Author Topic: Finding Hope at Follyfoot  (Read 17143 times)

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2012, 06:47:18 PM »
Thank you to everyone who continues to read, I really appreciate it; special mentions go to Suzy, Marie, Loopylin, Rob, Loopy and Pen. Enjoy! ;)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Thirteen – A Woman of Mystery

Serena pulled her hair through the band, securing a tight ponytail; she smiled slightly as she took in her reflection; her pale skin clear and devoid of make-up (for a change, even though she wore only a little normally anyways!), drawing attention to the brown and cream, half-hoop earrings teamed with her high-waisted, denim jeans and white, panelled jumper with a white heart motif. Just like old times…

She blinked and shook her head, trying to discard the memory. “Come on, girl.”
Meg stood up and trotted obediently out onto the landing as Serena grabbed her jacket; a lighter denim than her jeans, embroidered with a large, pink cherry blossom on the back.
“Only a short walk today.” Serena grinned. “I thought I’d be tiring you out with this, not you tiring me out!”

“Don’t tell me you’re off walking again?” Sim laughed softly, taking his fiancée in his arms.
“And if we are?” Her laugh was lilting. “You know that you’re more than welcome to join us, get some fresh country air?”
“Sadly, my darling, I do not have your stamina, what about you, Rita?”
“Don’t look at me!”
Rita countered, waggling a wooden spoon. “These scones won’t make themselves you know!”
“Alone again, naturally.” Serena laughed softly, quoting the recent offering from Gilbert O’Sullivan. “Well, not entirely.” She nodded to Meg.
Sim stroked Serena’s cheek with the back of his index finger. “Take care of yourself.”
“I always do, I won’t be out for very long. I’ll see you later.”
She kissed his lips.

She bade her mum goodbye and walked out the door and through the gate, Meg close at her side; Rita sighed to herself…a lot had changed but she was still searching…

Cooper whickered quietly as Dora forked in some fresh bedding.
“Don’t fuss.” She admonished softly. “I know you want to go out but you need fresh bedding, now help me. Lift your foot Copper, there’s a good boy.”
She loved him so much, well she loved all the horses but Copper was a little special, not just from the fact he’d been a birthday present from her Uncle…he just...was, really.

A short time later, Copper was saddled up and being walked out.
“I shan’t be long.” Dora told Steve as she swung up into the saddle.
“Alright.” He replied. “Don’t forget, Callie’s coming over to visit Moonstone this afternoon.”
She grinned impishly. “How could I?” She and Copper trotted away.
Steve sighed to himself. “Let her be right.” He thought.
With everything that had occurred recently, he really didn’t have the strength to deal with Callie and her crush… 

Sitting under the tree a little while later, Serena stared out at the landscape, stroking Meg, who lay at her side. The peace and tranquillity of faded shadows cast by the sun, the quiet busyness of wildlife fluttered around her like a thousand butterflies…nothing could happen here…in her own private, little corner of the world she could just be.
Part of her didn’t want to leave but remembering her earlier promise to Sim, she stood up with a heavy sigh.
“Homeward bound for us, methinks.” Meg opened one eye and gazed lazily. “Come on.” She wouldn’t move, Serena sighed softly.Now you want to rest?” She chuckled then looked up over the hill…should she? “I’ll be back.”

“Go on, off you go.” Steve patted the young Shetland’s back, sending it into the field before returning to the yard.
The donkey’s brayed softly at the sight of him, he smiled, Ron and Slugger often bemoaned them more than the horses but secretly, Steve knew that they cared about them.

The place was quiet, Serena noticed as she peeped over the wall, the yard empty save for the donkeys and…Steve, wasn’t it?

“What are you doing?” She asked herself incredulously as her watch briefly scraped the stone.
The sound was so fine that most people would not have noticed, unlike Steve who had been blessed with an almost bat-like sense of hearing; he looked up and thought he recognised the faint figure hidden at the wall.

“Hi.” He walked closer. “Serena, isn’t it?”
She stilled but didn’t move to leave; she nodded. “Hello again…Steve, right?” Thank G*d for her memory, it often overrode her nervousness in situations.
“Thank goodness, I often worry I’ll call someone by the wrong name when I meet them again.
” She flicked a loose hair behind her ear. “I was walking through the area, thought I’d pop by and say hello; don’t worry, I won’t run away this time.” They both chuckled at her joke.
“Would you like to have a look ‘round?”
“Thank you.”
Her cautious side sent off warning bells, still she nodded and timorously walked over.

She looked around quickly, in much the same way as she had when Ron had accepted her help the day before last; her stomach flipped nervously as she opened the gate and slowly stepped over the threshold.

Suddenly, Ron whooped as he came haring through the gate, catching Serena at a glancing blow and sending her sprawling, landing on her side; she quickly glanced around, realising that there was nothing to pull herself up with.
“Oh damnation.” She muttered, how would she get out of this?

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Steve hurried to help her to her feet
“Thank you; it’s not your fault.” Her fingers wrapped around his arm. “I seem to have caused a bit of stir.”

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2012, 06:56:13 PM »
“Are you hurt?”
Subtly she touched her ears, relived that her earrings were still in-situ.
“Oh Ron, yet again!” He growled.
“It was my fault entirely, I wasn’t looking where I was going, and I should have been.”
“Don’t make excuses for him, he should know better.”
He looked back at her, his eyebrows rising. “Oh no, your jumper.”

It was only then that she noticed the pure white wool of her jumper was caked in dirt.

“Oh.” She laughed softly. “No harm done.” Carefully she picked straw from her hair.
“Are you alright, love?” Ron sauntered over, cheeky smile in full bloom.
“You’re an idiot, Ron.” Steve snapped. “What the blazes did you think you were doing?!”
“Gentlemen, please…”

Ron, at recognising Serena too, was immediately apologetic. “I didn’t mean it or nuffink, I didn’t see ya.”
Serena shook her head. “As I say, no harm done; it’ll dry and brush out, I’m sure.”
“How many times has the Colonel warned you about bringing that blasted thing through here?! You know it frightens the horses!”

Ron bowed his head slightly. “Sorry again.” He spoke softly to Serena before glaring at Steve and skulking away.
“He never learns.” Steve shook his head in disbelief. 
“It was an accident.” Serena went to brush some grit down and off her sleeve. 
“Careful.” He stopped her. “You’re bleeding.”
She raised her eyebrows at the long, bloodied graze on her right arm, through the
plucked stitches. ”Ah. It’s nothing, just a little scratch.”
“We need to get something on that right away.”
“Really, there’s no need; I do not wish to inconvenience anyone.”
She’d barely finished the sentence as Steve led her into the farmhouse; she turned her eyes skyward. “Oh help me.” She begged inwardly.
“Sluggs?” Steve called.
“Please, this really isn’t necessary.”
Slugger appeared in the kitchen doorway. “What’s the matta, son?”
“This is Serena, she’s hurt her arm; Ron practically knocked her over coming through the gate.”
“It’s just a scratch, really.”
“Sit down here.”
Slugger motioned to the chair in front of him. “Sorry about Ron, miss…’e don’t me no ‘arm.”
Despite her unease, Serena smiled. “Serena, please. I realise that, it was my doing at any rate. You’re so kind to be doing this.”

