A Quest Ridden on Behalf of Love
JM Dragon and Erin O'Rielly
©J M Dragon 2000
e-mail: jmdragon@jmdragon.net
e-mail: eorielly@yahoo.com


This story features consensual relationship between adult women with graphic descriptions. If this bothers you, is illegal in the State, Province or Country you live or if you are under the age of 18, close this page immediately and find something more appropriate to read.

Expletives are used.

Yep, right for the get go.

There is definitely some hurt/emotional discomfort with some brief scenes of angst and heartache to be dealt with by the characters.

Author's Note:
Back in the year 2000 I wrote a story that has lain on the shelf waiting for more work. I enlisted Erin to collaborate with me in finishing the story. This is the result of our work together. I hope you enjoy our tale. JM

Part Two

Getting To Know You

Tossing and turning, Lena just couldn't get comfortable. Every time she closed her eyes a vision of Kate drifted into her mind. Over the last three months she tried distancing herself from the blonde beauty, but seeing her again, only intensified what she struggled to forget. Dragging herself out of bed she pulled on her jeans, shirt and shoes and ventured outside for some fresh, night air.

It's still early, she thought, as her footsteps took her in the direction of Kate's house. Perhaps she's still awake. Fool, she's your boss keep awayÖoh, but what a lovely boss she isÖ Her musings were interrupted as she heard a car approach. Ducking into the shadows she watched as Cornelia's BMW pulled up in front of Kate's home. No sooner did the car stop then the door opened and Kate exited.

Holding the door open, Kate spoke into the car. "Thanks for the nice time, see you again sometime. Bye." Pushing the door shut she rapidly walked away.

The thought of that woman with Kate made Lena furious as pangs of jealousy filled her heart. At least she didn't invite her in for a drink. She thought, as she saw a light go on in, what she assumed was, the bedroom. Tomorrow we'll have breakfast together. The idea brought a brilliant smile to her face. Yawning, she turned back to her own house, now she could go to sleep.

Stretching, Lena woke, as she always did, at four in the morning. She would go for her run, check out the stables and still have time to shower before meeting Kate. A smile crossed her face as an image of her boss filled her mind and body with emotions and feelings she thought she'd tucked away. This is going to be a great day!

Kate stood in the well-equipped kitchen as she discussed with Carmen, her housekeeper, what to prepare for her special breakfast guest. Once that was settled she went outside for her early morning walk, Lena will be arriving in less than an hour, the thought bringing on a smile. This is going to be a great day!

"Hey, good morning." Lena said as the door opened and she saw Kate standing there radiant, in the early hours of the morning light.

"Hey there yourself. You're right on time." The dazzling smile she received sent her senses reeling. Moving in closer she whispered, "I love coming on time."

Lena had to restrain herself from kissing Kate right then and there. Clearing her throat, she tried to speak. "HmmÖahÖsomething smells good."

Laughing, Kate moved to give Lena space. "Hope you're hungry, I had Carmen cook a large variety." Taking Lena by the hand she led her into the house. "Ready for the grand tour?"

"Lead on my fair lady." She said as she held Kate's hand not wanting to let goÖever.

Kate's home was spacious, filled with comfortable furniture, Berber carpets, and superb wall treatments all in a Spanish mode. Lena realized that the home, although large, wasn't as big as the ranch house. Is it possible that Kate put me in the house meant to be the main house?

"Your home is wonderful and warm, Kate. I saw some rather inviting rooms." She said in a low sexy voice.

"Oh, really, and just which ones caught your attention." She purred, moving so their bodies rubbed against each other, before she grabbed the hand once again, pulling the taller woman towards the breakfast room. "Come on, let's eatÖ" she let out a hearty laugh, "breakfast that is."

Lena went willingly, shaking her head at the wonderful woman.

Over breakfast the two chatted amicably about the farm, horses and the training routines. Carmen entered and began clearing the table eyeing Lena the entire time.

Once Carmen left, a dark eyebrow rose in question. "She doesn't like me, does she?"

Kate let out a laugh. "She thinks she's my mother."

"Why? You've just moved here."

"Carmen has been with my family ever since I was born. When I spread my wings and moved out on my own, my mother insisted on her coming with me." A fond smile crossed her face. "She said that way I would always have family with me."

Once again Lena felt a sense of rightness as she sat there listening to the melody of Kate's voice. "How do you think I measured up?"

"Hard to say. Shall I bring her in and ask her?" Kate teased. "Or, you can just go with what I think."

A sly smile crossed Lena's face. "We could, hmm, which opinion do you think I will like best?"

Kate's hand captured the one resting on the table and began what could only be called an erotic massage. "That's hard to say, depends on what you find appealingÖgood cooking orÖvery, very good."

