“Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats as the races are about to begin!” The over zealous announcer commanded over the speakers. Chatter began to die down once everyone had taken their seats, but the quiet hum of excitement never dulled. Blythe sat at a high top table with Mackenzie’s arm comfortably wrapped around her waist. Her anxiety had been in full force but his constant reassurances that absolutely nothing would happen to her gave her a small bit of peace. After she had received that letter he immediately sent out word that anyone under his control were to be on red alert and on the look out for Thornton. Knowing that there were more than half-a-dozen men keeping their eyes peeled for the slime bag gave her enough solace to be able to watch the races. Her eyes skimmed over the racers in the gates and found the familiar horse. Maid Marion was stomping and whipping her head back and forth, signaling she was ready. Blythe narrowed her eyes into a squint and leaned forward trying to get a better look at the jockey on her back.
“Mackenzie… That’s not my jockey…”
“I know…” She looked over to see him awkwardly scratching at the back of his head. Despite her intense staring he refused to make eye contact. “There were some… Complications. But it’s all taken care of. Byron found a substitute, and I trust his judgement.”
“What the hell…” She whispered, narrowing her eyes further at him. She didn’t get to ask him any further questions because the iconic sound from the signaling gun when off with a loud bang and the gates flew open. If she had flung herself any further off the edge of her seat her chair would have surely toppled but Mackenzie kept his grip firm on her waist and had been the only thing keeping her upright. Fingers nervously gripped the edges of the table giving Blythe’s knuckles a pale white hue. She pulled her lip in between her teeth and waited to see who snatched the hole shot. Three or four horses battled between each other for first place, but eventually a light grey filly pulled ahead further than the rest. Their hooves were pounding so hard against the hard track it felt like Blythe’s heartbeats were matching their rhythm. Everything moved in almost slow motion to her. Jockey’s well balanced bodies hovered expertly above the horses, almost looking like a children’s toy with the mechanical way their hips pivoted with the actions of the horse. They were leaned in low to their animals, keeping the aerodynamics of the sport. Her eyes landed on the matching purple set up her and Ramona had agreed upon for their team. Maid Marion had begun a slow but steady game up catch-up with the grey filly in the lead.
“In the lead we have Wisteria, a grey filly brought to you by John Thornton. The excellent breeding in the filly shining through.”
Blythe’s breath hitched when the announcer said Thornton’s name. Mackenzie’s fingers tightened, digging into her hips. She glanced over and noticed that he had been just as deep into the races as she had. Judging by the tick in his jaw he had noticed the name as well.
“In a close second we have Jet Pilot, a beautiful quarter horse by Beatrice LaDoux-Holy Smokes! Jet Pilot has just been passed by the third place, Maid Marion from Blythe Davies! What a ride! Let’s see if she can take on our leader!”
By now, Blythe had jumped out of her chair and placed her hands against the glass windows. Excitement, fear, and adrenaline had been pushing her to get her as close as she could. They were so close! This wasn’t only about retribution on Thornton, but a major step for Ramona. She had worked so hard to get these horses into shape to fulfill her dream and it would be huge for Ramona to win her first race. Blythe’s heart hadn’t slowed in the slightest and now the rapid rise of her chest threatened to explode.
Behind her, Mackenzie turned when he felt a tap on his shoulder. A very disgruntled Byron stood behind him. His eyes flickered to Blythe and decided it best not to pull her away from the races. The two men took a few steps back to place them in a corner of the room where they could still keep an eye on her but far enough away that their conversation could still be private.
“Ramona was jumped. Remi walked in just in time to save her. It was Slink, he found her. I’m not sure how he got in, but it could have been bad.”
“Fuck!” Mackenzie ran a thick hand down his face. “None of this get’s back to Blythe until after the races. I want Ramona checked out. Is Slink taken care of?”
“Remi left a bullet between his brows. He’s working on cleaning up the evidence. One last thing that we have to worry about.”
“Excellent. And we don’t have to worry about Thornton’s horse, correct?”
