tagRomanceTaking the Reigns

Taking the Reigns

byxelliebabex©

Authors note: This story is unlike most of the stories I write and is my entry in the "National Nude Day Event" -- It has been passed through three pairs of hands for proof reading (Thank you LaRascasse, Jason and Rusalka) so I hope any grammatical errors people can see come from my Australian Version of the English language rather than my bad typing. I hope you enjoy it.

*

Alyssa's back pressed against the wall and realised she had nowhere else to go as Kerrick Saunders advanced on her. "Stop pretending you care about this place," he sneered. "Your father ran it into the ground. The debt far outweighs any goodwill he held within the racing community. Sign the mortgage over to me and go back to the city where you belong." In Kerrick's mind, she had no choice. This should have been one of the easiest buy-outs of a competitor he could have done but the stupid girl clung to her father's dream with frustrating tenacity.

Alyssa straightened her back and looked him in the eye, "No, I'd rather..." she stopped short of revealing her back up plan to keep the stud farm out of his hands and bit her tongue hard as he moved so close she could smell his sickly sweet aftershave.

"You'd rather what?" His sneer increased as he leaned over her, making her feel his greater size and weight powerfully. His hand ran up her ribs, his palm moving slightly over the roundness of her breast. For the first time, she felt truly scared. The emotion lasted only for a fleeting second before it turned to seething anger that she let herself be manoeuvred into this position.

Just as she was considering attempting a getaway by kicking him in the testicles, Tom trotted into the stable passing the door to her office and stopping. "Hey there, Kerrick. What brings you around again so soon?" Tom said without a hint of the uneasiness he felt at the scene before him.

Kerrick twisted at the sound of the voice and Alyssa took the opportunity to move from the spot into which she had been cornered, walking to the door with a smile of thanks at Tom. "Oh just checking out the competition. Seeing if I can make the young girlie an offer she can't refuse," Kerrick said amiably. "Talk some sense into her, Tom. She can't hold on here much longer. Old Bill was the only asset this place had, and without him . . ." Kerrick extended his arms as if searching for an answer and finding none.

"Geez, you're like a vulture hovering about," Tom chuckled, taking the sting out of his words, "Let the girl get over her Dad's death for God's sake."

"Time waits for no man," Kerrick paused, tipping his head at Alyssa, "Or woman."

Alyssa rolled her eyes, "If I am ever looking to sell this place you will be the first person I call." Alyssa smiled sweetly having no intention of ever selling the stud farm.

"Ah good," Kerrick gloated thinking he had won a small boon from Alyssa and looked around. "Don't leave it too long. I would hate to have to demolish everything because you let it go to ruin before finally coming to your senses." Kerrick whistled a happy tune as he walked out of the stable. Alyssa and Tom watched him enter the cab of his pickup and drive away.

"Thanks," Alyssa said quietly leaning into Toms shoulder. "You couldn't have arrived at a better time."

"Looked intense," Tom murmured and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. "You okay?"

"Yeah I'm fine," Alyssa smiled crookedly at him. "But Kerrick was right. Dad was the only thing this place had going for it, even taking the other assets into account, we are way behind the amount of debt he accrued."

"Well you're the big city girl who left us all to go off to university and a job in the skyscrapers," Tom squeezed her shoulder. "You'll think of something. What does that high powered boyfriend of yours think?"

"That I should cut my losses and run," she said sadly. "He's not that interested in farm life."

"You're not considering that are you?" Tom tried to keep the horror from his voice.

"I don't want to," she acknowledged, "but unless I can come up with a plan, and soon, I may not have a choice." She hadn't told Tom yet of her last ditch plan to turn it into a charity of sorts, creating a place for troubled teens to come and learn about life through the horses and ranch work. Her real dream though, was to bring the stud back to its former glory when it bred and trained amazing horses like its namesake, Godiva. Alyssa looked back over her shoulder at the glass case that held the treasured trophies and photos of the phenomenal horse that brought her father so much fame and happiness.

"I'm going to go have a bath," Alyssa announced. "Are you coming up to the big house for dinner?"

"Yeah alright, I'll be up later," Tom agreed and led his horse away to remove her saddle and tack and brush her down.