A few minutes later, Serena, (arm cleaned and a coat of Germolene applied!), was back outside with Steve. She had taken her place in the nook by the donkey pen and was sweeping as they talked, despite Steve’s protests that she needn’t do so, it wasn’t her job but Serena assured him otherwise, claiming that if her jumper did get any dirtier no-one would notice!

“I live in London; I’m from around here originally.” She named the tiny village next over from Tockwith. “Just visiting for a few weeks, family.” She sighed wistfully. “The hills are so beautiful; I spent many a day walking them over the years.”
“I‘ve noticed you up here a couple of times with your dog.”
“Meg? Yes, usually she doesn’t follow me all the way; she did the other day but well...”

She smiled apologetically as she looked up at him. “What happened to that horse, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“He died.”

Serena’s lips pursed sympathetically as she paused in her work and absently stroked Smokey. “I am sorry.” Her eyes flashed with a sort of angered sadness. “I heard the young lady saying at the time he was suffering. How could anyone allow it, it’s beyond me!”
“I know.”
He looked up at her, recognising the same expression of incredulity that both he and Dora were known for.

They continued to talk for some time mostly Follyfoot and other neutral subjects, briefly touching on Steve’s working there and his zeal in regards to horses though nothing more; Steve was usually guarded around people but there was something about Serena that put him at ease, they actually seemed to have something in common.

“It’s nice, you know?” She looked up at him, briefly resting her chin on her hands that lay curved across the broom handle’s top. “To hear that someone cares for them; so many just…throw them away, for wont of a better phrase, when they are deemed useful no longer.” Her heart squeezed as a memory and feelings collided in her chest. 
“A second chance, as Dora says…well, we all do.”
“Well, thank goodness for that is all I can say.”
She smiled, pushing the flash of melancholic thought aside.

Serena, too, felt at ease with this wise stable-hand; she cocked her head and watched him for a moment. She could not fathom it at all but this place, him…it was oddly natural, calming her in a way she’d not felt for…well, a long time.

Her sixth sense came to life then and she twitched protectively then a few minutes later,
her ears pricked up at a distant sound that reminded her of how things were different now…

“I should get back.” She leant the fork and broom up in their places again.
“Okay. Thanks for your help, you didn’t have to. Sorry again about earlier.”
“I didn’t mind at all and please don’t apologise.”
Steve walked her to the gate; she carefully helped him close it behind her. “Actually, I should be thanking you for everything you did and for letting me help.”
He smiled bashfully. “Would you come back?” He asked softly, surprising both himself and her.
She looked back at him. “I’d like that.” A shy, sort of half-smile crossed her mouth. “See you soon, then.”

As she left, Steve turned thoughtful; what had made him ask something like that, that was most certainly out of character for him and something else had caught his eye. Earlier on, he had noticed the subtle gesture…she was a mystery alright.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2012, 07:00:25 PM »
“Hello?”  Serena called as she let herself in; Meg padded on in front and curled up on the fireside rug.
“Good walk?” Rita’s head popped around the kitchen doorway.
“Excellent!” Serena removed her jacket and stepped into the kitchen. “Although there was a slight mishap…” She revealed her graze and mudded garment.
Rita chuckled softly, her eyebrow rising.
“I know, just like old times.” Serena chuckled too. “Do you think it can be mended, I mean I’ll have a try…”
“Nonsense, I’ll do it for you, just give to me later, I’ll wash it and see what I can do.”
“Thanks Mum.”
She kissed her on the cheek.
“Now, let me see this graze.” She looked it over.  “Hm. It is fairly clean.”
“I stopped at the farm; they were kind enough to help me.”
She explained; a slight, rueful smile to her mother anointing to her day’s whereabouts.
“Ah. Well, I’ll give it another, a touch more ointment and a bit of lint and it’ll be right as rain.”  Rita went to cupboard took out the things she needed. “Once this is done, get upstairs to change your jumper and wash your hands, young miss.” She waggled her finger, pretending to be cross. “You’re already 10 minutes late for lunch.”
“I promise I’ll stay out of trouble.”
She played along by putting on her best ‘hang-dog’ expression.
“Serena, I thought I heard you…” Sim appeared, smiling; it disappeared when he saw her arm. “Darling! What happened?”
“I’m fine, Sim.”
Serena assured him. “I lost my footing, slid down a bank a little ways, that’s all.”
“Are you alright?”
His Sapphire eyes roamed her face for any signs of injury or pain.
“It’s just a little graze, nothing serious. I’m still in one piece!”
“Serena, this hill-walking business is so dangerous; I couldn’t bear it if something happened to you.”
“Nothing will, please don’t worry yourself so much, it’s not good for you.”
She kissed his cheek.

Sitting alone in her room that night, Serena replayed the day’s events over in her mind; she’d keep her promise, of that there was no doubt, after that…
She sighed, it felt so right but the fear was too close…if she didn’t stop now it would unravel…she needed to protect this.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2012, 07:09:41 PM »
Thank you to everyone who continues to read, I really appreciate it, the last few days have been fraught, so it’s just the tonic; special mentions go to Marie, Rob, Loopy, Pen., Loopylin, Gillian G and Suzy. Enjoy! ;)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Fourteen – Decisions, Decisions

The sun was pleasantly warm as Serena took to the hill again on Wednesday morning, Meg trotting along at her side; Serena smiled, her earlier observation was stronger than ever…anyone would think Meg was an oversized pup the way she’d suddenly feel the light breeze at her tail and gambol away, though given her training a short, soft whistle from her mistress would bring her to a halt.
Serena paused, dropping to one knee as she gave a whistle to call her back. “Good girl.” She rubbed her ears and kissed her head. “You always come when I need you.”
Serena rolled onto her back to lie on the soft grass; within seconds, Meg had placed her front paws upon her chest and was showering her with affectionate licks.
“I love you too!” She laughed and fussed her.
The joy and innocence of these moments…it was just like before; best friends, young and happy, no clouds to darken their horizon; Serena’s best friends had near enough always been the four-legged variety…and there was the cloud again.
“Come on, there’s a visit to be made.” She sat up then stood, dusting the few blades of grass from her jeans.

Standing on the brow of the hill, Meg safely dozing under ‘their’ tree, Serena paused, knowing what lay ahead, last night’s decision ringing around her head: She’d keep her promise today, after that…she couldn’t come back. Others would not understand this…no-one would…

Steve swept the loose hay into place in the stall; smoothing his palms down his jeans, he mentally ticked off another thing on the to-do list. As it was Wednesday, the next thing to do was tack cleaning, regular as clockwork. Usually Dora would be there to help but she was spending the day with the Colonel, she’d ridden over there on Copper just over an hour ago.

“There ya go.” Slugger handed Ron a list, a letter and some money. “You know what to do?”
“Yeah, yeah.”
Ron replied in his typically blasé tone.
“Now you get back before this evening, no dawdlin’, I know you.” He cuffed Ron around the ear playfully. “Go on, get aht of it!”
“Charmin’ innit?”
Ron mock saluted. “Sir.”

Steve fetched everything he needed for the task ahead and set out; he sensed movement nearby, his eyes scanning…only then did he see the familiar shadow. Closer and closer she came, stopping just short of the open gate, looking around her…assessing…then she saw him, waved slightly and came to the threshold.

