Joint Venture©

By

KMorgan

kmorgan.5674@yahoo.com

(Feedback is appreciated)

Part 12

The following month, Alejandro repeated the same performance and won the Derby. The Derby is the most prestigious of all races in the Triple Crown and is considered one of the most impressive thoroughbred horse races in the world. Alejandro won it impressively, seven lengths ahead of the next horse crossing the finish line. The women could hardly believe it themselves.

JP showed up wearing his white tuxedo again, but this time the variation was the color of the vest – pool table green. His pants were also different. He was wearing white linen jodhpurs and black riding boots. The jodhpurs were so wide at the hips they gave him the appearance of having a huge rear, which of course was far from true. He also had a riding crop in his hand. For a man who had never ridden a horse in his life, he looked like something out of a picture from Horse and Hound magazine.

“Mommy look at Uncle JP!” Alex was the first one to see him.

“Oh! My God!” Karen exclaimed.

Addy also looked and chuckled, leaning on Karen for support. “Oh, Ker! He is such a sight!”

“I swear, sometimes I don’t know why we hang out with him. I think he’s gotten worse over the years.”

“He is a great friend and he makes us laugh all the time, honey, and we love to have a good time.” She patted Karen on the arm. Of course these were comments were kept just between the two of them. They were careful not to say anything negative about anyone in front of Alex.

“Mommy, he looks like he just came from riding a horse.”

“Yeah. I know which one he rode!” Karen whispered and Addy bumped her with her shoulder. “Ker!”

“But he doesn’t ride, Mommy, you know that!”

“Yes, you are right, Alex. He’s just dressing for the occasion.” She smirked as she looked out over the track and then to Addy when Addy again bumped her.

With the bump, Karen lost her footing a bit this time. “Hey! You are going to make me fall!”

“Nope. I got you.” Addy pulled her back. Her arm was laced through Karen’s on a tight grip. Addy often held her like that in public. She’d always say that it felt intimate. She also knew that, Karen would never hold her in public, but loved to be held. Addy always told Karen that she was too hung up on being a lesbian and that she, instead, not having become one until later in her life, was more relaxed about it. Karen always chuckled at the comment. It was not until recently that Addy has accepted ‘the family’ as her own. Addy never had a second thought about holding her no matter where they were. To Addy life just happened as it went.

Addy was probably right, years of rejection and faces of disapproval had made Karen somewhat reserved in public. It was only when they were in crowds that she sometimes held Addy. But it was more because her protective need overcame her self-consciousness. In crowds, her arms were always around Addy, as if shielding her. She couldn’t cope with the thought that someone may touch or rub up against Addy. She’d sometimes, in a crowded event, stand behind Addy and wrap her arms around her waist and bring her face close to Addy’s ear, teasing her by breathing into her ear. Addy would always smile and ask the question. “Do you want to leave, or are we watching this event?” Karen always chuckled, but there were a few times when Karen had actually asked if they could go. Addy was always ready to go.

Today in the stands, Addy was holding her arm and Alex stood between and in front of them. Melanie was also with them. Victoria was with Alejandro, Marshall, Carol and Gyro.

JP and James finally made their way to where they were sitting. “Hi ladies!” JP greeted them profusely as James smiled behind him. James was wearing a regular suit but his tie matched the exact color of JP’s vest.

“Uncle JP you look awesome! I love your outfit, especially your pants. They make you look like you have a big butt.” Alex proclaimed.

“Alex!” Addy scolded.

“They are very comfortable, very roomy.” He gave James a look, and Karen immediately cleared her throat in unexaggerated manner giving him a serious look. Karen never liked his innuendos in Addy’s presence and much less in Alex’s. This was something she had made very clear to him over the years. He had to behave himself when either Addy or Alex were present. Of course, he was always very righteous when it came to Alex. It was Addy he liked to tease.

James leaned into Karen. “He does look kind of cute, doesn’t he?” Karen didn’t comment but grinned. As long as you like it!

“Did you see Uncle J’s tie?” He asked Alex.

“Yes, it’s the same color as your vest.”

“It sure is! I wanted to make sure I had a tag on him! He is too handsome to be running around loose.”

Alex laughed, and James rolled his eyes.

Karen continued to grin keeping her thought to herself. I know why these two are late today! She looked at Addy, who was probably having the same thoughts, judging by her grin and the look she gave her.

When the race began, the crowd roared. JP joined in the excitement and accidentally hit the gentleman in the row in front of him with his riding crop. JP apologized profusely and the beaten gentleman forgave him, given all the excitement.

“I told you to leave that dammed crop at home! Why did you need to bring that stupid thing? But do you listen to me? No!”

James was dying of embarrassment, after apologizing to the gentleman himself. He turned to talk to Karen. “I swear, he has not gotten us in some real trouble already! Sometimes he drives me up the wall!”

Karen laughed. “Yes, but when he is not driving you up the wall, you love him and that is why you put up with his extravagances. Admit it. You do have fun with him.” James grinned and even blushed a bit. Karen tapped him in the chest, pushing him back.

The fanfare around Alejandro was beyond belief and all of the sudden they found themselves in the middle of it. The press tried to get interviews with them, but was not successful. Karen made sure that the security around them was strong. They had already decided to remain anonymous to maintain their privacy and that Gyro would be the spokesperson for them. They were private individuals and wanted to remain away from the public eye. The press nevertheless spotted them at the winner circle, but was never able to get close to them.

JP was not pleased with the decision to stay anonymous. “Karen, I cannot believe you! Addy you have to convince her. You guys must appear on TV and in the press. This is too big to let it go unnoticed. Publicity is always good.”

Addy saw that Karen was annoyed by his continued nagging, and intervened. She was afraid that Karen may growl at him. “JP, we already told you how we feel. We have already decided that we are not appearing on talk shows, or news or anything of the kind. We don’t want to become public figures. We like our privacy. It’s our choice and it’s been made. And you have to respect it. Is that clear?”

