate on such a matter. My only point is that I might have rendered some assistance had I been consulted at the beginning of this tiresome debacle." With that invitation, Letitia abruptly dismissed Carleton with a refined huff/head-toss combination punch and strode off, entourage in tow . . .

Aug. 16, 2000, 12:39 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by EquiMom:
[quote: Flight Check] "How DOES one go about getting in touch with Johnny Cochran?"----<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Feeling that the free legal advice she'd gotten from Dillingham Defendum was worth the price, Jackie hired "Dilly" as he was universally known, on the spot and had him fire off a letter stating same to Dewey Cheatham & Howe.

The reply from DC&H was swift and sure. Sadly, Jackie had not thought to inquire why Dilly was still only a junior partner at the age of 58. It seemed Dilly never had been able to read well, and he had missed several salient points of the will. To wit:

The words "True Love" were capitalized, denoting they were a defined term, or as DC&H's client maintained, the name of a specific HORSE. The client further maintained that Jackie had discussed this fact with Mrs Evers-Oftinhead.

Second, the crucial paragraph at the bottom of the will clearly stated that Jackie had a time limit: "In regards to my heir finding True Love, I believe the sooner she finds True Love the happier she will be. Therefore, to encourage Jackie to get the lead out, she should be united with her True Love before her 35th birthday and the world should know how good True Love can be by their second anniversary."

Jackie's spirits took a second nosedive. True Love was a HORSE?? She'd dated all manner of jerks trying to find true love when she should've been trying out horses??? Geez, she'd even let that one guy.... But more frightening was that her 35th birthday was fast approching. Was she a pauper again?

[This message has been edited by Kryswyn (edited 08-17-2000).]

Aug. 16, 2000, 02:48 AM
Erik was used to feeling like the odd man out--nothing more than a peripheral character--nursing a silent ache. Denying himself seemed the fitting punishment for the sin of being alive, so he'd chosen to cloister himself away.

When Jackie entered his sphere of existence, something unexpected had stirred within him. Try as he might, her face invaded his restless dreams, unbidden.

At first he attributed his preoccupation to her uncanny resemblance to his lost Lacey. But now there was something more--an insistent longing that couldn't be contained by sheer force of will. But to acknowledge it, would be to lose the last vestige of Lacey that remained. To deny it, would be an act of self-delusion--or worse--an outright lie!

The torment he endured was heightened by his instinct to protect Jackie--but those instincts had failed him once before. If he'd had the power to protect what he loved, everything would have been different. Lacey would be alive--whole and bright and beautiful.

For what seemed like the millionth time, that fateful day played itself out against the backdrop of his all-pervasive guilt.

The morning was crisp and chill, the tang of autumn, enlivening the the green horse beneath her. He spooked at russet leaves dancing across his path, but Lacey confidently moved him forward.

"Why don't you let me get on for a while, Lace--he's really up today--!"

"Don't be silly, Erik! Are you saying I can't handle him..? You just watch--he'll come back to me...he always does..."

"Please, Lacey! I'm not saying you can't...just give me a chance to..."

"He's fine--I'm going to ride the spooks out of him in the field...he loves to open up and go--that always settles him down to work! We'll be back in a few ..!"

With that, she'd turned and trotted him out of the ring--and away from Erik's futile protestations. The rolling expanse of green shimmered in the early haze, calling forth an invitation to horse and rider.

Erik fell in behind on foot, quickening his pace across the pristine playground, where Lacey was easily working her mount into a smooth hand-gallop.

Suddenly, he realized that she had picked up speed, and was turning in the direction of the high stone wall that skirted the open vista. They'd jumped it before, riding to the hounds, on mornings not unlike this. But they'd employed old veterans of the field, sure-footed, sane and seasoned--and never so green and hot as the one Lacey now urged on to the ivy-shrouded obstacle.

What followed was like a slow-motion danse- macabre...a nightmare tableau that would haunt his every moment--for all the days to come.

Erik watched Lacey and her horse leave the ground--seeming to hover in mid-flight--in a sure-to-clear, graceful bascule.

Just as his heart was about to resume beating, he saw an errant spiral of vines insidiously snarled around a tucked hind leg. With a wrenching abruptness, the horse pitched forward and down, launching Lacey over his head, on the opposite side of the wall.

By the time he reached them, the horse was struggling, ensnared and terrified, with his flailing legs pointed skyward. Lacey was hidden beneath him. Only after his furious writhing had brought him back to his feet, was she revealed. She lay motionless--like an oddly disjointed and broken doll...

Aug. 17, 2000, 09:34 AM
Carleton turned down the manicured drive of Highborne without seeing the green sedan that was pulled off into the trees. He was oblivious to the groom, who noticing Carleton's car, pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and hit speed dial.

The story he'd heard from Letitia was too outrageous not to have some truth in it. It would explain so much! He had to tell Jackie! He wondered how to get her away from Heath and Eric.

Fortunately the god Eros had decided to shine on Carleton today. Jackie was hand grazing what had to be one of the twin foals in front of the main barn. He quickly parked and walked over. Although incredulous at first, Jackie began to believe when Dr Mangelove's name was mentioned. She knew from her braiding days that he was lacking in the ethics department.

Jackie said, "We've got to have blood drawn on all these horses to do DNA tests! That way, the two with identical DNA will be the twins! We can call Dr. Lock right now, we can have the answer in just a few days, maybe in time for the show!"

"Hold hard Jackie!" Carleton said. "DNA tests take weeks so don't think this will resolve quickly. Besides the foals were twins, but not identical. I think they'll have to have blood from the sire and dam in order to definitively prove which colts are which. We have to find the mare and unfortunately, The Prevaricator's dead."

"NOOO!" she wailed. "Can he be exhumed or something? Surely the farm has records of the mare?" Jackie reached out to grab Carleton's arm. "We've GOT to find her!"

"Uhm, I don't want to be there if they pull him up. Maybe they could use his documented offspring? I hope... We can call around about the mare." he added. "But at least we can get blood from the three bays you have here. Let's call Dr. Lock right now."

As they turned to walk back to the barn, mystery bay in tow, the man in the hidden sedan adjusted his dish antenna that had allowed him to overhear the entire conversation. With their backs to him and the clop of hooves on the hard packed drive his reception had gone to hell. But he'd heard enough to report....

[This message has been edited by Kryswyn (edited 08-17-2000).]

Aug. 17, 2000, 11:16 AM
Evie Beauchamps was spending a restless night. Her tossing and turning was also playing havoc with the snooze-time of her assorted bed-mates--especially the cats. She was ordinarily loathe to jostle the puddies once they had settled in, usually atop her chest--or curled into a halo around her head. Re-positioning made them highly indignant. The dogs were more tractable--except for the Russells. Disturbing their slumber usually set off a round of annoyed yawns, scritch-scratching and snorting, before they retreated to the oxygen-deprived recesses of the bed-covers. Only they knew the secret to deep-sleep-diving--without suffering brain damage. The non-JRT's just jumped ship to sprawl on the floor, where Evie's inconsiderate disruption of their beauty sleep wouldn't be a factor.

"Yeeoww-rr!" the 'halo' cat throatily vocalized, "Mama...stoppit!"