Ron whistled one of the latest ‘pop’ tunes softly as he left the farmhouse; part of him grumbling at being sent off by Slugger, even away from the farm he was still working…his least favourite occupation!

Looking up, he realised he’d fallen into step with Steve as they both headed toward the gate…and the lovely Serena.
“Oh, wotcha, love!” Ron grinned, seeing her as he got on his bike.
“Ron.” Steve’s voice held a scolding tone. “Hello Serena.”
“Hi Steve, Ron.”
She nodded to the young redhead before turning back. “I came back, as promised.” There was the slightest twinkle in her eyes. “How are you both?”
“Fine thanks.”
“And you, young Sir.”
She turned on her comedic posh voice to address Ron.
“Fit as a Butcher’s dog, me. I’m off out now, errand for Slugger.” He waved goodbye then set off.
“See you.” She waved and then looked back at Steve. “Surely it’s not his ‘dinner hour’ yet?” Serena raised a quizzical eyebrow, given the hour.
“No.” Steve shook his head. “He’s running an errand apparently; I doubt we’ll see him until tomorrow now.”
“Ah, I see.”
She nodded knowingly. “So, tell me, any more rescues in the past few days?”
“No, no thank goodness.”
His brutal honesty did not surprise her.
“That’s a good thing I suppose.” She tucked her right hand into her pocket. “So, what would like me to do?”
“Ah. Well, I was just about to start polishing the tack; you don’t have to if you…”
“Not a problem, many hands make light work as the saying goes.”
The soft smile lightened her face. “Slightly better attired this time I think?” She gestured to her jeans and smart/casual, cotton blouse by ‘Ben Sherman’ in dark blue; an almost perfect contrast to Steve’s jumper which was several shades lighter.
He chuckled. “Come on then.”

A few minutes later Steve and Serena were settled in; Serena again in the corner by the donkey pen, perched on the fence with one foot on top, the other resting on the lowest bar.

“Tack cleaning; it’s oddly relaxing, don’t you think?”
“Never-ending, more like!”
Steve grinned impishly at her.
“Hm, yes and that too; I remember it well.” The words had barely left her mouth when she realised what she had said. What in Heavens name made her say that, of all things?!
Thankfully, for her, Steve had not noticed anything.
She cleared her throat. “Have you worked here long?”
“About a year, though I left for a few months.”

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2012, 07:12:33 PM »
“I see.” Under her breath, she added. “Like me.” She rubbed firmly at a stubborn section. “Glad to be back I expect?” She saw Steve’s expression. “Sorry, I shouldn’t pry.” 
“I suppose so.”
He smiled wanly at her this time.
She knew there was more to it but she would never ask…everyone had their secrets, she knew that more than most; swiftly, she changed the subject. “Last time I was here, you were telling me about Alex?”
“Ah yeah, he’s an Apaloosa,”

She nodded. “Not the usual breed in this area, eh?”
“Not really no.”
Now onto a safer topic, the warmth returned to his features.

Serena sighed to herself, her eyes straying briefly to Steve before back out over the landscape ahead; for all her analysing and decision-making into the wee small hours of the night, she was still confused. Her head told her that her decision was right but that small part of her heart that she’d kept locked away for several years made her think otherwise…
“Think with your head, never your heart.” She told herself. “Hearts hurt, heads decide.”

Steve busied himself with polishing the stirrups, though his mind was elsewhere; Serena
was getting under his skin for some reason, one he was yet to fathom and why would he want to? It meant getting involved…despite not knowing her that well, he liked having her here…the companionship quiet and uncomplicated.

Unbeknownst to Serena, he had sensed the tension in her body language; his brow furrowed as he watched her return to her work. She had the preoccupation of a dreamer…no, not quite…there was a bleakness of sorts, perhaps…

The mysterious magnetism of Follyfoot had begun to weave its work again…as they would both soon discover.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2012, 06:40:20 PM »
Thank you everyone as always who read and give comments; special mentions to Marie, Gillian G, Loopy, Rob, Pen, and Suzy, enjoy! ;)

P.S. I’m afraid the Follyfoot gang are taking a break this chapter, they will appear in the next one! ;)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Fifteen – A Different Life

There were few things that changed in this little corner of the world, Sim noted as he drove with Serena through Tockwith on that Friday morning; the idea of driving through the local villages and surrounding areas had been his, for two reasons: the first being that he needed to ‘exercise’ his beloved Dolomite, the second to actually spend some time with his fiancée…   

They chatted as they walked around the town, (pausing to buy 2 apples from the grocers cart while Serena browsed in a little shop nearby); the place was as quiet as a mouse compared to London.

“Thanks.” Serena polished the fruit on her sleeve before taking a bite. “Mm, the sweetness of many a sunny day!”
“Very Shakespearian.”
Sim quipped. “Past, present and future.”
“Scraped knees of youth or just enjoying times like this.”
“A few, blissful weeks bringing the children to visit their grandparents in the Summer.”

Serena nearly choked on her bite of apple. “Steady on, Sim!” She chuckled. “Can we just get married first, please?”
“You seem surprised?”
“I know I have a habit of organising things but I haven’t though that far ahead."
She reasoned.
“Just a thought, that’s all.” He gave her a soothing peck on the cheek; she was independent soul, you couldn’t fault that...and though sometimes it drove him to distraction he loved her for it too.

Serena gave a mental sigh; everything was happening so fast and Sim coming out with that well…truth be told, though it wasn’t necessarily the ‘done thing’ she actually wanted to be married for a year or two before considering the next level of it all…
She was a mass of contradictions, really; in ‘London Life’ her days were far too busy to contemplate things but here she had nothing, except wedding preparations, but to contemplate…she was neither happy nor unhappy with her choices…

“Oh for goodness sake!” She shook herself. “Stop daydreaming, that’s the trouble need to get back to London quick sharp.”

After all, here she was walking arm in arm with a man she cared about, a man she was going to marry no less, she was meant to be happy, she was.
This place was playing tricks with her mind, the spectres of memories past swirling behind her eyes, not that anyone would know…everywhere she turned…her life was different now. If only she could forget…oh dash it all. Serena shook her head.

“Come on,” She squeezed Sim’s arm a few minutes later. “You were looking for adventure, the day is young yet!”
“Onward, fair maiden, our trusty steed Dolomite awaits us!”

She laughed. “I’ll never get over how much you love that car!”

As they journeyed to their next destination, Serena was once again lost in thought; she was caring but straight talking and independent…and wholly mistrustful…you had to earn care from her; she looked to the sunlit hills…she hadn’t always been that way…

“Serena?” Sim’s voice broke fuzzily into her thoughts. “Serena, is something wrong?”
She quickly fixed a smile to her features. “Nothing at all.”
“Are you sure?” He frowned slightly. “You’re not nervous about the wedding, are you or my remark earlier?”
“A little perhaps.”
It was the tiniest, whitest of lies. “There is so much to plan, there never seems to be enough hours in the day!”
“It’s just jitters, darling.”
He kissed her head and squeezed her shoulders in a one armed hug. “All young brides get them, so I’m told!”