JP was a bit surprised. Karen was too. She said nothing, but was pleased with Addy’s terminal response. Addy was the sweet one and she had never spoken to him in that manner. She decided to take a direct, blunt stand with JP because she knew how Karen felt about all the fanfare. Karen’s feelings were more important to her than having to talk in a harsh tone to JP. Also, there was the matter of keeping Alex out of the public eye. Alex was a poster child. She was beautiful, outgoing, eloquent, and could make friends easily. They knew that if the press had a moment with her they would love her and would hound her until the end of time. They were not going to allow that to happen. Addy was determined that Alex would have a normal life where she could develop to all her potential. JP did not touch the subject again. He knew, from past experiences, that when the lioness came out to protect her own, it was time to retreat.

“Okay, Adriana! Suit yourself!” JP pretended to be offended.

**

At one of the parties, as expected, they came across Susan. This time Susan was resolved to be bolder and intercepted Karen when she was going towards the bar to get drinks for her and Addy. Karen took the opportunity to talk to her, as she had promised Addy. Susan was dressed very provocative. It was June and she really was wearing only what was necessary to cover the required parts of her body out of mere decency. “Can we step outside for a few minutes to talk?” Susan asked.

“Sure.”

Susan felt encouraged thinking that Karen was attracted to her and her skimpy outfit. Little did she know that Karen was only there to fulfill her agenda as agreed with Addy.

They walked out to the terrace. The air outside was a bit cool. The cool breeze immediately hardened Susan’s nipples and they became very evident through the soft fabric of her dress. Susan was hoping for a reaction from Karen, but there was none.

“I’m glad we are finally able to talk.”

“Yes, me too.”

Susan seemed a bit surprised, suddenly feeling hopeful. She took a deep breath and spoke. “You know I’ve always had feelings for you, ever since that time when you dropped the bomb on me. I still feel the same way. I wouldn’t mind giving you another chance. Come with me. Let’s live it up and have some fun.”

Karen was fuming inside, but kept poised. Just the thought of this woman making this offer to her, felt like an insult to her, and most importantly to Addy. Addy was also at the party and had seen how Susan dragged Karen out to the terrace away from the crowd. Melanie and Victoria, who had been keeping a vigilant eye, were with Addy and were also observing how things played out.

“She has some nerve!” Victoria commented looking at Addy. “She’s despicable!”

Melanie rubbed Victoria’s back and Addy remained quiet, her eyes still on the distant patio door.

As Karen began to speak, Susan interrupted. “You are going to turn me down, aren’t you?”

Karen’s strategy was to let her talk and see how it played out. She had her poker face on.

“Before you do, I’d like you to know that Addy saw you coming out here with me and that you might already be in trouble with her.” She mocked, briefly enjoying a small moment of triumph.

The comment felt like adding insult to injury, yet Karen did not waver. How dare she use Addy against her? She kept her composure and spoke calmly, remembering Addy’s plea for civility no matter the circumstances. “Susan, I don’t share your feelings. There’s nothing and there will never be anything between you and I. I need you to understand and accept that. I’m happy with my life and I have no intention to look for another. I wish you could find someone and make a life for yourself as well. Whatever happened to Alana? I thought the two of you would end up together.”

Susan laughed. “Alana and I are too much alike, it would never work.”

“I don’t know. Maybe you should be trying to make it work.”

Susan remained silent.

“I have nothing else to say. I hope we are done with this conversation, forever. I wouldn’t know what else to say. Don’t pursue this. I’m not interested. And by the way, if I am here talking to you, it is only because Addy asked me to talk to you when I had the opportunity. If she saw us come out here, she knows exactly what I’m saying. Good night, Susan.”

She could have said more, but she was a person of few words and there was really no need to say more. In this type of situation, short and simple was always better.

“Good Night, Karen.” Susan remained in the balcony, deep in thought.

The entire conversation didn’t take more than five minutes. Karen came back into the room and Victoria and Melanie breathed a sigh of relief when they saw her emerge from behind the doors. Addy just smiled. As she watched Karen approach their smiles grew bigger. The most gorgeous woman in the world was making her way through the crowd to her and she couldn’t wait to be closer and be lost in the green of those eyes. And for Karen, there was nowhere else to go, but straight home, to the warmth of the loving arms waiting to wrap themselves around her.

Victoria and Melanie smiled when they saw the look of want and love in their friends’ faces. The atmosphere all of a sudden was charged, saturated with desire and yearning. It was very obvious that they were craving each other. If there had been a hormone level meter right there, it would have certainly exploded.

Karen spoke looking at Addy. “Melanie, would you please bring Alex with you when you go back to the hotel? Addy and I are leaving now.” They were still holding each other’s gaze and grinning.

“Sure, Karen, It will be a pleasure. I can see her from here. I’ll go get her and we’ll leave also. We’ll keep her with us in our room. Don’t worry. We’ll give you a call when we are back at the hotel.” They knew that this request was an honor because they never left Alex with anyone.

“Thanks, Mel.” Karen replied. “Should we go, Addy?”

Addy looked at Mel smiling and waved. “Yes. Good night, Mel, Vic.”

It was about 8:30 when Karen and Addy left. They went straight to the hotel and made love until the phone rang around 11:30 pm. It was Mel. “Sorry to interrupt, but just wanted to let you know that we are in our room and that Alex fell asleep. We can keep her, if you’d like. I just wanted to let you know that we are here.”

“Thanks, Mel. I’ll stop to get her in a few minutes.” Their rooms were on the same floor.

“Karen, she can stay with us. It’s not a problem. I just wanted you to know that we are here.”

“Thanks, Mel. But it will be hard to explain to her tomorrow why we didn’t pick her up. I’ll come in a minute.” She hung up the phone and talked to a very sleepy and satisfied Addy. “Baby, I’m going to take a quick shower and I’m going to run to Mel’s room to get Alex, okay?”

“Umhum.” Addy smiled and kissed her. Addy in her slumber continued to hold on to her. “Umm, don’t go! I want you.”

Karen chuckled. “I’ll be right back. I need to get Alex.”

“Umhum.”