Alyssa trudged up to the house, her mind, as always, working over her problems and missing the man she had always fled to when life was not working out the way she had thought it would - her father. She wished she knew what he had planned, but both Tom and Uncle Bob, as she called his father, said they knew nothing of why he had recently purchased an unknown mare and her filly for a price, though reasonable, he really couldn't afford. She was starting to believe there was no way she could keep the new acquisitions but she couldn't shake the thought that there was more to their story than anyone but her father knew.

Kerrick's unusual interest in her father's latest acquisitions made her even more curious, only deepening the mystery surrounding the purchase, but try as she might she just couldn't puzzle it out. "Hi Marcie," she called out as she ran through the house to her room, trying to leave as little dirt on the floor as possible and avoid a scolding.

There was no answer and Alyssa carefully retraced her steps in search of the missing woman. She found her sitting in the library. The curtains were closed and the room was dark but the older woman held a book in her hands. She looked up as Alyssa walked in and tried to recover her composure. She stood too quickly, the cradled book dropped to the floor, tears staining her face glistening in the soft light from the doorway.

"Goodness, Marcie! What's wrong?" Alyssa said and rushed worriedly to the woman's side.

"I just miss him," Marcie said sadly.

"Me too," Alyssa agreed and picked up the book that had dropped from Marcie's hand. She smiled recognising the only semi adult book Dr. Suess had ever written, The Seven Lady Godivas. "Gosh I loved this book when I was little. I had no idea of the meanings in it of course but I loved it when Dad would come in after a long day and read it to me."

"He adored those Horse Truths, that's for sure," Marcie grinned. "He adored a lot of silly things," she added wistfully.

It was like a piece of the puzzle finally slipped into place. "Like you," Alyssa said quietly. "But you are not so silly. I love you too."

"You knew?" Marcie asked, her eyes wide.

"Not until this moment," Alyssa confessed. "Who is the silly one now? I should have known."

They sat together in the darkness of the library and talked, really talked, for the first time about her parents, not just her father. Her mother's need for children as well as her father's reluctance. The rare complications of her birth and the loss of the woman they had all loved and Alyssa had never known. Her father's determination to keep her mother's memory alive for her, despite his eventual deep love for his house-keeper and nanny. Finally, Alyssa asked why Marcie had agreed to the years of secrecy about their love and devotion to each other.

Arm in arm they left the library for the kitchen only to find Tom there, making a huge mess. Marcie exclaimed at the sight of him and Alyssa burst out laughing. Tom grinned, "Well you girls were in there nattering for so long a guy could starve if he waited for you to cook dinner."

Marcie bustled into the kitchen mumbling under her breath about men and Tom continued to laugh as she swatted him with a dish rag for being in her way. "I stink," Alyssa declared. "Back in a few minutes."

"Hours more like it," Tom laughed and Marcie swatted him with a dish cloth again as Alyssa bounded out of the room and upstairs for a quick shower.

They continued to laugh good naturedly over dinner about Alyssa's obliviousness to her father's love affair with Marcie and the amazing book that had been a firm favourite for the two women, a book that Tom had never heard of. Talk as usual turned to horses and Bill's enduring love for them. "Why on earth would he have bought two unknown horses at such a dire time?" Alyssa blurted, silencing her two dinner companions.

Tom shrugged, "Got me beat. I got no better answer than the last time you asked."

Marcie looked between them as if she had something to add but wasn't sure if she should until Tom realised Alyssa was staring at her. "You know don't you?" Marcie nodded but kept her lips tightly sealed. "Come on, Marcie. Spill the beans," Tom said as he poured more wine from a newly opened bottle for them all.

"Pffft," she made a horse like noise. "Can't you guess?" The two younger people looked at her quizzically and she sighed. "Honestly, I thought the younger generation were supposed to be so smart." Tom and Alyssa continued to stare, their mystified expressions eliciting yet another sigh from Marcie. "There are seven Godivas in the story they each had a mate..." she led them along the path of her thinking, "It stands to reason they had children."

"We have Godiva's children?" Alyssa exclaimed.

"No way," Tom said, "Bill wouldn't put her to stud."

"Not here, he didn't," Marcie smiled smugly. "But he was a gambler and took a gamble on a few smaller stud places and lesser known stallions. Godiva's first filly did not do well and was put into the breeding program over at Mullin's Creek but we have the mare and Godiva's grandchild back again."