His comment grated on her slightly, though looking up into his eyes, which twinkled mischievously she realised he was joking. She never doubted Sim’s love for her but there were times when…she thought back to the walk the day after her ‘Introduction’ and her new, mellow personality.

Had her spirit mellowed or just plain been broken? She never could decide…the two were remarkably similar.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #21 on: July 04, 2012, 06:21:16 PM »
Thank you everyone as always, you’re keeping me going; special thanks again to Marie, Loopy, Pen., Loopylin, Gillian G, Suzy and Rob! :)

P.S. Just noticed that the cap my friend did for this end in almost the same as Soniks’ spooky, eh? >21<

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Sixteen – A Sunny Sunday

Saturday was bright and busy, not least for the fact Serena and her mum were practically chained to the kitchen!

“Now I know why you came back at this time,” Rita joked. “You always did love to help me bake!”
Serena feigned shock. “Caught out again! Mum, your baking’s the stuff of folk-legend…this is nice, us baking together again just like when I was little.”
“Up to your elbows in flour and all over your face.”
Rita smiled.
“Not unlike now then!”

Sim walked in, kissing both Rita and Serena’s cheeks aiming to distract them to taste a little mix, though both were wise to this trick! 
“You rascal!” Serena playfully tapped her fiancé’s fingers. “You’re worse than I am!”
Sim grinned though quickly changed his expression to apologetic under Rita’s ‘disapproving’ gaze.
“Are you looking forward to tomorrow?” He asked Serena, who had one eye on him, one on the pastry that she was currently kneading.
“Yes, it has been a while since I have been to our local summer fete.”  That was only partly true, she was nervous too, not that Sim would understand it particularly.
“Now, come along, young Sir.” Rita brandished her spoon in a firm but laughing manner. “I want you out of my kitchen; too many cooks spoil the broth and all that, now shoo.”
Sim looked at Serena. “I do believe I have been given my marching orders.”
“I think you might.”
She agreed. 
She leant toward him, to give him a peck on the cheek but she soon realised her mistake; she had left one of the teaspoons from the sponge mixture as a sitting target as Sim managed to sweep a little mixture onto his finger and taste it. “Mm, one of your best yet.”
Serena gaped in shocked hilarity. “Out, out now!” She chased him to the lounge doorway, shaking her whisk like a baton.

By late evening every surface, the now cooled oven…well everywhere, really was festooned with iced fairy cakes, biscuits, and several types of buns, scones and tarts, plus a vanilla sponge. Rita Sullivan was known for variety!

“A good day’s work, I’d say, wouldn’t you?” Rita asked proudly.
“I couldn’t have put it better myself.” Serena smiled, kissing her Mum’s temple.

Sunday morning was surprisingly warm; the sky was a brilliant blue, not even a wisp of a cloud as far as the eye could see.

“Donating your time and Dolomite for the cause.” Serena carefully loaded another box-let of Blackcurrant tarts. 
“One tries one’s best.” Sim replied
“Knight in shining armour, eh?”  She chuckled.
“As long as you are my fair maiden.” His lips brushing against her cheek.
“Chop chop, you two!” Rita ordered humorously. “These goodies won’t carry themselves!”
Serena and Sim glanced at each other, giggling, before walking speedily back into the house.

Over at Follyfoot, the Colonel had suggested that they all went to the fete for the afternoon; everyone had been working hard lately and a relaxing afternoon was richly deserved, even Ron!

“Sounds smashing.” Ron said. “A nice, relaxing day off.”
“Like every other day for you then, innit?”
Slugger chortled; even Steve was chuckling at Ron’s almost comedic look of …the only one not laughing was Dora.
“What’s the matter?” His big brown eyes regarded her kindly.
“I’m sure the fete will be lovely but I loathe to leave the horses, they need us so.”
“It’s only for an hour or two, girl.”
He reassured her. “They will be fine.”
“Cor dear, always the ‘orses.”
Slugger grinned. “Come on, you should come and have some fun.”
Dora smiled weakly. “I’ll try.”

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #22 on: July 04, 2012, 06:30:35 PM »
The fete was busy, as it was every year, especially at Rita Sullivan’s stall!

“One jam tart, was it, Mrs. Thompson?” Serena dealt with the purchase. “There we are.”
“Well, bless my soul, little Serena Sullivan.”
The old lady’s clear, grey eyes twinkled.
“Not so little anymore, Mrs. Thompson. I’m all grown up now.” Her smile was gentle.
“And betrothed, so your mother tells me?” She nodded to Sim. “Is that your young man?”
“Yes indeed.”
Serena looked over to Sim. “Sim? You remember Mrs. Thompson, don’t you?”
“Mrs. Thompson.”
Sim flashed his most charming smile. “You look more beautiful every time I see you.”
“Eh, gerraway ye scamp.”
Mrs. Thompson giggled throatily.

For a short while, Mrs. Thompson regaled them with local gossip; Sim and Serena deftly listened and served customers simultaneously, though soon she made to shuffle away.

“I’m glad you’re looking better dear.” She touched Serena’s hand. “Such a terrible shame.”
Serena turned her eyes to the sky and winced as she took a deep breath. “One down…a few more to go I expect.”

Ron soon got into the spirit of the fete as everyone did; even Steve and Dora managed to perk up too. It was hard not to, really, with laughter and music surrounding them, bright bunting flying.

“Now, aren’t you glad you came with us?” The Colonel put his arm around Dora’s shoulders
“Yes, though you should be thanking Slugger, he persuaded me really.”
“He is a very wise man.”

“Why don’t you and Sim take a look around for while?” Rita asked, a little later.
“If you are sure?” I don’t mind staying?”
“Go on, the pair of you.”
She shooed them away.

Walking around the fete and sampling its delights, Serena felt comfortably anonymous, even though near enough everyone knew her…amazing what a few years’ maturity, a new hairstyle and make up could do…

She recognised the distinguished gentleman coming toward them…Colonel Maddocks and there were three people with him, two of which she recognised clearly, as they came closer…
“Oh please no.” Serena thought. “Not here.”
Sim greeted the Colonel warmly.
“Simeon. What a surprise to see you here.”
“Yes, nice to see this quaint little place doesn’t change.”
His well-bred tone seemed a little more pronounced. “A good place to relax as I am today.”
“Helping my Mum and I morning more like.”
Serena noted, her own well – spoken tone a little shaky.
“Ah yes, the famed ‘Sullivan’s Stall’.”
“Ah, I see. Hello Serena, my dear.”
The Colonel smiled warmly. “How are you?”
“Very well, thank you.”
Serena’s smile became a little strained. “It is so lovely to see you again.”
“This is Dora, my niece and Steve and Ron, they run Follyfoot…”
The Colonel’s words faded as she automatically shook hands.
Serena looked back at Steve in horror; there was darkness in his eyes, a shutter had come down…

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #23 on: July 11, 2012, 06:15:32 PM »
Currently have a horrible head cold/throat virus thing so re-reading your comments has really cheered me up. For all and regular readers Nokumarie, Loopylin, Loopy, Suzy, Rob, Pen, Rob, Gillian G and Marie. Thanks and enjoy!  :)

P.S. There will be a few more twists and turns along the way! ;)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Seventeen – Stick With What You Know

Dora and Steve were hard at work as soon as dawn broke the following morning; during the summer it was the best time, everyone stayed cool and were far more efficient…well, except Ron who was probably still snoring in his bed!

