Chapter 16-Horses for Sale!
Chapter 16: Horses for Sale!
“This horse is a fine specimen, Señor,” the salesman told Erik of a white mare that stood next to him. Erik nearly snatched the lead rope from the man and pulled the horses face close to his own. He examined the side of the animal’s head as it picked its head up suddenly.
“What breed is it?” he wondered, thoughtfully.
“Lusitano, Señor,” the other man replied, watching Erik examine the horse.
“She is a beauty,” he nodded in agreement. “Do you not agree, Beatrice?”
“I do,” she nodded, standing next to him.
“She could be yours,” he whispered, patting the animal’s neck.
“That would be nice,” she whispered back. “But she had not caught my eye.”
Erik sighed. This game was getting tiresome. They had been there for hours and he still could not find the one she had wanted. When they had first arrived, Esperanza had dragged Beatrice off somewhere, leaving Ruban and Erik to look leisurely at the horses for sale. He had seen a few that would suit Beatrice near perfectly, and this one in front of him was one. When the girls came back, Beatrice had told him that she found the horse she wanted but he had to figure out which one it was without her help.
“Beatrice, I grow tired of your games,” he sighed, handing the horse back to the salesman as they walked away. “Why do you not just tell me which horse you want?”
“Because it is much more fun to make you guess,” she smiled sweetly, slipping her hand into his as they walked. “Can you not just play along?”
“I have shown you at least a dozen horses that you would like, and you say no to every one of them! This guessing is giving me a headache!”
“You have two more chances and then I shall show you the horse I desire.”
Erik sighed again. Two more?! Was she trying to give him a stroke?! Certainly all of this brainwork was not good for him! Well, perhaps he could show her the two he had thought she would like? He searched the horses and saw a buckskinned color that he had seen before. It was a lean looking horse, a dainty mare that would make Beatrice look ever so elegant atop it. He led Beatrice toward it and she smiled at his sudden eagerness. She stepped ahead of him when they reached the horse and ran her hand down its neck.
“Isn’t she a beauty?” the salesman smiled.
Beatrice nodded as she petted the animal. She ran her fingers through the combed, black mane on the horse’s neck and patted its back.
“It is an Azteca,” Erik whispered in her ear, coming up behind her. “You would look beautiful on it.”
“I would look even more beautiful on the one I chose,” she smiled in a whisper. Erik sighed and bowed his head in exasperation, and she giggled.
“My head hurts too much for this,” he groaned, rubbing his temples.
“Stop being so dramatic, Erik,” she smiled walking around the horse’s rump. “I am sure that with your vast intelligence you can see which horse I have chosen for myself.”
“My vast intelligence has not been tried like this for so long,” he explained, walking around to meet her in front of the horse again.
“Well, we will just have to try you a bit harder every day,” she smiled.
“Please, Beatrice,” he groaned.
“One last chance,” she said, holding her index finger to his lips.
He sighed and nodded. He searched for the other horse he had seen early, and he was sure if that was not the one she wanted he would go absolutely mad. There it was! The tall one with the almost silk-like fur! She was sure to love that one!
Erik nearly dragged her toward it, and he heard her giggling behind him but he was sure this one was the one she wanted. It was the only mare they hadn’t looked at. The salesman stood next to the horse and was about to speak when Erik raised his hand to silence him. He pulled Beatrice in front of the horse and waited for her to say something along the lines of, “This is the one! I must have it!” To Erik’s total and utter disappointment, she merely shook her head.
“A beauty, to be sure, but not the one I had my eye on,” she shrugged.
Erik growled in frustration, making her look at him with wide eyes.
“I am no longer guessing which one you want!” he growled. “Take me to it and I will buy it for you!”
The silent salesman stared at Erik in fear and slowly moved the horse he was selling away from the masked man before the animal was hurt. Beatrice glanced at the man then looked back at Erik, pursing her lips in irritation at is sudden foul mood. She walked toward him quickly and gripped his arm, dragging him down the isle again. They passed so many horses, Erik was sure that Ruban and Esperanza would not be able to find them again. When they finally stopped, Beatrice stood next to a huge animal with a black coat, mane and tail that looked as if it they been polished. The mane had a slight wave to it, and some of it fell down the horse’s face.
