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"Suffering Pines - The Beginning"

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  • #41
    "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...


    • Original Poster

      A crowd of people huddled around Vanessa, crumpled on the floor, blood pooling around her head.
      ~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!"


      • #43
        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).]


        • #44
          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....
          Sarah ( & Regal)

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


          • Original Poster

            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).]
            ~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!"


            • #46
              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).]


              • #47
                <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).]


                • #48
                  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.


                  • #49
                    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...."


                    • Original Poster

                      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).]
                      ~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!"


                      • #51
                        ...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...


                        • #52
                          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.......
                          If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
                          Desmond Tutu


                          • #53
                            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......
                            Sarah ( & Regal)

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


                            • Original Poster

                              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).]
                              ~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!"


                              • #55
                                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...


                                • #56
                                  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...


                                  • #57
                                    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....
                                    Sarah ( & Regal)

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


                                    • #58
                                      <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...
                                      Sarah ( & Regal)

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


                                      • #59
                                        <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...


                                        • #60
                                          <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....
                                          Sarah ( & Regal)

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