"..Can't sleep--sorry, children..!"

"...Don't need no diggin' up that big Daddy horse..." snorked the foot-of-the-bed Russells, "Mama Evie! You gots what they needs..!"

Evie picked up the "vibes"--but what did it mean? Her restlessness was coming from the sense of distress carried on the night wind. Shrill whinnies of horses calling to one another...then a fragment of human helplessness...and a vision of bones being unearthed! Horrible images! Why would anyone want to..?

"You have the key, Mama.."

"I do..?

Suddenly the Russell at her feet wriggled his way up to her face, sneezed, and hopped off the bed. When he hopped back up, he was jangling her keys, dragging them by the multi-hued plaited tie that held them together. He dropped them on her chest and waited for the ear-massage he felt was coming. But instead, Evie sat bolt upright, scattering cats and dislodging dogs in a single, rude upheaval.

She fingered the thick braid, her treasured talisman made up of tail-hairs...her remembrance of horses gone over "The Rainbow Bridge"..!

"Now sleep, Mama...tomorrow's another day..!"

[This message has been edited by EquiMom (edited 08-17-2000).]

Aug. 17, 2000, 09:11 PM
..."True Love" as Jackie walked by....

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?!" Erik, Jackie and Carleton all exclaimed in unison.

Taken aback, Kelly Cutler, said hesitantly, "True...Love?" Suddenly everyone was talking at once.

"Oh my God I found him - and my birthday's next week!" screamed Jackie.
"How can it be?" asked Erik, "Who gave him to you?"
"It can't be" pointed out Carleton. "He's still a stallion."

Jackie rounded on Carleton, "But it fits! He belonged to Mrs. Evers-Oftinhead, he looks like the others. Maybe you only thought True Love was gelded."

Carleton shook his head, "Nope, I was there, and I help the vet do all the colts being gelded every year."

The stallion who was the subject of this frenzied discussion was not liking the vibrations he was receiving at all. Talk about gelding always unnerved him. Scenting other horses on a slight gust of wind, he let out a long stallion trumpet announcing his presence (and his magnificence) to the world. From the barn came answering calls, one of which tickled a faint memory....

[This message has been edited by Kryswyn (edited 08-17-2000).]

Aug. 17, 2000, 09:45 PM
Gloria Trask straightened her collar and tie in the mirror over Ruth's dressing table. It was very convenient that Ruth got off (she smiled at the pun) an hour before Gloria had to clock in. She smiled into the glass at Ruth's touselled reflection. She started to speak but the thought was interrupted by the beeping of her cell phone.

"Trask" she responded. "Yes, sir... No, sir, everything's been real quiet. No, sir, no new horses have arrived....That's too bad about the fires, but what's Virginia Beach got to do with us here? ... I see, well, sure I'll keep you informed. Good bye."

Ruth came out of the refrigerator with a Coors Light for herself and a V8 for Gloria. "What fires, pookie?"

"Bunch of barn fires in Virginia Beach. Seems to be targeting stallions. A number of horses died. A few escaped injury and the owners bugged out. My boss wants to know if any new stallions show up here."

Ruth dropped the Coors from her lips and said suspiciously, "Why would he want to know that?"

"Well, I quess because if the targets are stallions, it would be a bigger risk for the agency to cover."

"Hmmm, but if it was a bigger risk, would your boss send backup? Someone else for you to do rounds with?" Ruth asked thinking about how inconvenient THAT would be.

Gloria considered, "Well he might."

"Do you really need to tell him about any new horses that arrive?" Ruthie smiled coyishly.

Gloria responded with a slow grin. "I guess not."

"Ruth? Ruth- are you there?" It was Erik on the intercom. "I know it's after hours, but can you come down here? We just had two new horses arrive and I'd like to talk to you about them. By the way, has that security guard shown up yet? I'll need to talk to her, too. These horses will need some extra security. Can you come down now, please?" He clicked off without waiting for an answer.

Ruth and Gloria exchanged troubled looks. The abstract had become real, and although they had no way of knowing it, someone else had already reported the new arrivals to his boss.

Aug. 17, 2000, 10:52 PM
Everyone was crowded into the tack room. With Erik, Jackie, Carleton, Heath, Kelly, Ruth and SO Trask 'crowded' was the operative word. Especially since Whiskey, Erik's huge Maine Coon Cat was sitting in the big armchair and with narrowed yellow eyes dared anyone to move him. Kelly, believing herself to be loved by cats as much as she loved them matter of factly scooped Whiskey up and sat down with the startled feline in her lap. She completely missed the collective indrawn breath of the room's other occupants. Someone must have blocked Kelly's view of the posted sign: Warning- Protected by Attack Cat. But Whiskey, shuddering at the familiarity of this, this, stranger merely jumped stiff-legged to the floor and stalked off in search of a tack trunk to sharpen his claws on.

Erik passed around glasses of Scotch to everyone except the security guard who politely declined. "Alright," he began, "Let's see if we can make some sense of this, shall we? Kelly, what can you tell us about True Love? No detail is too small. I promise you," he smiled charmingly at the new boarder, "we, in turn, will explain what we know."

"Which is damn little," Carleton said sotto voce to anyone who could hear.

Kelly looked at the faces surrounding her. They expressed hope, cyncism, resignation, and simple curiousity. She began hesitantly but gained confidence from the kindly looks Erik continued to give her.

"Well, my ex, Donald got him somehow. He was a farrier. He didn't tell me too much about 'how' he got him, I assumed it was in lieu of payments, but he did tell me as much as he knew about him. I was still waiting for Sailor to arrive, so I was looking for something to ride, and Donnie brought him home one day. He told me he was 6 years old, had belonged to Mrs. Evers-Oftinhead and when she died, the family didn't want him. His dam was a Rhinelander event horse who was imported just to be bred to a TB stallion named "Liar Liar".

Here Carleton and Jackie traded looks. The Prevaricator, Carleton mouthed silently to Jackie. She nodded.

"I could never find him in the Stallion Issue of the Chronicle, but he was supposed to be really nice. Anyway, the dam died, and someone had a nurse mare so he was raised away from Mrs. Evers-Oftinhead's farm. He received some good training somewhere and he's been shown in some hunter division.

Heath broke his silence, "Bright flame?"

Kelly looked at him in confusion, "Pardon?"

Jackie interpreted, "What name. What name did he show under?"

"Oh, why didn't he say so? The name on the Coggins was "Incognito". Again she was startled by the amused chuckling that broke out among her listeners. "Whattt?"

"How long have you had him, Kelly?" asked Erik with a quelling glare at the others. About a year, I guess. Donald split about six months ago. Went out for the proverbial pack of cigarettes, never came back. Funny, I didn't think we were having THAT much trouble." Kelly look around the room. "That's about it. That's all I know. What's your story?"

Carleton began. "Six years ago, two foals were born to a Rhinelander mare that was bred to both The Prevaricator and English Lord ."

"What!" the room exploded in unison.

"Sure," said Carleton, "It's just hit me, but that's got to be what happened. Because I remember a non-TB mare that came in to be bred to English Lord, that had to be bred and shipped out again right away. I can't remember why it was so important, but she was covered once, and left the next day.

