Author: Jennifer Villiard PM
Just because we are raised a certain way does not mean we have to follow in our parents foot steps. I left that life two years ago, standing up for something I believed in. And yet, my brother comes needing help after all these years. I am not sure I can let him fail where I could of helped him succeed. And god did I miss riding, with every part of my being.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Fantasy - Words: 4,020 - Reviews: 3 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 10-13-12 - Published: 10-10-12 - id: 3064689
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
We all try to forget things.
He had grown in the two years sense I had seen him, my brother. A good foot taller and broader by far then the last image of him I had. He had grown out his golden brown hair so that the bottom fanned along his shoulders. A pair of blue eyes blinked at me bellow thick but angled eyebrows while there was a hesitant grin that lifted the edges of his lips.
"What are you doing here?" I ask in a dull voice, looking blandly at him from where I was kneeling in front of a small garden.
"Is that any way to welcome ones brother!" He sounded like my brother, but in an older, deeper tone.
I regarded the young man, now twenty years old, with reserve. Two years was not a long time but when you parted like we did, well, I had thought that I would never see his face again.
Leaning back on my heals I spoke again. "What are you doing here Jaygen?" I was surprised that he had managed to find me. This little cottage was my get away from the world. A piece of old time where the rest of the island was quickly expanding into 'modern' day.
He looked any where but at me. His eyes darting this way and that. I would not make this easy for him, I knew what he wanted. I had known the moment I had looked up and seen his finely dressed form. But still I would make him spit out every word. The clothes he wore were far better then anything we had ever had as kids. I hated him for it. For the greed.
"There are no animals around." He said at last. Our eyes met for a moment and then his were darting away. My eyes were only for him. I knew he meant where were the horses.
I nod my head once. "No, there are not."
Another glance at me and then away. I would admit it. I liked seeing the way my older brother squirmed.
"Kaidence, I..." He started, but couldn't finish. Putting his hands in the pockets of his black slacks he seemed to shrink into himself. "I need your help."
This caught my attention. Jaygen needing my help? If he needed money, I had none. But my help was not what I had thought he had come for.
Starkly I laugh while patting my hands against my thighs to clean the dust from the garden off. "Your shit out of luck brother. I have nothing for you." I rise, and stand at my full five foot two height. I had always been short and it had never bothered me not even when faced with the cold look my brother shot my way.
"Two years, you can't get over something that happened two years ago?" He sounded mad, but he had no right to be.
I shrugged my shoulders, unwilling to feel any strong emotion for someone I had written off all that time ago. "Thats not my problem."
I don't look back behind me, not even when he calls my name. Locking the door, I hope he doesn't follow. Seeing him brought back a flood of memories I thought I had long forgotten.
Nightmares remind us of the people who we used to be.
I did not sleep well that night and in the morning I was more tiered then I had been when I had gone to sleep. But the warmth of the sun was refreshing for my soul. Like a breath of fresh air in a room long bolted shut.
That day, after watering the garden and picking the few weeds that had managed to grow over night, I dusted off my work station.
The cottage was a small one. A main room that combined the living room, kitchen, and dinning room all into one. And then off to the right a door that lead to a bred room, and next to that another door for the bathroom, which following the quota was also small, with just a stand up shower, toilet and sink.
I cooked a lot, there was a full sized fridge, but only a two burner stove and an oven that barely fit a pot roast, not that I cooked much meat. A sink was attached to the stove, and allowed for easy cleaning of the vegetables I grew myself. For a dinning table, there was a small round table, with three mismatched chairs I had made shortly after I had moved in here. Off along the left wall there was a thick work table along with two stools and a number of tools hanging above the table. That was all that I had to my name.
Everything was made out of hard wood,some of the items had never been finished but most of the things I made I sold. I hated having to sell the things I slaved over day after day, but we all had to make a living somehow.
I sat at that work table, my elbows resting against my hands and gave myself time to think.
There was nothing that I had to do. Spring was here and the winter time had brought with it an abundance of boredom so when I had gone into town to sell my items, there had been a lot. Which allowed me to pay the bank a good four months worth of mortgage.