Lena's heart was pounding, profoundly aware of the hand on hers. "Good?" she managed to croak out, "Good at what?"

Green captured blue and winked. "That, you will have to find out for yourself."

The whinny of the horses could be heard as the handlers began taking them to the ring.

Lena shook her head and gave out a half laugh. "As much as I would like to continue this conversation, I think work is calling my name."

"Are you sure only work is calling your name?" Kate asked as she let go of Lena's hand. Leaning in closer, she whispered, "Lena Corkill," in a melodic tone.

With her body trembling and her heart beating out take me, take me now, Lena got up from the table. "I really need to go. Catch you later." Then she headed for the door in what could be described as a fast trot.

"Two doors down on the left." Kate laughed as she watched her trainer practically run to the barn.

* * * * *

The sun had yet made itself known as Kate leisurely walked around the property. Out of the corner of her eye she thought she saw motion. Changing direction she crept towards the track where someone seemed to be lurking. There, in the warm, early morning light, she encountered the stimulating vision of Lena running. Climbing atop the fence, she sat down and watched the graceful body as it effortlessly ran the dirt track.

Lena passed her once seemingly not to notice. The next time around, she slowly trotted up to the fence. "Good morning, beautiful."

Seeing her trainer in the early morning light, a feeling of joy overcame Kate. "Good morning. Out for your early morning run, I see." She smiled down at the sweaty woman. "Maybe, if you don't mind, I could run with you some morning."

"A beautiful running companion is welcome anytime." Lena smiled as she scrambled up the fence to sit next to Kate. She then cast an appreciative eye towards the body next to her. "You must do something else to keep that exquisite shape."

Kate's green eyes closed at the comment, in an attempt to be coy. "Why, Ms. Corkill, whatever do you mean?"

A wide grin appeared on Lena's face as she moved closer to her fence companion. An errant finger traced the muscle of the arm next to her. "You certainly didn't get these at finishing school."

As a shiver went up her back, Kate's face filled with a mischievous smile. Taking Lena's hand, she moved it from her arm to her thigh where she moved it slowly along the flesh. "I developed this muscle kickboxing," then she moved the hand over her abdomen. "And this one from lifting in my gym. Care to join me sometime?"

Lena's eyes, once again appreciated the body next to hers, before she leaned into the woman. "Oh, I would love to work out with you, Kate." She purred.

Turning her head so their lips were but a whisper apart, she smiled. "What about now?"

In a flash, Lena jumped off the fence and offered Kate her hand. "Show me the way, I'm all yours."

* * * * *

Kate allowed herself a complacent smile as she looked across the breakfast table at her regular morning guest. It had been three months since Lena arrived and they had begun, in earnest, the development of Merridoc as a place to be reckoned with on the thoroughbred scene. They also worked out an exercise schedule and faithfully kept to it every day except Sunday. It was also remarkable at how much the two of them had in common, only aiding in the already growing friendship.

"What have you got planned for today, Lena?" Kate asked neutrally. She had to go into town herself and see the lawyers about the acquisition of more land for her place in Montana, which was a horse ranch, but only for pleasure, not racing.

Lena looking across at Kate, smiled at the open face before her. How wonderful it was to see her bright optimism every morning and feel the warmth of their genuine friendship. "A friend of mine gave me a tip about a horse, so I thought I would go and see her for myself, then perhaps consult you on the possible purchase. You should be really busy today preparing for tonight."

Kate pursed her lips. "I wish that was all I'm doing today. I need to visit my lawyers early about that patch of land I told you about in Montana. Then, I will come back to finish the preparations for tonight. You'll be back in time, won't you?" Panic seemed to fill her voice.

The evening promised to be one of the top social events in the area. Kate invited a variety of farm and horse owners to a Merridoc open house. She saw this as an opportunity to showcase the farm and get to know her competition.

Lena winked, "Now why would any of those snooty people care if I was there or not?"

Kate laughed as she gently slapped Lena's hand. "Oh you, they all envy that I have youÖyou're the star here." A lascivious smile crossed her face as her voice dropped an octave. "You're mine."

"Well, in that case I don't have a choice do I?"

"Not really." She said as they made eye contact.

At some moment, during every breakfast meeting of the last three months, the two would gaze longingly into each other's eyes. This time, it was Kate who looked away first.

"Will your parents be coming tonight? I really would like to get to know them." Kate went to a neutral subject to cool the intense feelings coursing throughout her body and mind.

Lena grinned at her and her, cobalt blue eyes lit up with warmth at the mention of meeting her parents. "No, they won't be able to be here." Noting the disappointment in her friend's eyes she added. "What would you say about going with me Sunday to my family's farm for supper? Dad has been hassling me for weeks to invite you."

