Lightning yawned as she balanced on her haunches while undoing the bandages on the horse's legs. It was 5am, she had felt like she'd barely slept last night after the gig and then having to listen to her brother's commotion next door from the pretty blonde he bought home from the bar. She really had to invest in some earplugs. Nerves churned in her stomach as she tried to push the day out of her mind.
She was at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. Not only had she made the team for 3 day eventing, she had also managed to make the team in dressage as well. It was unheard of to be able to do both. Yet here she was unwrapped her eventing horse's legs getting ready for the dressage phase of the 3 day eventing.
The stocky chestnut stallion was eating his breakfast calmly. Not paying any attention to the commotion outside. And there was a huge commotion. Horses were being walked, grooms were running back and forth getting prepared for the day ahead, people were shouting and horses were calling out. Every so often you'd hear a string of swearing, in many languages, as someone either forgot something or the horse was misbehaving.
Lightning sighed and threw the unwrapped bandages aside. Not only was this one of the biggest competitions of her life it also had the potential to turn into saddest moment of her life. Both her horses, which she had trained from scratch, were up for sale. As much as she had put it off she couldn't put it off any longer. Her now ex husband has split off their marriage only after 6 months and had run off with another woman. The divorce papers had come through only 3 weeks before the World Equestrian Games and the horses were part of it. Her ex husband knew her property was in her brother's name so went after the only things that were hers alone. And that was her 2 best horses that were now worth quite a sum of money.
Lightning was flat broke. She had spent every last cent she had to campaign her horses to this event. There was no way she could afford to pay out her ex husband for what her stallions were worth. She was distant from her parents and would have refused their help even if they had offered it. And she knew her brother was in the same boat money wise as she was. He too had spent every cent of money he made into campaigning his horses towards the event. It was the reason they had both been performing at the bar last night. Although most of their expenses were paid for by the national body for Equestrian, just having some kind of spending money was a welcome relief.
"I come bearing coffee" the cheerful voice of her brother arrived at the door. The smell of coffee was strong in the air, a welcome smell for such an early time in the morning. Sure enough there was Callen leaning over the stable door with 2 large Styrofoam cups.
"Thanks" Lightning said, getting up and brushing the shavings off. She took the offered coffee and took a huge drink, savouring in the caffine. Leaning against the wall she rubbed her eyes tiredly.
"Stop thinking about it" Callen scolded her lightly "It's not going to help the matter, unless you let me go kill the scumbag."
Lightning snorted in her coffee cup but didn't reply. She knew he was right.
"I can't let you go to jail, I've got too many horses at home to look after" she joked and quickly ducked the playful slap she knew that was coming.
"Just stop thinking about it then, you have a dressage test to win" Callen said "You know that Yarry is in top form and the only thing holding him back today is you."
"Yeah thanks, let me give you that pep talk tomorrow when you're on in the dressage" Lightning grumbled and set her coffee cup down. She felt a bit lost for what to do at the moment. She didn't compete for another 4 hours which gave her nearly 3 hours to spare. All the horses were fed, brushed and already had their morning walk before breakfast. Unlike all the other competitors, neither her nor her brother had a groom so they did everything themselves. The other horses wouldn't get worked until late in the afternoon so there was plenty of time to spare.
"Why don't we go and watch all the naughty horses warm up and then it can make you feel better none of our boys need to be worked for 3 hours just so they don't explode in the ring" Callen asked opening the stable door. It was more of a demand rather than a request so Lightning obediently followed, feeling too emotionally drained to argue. She hated the emotional rollercoaster ride she was still on. It wasn't helped by the fact she was smacking herself the entire way back to her room last night for turning down the extremely handsome blonde that hit on her last night. Not only did she turn him down but was also extremely rude to him.
'Well done Lightning, the first man to crack onto you in months and you turn him down' Lightning mentally slapped herself again for her mistake last night. She was well and truly past the heart broken stage of grief after her husband left. Now she just felt angry and wanted to do something towards moving on from him. The divorce settlement had only fuelled that anger.
Lightning and Callen walked in silence down the barn and into the cool but sunny morning. Outside was teeming with activity as it was inside. The twin's nodded greetings to everyone they knew as they went past and stopped to briefly talk to those who weren't too busy. Once they reached the warm up area's they found a quiet spot under a tree and sat down in silence.
Lightning watched in envy at the rider's going past that was fully equipped in the latest new saddlery and riding gear. Sponsor logos were everywhere on both horse and rider. Lightning had her eye on a brand new saddle for a long time, however the funds just weren't there to purchase one. Everytime a rider who had the saddle went past Lightning almost felt green with envy. Although neat and tidy, both Callen's and Lightning's gear was old and well worn. Lightning had almost felt old fashioned when she was asked to supply her horse's diets. Everyone had turned to look at her in surprise when she asked for plain oats, corn and hay while blushing furiously. Everyone else on the team had fairly high detailed and extensive diets for their horses. Not to mention the other rider's support teams that ranged from having a personal physiotherapist for both horse and rider to another rider having a personal animal psychic on call for her horse.