"The following year she came back to be bred again with only one foal at her side. I think when she was foaled out Dr. Mangelove took the second foal as his "take" for something and left the other which came to Gitcheegoomie with his dam. That, I believe, is the foal that really is "True Love" because that is the one Mrs. Evers-Oftinhead fell for when she was visiting Fiona Ford.

[This message has been edited by Kryswyn (edited 08-17-2000).]

Aug. 18, 2000, 01:39 AM
Having reduced the corner of the presuming stranger's tack trunk to splinters, Whiskey had headed off on the evening's round of mice, rabbit, and fox trails. He checked the mice in the haybarn. Close, but not close enough, his lightening paw just missed a huge-eyed field mouse. He sauntered through the paddocks, totally unconcerned about the huge animals contentedly grazing in the moonlight.

The soft night air brought a whiff of stale, unwashed human scent almost but not quite overlaying a tantalizing hint of...Could it be? Virginia Country HAM! Bonus! It meant crossing the road, but Whiskey was smart about that. In no time he had reached the car. What was that strange thing hanging out the window? No matter, the delicious ham smell was coming from the backseat. It was a simple matter for the big cat to jump through the open rear window. Unfortunately, the action of a 28 pound cat leaping into a car results in an equal REaction from the vehicle which alerted the driver that he was no longer alone. Surprisingly fast reflexes allowed him to turn and pull a gun, the barrel of which unluckily knocked the purloined treat from Whiskey's mouth. Enraged the cat batted both paws, claws extended, into the thief's hands. Whap, whap, whap whap whap!. "AAAgggh!" the knives the ninja was using were amazingly sharp. The gun fired as he dropped it sending the bullet into the seat. Now truly pissed off Whiskey leapt at the man's face. But he'd turned back to the wheel and Whiskey ended up embedding all four paws into the man's scalp!

"Help me JESUS" he screamed as the car shot forward out of hiding and across the road. Gloria Trask, going to check on the car, had to jump clear as it exploded from its hiding spot. Unable to see with his furry feline toupee, the car came to a sickening stop in the brick pier that marked the side of the driveway entrance to Highborne Farm.

Everyone converged on the car just as the airbag was deflating. "Yeewwh," said Jackie. "look at all that blood!"

"Is he dead?" Kelly asked. "Eskay knickerbocker" Heath replied, which Jackie translated for her, "As a doorknob" But Heath said no! call a doctor. Gloria hit *911 on her cell phone as Ruth yelled from the barn, "What's happening!!??"

Just then Kelly saw Whiskey racing from the vehicle once again in possession of the sandwich. "Oh no! The CAT!"

"Call a doctor!" Heath shouted, pleased he'd been able to get the words out. With that the "doorknob" moaned and began to come to.

"Where am I? Mommy, what happened?" he said gazeing unsteadily at Jackie, who replied:

"I'm not your Mommy, you jerk, and we want some answers!"

Aug. 18, 2000, 07:14 PM
Meanwhile, at FBI Headquarters in downtown Washington, DC . . .

Special Agent Jim Muldoon knocked back a double espresso and glanced at the wall clock. Horses. A country chock full of mobsters, cyberhackers, and bombers and they wanted him to investigate horses.

Unfortunately, this one had come down from the Director. Someone had friends in high places. So, one day before he was supposed to escape for a week of flyfishing in Montana, he was, instead, on his way to Virginia Beach to "damn well" figure out why horse barns were going up in flames.

Muldoon slapped the file into his briefcase and headed for the underground parking garage - still savoring the gritty bitterness of the espresso.

Aug. 19, 2000, 04:14 PM
Jackie waited for the tumult around the barn to die down before even thinking about going home. She was usually the last to leave, going through her ritual of passing out good-night carrots and kisses, and checking latches. Just as she was getting ready to kill the lights, Kelly walked in.

"Hi...you're still here, too?" she said, smiling, "I just wanted to make sure my boys were settled."

"They all seem a little restless, " Jackie observed, "..and they keep making the oddest little sounds--not exactly whinnies--it's sort of like a conversational back-and-forth dialogue--as if they were long-lost friends needing to catch up on things!"

"If only we could understand what they were really saying..." Kelly laughed ruefully, "Too bad we can't speak 'horse'--you know--like Dr. Doolittle! Gosh, I loved that movie when I was a kid--still do!"

"Oh! Me, too!" Jackie enthused, and began humming the catchy signature tune.

At that, they both fell into a round of "Talk to the Animals" allowing the tension of the day to evaporate in a shared burst of silliness.

"...If we could talk to the a-ni-mals...what-a-neat-a-chieve-ment that would be..!" they sang in unison, sealing their instant 'horsey' sister-hood with a light-hearted hug.

"What we need...is our own Dr. Doolittle!" they agreed, trying to catch their breath, "Maybe he could help us get to the bottom of all this intrigue!"

As if on cue, Heath entered the barn. He was followed by an animated little lady, with wise, all-seeing eyes. A processional of assorted canines led the way, snuffling and sneezing their way down the aisle.

"Jackie--!" Heath called out, "Helping here coming Bevvy Bojangles..!" he dithered, too excited to convey a proper introduction.

"What this fine young fellow is tryin' to say..." the spritely woman merrily interjected, "...is just who-the-blazes I might be!" She stuck out her hand and gave them a friendly wink; "My name is Evie..Evie Beauchamps--but everyone just calls me Mama Evie!"

"Mama Bevvy reeks--I mean--speaks...to the--"

"Simmer down, Heath, honey..!" Evie's voice soothed, "I'll take it from here.."

Aug. 21, 2000, 10:35 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by EquiMom:
"My name is Evie..Evie Beauchamps--but everyone just calls me Mama Evie!"

"Mama Bevvy reeks--I mean--speaks...to the--"

"Simmer down, Heath, honey..!" Evie's voice soothed, "I'll take it from here.."


As Mama Evie entered the barn, the big seal bay horse named Log Jam sensed that this woman was different. She was attuned to their conversations. He snorted loudly, warning everyone to be quiet, and the equine banter ceased very quickly.

"Hmmm...", she said. "This is very interestin'. I'm sensing a....scandal?, no, no, nothing so dramatic, but perhaps a secret of sorts?" Mama Evie walked up to the stall of the horse who snorted. "Big Fella, you tellin' everyone not to spill the oats, are you? You can tell Mama and she'll make everythin' juuuuuss fine." LJ just snorted.

"Oh a skeptic, are we? Well, you'll be talkin' to me in no time a'tall. You kin trust Mama Evie." Turning to Heath and the others, she directed them out of the barn, leaving behind her canine entourage.

"Why are we leaving?" asked Jackie.
"I'm lettin' m' boys and girls get the conversation started in there. Get them loosened up and chattin' and all. We'll give'em 'bout 15 minutes or so, then head on back inside there. They'll be talkin' up a storm for sure."

As they walked away from the barn, they could hear the low nickers picking right up where they left off, interspersed with low snuffles and woofs. Mama Evie smiled. She loved a good gossip session, and knew this one was going to be a doozey. She wondered what dirt would be dug up and spread around and about whom. These horses knew something important, and she was determined to find out what that was.