Kate looked at Lena in surprise; not only because of the invitation, but that her family even knew of their friendship. "Sure sounds like a great idea, why does your dad want to see me I wonder?" Kate laughed as she saw a blush stain Lena's cheeks.

"Could be that you have a reputation in these parts for being very beautiful, charming and friendly. Guess he wants to find out if that's true." Lena supplied and laughed softly in return as Kate turned a pink color at the compliment.

"Let's hope I meet their expectations then." Kate locked her green gaze with her friend's blue and they both had trouble breathing for a few seconds.

This time, Lena was the first to turn away from the strong hold of the gaze. Standing up, she snagged a piece of toast before going to the door. "I better get moving if I want to get anything done around here today. Promise I will be back in time for tonight, Kate."

Kate didn't have time to answer as the door closed with a thud on the taller woman's retreating form. One day soon I'm going to experience exactly what it feels like to be held in your arms Lena Corkill, because it's going to happen, I'm sure of it. Kate got up and went to the kitchen to go over the plans for the evening before heading for town.

* * * * *

"Hi Sue, how are things going around here?" Lena grinned as her friend rushed down the steps to the tall woman leaning against her pick up truck.

Sue grabbed the tall woman around the waist and hugged her tightly. "It's been a while since you set foot on our property, Lena Corkill. What have you been doing with yourself since you came back to these parts?" The woman was around five foot three and therefore came up to Lena's shoulder, just.

"Ah Sue, you know me, when there's races to be run I have to be in there in the thick of things. So, what have you to show me that you want me to convince my boss lady to buy?" Lena chuckled at the thought of Kate and the number of potential ways she could convince her boss, none of which would be practical in this situation, but it sure gave Lena a warm glow to think about the other possibilities.

"I heard that Ms Lawrence might have captured your heart as well as your talents." Sue's eyes twinkled with merriment at the shy glance she received from Lena.

"I bet I know who the matchmaker is too." Lena smiled broadly as she thought of her father.

"Yeah well, he has your best interests at heart as we all do." Sue spoke with the confidence of a long time close friend.

Sue and her husband, Paul knew Lena for what seemed like forever. Paul worked on her family's farm since he was fifteen and Sue was her father's bookkeeper. Lena was the couple's daughter's godmother. Several years earlier, Paul was in a riding accident that caused the amputation of one leg. This hadn't deterred his determination to continue with the Osogill farm or his own.

"How's Fiona?" Lena smiled as she mentioned Sue and Paul's seven-year-old daughter.

"She's very well and will be upset that she hasn't seen you this time around, you know how she loves to ride with you?" Sue reproached the tall woman with a chuckle.

"I know, perhaps we can all go to lunch one day, I bet she still loves ice cream?" Lena remembered a time when that was all the youngster would eat and Lena had indulged the little girl. Of course she ignored the cautions about Fiona riding in automobiles when indulgences were taken to the limit. Lena had to clean out the backseat after the child had been sick on the way home; it had been a lesson worth learning.

"Good idea, I think it's time I called Paul and had him show you our little secret here." Sue walked towards the barn and called for her husband.

Once Lena had seen the scrawny mare move through her paces, she was convinced that the mare had potential. The horse, a chestnut filly, on first sight seemed somewhat ungainly, but Lena saw the glint in her eyes and a jaunt in her step that said winner. Yes, this one had great potential and would be an asset to Merridoc and its owner. A vision of Kate came to her mind, bringing a smile to her face and an increase in heart rate.

Saying her goodbyes she drove off back in the direction of Merridoc, she would arrive about five thirty and that would enable her to have a quick shower and change before she went over the main house to be personable for Kate's gathering. It was surely going to be an interesting evening.

* * * * *

As guests arrived Kate greeted each one by name, mentioning their farm or business. The room was filled with her light as she glided among her guests smiling and chatting amicably. The group was a nice mix of local horse breeders, stable owners, and local dignitaries. Kate's charisma enchanted even Terry Maxwell, her chief competition in the area. Kate learned early on from her father about winning over people with charm and grace. He told herÖif your competition likes you personally, they never begrudge you a win.

Cornelia Cambridge arrived early and kept close to Kate as if she was attached to her at the hip. Frequently she would touch Kate's arm or possessively place an arm around her totally ignoring the rebuke she received. Cornelia was determined to win the owner of Merridoc over and take her rightful place at the farm. There was the small matter of Lena Corkill, but she would that was taken care of very soon. She would not be denied.

Kate, surrounded by several people, was telling an amusing story of a horse that threw her when the front door opened. She stopped in mid sentence as her breath was taken away by the vision entering her home. Lena Corkill was standing in the entry dressed in a long, tight fitting black skirt, slit up the side and a ribbon tie that set off a white dress shirt. Her long black locks flowed down her shoulders resting just above her breast. She was simply breathtaking.

