AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND HERE WE GOOOOO
I yanked on Ithuriel's reins hard to the left as I watched Kaelie's horse, Nakir, go down. It didn't look like anything really broke or was injured. There was no flip. It was like he just bottomed out and fell, throwing Kaelie to the ground.
My hands gripped Ithuriel tightly as he managed to move to the left, faster than I expected, and dodged the fallen horse and girl. I noticed Maia do the same, and I glanced to my right to find her neck and neck with me.
"Alright buddy!" I yelled loud and clear. I had managed to hold him back, and there was still about three hundred yards left. I had to get Kaelie out of my head. I had to ignore Maia and my fears about what could happen. "Let's GO!"
"Come on, Raziel!" Maia yelled as well. "Kick into gear!"
Both horses took off, leaving our other opponents in the dust. Jace was right. The competition was never between the other races. It was the three of us.
The short, very short, extremely short time left seemed to fly by. Neither horse seemed to have an advantage, and I was starting to worry. I was pushing Ithuriel to his max, and as we neared the finish line, I noticed that I couldn't tell who was in first place. I couldn't tell which of us had the lead.
"And it's–" we were so close. "It's–"
And as we crossed, I realized with a solemn feeling that I didn't know if I actually won.
"Well, it's a… It's a tie?!" the announcer yelled. "Ladies and gentlemen, the final length will have to be under review to determine the victor! The winner will be announced shortly."
"Fuck,' I said to myself, breathing heavily and leaning forward, pressing my forehead to my horse. But it didn't last long. My mind started racing and once I got Ithuriel calmed and walking, I glanced back.
Kaelie was up and on her feet brushing off her clothes and looked to be okay. So was Nakir, standing at the ready, and Simon was looking at him without too worried of an expression. He looked more confused than anything. He seemed to be talking to Sebastian who had made his way down there extremely fast, but Sebastian had a bit of a relieved look about him. And Nakir seemed to be walking okay.
I let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding.
"He's going to be fine," Maia said, a little out of breath, as she saddled up next to me. "It's not the first time a horse just gave out in the middle of a race."
I glanced at her, noticing we were both sweating and exhausted. Honestly, I was surprised she was talking to me and she sighed at my silence.
And then she reached out, indicating a hand shake. "Can we just agree it was a good race?"
I looked at her hand and then back at her through our goggles. "Seriously?"
Although it was sketchy and weird, I took her hand and shook it. "Alright. Good race?"
"You know, he's amazing," she said, pointing towards Ithuriel. "And you're lucky to be riding him. And between you and me," she leaned forward, a small smile on her face, "You both belong in the winner's circle."
My mouth dropped as I watched her lead Raziel away. I barely had half a second to think about the completely 180 change of heart when Simon ran up to me, bouncing on the balls of his feet.
"What a race!" he yelled, his eyes glowing. "Clary, that was amazing."
"Nakir is fine. I don't know what happened. There are no real injuries, and he's walking okay. Even Kaelie got up with just a few scrapes. Both are perfectly fine and will make a full recovery, I'm sure."
I nodded, still shocked at the outcome. My mind went back to something. "Simon, Kaelie would've won if her horse didn't go down."
"She was way ahead of me, and I already had Ithuriel at full gear."
"That's just racing," Simon insisted. "Sometimes, the best fall and the most unlikely win and even then, sometimes," he walked forward and put a hand on my knee, "those who deserve it actually come out with the win. And Clary, you deserve this win, you hear me?"
That did make me feel a bit better, and I smiled slightly at that.
"Now come on," he said, leading Ithuriel towards a group of reporters and the other racers, "They're going to announce the winner soon and I'm sure you want to see Jace."
I nodded. "Maia really kicked him into gear. Ithuriel was running faster than he normally did at practice. Both horses deserve the win, honestly, and I hate to even think of that, much less say it."
Jordan ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah, but I was just shocked. Honestly, I thought the race would be between Kaelie and Clary." He gave me a pointed look. "Don't tell Maia I said that."
I laughed, shaking my head. "Yeah, sure."
"Hey, guys," Sebastian said as he walked up on the other side of the fence. "What a race, huh?"
We all shook hands, agreeing with him. Hell, our girlfriends just competed in one of the biggest races in North America. Yeah, it was quite the race for everyone, and quite a bit of stress for all of us.
"Is he okay?" I asked, pointing towards Nakir.
"Yeah. I'm not sure what happened. Simon is going to do some tests after the race and all that, but nothing is broken. It's almost like he was just over it."
I laughed at that. "It wouldn't be the first time a weird fluke happened."
