The Mana Farms story line frequently contains mature language, topics, and situations. The characters within are fictional beings with weaknesses and faults, and I cannot promise you that you will like them for what they believe, say and do.
The first book in the MANA series will be published in 2012. Join the community of MANA readers! Start from the beginning. (New readers, it is strongly recommended you begin this series from the very first story...which can be found here: [link] ) Thanks!
In every post parade it could be said that Brett North rode like a cowboy. Loose and relaxed like a cat in a sunny patch of grass while the rest of them perched like goats on a steep rocky slope. People in the apron thought he looked like he didn’t give a damn with his shoulders slouched forward, his heels straight, and his irksome grin beaming out at them while he chewed with insistence at his bright green mint gum. Sometimes he’d reach up and flick a chunk of sand from his eye with a finger or even a dry crust of snot from the rims of his nostrils. On a hot day like this, and from a length or so behind, a girl could see the sweat beading down the back of his tanned pink neck, his copper curls curling bronze against the skin there. The horse beneath him was lathering white between the legs and turning to look at the crowd, nervously mouthing the bit like a pacifier, blinking at the people but not hearing them for the cotton stuffed into its ears.
Brett scratched absently at his bony ass in the saddle and then he bent over to the side like a hinged countertop and spit into the hot clay. It figured, of course, that even though she had hoped so very desperately that he wouldn’t, even as she offered an urgent intercessory prayer to the Virgin herself that he wouldn’t, he turned those two hazel-green eyes up and stared right into her drained colourless face as she rode past.
“Did I just hear a Hail Mary?”
“Really? I’m pretty sure I just heard the words ‘Hail Mary Mother of God protect me from Brett Fucking North’.”
“You didn’t hear anything, though I may have said ‘fuck you’ I can’t be certain.”
Brett snorted at her and was already urging his pretty little chestnut filly with the bright white star between her eyes into a relaxed warmup within range of continued conversation. Santa squeezed her own mount faster. Clods of clay flew up from beneath their hooves, the lead ponies were far behind and moving to the rail somewhere on the other side was a gate with its mouth hanging open wide like a whale in the deep. Santa could see Laurence far head, he had a peculiar way of holding himself in the saddle, as if he were skiing down a snowy slope.
“Don’t you run from me, a man gets excited by the chase, you know what I mean?”
“Ah typical,” Santa sighed, “A man hears the ‘fuck’ and the ‘you’ and assumes the best.”
“Naturally,” Brett grinned, saddle cloth to saddle cloth with her. Their fillies exchanged a look. “Journalist trouble too?”
Santa grimaced and permitted herself a quick glance at him, “What’d they want with you?”
“The usual. My infamous past,” he shook his head, “When people decide you’re the villain in the story, it’s difficult to get them to see otherwise. One year or six, a decade or a millennia, people just don’t forget when you’ve hit them over the head with a stick, you know what I mean?”
Santa snorted out loud at that.
She shook her head.
“Something bad? What? You hitting whatshisface with a chair again?”
Santa laughed. Actually laughed. It made her chest ache. She’d been holding it in for too long, the urge to scream or to laugh or to cry. “Si solamente!”
“Si? Yes?” Brett asked.
“No, no, not ‘si’ as in yes, ‘si’ as in ‘if’,” she shot him a look, “learn spanish.”
“I am, I am,” Brett sighed, “Getting there. And you? How’s the french coming along?”
“Ahhh,” she found herself laughing again, the stress making her almost delirious. “Horrible. You?”
She saw that he cringed a little. “It’s hard to speak it again,” he explained, the hesitation clear in his voice. He was confused about something and trying to find the right words. “Therese is a patient, sweet girl and I like her.”
“But she doesn’t...doesn’t,” He took a deep breath and threw his head back for second before shaking it from side to side, “I don’t suppose you know what it is like to be Brett North the jockey dating the only French Canadian girl who up until a few months ago had absolutely no idea who you are or what you did as the infamous Brett North the hockey player?”
Santa gaped open-mouthed at him. “My god,” she exclaimed, “After bitching about how much those journalists won’t stop asking about your catastrophic former life are you telling me you are troubled by your sweet little french girlfriend who doesn’t ask about it enough?”
Brett opened his mouth to explain it better, but then raised his hands up in defeat. They separated for the remainder of the warm ups before approaching the looming gate together. They watched as Laurence went into the number one slot. Hands slipped around the nosebands of their mounts and both Santa and Brett felt the familiar urgent tug toward the gate.
“I would think you’d be more comfortable with someone who didn’t know anything about your final game,” Santa added as they were pulled forward.
Brett reached up and brought his googles down, fit it snuggly on the crest of his nose. “And you know what, I would have agreed with you. That’s what I thought, you know what I mean? Pretty girl who has no idea means fresh start for the villain. What could be better scripted?”