It took Karen only a few minutes to shower put on a pair of jeans and a sweater and walk barefooted to pick up her daughter. She knocked, and Victoria opened the door.

“Hi.”

“Hi. Where’s my bundle of joy?”

“In here, Karen.” Melanie spoke from inside the room. “She fell asleep as soon as we got in.”

“Yeah, she’s like that. Thanks, guys. We owe you.”

“Don’t mention it.” Vic replied.

“Say good night to Addy for us.”

“I will. Bye.”

Karen carried her daughter, who wasn’t so little anymore, back to their suite. She locked the door and took Alex to her bed. Changed her into her pajamas, kissed her and tucked her in. She took a final look at the beautiful eight year old angel. Then she went back to her own bedroom, took off her clothes and got in bed. Addy immediately opened her arms to receive her. Karen straddled Addy’s thigh, tucked her hair back and looked at the adoring sleepy face. Anyone would have to be crazy to think that she’d ever give up any of this!

Addy had her eyes closed but was smiling. She knew that Karen was looking at her. “I love you too, and I hope that you are planning on more than just looking at me. Blondie feels pretty hot and wet on my leg to just let it sit there.” She opened her eyes to find the gorgeous green ones burning with desire. “She’s not going to sit for long. She’s just taking her time to pleasure herself.”

Addy smiled. “Don’t make me wait, sexy.” She wrapped her legs around Karen’s, and Karen immersed herself into Addy’s warm arms.

“Umm!” Karen moaned, as she took in the sensuality of her arms and her maddening scent. “You never asked me.” Karen whispered in her ear. They knew each other well, and Addy didn’t have to ask what she was talking about. The question had to do with Addy never asking her about her conversation with Susan.

“Don’t need to.” Then she pulled out of the embrace a bit. “Unless you need to talk about it?”

“No. It’s not worth it.”

Karen was pleased with the answer. Addy placed her hand on Karen’s cheek and brushed her lips with her thumbs. “Green eyes—.” Addy could hardly find words as she adored the beautiful face in her hands. Karen smiled, and Addy’s eyes welled with tears.

“Sssh! I feel the same way. Don’t say anything.”

No more was said that night. Only moans of pleasure, and an occasional calling of their names in the ecstasy of extreme pleasure. The night was long and delightful. They gave themselves to each other until they no longer could. They fell asleep intertwined in one another.

**

The next morning Karen was up firs. She felt energized, happy and fully satisfied with her life. She made breakfast for Alex. She couldn’t help smiling.

“What are you smiling about, Mommy? Is M’Addy still sleeping?”

Karen grinned from ear to ear. She should be, with the treatment she got last night! “I think she might be up. I think I heard the shower. After you are done eating, get your stuff together, so that we can leave. I can’t wait to get home and away from all this fanfare.”

“Why don’t you like it, Mommy. I think it’s fun. Don’t you like to see Alejandro win?”

“I do, Alex. But I love being home also.”

Addy made her entrance. “All right! Is everybody ready?” She looked at a very smiley Alex and even more smiley Karen, who at the sight of the gorgeous brunette felt such a pang in her stomach that if Alex hadn’t been there, she would have immediately thrown her down on the sofa and ravished her again. Addy came over smiling and kissed the overly excited Karen, who unseen by Alex, prolonged the kiss by biting her lower lip and grabbing her buttocks. Karen made sure to turn Addy away from Alex’s line of vision. Addy opened her eyes so huge that made Karen smile forcing her to let go of her lips.

Addy then loosened herself from Karen’s grip and Karen poured a cup of freshly brewed coffee. “Um! This coffee smells great! Just how I like it, strong.”

Alex, who was sitting on the sofa eating and watching TV, looked back to Karen and chuckled. Addy always said the same thing in the morning. She claimed that she was still not awake until after she drank that cup of coffee.

“Are you awake now, M’Addy? I didn’t think you were going to get up today. You must have slept very well.”

Addy looked at Karen and smiled, and then she looked at Alex and stuck out her tongue. “Yes, I slept very well, child. Super well.” Her eyes immediately shifted to Karen who was grinning from ear to ear. Addy loved Karen’s satisfied look and couldn’t help smiling as well.

“You guys are too smiley today? Are you going to give me a surprise or something?”

“You wish, little girl! Personally, I’m smiling because—.”

“For the same reason I’m smiling. Because we are going home.”

“That is right! I miss home.”

Alex rolled her eyes. “You guys act crazy sometimes.”

Addy and Karen looked at each other and Addy winked. Karen’s heart skipped a beat.

**

“Is Alejandro coming home with us this time?” She asked because she knew that the next race was not until September.

“No, Alex. Alejandro is going undercover again. It’s safer for all if he remains at an undisclosed location.” They had already heard of fans attempting to get near the horses, and in their case, they also feared malicious intentions from people who might be interested in taking Alejandro out of the competition.

“So, I won’t get to see him until September?”

“Correct. We leave in a few days for our vacation. Everybody is already waiting for us over there. When we come back at the end of September we need to prepare for the race and don’t forget your mom’s campaign for Mayor.”

“Mom! M’Addy is going to win. I have no doubt about it. The other two people are no competition for M’Addy. Ms. Simmons only knows about books and she’s only worried about education. I mean that is a good thing, but there are other things that matter also. And Mr. Glass only knows and cares about farmers because he is a glorified farmer!”

“Still, I have to campaign, Alex. People have to know who they are voting for.”

**

In September, Alejandro was again a favorite to win the St. Leger Stakes, which was by far the longest of the races. It is also the final race of the Triple Crown. If he won this race, he would be the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Nijinsky won in 1970. In fact, he would be the 15th horse ever to win the Triple Crown since 1809 when the three races became known as the Triple Crown.

The uniqueness, the distinction and the glory that came with the win was one of historical proportions. If Alejandro won this race, his value would be beyond the imaginable. Karen and Addy had already decided that this would be his last race. After this, win or lose, Alejandro would retire for the rest of his life to the pleasantries of a luxurious country life and his life would revolve around mares and stud service.