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-21-2000).]

Aug. 23, 2000, 01:40 PM
Jim Muldoon pointed his Lexis south on I95 heading to the Tidewater area. The drive on I95 and I64 from Washington to Norfolk was one of the most boring stretches of road on the planet. Not quite as bad as I95 in "South Of The Border" land, but not a whole hell of a lot better.

Muldoon grew up in Norfolk, son of a Navy officer. After four years at Annapolis he'd been stationed in Norfolk himself. He'd lived in Virginia Beach, though - a small two bedroom cottage on 84th Street only a few yards to the water. The daily commute into the Naval Operations Base ("NOB") in Norfolk had been worth it.

So, he knew the area well. That was an advantage. His first stop would be First Colonial Stables - site of the most recent and most devastating of the fires.

Someone had been determined to take out this facility. The fire was secondary to the explosion that had ripped through one of the barns. The evidence was still being examined but preliminary analysis pointed to a bomb.

The squirrel had miscalculated, however. The owner of the stables was having an automatic fly spray system installed in the barn and the horses normally housed there were on 24 hour turnout until the work was completed.

This fact meant that 45 horses were spared an untimely death. Muldoon frowned at his next thought. It also meant that the bomber would be back . . .

[This message has been edited by Razumny (edited 08-23-2000).]

Aug. 25, 2000, 10:34 AM
OK, this commercial break has lasted long enough. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

You guys get your imagination in gear and your thinking caps back on.

I am chomping at the bit for the next addition. I am not imaginative enough to add to the mayham. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Aug. 25, 2000, 04:10 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by creseida:

As they walked away from the barn, they could hear the low nickers picking right up where they left off, interspersed with low snuffles and woofs. Mama Evie smiled. She loved a good gossip session, and knew this one was going to be a doozey. She wondered what dirt would be dug up and spread around and about whom. These horses knew something important, and she was determined to find out what that was.

Jackie, Evie, Heath, and the variety of dogs started walking on a path that would take them around the barn within about fifteen minutes.

Evie began asking some questions about the personalities of the horses, most which Heath answered in his usual mumble. Evie seemed to understand his mumbling, so Jackie took the time to think about the events of the past few days. Why did this happen to me? Why did this have to happen at all?

Her thoughts were abruptly interrupted as she saw Vanessa walking up the drive, and she realized they had already gotten to the front of the barn. She looked at Vanessa, who was wearing the expression she always wore when she was going to tell you something she really didn't want to say. The group halted, and Vanessa approached them. There was a long moment of awkward silence.

"Out with it, Vanessa," Jackie said. "I know you want to say something, just say it and get it over with!"

Vanessa sighed, and began to speak. "I... I have something to confess...

Ben and Me
Aug. 26, 2000, 10:26 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Jenn:
Vanessa sighed, and began to speak. "I... I have something to confess...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

"Well what is it?" asked Jackie impatiently.

"I..I..I know where your horse...Destiny... is...or at umm...at least I used to," said Vanessa with a stutter.

"Well so do we Vannessa. He's right here," said Erik.

"What do you mean?" asked Vannessa. "Muffy won't be pleased...Oh sh*t!"

"What was that Vannessa?" asked Jackie. "Did you just say Muffy? As in Muffy Hardfelt?"

"Yes..I mean no! Definetly not Muffy Hardfelt..I said Muffy, I mean Duffy...My farrier's name is Duffy!" she stammered.

"But Vannie, I distinctly heard you say Muffy. Now what would our dear Muffy have to do with Destiny?" asked Jackie.

"Well...I mean....Absolutly nothing!," said Vanessa. "Muffy is in umm New Jersey!"

"Now Vannie, we know thats not true, I saw Muffy yesterday," said Erik. "Do tell us how Muffy is involved. I'm sure we're all terribly interested"...

Ben and Me
Aug. 26, 2000, 10:47 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Razumny:
This fact meant that 45 horses were spared an untimely death. Muldoon frowned at his next thought. It also meant that the bomber would be back . . .<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

But the bomber didn't come back. Instead he chose another prominent hunter/jumper barn in Middleburg. A barn owned by a certain Fiona Forde...And this time he was successful.

By the time Muldoon arrived on the scene, the barn was a pile of smoldering ashes. The firefighters had left hours ago, after containing the fire. 5 horses had been trapped inside and were lost, including Fiona's prize Amateur-Owner Hunter, Pizazz, a large chestnut with 4 white stockings and a thick blaze.

Muldoon found Ms. Forde sitting in her Mercedes SUV, sipping on a large mug of herbal tea. She had a grim expression on her pretty face, and Muldoon could see that traces of mascara had run down her cheeks.

He knocked on the passenger side window, and she rolled it down. "Yes," she asked in a firm voice.

"Ms. Forde?" asked Muldoon

"Yes...what do you want?"

"Well, Ms. Forde, I would like to ask you a few questions. I work for the FBI and have been assigned to a case of recent bombings of prominent horse farms."

"I see..." replied Fiona. "Get in the car." Muldoon opened the door and climbed into the large leather seat.

"Well, to start with, do you have any known ememies?" asked Muldoon.

"Of course. Who doesnt, especially in the horse world. There are so many backstabbers out there..."

"Is there anybody who comes mind immediatly Ms. Forde?"

"Well, actually yes there is. Does the name Muffy Herdfelt ring a bell? Of course, she used to go by Melissa Madison Hardford"

"You've got to be kidding!" exclaimed Muldoon. "You dont think it was THE Melissa Madison Hardford!"

"Well, not neccessarily, but its certainly possible," stated Fiona.

[This message has been edited by Ben & Me (edited 08-27-2000).]

Aug. 26, 2000, 11:04 PM
Mama Evie interupted, "Would this Muffy person be about your age and build, has hair that changes color alot?"

Since everyone knew Muffy's nickname was "Rainbow Head", they just stared at Mama Evie. "Who want's to know?" asked Carleton finally.

"Well--This brown cat here is sending me very nasty pictures of someone he REALLY doesn't care for. Not only did this Rainbow lady (that's his name for her, by the way" - the group just blanched)"lock him in a tack trunk for several evenings, but she also loaded him in a trailer that left the farm."

Erik exclaimed, "Now wait a minute! This cat has never been gone from this farm for a single night. You must be confusing him with some other cat."

Mama Evie and Whiskey just glared at him. "We take exception to that, cher'. Whiskey meant for a few hours several times. She lured him in with tuna, for which" she chuckled, "he now realizes he shouldn't've let his tummy rule his head. The last time, he wouldn't get in the trunk because something smelled really nasty. Black, goopy stuff?"

"DMSO" they chorused.

"So she locked him in a trailer that pulled out. He escaped over the dressing room wall into the horse section and then out over the tailgate."

Everyone stared at each other. "Why would Muffy need to keep Whiskey locked up?" Jackie wondered allowed. Heath replied quickly, "Peas please. Bourbon Rolex twat" Giving Heath a look for his poor choice of malapropisms, Erik translated, 'Easy, Whiskey is a watch CAT.' Muffy must've been doing something she shouldn't have been."

"It's too bad he was locked in the trunk" Kelly said, "He didn't see what she was doing."