"Holy shit!" Alyssa gaped at Marcie. "What else do you know?" Marcie gave her a knowing smile but said no more and the three sat in silence for a while.

"At the end of the day it still doesn't help our cash flow crisis," Alyssa finally said. "We have to come up with a plan, and soon, or Kerrick's offers will start looking more attractive."

"More attractive than him anyway," Marcie grumbled. Alyssa raised an eyebrow in her direction. "He's been trying to get your father to sell for years. Kerrick's taken out almost all of the local stud competition and runs the racing club here, even if it is behind the scenes."

"Do you think he knows about the mare and the filly?" Tom asked suddenly serious.

"That would explain his interest in them when he comes to visit," Alyssa mused.

"No," Marcie said, looking suddenly sad, "Your father bought them both in my name, and I would pay for their keep out of my savings, so that it looked all above board, until he died." She lowered her head, squeezing her eyes closed to stave off the tears before continuing. "Then you came and looked through the books and saw that he bought them only looking at the figures not the names and I couldn't say anything without... Well, telling you about him and me."

"Oh my God," Alyssa gasped. "I am such a selfish cow."

"Oh no," Marcie suddenly looked up. "You have been grief stricken and it wasn't my place to say."

"Of course it was your place to say," Alyssa said vehemently. "Why would you think otherwise? You knew him the best of all of us."

Marcie had expected recriminations and resentment once Alyssa found out about their affair but instead she had found a young woman who not only accepted her and the relationship with her father but seemed to value it. "I don't know," Marcie mumbled. "Your mother was such a ghost in all our lives."

"That's just it, she was a ghost. You were more of a mother to me really." Alyssa took Marcie's hand. "You were the one always here for me."

"Well I hate to break the moment," Tom said pragmatically, "we still have the financial problem regardless of tonight's good fortunes, so unless your savings total in the tens of thousands, we still need a plan of action."

"Urgh," Alyssa groaned. "Way to break a meaningful moment, Tom," she scowled at him.

Tom pulled a face at her, "Someone has to be the bad guy and I can't let Kerrick have all the fun."

Marcie stood up, "I don't know about you two but I am going to clean up that kitchen." She rolled her eyes at Tom, "and try to get to bed before midnight."

"We'll help," Alyssa said brightly, nudging Tom who grumbled something that could be taken for assent.

"No need sweet thing," Marcie stopped her. "I enjoy the quiet time and busy hands. Keeps my mind off..." She left the thought hanging and shrugged. The younger people helped by carrying the dishes to the kitchen and left Marcie to her cleaning.

Alyssa walked Tom to the door. "I can't believe I never knew," she said.

"I don't think very many people realised," Tom smiled without adding that he only knew because his father, who had been Bill's closest friend, had let it slip one drunken night. "See ya tomorrow," Tom whispered and leaned in to kiss her cheek.

"Get to bed," she shooed him away laughing. "Don't try and drag me into your bedrail tally marks. I know you horse men. I bet there is a girl already warming your mattress for you."

Tom turned, hiding his hurt feelings and wandered off into the darkness calling, "Sweet dreams, Ice Princess."

Alyssa rolled her eyes and closed the door. "Why do you say such things?" Marcie asked behind her.

"Sibling teasing," Alyssa laughed and turned to face the woman. "Everyone knows what hounds the horse men are."

"He's not like them and I think you know that," Marcie said, "and if you don't, well shame on you." The older woman turned and walked away without another word leaving Alyssa gaping after her.

Slowly walking up the stairs Alyssa tried to wrap her mind around everything she had learned tonight until her head hurt with possibilities and explanations. She needed a weekend back in the city with her boyfriend and her girlfriends, normal people with normal lives, she decided. Then she could come back and look at the problems with fresh eyes.

Tom had stood within the stand of trees between the house and the cottage where he lived with his father. He watched as her bedroom light went on and she stripped her clothes before walking to the window to open it. She had always seemed oblivious to the fact that she may be seen. They were on a farm, he conceded, but there were enough farm hands that lived on the property that, like him, could possibly see her. Admittedly she didn't do it often, but he had always watched since he was a young boy and first discovered the delights of girls and enjoyed the views Alyssa offered as she readied for bed. He waited for her light to go off before walking to his own bed.