Thoroughbred breeding has strict rules. The first one is that a thoroughbred foal must be the result of a stallion’s physical breeding with a mare. Artificial insemination is not allowed. That meant that Alejandro would spend the rest of his life, most certainly enjoying his life, in the fields. People in the business would pay and arm and a leg for one of Alejandro’s descendants. After this race, win or lose, Alejandro in his relaxed, pleasant life would be a money-making machine for the MgGuill Stables.

The women arrived in Doncaster two days before the race. Protocol dictated that they participate in a series of social events. This time they had resolved that if Susan showed up, they weren’t going to let her ruin their fun. This was a happy time, especially for Alex, who at such a young age was fulfilling a life dream, to see the horse she loved and had seen grow up and train, possibly achieve the maximum glory of winning the Triple Crown.

While at one of the events, there was an announcement. “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have everyone’s attention.” The spokesperson addressed the crowd from the stage. “There has been an incident at the stables.” A few of the horses had to be evacuated, but they are all fine. “Apparently an unauthorized person tried to enter the premises and a few horses were frightened in the upheaval, but no one was hurt and all is well.”

Upon hearing the announcement, Addy took Alex by the hand and looked for Karen. Karen was on the phone when mother and daughter arrived.

“Yes, Michael. That is fine with me, and until he leaves the area. I also want the usual protection for the individuals on the list. Yes, I know. I just wanted to make sure. Fine. Good-bye.” Then she addressed the twosome in front of her. “We have to go now.”

Alex was about to open her mouth, when Addy preempted. “You heard your mom. Let’s go, say goodbye.”

Alex said no more. She suspected something was wrong.

After they left the party, in the elevator, Alex asked. “What’s wrong, Mommy?”

“The intruder was caught in Alejandro’s area.”

Alex widened her eyes in horror. “Is Alejandro alright? Mommy, we have to go see him!”

Addy was silent and in shock, but her eyes were fixated on Karen. “Yes, he is alright. I want you guys with me all the time. Is that clear, young lady?” She looked at Alex.

“Yes, Mommy. Can we go see him?” Alex looked at Addy who in turn pursed her lips.

“Later, Alex. We need to find out what’s going on first. We are not going there until all is cleared and I know we are not going to be in danger there.”

Alex snuggled to Addy and Addy placed her arm around her. They both continued to look at Karen who had a very worried look. Addy took Karen’s hand and intertwined her fingers with hers. She immediately felt the strong grasp around her fingers.

In the hotel room, Karen received another call. She was listening, but staring at Addy. Addy knew that something was wrong. “Yes, I’ll be here. They can come.”

She looked at Addy. “They have the intruder. He had an extreme amount of horse anesthetic. He apparently intended to drug Alejandro. Victoria already checked Alejandro and he is fine.” She looked at Alex as she spoke. Then she looked at Addy. “Apparently they caught him before he could do damage.” She remained quiet, looked at Alex and then at Addy. Addy knew there was more to tell, but she immediately caught Karen’s indecisiveness and concluded that whatever remained to be said, Karen preferred not to say it in front of Alex.

Addy sat on the sofa. “My feet hurt. Alex, can you please go get my slippers in my room, sweetie?”

“Sure M’Addy.”

As soon as Alex cleared the area, Karen spoke. “They’ve identified the intruder. Alfred McGuill, my cousin. Charles’ son.”

Addy gasped! She brought her hand to her mouth in shock.

Karen pursed her lips and just looked at Addy. “Will this ever end for us, Addy?”

“Is there any more family?”

Karen chuckled. It was the way Addy asked the question and her face that made Karen chuckled in the midst of the whole disgrace. “I don’t think so.” She laughed. “How greedy could people be? And just to think that if they hadn’t been so greedy and viciously mean to us, we would have shared our good fortune with them! We’ve always had more than we needed. What a waste of lives!” Karen was disgusted thinking of her family.

Addy took her hand and kissed it.

“Scotland Yard is coming over for me to identify him. The PI does not want us to go around there alone. I don’t know what we are going to do with Alex.”

“I’ll go with her to her room and entertain her there until Scotland Yard goes away. Come to get us when they are gone. I’ll tell her you are taking care of business matters.” Alex was entering the room with Addy’s slippers in hand.

“I couldn’t find them. Here, M’Addy.”

“Alex, some gentlemen are coming over to talk to Mommy Karen about a business deal and we need to go to your room to give her some privacy, okay?”

“What about Alejandro?”

“Precisely, we are going to go to your room and you are going to call Vic to see what she says about him. How about that?”

“Yes, let’s go.” As they were walking out of the living room area of the suite, someone was knocking on the door. Addy waited to make sure it was Scotland Yard. When the individuals identified themselves, Addy walked out of the room, following Alex.

Karen identified the intruder and perpetrator as Alfred MgGuill. Scotland Yard assured her that she would be kept appraised of the situation.

**

The day of the race finally came. Alex had talked about the event for as long as they could remember and this was her day and Alejandro’s day. They, of course had talked to her about the possibility that he might not win, as all things were possible in life. And they had agreed that having won the last two races and being there to run the third was a monumental achievement that had already secured Alejandro’s place in history. So they agreed to count their blessings and to enjoy the event however it turned out. No matter what happened, Alejandro was a fabulous horse. Alex agreed and was content with any outcome.

“Do your best, boy. This is the last one. Give it all you’ve got today.” Alex was giving her final words of advice to Alejandro when she came to see him before the race. As she exited the stables, Gyro was coming in.

“So what did he say today, Alex?”

“Gyro, today he will ride like he’s never ridden. He wants you to hang tight and let him set the pace and carry you. Don’t worry, Gyro, he knows what to do. Leave it up to him. He will do what he can do better than anyone else. Run like the wind!”

Gyro chuckled. He was pleased with her response, but surprised at the specific instructions. “I will let him take me, Alex. It will be his day.”

Alex smiled. “I will see you in the winner’s circle.”