Once their eyes met they both smiled and moved towards each other.

"Excuse me, I see a new visitor has arrived." Kate said as she began to move through her guest never losing sight of the cobalt blue eyes. People would speak to her, but she did not hear, as she saw Lena drawing closer.

Lena's height played to her advantage as she moved effortlessly through the crowded room towards those shining green eyes. When they came together the room dissolved into nothingness.

Smiling down at the beauty before her, Lena found it hard to speak. "Here I am." She finally said.

Kate was certain she was lost in the sea of blue. "Yes, you are." Then she took Lena's hand and began back towards her guest, stopping to introduce her to each one.

Off in a distant corner, Cornelia watched the woman as a rage built in her. "Lena will pay for this." She hissed to the plant she stood by.

At one point in the evening, Lena went outside for some air only to find Cornelia passionately kissing and groping one of the young Murdock trainers. Once the young woman saw Lena, she quickly rearranged her clothes before leaving the patio.

Watching the girl hurry away Lena laughed. "You're getting a bit long in the tooth, to be chasing after teenagers, aren't you, Cornelia?"

Sneering, the vet brushed past the trainer only to turn. "I wouldn't be so cocky if I were you, Lena." Turning back she entered the room and went straight for Kate.

Kate scanned the room for Lena, not noticing Cornelia standing by her side. "Kate, I must say everyone here is taken with you." The woman said as she touched an arm.

Startled, Kate looked at the vet. "Have you seen Lena? I have someone who wants to meet her." Then she saw the object of her search and walked towards her leaving Cornelia standing alone.

Rage and jealousy filled the vet as she stormed out of the house. Soon, very soon Lena would pay and she would be there to pick up the pieces.

As the last guest left, Kate turned to Lena and gave her a hug. "Thank you." She said into Lena's shoulder.

Arms draped around Kate as Lena rested her head on top of the golden locks. "For what?"

Pulling her head back, Kate stared into the pool of blue. "For being here and charming all my guests."

A hearty laugh was heard. "Me charming? I think you, my dear, wrote the book on that asset."

"We make a good team, don't we, Lena?" releasing the woman she took her hand and lead her to the bar. "Want a nightcap?"

Standing there, so close to this fascinating woman, Lena found it hard to breathe, much less talk. Every fiber of her being was screaming to take Kate in her arms and never let her go. "I need to take a rain check on that; it's getting late." Before she turned to leave, she bent down and kissed Kate's cheek. "Goodnight, beautiful."

Kate stood there with her hand to her cheek, her heart racing as electricity seemed to flow through her body. "One day, Lena." She said as she poured herself a drink before going out to the patio. In the distance she could hear the lilting sounds of Lena's piano. Smiling she sat down and closed her eyes as she listened to the haunting melody. One day, she thought to herself, one day soon.

* * * * *

The happy laughter that greeted the ears of the two people relaxing on the porch of the Osogill family residence made them both smile. Seymour Corkill had been pleasantly surprised at the way Kate Lawrence literally waltzed into the house and captured the hearts of everyone invited for dinner. Not that it had been anyone else but family, Lena's grandparents, Anna, Lena's mother, himself, of course and obviously Lena and her guest.

Within minutes of the introductions Anna was regaling Kate with exploits of her daughter as a baby and then into childhood and adolescence. Lena had rolled her eyes at the stories, but had indulged her mother and grandparents, never once stopping them no matter how embarrassing they became. Kate was initially overwhelmed by the friendliness of Lena's family, but immediately warmed to their comfortable acceptance. Kate was highly delighted when the stories about Lena started. It was for her a wonderful learning experience of how Lena was as a child and how she had developed into the confident, mature woman her friend was today.

Once dinner was over, Seymour ventured out to the porch in his wheelchair to smoke a cigar. Anna pushed Lena out with him telling her she still had a few more stories for Kate. Smiling at her mother, she kissed her on the cheek before joining her father on the porch. "Looks like it is you and me out here, Dad."

"Did you check out Paul's horse, Brownsley, Lena?" Seymour asked interested in what she had to say about the mare.

"Yep, I did and I want to convince Kate that the mare will be a sound prospect for the future." Lena glanced over to the screened door and once again could hear her mother and Kate laughing together. Fortunately her grandparents had said good night immediately after the meal or more stories would be added, she was sure of that.

"You think she might say no?" Seymour was shocked as his daughter had quite a reputation for finding a gold nugget in the most unusual surroundings. He had it on good authority that Lena was an integral reason for Merridoc fast becoming the new rising star of the thoroughbred stables in Florida, if not the country in general.

"With Mom's cooking, no, she doesn't stand a chance of denying me." Lena laughed softly recalling the amount of her mom's famous apple pie Kate consumed.