I did not like spending time inside during the Spring time, really only when I had to. I had no desire to go out and forage the woods today though. After a good fifteen minutes of thinking, I pulled down a few tools, grabbed some materiel from a large trunk and went to work.
I was not sure for how long it was that I sat at that bench, but it was not till a hard knocking sounded against my front door that I lifted my head up.
"Ms. Lonel! Are you home?" I did not recognize the voice, for a moment I thought about pretending to not be home. Visitors to my home were few and far between though so I set down the light creme colored leather I had been working and raised from the chair.
The knocking persisted, getting louder and louder as if to wake the dead.
When I opened the front door a fist almost connects with the side of my jaw, making me jump back a bit.
A man stood on my thresh hold dressed impeccably in a black suit. Immediately I tighten my fingers on the door and make the motion to slam it shut. He catches it with a cuffed hand and meets my eyes with his own. I am caught at odds for a moment, I had never seen such dark eyes on a person before. The spring light beamed fully down making sparks of blue appear in the depths, but ultimately I could barely make out the difference of his pupils to the rest.
"Ms. Lonel?" The man asks in a tone that is not only deep but very demanding and commanding.
My eyes ghost over his features, short and neatly kept black hair, chiseled characterization of the face, not quite handsome more like domineering, with those harsh eyes. A tall man, with broader shoulders then even my brother, he fit his suit out well.
I contemplated on whether or not I wanted to lie, and say I was her house keeper or something like that. But with a man so dressed he could be from the bank.
"Yes." I nod once in agreement then wait for him to make the next move.
I can feel the mans eyes dragging over me, weighing my appearance. This man knew nothing about me, and I nothing of him, but I did not like the judgmental gaze I felt from him.
After a moment more, he speaks, the sound of his voice a natural rumble. "I am Mr. Keenland. Your brother works for me." He had raised his right hand to offer a friendly shake. But with the sound of my brother dropping from his lips I try to pull the door closed again.
His other hand is still holding it though and I could not even budge it closed the tiniest of bits. This makes me huff out a aggravated breath. "I would like for you to leave."
This imposing man seems to regard me with a bit of surprise. He had probably only met demure and appeasing women in his life. Well I was neither.
"And I would like to talk to you."
With a growl I reply. "We don't always get what we want in life Mr. Keenland," I say his name with a bite in it. "Now if you would please get off my property..." Though I said please I felt anything but pleasant at the moment.
"I am not leaving till you at least hear me out." He says as if to threaten me.
I had to have known that something like this would happen sooner rather then later. So with a sigh I release the door and walk further into my home. "Well then you better make it quick, I have a lot of things to do."
Stopping at the small table, I take a seat, the most delicate of the three chairs, not because it was my favorite of the three, but because I did not want the lug to brake the thing.
With surprising lightness the man followed, uncomplaining he took a seat across from me.
A heart beat passes, with Mr. Keenland looking at me over he table. His face set into something that I could not read.
"Your brother said you would be difficult to talk to." He was not trying for a joke, or opening sentence to somehow brake the tension, it was simply a statement.
I liked him better for it, for not trying so hard. But that was not saying much, since he regarded my brother as a employee.
"You have five minutes left Mr. Keenland." I hoped he was a smart man and realized that no woman would live on her own without some kind of protection. If he did not leave when I asked him again I would chase him off my property and non too kindly at that.
A muscle twitches at his left temple, and I know hes mad at the way I am talking to him. Tough, he came to me, not the other way around.
"Your brother has told me a lot about you." He begins, giving me time to reply.
"Let's not talk about my brother , or we will be done much faster with this conversation."
Another twitch, but this man is very talented at keeping his anger in check. "Fine. Have you heard of my name Road Keenland or perhaps my fathers name Chet Keenland before?" He said it as if I would already know.
I did not. Surprisingly not much news traveled up this way. "The name does not ring a bell Mr. Keenland." Road, that was an interesting name.
His right hand comes up to stroke at his chin. "I am actually not surprised Ms. Lonel."
A small laugh leaves my throat. "Four minutes Mr. Keenland."
Was that a growl I just heard? I think I really was getting on his nerves. But the deep sound was gone too fast before he was speaking. "The two of us together own twenty five percent of this island, mainly the southern most area."