Gyro was delighted with Alex’s confidence. He had spoken to Karen because he was afraid that if Alejandro lost Alex would be too disappointed. Karen told him that they had spoken to her and that she was aware of the odds. Still Alex was unrelenting on her positive thinking. On that, she was all Addy, optimism beyond the reasonable.

Gyro had become quite famous also. He was already very sought after by other horse owners. Alejandro had carried him to fame and if he won this one, the sky would be the limit for his career. He already knew that this would be Alejandro’s last race. The women had offered him permanent employment with Alejandro, but he liked to race and thought that he had a few more good years on him and had not accepted their offer. This would be the last time he would ride Alejandro and it meant the world to him as well. Alejandro was, indeed, the best horse he had ever ridden and he loved the horse.

Again, the race track was filled to capacity and the people and the music and the energy all around was contagious. The arena was colorful with the horses and jockeys displaying their colors. The stands were also vibrant with the roar in the crowd. There was an anticipation that was both exhilarating and nerve wrecking. The women were walking together to their seats in the stands. Lord Fanner greeted them and had a high five with Alex. He had won a lot of money on the bet Alex recommended. And surprisingly as well, he had pulled back the bill he had originally introduced and which Alex had declared useless in terms of creating jobs. The women were amazed when they heard it on the news. Alex, who had been stretched out on the floor watching TV, jumped to her feet and declared “My first political win!” The women laughed, still in total disbelief.

Now, here they were, again, shaking hands with the very prominent Lord Fanner and company. “So is this new bill I’m proposing, more to your liking, young Alexandra?”

“Yes sir. I have followed it and it looks a lot more realistic.”

Lord Fanner was always impressed with Alex’s responses. He was so amazed that someone so young was so well informed and more impressively, so ready to voice her opinion.

Lord Fanner smiled. “I shall like to see you one day in Parliament, my dear, Alexandra. I hope I can live long enough!”

“But you must!” Alex replied totally serious. “I will need someone to tell me where to sit.”

He laughed so much he almost choked. “Young lady, I’d give my right arm to see you there! Now, let us watch that horse of yours win, shall we?”

“Yes sir! Let’s just do that.”

**

In the distance Addy spotted them. “Ker? I don’t want to ruin your day, but I’ve just spotted Susan and you will never guess who she is with!”

“Who? I’m not looking.”

“Alana.”

“What? Oh! Shit! As if it weren’t enough having one to fend off, now we have two!”

Then she heard the voice. “Hi, Addy, Karen. Good luck with your horse.” Susan then continued up the stands followed by Alana who also greeted them. She, as usual, gave Addy the twice over. “Hi Karen, Addy. It’s been a while. You look as ravishing as ever.” She didn’t specifically mention any names, but Karen knew perfectively well who was the object of her admiration, and she was not happy. Karen looked like she could have killed her if given the opportunity.

“I don’t know which one I hate more! Now they are both looking at you!”

She put her arm through Karen’s arm and snuggled more to her. “Ssssh! Baby, relax! Don’t bother. I’m yours.”

Karen smiled and their eyes met. Addy could feel Karen’s heartbeat in her wrist. At that precise moment, Alex turned and joined in their smile. Life was good. “Good luck, baby!” Karen told her daughter and Alex who was as emotional as Addy, hugged her mom. Karen chuckled and looked at Addy.

A few minutes later they were calling the horses to the gates. No sooner the gates were closed behind them, they open ahead of them to let out the restless horses run. There were only seven horses this time. The best race horses in England, running the longest race of the Triple Crown. This time the dynamic was different. Alejandro did not stay behind as he had done in the last two races. This time he took the lead from the start.

“Oh no!” Karen exclaimed. “What’s happening, Alex, Addy? Why is he not doing his usual stay behind thing?”

“I don’t know!” Addy nervously replied and she called for Alex.

“What is happening, Alex? What is he doing?”

Alex took a deep breath and gave them her biggest smile. “Winning! Mommies, winning! Running like the wind! That is how the wind runs, Mommy!” She put both arms out as if to demonstrate. “He is giving his all. To win!” She yelled so loud that Lord Fanner turned to look. Addy was in tears clutching to Karen who seemed to be as absorbed in the race as Alex. She held Addy close to her as Alex jumped and pretended at times to be riding Alejandro herself. “Go, boy! Go! Show’em! Show’em your might!”

Karen and Addy held on to each other looking at the most incredible race they had ever seen and looking at the child in front of them in total awe. It was indeed the most exciting and talked about race for years to come. Alejandro took the lead from the start and kept it consistently and steadily throughout the entire race, pulling further and further away until he was so far ahead that there was no way any other horse would catch up with him.

As he was at half way down the track he separated himself even more. The closest horse was at least fifteen lengths behind. It was unbelievable. By the time he took the last curve, he continued to increase the gap until he was clearly about ten lengths ahead of the next two horses. When he crossed the finish line to win the race and the Triple Crown he had beaten his own record. Beyond the finish line, Gyro was in tears.

When interviewed, Gyro commented that he had nothing to do with the win. “I just let him go, at his own pace and will.” He smiled remembering Alex’s words and repeated them for history. “He ran like the wind!” That was exactly the sports headline on the paper the next day: ‘Alejandro wins the Triple Crown –running like the wind!’ There were even equations in the newspapers trying to compare his speed with the speed of wind gusts.

Alex bought tons of newspapers and saved them. “This is historical, M’Addy. There are few events like this recorded in history! I will never forget this day, as long as I live!” The lasting impression of that experience was something she never forgot and talked about it for years to come.

The Queen and several other royals were at the winner’s circle to hand out the most sought trophy in the horse racing world, and Alex was the proud, happy recipient, as Alejandro’s owner. Watching the whole event, Addy thought that this was a remarkable happening in anyone’s life and it had to be extraordinary in the life of a nine year old. As the queen handed the trophy to Alex, who stood in front of her moms, Karen only had eyes for Addy. They were full of pride, not about the horse or the win, but about their precocious child talking to the queen of England in a very animated conversation. If their horse was remarkable, their daughter was by far, above and beyond. What a kid! Never afraid. Always poised, and smiling.