Seymour chuckled also delighting that his daughter had found a friend. "Would that be she can't deny you anything at all or just the horse?" A similar wicked gleam appeared on the weather worn face of her Dad as she had when she teased Kate about her riding abilities.

"DAD really! Kate is a friend, nothing more." Lena gave him an exasperated look and saw the wicked gleam for what it was. Thank God she inherited that streak of playfulness from her parents, she certainly needed it with Kate a times.

"Is that because you don't want anymore than a friend or because you haven't asked her yet?"  Seymour persisted, his daughter was about to jump the fence and he wanted her to continue the race, and if at all possible, come back with the top trophy.

Lena speculated on the question and smiled ruefully at her father. "I haven't asked her yet." She said softly.

"Lena, what are you waiting for? That woman inside with your mother looks about ready to fall into your arms at the drop of a hat. Don't you think it's time you asked her?" Seymour watched the expression on his daughter's face change from speculation to a brilliant smile.

"I'll work on it Dad, trust me." The swinging of the door announced the arrival of Kate and Anna with coffee and tea to finish the night off and saved Lena from any more small talk with her father.

Kate saw Lena sitting in a large armchair and that the only other seat Anna claimed next to her husband. A little perplexed Kate saw Lena smile wickedly, much as her father had done earlier. "Would you like to share this large beast with me, Kate Lawrence?"

Kate gave her a long, hard look and saw the devilment in her eyes and couldn't help the laughter that bubbled up at the proposition. "Sure move over and I'm warning you now, I don't want any frogs down the back of my neck, thank you." Kate said as she recalled an incident that Anna recalled of Lena as a child.

Making room for the smaller woman, who, within a few seconds, naturally reclined into her and they nestled together quite comfortably. Whispering into Kate's ear Lena softly answered her. "No the frogs aren't in season and I could think of much better things to go down your neck. There again I could always get you another chairÖyour choice." It was seductive, appealing and for Kate, a wonderful way to finish off her evening.

"No, you stay right where you are so I can see you." Kate placed Lena's hands around the front of her waist. "I now know where those mischievous hands of yours are." Kate laughed at the surprise from her friend and went back to her conversation with Lena's mother. Lena sat in the chair with a bemused expression on her face, which greatly amused her father.

* * * * *

It had been comparatively easy to convince Kate to purchase Brownsley at a good liberal price from her family friends. Lena wasn't sure if it was the good home cooking or the stories about her childhood that made Kate amicable to the purchase without opposition or question. In fact, Kate had remembered the three very successful purchases in Lexington; therefore she was extremely confident in her head trainer's ability and eye for just the right animal for the Stables.

Brownsley, a favorite of Lena's, entered into an enhanced program to bring her gently up to the level of the other thoroughbreds. Eventually the mare would be ready to enter top-level races around the country. There was no doubt in her mind that when the time came, Brownsley would prove to be an exceptional winner.

For the time being, Brownsley would have to wait her turn, as Lena readied three other horses for races at Hialeah. They were the farm's top contenders and Lena considered them good enough to win their respective races. It was time for Merridoc Farms to become a viable contender at horse racing venues and Lena was certain the three would not disappoint.

Kate watched Lena clock another of the mares destined for the races at Hialeah. It was a fascination of hers to sit on her horse and watch Lena from a distance. More recently, after dinner, Kate would join Lena at the fence and chat amiably as she went about her task. At no time did Lena ever act other than professional when it came to the horses and the position she held at Merridoc. To Kate, this was quite frustrating, as she had hoped to receive that invitation for a private session in Lena's ranch house by now. But, other than their growing friendship, neither of them had pushed to take it further; yet, Kate was sure that Lena would welcome a more intimate relationship. Taking in the tall form at the fence she cantered towards the fence, dropped down from her mare and walked over to stand at Lena's shoulder. "Hi."

Lena continued to watch the horses flash past her as she'd clocked the thoroughbreds the jockeys were putting thru their paces. She acknowledged Kate with a fleeting smile as her body language clearly relaxed when the smaller woman tucked in next to her. When the last of the horses completed the circuit Lena had requested, she turned to Kate and gave her a grin and tousled her blonde hair, which she knew irritated her friend.

"Lena, do you really have to do that to me?" Kate said, her irritation clearly evident in the tone of her voice.

Lena looked at her and gave her a brilliant smile that Kate couldn't, no matter how she tried, stay mad with her for longer than the moment it took for her brain to register the smile. "You know you love it really." Lena teased and put a friendly arm along Kate's shoulders.

Kate surrendered to the touch of the arm and the closeness she always felt when Lena was within her range of senses. "Do you think we have a champion in our midst, Lena?"