"That's just racing," Jordan added. "You never know what will happen."
"Like this?" Sebastian laughed, pointing between the three of us. "Because lord knows we shouldn't be getting along right now."
"Racing also brings people together," Jordan said.
"Who are you?" I asked teasingly. "The Pope? Mr. Philosophical?"
"Shut up, asshole."
"There it is," Sebastian smiled.
We all looked up as Clary waved at me, asking for me to come over there. I nodded to the boys and headed off, jumping the fence easily before jogging over to her and Simon. She looked tired but excited but still nervous considering we didn't know who won.
"Hey," I beamed, looking at Ithuriel first and rubbing his face, showing him my gratitude before glancing up towards my girlfriend. "You. Were. Amazing."
"Do you think…"
I caught onto her question, but I had to be honest. "It was close, Clary. Only time will tell."
She nodded slowly.
"But hey." I grabbed her hand and squeezed it. "Regardless of what happens and what the results are, I love you and I'm proud of you. I know you wanted to win for Max and everything, but he'd be here just as excited as I am." For a second, I was surprised I could actually talk about him so simply, but it rolled off my tongue easily. I smiled up at my girlfriend who had the same realization. "He really would be," I continued. "And so is Jocelyn, and Luke, and Maryse, and everyone else. They're all happy for you."
"Guys." Simon called. "They're announcing the winners."
Clary and Maia ended up on their horses side by side, the head of the racing committee between them. He had the results in his hand, and went on this long speech about this and that and eventually, he finally announced the winner.
And that was it. Clary had done it. She had won.
Everything would start falling into place now.
I smiled against Jace's lips as he dropped me to the bed. We had been drinking, but it was just enough to have a buzz. Either way, the party had gone way into the night. Maia, Jordan, Sebastian, and about a hundred other people had met up at the club. Luckily, there was no sore losers. Maia, Kaelie, Isabelle, and I had talked it out. Jordan, Sebastian, Simon, and Jace seemed to be good as well. Maybe it was the alcohol, but I wasn't going to complain if the drama would just stop.
All of us danced, rather dirtily but what could you do? No adults. No rules. We had a blast. I danced with everyone and anyone, and Jace only tried to punch Sebastian once when we decided to turn it up to see what he would do. He took the joke like a champion, much like his girlfriend. I just smiled and laughed when he realized it.
We weren't sure how everyone else got back. Magnus and Alec disappeared hours ago from the club. Simon and Isabelle left with Maia and Jordan, offering for them to stay at Simon's apartment since he lived closer than anyone else. And Sebastian and Kaelie left when Jace and I did, and we actually left on pretty good terms. Kaelie even started to feel pretty good, even though she was kind of thrown around earlier.
And now, here we are at two AM and I've never wanted anything more in my entire life other than my boyfriend before me.
"You're a champion," Jace said for the hundredth time that night, smiling down at me as he pressed his hands next to my head. "I'm dating the winner of the Breeder's. I should have my own award for that."
"And if you don't do something, the champion of the Breeder's Invitational will find a new boyfriend, got it?"
The teasing all night had just about killed me. Jace just laughed as he leaned down, pressing himself against me as our lips connected. It was like it always was, amazing and I felt a familiar pit in my stomach as our hands roamed over each other. Slowly, my shirt came off first, falling to the floor. He pulled back, showing off as he stripped his own button up, one by one, as he smiled down at me.
Finally, I lost it and grabbed his shirt, ripping the final buttons and tugging it off. He just smirked at me.
"Clary, it's called taking our time."
"It's called speeding it up, Jace Wayland."
He slowly got up from me, but I yanked him back down, flipping us over unexpectedly. My lips met his as he kissed me back, but he eventually pushed me away a little bit. Not a lot, but a little.
And when he did that, I knew something was up.
"Jace," I sighed. "What is it?"
He swallowed, obviously nervous. "Can you just… can you just get up for a second?"
I gave him a confused look but did as he said. "Okay?" I moved towards the head of the bed as he walked towards his drawer, opening the sock drawer. I watched curiously, pulling my covered legs up to my chest as I quirked my head to the side, watching his muscles tense.
He turned, holding an envelope in his hands. "I know that we wanted to celebrate tonight, and we will," he added with a wink, moving towards the bed and sitting on the edge closest to me. "But I think there are some things that we need to talk about first. And something I want to show you."
I reached for the envelope but he pulled it away. "Jace, don't play. What is that?"
He shook his head, grabbing my wrist. "Did you know that your dad was a jockey when he was younger?"
My eyes widened. "What?"