*****

Deciding to surprise everyone, Alyssa had told no one of her plans to return to the city for a few days. She had left with the dawn on Friday morning arriving in the city mid afternoon. Knowing her boyfriend, Justin, would be at work until at least six, she showered to expunge the smell of horses and the ranch and sprayed her favourite perfume quite liberally around herself and the apartment. She didn't bother to dress while she waited for him to return. Each night she Skyped him at around six and he was home so she expected him to at least come home for a few minutes even if he planned to go out with friends.

She wandered around the apartment naked, not bothering to close the blinds, imagining that someone would have to be in an equally tall building with binoculars to see her and if they went to that much trouble they earned the disappointing peek at her nakedness. She knew she was far from the good looking models in magazines that men lusted after. She was in contrast, short and slight despite her wide hips and average breasts. She cupped the pink tip globes thanking her mother for good genes. Without these, she thought shaking the soft flesh, she would look too scrawny and fragile.

She stood at the sliding glass door that led to the balcony for a few moments in case there was some perve out there who could appreciate her strange physique when she heard the key in the door and turned to yell surprise. The words caught in her throat and she squealed bolting for the coat she had left lying over the lounge chair when she arrived. What Alyssa hadn't expected was for her boyfriend, Justin, to walk through the door with one of her best friends saying, "Yeah I will just do the call and then I'm all yours..."

Justin stopped in his tracks seeing Alyssa naked next to the windows and his head swivelled between the girl he had his arm around and his long time girlfriend. The girl had a look of horror on her face as she gasped, "Oh my god, Alyssa!"

"Don't bother explaining," Alyssa said savagely as she grabbed her coat, wrapping it viciously about her nakedness.

"It's not like you caught me in bed with another woman," Justin yelled trying to get through her hardened shell. "She means nothing to me," Justin pleaded with Alyssa.

Alyssa could see the effect of his words in the crushed look on the other girl's face, and it told her everything she needed to know. She turned her face up to him saying calmly, "The look on that girl's face tells me this was more than just a momentary fling, Justin, you asshole. How could you treat her with such disdain and me with such disrespect?" She could barely look at her friend, let alone say her name. She swallowed hard and straightened her shoulders as she said, "I feel sorry for you, Danielle, if you sleep with someone else's man, they are always going to treat you this badly so stop looking so hurt that he would deny any feeling for you. You act like a slut and people will treat you that way."

She grabbed her weekend bag that was still sitting beside the door with her shoes and her handbag from the table and left quickly as both Justin and the girl both babbled that it was all a misunderstanding.

Calling Tom, using the bluetooth in her car as she drove, she cried, "I can't even go to my other friends! They must have all known."

Tom was beside himself with worry that she was driving in her state. He begged her to call a friend he went to school with and go there. She refused to be begging a stranger to come look after her. He made her promise not to drive until she was calm again and urged her to stop somewhere for coffee while he called his friend and arranged a night there if she wouldn't call herself. He would ride his bike down and meet her there if she would just pull over. Even in her frantic state, she could see the sense in Tom's words and acquiesced reluctantly.

Alyssa was sitting in a coffee club, feeling like the biggest fool in the world, when a tall stylish woman approached her. "Alyssa?" the woman asked. At the confused look on Alyssa's face she continued, "I I'm Tom's friend, Harry." She held out her hand.

"Fuck, I should have known you would be perfectly gorgeous," Alyssa groaned and buried her head in her hands. "Why couldn't Harry have been a fat overweight geek?"

"Well thanks, I think," Harry said. "Come on let's get you home and um," her eyes slid down over the gaping jacket, "... someplace friendlier," she said with a smile, "And by the looks of what that coat is hiding, be should be thankful that I am not some horny geek."

In her numb state Alyssa had forgotten all about her attire but she didn't really care. She just wanted a place to curl up into a ball and cry. She let herself be led out of the café and Harry said softly, "Give me your keys. I will drive." She waved to her friend who had driven her to pick up the girl indicating that everything was okay and helped Alyssa into the passenger seat of her own car.

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byxelliebabex© 36 comments/ 157936 views/ 39 favorites

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