Disclaimers : See Part 1

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Part 4 of Loose Change Series - The Addy and Karen series.
(01) Turning on a Dime
(02) New Quarters
(03) One Little Bit
(04) Joint Venture

 

Joint Venture

By

K-Morgan

kmorgan.5674@yahoo.com

(Feedback is appreciated)


Part 8

Victoria was at the airport when Melanie arrived. Both women were excited and the minute they saw each other they hugged and kissed.

“God! I've missed you!”

“Me too. How's everything since last night?” Melanie laughed. They had just talked for over an hour the night before.

“All is great. The main thing now is Alejandro's race and you, of course.”

“Not going to ask the order of importance of the events. I'm afraid I'll lose.”

“Don't be too sure of that. I know my priorities. Been thinking about you for too long.”

“Oh, yeah?”

Victoria said nothing but had a huge smile on her face.

“I hope you don't have any plans for tonight.” Melanie commented.

“Honey, I only have one plan for tonight and I hope is the same as yours because, frankly, cold showers are drying my skin.”

Melanie laughed. “Hurry up and drive then.”

“When do you have to report to the hospital?”

“In two weeks.”

“Are you going to be staying with me?”

“If you want me to, I will.”

“You bet, I want you too. I'll have to make some arrangements so that I can drive you in.”

“No, Vic, thanks. I couldn't have you drive me to Edinburgh every day. Please! You must be kidding. I'll rent a car for now and then I'll buy one. Don't worry about that, I make good money, I can afford a car. Oh, Wait! What am I saying? I have to learn to drive on the other side of the road!”

Victoria laughed. “Don't worry about that. I'll teach you.” Melanie was glad to see that Victoria was all out for her.

They drove home and five minutes later they were in bed. It had been a long time and they were both in much need of each other's touch. Abstinence led to desperation. They had been thinking of each other too much and for too long and now when face to face there was no holding back. Victoria had never visited that faraway place she'd mentioned to Karen. She already felt committed to Melanie and didn't want to take a chance and risk spoiling a good thing. And Melanie was too excited about the prospect of a relationship with Victoria to be thinking of someone else.

Three days later, Melanie called Karen and Addy.

“Hi Addy, it's Mel.”

“Mel! How are you? Where are you? Are you here?”

Melanie always loved Addy's excited attitude. “Yes, I'm here at Victoria 's. Been here since Friday.”

“And you call now?”

“I've been busy.” Melanie was taunting Addy.

Addy took the bait. “I guess the pastures were really green over there!” Addy laughed.

“Very green, Addy. Scottish green! So how are you guys? Can't wait for the big race.”

“Yes, we are all excited and nervous. I suppose Victoria has told you about all the fanfare and the security issues and all of that as well.”

“Yes, the price of fame. Even for a horse. She's also told me that he is awesome and that he wins with ample margins. I think it's very exciting. Alex must be thrilled.”

“She is. She loves that horse. The thing is that he's been winning, but so far we haven't really been against any of the real good horses. That's why this coming race is so important. There are a few of the better ones competing there. So now we will see how he does in the big league. Of course, if you hear all of Alex's statistics, you'd run and bet on him!”

“Maybe I will! Does Alex still think she can talk to him?”

“Yes. All the time. Should we be concerned?”

“No. I think it is her way to show that he is her horse. By being the only one who can communicate with him, she feels in control.”

“Listen, why don't you guys come over for dinner on Friday?”

“We'd love to. Is it okay if we bring Alex?”

“You better bring her! I can't wait to see her.”

“Okay. We'll be there then.”

**

Alejandro was registered to run the Racing Post Trophy. The Trophy is one of the most important races in England , and routinely attracts the best two-year-olds in the country. It is often a pointer to the following season's Classic horses. It's run in October in Doncaster's racecourse in Yorkshire and it is over a mile long.

Two days before the race, they were already in Doncaster . All of them. Addy booked two rooms in the same hotel. One for them, and another for Melanie and Victoria. Marshall and Carol were in a nearby hotel with the rest of the entourage because they had arrived earlier to prepare Alejandro.

For as much as everyone was on a high cloud regarding Alejandro, Karen always kept it real. “Addy, Alejandro has made money but he's also costing an arm and a leg. In fact, the expenses are more than the revenues. In other words, we are actually losing money. I don't want to be the party pooper, but if he doesn't do well in this race we are going to have to reconsider his racing career. Maybe he will be worth more as a stud than actually racing.” Karen finished her full financial report.

Addy was always the dreamer and the entrepreneurial spirit, but Karen had her feet well-grounded. Because they had money, they could take risks and invest and even lose some, but they were also smart enough to pull the plug when something was not going well. The different variable this time was Alex. Alex was emotionally involved here. She loved her horse and the prospect of winning. It was going to be hard for her if her dream didn't materialize and they had to pull the plug on it.

“Okay, let's see what happens in the Post Trophy. If he wins that one, it will make up for all the money spent until now and then he would already have assured himself stud value according to Victoria and Marshal. And anyways, the Guineas Stakes is not until May.”

Karen looked at her in awe. “Are you serious? The Guineas Stakes is one of the most prestigious horse races in England . It's the first leg of the Triple Crown. Do you realize what you are saying? What we would be getting ourselves into? Sometimes I don't know whose dream feeds the other, yours or Alex's! Are you really thinking about all of these seriously?” Karen got up and began to pace in her customary way when she was worried.