“We’ve done well, Ker. She’s precious.”

“She’s you, Addy. She’s you.”

“She’s ours, Ker. She’s our joint venture.”

**

After the race and all the parties and gatherings that followed, they went back to Altee.

Of course they were inundated with calls about Alejandro’s future. Addy and Karen had agreed on a course of action and they talked to Marshal and Carol.

“Marshal, as you know, Addy is going to be running for Mayor and I’m always busy at the law firm. We cannot undertake Alejandro’s affairs, so we would like to ask you and Carol to take over the management of Alejandro. If you accept, you will be in charge of all that pertains to him. We will get someone else to take care of the stables, so that you can dedicate your time to your new job. If you want it, of course. This will mean some traveling for you and long stays, probably not doing much, but just keeping an eye on our boy.”

Carol, Addy and Alex were present when Karen made the offer. “Karen, I don’t know what to say?” Marshal was in shock. Carol was almost in tears. They both loved Alejandro and Alex.”

“Marshal, I don’t think there is a better person for this job. You and Carol love Alejandro and you know how much he means to Alex. I think that you will always act on his and our best interest and we would be privileged if you took on this life time task.”

Unable to speak form emotion, Marshal in an unprecedented move, hugged Karen.

“I take this hug as a ‘yes’ then.”

Carol was the one who replied. “Yes!” She hugged Alex and Addy as well. From that day on, Marshal handled everything regarding Alejandro and only informed Addy what was going on with him. They built an additional building, which became Marshal’s office to handle all the business affairs related to Alejandro. Victoria remained the only veterinarian allowed to examine Alejandro. If anyone, wanted any special examination both Victoria and Marshall had to be present.

Marshal and Carol traveled frequently to meet people interested in Alejandro as a stud and were thrilled with their new task and life. Gyro decided he would go on racing, but a few years later, when he tired of racing, he came back and asked Marshal for a job and it was welcomed back with open arms. He had never again been as successful as he was with Alejandro. Gyro always credited the horse with all the wins, claiming that his job had just been to hold onto the fastest and best horse in the whole of England.

Alejandro did a lot of traveling himself fathering many colts. Whenever he was home, Alex came to see him at the stables. He always spotted her no matter how far out in the pasture he was and he always came to meet her. As they both grew older, Alex did come to ride him. She had to promise Karen to not ride him like the wind. She did, and kept her word. His racing days were over, now he was just pleased to parade his friend along the pasture of their farmland. At first she rode with Marshal, then with Gyro and sometimes with Addy and Karen. But she did have long rides alone with him as well. Alejandro’s fame brought prestige to the stables, and prestige brought a lot of money as well. Karen never, ever, ever again questioned Addy’s foresight for business.

**

When Addy agreed to run for Mayor back in the spring during a council meeting, no one was surprised. In everyone's mind she was the go-getter type person the town needed. When her candidacy was announced, Karen was all smiles and proud. Alex was ecstatic. JP and James still couldn't believe it.

“I frankly don't see why you have to bother yourself taking on the town's problems!” JP voiced his opinion, as usual. James just pursed his lips and said nothing.

“JP, you know me. I have to solve the problems of the world and make it perfect for everyone.” Addy replied in jest.

“Honey, in my opinion you are just looking for trouble. And what for? People are so ungrateful! Nobody is going to come and thank you, you know? You are just going to get calls about problems and more problems.”

“Hey, JP, if you want to sit at the Mayor's table during town events, you are going to have to change your tune. My administration is going to be a positive one.” Addy warned.

JP became very serious and pretended to be insulted, while James was trying very hard not to laugh while Karen chuckled. Addy kept on going about it nonchalantly.

“And chill out, JP! I have yet to win. Maybe I won’t. Other people will run too. Maybe I will have fierce opponents and will lose.”

“M’Addy you are going to win. Everybody loves you.” Alex replied in a very firm tone. “M’Addy when kids at school run for the student Council they make banners and buttons, are we going to do that?”

“Yes, Alex we are going to do that.”

“Can I help?”

“I’m counting on your help, sweetie pie!”

Alex was really excited about the prospect of the campaign. Karen smiled and stayed in the background, suspecting that the peaceful days would soon be over again. They never seemed to last.

“Alright, we need to organize a campaign. Let’s see, what should we do first? First, I need to submit a formal application to the Council.” Addy went on and on about the things she needed to do.

As they listened to Addy, Alex looked at Karen in awe. Then Karen spoke. “Don’t worry, Little Bit, I’ve seen her like this before. You know when we first moved to the cottage, she made ‘to do lists’ for her and for me. I actually think I lost weight during those days.” She chuckled and a very amused Alex listened. “She’d hang the lists on the refrigerator. I was almost afraid to go walk by the refrigerator because I knew there would be more ‘to do lists’ there.” Karen continued to laugh.

“I like it when she’s like that, Mommy. She’s all hyped up. I mean more than usual. She’s fun. I like to do things with her.”

Karen patted her daughter on the head. “Me too, Alex. She makes life fun.”

“I like how you look at her and how you love her.”

Karen was surprised by Alex’s comment. Karen said nothing, at first, and looked at Addy who was in the kitchen talking to herself and saying something to Peanut Crunchy about getting out of the way and not tripping her. What could possibly be an appropriate response?

“Loving her is easy, Alex. Your mom is a very special person and I am lucky to have her love.” Then she looked at a very smiley Alex. “And I love you too! Now go and hide before she hands you a ‘to do list.’ I feel mine coming already.” Alex smiled and nearly choked laughing when she saw Addy coming towards Karen and handed her a piece of paper with a bunch of things written on it.

“Here. I jotted down some of the things we said we needed to do for the campaign and for Alejandro. Karen smiled and looked at Alex still laughing and running off to her room.

“What’s all the laughing about? What’s the joke?”

Karen pulled her down to sit on the sofa and then pulled her closer putting her hands around the lower part of her back. “You are the joke, Ms. Addy. You are it!” She kissed her.

