Searching for the Susan's - Part 3
 By No Walkin Farms9   •   22nd Feb 2011   •   2,433 views   •   12 comments
Searching for the Susan"Ash?" John grabbed a hold of my upper arms to stop my forward momentum.

I looked up at him, confused. I'd been lost in thought, thinking about how my morning had gone wrong so fast. Great workout with Sultan and then Sandy Kessler had to write an article about me.

"Ash? Everything ok in there?" John was only an inch taller then me so he didn't have to duck far to be at eye level with me. His green eyes stared into my brown ones with concern.

I blinked. I'd forgotten he was here for a moment. "Uh, I think so," I tried to put more bravado into my voice then I was feeling. I don't think it worked.

John lead me to a hay bale and forced me to sit down. "Okay, why don't you tell me what's going on?" he said gently.

The whole story tumbled out of me in record time, everything from my first run in with Sandy to Greg breaking the news to me this morning. Somewhere in the telling, I began to cry.

John was patient with me, letting me tell my story. "And the sad thing is, I'm making such a big deal about this stupid article, but I haven't even read the darn thing!" I finished, wiping at the tears spilling down my cheeks.

"We can change that," John offered.

I shook my head. "I'm not sure I want to."

"It might not be as bad you think. The only way to find out is to read it."

"And what if it is? What then?"

"Let's cross that bridge when we get there, shall we?" John stood up and offered me his hand.

I sighed and pushed myself off the hay bale. "Okay."

John located a trainer friend who let us use his computer to find Sandy's article online. It was just as bad as Greg had said. She started off by praising me in how well I'd done at the Derby with as little experience as I had. She then proceeded to make me out to be prima donna with an ego bigger then my horse and a 'I'm-an-orphan-feel-sorry-for-me' complex. She had an unnamed source at my high school who, it seemed, was more then happy to feed her lies about my 'uppity' and 'everyone was beneath me' attitude.

A former employee of No Walkin Farms, again unnamed, related an incident where I supposedly threw a fit because Greg made me muck out stalls. And of course she had to throw in a dig about my parents and their stand against racing. She completely blew my "if my parents were alive..." quote to smithereens. She used to it to claim I was directly defying them when I raced. Very little about the article was true.

John sat back after he finished reading. "Wow, Ash," he commented, "I didn't know you were such a terrible person."

I stared at him for a moment before his twitching lips gave him away. I managed a weak laugh and a lame attempt at a joke, "You better watch out. My ginormous ego might sit on you."

"That was... bad."

"Don't I know it." I stared at the screen still displaying Sandy's horrible article.

John reached out and tapped a button. The screen went black. "I think it's time we did something other then reread Miss Kessler's untruths," he said, hustling me out of the office.

John kept me distracted by showing me around Pimlico. For the next two days John showed up whenever he had a free minute at the barn Sultan was stabled in, pitching in when I was playing groom for the demanding animal, bugging me when I was studying and rescuing me from persistent reporters. Friday afternoon he went with Greg and I to pick up the rest of the Walker's from the airport. He claimed to have gotten zero offers to ride in any of the days ten races. I didn't believe him but appreciated the support. John was quickly turning into a friend, in spite of the competition on the track.

John had just left to use the restroom located near security when Greg brought the topic up. "You two seem to be getting close," he commented casually.

"Yeah. He's been a good friend," I replied, not seeing what Greg was angling at.

"He's a little old for you."

I frowned. What was Greg talking about? Then it dawned on me. "Oh my gosh, you think we're dating!" I whispered angrily. I may have been in shock about Greg's assumption but I was still smart enough to not want to draw attention to ourselves. "He's 26. Of course he's too old for me. We're just friends."

"Well that may not be how others see it," the older man told me with sideways look that said I should be listening to him.

I rolled my eyes.

John returned before I could come up with a good comeback, or any remark at all. "Did their flight get delayed?" John asked, glancing towards the open concourse past security.

Greg checked his watch. "Give them a few more minutes," he advised.

The trainer had no sooner finished saying that then when 5 familiar people walked up.

"Beth!" I nearly shouted in excitement when I recognized my best friend. She hadn't mentioned coming to Maryland when I last talked with her. In fact she'd said she was planning a Preakness watching party at her place.

"I couldn't miss this," Beth said as we hugged. "Not after missing being there for the Derby. Martha had to do some furious fast talking with my mom. If it'd been my dad's weekend there wouldn't have been a problem."

Emma and Mark, Beth's parents, were divorced. I still couldn't understand how two people so different had managed to stay together for the eight years they had. They did not get along at all anymore. It was quite sad really when I compared them to Matt and his wife, Kensi. They had been in love and starting what they hoped would be a large family when Kensi was diagnosed with cancer and died five months later.

I greeted Mary, Martha, Matt and Sean in turn. We then collected luggage and went out for a late lunch. The weary travelers were hungry. Martha wanted to see Sultan, seconded by Sean, who had apples for the tall colt, so our next stop was the track.

As Sean slipped Sultan apple slices one by one, Martha commented, "This time tomorrow we'll know if we still have a shot at the Triple Crown."

I gulped. My butterflies started warming up for their aerobatics routine. 24 hours and all our dreams of the Triple Crown could be dust.
Wanderin Boy Memorial  
Yay ! Another part *dances*
This story just keeps getting better and better
  Feb 22, 2011  •  1,430 views
Love it !!
  Feb 22, 2011  •  1,443 views
Whoooaaa this is amazing! Like Wandie said, it gets better every time! :3
  Feb 22, 2011  •  1,425 views
Heaven Sent Creatures  MOD 
excellent story as usual can't wait for the next part
  Feb 23, 2011  •  1,457 views
Nice work I love it
  Feb 23, 2011  •  1,424 views
Dark Pride  
amazing story, it gets better and better :)
  Feb 24, 2011  •  1,583 views
MS Horses  
I love your story!
  Feb 24, 2011  •  1,443 views
MS Horses  
Great article!
  Feb 24, 2011  •  1,443 views
Finally There  
Aww! I love these stories! These are like amazing! People thought I wrote well! Mine are nothing compared to these! :)
  Feb 25, 2011  •  1,469 views
Chris Antley Memorial  MOD 
Great story!
  Feb 25, 2011  •  1,484 views
T W I  
Can't wait for part 4!
You are an amazing writer. =]
  Feb 25, 2011  •  1,451 views
Untamed Heart  
This is AWESOME!!!
  Feb 27, 2011  •  1,447 views
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