“Ker, look at where we are! He's won, consistently and by a lot of margin. We are now running the Post Trophy! Who would have thought!? If he wins this one, he's an asset, a huge one! Why wouldn't we go for the whole nine yards?”

“You mean the full Triple Crown?” Karen said in astonishment.

“Yes, that's what I mean.”

Karen sat down almost in shock. “It's going to cost an arm and a leg to enter those races.”

“But just running them, will augment his worth and our return on investment.”

“I don't know, Addy, this is actually the major leagues and I don't know if Alejandro is ready for all of this, or us for that matter. We are amateurs! For God's sake! We know nothing about horse racing, and yes, we are here. I don't know how, but we are here. Is it a coincidence? A miracle? Having run against bad horses? I don't know! I don't know if we are good enough to even be at this level. I think this is a gamble. Gyro has won with Alejandro and in other minor races with other horses, but even our own jockey has never been to the Triple Crown! I think we are too inexperienced. I don't think we know what we are doing! I don't feel prepared for this and you know how I am. I'm nervous about this.”

“Ker, Let's see what happens after this race and then we go home and talk about the Triple Crown. How about that? And even if we do the Triple Crown, afterwards we go home and then he becomes a stud. How about that?”

“Do you promise me that this is going to end, at the latest, by October of next year with the last race?”

“Yes, I promise and I will work it out with Alex so that she will agree to it.”

“Okay, but I will be collecting on that promise.”

“Why are you worried? Is not just the money, right?”

“No, Addy. It's not the money. It's the fact that we were already living in peace after all we went through in the past years and now here we are, again, having security issues around Alejandro. That makes me nervous. I want to go back to the peace of our home and have a normal life.”

Karen had never gotten over her security issues completely, she had plenty of reasons. First there was the circumstance surrounding her mother's obscure death when someone broke into their home and then the problems with her family wanting to take away the estate and Alex. Now Alejandro presented another reason for her family to be once again susceptible to harm and she was worried.

Addy sat on the sofa with a contrite look. Karen sat next to her. “I'm sorry. I should be enjoying all of this and here I am worrying you and making you miserable.”

“No, you are just saying things as they are. I just hadn't looked at it that way. Because you worry and take care of certain things, I can take care of other things. All of this wouldn't be possible without you. I sometimes get carried away. I recognize that.”

“Sometimes?” Karen raised her right eyebrow in an inquisitive cute smile.

Addy looked up and pouted. “But you let me run off with all my craziness because you love me.”

“With all my heart, baby, but sometimes I need to put my foot down and call to order. I need to protect you, sometimes even from yourself. We will give it one more year, in October of next year, no more racing. I'm putting my foot down.”

Addy smiled. “Blondie, you've earned your privilege. I agree to your terms. Now let's go. We need to meet the rest of the gang for dinner in town. I'm going to get Alex.” Addy got up from the sofa and headed to the door. Alex was in Melanie's and Victoria's room. Alex had stayed with them because Victoria was checking Alejandro and Alex wanted to be with them.

“Hey!” Karen took her hand as she got up to leave. “Are we okay? You are not mad at me?”

Addy came forward pursing her lips. “No. I think it's a fair deal. You get what you want and Alex and I get to see Alejandro race and maybe win. Just the fact that we made it this far is amazing. If he does well here, he is going to make us the money to cover all the expenses and to make Alex's dream come true. And if he wins any of the future races, the better we'll be. I would have already quit if I didn't think we had a chance, Ker. I also don't think you would have been so acquiescing if you didn't think so as well. I would have been the first one to pull out if I saw this was draining us beyond what we could do. You always think I just function on emotion but I have my feet well-grounded, baby. I'm not out of touch with reality. That is why I agree with you. I'm not mad. Let's go now.”

Karen smiled. Addy always surprised her. Addy was not a crazy-head, she just appeared to be one because of her apparent carefree attitude. Her lighthearted nature gave the impression that she was thoughtless sometimes, but the truth was that she thought things through very thoroughly, and that it was just Karen's constant fear that made her doubt Addy sometimes.

Karen still felt worried that she had hurt Addy's feelings, but just followed her out of the room and remained quiet. After they met Alex and their friends, they exchanged a few glances in the elevator which definitely indicated that Karen was still preoccupied. Addy winked at her and kissed her on the cheek. “Relax, blondie. All's fine.”

At the restaurant, they met with Marshal and Carol who were already there waiting for them. Still over dinner, they were talking and chatting but Karen continued to look at her and quickly look away. After dinner, they stopped at the different shops in town to browse and buy some memorabilia. They had a bunch of packages with them.

“I'll go get the car. We bought too much junk.” Karen announced.

“I'll go with you.” Marshal remarked.

They exited the store and as they stepped outside, Karen stopped on her tracks when she came face to face with Susan St. James and her companion, a very sexy blonde about fifteen years her junior.

“Well! Hello there! Look what the cat dragged in!” Susan exclaimed.

“Hello.” Karen had a very dry reply which Marshal immediately picked up as a sign of incoming trouble. Marshal didn't move from Karen's side but remained quiet.

“What brings you to Doncaster ? Is Alejandro your horse? I thought that MgGuill name was familiar.”

“Yes. he is my horse.”