"That's okay," Mama Evie said, "Someone else did."

"Who!!" they all shouted together.

Aug. 28, 2000, 03:34 PM
Just then, the phone rang. It was Fiona Ford, calling for Carleton. "What?" he said incredulously into the phone. And then, "I'll be there as soon as I can." He hung up and turned towards the group, who had suddenly realized that something else had gone terribly wrong.

"Fiona's Middleburg farm has just burnt to the ground," he said numbly. "The FBI is there now. Luckily her best breeding stock are safe at her place down south, the one I manage. But she lost five good horses. She seems to think that Muffy is involved."

Quickly Mama Evie asked, "Are any horses still alive? I can go with you now."

Suddenly, it was all too much for Jackie. She swayed on her feet, and her knees nearly buckled. Catching herself quickly on a tack trunk, she sat down and buried her face in her hands. Carleton knelt down in front of her, putting his hands on her shoulders. "Jackie, hey, stop it. Hang in there, Jackie, please. I--I need you. Will you come with us? We'll get this sorted out together--it's somehow, in some weird way--it's all connected."

Jackie looked up at him, tears streaming down her cheeks. No one else seemed to notice; they were all shocked by what they had heard. To burn Fiona's place was daring beyond belief, even for the characters responsible for the mystery surrounding Destiny and Whozit and True Love. Fiona was eccentric, yes, but well-respected and certainly not hated.

No one noticed Jackie and Carleton, that is, except Heath, who watched them with a strange expression on his face, an expression that startled Vanessa . . . whose side was Heath on, anyway?

Aug. 28, 2000, 11:49 PM
"On the road again, I just can't wait to get on the road again. The life I love is making music with my friends, and I can't wait to get on the road again." As Carleton and Willy Nelson came to a twanging close, Kelly piped up from the back of the dually,

"I always thought it was "the love I'm making is music to my friends."

In the darkness of the front seat Carleton and Jackie traded a look. Then Jackie burst into her best Donna Summer (preGospel) immitation, "OOOOOooooo Love to love you baby, AAAAAAGGGghhhh Love to love you baby" and Carleton chimed in with perfect syncopated rhthymn "UUGA CHUCKA, UUGA CHUCKA, UUGA UUGA UUGA CHUCKA" while Mama Evie and her dogs contributed, "Voulez vous couche avec moi, c'est sois? Voulez vous couche avec moi?"

The four slap happy travellers broke into peals of laughter, that turned into gales of giggles, followed by tears of mirth and howls from the dogs (which may or may not have been due to the swipe the red Maine Coon gave the Jack Russell).

Carleton pulled off into a Sheetz station for a last potty break before reaching Middleburg. Only another hour or so to go and maybe, just maybe, they'd get enough pieces of the puzzle to solve it. The trip had already been productive. As they'd been talking over what each of them knew, Kelly pointed out it was like "those silly logic problems I had to answer on my LATs, you need a score card." So in the scant light of the rear dome light they wrote down what they knew.

Jackie had been left a large 8 figure fortune, dependent it seemed now, on finding a certain horse named "True Love" and showing it to what they guessed to be a national title.
Six year before, twin foals had been born to a mare, sired by two different stallions. The mare had returned to Gitchiegoomie for a foal heat breeding with only one foal at her side.

Carleton had seen Fiona Ford and someone else load a colt into a van during the night several years earlier. He thought it had been a drug induced hallucination, but now he wasn't sure.

Heath was being blackmailed, but refused to admit it; only insisting that the horse Jackie now called "Whozit" was really the horse she'd tried out and vetted who subsequently had been hidden away and nearly starved to death. "Destiny", Heath maintained had been dyed to match the solid bay after the vetting and prior to arrival at Highborne.

Kelly claimed her horse "True Love" was the REAL "True Love" Jackie's benefactor wanted her to find and show. The description of Muffy as "Rainbow Head" was what had earned Kelly a place in the truck. She believed Muffy was the client who'd given her late husband the horse.

The man who'd been spying on the farm in the now wrecked green car had claimed he was a private detective, and couldn't reveal his employer. But when Erik had threatened to lock Whiskey in the car with him again, the man had flipped a business card out of his pocket, with a coy "Did I drop that?" On the card was the name of John Cheatham, Esq. Senior Partner of Dewey, Cheatham & Howe. This was the firm challenging Jackie's right to inherit.

Someone was torching breeding farms in Virginia. Whether it was a coincidence or integral to their mystery was unknown. But Fiona Ford believe Muffy was involved.

And Muffy was acting strangely wasn't she? Crying too much when Jackie's horse had been taken from Highborne. Being in the barn at Highborne after hours, going through Erik's desk, and feeding Destiny apples that smelled oddly according to the greedy chestnut mare that lived along side him.

Diane had been murdered in Virginia. With the same gun that had creased Vanessa's head in Mosby's Tavern.

"Well, that's what we KNOW," said Kelly. "What do we need to find out?"

Ben and Me
Aug. 29, 2000, 08:41 PM
"Well, to start with, we need a motive," replied Carleton from the front seat.

"Yeah, what could Muffy want that she doesn't already have," murmered Jackie.

"She's not exactly impoverished is she," said Erik thoughtfully.

"Ah, but you're all forgetting one little thing," said Mama Evie triumphantly.

"What!?" chorused the group.

"Jealousy," she replied simply.

"But why in the world would she be jealous of ME!" asked Jackie. "I mean, she's been showing on the circuit for ages! She was Best Child Rider on a Pony at Devon while I was polishing boots and hand grazing her string of ponies!"

"But think about it Jackie," said Carleton. "Her riding has been less than perfect during the last few years. I mean, she fell off at the National last year when her horse tripped in the schooling ring! And then she fell off again in her flat class!"

"She sees you as a threat Jackie," said Erik. "She knows she doesn't have to worry about Vanessa because she goes off course more than she completes a class. You and Savannah are the real threats."

"And she already tried to take care of Savannah," piped in Carleton.

"Oh my gosh, you're right!" said Jackie. "Its been so obvious the whole time, right under our finger tips!"

"But how is this all related to Fiona?" asked Kelly.

"We're about to find out," said Mama Evie as they turned into the sweeping drive of Fiona's Ashbunt Farm. "I'm pretty sure her animals know the WHOLE story....

Aug. 30, 2000, 10:23 PM
Carleton coasted down the driveway, pulled in, and parked the Ford dually. All four travelers climb out, intrigued to see the condition of the farm. Before they can get even close enough to the barn to see anything but the remaining brick shell, they are surrounded by various people who have already reach the farm. Fiona comes sobbing up to Erik and the FBI agent pulls Carleton off to the side. Jackie has the biggest surprise, though. She's pulled off to the side by someone she doesn't not want to talk to...the infamous DC report and kissing bandit, Mutch Brazeer

Black Market Radio
Aug. 30, 2000, 10:44 PM
Kelly stood back and watched what was going on. How in the WORLD did she get herself into this?
Her and Jackie had talked earlier about the stipulation of True Love, and Kelly told Jackie she was welcome to show him and ride him whenever she wanted to so that she could fulfill her obligation. It never said anything about Jackie having to OWN true love, but only that she had to FIND true love.