Lena gave her a dazzling smile and bent her head closer to Kate's and whispered in her ear. "Can't let the spies know about this, but we have more than one champion in our midst, my dear, Kate." The low gravely voice making her legs go weak as she clutched at Lena's arm to stop from falling.

"Why are you whispering?" Kate said quietly into Lena's ear that was by chance close to her lips.

"My dear, Kate, don't you know we have the dreaded vet, Cruella Cambridge, on your property today. We can't have that knowledge getting out to the general public now can we?" Lena looked directly into Kate's green eyes for her reaction.

Kate put a hand to her mouth to stifle a giggle, but she wasn't sure if Lena actually meant what she said or it was a joke at Cornelia's expense. "You don't really call her Cruella do you, Lena, not to her face surely?"

Lena gave her a mock innocent glare from her cobalt blue eyes and smiled engagingly. "No, more the pity, but as she leaves, oh sure I do, to her back."

Kate laughed out loud this time and gave her a playful smack on the arm for her teasing. "What am I going to do with you, Lena? Cornelia has been on her best behavior for months now. Surely you must have changed your mind about her by now." It was true that Cornelia had only suggested minor surgery on some of the horses that had needed treatment and Lena had agreed on each of the diagnosis so Kate thought maybe Lena was mellowing, then againÖ

Lena watched the gentle, but intelligent green eyes, track hers for signs that she had relaxed her opinion of the vet, fortunately that wouldn't happen in a million years. "I will never change my mind regarding that woman, but you, on the other hand, are welcome to do whatever you care to with me."

Kate gasped at the statement, not the part about Cornelia, who was now definitely put back into the background, but Lena's off hand comment that sent Kate's heart hammering. "Lena, you're going to Hialeah tomorrow early, aren't you?"

Lena gave her a nod as she placed her chin on top of the smaller woman's head and placed her arms around her. As they both faced the training field they could watch the young fillies gracefully run and frolic in natural play together. "Yes, why? Have you changed your mind about coming to watch our first set of races from the new stock here at Merridoc?"

Kate relished the moments when Lena pulled her close into a friendly embrace, it reminded her of the first time that it happened; Lena appeared to take the action naturally. It had been a shock to her system the first time Lena displayed this cuddly attitude, but Kate soon got used to it and in fact missed it when Lena was too busy or preoccupied. Now, she was pleased that Lena had taken the time to give her a few precious moments before she left for a week at Hialeah. "Can't! I have to fly to New York and see my parents for a couple of days. Then, I have some business to attend to in Baltimore, but I'll watch it on TV to see our horses come home first." Snuggling into the hold, which pulled her closer still, into the tall body of her friend.

"Pity, it would have been some celebration, our first win as a team." Lena said her words muffled by Kate's hair. It smelled fresh and natural and Lena never wanted to let go of the smaller body held tightly in her embrace.

Kate chose that moment to turn in the embrace and face her friend. "We can always celebrate when you come home. I'm still waiting for your invitation to check out the privacy of the ranch house." Lena locked her blue gaze with the green eyes that held warmth and something she desperately wanted to see there, but couldn't be sure it wasn't her fanciful mind at work.

"Then, I suggest you put the champagne on ice, and when I get home, you and I can check out the full benefits of a private residence and see just how well your plans worked out." Lena smiled rakishly at Kate and they continued to look deep into each other's eyes.

"Champagne got that, no problem. If the privacy option doesn't work out I guess I get to play merry hell with the architects." Kate released a slow sultry smile of her own that Lena had difficulty not suppressing with a kiss.

Lena laughed at Kate's remark to shake her out of the desperate urge she had to kiss the woman held in her arms. The temptation creating havoc with her hormones; she didn't know how much longer she could stop herself from claiming this woman as her own. "That I would pay to see, Kate," taking a step back from Kate, and giving the young horses another look before she turned to Kate and shrugged her shoulders. "Guess I better go back to work, huh?"

Kate felt a pain in her heart as Lena released her back into the normal everyday world that didn't include the tender embrace of her friend. "Guess you'd better or you might be in trouble with the boss and we can't have that now, can we?" Kate smiled at her attempt to lighten the emotionally charged situation.

Lena step back towards Kate and placed a finger on her nose and gently tapped it, "That we can't, my boss, Ms Lawrence, is a slave driver and with that type you just never know what she might request as a forfeit. See you later." Lena turned away before she was drawn into the brilliant smile of her friend.

Kate was left to ponder the remark and she shook her head at the retreating figure of her friendÖwonder what she could ask as a forfeit? Chuckling, she mounted her patiently waiting horse, and galloped off across the pasture to relieve some of her surging energy that Lena had managed to create.