Now Marshal was sure there was something very odd here. Consistently the women always referred to Alejandro as Alex's horse. This claim to the horse was indeed a way to exclude Alex from the whole picture. Knowing Karen's protective nature for Alex and Addy, Marshal assumed a guarded position as well.

“Are you still with Addy?” Susan asked, while looking at Marshal up and down and giving Karen a questioning look as if disapproving of Marshal's company.

Marshal did not know of the women's history with Ms. St. James but it didn't take her long to dislike the woman pretending to be above and beyond all. Marshall also didn't like the tone of the question or the fact that it was an inquiry on Karen's status. Just when Karen was about to reply, the happy bunch emerged from the store. Addy and Alex in front, followed by Melanie and Victoria.

“Speaking of the devil!” She looked at Addy, then at Alex and immediately at Karen. It was obvious that she had made the connection between Alex and Karen since they looked so much alike.

“My, my! Is she—.” Susan seemed in shock.

She was not able to finish. Addy immediately responded and interrupted her. “Hi Susan, it's been a while. What brings you to town?”

She looked Addy up and down appreciating her every asset. She did it because she knew it would get to Karen. “I have a horse in the race. Thunder.”

Alex immediately opened her mouth. She new all the statistics for all the horses in the race. It was remarkable how well informed she was considering she was just an eight year old. Alex immediately proceeded to regurgitate all of Thunder's numbers.

“Amazing! She must definitely be related to you.” Alex smiled and was about to proudly say that she was her daughter when Addy, again, very timely interrupted.

“I think we need to head for the car all these bags are very heavy. Come on babe.” She pushed Alex and was careful not to even say her name. “Have a good evening Susan and good luck with your horse.” She continued to walk and push Alex with her bags as she was still talking so as to prevent Alex from opening her mouth again. When they were a bit far and could not be heard she spoke to Alex. “Move it and move it fast!”

“Why? What's with that woman?”

“I'll tell you later, keep moving.” Alex did.

Melanie had followed them at a distance after Victoria told her to go ahead with them. Carol also left when she was nudged by Marshall . Victoria and Marshall had picked up the hostility and remained by Karen. They all got in the car except Addy. She remained outside looking back and waiting.

“Well, we better get going also. Good luck with your horse. Good night.”

“Ta, ta, darling. See you around the track.”

Addy was relieved when she saw the threesome coming towards the car. Victoria and Marshall followed a very quiet and troubled looking Karen. No one spoke. They figured Karen would speak in time. As they got to the car, Marshal got in on the sidewalk side but Victoria had to go around with Karen to go to the other side. In the back of the car Victoria stopped her. “Karen?” How do you know that woman? She's trouble.”

Karen immediately picked up from the comment that Victoria also knew something about Susan. “We'll talk at the hotel.”

In the car on the way to the hotel, Melanie, Carol and Alex continued to talk about the race, none aware of the history with Susan. They were talking about Thunder and about Alejandro having better numbers and they also talked about the items they had purchased at the shops and about how full they were from their dinner. It was noticeable, though, there was an overwhelming silence form the rest of the group and that apparently talk was suppressed because of Alex's presence. When Karen pulled into the hotel's valet area, she spoke.

“I'd like everyone to come over to our suite for some dessert.” Addy looked at her. Everyone seemed surprised, but somehow it became clear that there was a tacit understanding that they needed to talk. Alex was overjoyed to continue to be in the company of all of them.

No one asked any questions, everyone agreed to come up to their suite and when they did, they gathered in the living room area. Once inside Karen spoke. “If you'd all excuse me for a minute, I need to make a phone call. Addy, can you come with me?” She walked into the bedroom followed by Addy.

“What are they doing? What's going on?” Alex asked.

By then everyone knew that something was happening and that Alex was to be excluded from whatever it was.

“I don't know, Alexandra, but what I would like to see now is that chart that you have with all the stats. You sounded so impressive out there. I can't wait to see where and how you have all this knowledge. You are sounding like some whiz kid to me!” Melanie always liked to praise Alex's accomplishments and Alex loved to feel so special. Besides, it was obvious that some distraction was necessary.

Melanie started to tickle her and Alex laughed. Victoria liked the interaction of the two and couldn't help smiling, even though she was worried about the appearance of the St. James woman. She had concerns of her own. Alex ran to get her charts to show Mel.

In the bedroom, Addy stood in front of Karen as she pulled her phone out of her pocket. As she waited for the call to go through, Karen spoke. “I'm calling the PI who helped us with the fire. I think we need extra security around Alejandro. And I think we need a group talk. I don't like Susan's appearance here. She's trouble and I don't know how or why yet, but I get the impression that Vic knows her and is aware of trouble. ”

Addy pursed her lips. She was now concerned also. “Do you need me here? Maybe I can order some dessert, and later we can send Alex to bed. I'd rather if we kept her out of the loop on this matter. We can talk to Alex tomorrow morning.”

Karen came over and kissed her on her forehead and then her lips. “No I don't need you here. I just wanted to let you know what I was doing and my concern. I agree about keeping Alex out of the loop and talking to her tomorrow. Go and do the dessert thing. I'll take care of this.”

Addy left the room and Karen waited in line to talk to the PI. All eyes were on Addy when she came back into the room. “Karen will join us in a few minutes. She had some business to tend to. Why don't we order a little dessert?”