I nod my head once and make a small of understanding. I was not impressed.
"My father and I have a passion for horses."
I pause, and I can see deep in those eyes that he knows he has my attention now.
"A big passion. As in a twenty million dollar passion..."
My eyes go wide.
Forty Million worth of equine flesh and facility.
We all have a price for our soul
I take a moment to sit back in the chair and really look at this man. Though dressed in such a reserved suit, I could make out the lines of muscle along his arms as they were crossed in front of him and on the table. While his hands and face were tan, I was not sure if he went tanning, as many rich people cheated that way in this day and age. Or from hard, blue color work. I did not know many people who had money to work physically, or rather work with their hands and willingly get dirty.
One should not assume anything from the first meeting. And I did want to give Mr. Keenland the benefit of the doubt though where my brother came into play I would never take things at face value.
"Ok Mr. Keenland, so you come from money, a lot of it I guess I can assume."
He tilts his chin down once in reply.
"This does not explain to me though, what you want from me. Why you are here." Or why my brother is showing up on my door step.
"I have heard," He starts in a way that I knew he is choosing his words carefully. Perhaps so as to not bring my brother up. "That you can ride."
What I did I would never consider riding. It was so much more then simply that. But not many people understood even when I tried to explain. "I stopped riding two years ago Mr. Keenland." My reply is lack luster, but I would not lie to this man and play me out to be more then I really was.
"I have been told this as well," He agrees. "But I would not of come here on any one persons word."
Any one persons word. The comment sends a jolt to my subconscious making me wonder who ells this man would of talked to. Not many knew my name, or my past.
Reservedly I replied. "Regardless of the fact that I have not ridden in over two years, you still want me to ride for you on a few rumors you have heard?" Trust was not something I gave out easily, nor should this man do the same. A lot of people would not want him for him, but only for the money. Greed did bad things to people.
"Yes." A simple statement.
"Ten thousand." I pop out before I can really think about it.
"Ten thousand and you will have my horses winning?" This seems to surprise him, like he had expected more of a fight.
I did not know the quality of horse he had, you could be as good a rider as any out there and better but it was not the rider, but the heart inside the runner. If they had no heart, no soul, no will, you would not get very far with them. "No Mr. Keenland, ten thousand is my price for coming to your form, for the first day. If I want to stay and train your horses it will be ten thousand a week after the initial ten thousand."
Crossing my arms in front of me I really settle in my chair, the price I asked for was astronomical, far more then I had heard anyone be paid. I did not want the job though, and I had a feeling this man would not leave me a lone unless if it was of his own doing.
Slowly he stood up from his chair. Tugging at the trim of his coat he regarded me with those dark eyes of his. It was very hard for me to keep the winning smile from popping upon my lips.
"Very well, my truck is just outside I would bring a change of clothes, or two because I highly doubt you will want to leave Iron Gate Stables once you see it." And with that parting sentence he walked strait out the door.
I am left to sit there with my mouth slightly agape.
Don't disappoint if you don't want to be disappointed.
I could not very well back out now, when I gave my word I planned to keep it. I had been let down before and would never want to disappoint someone where I knew I would be in the wrong in the end.
So after a moment more of sitting at the table and looking blankly at the wall I numbly get up. Mechanically I get my crap together, opening my drawers and shoving clothes in a duffel bag.
Mr. Keenland was not a man to be messed with. He had fooled me. No that was not right, I had simply played right into his game. Ten thousand was nothing to a man who put twenty million into a stable. Horses were amazing creatures, delving into the hearts of many. But in the end they costs a lot of money and did not make back what you put into them. An expensive hobby that many could not fully take part in.
No doubt he had waves those figures in front of me just to get the reaction I had given him. With a huff I let myself fall back into my bed, the duffel dropped at my feet.
I did not want the money, though the ten thousand would do me good and get me that much farther to owning this little slice of heaven, I was not sure I was ready for what I would have to face. I would have to ride, at least one horse within the next few hours. Though I had not said I would as part of the deal I was not cruel enough to simply walk into Iron Gate take a glance and leave.