Alex whickered softly, nuzzling at Steve’s shirt.
“I know, fella, I know.” Steve assured him, patting his neck; he knew that the young horse was restless, just itching to be galloping out in the open.

It seemed that Dora and Copper had had the same idea and soon enough they were trotting through the familiar riding route along with a gallop through wide, open spaces.
Dora occasionally glanced at Steve out of the corner of her eye; sometimes they would chat about things but today was not one of them…Steve often rode on ahead, though when she did catch up, he was quiet.

“Steve?” She tried to talk to him when they stopped to rest for a while. “Is something wrong?”
“If there’s something wrong, I’ll try to help..”
“There’s nothing wrong, Dora!”
He snapped.

She bit her lip; the sun may be shining but she knew that she had a stormy day ahead.

Back at Follyfoot, sometime later, Steve was rubbing Alex down; the Apaloosa was once again in an affectionate mood…it was as if he knew that Steve was in one of his pensive frames of mind, the last flickers of anger mixed with grey resignation.
Steve’s thoughts strayed to previous day…it had stung him…oh, why couldn’t he stop thinking about it? It was not in his nature to hoard memories or feelings; forget it and move on was his philosophy.

The afternoon was cooler than expected so Dora decided that now was a good time to start schooling two colts. They were brothers and racers-to-be; owned by a very wealthy acquaintance of the Colonel’s. Their glossy coats were jet black…and they had tempers to match!

“Steady, steady!” Dora tried valiantly to secure the training bit in the young mouth. “Come on, you need to get used to it.” The colt tossed its head defiantly. “Oh stop being so silly!”
“Would you like me to help?”
She turned her head to see Steve in the doorway.
She smiled gratefully. “Please.”
“Hey, come on.”
That familiar half-smile made Dora feel as if everything was alright again as he clicked his tongue, trying to calm the creature.
“Easy, there we go, just slip it over…”  She held her breath as the bit slid into place.
“Good boy.” Steve reassured.
“We did it.” Dora whispered triumphantly.

Though the horse was not done yet; within seconds he whinnied and reared, causing Dora to have to step back quickly, grateful that Steve was there to take control with his firm but gentle style. It was strange, although Dora was known for conquering any case, on some occasions they did not take to her, rather Steve…as this one had, calming swiftly, (though a treat-sized helping of fresh, sweet hay might have helped too!).

“And that’s just the first part!” Dora chuckled.
“Not to mention we have to go through this all over again with his brother!”
“Oh, Steve don’t!”

Dora flopped to the ground as Steve ushered the colts off into the field; it had been an exhausting time. Their charges had been beyond contrary as if showing their displeasure for the discipline as well as their new headgear. They had kicked and reared…one of them had even tried to bite Steve…

“Don’t tell me they’ve tired you out, girl?” He smiled cheekily.
“Never!” Dora got to her feet; brushing grass from her leg, she sighed. “They’re not going to be easy.”
“Are they ever?”
His tone was gentle.
“They’ll give in eventually.” She smiled at him. “Come on, we’ve still got Empress Consuela to exercise.” She squared her shoulders at the prospect of dealing with the gorgeous thoroughbred…another candidate for ‘Most Stubborn Horse’.

With the events of the last 48 hours still niggling at the back of his mind Steve made the decision to take notice of a saying his Aunt Millie had often used; ‘Better the devil you know’. And these four-legged ones he certainly knew!

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2012, 06:01:47 PM »
Thanks again it really spurs me through, Suzy, Marie, Loopylin, Loopy, Rob, Pen. and well…everyone. Thanks again and enjoy! :)

P.S. The blue italics are flashback!  ;)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Eighteen – Puzzle Pieces

Serena arched her head back against the warm bark, peering through half-closed eyes as Meg placed her front paws across her feet.
“What am I doing this for?” Serena leant over and stroked her head. “I mean, does it really matter what anyone thinks of me?”

Ordinarily, probably not, she hadn’t any desire to be surrounded by ‘friends’ or ‘acquaintances’ nor people’s opinions of her…so why had the sight of Steve’s hardened features at seeing her stung like a whip-crack?
Perhaps because it had reminded her, in a completely different way, of why she’d rarely strayed from London since…
“Oh, how utterly ridiculous!” She told herself, her feistier side coming to the fore. “It is
because of an assumption and you want to prove someone wrong.”

Despite the honesty of the sentiment, there was no anger toward Steve for it, she
understood his reason …Sim had that effect!

“I should go, wish me luck…I think I might need it!”
Meg whined softly and licked her hand.

Steve retrieved the brush from the shelf and stepped out into the sunlight; he’d just been checking up on Glory, she’d seemed a bit quiet and listless for the past couple of days.

“What’s the matta, girl?” Slugger had asked as Dora toyed absently with her breakfast.
Dora sighed. “It’s Glory, Sluggs.” She had replied. “She’s been so quiet as if she’s lost in some faraway place.” She added under her breath. “Not unlike someone else.”

Whether she had meant for him to hear or not, Steve had; part of him was angry at the fact she had not said something to him, (not that he would have appreciated that either necessarily), on the other she was right…why did that encounter with Serena bother him so much? People were never what they seemed…he knew that already.
A sudden, loud, almost comical braying brought him out of his darkened thoughts.
“I’m coming.” Even with his mood the way it was, Steve’s eyes twinkled at the animal’s persistence; Smokey knew he was about to be groomed and was not willing to wait any longer…never say that Follyfoot plays favourites, that’s for sure!

Reaching Follyfoot’s gate, Serena paused, her eyes scanning the quiet yard and seeing the one person she wanted to speak to. She watched him; the tense shoulders, the hooded eyes…there was more him than most knew, she suspected…someone who was defensive and alone. ..oh, she knew that person.

She shook her head, trying to clear those things from her mind; carefully she tapped her fingertips on the top of the gate in a knocking gesture; Steve looked up, his mouth thinning at seeing her as he slowly walked over.

“Hello.” Serena knew she’d have to tread carefully as she received a curt nod in reply. “I came to apologise.”
“What for?”
“Sim, everything really. The curse of the ‘Blue Bloods’ as it were.”
Immediately she was back-footed by her mistaken choice of words if his expression was anything to go by! “Though my blood is about as blue as a church mouse’s.”
Steve’s tone was suspicious.
“I knew exactly what you thought; I saw it in your eyes.” Her tone was soft, without accusation. “It’s alright most do; what with my voice as well… my mother’s teaching.”  She explained. “She wanted me to speak well.” She blushed slightly, realising how crass she probably sounded.
“The Colonel?”
“I meant him only a short while ago personally, he is an old friend of Sim’s family so I gather, and they run a st…”
She faltered, unsure as to whether she should reveal more, she decided against that.
“I see.”
She smiled, leaning her arm on the gate, the blue and white, tie-dye material of her sleeve flapping against it. “I’m not a toff, Steve…oh, I know I sound like one but I’m not actually, I just know what makes them all tick…I am but a plain village dweller, like anyone else!” She chuckled.

Steve looked up at her; he could see the sincerity in her eyes…no pretence, no patronisation. For once, he was wrong.