“M'Addy what about Thunder's owner? Why didn't we stay to talk to her?”

“Young lady, do you want dessert or not?”

Alex knew Addy well and knew went to take her cue. “I'll get the menu. I want ice cream. I saw this brownie thing with a lot of ice cream on top and it looked really good.” Alex ran to get the menu, as Addy smiled pleased with Alex's response and speed. She then whispered to the women. “Don't go. We need to talk after Alex goes to sleep.”

The women nodded in agreement.

After they had ice cream, and all the talk that came with how good it all was, Addy gave the order to the young one. “Alex is late. You are past your bed time. It is time to put on your jammies and go to bed.”

“M'Addy! But everyone is still here!” She liked the women's company and thought herself older when she was around them.

“Yes, they are, but they are not eight years old, only you are. Come on! Off to bed, kiddo!” A not too happy Alex said good night and went to her bedroom.

Karen had rejoined them when they were eating the ice cream. She ate some, but did not appear to be very animated. Neither was Victoria . After Alex left, they ordered coffee.

“Alright everyone. There are some things to talk about. I need to explain certain things and there are some questions to be asked and some of you may want to share some information as well.” She looked at Victoria when she made that last statement. Victoria looked away. Karen took her gesture as an indication that she might not be willing to share information at this time. Her attitude intrigued her even more.

“First of all, I would like you to know that Addy and I base the foundation of our relationship on mutual trust. We keep no secrets from each other. So what I am about to tell you, she already knows and was there when it all happened.”

Karen proceeded to tell them about their history with Susan St. James and also told them about Alana, just in case she made an appearance.

Addy also had her say. “So as things are, this woman hates us. She hates Karen now because Karen is the woman she couldn't have, and she hates me even more because I was the reason Karen didn't end up with her. She tried to meddle in our lives once and failed. Now she has crossed our path again, after so many years. We are concerned that she might try something again.”

“You saw the way she looked at Addy out there. She only did it to provoke me.”

“We don't know what she might do this time to try and provoke us off. Karen is concerned that she might try to take it out on Alejandro, but really our major concerned is Alex. I don't know if you noticed but I interrupted Alex and did not allow her to say her relationship with Karen, but it doesn't take a very smart person to see the resemblance and put two and two together. Susan is a very smart woman and I have no doubt she has already made the connection.”

“Is she that evil?” Carol asked.

Karen responded. “Carol, we don't know what she might be capable of, but the bottom line is that we don't trust her at all.”

Everyone was at the edge of their seat. Marshal immediately spoke. “We should go. I need to put the crew on alert.”

“Yes, Marshal, go and talk to your people, but let me inform you first what I've done. I've already called the PI who helped us during the fire. I'm waiting for his call. He is deploying his people to the stables to mount guard around Alejandro. He is aware of the situation and the surveillance will be a covert operation. In other words, no one will know there are people there watching Alejandro. And it's not just a simple watch. I've requested preventive protection and instructed him to spare no expense in carrying out whatever he needs to do.”

Marshal felt alarmed and relieved at the same time. “The security extends to anyone dealing with Alejandro.” Karen was talking to Marshall now. “I'd like you guys and Gyro to move to this hotel if possible. I would like everyone to be close, secure and under protection, at whatever cost. You are our family. The same applies to all others here. This floor and our rooms will be under surveillance. I'm sorry that you are all in this situation. Also from this moment on, Alex will be with us at all times and please, if you get any type of direction or request from anyone other than us to do or not do anything in our name, please disregard and call us. We will not use third persons to communicate with any of you. Whatever we do, we do in person.”

“Wow, Karen. You told me about this woman, but I never thought that you thought her capable of real bad stuff.” Melanie commented.

“She's no friend.” Addy added.

Karen and Addy held hands. Marshal got up. “Needless to say, and I think I speak for Carol as well, we are family and we will do whatever is needed to protect our family.”

“Thank you all. This means a lot to us.” Karen spoke because Addy was all choked up with Marshal's comment. Karen tenderly wrapped her arms around Addy and kissed her on the head. Everyone smiled and gathered their things to leave.

“We'll see you tomorrow.” Marshall added. “I'm calling Gyro and don't worry Karen. I will convey only the necessary information.”

Karen looked at Victoria , as if expecting her to come forward with some information as to how she knew about Susan being trouble, but Victoria didn't say a word. Karen suspected, from her demeanor, that she didn't want to speak in front of Melanie.

“ Victoria , I have a few questions about Alejandro. Maybe we can talk tomorrow?”

“Yes, tomorrow will be good.” Victoria gave her a look that definitely conveyed a second message. Karen was pleased with her response.

“Good night.”

**

When everyone left, Karen talked to Addy. “I'm sorry babe.”

“Why? Why are you blaming yourself for this one also? It's not your fault that she's crossed our path again.”

“True, but it was I who brought her into my life years ago.”

“And you also let her go. And because of her I went to Vegas to rescue you. So in a way, should be thankful that she popped up in our lives. She precipitated our relationship. She has reason to hate me. You are all she ever wanted. You have everything she wants, a nobility title, a business, a career, a position in the community, a daughter and a winning horse. I'm the one who stands between you and her."

Karen had been holding Addy, but as Addy spoke she realized the horrifying truth. Addy was the one who needed the most protection. In her wicked mind, Susan probably thought she could still have Karen if Addy was out of the picture. The minute she finished her comment, Addy realized what she had said and done. She pulled out of the embrace and looked at Karen. Karen said nothing, but Addy could see the fear in Karen's face.