I had more respect for myself then that. The hollowness in my heart that I had been trying to steel against the past two years was slowly starting to ache once again. I hated my brother with vehemence.
I already wore my work boots and clothes that were functional so I did not change. When Mr. Keenland had first walked into my home my bright blonde of my hair had been pulled into a messy bun on the top of my head, but now I at least deftly braided the length and shoved it back behind my shoulders.
Feeling like I would be at least marginally respectable I hefted my duffel bag up from the floor and walked out of the bedroom. I was all ready except for one thing.
Solemnly I went to stand in front of the work table. I should of known fate was going to throw something my way when I had started on the project this morning. I think I had just wanted to deny everything though. But with a bit of resolve I wrapped my right hand around the leather bridle I had made and then went to go meet my fate head on.
The truck that Mr. Keenland owned was pure black, no chrome at all. He was already inside of it but as I got closer he opened the door from the drivers side for me. Even though it had the running board on it the pure size of it still had me having to hop a little to get in.
The moment I was seated I smelt the acrid wreak of a cigaret. Turning my attention to Mr. Keenland I opened my mouth. "Those will send you to an early grave Mr. Keenland."
The man took a deep drag from the cigaret making the end turn bright red. "Only if that was a first." He muttered blandly but threw the still half length cigaret out the window and onto the dirt drive.
I would of said something about littering, but he was already putting the truck in drive making me have to scramble to shut my door.
We drove for two hours in silence. The first few minutes I had waited for Mr. Keenland to start drilling me and after a half an hour went by I felt as though it would have been to awkward for me to talk.
I did wonder though, why he did not want to know more about me. Back when I had ridden I had only done so for my father, under my fathers name. We had won quite a few races back then, but not one of them huge and not on any horses that my father kept long enough to make famous with. We had had a good streak, but not for the attention this filthy rich man was giving me.
The truck drove nicely, obviously being high quality, I did not know vehicles, but I would bet my bottom dollar that this had cost him a pretty penny. I sighed, looking out the window and watching the fields and low mountains drift by.
"We are almost there."
The words, spoken in the silence catches me off guard after nothing having been said for so long.
"Ok." Is all I can reply. We go back to our mutually silent company.
There were a few hints that lead to me knowing we were getting close to Iron Gates. Firstly we had reached the City, or what Barewood Island could call their City. With a population of three thousand the building blocks were small. We imported a lot of things though, so though we did not make much ourselves we had access to everything we could ever want. A small unladylike snort left my nose at this thought, making Mr. Keenland glance at me, but I just shrugged a shoulder and he went back to watching the road.
The city of Barewood was also the capital, Kracken, named after the sea beast that was rumored to still be seen off the coast. Which was near the southern point, that Mr. Keenland had claimed to own.
Secondly we started to wind down a very long paved drive with wood land on both sides. There were not many wooded areas on the island and that was why it was called Barewood. But this forest, Barewood forest was on of the few structural places that trees grew. The forest was even more south then the city. And who ells would of paved a road in the middle of a forest if they did not have the money to spend on better things.
The pure black of the new tar kind of disgusted me, where the cash that had gone forward towards it when a dirt road could of sufficed. The thousands they must of put into it they could of placed somewhere so much smarter.
There was nothing that I could do about it though, so I did not let it bother me much.
A good ten minutes later we started on an incline that lead us as if out of thin air to huge iron work gates. The outward appearance of the gate was one of beauty, with the artwork of the rolling metal.
The twin gates that were symmetric with each other perfectly were already open, as we drove slowly through them I saw the thickness of the steel. At least three inches of cold steel iron.
As I looked down the fence I saw that it continued for as far as my eyes could see. "Does the fence surround the entirety of Iron Gate?" The question is out as a result of my fascination, of course not, who in their right mind would spend that much money on fencing their entire property with ten foot three inch thick iron?
"Yes. It does." Mr. Keenlands voice rumbles out.
My head shoots to look at the darkly etched profile of his side but he does not reveal anything. Just drives on.
AN: I have compressed four chapters into one making it a lot longer. I wont update till I have at least 4 thousand words in each chapter now. Hope no one minds.