“Why? What?”

“I was telling Alex about you and your ‘to do lists’ when you handed me this one.” She waved the list in the air. “I feel like when we first moved to the cottage, remember?”

Now it was Addy’s turn to smile. “Yes. Remember the first one, where we decided we were going to do a list of things we were good at, and we realized that we were good at nothing?” She laughed. “We’ve had great times, haven’t we?”

Karen chuckled. “The best of times!” They kissed. Then you proved to be very handy with the drill, and remember those overalls you used to have?”

“The ones you threw away?”

“They were old and had holes.”

“You liked it. You said I looked sexy.”

“Ms. Larsen you always look sexy to me, no matter what you are wearing. You just like to hear me say it. Those overalls did look good on you. They gave you the butch look. Maybe I will get you another pair. And a thong to wear under. I’m already fantasizing!”

“Adriana, you know it doesn’t take very much for you to rattle me. And I would have to be dead before you would catch me wearing a thong! As we know, those things aren’t very comfy. I’d rather go commando.”

Addy laughed and kissed her. “Although I definitely like commando, there’s a certain appeal in removing a thong. Isn’t there, Ms. Larsen?” Karen grinned remembering a time when she gave Addy a thong as a joke and later almost drooled one night when Addy in one of her sexy stunts actually wore the thong to bed. Of course the events that followed the wearing of the thong lasted a lot longer that the few minutes the thong had been in place. Karen remembered how relieved Addy was when she had finally removed it. She laughed when Addy told her how uncomfortable it was. And she still remembered her words telling Addy that “if anyone has an ass to wear those things, it’s you. And a gorgeous one it is!” The thong was still in one of Addy’s drawers. Although uncomfortable, it was a keepsake and a useful teasing tool.

They were both still smiling, when Addy’s phone rang.

“Saved by the bell!” Karen replied.

Addy answered chuckling. “Hi, Mrs. McKenzie.”

“Yes, I see. Okay that was expected. Thanks, Mrs. McKenzie.”

Addy looked a bit sad. “Looks like Simmons and Glass have formally filed their candidacy.”

Karen wrinkled her nose as a sign of dislike.

“Don’t worry. You’ll win.”

“You think?”

Karen grinned. “Addy, I know you will. You have something neither one of those people have. You have life in you! You are energetic and passionate. You’ll win. You’ll see.”

“I don’t know, Ker, just because you love that part of me, doesn’t mean everyone does.”

“Come here! Let me at least show my personal appreciation and support.”

Addy put her tongue to the inside of her cheek. “I have a few calls to make and it’s early for bed. Save your appreciation and support for later.”

“I will hold you to that!”

**

Addy’s campaign group met to prepare flyers, posters and campaign paraphernalia. All of it funded with Addy's own money, of course. The town was small and there were no campaign funds available for the candidates.

The elections were in November and all Addy would have to do was visit the three schools in the area to ascertain their needs and the senior center to meet the seniors who would not be able to come to the town meetings. Other than that there would be private appearances at the pub, coffee shop and in the town square. Two town hall meetings were scheduled. The first one would be to present what they were proposing to do for the town and the second one a debate between the candidates.

During the first town hall meeting, the candidates stated their positions. After the meeting was over, the candidates talked and greeted all who were present. The meeting went very well and there were no issues to be reported. Following the meeting, Addy began to make her rounds around town and stopped at different public venues to talk to people. Sometimes the stops were incidental to her grocery shopping or errands she was running, other times the stops were deliberate. When they were deliberate she would be with Mrs. McKenzie or Mayor Hutton, or with Alex or with other people in her campaign group. The other two candidates were actively campaigning as well.

Ms. Simmons, the town librarian, had her emphasis on the schools, and establishing an ambulatory library system to give access to books to those who couldn’t come to town. Anything else was of no consequence to her. Because education was important to all who had children. She had followers.

Mr. Glass’ main issue was obtaining farm subsidies for the small farmers. Because there were many small farmers, and he was himself one, he had followers. However he was not an eloquent man and was known for his bad temper.

Addy was popular because she was a likable person. She had a joyful contagious persona which motivated people. She also had entrepreneurial spirit and she liked to help people. People also remembered how much she had done for the town after the storm. In addition to all her personal qualities, she also had Mayor Hutton's endorsement.

But the truth was that her candidacy was also plagued with evident issues. First, she was not the typical Altee citizen. In comparison to the other two candidates, she was not a farmer, and even though she had a school-age child, her child did not attend the local schools, but an upscale private school. She was also wealthy and owned a vast amount of land and businesses. Eve more atypical was the fact that she was the first openly gay mayoral candidate in the history of Altee, and her lifestyle was known to all. In all the years they had lived in Altee, the latter had never been an issue, although they always knew there had been talk about them.

It was not until the second town hall meeting that Mr. Glass, trying to gain every possible ground he could, brought up Addy’s lifestyle. It was not so much what he said, but how he said it that made her pause.

“Oh no!” Alex mumbled.

“Son of a bitch!” Was James reply.

“Here we go again! I knew we were not immune here. It was all a matter of time. Sooner or later, it always comes up!”

The other women friends were stunned. This was a personal attack.

Karen looked as if she had been physically stabbed. She was ready to come to Addy's defense and even stood up to come in her rescue, until she heard Addy speak. Then she stopped. Her sudden move prompted an amazed look from Alex. Karen’s immediate response to the attack on Addy’s character left no doubt on Alex’s mind that her mom would have put herself in harm’s way to rescue Addy if there had been need.

“Mr. Glass, I beg your pardon. I fail to see how anyone's lifestyle has any bearing on the town’s administration.”

“It does very much. Public figures have to be examples of integrity to the community.”

“Mr. Glass I fail to see the relation, but since I have the impression that your words are a personal attack on my character I would like to make clear for everyone that I do not intend to win your vote pretending to be who I am not. I am who I have always been.”

“Crap! There's no way she’s going to get out of this one!” Victoria commented.

