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"Suffering Pines - The Beginning"

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  • Original Poster

    "ExCUSE ME!"
    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....
    ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
    Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

    "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


    • #22
      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...


      • Original Poster

        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).]
        ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
        Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

        "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


        • #24
          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).]


          • #25
            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).]


            • #26
              ...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).]


              • #27
                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!"


                • #28
                  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).]


                  • #29
                    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).]


                    • #30
                      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...


                      • Original Poster

                        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.
                        ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                        Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                        "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


                        • Original Poster

                          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."
                          ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                          Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                          "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


                          • Original Poster


                            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).]
                            ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                            Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                            "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


                            • #34
                              ...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).]


                              • #35
                                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).]


                                • #36
                                  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....
                                  Sarah ( & Regal)

                                  what doesn't kill you makes you stronger -
                                  unless it breaks your heart first


                                  • #37
                                    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).]


                                    • #38
                                      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...


                                      • #39
                                        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).]


                                        • #40
                                          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...
                                          Sarah ( & Regal)

                                          what doesn't kill you makes you stronger -
                                          unless it breaks your heart first