“I spoke without thinking. Susan is not a stupid woman. Nothing is going to happen to me.” She spoke as she put Karen's hair behind her ears. “I'll be fine.” Inwardly, Addy felt awful thinking that she had put her foot in her mouth with her comment and that now Karen was even more worried.

"Addy? Promise me that you will be careful and not do any crazy thing."

“Like what?”

“I don't know, baby. All I know is that I'm afraid she'll try something to hurt or harm you. Addy, I need to know that you will be fine. Please forgive me if I act like a lunatic. Please, say you will!”

“I will. But what kind of lunacy are you thinking about?” She cocked her eyebrow.

“I want you with me all the time that we are here, and Alex too. The three of us together, all the time. And then after the race is over we'll go back home.”

Addy pursed her lips. She couldn't complaint. They were there because of her and Karen's request was not all that unreasonable considering the circumstances. “Okay. The Guineas is not until May. Things will quiet down when we are at home. Then when it's race time, we can arrive the day before the race and leave immediately after.”

“Thanks, that works for me. The less time in vulnerable places the better. I want us safe at home.”

“Ker, maybe you are right. Maybe we shouldn't be here at all.”

“Addy, don't feel guilty now. The truth is that neither one of us would be here if it weren't for Alex and Alejandro. That's why we are here, to let our little Viking see her dream come true with Alejandro. It's her vision and we are allowing her the opportunity. It's not about us. It's about her. We are now literally ‘on the horse' as you say, and now we must ride it. Let's just make the best of it. I know I get nervous at times and bitch, but you know better than to take me at my word.”

Addy smiled and came close to caress her face. “This is why I love you. You have the ability to hook and reel me in like a dead fish.”

Karen laughed. “Never heard that analogy before and there's nothing dead about you, but I sort of like the idea of reeling you in.”

Addy smiled. “Baby, I'm all reeled in and have been for a long time.” She kissed her, pulled out to look at her and kissed her again. The second time, Karen put her arms around her and held her in a tight grip.

“I think this fish is about to come off the hook.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes. All of a sudden I have a great appetite. I think I would like to feast on my fish.” The green eyes were that intense color of green. The brown ones were captivated. Then the wicked smile came. “Like I said. I'm all reeled in”

Karen gasped and led her to the bedroom.

**

A few doors down the hallway, there was another conversation going on.

“Vic, did you know the woman who was with Susan the other night?”

Victoria looked down and then back to her. Melanie's expectant eyes waited. “Yes.” Victoria looked anxious.

Melanie suspected a story and tried to put her at ease. “Vic, the past is gone. It's the present and the future that matter.” Melanie spoke in her usual calming tone.

Vic smiled and sat next to her. “It's not what you think, Mel, I had nothing to do with her. But she—.” Vic continued to talk and Melanie listened.

In the end, Victoria realized that what Mel said was true. It was just the present and the future that mattered. The past had to be buried with all its bad memories and life had to continue. She looked at Mel and realized that there was a lot of life ahead. This time the future did not seem as uncertain. This time life placed in her path, not a girl, but a woman. A mature, well-grounded, beautiful woman who was charming, intelligent and hot. She thought herself fortunate and smiled.

Mel smiled also when she saw Vic smiling. “What?”

“I was thinking that as things are I'm the lucky one here.”

Mel was pleased with Vic's reaction. “Why is that?” She continued to smile.

“I have you.” She took Mel's hand and kissed it. “You are my present and my future, Mel.” She realized that this had come out of nowhere and was somewhat shocked herself. “I mean, if you want to. I'd like to give us a long try, a permanent one, maybe, if you—.”

Mel came forward and kissed her. “I want to.” After that, the gentle strokes and kisses intensified and they headed to bed where, again, they ravished each other.

**

In another hotel nearby, Marshal was holding her meeting with the crew. She got the call from Karen that the security company was already in place and everyone was relieved. Marshal put everything in terms of exercising the right care because the competition was harsh and ruthless. Phone calls were made to move to move to the other hotel in the morning.

Everyone was aware of possible wrong doings at the track. Such things were not strange to horse racing and everyone was on high alert. They knew Alejandro's odds at the Triple Crown were good and everyone was proud to be on his team. They liked the horse, they liked Alex and they liked Addy and Karen. Working for Marshal was also a pleasure. They were a loyal and well-paid crew. They were all in it for Alejandro.

**

Early on the day of the race, the women had a chat with Alex. “Alex we need to have a grown up talk with you.”

“Fine, at last! Does it have to do with that woman? Thunder's owner? Because I didn't like the way she looked at M'Addy, up and down checking her out. I saw your face Mommy, you didn't like it either. I can tell. I know you don't like it when people look at M'Addy like that.”

Addy looked at Karen and smiled. Karen cleared her throat. Alex had turned out to be quite perceptive.

Karen spoke. “Yes, Alexandra, it has to do with her and you are right, I didn't like the way she looked at Mommy Addy. Mommy Addy and I knew her a long time ago and I can tell you that she is not someone we want as a friend. In fact, we don't like her. She is not a good person and we want nothing to do with her.”

“What did she do to you? Why is she mean?”