"Yeah, I said the same thing. Luke told me that he was a teenagers, very early twenties when he did. But he got hurt and quit, taking over the ranch instead. Initially, it was supposed to be used for race horses, but they started to lean towards boarding and trading after a while, especially when you and Jonathan were born."
"Where are you going with this?"
"Luke didn't want the ranch to turn into some tourist trap." He fiddled with the envelope in his hands. "And you're an amazing jockey. And I'm a great trainer, if I do say so myself." I rolled my eyes but I managed to smile. "And we make a great team. Alec wants to start up his own business too."
"Jace, what are you getting at?"
He took a deep breath before handing me the envelope. "Open it."
I did, eyeing him one more time before finally opening the white, blank, letter. But when I pulled out the sheet inside, my eyes widened.
"Jace?" I gasped, staring at the sheet like it wasn't real. It was ownership papers of the land.
He smiled, and moved towards me, grabbing my hand. "I bought the place. I've saved up recently, and the money from the Breeder's allowed us to put a deal down. The owners of your father's ranch never really got things going, and Sebastian helped me make a deal with them."
"So, it's yours?"
He nodded once, a small smile on his face. "But I want you to understand that whatever you want, I want. Maryse and I have talked about me having my own ranch, my own horses, my own business. Alec would be the main manager. I'd be the trainer for the racing horses. Isabelle would train the jumpers and show horses. Simon offered to be a vet. Sebastian said he'd get some hired hands that he knows, along with helping out when we needed it, which I doubt we will. And you… you'd be the jockey. And we'd have the ranch that your dad always dreamed of. And, believe it or not, the ranch that my father also wished that I had."
All of the information was a lot to take it. I'd have my life back that I wanted, but I had honestly gotten used to it here. But I didn't mind. I'd love to go home, to take Opal back, to take control over the farm that Luke and my mom struggled to keep.
"We'd make plenty of money with your races and Isabelle's jumpers," he said. "Maryse has already started to hire other workers."
"So," I took a deep breath. "So, this is real?"
"Yes. But there's one thing missing with the farm." He slid next to me, our backs against the headboard, and pointed to the paper. There wasn't a space where the name of the ranch was supposed to be.
I frowned. "You haven't named it?"
"I wanted you to." He pulled out a pen from the bedside table, handing it to me. "Whatever you want it to be."
My fingers played with that stupid ink stick for an abnormal amount of time. I wanted it to mean something to everyone there, to Jace, Simon, Isabelle, everyone. And then, it hit me. My fingers moved before my mind registered what it was that I was writing. But when I realized it, I smiled.
Jace pulled me into him, kissing my hair lightly. "For Max?"
"It's always for Max," I shot back with a smile of my own.
He gently touched my cheek, pulling my lips towards his softly and slowly. I took it all in, and I've never felt more at home than that moment with Jace. I never thought I would feel anything with Jace, but months have changed how he and I see each other, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere but here.
He pulled away, kissing my cheek at the end. "One more thing."
I shook my head in disbelief. "Jesus, Jace. What else could there be?"
"Horse Ownership papers," he explained. "Your name is on one in particular."
"I know, Opal's."
He shook his head. "Ithuriel's."
"Really?" I blurted out. "I get Ithuriel?"
"Maryse made me a deal. If you won, I get enough money to buy your old farm and I got Charmer, Heaven's Fire, you've always had Opal, Ithuriel, and two of Isabelle's jumpers. That's plenty for a small ranch, and when we start to grow and boarder more horses, we can get some extra of our own."
"You made a bet with your mother?"
"Absolutely. It's horse racing. I had to make at least one bet. Besides," He leaned in and pecked my cheek lightly. "I knew you could win. Even if you didn't know it yourself."
I rolled my eyes. "What if I lost?"
"I don't want to talk about that part. Maryse makes a hard bargain, that's for sure. But that's how she's rich, too. Just trust me, it's okay now. That's what matters, because you won."
Again, it was hard to take it. "Jace–"
He kissed me quickly. "Don't ask questions or worry about it, okay?"
I nodded against his lips, smiling into the kiss as he moved us back down the bed and he slid over me. We kissed like that for the longest time, and when Jace started to kiss down my neck, my breathing got heavy.
"Jace," I gasped. "Can we finally celebrate now?"
He smirked against my skin, flipping the button on my pants with a teasing glint in his eyes. "Now, we celebrate."
So... that's a wrap? I may do an epilogue, but I don't know yet. Now, at least, you know the ending to this thing. Sorry the race was so spread out but I didn't want to cram it all into one.
So tell me what you think! Thanks a lot, guys! You were amazing for following these stories, and I really appreciate it! You're all amazing.