I’m back with another scene from Midas’ Daughter, the short story I’m fleshing out into a novella. Last week, we saw some of the fallout from Dario Midas’ temper. Now, a hint of what his scheming is going to bring about.
Calla stepped out of the house and glanced across the courtyard right outside their door. She hadn’t seen her father since the scene in his office earlier that week. Apparently he was still sulking. What reason did he have to sulk? He wasn’t the one cleaning up after her temper tantrums.
Maybe Nita had been right, and he was actually scheming something. That would make more sense. And it wasn’t like he ever discussed his business decisions with her anyway. So, she wouldn’t have any idea if that’s what was happening. She had a feeling this wasn’t about business this time, though.
And that worried her.
Calla stepped down from the porch and headed across the courtyard to the stables. Her father didn’t keep a lot of his horses here, not this time of year anyway. He just had them, and this big of a stable, for the prestige. But, there was one horse always here. Ariadne. The mare had been hers from the time the animal was born. Calla trained her, fed her, groomed her every day.
When she stepped into the stable, someone already stood in front of her mare’s stall. “Flip, I didn’t expect to see you here this morning.”
He’d been here about as long as Ariadne, had come with his father, Philip. He’d worked under his father as a stable boy until a few months ago, when the older man retired. Now, Flip was the one in charge of the stables. There wasn’t as much for him to do with the other horses out on the racing circuits, but she figured he’d be checking on them by now. Not still here.
They’d shared one kiss the first summer he’d been here. It almost seemed like he’d avoided her since then. He wasn’t rude about it, but they were hardly ever alone. Maybe she read more into it than what was there. He didn’t say anything to her now but stepped back so she could approach the stall. That hurt, but she’d never admit it.
When he’d first arrived, she thought they could be friends. She’d never had one before. Not at the private school her father sent her to, not among anyone her father hired for this place. It looked promising with Flip. Until that kiss apparently ruined it all.
“Did you feed her this morning?” she asked instead of asking the real question she wanted the answer to. What had she done so wrong to ruin them?
“Earlier. She’s good if you’re planning to take her out.”
Then, he headed back down the aisle, away from her. Calla let herself into the stall, forcing her thoughts away from Flip. She brushed the horse before finding her tack and saddling her up. She led the mare outside and climbed into the saddle. She could take her out for an easy ride on the trails, but apparently easy wasn’t what she was after. Instead, she headed to the arena set up with jumps. Right in view of her father’s office. There were times she’d seen him watching from the window when she took Ariadne out to practice. She didn’t let herself look today.
Both she and the mare knew this course perfectly. It felt like they flew over each of the jumps. She went over it three times until Ariadne felt like she was working. She trotted around the perimeter then slid down from the saddle, grabbing the reins and leading her out of the arena.
She stopped when she saw her father standing in front of the house. He wasn’t alone, and he wasn’t looking her way. Her stomach cramped as she continued walking toward the stable. He hadn’t been watching her anyway. He hadn’t seen how perfectly she’d taken Ariadne over the jumps. They hadn’t brought home any ribbons or trophies in over a year—they’d both burnt out on the jumping circuit—so hadn’t entered any shows, so none of it mattered to her father.
“You two looked perfect out there.”
She jumped a little at Flip’s voice as she walked Ariadne around the yard to cool her off. “I didn’t realize you were watching.” At least someone had seen them and appreciated it.
She thought she caught him murmuring something as he turned away again, but she’d probably imagined it. Then, he looked over his shoulder. “Your father called down. He wants you up at the house. You’ve got someone calling on you.”
Calling on her? What did that even mean? She’d seen the sports car sitting in front of the house, and the man who it probably belonged to. She’d assumed it was another of her father’s business associates. What did he have to do with her? She hadn’t even noticed them go into the house.
It didn’t matter. She still needed to take care of Ariadne before she went in. When she led Ariadne into the stable, Flip waited at her stall. Their hands brushed as he took the reins from her. Her gaze shot to his, and she was sure his cheeks flushed before he turned away. “I’ll take care of her. You don’t want to keep Prince Charming waiting.”
Prince Charming? Where did he get this stuff? “I don’t even know who he is.”
But, she released Ariadne to Flip’s hands. He’d take as much care with the mare as she would. Calla went up to the house the back way. Father would not appreciate her greeting his guest all sweaty and smelling like the stable. She’d heard that lecture more than enough times to know how he felt about it. In his view, it was almost as bad as being late. So, she’d get a shower before she went to find them.