Erik glanced at the magnificent thing then at Beatrice. This was the she had chosen? How could he have missed such a beautiful animal?!
“Ah, señora, you have returned!” the salesman smiled standing between Beatrice and the animal. “Come to buy this beauty, eh?”
“If my husband will allow, yes,” she nodded, hinting to Erik that he had better say yes.
Erik stared at the horse as it simply stood, waiting to be told what to do. He ran a hand down the animal’s neck and glided it across the shoulder then down its back. He could feel the power in the muscles. A strong horse, to be sure, and a beauty besides.
“What breed is she?” Erik wondered.
“He is an Andalusian,” the salesman replied, and Erik looked back at the man with wide eyes filled with surprise.
“He?” he repeated, and the salesman nodded.
That couldn’t be right! Beatrice knew better than to choose a male! Mares were much more lady-like, and gentler besides! This man must be playing some elaborate joke! Time for an investigation.
Erik moved toward the horse’s rump and bent down to make it look like he was examining its hind legs, but he was looking for evidence of its gender. Sure enough, he found what he was looking for, and the man was unfortunately right. Erik stood up and patted the horse’s back then walked toward Beatrice who still stood next to the salesman, her hands on her hips as she waited for his answer.
“No,” he said flatly and Beatrice’s eyes grew wide as her hands fell to her sides.
“What?” she breathed.
“No,” he replied again.
“I said no, Beatrice. End of discussion.”
Beatrice was taken aback by his interruption and watched in amazement as he started walking away. She stomped her foot in sudden rage that he had dismissed her that way and turned to the salesman.
“I will be right back,” she whispered and the man nodded.
Beatrice ran after Erik and stood in front of him blocking his path.
“Do not throw a tantrum here, Beatrice,” he pleaded.
“You said you would buy anything I wanted,” she reminded him, more than happy to throw his own words back in his face as payback for his treatment of her. “That is the horse I want.”
“Ladies do not belong on stallions,” Erik replied, as if that explained everything. Beatrice suddenly smirked, knowing exactly how to respond to that comment.
“I would beg to differ,” she retorted so low he almost could not hear her, and he frowned in confusion at her.
She was going to enjoy this. This was the perfect opportunity to pay him back for all the times he was flirting shamelessly with her and making her head spin because of it. She knew her opponent’s ways, now she would use them against him.
“Beatrice, what are you talking about?” Erik wondered.
She suddenly stepped so close to him that their breath mingled between them and one of her hands slid up his arm and around his neck. He stayed still not knowing what to do and in shock that she was being this way in public.
“I am sure that most ladies would prefer to ride a stallion,” she smiled mischievously as she looked into his eyes.
Erik’s mind went reeling. This was not Beatrice. She would not try to go against his word when he knew it was for her own good, would she? There was a logical explanation for why he did not want her on a stallion: They were unpredictable. A mare wouldn’t hurt her.
Erik suddenly realized something when he repeated her words in his head, she had emphasized a certain word. His eyes grew wide and Beatrice’s grin grew wider as she saw the realization in is eyes. That was a wicked remark! She was suggesting something else! Did his little one just say that?! Did she know what she was saying?!
“I’ve never ridden a stallion before,” she continued, ignoring his attempted plea.
The tone of her voice and the way she was looking at him, not to mention what she was saying was sending his mind into a frenzy! Images that he should not have been seeing were playing through his head and if she didn’t stop, he was sure he was going to show her exactly what he was thinking.
“You know how to end this, Erik!” his mind yelled at him. “One of two things can happen. Either you buy the horse for her or you drag her home, kicking and screaming. Whatever you do just pick one!”
“Alright, you can have him,” he finally replied roughly.
Beatrice’s face lit up and she wrapped both her arms around his neck, hugging him fiercely.
“Thank you!” she smiled and ran back toward the salesman with Erik trailing behind.
He breathed deeply and ran a hand through his hair. Not really the choice he had wanted to make, but it made her happy…and it got her to stop being so damn seductive! When he reached the two, he paid the man for the horse and the man led the animal to a stall that said “sold” on it.
