The late morning sun shone high in the sky, casting a warmth upon everyone it touched. It was a particularly warm day considering the late September days in England. All things considered, it was a perfect day for the last race of the English Triple Crown. People crowded in by the ton. Everyone from fancy aristocratic men and women to large families consisting of 6 or 7 children. Parasols had been broken out and used abundantly to protect the women’s fair skin from the harmful rays of the sun, but smiles were worn plenty in accordance to the beautiful weather. All the beautiful weather in the world, however, would not wash away the nearly crippling anxiety that was raging inside of Blythe.
She kept a tight grip on Mackenzie with her arm looped through his. It took everything she had to keep the smile plastered across her lips while it seemed like his came naturally. Together they walked arm in arm and entered the two story building. The building was an older structure but had recently been redone to suit the times more fashionably. Mackenzie nodded to the receptionist as they passed, leading them out a set of white French double doors that led to the track. Blythe’s eyes bulged in stupefaction at the grand sight before her. All around the track were white bucket seats filled with people. Little pops of color decorated the stands with the different parasols that had been erected to give shade among the ladies. There was a loud hum of chatter as everyone excitedly discussed what their predictions would be of the outcome. Her eyes soaked up the perfect white picket fence that lined along the stands to separate it from the track for safety purposes, there was typically a large intake of booze at these types of shindigs. The corners of Mackenzie’s lips rose a little at the sight of her in awe over a track where he had been multiple times. Anymore these days, this place bored the hell out of him with it’s pompous and arrogant crowd it drew in, always trying to kiss his ass at an attempt to boost their status. But today was different. Today, he had Blythe and somehow the place he had come to dislike had become the most beautiful peace on Earth with it’s brilliant lights shining down on the Brunette in the white and red floral sundress that hugged her curves in every delicious way. She left her hair down and her natural curls bounced with every step she took. Although she was still nervous, he could tell by her outstandingly tight grip on his elbow, her beauty surpassed anyone.
Mackenzie led her to a small set of stairs that led to the VIP lounge. The lounge was a huge one room box made strictly of glass to ensure full visibility of the races. Inside the room had single-handedly been the most luxurious set up that anyone had ever seen. Glass chandeliers hung from the ceilings over tables decorated with only the finest of table wear. Men with suits even fancier than Mackenzie’s strutted around with their large mustaches holding up their even larger personas. Women flounced around, clinging on to everything said by the said men putting their pride and dignity aside for a shot at prestige. They were everything that Blythe had imagined them to be up here, and it made her sick. But perhaps she shouldn’t judge them so quickly. After all, she was on the arm of one of England’s most elite.
“Care for a drink?” Mackenzie murmured to her although he had already reached for one from a passing cocktail waiter and begun to hand it to her.
“I’m going to need it.”
His deep chuckle caused her body to relax, even though he had been laughing at how quickly she gulped down the first flute of champagne. Without hesitation he handed her his glass and steered them in the direction of a table situated right in front of the glass windows. From here they could oversee the entire track with the gates directly below them.
“Wow.” She cleared her throat, peering below them. “Is this what it’s like to watch the races from the throne?” Her words were phrased in a question but her tone suggested that it was more of a jab towards the aristocracy.
“More like from the clouds. You know. Because we’re worshiped like Gods.”
“Real funny, Mackenzie. Real funny.” She narrowed her eyes at his sarcasm and tried to hold strong lest his flawless smile drag her in.
“Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to the St. Leger Stakes races…” The announcer sounded from the speakers all along the course. Blythe moved to the edge of her seat anxiety, adrenaline, and excitement practically exuding from her person. While her eyes examined everything she could find out of the glass panes, his eyes remained on her. Another perfect example of an image that would be permanently engraved in his memory. He hoped he would never forget the flush of thrill on her cheeks, or the way her fingers nervously clenched and unclenched on her glass whilst the other hand sought out to hold his.
Ramona had enough nerves to last her the rest of her lifetime. Not only had this been the first time she had been to such a major race, let alone running her horses in one. With every stroke of the brush running along Maid Marion, she took a deep breath. Everything was going to go fine. The scraggly wig she had placed on her head paired with the dirt smeared and torn clothing she wore painted her like just another scrub working for the big men up top. There was no possible way that she would be noticed… right? Shaking her head, she tried to focus on the task at hand. In less than an hour her horse would be underneath the jockey she and Blythe had agreed on and soon they would be zipping down the track. It made her giddy inside to finally get the name of her horses out there. She didn’t care that it was all under the pretense of Blythe. All she cared about was that her horses were finally getting recognition for the incredible equine they were.