“Yeah, but,” Brett admitted as the assistants pulled his little chestnut filly into the gate and shut the door behind them. A few seconds later, Santa was pulled in to his right. In the chorus of shouts and chirps and the ring of metal as horses kicked and shouldered and planted their feet into the ground, the two of them silently wrapped a tuft a mane between their fingers and braced themselves for the thrust.
Santa, disbelieving the misopportunity of it, gave a little gasp in sudden discovery. “It was that girl from this morning wasn’t it? That’s what has your panties in such a twist.”
Brett gaped her involuntarily. “Christ, were you around?!”
“No, but I heard rumours about it.”
“Shit,” he hissed.
“Well, what do you expect, Brett? No one saw Therese fingering her phone as enthusiastically as you were. What were you texting each other?”
An instant later, the gates snapped open and they were both ejected from the gates and sucked onto the wide open track like space trash spinning out of control for a moment before floating away into the vast emptiness before them. His filly had fire to her, small though she was, and agile as a deer. In only a few years, Brett had managed to secure himself decent mounts. Laurence was already long gone, he’d used his own filly’s explosive energy to get a few leaps ahead and settle in nicely on a tire track hidden below the sand. On the back, Santa felt her own mount begin to warm up, all of their combined working parts slowly congealing like caramel into a mass of flying brown hair and sweat. Brett’s little chestnut girl zipped around the track. Oh, but he did know how to ride a small horse well. Maybe it was his own spit and fire, years of fighting his own size in a sport that treasured tanks, he knew how to hip check them low and hard and topple the giants. A little horse could smell that on him. He climbed onto their backs and they’d cry out, “teach me to topple em!” Still, there’s only so much a tiny filly can do against a more mature contender in the grey Laurence was aboard and with a more mature rider to boot. The grey had a perfect ride, and when both Santa and Brett flew under the wire out of the money, Brett shook his head at her in the gallop.
“You better watch out in the Bishop, Santa, that win’s only going to make him cocky as a rooster.” Santa flinched at that and he glanced at her now and saw the darkness of a bad morning returning to her features like a fog returning in the night. “What?”
Somewhere out in those stands, Brett North had two women as different as night and day. He was looking at the stands as they turned around to ride back to them, and Santa could not say for which woman he looked. They said this new one of his knew him and was as slender and beautiful as a magazine centerfold, and just as two dimensional. Yet Brett was captivated by her, Santa knew now, admittedly captivated and not only for any storied beauty, but because the pretty little ghost knew all his secrets and understood them in a way Therese simply didn’t care to. “Did you know I’m married?” she said. It was abrupt, and as honest as abrupt sentences are. She should have cried it out, or blurted it out, or fought against tears, but that wasn’t the way of it at all. It just came out. Directly. Neither low or high, soft or hard. It just was. She looked at him.
He was staring at the rest of the riders on the track passing by, their minds elsewhere and their white rears and colourful silks fluttering and bouncing like umbrellas lost in the wind. They had no idea Santa was married, she realized, none of them now but Brett. After an almost unbearably long pause, he met her eyes. “No,” he admitted, “But did you know I have a son?” Santa shook her head wordlessly.
“Liam. That’s his name.”
Santa took a deep breath. “Rocco. That’s his.”
Brett shot her an alarmed look. “No shit? That Colombian they’ve been talking about on TV?”
“Does Laurence know?”
They stopped in front of the stands. They unsaddled their horses. They intentionally fell far behind the others until they were alone. They should have thrown questions at each other like handfuls of sand, and covered one another with them, Santa thought, but instead they simply fell into step with one another, each as quiet as a fox staring down the barrel of the hallway as though it were a gun.
“You need to warn Laurence,” he finally said.
“You’re, very publicly, you know, fucking him. What if this Rocco shoots Laurence in the face?,” he ran his hand through his loose copper curls wet with sweat, swinging his helmet by the chin strap in his other, “Not that I would care, Santa, but it’d be very bad for the sport.”
It was an obvious effort to alleviate the tension and when that didn’t work for either of them, he stopped and took her by the arm in the middle of the hall. “What if he?”
Santa met his eyes. “He won’t.” It was a lie and Brett smelled it as well as he could smell the lotion she rubbed into her skin every morning. She knew he could because his nostrils flared and the rims of his eyes went very dark as though a ghost had come and outlined them in black pen. He let her go then and walked away and what he would do next she could not guess, but she did know what she would do, what she would have to do.
Maxwell would never forgive her if she let things degenerate so quickly again that all that was left was surviving, with no time and no reason left for a trip to the courthouse.
She took a deep breath and placed her hand on the cold metal knob of the door to the locker room and stepped inside.
I'm just going to keep writing until you do. Eventually, you'll check in and Laurence will be a bus driver in the Philippines with a cupcakes-that-look-like-animals fetish and Ellie and Brett will have three kids, one of which is a cat they dress up in doll clothes and push around in a stroller while pretending a broccoli head is a microphone and singing frank sinatra tunes in hindi, and Santa will have died a professional flamenco dancer after driving off of a cliff in a rainstorm in Nepal while dressed a giant banana.
Hi everyone!Today I
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