“What will you name him?” Erik wondered as he and Beatrice began walking again.
“I am not sure yet,” Beatrice confessed. “Perhaps something Egyptian.”
“Yes. Maybe I shall name him after an Egyptian pharaoh.”
They thought for a moment, both trying to think of an Egyptian name.
“Ramses,” they both replied after a moment and they looked at each other in surprise.
“It is perfect,” Beatrice laughed, slightly.
“Great minds think alike, obviously,” Erik smirked making Beatrice giggle.
“Erik! Beatrice!” a familiar voice called.
The two turned around to see Esperanza and Ruban coming toward them and they stopped so that their friends could catch up. Esperanza immediately took Beatrice’s hands and looked into her eyes.
“Well?” she asked, obviously about the horse Beatrice had wanted. Beatrice simply nodded and Esperanza hugged her in excitement. “Did he protest?” Beatrice nodded. “What happened?”
Beatrice glanced at Erik with a small smile and he straightened in a bit of discomfort at the memory of her being so suggestive as she smirked, “Let us just say that my persuasion helped change his mind.”
“Beatrice! You are wicked!” she whispered and giggled.
“Not nearly,” Beatrice smiled back, shaking her head.
Ruban and Erik looked at each other and shook their heads, both having fallen victim to feminine wiles more than once.
“Women,” they muttered together. The girls looked at them and made faces at their husbands.
“Men,” they replied.
The men rolled their eyes. If only the Castillos had been in Beatrice’s and Erik’s minds, they would no that they were acting as though they were annoyed with each other.
Beatrice couldn’t help but dwell on the fact that “persuading” Erik had more of an effect on her than she thought it would. It seemed that being so suggestive had brought a feeling to her that she had never really experienced before. She wanted him. Natural enough, considering that she was attracted to him, and he was a man and she was a woman, but this pretending to be husband and wife was becoming too much. She knew they could not be together, that way, out of wed-lock, but their pretending made it almost necessary that they should eventually. It was not lost on either of them that they were becoming very close. After all, they slept in each other’s arms every night. But Beatrice knew that he would never see her that way. She was nothing compared to Christine.
Erik, on the other hand, knew what was happening to him. He couldn’t deny it any longer. He was becoming attached to Beatrice and it showed in the way he had just lost his will power under her charms. Oh, yes, he knew he was slowly and surely falling in love with her, he just needed something to absolutely prove it. Certainly his gift giving had proven it? In two days he had managed to give her three things that she absolutely adored. But he wasn’t sure that it was only that. He loved spending time with her. He could be anywhere in the world as long as she was with him, it had been that way from the beginning. Certainly his jealousy and rage at finding her beneath another man had proven it, and his reaction at finding out she was alright afterward. He might have been, but he wasn’t sure yet, that he was in love with her.
“Erik?” Beatrice called, making him jump as she slid her hand into his and when she had his attention she smiled, “Esperanza has invited us to a masquerade ball they are hosting.”
“Is that so?” he wondered looking at the couple in front of them.
“Yes,” Ruban nodded. “Ever since we built the opera house it has been our tradition. We host it at our hacienda.”
“It would mean so much if you could come!” Esperanza pleaded, clutching her husband’s arm in excitement.
“When is it?” Erik wondered.
“Next week,” Ruban replied.
“Sunday night,” Esperanza smiled, hinting at Erik that it was the day after he was supposed to get Beatrice’s wedding ring. He sighed at her reminder but managed to smile down at Beatrice.
“I suppose if we are not too busy,” he replied and she smiled at him in amusement. He just couldn’t say no to her.
“When, pray tell, are we ever busy?” she whispered and Erik glared down at her, but as soon as he saw this the perfect opportunity to pay her back for her suggestive remarks earlier, he grinned mischievously. As Beatrice frowned in confusion at his actions he leaned toward her ear.
“Whenever we are not in bed, mon ange,” he whispered, leaving a kiss on her earlobe. He stood tall again and out of the corner of her eye he noticed that her entire face, neck, and chest were a crimson red, and it made him smile in triumph.
“That will teach you to try to play a player,” he thought.