* * * * *

Misunderstandings Abound

Kate was agitated! Her flight to New York left in less than two hours and here was Cornelia explaining, in a bored professional voice, exactly what was wrong with the horse and why she needed to do minor surgery. That wouldn't have caused Kate any major distraction under normal circumstances, but this wasn't normal circumstances this was Brownsley! Lena was away so she couldn't consult with her head trainer. Not to mention, Lena had a soft spot for the mare, which she had been personally training. "Look, run it by me again slowly, Cornelia, I need to know exactly what I agree to would be what Lena would accept if she were here."

Cornelia had watched the owner of Merridoc and the head trainer become closer and closer. Repeatedly she asked Kate on date, but she always declined which hadn't been too good for her ego. Kate was her quest and she resented Lena's increasing intrusion into the woman's life. Lena had barely spoken to her in the months since she'd arrived on Merridoc and that was another blow to her pride. She recalled how explosive a lover Lena had been and could only imagine what she must be like now. She had grown into this beautiful, self-assured woman that had people falling for her at every turn. It was amazing that she hadn't been caught by now, although, with the presence of a certain Kate Lawrence perched on her shoulder, it wasn't too surprising.

"Okay, bottom line is that Brownsley's form and stride are not favorable for the longer races that the farm is known for. I can do a little minor surgery on one hoof to correct the problem, simple really." Cornelia saw the flash of indecision on Kate's face. "It needs to be done sooner rather than later, if you allow me, I can do the surgery this afternoon and by the time you're back the horse will be well on the road to recovery. In no time she will be running like the wind again, Kate. It needs to be done now, putting it off will only delay the horse's training. It's your call, but I highly recommend the surgery now. What's your decision Kate?"

Kate considered the pros and cons of the situation. Brownsley was a favorite of Lena's and she would be pleased, surely, that the horse had the corrective surgery and by the time she came back everything will be over and done with. In the future, she would insist that Lena take a cell phone with her, no matter how much she disliked them, at least that way, she could run things by her, now she had to decide. Pulling herself out of her musings, she turned back to Cornelia. "Go ahead, but I want a bulletin when I get off the flight in New York and Cornelia...please make sure nothing happens to BrownsleyÖshe's important not only to Lena, but me also." Kate still was ill at ease with her decision, but knew that it had been taken in good faith and with professional advice.

Cornelia smiled at Kate reassuringly and nodded her head at the request. "You will get your bulletin and don't worry, Kate, I'm an expert in this field. If I say the horse needs the surgery, I'm certain you would get the same opinion if you asked another of my fellow professionals."

Kate accepted the statement and left Cornelia to her deliberations over the horse's medical care. She had enough time to shower and change and get to the airport for her flight. Guess it was no point in calling the track and have Lena worry over the horse. Better she came home to everything already taken care of. With the happy thought of Lena's homecoming in her mind, she jogged towards the main ranch house.

Watching the young owner jog away, Cornelia smiled knowing she at last had the opportunity to carry out her plan. This would surely drive the two women apart, leaving Cornelia to pick up the pieces. Yes, she would enjoy the fireworks she was sure would occur. After all, she was the qualified vet with the training and knowledge, who could fault her? An evil laugh ensued as she prepared for the surgery.

Lena had arrived two days ahead of schedule with three first place ribbons and trophies in hand. To say she was ecstatic over the outcome, was putting it mildly, the only downside was Kate's not being there to share it with her. Tonight she had, what she considered to be, a cast iron date with one Kate Lawrence; that would be the icing on the cake for her. Lena whistled as she drove up to the main house. She was disappointed to learn from Carmen that Kate wasn't due back from Baltimore until that afternoon.

Heading for the stables to check out the unloading of the horses and what happened in her absence she was eager to take Brownsley for a training session. Kate's delay would give her time to take care of the horses with enough left over to shower and change before seeking out her friend for their date.

Walking over to Brownsley's stall, Lena was greeted by the sight of a handler swabbing the horse's left hoof indicating an injury of some description or other. "What's happened to her?" Lena asked the young lad who was gently treating the horse. He turned at the voice of the head trainer and flashed her a smile of welcome.

"Ms Corkill, Brownsley will be pleased to see you. She's about recovered from the surgery that Ms Lawrence had the vet carry out, hopefully she can go back into training next week." The lad explained in a relaxed manner.

Lena jerked her head at the mention of Kate and the vet in the same sentence. What the hell is going on here? Moving closer to the mare and gently soothing her flanks in a friendly gesture she moved the lad out of the vicinity of the horse to examine the hoof surgery. Having studied the result of the surgery, Lena slowly moved out of the stall and let the lad back to complete his tendering. Walking briskly over to the fence that had the young horses playing in the field, she shaded her eyes from the glare of the sunlight and marshaled her thoughts.