“Alex, it was something that happened a long time ago. Something she did. Just take our word. She is no good and we would prefer if you don't talk to her at all, even if she talks to you.”

Alex seemed puzzled, but this woman meant nothing to her and her parents' comments and request were good enough for her. She thought the moms must have good reasons for speaking like that of this woman because she had never heard them talk in such terms about anyone else.

“Okay. I wasn't planning to anyways. M'Addy, you better watch out for her too. I didn't like the way she looked at you either.”

The women looked at each other, surprised and hoping that they had accomplished their mission in communicating with Alex. Karen was pleased with her daughter's comments. She was proud of Alex's ability to pick up negative signals. She's my daughter, alright!

**

The day of the race was a magnificent October day. Karen was wearing a light grey pant suit with a navy silk blouse. Alex was wearing a beautiful tan skirt with dark blue tights and a dark blue sweater. Addy wore a tight green fitted dress with a black fitted short blazer and black tights.

“Wow! I haven't seen you in a dress in a long time.”

Addy smiled. “You like it?”

“I do, but I don't think it's the dress I like the most, it's everything under that makes the dress look good. You look stunning. This one reminds me of a certain blue dress—.” Karen was interrupted by Alex.

“And how do I look, Mommy?” Alex asked.

Karen inhaled and exhaled. “You look like the most beautiful young lady I've ever seen.” She bent over and kissed her daughter.

Alex smiled. “Mommy!”

As they were leaving, Addy stopped short. “Alex, and what do you think about the way Mommy Karen looks?” Addy smile wickedly forcing a glorious smile from Karen.

Alex chuckled. “M'Addy I can tell you like the way she looks you don't have to say anything. I like it too.”

Karen smiled and looked at Addy. “But I will give my opinion anyways.”

Alex smiled expectantly. She suspected that Addy's comment would be special.

Karen was prepared for the special comment she was sure to hear. She was actually in shock with the unexpected comment considering the audience.

“I think Mommy Karen is the sexiest woman I have ever seen or known.”

Karen swallowed and looked at a very smiley Alex. “Wow! M'Addy!” Then she looked at Karen. “M'Addy is hot for you Mommy Karen!”

Karen turned red looking at her daughter and then at a very smiley Addy. Addy chuckled. “Come on, Little Bit, before Mommy Ker implodes.”

Alex then laughed and took their hands. “I have the two most beautiful moms on earth!”

Karen pushed them out of the room. “Come on, my gorgeous woman and daughter, we have a horse to race!”

**

The day was perfect. The temperature was mild and the sun was out. The racetrack was filled to capacity. The scenery was exciting. There was color everywhere and people came and went in gorgeous outfits. The most prominent people in horse racing and English aristocracy were there. The grandstand was crowded and people were at their best. A lot of women were wearing hats. Neither Karen or Addy were wearing hats, Alex was because she looked great in any type of hat. Alex asked Addy why she would not wear a hat.

“Not everyone is as lucky as you to look good in a hat. When I wear a hat, it looks as if someone had put a nest over my head. It flattens my hair and I look awful.”

Karen looked at her. “I seriously doubt it. I don't think you could look bad, even if you had a plastic bag over your head.” Alex laughed.

“Thank you, but I'm not convinced. No hats for me thank you.”

“How about you Mommy?” She dared asked.

“I'd look ridiculous in a hat.”

“I don't think M'Addy would agree that the sexiest woman in the world would look ridiculous in a hat.”

“Little one, you are the official hat wearer in the family and that's that! No hat for me, unless it's a cowboy hat!”

Addy looked at her trying to imagine Karen in a cowboy hat. She bit her lower lip and smiled. Karen caught her looking and smiled nodding her head. She could see that hat coming already.

Alex and Addy looked at each other when they saw Susan approaching them. She was wearing such a huge hat, Addy later joked that she could have allowed three people to come under it if it was raining and no one would have gotten wet. Alex laughed when she heard the comment. The blonde next to her was in a tight black dress obviously not wearing anything under since everything was very apparent.

She approached them. “Good luck with your horse.” She again looked at Addy up and down and made sure to run her hand down her bimbo's ass as she motioned for her to go ahead of her. Alex continued to look at them as they went up to their seat. The she turned and asked. “Is touching someone's butt like that in public legal?”

There was laughter from the row of men behind them on the grandstands.

Addy coughed and it was Karen who replied. “Alex there are always inappropriate people everywhere.”

All the fanfare preceding the race was done and then it was time for the race.

“I talked to Alejandro earlier and he said he felt good. I think he is going to win.”

“Let's keep our fingers crossed.”

The race began and unlike other races, Alejandro was not immediately ahead.

“Oh no.” Karen commented. “Why is he staying behind? It's not what he does when I've seen him practice.”

“I wonder what is going on?” Addy added.

“He is measuring the opposition.” Alex commented. “He told me he was going to study the other horses.”

“And you said that was okay?” Karen asked.

“He knows what to do, Mommy. I can't tell him how to run. Running is his thing.”

Addy looked at Karen and wondered. Did Karen all of a sudden think that Alex could actually talk to Alejandro? Addy rolled her eyes, shook her head and looked back to the race track.