Karen's mind was on steroids already thinking how to release her wrath on the man who had so boldly put her precious one on such a spot.

“First of all, I am a citizen of Altee, and like you I have a family I adore. I will not put my family or my lifestyle as an issue on this campaign. I cannot and will not alter who I am, and therefore I will not address any argument that Mr. Glass, or anyone would raise in that regard.” She was looking at Karen as she spoke. Karen had remained standing in the room the whole time as a way to express her solidarity.

“What?” Alex exclaimed. “Is she crazy? She has to rebut or she will lose!”

Everyone in the room held their breath. The people who knew Addy, and there were many in the room, knew that she was the smarter and most savvy candidate. She was the element of change, and had the dynamic personality and knew how to bring the town out of its pastoral existence without sacrificing its old charm. Addy was a smart, classy, business woman who would do Altee a lot of good, and most people knew it.

After Karen heard Addy’s response, she smiled and sat down. Addy took a moment and looked around the room. At that very moment Karen knew that what would come next would be brilliant. She knew, and Addy was very much aware of it, that her most brilliant defenses had always been mounted when she had felt personally attacked. No doubt this was one such instance.

Addy could still see the green eyes shining in the distance for her. She paused and took a drink of water. While she drank Karen commented to Alex. “Alex, watch this very carefully. You are in the presence of greatness. There’s never been anything that your mom has taken head on in which she has not succeeded. When your mom puts her energy, and her passion into something she comes out triumphant. You watch.” Alex listened to Karen’s words and smiled looking back eagerly to her other mom who was about to continue her speech.

“Let me start by telling you on what I will base my campaign. Since I come to ask you to select me to administer the affairs of Altee, I would like for you to do it based on my resume or in other words on my record as an administrator. I will do this because when you cast your vote on Election Day, I want to make sure that you are selecting the best candidate to manage the affairs of our town.” She paused again for effect this time.

She looked around the room to each and every one present and began to speak again.

“So, let me start telling you about me. I have lived among you for the last 16 years.” She began to recount every little thing she and Karen had ever done to make the town prosper. She specifically enumerated and called by name each individual who had benefitted and prospered on account of the business they brought to town in relation to the establishment of the Inn of Scotland, and later the stables and the distillery. Finally, she mentioned all that had been attained, through her efforts, for the town after the storm. Alex was in awe listening to the recount. She occasionally would look at Karen for confirmation, and Karen would nod in the affirmative.

In concluding, she remarked. “I will not allow Mr. Glass, or anyone in this town to question my integrity or my character to influence a vote. If you are going to give me your vote, do it because you trust that I can bring positive changes for our town, and do it based on my past record. Don't let anyone persuade you to do otherwise because of matters unrelated to the prosperity of Altee. As a final note, I will say that I will always be the same person as I have always been. Thank you for coming here tonight.”

A lot of people took time to shake her hand and pat her on the back. Her friends came over and congratulated her. Alex was silently looking at both her moms.

Karen approached Addy and stood in front of her. Addy had been greeting people, but she had also been watching Karen, following her with her eyes as she approached her. When Karen was finally standing in front of her, they smiled at each other and hugged.

“M'Addy! You did great. If for nothing else, you'd always have my vote because you always know what to say to people. If they don’t vote for you, then they don’t deserve you. You are the best!” Alex hugged her and Addy’s eyes misted. She looked to Karen, but immediately avoided the green eyes.

The drive home was quiet. Karen kept looking at Addy sensing that something was not right. As soon as they got home, Alex ran to her room to finish her homework and later she went to bed. Addy and Karen remained downstairs, but still Addy had not said much about the meeting. Later when they went to their bedroom, Addy got in bed first. Karen turned off the light and cuddle to her back. “Talk to me, brown eyes. What’s eating you?” Addy immediately turned and crashed into her arms. She was trembling.

“It’s going to be okay. Don’t pay attention to the few narrow minded people from town.” Karen knew exactly what the trouble was.

“Why?” Addy’s voice was quivering. “Why does it always come up? Why is it always an issue? It’s like the school thing that time. Why can’t people be accepted for who they are? Why do we have to justify our lives as if we were doing something wrong? It’s like, no matter how educated you are, no matter how successful you are, no matter how good you are, or what you do for others it always comes down to our lifestyle! Why should anyone care who their mayor sleeps with? For all we know Mayor Hutton—.”

“Ssssh! Calm down, baby,” Karen caressed her back.

“At least, you’ve only had to deal with it as an adult, and believe me it is much easier now. Imagine what it is like growing up feeling different and odd and people judging you and labeling you with names and wanting to change you because those feelings aren’t right?”

“Oh! Baby!” She kissed Karen.

“One minute I was the sexiest girl in the room who everyone wanted to be with, and the next minute it was as if I had the bubonic plague. But you learn. You learn from the ones who preceded you. Like I remember once being at a club in London, I was in Oxford then, and I was alone at the bar waiting for a friend. When she arrived, she kissed me, nothing passionate or out of the ordinary, just an inconsequential kiss on the lips. The two women next to us scooted down, away from us. On my other side, behind me there was an older woman who had probably been checking me out, waiting to see if I had some company or not to make her move, I suppose. When she saw the other women scooting down the bar, after Kat arrived and kissed me, she told the women ‘Don’t worry girls, it’s not contagious. And as you can see the lady has a date which is more than I can say for either of you’.” Karen paused. “She smiled and then said ‘live and learn young ones.’ She threw a kiss at me and left. I remember giving her a thumbs up.”

Addy was silent. “At least you’ve had training. I just feel like smacking the idiot!”

“You can’t. You have to do what you did today. I was proud of you. You told them ‘This is who I am and I have a family just like you and when you vote, vote for whoever you think is the better person for the job.’ You kept it professional and didn’t make it personal. An excellent job, Ms. Addy. I know who the best candidate is and you have my vote.”

Addy smiled and Karen kissed her on the forehead. “Then I already won. I have the one vote that matters most.” She kissed Karen back.

“And I have what matters most to me. You.”

**

To be continued in Part 13

 

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