“I’m sorry.” He murmured softly.
“Not to worry.” She paused. “Can we be friends?”
It was the same thing Dora had asked after one of their quarrels though Serena’s tone was different; ‘jokey’ though no less honest whereas Dora’s had been nigh on childlike.   
Steve grinned. “Yeah.”
She returned his grin. “Since I’m here, would you like some help?”

As if to take the decision out of Steve’s hands, Smokey came up beside them, dropping the brush from his lips through the gate so that it landed at Serena’s feet and tugged gently at her top with his teeth.
I think that’s a yes.” Steve chuckled, reaching to rub the donkey’s ear. “Come in.” He opened the gate.

“You like all the fuss don’t you?” Serena talked softly as she guided the strong bristles over thick fluff. “Soppy thing.” Smokey brayed. “Yes and handsome too, I hadn’t forgotten.” She laughed; she paused, a shadow crossing her eyes for only a second as her thumb hooked over her jeans pocket.

Steve’s eyebrow flicked into an arch as he tended to Tufty; there it was again, that same gesture just like whenever she came in, she always looked around before stepping through…perfectly innocuous but intriguing all the same.

Yes indeed, Serena Sullivan was still a mystery… one that he, curiously, wanted to solve.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #25 on: July 25, 2012, 09:13:49 PM »
Thanks as per everyone, especially Suzy, Gillian G, Marie, Loopy, Rob and Pen. HUGE thanks and enjoy! ;)

P.S. The Navy bold are song lyrics!  ;)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Nineteen – Darkness Ahead

Serena smiled broadly as Meg ambled back to her, an old cricket ball cradled in her mouth.
“Good girl.” Serena picked it up when it was dropped at her feet. “We’ll walk a bit further and then I’ll throw it for you again.”

It was not the most fast-paced game of ‘Fetch’ but it suited them; as Meg stopped to drink from the river Serena turned her face to the sky, letting the sun warm her skin and ran a hand through her flowing hair as the gentle breeze played impishly with the end curls tangling them in her necklace’s chain.

She felt relaxed and safe with Meg sitting beside her, tail wagging contentedly…free.

Little did she know fate would soon play its cruellest trick…

She’d barely appeared as a shadow at the wall when she was spotted.
“Hi.” Steve smiled openly; a much better reception than yesterday!
“Hi. Worker 16 reporting for duty Sir!” She mock saluted with her left hand, making him chuckle.
“You’ve been listening to Ron!”

She settled on the fence of the Donkey pen, her favourite place so it seemed to Steve, tucked away in a corner, balancing by leaning slightly against the Lightning Tree.
’The Lightning Tree’ Dora calls it; waters it every day, believes she can make it grow again.” Steve chuckled. “She’s a dreamer is Dora.”
“I see.”
Her reply was almost inaudible as she gazed up at the gnarled bark, her eyes darkening. “If only it were true.” She whispered.

“Nice to see all our hard work didn’t go to waste.” She noted the donkey’s coats were still fairly smart.
“Give it a day or two!” Steve assured laughingly. “Just like another pair of perishers.”
“More rescues?”

He shook his head. “Twins for schooling, eventual show-jumpers we’re told or racing.”
“They’re being trained for racing, you say?”
Serena’s eyes darkened briefly again. “High-strung and quick tempered then?
“Yeah, they have only been here for a few days and they’re already acting as if they own the place.”
“Sounds right.”
A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth as her voice lowered. “Horses are incredibly strong and forgiving creatures, it’s the owners that can bring out the worst in them.”
“I suppose so.”
Steve’s voice turned sombre as he thought of some of their unlucky counterparts. “Horses break easily sometimes.”
“So do people.”
Serena murmured under her breath.

Time flew by as Serena and Steve swept the yard and vacant stables; for a moment, Steve paused in his work, elbows leaning on the open door and smiling as he listened to Serena as she hummed a tune.

“Which one is it?”
“Hm, sorry?”
She looked up, raising her eyebrow.
“The song you’ve been humming?”
“Oh, Standing in the Shadows of Love, it’s by The Four Tops.”
She chuckled. “Sorry, is it bothering you?”
“No, I don’t mind.”

Serena smiled as she took up the tune again, occasionally singing softly; she’d heard it on the radio this morning after what seemed like years…it had been one of her favourites as a romantic teenager, she’d played it the night before…no, she tried to forget that, the tune was too beautiful to be tainted…

Standing in the shadows of love
I'm getting ready for the heart aches to come.
(Can't you see me) Standing in the shadows of love
I'm getting ready for the heartaches to come.

I wanna run but there's no place to go
For heartaches will follow me I know.

An ironic choice or perhaps it was subconsciously accurate as, thanks to the work-
shyness of one Mr. Ron Stryker, what would happen next would change everything as Serena’s past and present collided…

‘Standing in the Shadows of Love’ © Holland-Dozier-Holland

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #26 on: August 01, 2012, 06:24:36 PM »
Hi everyone, after a spectacularly fraught few days here’s the next chapter. For everyone, especially Gillian G, Loopylin, Loopy, Suzy, Rob, Marie and Nokumarie. :)

P.S. This part has is done in real-time from everyone’s POV, hope it’s not too confusing! ;)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Twenty – Ghosts Coming Home to Roost

Ron Stryker lay dozing blissfully on the warm grass, arms cushioning his head; on a day like today there was nothing better than lazing in the sun reading one’s favourite comic and dozing the time away before lunch…technically he was supposed to be working on the gate that Dora had asked him to do. He had promised to so and he would…when he got around to it.
Anyway, the horses were all grazing peacefully right now, like him they were enjoying the weather…what was the worst that could happen?

Serena ran her left hand through her hair and then continued to sweep and sing softly, even tried to encourage Steve too, causing him to blush, his smile to turn shy. 
It was strange…this feeling of peace and anonymity, even a sort of odd safety too was…well, nice…no expectations, nothing…just a place to be…a sanctuary I suppose you could say.

“Mind your feet!” Serena laughed as she accidentally covered the toes of his boots in dust. “Oh no, look at them. Hold still.” She quickly brushed it away. “There we are, good as new.”
Steve smiled impishly.
“Not a problem.”

Though, in a single moment, it would all change…ghosts would live once again and the sanctuary would become a prison.

Horses can be as unpredictable as weather, particularly thoroughbreds, while most of the ‘old codgers’ in the Follyfoot field wouldn’t barely bat half an eyelid to a frisky Summer breeze making a tree branch become oh so playful and ‘tag’ them but the same could not be said for Empress Consuela.
The branch caught her on the top of her right hind leg, the sudden, smarting sting drove her mad, and she bolted with a neigh to the Heavens as the others looked on. 

Steve looked up suddenly, the hairs on the back of his neck began to prickle; a horse was in trouble.
“I’ll be back in a minute.” He told Serena; she nodded absently in reply.

Ron too had heard the faint sound of a horse’s cry…he was sure it was nothing serious, after all sometimes this lot seemed to like to make noise for the sake of it!

Empress Consuela ran and ran, what if that scary and sore thing was following her?! She needed to get as far away as she could…fast!
She noticed not a thing, not the familiar, worried human near the gate she had just splintered and wrenched from its hinges….