Alejandro was in fourth position. Half way through the race Alejandro began to gain on the other horses. Thunder was leading the pack, followed by Prairie Pride and Kingman. He quickly overtook Kingman, a few seconds later he was passing Prairie Pride and before they knew it he was head to head with Thunder. Then it happened, as if propelled by an unknown force, Alejandro took off, leaving so much distance between him and Thunder that it was hard to believe for someone not watching. When he crossed the finish line, Alejandro was ten lengths ahead of Thunder.

From the moment Alejandro began to gain on the other horses, the women became hysterical in their cheering. Every time he passed another horse the yelling and the excitement increased. By the time he was next to Thunder, Addy and Karen were clutching to each other as Alex was jumping up and down between them. They were quiet all of a sudden and all they could hear was the roar of the crowd and Alex's words. “Go boy, steady, go, go, like you know you can, like I know you can, go boy Go!” When Alejandro crossed the finish line, Karen picked Alex up and kissed her. “Come on, Addy, let's go meet them.”

Everyone around them knew they were the owners of Alejandro and as they went down the stands, everyone congratulated them. They quickly got to the winner's circle where Gyro brought him. Melanie had been with them all along and when they met Alejandro and Gyro, Victoria was already there, preliminarily checking Alejandro for any visible sign of distress. When she smiled everyone was at ease. Marshal and Carol were also there. Alex came close to Alejandro and he lowered his head to her.

“Good job, boy! You were magnificent! Are you feeling well?” She patted and caressed him. The horse enjoyed her touch and made sounds and twisted his head and appeared to enjoy her touch and her words.

“Good. I'm really happy for you. You are a real champ!”

“He says he feels fine, Victoria .” Then she turned and talked to Addy. Gyro heard her.

“M'Addy, he said he didn't even run as fast as he could. He said he could have run faster.”

Addy looked at Gyro and smiled thinking that Alex's comments were cute.

“Ms. Addy? She's right. He was not giving it his all. I think he knew he didn't have to. Alejandro knows what he is doing.”

Addy was surprised. “We'll talk later, Gyro.”

Gyro smiled and looked at Alex. “I'm glad you let me run your horse, Alex. He the best one I ever rode!”

Alex couldn't be prouder. She patted Alejandro, and the horse leaned in, seeming happy with her touch.

At the winner's circle, Alejandro wore his winning wreath and then there was a call for the owner of the horse to receive the purse and the trophy. The women came forward with Alex in hand. They gave the trophy to Alex. They had already told her that because she was a minor, she could not enter the horse in the race in her name. She understood and accepted the trophy from Addy's hands. “It's okay, M'Addy it's not really mine either. It belongs to Alejandro.”

After the race there was a brief reception and they stayed to be social and comply with protocol. There was a party that night, which they briefly attended, but they left as soon as they could with the excuse that Alex had to get to bed early. At the party, of course, Susan stopped by to congratulate them.

“That's a great horse you have there, Karen.”

Addy saw Alex's face and immediately took her away, leaving Karen and Susan alone.

“Excuse us, we were on our way to get some food. Come on baby.”

“Mommy, are we leaving Mommy Karen alone with that woman?”

“She's a big girl, Alex. She'll know what to do.”

They went towards Victoria and Mel. “Vic, go check on Karen.”

Alex continued to look at her mom. Victoria immediately spotted Karen, and didn't hesitate to take on the request the minute she realized what the situation was. Addy, Alex and Melanie began to place some food on their plates. Addy and Alex had their eyes on Karen. Addy was watchful just in case she needed to take matters into her own hands.

Victoria was more or less the same height as Karen and Susan. She was wearing a white shirt tucked inside brown dress pants and a tan blazer over it. As she approached Karen and Susan, both women looked at her.

Victoria gave Susan the check over. Going down her body, then up and taking her time on her breasts which were pretty exposed considering the chill in the air. Karen was surprised, but nothing prepared Karen for what was about to happen. Immediately after the checkout, Victoria addressed Susan.

"I'll give you 10 pounds for a quickie in the bathroom." Victoria kept as cool a face as if she had just said good morning. Karen was in shock, but her poker face immediately took over and there were no visible signs on it.

Susan opened her eyes dismayed with the proposition and looked to Karen.  Finding no signs on her ace, she looked back to Victoria . Karen then looked at Victoria still unbelieving what she had just heard.

Susan managed to speak. "I beg your pardon!  Who are you? And who do you think you are talking to?"  Susan seemed disturbed.

Victoria 's onslaught didn't stop there. She went at her again.

“In answer to your first question, I'm the one who can give you what you are looking for big time, and in answer to your second question I think I'm talking to someone who knows exactly what I'm talking about? So what's it going to be? Do you want it or not?" She made a motion with her head as if urging an answer.

Susan looked distressed, like she was going to explode. She looked at Karen as if insulted. Karen was actually enjoying it, but hiding it. She was in total awe of Victoria .

Susan didn't speak. She turned around and walked away.

Victoria grinned and Karen turned and burst out laughing.

"My God Victoria ! That was amazing! It's been years since I've seen a move like that. You are vicious! That was awesome!" She put out a hand to shake Victoria 's. They shook hands and smiled. “Thanks for the rescue.”

Victoria chuckled. “Addy sent me. And my act there, it's what happens when you deal so much with animals, you learn their behavior and use it when you need it."

The women spoke as they made their way through the crowd across the room where Melanie, Addy and Alex were sitting. “What would you have done if she had agreed?"