"Wait a minute, That's it!" She thought, find true love. "I wonder if True love, my horse, was the one she was looking for and couldn't find!"

After all, True love had come to her as "Last call" and she was told he was full TB. It wasn't until she researched his past to find out his true name, and his true breeding. She found out when her ex-boyfriend died, and his estate lawyer gave her the key to a bank box that he was instructed to give to her.

When she went through the box, there were pictures, registration papers, and documented blood samples. Pictures of True love as a foal, and now that she thought of it, there were two foals in one of pics, she always thought that maybe they were in a pasture with other mares and foals. And his markings were VERY distinctive. The other foal only had two white socks, he had four and a distinctive crooked blaze. And on the back of the picture it read "Left: Destiny, Right, True Love". There were many other pictures, depicting True Love's whole life, from the time with his mare, to the time her ex died. Every show, every move that horse made was documented, his sire and dam, their blood work papers, all vet records even down to worming and shots, every breeding, every farrier visit. Everything this horse did was documented on paper. She had always thought that a bit odd, and now it was starting to make sense...

[This message has been edited by devildog20 (edited 08-31-2000).]

Aug. 30, 2000, 11:06 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by devildog20:
...There were many other pictures, depicting True Love's whole life, from the time with his mare, to the time her ex died. Every show, every move that horse made was documented, his sire and dam, their blood work papers, all vet records even down to worming and shots, every breeding, every farrier visit. Everything this horse did was documented on paper. She had always thought that a bit odd, and now it was starting to make sense...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yes, now she remembered reading about the possible scandal...oh about 7 years ago. It was quickly denounced as material suitable only for the National Inquisitor gossip rag. Maybe it wasn't just a rumour afterall? Well 7 years, less one year for gestation....Yes, that would make the timing perfect. Kelly was now almost positive that her horse was part of a very costly genetics experiment. Private backers had put in huge amounts of money into this breeding for a genetically perfect horse, that could be reproduced in quantity. The group wanted to be able to "create" horses with specific characteristics, and specific tasks, and get it right every time. The staged "breeding" to Gitchiegoomie was the front for empregnating the dam with genetically enginnered embryos. The mare had been placed on fertility medicines to ensure that she held the breeding. The result was the twins; not identical, but fraternal.

True Love and Destiny were the first results of these experiments, and there were some in the industry who would rather no one knew them for what they were. This was the reason for the extensive record keeping.

With the genetically engineered horse, there would be no more "guessing" about what you'll get when you breed this stallion to this mare. Unfortunately, this would be devastating to the majority of breeding operations, especially those with expensive syndicated stallions that were not yet proven in the breeding shed. There were many who did not want to see these horses become successful.

The "dear old lady" who left Jackie her fortune was actually a very shrewd business woman. She amassed her fortune by quietly taking her cut of the multi-millions of dollars that had been poured into her company's underground genetics program, by greedy individuals in the Thoroughbred Racing Industry. People so greedy they were hoping their millions would allow them to "create" the Next Man o' War or Secretariat.

This was why it was also so important that as a codicile of Mrs. Evers-Oftinhead's will, True Love had to prove himself a National Champion. Once she realised that her lymphoma was malignant and inoperable, she went about ensuring that her Company would continue on, but knew they'd need the proof of their success. This would allow the "Company" to solicit more money from the TB industry and beyond, and why no one would in the Company would begrudge a mere $22,000,000 to a nice simple girl like Jackie. Afterall, the return on their investments would be in the billions. The money was Mrs. Evers-Oftinhead's insurance policy that the fruits of their labours would be exposed for all the world to see.

But Jackie was not the only one who had received money to ensure that the horse was a success....

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 08-30-2000).]

Ben and Me
Aug. 31, 2000, 06:29 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Paige:
... and the FBI agent pulls Carleton off to the side. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

"Mr. Phipps? I understand you work for Fiona Ford. Is that true?"

"Yes, it is," replied Carleton.

"Well do you have any reasons as to why Fiona might suspect this Muffy?"

"Oh yes, they've been hating each other for years. Mostly because Muffy beat Fiona with her horse for AHSA Horse Of The Year a few years back. But she didnt' do it honestly-if she had, Fiona wouldn't have minded. Muffy bribbed her judges and drugged her horse. Fiona doesn't bend the rules at all, and she didn't appreciate Muffy's doing so."

"Oh, I see," said Muldoon. "Well, do you have any idea of where we could find Muffy at this time?"

"Yes, I do actually. I'd bet you anything she's showing at Culpepper this weekend. And I have the perfect coverup...

{Krsywn-we're getting Jackie to a show! Yay!}

Black Market Radio
Aug. 31, 2000, 06:39 PM
The gang was all crowded into Kelly's truck as they pulled out of the ranch and on their way to culpepper, with Destiny, Sailor and True Love in the trailer. Only they were going to show True Love under the name he was given to Kelly as, "last Call".

"I can't wait to get to the show, I have never been to a h/j show before, this is exciting! Sailor will be SO excited!" Said Kelly.

Kelly was going to show Sailor in the pre-greens, as she had been jumping him a bit since she got him and why not? It could prove to be fun, besides, Sailor LOVED jumping.

The drive seemed to take forever, but they finally arrived, and had JUST finished getting the horses tucked in, complete with surveylance cameras and alarms on the stall doors, hey, you can't be too carefull! Also, there were two FBI agents in inconspicious places watching the horses all night long.
They were just about to sit down when...

[This message has been edited by devildog20 (edited 08-31-2000).]

Ben and Me
Aug. 31, 2000, 07:44 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by devildog20:
They were just about to sit down when...

Who should appear but Vannessa!

"Jackie and Erik, what're you doing here? I thought you weren't coming until you could find M-"

"What're you talking about Vannie," interrupted Jackie quickly. "I told you we were coming up here, I need to start chasing points so I can qualify for Devon next year! Destiny will be perfect!"

"Oh okay. Well, do you want to see who I'm showing? His name is Got Milk, and I'm showing him in the Adults."

"Sure," replied Jackie.

"Quick thinking," whispered Carleton in her ear as she followed Vannie out of the barn.

"Savannah and Muffy are up here somewhere Jackie. I think they're both showing in A/O. Savannah's got a new Jumper too! He's gorgous! Maybe we can sneak up to Moesby's sometime this weekend! It'll be just like old times!"

"Umm sure Vannessa," said Jackie. She thought to herself, Before you and Muffy tried to kill Savannah and me, right?

Where was Savannah anyways? Jackie really needed to talk to her...

Sep. 4, 2000, 08:39 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Spunky:
Just then, the phone rang. It was Fiona Ford, calling for Carleton. "What?" he said incredulously into the phone. And then, "I'll be there as soon as I can." He hung up and turned towards the group, who had suddenly realized that something else had gone terribly wrong.

"Fiona's Middleburg farm has just burnt to the ground," he said numbly. "The FBI is there now. Luckily her best breeding stock are safe at her place down south, the one I manage. But she lost five good horses. She seems to think that Muffy is involved."

Quickly Mama Evie asked, "Are any horses still alive? I can go with you now."

<snip> We'll get this sorted out together--it's somehow, in some weird way--it's all connected."