"What are you thinking about?" Callen's voice interrupted her thoughts.
"Nothing interesting, I was just thinking of everyone's reaction when we told them all we fed was oats, corn and hay" Lightning smiled slightly "Oh and the fact I felt like a complete idiot when I forgot to mention the fact we do actually feed electrolytes."
Callen chuckled slightly "Well I think it was even better when we got asked who our farrier was and I told them that I did all of the shoeing."
Lightning's smile widened "Yeah that was a classic, good thing Dad taught one of us how to shoe otherwise we'd be in trouble."
"Yeah it was" Callen replied "I feel so old fashioned sometimes, but look at Mum and Dad they're so successful with both the gallopers and pacers and they don't do anything fancy."
"Very true" Lightning shrugged and cut off the conversation. There had been a major falling out between her and her mother just after her wedding. The wounds still stung about the hurtful words thrown around. What had stung more that the falling out was over Lightning's ex husband and her mother had been right all along about it.
"Oh look we have a bucker" Callen chuckled as one of the horses in the warm up ring had suddenly begun to buck furiously. Lightning winced as the rider hit the dirt hard after the third buck. The scream from the rider could surely be heard back at the stables. Suddenly the warm up area was alight with more people rushing to the rider's aid. Hoof beats echoed throughout the space as the bucking horse was now free from its rider and was taking full advantage of the fact. It kept bucking with obvious glee, completely unaware of the problems it was causing.
"Okay I think I've seen enough carnage here" Lightning got up and brushed herself off. The last thing she wanted to have were images of her getting bucked off in the middle of her dressage test. The nervous butterflies in her stomach seemed to multiply again and Lightning felt nauseous. Taking deep breaths Lightning hurried back to the stable to occupy herself with something to take her mind off things. Callen followed her closely behind but at a slower pace.
"I'm going to go get changed" Lightning called back to her brother as they reached the stable. He nodded in acknowledgement as Lightning hurried away. She headed to the ladies room ignoring the confused looks people were throwing her. Once she got there, threw herself into the toilet and locked the door. Sinking down onto her knee's Lightning threw up the small contents of her stomach. Trembling badly Lightning lent her head against the toilet bowl and felt overwhelmed. This was meant to be one of the happiest moments in her life and all she could think of was how to hold back the tears that were threatening.
It wasn't just the fact she had to sell her 2 best horses. It was the fact that she felt so out of place here. On the outside Lightning knew she came across as an arrogant bitch and there for didn't make any friends with the other riders. She couldn't even recall having a conversation with any of her team mates. All of them had been in the industry for years with many success' and a huge backing of owners, not to mention a string of national and international success under their belts. It was also the fact she felt as if everyone looked down on her because she had been a no one in the Equestrian world. She was just the daughter of 2 big racehorse trainers who had managed to find 2 exceptional horses and be able to fumble her way through to training them to the top. At least Callen had made friends with everyone else on the team. He was naturally cool and confident all the time. He was joke easily and make people laugh. What's more he didn't care about what other people thought of him.
"Lightning are you in here?" a soft voice called out. Lightning lifted her head as she recognized that voice. It was one of the girls on the eventing team, Megan. She had been one of the team members that Lightning actually liked, but was far too shy and unconfident to make conversation with her.
"Yeah I'm just throwing up my breakfast" Lightning called back. Sighing she got up and flushed the toilet. Wiping her eyes she hoped they weren't too red and blotchy as it'd be a dead giveaway she had been crying.
"Don't worry I did the same earlier, I don't even think Heath made it to the toilet when he threw up this morning" Megan said weakly "To tell the truth I'm pretty terrified. Anyway your brother is looking for you, there's someone who wants to talk to you about Yarry."
A flitter of surprise came over Lightning. This was the first time she'd had any interaction with any of her team mates.
"Thanks" Lightning closed her eyes and sighed. She knew she had to do this but it was so hard. Gritting her teeth Lightning pushed opened the toilet door and gritted her teeth. Washing her hands she forced herself to swallow down the lump in her throat that was forming. If her horse Yarraman sold for the price she needed at least she had a slight chance of being able to keep her dressage stallion, Snowy.
Walking back down the stable aisle Lightning forced a smile on her face and hoped it didn't look too fake. Although the more she forced the smile, the more fake it became. Exhaling softly she decided to adopt what she hoped was a fairly neutral expression. Her stable came into view and she saw the back of a stranger with messy dark hair. He appeared to be totally relaxed and so did her brother who was leaning against the stable door smiling with total ease. Lightning felt yet another pang of jealously. She envied her brother for his natural ease even in the more dire circumstances.