Reaching the open ground, Steve carefully closed the gate, immediately aware that Ron still hadn’t fixed, causing him to sigh irritably; his brow furrowed as his wide, dark eyes scanned the land ahead…nothing untoward…no, wait…hooves…galloping…from where though?

“Blazes!” Steve felt his heart lodge in his mouth; he had mere seconds to make a choice.
There was no question that Consuela would injure herself as she hurtled through the gate but even with his reflexes, Steve knew his odds against her weren’t good…

Serena felt herself tense slightly; she knew that Steve had gone up to the field to check on the horses, that was alright, she felt only a little nervous…the gate was shut after all.

It was only then that she heard it…the sound that could chill her to her very bones; the scream-like whinny and heavy gallop of a terrified horse…
Part of her didn’t want to see but another did; the sight of the magnificent Empress Consuela speeding out of the broken gate and down toward the yard…

In that instant, Steve felt sick to the stomach as the animal flew past him; it would be foolish to try to restrain her alone…and then he saw an unthinkable scenario flash through his mind’s eye.
Serena was down in the yard by the stable…Empress Consuela was going straight for her…

“Stand still!” Steve commanded urgently.

In that split-second, Serena had flattened her back against the stable, fingernails scratching slightly as she squeezed her eyes shut…part of her wanted to scream but knew better, that in the horse’s current state she could be putting herself in more danger.

The sheer power of these animals was awe-inspiring under normal circumstances but in this light, that very same thing along with its speed and weight was her every nightmare come true…what was that old quote…something about saluting you?

In that moment Serena thought it was the end; she opened her eyes, her gaze locking on the terror-stricken yet soulless ones of the horses. Both were utterly defenceless against the thing that was frightening them …her heartbeat thrumming at the same rate as Consuela’s hooves…it was just like before…no control, just paralysing fear and staring down the barrel of the unknown.

“Don’t hurt me Duke.” She whispered.

The rush of air as the horse raced past her was like a shot to the heart; involuntarily her heel kicked back against the stable door, causing her to lose her balance, falling into it as she slid to the floor.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #27 on: August 08, 2012, 06:13:37 PM »
Thank you everyone as always for read; another set of special mentions to Suzy, Gillian G, Marie, Rob, Loopylin, Loopy and Squeaktre! :)

Finding Hope at Follyfoot

Part Twenty One – Shattered Memories

There is always an eerie disquiet about a place when a trauma has occurred; it is almost as if someone speaking or moving could spark off another.

Dora had heard the commotion and hurriedly joined the rescue operation with Steve; eventually they had caught Empress Consuela and calmed her enough to lead her back to the field. Dora spoke soothingly to the horse as she caressed its nose.

“There, there…good girl.” She gazed at her. “That was a silly thing to do; we’ve trimmed the branch so it won’t frighten you again.”
“This would never have happened if Ron had done as he was told for once.”
Steve growled.
“Steve don’t…it’s all over now anyway.”
He shook his head as he completed fixing the extra gate lock. “E-gods, girl; how many more times does something like this have to happen before you stop letting him get away with it?!” He rubbed his mouth. “What if she’d found her way out onto the road, eh?”   
“She didn’t.”
Dora sighed. “Please Steve, I don’t want to argue about it…I think I’ll stay here for a little longer…until the vet comes at least.”

With a single nod, Steve returned to the stable yard, unbeknownst to Dora there was a second casualty.
That was when he saw Serena…her body rigid yet shaking, her wide, green eyes distant and unseeing.
“Serena?” He moved toward her and touched her right shoulder; she yelped in fear. “Easy, easy, it’s alright.”

She looked down at herself…to her horror she saw her right hand lying curved and lifeless against the ground. “No, please not that…anything but that.” Her bruised heart begged.
“Don’t be afraid.” Steve coaxed, trying to touch her shoulder again; she flinched. “I won’t hurt you.”
“Is it alright…the horse?”
Serena’s voice sounded strange, low and almost robot-like.
“She’s fine.” For a moment, he said nothing as suddenly all the pieces of the puzzle fitted into place. “You’re frightened of horses aren’t you?”
“Something like that.”
Her cheeks were burning with embarrassment. “Something that happened a long time ago.”
“Can you tell me?”
His voice was soft and low.

Only then did she look up at him; her green eyes meeting brown, searching for reassurance, unaware of any sight or sound around them.

“Is there somewhere quiet, away from prying eyes as it were?” She asked shakily.
He smiled. “Of course.”  He took her left hand and helped her to her feet.

Steve knew of a little corner at the mouth the woods; it was quiet and no-one knew of it, even Dora…he usually came here to get away from the saccharine and childish chatter of Ron and Dora.

For a few minutes, he and Serena sat quietly; he watched her pressing her left thumb into her right palm…another piece.
“You can’t feel anything can you?” He spoke carefully.
“No.” She shook her head. “I cannot feel anything.” She spoke softly and without emotion.
“I did notice,” Steve replied gently. “That day with Ron; you had grazed it really badly, yet you didn’t seem to ‘know’.”
“And there was me thinking…d**n.”
The invective was whispered resignedly; she knew it was wrong for a woman to use such language…everything was wrong with this moment.

“I was 16,” Serena stared blankly at the landscape, her left hand squeezing its neighbour nervously. “I worked at Cartwright’s…”
“The riding school?”

She turned her head, eyebrow raised. “You know it?”
“By reputation.”
He replied evenly.
“Ah.” She turned away. “My father had been their accountant while I was growing up, often took me with him. I have loved and been around horses all my life, Steve…which makes what I did all the more inexcusable.”
Steve raised his eyebrow but said nothing.
“I rode occasionally as a child but it wasn’t until I turned 12 that I began to learn properly…we could afford it at last then things happened and by the following year the money wasn’t there anymore.” She chuckled mirthlessly. “I have no idea why I’m telling you this bit but anyway…Mr. Cartwright struck a deal with my mother. If I took on a Saturday job with them, helping with the horses and such they would keep teaching me to ride…it suited us all quite well and continued until I was 16. There were two big changes that year; the first happened in the very early Spring…”

Serena stepped into the stable, broom in hand. “Good morning Star. How are you this morning?” She stroked the white mare’s nose as she whinnied softly. “Very chipper, always nice to hear.” She began to sweep. “They’ve finished the new set of stables I hear, very smart though I haven’t seen them myself.”
“That they are, missy.” A voice from further along replied.
Serena looked up. “Oh hello Gilpin.” She grinned. “What are they for though, well I know what they’re used for but I didn’t Mr. Cartwright was taking on any more riders?”
“Tha knows, they be ‘osses fer racing.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Oh.”
“Arrived yesterday mornin’, t’boss wants you to muck ‘em out when you’ve finished ‘ere.”

Later, Gilpin took Serena took the stable and kept an eye on her.

“Be careful, lass.” He warned. “Them’s not like other ‘osses. Stubborn, ‘igh strung like.”

She certainly believed that of the first one but not of his stable-mate; he was the most gorgeous creature she’d even seen, (they both were.) in this light he looked black but he was in fact a dark, dark brown, his proud head remained serenely still as he was tended, his eyes curious but friendly.