<snip> To burn Fiona's place was daring beyond belief, even for the characters responsible for the mystery surrounding Destiny and Whozit and True Love. Fiona was eccentric, yes, but well-respected and certainly not hated.


After leaving the smoking remnants of Fiona's farm, Jackie and Carlton started trying to piece together how these events were all tied together. What was the common thread?

What was the relation between these barn fires and the three bay horses? "Carleton? Do you know if Mrs. Evers-Oftinhead had any business relationships with Fiona Ford?" asked Jackie?

Mama Evie piped in that she had picked up on some sort of secret goings on, something about financial backing for a project.

Carlton speculated that perhaps Fiona had been one of the financial backers for the genetics program. Weren't the other barns in the VA beach area also really top drawer farms, too?

Didn't Mrs. Evers-Oftinhead buy a penthouse in VA Beach about 7 years ago? Could she have been arranging backing for the genetics program from people, away from the "horse country" circle, perhaps to keep her plans from being spread by gossip? Carlton continued to wonder aloud as to whether or not there was a connection between the owners of the burned barns and the genetics progect.

Kelly interrupted his musings with the thought that Muffy's money came from the vet pharmaceutical industry. If horses were genetically engineered, their needs for dexamethazone, bute, Quietex, albuterol and other overused (and overpriced) medications would all but be eliminated. Imagine what these horses would do to the pharmaceutical industry!

Mama Evie commented that she supposed that to a sick mind, this would certainly be a motive to burn the barns of anyone involved in this genetics project, to deter them from further financial backing. The next question would be, how did Muffy know who was involved???

[This message has been edited by creseida (edited 09-04-2000).]

Sep. 9, 2000, 06:18 PM
Please, someone, finish the story!!! I really want to know how it all turns out!

Sep. 11, 2000, 05:37 PM
Yes, please....someone needs to finish this! I need closure!!!! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Ben and Me
Sep. 11, 2000, 08:16 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>[/B]Where was Savannah anyways? Jackie really needed to talk to her...

{please forgive me if any of this about Culpepper is incorrect! I've never been! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif)
Jackie and Vannie turned a corner and walked into a long stable row. About halfway down was a banner hunter green and tan banner announcing that Fox's Lair Stables were housed here. The farm where Muffy kept all her horses.

Vannie murmered, "Muffy should be here somewhere."

"There she is," whispered Jackie, as Muffy walked out of the tack stall carrying her schooling tack-a Beval Natural, Edgewood with Elevator and draw reins, and black polo's. "Act natural Vannie."

"Muffy!" shrieked Vannie! "Its been too long! And look who I found! She's showing Destiny this weekend! You know, the one of three bay g..."

"Its nice to see you again," interrupted Jackie hastily, as she gave Vannie a descrete pinch on the arm. "Who're you showing this weekend Muff?"

Muffy didn't reply, just continued striding towards a chestnut gelding standing in cross ties. "Sorry, I'm in a rush. Jackie I think we need to talk. Vannie, I will deal with you later."

"I think thats our cue to leave Vannie," whispered Jackie. They turned around and hastily walked out of the barn. "Where's Savannah, Vannie?"

"She rides with Danny now right? I think they're in this barn over here."

The two women walked off towards the barn Vannie had pointed out. Each was thoroughly engrossed in her own thoughts, although Jackie's were much deeper than Vannie's. Vannie was just trying to memorize her Medal round for tomorrow.

"White oxer, green single..."

"What was that Vannie? Oh look here we are."

The two women walked into the barn and found Danny, Savannah's trainer, sitting on a maroon Warner trunk.

"Danny, have you seen Savannah?" asked Jackie.

"Oh hey girls. Yes, I just have. She should be in her new jumper's stall tacking up. She has a lesson in 15 minutes. His stall is just down the aisle. I'll walk down there with you. She's been in there for quite a while."

The three walked down the aisle to the stall where Savannah's stallion was kept. Jackie peaked in the stall and whistled.

"Oh my God!" screamed Vannie.

"What the hell!!" yelled Danny!

"What're you doing in there Muffy," asked Jackie calmly. "And it would also be nice to know why Savannah is crumpled on the floor. Vannie, call the police."

Sep. 13, 2000, 12:11 AM
"No need to call the police, Jackie." Muffy was as cool as the proverbial cucumber. "I was walking by to see if Savannah was ready to go. We had agreed to warm up together. I walked by and we were talking and she was complaining that she felt sick and had the start of a migraine."
"That still doesn't explain why she's on the floor of her stall with you standing over her!" exclaimed Jackie.
"Calm down, I was getting to that. As I said we were talking and she atarted to sway back and forth so I came in to the stall to help her, and she just collapsed before you guys walked up." Muffy was beginning to get angry in addition to worried for the crumpled Savannah at her feet. "Now, if you would please call 9-1-1 for an ambulance, I think our friend here needs more medical attention than she needs us arguing about how she got there in the first place!"
And then the ambulance pulled in about 5 minutes later...

Ben and Me
Sep. 14, 2000, 05:34 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Squirt:
And then the ambulance pulled in about 5 minutes later...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Jackie pulled the horse out of the stall as the ambulance pulled up and put him in cross ties. Then she went back to the stall to watch. Vannie and Danny stood with her.

The attendents rushed around the stall, putting Savannah on a stretcher, taking her pulse, checking her vitals. She was whisked away and loaded onto the ambulance.

Jackie walked around the stall looking for clues, even though she knew it was doubtful she would find anything. But Savannah wouldn't just collapse in her stall. And why was Muffy mysteriously in the stall with her when it happened?

Jackie kicked a pile of shavings in her thought. A small glass bottle hit the wall. Jackie bent over and looked at the bottle and let out a gasp.

"Its Ace," she whispered. "And look, here's the needle."

"Oh my God Jackie. You're joking right? You don't think Muffy..."

"Don't touch anything Jackie," said Vannie. "Fingerprints and stuff you know."

"Right. Danny, you find Muffy. Vannie call the police. And I'll call the hospital. God only knows how much she used!"

"WHERE IS THAT WOMAN!?" screamed Danny.

"Right here," said Muffy clearly as she walked out of the stall across the aisle holding a loaded gun. Following close behind her was Heath....

Black Market Radio
Sep. 14, 2000, 07:00 PM
Kelly was walking around the show grounds, and happened to look into the barn where all the comotion was going on. She noticed something didn't seem right, so she snuck up for a closer look.

"Yes, kiddies, your right. Savannah had a 'terrible' accident with that Ace. But, no one needs to know about that do they?"

Muffy clearly was acting psychotic, her hair was a mess, and her makeup was smeared.

"You all thought you could beat me. Well you can't. I want to win more than anything in the world. My mom won this show, my sister, and now it's my turn. Jackie, you little witch, you think that just because you have a ton of money now, you can beat me? Well sweetie, your times up. Wasn't it fun playing 'dress up'? Ha! Well, this gun has a silencer on it, and no one will even hear you scream. Heath, tie them up."

"Stop it right there." said a voice from behind.

Muffy turned around to see 15 men with M16's pointed at her. She, being the chicken she always was, dropped the gun immediatly.