"Ah Lightning there you are, Daniel may I introduce to you my sister Lightning who owns and trains Yarraman?" Callen was still smiling. Before the stranger turned around Lightning shot Callen a questioning look, her only response was a big wink.
"Pleased to meet you at last" Elladan turned around and extended his hand towards Lightning "I've been following your progress for quite awhile, I'm Daniel Pedril."
"The pleasure is all mine" Lightning smiled and shook his hand "What can I do for you Mr Pedril?"
"I've heard that both your horses are for sale and I came around to make an offer for both of them" Elladan cut straight to the point. With every word he could see Lightning's face almost falling while she struggled to gain her composure.
"Of course, it's well known their both for sale all their recent x-rays are here and vet reports..." Lightning started but Elladan quickly cut her off.
"I know I've already taken the liberty of looking at them, and I know you haven't advertised a price on them so this is my offer" Elladan handed over a piece of paper with the offered price. He had dug around exactly enough to know how much money he'd need to spend to secure the horses. His offer price way far more than he knew what she wanted for the horses.
Lightning's jaw nearly hit the floor when she read the offered amount on the piece of paper. It was the amount she wanted for nearly both of the horses.
"Mr Pedril I..." Lightning started but Elladan quickly cut her off again.
"I failed to mention the offer is for each horse, not both of them" Elladan flashed a charming smile. "And please call me Dan, I feel old when I get referred to as Mr Pedril."
Lightning was staring at him wide eyed in disbelief. She wordlessly handed the piece of paper over to her brother. Callen's eyebrows shot through the roof and he mouthed the words 'Take it' to her.
"Dan I'm sorry you've caught me a bit off guard" Lightning smiled shakily trying to gain her composure "Surely you want to negotiate? That's a lot of money you're offering."
"No I don't want t negotiate, I've followed you on both horses since they were at One Star level and Prix St George respectively, my offer stands" Elladan said firmly but kindly.
"Take the damn money Lightning" Elladan heard Callen say softly under his breath. Still Lightning stood there with her bottom lip starting to tremble as the conversation was sinking in. The money was more than enough to pay her ex out, buy a new truck, improve the facilities at home and still have enough to purchase some nice younger horse's to bring on.
"Thank you very much for the offer" Lightning began and had to swallow to get the lump out of her throat before she continued "And I accept it."
Tears began to prickle at her eyes as she hastily blinked them away. As much as she needed to do this her heart felt like it was being ripped in 2 by the thought of selling her boys.
Elladan held out his hand to shake it. Lightning weakly returned the shake and regained her composure slightly.
"I hate to be rude, but can I ask who will be taking them over? I really need to talk to them as they both have a few little strange habits."
"You may ask and you won't need to tell them as they already know their strange little habits" Elladan couldn't help but grin, he was saving the best for last. "They'll be staying with you, I would never break up such a wonderful partnership."
Even his Elven reflexes barely had time to register before he found himself being hugged strongly. He staggered slightly before returning the hug.
"You're welcome" he laughed.
"I'm so sorry" Lightning blushed and quickly pulled herself away from the embrace "I had resigned myself to not having them after this."
"Please don't be sorry it's not every day where a beautiful women throws herself at me" Elladan laughed causing Lightning to blush.
"I'm sorry to break this up" Callen was smiling "But Lightning you have a dressage test to warm up for."
"Of course" Elladan stepped back with a small nod of his head "If you'd both be so kind to join me for dinner tonight, this is my card."
Callen took the card from Elladan and gave Lightning a gentle shove towards the direction of Yarraman's stall.
"I'll ring to organise it later, I hope you enjoy the dressage on your new horse" Callen offered his hand to Elladan who took it and shook it firmly.
And with that Elladan strode down the aisle with a smug smile on his face. Not only had he secured some of the last of the Elven bloodlines, he knew he had also pulled the twins out of some serious financial problems. The equestrian world was a small one and it was easy to find out what gossip was actually true.
As he reached the end of the aisle Glorfindel stepped out of the shadows and fell in step with him.
"So how much did that half share in those horses just cost me?" Glorfindel grumbled in a good natured way. Elladan had explained the plan last night on the way home from the bar. Elladan's interest had been in the horses and Glorfindel's had simply been in Lightning and her alone. Never before had he felt such a strong pull towards a woman. The pull itself was fascinating, let alone the excitement of a chase that was about to come.
"Half a million dollars and trust me, you'll thank me for it" Elladan gave a feral grin.
Well here's the second chapter. I hope everyone enjoys it. At the rate I'm writing the next chapter should actually be up within the next 72 hours. Enjoy!