“His full name was ‘The Honourable Duke of Ellington Price’ but that was a bit of a mouthful for everyday, so I called him Duke for short…well, everyone did.” At this, there was a ghost of a warm smile about her features. “He was bred for racing but he never acted like a racer…he was so gentle, all he ever wanted was attention from anyone who passed. A family pet in a thoroughbred’s body, that was what Gilpin and I called him.”  

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #28 on: August 08, 2012, 06:25:57 PM »
As the months went by Duke was trained by Walter Cartwright; Serena kept out of the way, only tending to Duke when requested.
Despite knowing the rules about getting attached or making them attached to you, Duke and Serena grew very close, she adored him and he learned to trust her when she came in, enjoying the fuss at grooming or just because.

“I flattered myself that Duke loved me, that he thought I was his friend.”
The smile faded. “I was such a dreamer, then…believed the world would open its arms to us…no friend would do what I did.”

All the while, Serena honed her riding skills; Mr. Cartwright was impressed. He knew that people could be taught to ride, as she had been over the past 4 years, but very few possessed the ‘knack’, which she seemed to be naturally blessed with….

“One day he came to Mum and I and asked us what we thought about him training me to be a show-jumper…Heaven knows where he got that idea from but it was novel and I was curious…so I did, it was certainly interesting. The Summer rolled on and it was busy; I was spending more and more time at Cartwright’s whilst trying to juggle other things too.” She paused, staring down at her right hand. “The first Saturday in August. That was when the 2nd ‘big change’ happened.” The sunshine, carefree smile that Steve had come to recognise from her disappeared, replaced by thunderous clouds of a long-held pain.

Serena grinned as she tided everything away and said ‘Goodnight’ to Star and the others….now it was time for her next ride, these days more often than not she just took out one of the horses for exercise rather than learning anything.

Reaching the yard she was met with Walter’s 17-year-old son, he did not smile or greet her, his mouth was thin and the annoyed look on his face was nothing new, on the other hand, the saddled-up horse he was leading certainly was.

“I couldn’t believe it was Duke.”

“Er, um, are you sure this is the right one?” Serena asked sheepishly, blushing.
“It is either him or none at all.” He replied waspishly. “All of the others are booked.”
“Ah, alright.”
 “You know what to do.” He handed Duke over and walked away.

“Surely he knew that Duke wasn’t being trained to ridden?” Steve asked incredulously.
“Probably not.” Serena flexed the fingers of her left hand. “He didn’t really care for horses, he believed in his father’s ethos. Mr. Cartwright was never cruel to horses but he expected the best from them all the time, earn their keep. Even the offer he had made to me had an ulterior motive…money.”
Steve’s eyes darkened with anger.
“Anyway I got on Duke and set off; he was a little jittery but I thought perhaps it was being a different rider, although I had trotted him around with Gilpin on the quiet a few times…I knew something was wrong but I didn’t trust my instincts.” She groaned softly. “Why didn’t I do it?”

Reaching the brow of the hill, Serena paused; she had trotted Duke briskly and thought a rest would relax him as she’d noticed he was getting fractious; Duke stepped from side to side, tossing his head and whickering.
“What’s the matter, hm?” She patted his neck. “Alright, alright.” She soothed. “Let me get down and I’ll have a look.”

“I must have moved the wrong way to dismount, he just snapped...took off with all the speed a racer can.”

“Duke! Stop, stop…whoa! Steady, steady!”

“I kept trying to call to him, hoping my voice would break through; I hung on for dear life, tugging at the reins trying to make him stop…control him."

Serena felt sick with fear for Duke. What if he wouldn’t stop, what if he hurt himself? She could hear the pained rasps in his breathing as he tried to escape his torment.
“I won’t let go.” She promised, still trying gamely not to fall. “I’ll make it safe.”
Suddenly Serena remembered that there was a gate up ahead, it was for the farmer to keep his sheep safe from drowning in the river as it had a tendency to flood in the Winter.
“Oh Duke please don’t do it, please!” She beseeched through tears.
Her pleas fell on deaf ears as Duke leapt speedily and gracefully over the gate, the post making condemning contact with his rider’s shoulder; the sheer force dislocated it, causing Serena to scream in agony as Duke finally threw her...her lifeless body rolling down the bank and finally halting partially in the river.

“The last thing I remember was my head hitting something and hearing Duke’s screams and mine mingled together.”

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!

Offline FollyFootfan1689

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Re: Finding Hope at Follyfoot
« Reply #29 on: August 08, 2012, 06:31:57 PM »
Steve winced at the thought.
“The farmer found me apparently; I was taken to hospital… unconscious for several days, they were amazed that my shoulder and concussion with a bit of a chill was all I had wrong with me…well not all, they still don’t know why I lost the feeling in my arm and hand…I was told there was nothing they could do.”
“I’m sorry.”
Steve replied honestly.
“Don’t be.” Serena’s voice hardened, eyes like storm-clouds. “I got off lightly, compared to poor Duke.” She turned and lifted her head slowly as if pulling a heavy weight; his dark chocolate eyes met with her shimmering green ones…a thousand and one emotions in
seconds. Her pain, her fear, her guilt… her shame; part of her wanted to escape. “I found out later that his knees had been gashed, the cause of his distress was a loose horseshoe nail digging in him…oh, I can’t imagine the agony he went through…I just know he could have been helped …”
“They shot him, yes. Less than two days after he’d thrown me.”
She sighed. “I know exactly what you’re thinking.” She turned away. “Because I am marrying one I agree with it, I don’t Steve.”

“I wasn’t thinking that.”
Steve could feel the rage burning inside him, it always happened with the rich; it didn’t matter whether a horse could be helped or not, if didn’t earn money then it had no meaning and, in their blue-blood eyes no right to live either.

“That beautiful creature’s death was my fault; never blame the horse, it is always the rider...I should have done something.”
“You were just a kid.”
Steve reasoned.
“I still knew better.” Her voice was brittle, defensive…she looked ready to fight and fly; Steve felt sadness in his heart yet he felt as if he was looking at his own reflection.
“What could you have done, eh?”
“Trusted my instincts for a start.”
She snapped. “I am afraid of horses but more afraid for them.” Her voice softened but still held coldness. “I went back once, to apologise…I was so ashamed of it all, that was why I went to London, a year later, I ran away so’s to speak…” She looked away again. “In the ‘Big Smoke’ you can just disappear, no-one knows your can be anyone you want to be.”

Steve said nothing…truth be told, he never would have believed it of her…alas the pained sadness in her eyes was all too real…he recognised too, the anger and carefully honed emotionless mask.
She looked at him, eyes hard like granite that challenged him, dared him to utter a sympathetic platitude.
Every word, every gesture made her feel as if her whole world was crashing down around her…she didn’t want anyone to know…no-one needed to know. This hell that dogged her every single day…it was private, not for sympathy or gossip.

“It wasn’t your fault, Serena.” And there it was.

The mist cleared from her eyes in an instant…and every alarm inside her began to scream; “You’ve said too much, you let your guard down…you’re vulnerable, run, RUN!”

“I should go.” Serena stood, brushing grass from her jeans.
“I’ll see you.”
She walked speedily back the way they had come, head down and as soon as she was out of sight, broke into a run.

Thanks Loopy for letting me borrow the caps!