"Hold your hands above your heads... both of you!" Said the samw SWAT team member that had talked earlier.

Heath and Muffy held there hands up, and two of the men walked over and frisked them. Five more bottles of ACE were found on Muffy, as well as some other major sedatives. Heath was found to have a large knife and a stun gun.

"I didn't mean to! Jackie, I'm sorry! I love you Jackie! You don't understand, Muffy made me do it! She threatend me and has had my daughter and wouldn't give her up unless I did what she said! Please believe me, I never meant to hurt anyone!" Said Heath, crying as he was taken away. Followed by "My daughter, my daughter, what about my daughter?"

"Are you guys Ok?" Asked Kelly as she walked toward everyone.

Jackie fell to her knees and started crying.

"Come on Jackie, this is no time to cry! Come on, we are showing tomorrow, and you're going to kick some butt! And Salior is going to think he has died and gone to heaven, even if we don't win anything, I know you and True Love will win. And another thing, if you lose all the money that you were given, no big deal! I will have unlimited funds, and will sponser you all the way to the Olympics if you'd like! I will pay for everything horse related, saddles, boots, horses, whatever you want! Just let me know!"

Jackie looked up at Kelly. "Really?" She said through her tears, "You would do that, for me?"

"Of course! I have nothing better to do with all that money anyway, and from what I have seen, you are very talented! I inherit everything, with no stipulations or anything! When my grandfather died eons ago, he made an unchangeable will that left everything to me when I turn 24. Well, guess what! I am 24 in 16 days! My grandmother sure hates it, but there is nothing she or anyone else can do. My grandfather was totally sound of mind and wrote the will before he even got sick." Said Kelly happily.

L Scott
Sep. 20, 2000, 02:08 PM
(I wasn't prepared for this to be finished)

As they all boarded a Quantas flight bound for Sydney, Jackie reflected on the twists and turns her life had taken in the past couple of months.

The horses were carefully hidden with a trusted friend and they were all off to see the Eventing, Dressage and Jumpers of the 2000 Olympiad. How exciting for them all and how generous of Kelly to take them.

They had two weeks of horses, sun and relaxation and then back to figure out exactly what was going on.

At least now the horses were safe...........

Sep. 21, 2000, 09:12 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>"Come on Jackie, this is no time to cry! Come on, we are showing tomorrow, and you're going to kick some butt! And Salior is going to think he has died and gone to heaven, even if we don't win anything, I know you and True Love will win. And another thing, if you lose all the money that you were given, no big deal! I will have unlimited funds, and will sponser you all the way to the Olympics if you'd like! I will pay for everything horse related, saddles, boots, horses, whatever you want! Just let me know!"
Jackie looked up at Kelly. "Really?" She said through her tears, "You would do that, for me?"<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

But no one can have two such windfalls in their lives can they? Jackie looked up at Kelly and said, "I'm sorry. What did you say?"

"I said,'get off the floor! You only brought one pair of breeches, and I have no clue where the laundromat is in this hick town!"

Vanessa interupted, "Hey don't knock it. They've got a great new restaurant in town with wine up to even MY standards! Right on Davis street, with great food. Really interesting dishes. I know, lets school then go out to dinner there. I'll make reservations!" She pulled out her micro cell phone.

You would be forgiven to think that after the helacious day, the women would ride like cr*p. But the since the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a woman as well as a man, the three friends dug down into themselves and turned in a credible school although Eric had once screamed out,

"There is leaving 'long' and there is leaving from the next town over! 'Because it felt like we were rolling' is NO EXCUSE for dropping 2 strides from a line! And get that dopey grin off your face, you're giving me a heart attack."

With such repairs as could be made in the showgrounds restrooms, the women joined Carleton and Eric for dinner at the Hazel River Inn. Vanessa immediately chose a delicous merlot that caused 'Joe-your-waiter' to panic as he wasn't sure the inn had the 4, make that 5, bottles Vanessa told him to bring up.

Over the scrumptious appetisers and wonderful merlot, the group began to rehash the latest happenings.

"What if there are several 'villians' here," Jackie asked them. "I can understand Muffy wanting to win. I've always known how jealous she was of anyone in front of her in the standings. She probably is the root of the, dare I say, 'minor' incidents. And she certainly drugged Savannah. But the surveilance? The lawsuit? The horse knapping? And where does Kelly's husband fit into all this?"

"Probably under Muffy," said Vanessa tossing back the dregs of glass number two. "Ouch, who kicked me?"

Carleton picked up the thread. "We can't forget the barn burnings. This is more than jealousy. This is about getting rid of evidence, and terrorizing people into holding their silence. I can't believe Fiona is responsible for this; she's too much a horsewoman, but she knows more than she's told anyone. We need to talk to her."

In one of those deus in machina moves that only bad writers use to move their stories along, who should with great care climb the steps to the main floor of the restaurant?

Wearing clothes that looked like Salvation Army castoffs, with jewelry that looked anything but, Fiona Ford made her way to their table. Eric and Carleton rose to their feet and Carleton pulled out a chair.

"We were just talking about how much we wanted to see you Fiona. We have some questions we'd like to ask you."

The gran dame of the equestrian world said ruefully, "More than a few I'm sure. I know I can trust you Carleton. After my barn was burned, I knew I had to tell someone, perhaps many people, for my own safety and the safety of my beloved horses."

She broke off and looked at Jackie, "Having tons of money as much fun as you thought it would be, Jackie?"

Jackie responded easily, "I never thought it would be 'fun' Miss Ford. I'm just not sure I thought it would be this 'interesting', either."

Fiona smiled, "Yes, I'm sure you didn't. Please forgive my old friend, Mrs. Evers-Oftinhead, for throwing you into the fire, dear. She needed someone she could trust to see the right thing done by her horse, and by him, all horses. So it was important that it be someone with gumption, and stamina to see it out. I think she'd be proud of you. Let me tell you how it began, shall I?"

Oct. 6, 2000, 04:49 PM
Please, please, someone finish!!!

Dec. 3, 2000, 12:07 AM
Since this thread was mentioned a couple times on the "Best of 2000" thread, I'm bumping it up so someone can finally finish it! Please, someone finish it! I need closure! lol But really, someone needs to finish this awesome story! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Dec. 3, 2000, 12:46 AM
Ye gods back from the depths of beyond.... Okay, I'll try to wrap things up later today. Thank you for caring!

Dec. 3, 2000, 10:51 PM

Feb. 5, 2001, 10:33 AM
PLEASE?!?!?! I want to know what happens!! /infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif

Feb. 5, 2001, 01:11 PM
I'm way too confused!!!

Feb. 7, 2001, 03:00 PM
Any chance on getting the ball rolling on this one again? I need some help here... /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Jun. 16, 2001, 05:23 PM
Has suffering pines been swallowed by some deep dark chasm of writer's cramp?

Will Carleton get the girl?

I need to know! /infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif

Jun. 16, 2001, 07:51 PM
If any California Cliquer's or I post on this thread more than three times it will get locked by the moderators!! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_redface.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_mad.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif hahahahaha /infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

Jun. 18, 2001, 07:17 PM
Come on guys... please finish!

A good ride is one where you dismount voluntarily