“Karen! She would have never agreed to such a thing in front of you. It's you she wants. And even if she had said yes, the pleasure of turning her down in front of you would have been double what I would have gotten from her."

Karen chuckled. “You are terrible!!”

Vitoria chuckled. “From one to another? Please, let's keep this between us. It was just a joke. I don't want Mel to know about this. I don't know if she would find it amusing.”

"Don't worry about it. By the way, Victoria , about Melanie—.” Karen thought this would be a good moment to bring her friend up.

“Karen, I know the difference between the 10 pound quickie type and a woman like Mel. I've played the field, and it's been a long time since I went looking for a quick one. I've also been heart-broken. I know what I'm doing now and I know what I want. I'm not playing here and Melanie knows it. We've talked.”

“Good. Melanie is like a sister to me. And by the way, am I right thinking that you and Ms. St. James have some sort of history as well?”

“Yes, and it wasn't pleasant. I will tell you, but not now.”

When they met the group, they were both smiling. Addy who knew Karen better than the palm of her hand spoke. “Judging by the smiles, you two have caused some mischief.”

Victoria lost the smile and looked at Karen thinking that they'd been caught, but still found a very smiley Karen.

“You see what happens after you've been with someone for fifteen years? They get to know your every move! Even the meaning of your smiles!” Karen came behind Addy placed her arms around her waist and kissed her under her ear.

Addy smiled and commented. “You also come to know how they avoid questions!”

Karen chuckled. “Let's get some food and get ourselves out of here. Let's have our own party at our suite.”

**

That night, Karen came to bed and cuddled next to Addy as usual. She did not receive her usual good night kiss.  They had a ritual every night where Addy would always be the first one kissing good night followed by Karen. When they didn't make love, what proceeded next was just snuggling and caressing.

Tonight there was no kiss from Addy yet. That only meant that the night was not over and that she was expecting some talk. Since she wasn't talking, it was obvious that she was expecting Karen to start. Addy knew that Karen would talk. She always did.

Karen smiled. "Okay, here's what happened."  Karen proceeded to tell her what transpired with Victoria and Susan.

"Oh my God! She didn't?"

"She did and I swear, I had trouble first believing it and then not laughing out loud right in front of Susan.   Victoria was vicious. You should have seen her."

"Never would have thought that she had it in her to do something like that!  I mean she's always quiet and reserved."

"I know.  She asked me not to tell Mel. I guess with their relationship barely starting, she doesn't want Mel thinking that is something she would actually do."

"Ker, didn't we agree that whatever we talked about in our bed was always going to be private matters?"

"Yes, baby. I'm sorry. By the way, I also think there's some history with her and Susan. Still don't know what, but I'll find out."

“The plot thickens!” Addy then kissed her and things returned to normal.

**

The day after Alex finished school, the winter of third grade, they left for their holiday vacation in the Caribbean . They would not be back until Saturday, January 8 th because school started the following Monday.

Before they left for the Caribbean that Christmas, they made arrangements for Alejandro Marshal, Carol and Gyro to spend the holidays and winter somewhere else. In a warmer, undisclosed location. It was safer that way. The next race would not be until the spring and until then, they intended to keep Alejandro and the crew away and safe.

Joey and Laurie joined them on the island with their families. Tania and her sister with their daughters were also there for New Year's. The house was packed with people. It was almost a family per room. There weren't enough beds for everyone so the kids were sleeping on air mattresses, making it into one large slumber party. They had even made an attempt to pitch a tent in the back yard and all the kids were resolved to sleep out there, except that they hadn't counted on the heat, mosquitos and other bugs. Just as soon as the situation got uncomfortable all the Boy and Girl Scout wannabes ran inside to the air conditioner and the safety of the screened house. All of the screaming and the running made for a very lively house.

Everyone spent the days playing on the beach, the boat, or enjoying all the water sports the island offered. In the evening and even at night they'd spend time at the pool. No one wore anything but bathing suits and shorts the entire time and everyone was sunburned or tanned. By the time the kids went to bed at night, they were so exhausted they quickly fell asleep. The adults weren't far behind them.

Water activities included fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, boating, scuba diving or just swimming. There was always something to do. Whatever they did something was always certain, either Karen or Addy were always alongside Alex. There were special circumstances surrounding Alex and the women were always aware of them. It only took a look from either of them to know that the situation had to be covered.

Dinner was always a cook-out and there was enough food to feed the masses. Everyone always enjoyed the time spent there and when it came the time to leave, no one wanted to go. Each year, they agreed to repeat it the following year and they always did. As the years passed by, they even added rooms to the house so that everyone would be more comfortable. They also started hiring people to cook, do laundry and pick up, so they could spend more time with family and friends. It was like a hotel operation. During this vacation time, Alex was able to spend time with the only family she had, Addy's family. The women loved the way Alex became part of the family, uniting all the pieces, as if putting together a puzzle.

Alex never wanted to leave Culebra.  She loved it there.  She also became quite good at all the water sports. They had trainers for the kids and all of them loved the fun and the adventure. Also, as Karen wished, with Addy teaching and the practice at the island, Alex was fluent in Spanish. She spoke it without an accent, something Karen had not been able to do. Alex skin tanned beautifully and her blonde hair acquired a color which contrasted beautifully with the color of her eyes. Just like her mom's, as turquoise as the Caribbean Sea itself.

To be continued in Part 9.

 

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