After carefully brushing every inch of the filly Ramona made sure that the horses main was silky and braided back to ensure it wouldn’t snag on anything. She was next in line to produce her horse to the inspection room. Every horse goes through inspection to get a pass in order to get to the tracks. The big wigs had made it mandatory after someone a few years back tried to smuggle in steroids for their equine to boost their adrenaline right before the start. Bunch of shady blokes, if you ask her. Since she wasn’t one of the big names, Ramona was last in line to get through. She had carefully watched everyone enter before her with a nervous bile rising in her stomach. The room was a single entry and single exit only. The horse was led in the doors she stood in front of and left through a set of doors on the opposite side of the room that made way to the track.
The door shut behind the last entry and latched with a click. Ramona let out a breath that she had been holding in. “Just you and me now, girl. We got this.”
“Funny how you thought that shoddy disguise would work, Ramona.”
Her entire body when stock still. If there were ever a voice she would erase from her life, it would be that one. How had he gotten in here? Mackenzie gave his word that she would be safe! There was no way that Mackenzie wouldn’t honor that. Someone slipped him in.
“Ah, what’s wrong lass? ‘Yer not fond of seeing me again?” She tried her hardest not to turn around and give him the satisfaction of seeing the utter terror on her face. That option was quickly taken from her when he grabbed her shoulder painfully and spun her around, slamming her against the side of her filly. The horse whinnied and took a couple of steps to the side to avoid the quarrel. The slimy smile on the man grew wider at the horror in her eyes. He was just like she remembered. Greasy. Spoiled. Putrid. He stood more than a foot taller than her which gave him leverage to hover. The smell of him assaulted her nose and she had to force her breakfast back down. He smelled like he had been living in a landfill his whole life, which wasn’t very far off. The natural strawberry-blonde color of his hair was tainted with grime and looked like a dull brown, but she knew better. After all, this was the man that raised her.
“I took you into my home and spent years of my life bringing up your spoiled ass. How do you repay me?” He spat, spittle landing on the bridge of her nose. His left hand pointed to one of his eyes. The flashback of her picking up a tarnished silver fork and thrusting it directly into his eye socket. What was left of it now remained of a fleshy pocket that was covered by a rag. This had all been years ago, when she was 15. The pathetic excuse of a human that stood before her had made her life miserable since the moment he fostered her. From the beatings that she endured over the littlest things to the horrid nights he spent sneaking into her room. One day she had finally gotten fed up with it all and took matters into her own hands. Ever since she had been on the run from him. She knew he had connections all over and could easily find her if she had not been careful. Rumors had reached her that he had scouts, old buddies of his, attempting to track her down so that he may one day drag her back to the hell she fought so hard to escape.
Her entire body was numb. So numb she couldn’t feel the tears flowing relentlessly down both cheeks. “H-how…?”
The man grabbed her by the neck with one black stained hand and slugged her body against the wall, causing her to let go of the reigns of Maid Marion. A hand clapped over her mouth before she had the chance to scream. Searing pain shot through the back of her head and down her neck, a familiar pain for her.
“You mean, how did I find you? Silly girl, you knew I would one day. It was only a matter of time. ‘Yer not as slick as you thought you were. Word of mouth spread that you were looking for a jockey for these damned races. How many men did you sleep with to get here?” His face was so close to hers that she could practically see the psychosis raging war behind his nearly black irises. “Sam, here, had been biding his time and waiting for you to choose just the right one. When you did, he whacked him. Off’d him. He’s dead and gone because of you and your stupid games!” His voice had gotten progressively louder. She would give anything to shrink right into the wall behind her and disappear forever. Over his shoulder she could see ‘Sam’ walking up behind them. His face held no remorse for the actions he set in motion. Without another glance at the two, he grabbed the reigns for the horse and led her skillfully into the inspection room. A low feeling sunk deep in her gut when she realized they were truly alone now.
A sharp jab to her stomach. The sickening crunch of her wrist. A uppercut to her jaw causing dislocation. Several slams of her head against the brick wall resulting in blurry vision. The methodical snap, snap, snap of each of her fingers. The hand tightened on her throat, cutting off her supply of oxygen. It wasn’t long before the edges of her vision began to blacken.
“Try and run now, bitch.”