Why did Kate give permission to Cornelia to carry out this obviously un-necessary surgery on MY horse? She asked herself. This time Kate has gone to far. We agreed that Cornelia wouldn't practice any surgery on any of the horses unless I specified that it was okay to do so and if necessary, we would seek a second opinion! Her heart was racing as righteous anger filled her mind.

Walking swiftly over to her ranch house and going inside she rifled through her desk until she found the document. It's time Kate realizes she can't toy with me when it comes down to my professionalism, integrity and work ethic. Kate will be home in a few hours and then we will talk...by God we'll talk specifically about this little episode!

Sitting down at her piano she began playing Arabesque by Debussy in hopes of quieting the rage she felt inside. How could Kate do this? She thought as her anger increased. She continued to play until she decided to go to Kate's house and wait for the woman's return.

The flight had been relaxing as Kate found herself lost in fantasies of Lena and their upcoming date. Entering her house, she was stunned when Carmen informed her that Lena was waiting in the study. An unexpected surprise, but perhaps notÖall three horses had won their individual races.

Kate was certainly looking forward to seeing her friend and the anticipation of the night of privacy they planned. Kate was grinning as she opened the door to the study and noticed Lena standing rigid at the window, her stance clearly indicating that she wasn't a happy. "Lena you're earlier than I expected."

Lena moved in a whirl; Kate was sure she never saw her move, yet she was up close with her hands on Kate's shoulders in a vice like grip. "Why? Why did you disregard everything we agree to when I came here?" Lena's voice was quiet, yet menacing.

Kate looked up into cold blue eyes and her own green ones clearly hurt at the accusation thrown in her direction. "I haven't! I didn't! What are you talking about Lena?" Kate said, her voice anguished.

Lena refused to loosen the grip on Kate's shoulders even though she felt the tension in the smaller woman. Blue eyes bore into the hurt green of her friend. "Brownsley! You let Cornelia do unnecessary surgery on my horse!"

Kate gasped at the continued pressure on her on her shoulders and the anger emanating from Lena with those few words. "Cornelia said she needed surgery and I thought that you would be pleased that you didn't have to worry about it as it would all be over by the time you came back." Kate tried to rationalize her decision. "She said he needed it or she wouldn't be capable of going the long distances."

Lena looked at Kate, disgust filling her eyes and voice. "You trusted her with one of my horses when we specifically agreed that I would be consulted, and on Brownsley too! Who gave you the right?"

Now Kate was angry too! Not only from the physical pain that Lena causing, but the insult to her reasoning powers on her own property and with her own horses! "I gave me the right Lena! I own Merridoc and the horses on the farm or have you had forgotten that small point. I had every right to make that decision. It was taken in a rational and professional way. Will you please release my shoulders, Lena, you're hurting me!"

Lena saw the tears welling in Kate's eyes as it permeated her brain, at last, that she was physically holding Kate against her will, and hurting her. A sense of self-loathing filled her, as that wasn't what she was about. Releasing the woman suddenly, Kate staggered and Lena caught her and then released her gently once Kate regained her equilibrium. "You're right of course, Miss Lawrence, this is your property and they are your horses, forgive me for my lack of attention to detail. One thing I do know for sure is that you don't own me and I'm leaving! As of now you can find yourself another trainer and farm manager.  I'm out of here!" Lena turned on her heels, but heard the sharp intake of breath from Kate.

"You can't do that, Selena Corkill, I have a contract that still has some years to run!" Kate was shocked at Lena's dismissal of the airtight contract.

Lena turned back to the smaller woman and gave her a superficial smile that didn't reach her eyes, but caught Kate's own angry glittering green orbs. "Yes we did have a contract, but I have just revoked it as per the amendment schedule I have here in my hand." Seeing the look of utter shock on Kate's face, Lena gave a cold laugh. "Did Louis forget to mention the small amendment we agreed upon? It stipulates I can leave at any time if I see fit." Noticing the astounded look on Kate's face she added. "Guess he didn't."

Kate was shocked, upset and wounded by the betrayal and dishonesty of her friend in not coming clean on the amendment to the contract earlier. "You're leaving?" It was a whispered plea as she saw Lena open the door.

"Right first time Kate, see you around." With that Lena went out of the door. Leaving the three trophies and ribbons in a row on her desk of the wonderful achievement at Hialeah. The sight caused her tears to flow and her heart to break. What would happen now?

Standing at the very window Lena was a short while ago, Kate watched the woman get in her truck and drive away. Again the tears began to flow for losing what could have been.  

In the dark shadows of the barn, Cornelia watched as the truck drove away. The sneer on her face grew into an evil grin at the realization her plan was in motion. She would bide her time before moving in on the heart broken owner. Then, she will be mine.

to be continued

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