Byron shook his head in a silent answer. Mackenzie nodded and fixed his slightly disheveled hair before turning back to make his way to their table. There hadn’t been any more to say between the two men; each knew what needed to be done next. Byron slipped himself out the door to assist Remi and ensure that Ramona was going to turn out alright. On his way through the doorframe his body hit something hard. Bringing himself back to focus, Byron’s eyes scanned the body of the male in front of him that had caused the collision. The guy grumbled his apologies while Byron eyed him. He seemed nervous with a slight bit of perspiration on his brow. The way he nervously chewed on the skin of his lips only enhanced Byron’s curiosity. Along with his bizarre mannerisms, he wasn’t fit to be dressed like he belonged in this luxury box. He was clad in a simple white button up that you could buy from any corner shop around town and a pair of dingy blue jeans. His sneakers had seen better days but one could tell he had tried to shine them up for the day.
Without a word, Byron watched as the guy slipped past him and made his way to a table centered somewhere in the middle of the room. Byron noticed a old tweed jacket hanging on the back of the chair he sat in. There was something strange about him that struck Byron but it appeared like any common man seated around his acquaintances at a table during the races. Byron shook his head slightly trying to clear it. It must have been a friend of a friend type of situation otherwise it would be typically frowned upon to arrive dressed as such.
It was the last lap of the race and Blythe was pretty sure she had frayed nearly every loose thread she could find on her dress she was so nervous. For the last few laps Lady Marion and Wisteria had been battling for first place. It seemed like every time Lady Marion would get the jump on the other horse, Wisteria would catch a boost and fly past her. Sometimes Blythe was half tempted to place her hand over her eyes and watch through her fingers. Her eyes flickered up to the flip cards that informed the area’s guests which lap was current, worked by two men dressed for the occasion. Both men were antsy to flip over the last lap card to determine the final winner, and they weren’t the only ones. Mackenzie had unconsciously downed nearly three glasses of bourbon by the last lap, his fingers tightening and relaxing around the crystal in his hand.
Blythe sucked in a deep breath when she heard the announcer narrate the last few meters of the race. Her eyes narrowed at the two horses flying at mock speed to reach the finish line. There was something off about Thornton’s horse. Her head had begun to sag and if she hadn’t been paying such close attention, Blythe would have missed Wisteria tripping over her own hooves. The announcer’s voice got louder which seemed to pull Blythe’s eyes back to the picture of Ramona’s horse pulling ahead. Her teeth were starting to hurt from grinding them so harshly and her eyes threatened to itch with how dry they were from staring so hard. Hooves moved. Horses grunted. Breathing stopped. Eyes followed every movement. Heartbeats were louder as the blood rushed through their ears. For a moment; silence. It felt like the whole world had been put on pause. Then an copious about of screaming broke through the hushed barrier and bringing the world back into rotation. They had won!
“And Lady Marion pulls though at the last second and rushes over the finish line! That’s how it’s done folks! For the first time in racing history Lady Marion from Blythe Davies has won the St. Leger Stakes race!”
There was so much shouting coming from all around her. She could even hear the sounds of the crowds outside of the box. Hundreds of people were standing, jumping up and down in the spots. Many were clapping, hooting, and hollering. Even inside the entire atmosphere had changed. Everyone that had been previously sitting had risen and shot directly for Blythe. Congratulations and abundance of ‘good jobs’ and ‘excellent work’ nearly overwhelmed her. What really got her was when Mackenzie picked her up in a giant hug and spun her around a few times. He didn’t say anything, but he didn’t have to. The sparkle in his eye said it all when he set her down and placed a feeling packed kiss right on her lips. More roaring came from those around them at the display but nothing could pull her from the cloud nine she had currently been perched on.
Ending the chapter on a happy note here since it’s taken me so long to publish a new one! Sorry for the MIA everyone! Sometimes life get’s in the way. But don’t worry, we are so close to finishing up the story! Hang in there! Thanks so much for reading and as always; stay safe and don’t forget to vote/review!