Oh the weather outside is frightful . . . Okay so maybe it isn’t so frightful yet, but the cold is definitely here in NYC . . . Well, at least for today. Yesterday felt like spring.
But despite the weather yo-yo, one look around New York City and you know it’s Christmas. Actually, it’s been Christmas since before Thanksgiving since everyone seemed in a rush to get up the holiday decorations. This is a shot of the front of the Lord & Taylor store on Fifth Avenue. During our annual Christmas in the City jaunt, this is one of our must stops to check out the windows.
The chill in the air makes me wish for a little bit of heat and so I thought that today’s Wicked Wednesday would be a little bit of South Beach Sizzle. These scene is another flashcback scene between Virginia and Pablo, Sylvia’s parents.
Hope you like it!
As much as she tried to avoid Pablo, it was impossible to do. Her chores took her the length and breadth of the horse farm and they passed each other on a regular basis. While Pablo had finally opened up to some of the others, losing some of the air that had made him seem unapproachable at first, to her he was flaggingly respectful and reserved.
It annoyed the shit of out of her, Virginia thought as she watched him working out a mare in the exercise ring. She was headed there herself with one of Paul Junior’s horses.
Pablo was leaning close to the mare, the mallet in one hand while he rubbed the blaze on her forehead. The horse was shaking her head up and down, almost as if answering him. At Virginia’s approach with the other horse, the mare grew skittish and began to pull away from him, but Pablo grabbed her bridle to keep her near.
“Easy, girl. Easy,” he said, smiling, but as he faced her, the smile faded and he grew distant once again. “Miss Cooke,” he said, a formal tone in his voice, and nodded.
She gritted her teeth and inclined her head. “Mr. Amenabar. Is it a problem if I work Lee’s Pride while you’re with Second Chance?”
“Can you ride, Ms. Cooke?” As he said it, he raised one eyebrow in a way that said he doubted it.
She’d been on top of horses almost since the day she could walk. Unlike the games Pablo or the Smiths played with their fancy ponies, it had been a necessity for her to know how to handle a horse. “I think you’ll find I ride quite well,” she answered.
“Having never had the pleasure of your ride, I’ll reserve judgment,” he said and hopped up onto the mare.
Heat raced to her cheeks. She tried to respond, but even though she opened and closed her mouth several times, nothing came out. At her silence, he chuckled and said, “So, do you want to help me train Second Chance?”
Because she couldn’t refuse a challenge — and Pablo Amenabar was definitely a challenge — she nodded, slipped her foot into the stirrup and boosted herself up into Lee’s Pride’s saddle. The horse didn’t move, unlike Second Chance, who shifted and shied away at the motion.
“Skittish, isn’t she?”
Pablo nodded. “She’s not used to being close to other horses. Kind of like some people I know.” He shot her a glance as he tightened his hold on the reins and brought his horse a few feet from her.
“You don’t know me, Mr. Amenabar.”
“Pablo, por favor. Mr. Amenabar makes me feel too old, especially compared to your — ”
“Eighteen,” she lied since the last thing she wanted was for him to think she was nothing but an inexperienced little school girl. Which she was, but didn’t need for him to know.
He eyed her up and down, almost as if trying to decide for himself if it was a lie, but then he nodded and explained just what he wanted her to do. “We’ll ride in opposite directions in a wide circle, keeping close to one another as we pass. I’ll slowly decrease the size of the circle until the horses are nearly on top of one another.”
Easy enough to do. “What’s the purpose?” she wondered aloud even as she followed him toward the edge of the exercise ring.
“Horses are used to herds naturally, but seem to forget that when they’re trained for riding. To play polo, the horse has to be unafraid of getting right on top of another horse, even bumping him if his rider commands,” Pablo answered and after, circled his mare around so that he was now facing her. “Think you can handle it?”
His tone crackled with condemnation, firing her temper. “Pablo, honey, I think I can handle just about anything you might want me to handle,” she said in her best imitation of an annoyed Southern belle.
He cocked that one eyebrow up in the air again, and said, “A slow trot will do for now, but I promise to give some thought to your rather interesting proposition.”
With that, he clucked under his tongue, spurred his horse into a slow trot and began the circle as he had earlier indicated. Virginia copied his actions, urging Lee’s Pride into a slow trot in the opposite direction.
As she approached Pablo and Second Chance halfway around the circle, Lee’s Pride pranced sideways a bit, breaking his stride and forcing her to exert pressure with her knees along and a seasoned hand on the reins to remind him of where she wanted him to go.
Second Chance was even more uncomfortable, stopping short as she and her horse approached, and kicking up her front legs in refusal. Pablo quickly, but gently, brought the mare under control and called out to her, “Keep on coming, Virginia.”
With Lee’s Pride under control beneath her, she urged him forward, slipping back into a slow trot and passing Pablo and
his balky mare. She continued onward into the circle and they repeated the action again and again until finally, both Lee’s Pride and Second Chance seemed more comfortable with it. At that point, Pablo closed the circle a bit and they continued onward,
tightening the circle bit by bit.
The closer and closer they got, the more effort it took on both their parts to keep the horses answering their commands. Finally, Pablo called out to her to stop and slowly approach him and Second Chance head on. She did so and the two horses hesitantly nuzzled one another and after, Pablo reined in Second Chance until he was directly next to her, their knees brushing.
Once again, both horses grew skittish, but they managed to control them and beneath his breath, he said, “Muy bien, Virginia. Muy bien.”
“Gracias, Pablo,” she answered and met his gaze. A mistake. There was admiration there and something that brought a flush of color to her cheeks once again. “I have to go,” she said since as much as she had liked helping him out, she’d gone well beyond the time she’d alloted for exercising Lee’s Pride and there was still a number of other chores to do.
With a soft nudge to the horse’s flanks, she turned him and was heading to the entrance of the exercise ring when Pablo called out, “Will you help me again?”
She stopped and partially turned on the small English saddle to face him. “Tomorrow?”
“Sí, mañana,” he replied.
Danger, Virginia, danger, the little voice inside her head warned. Her daddy would not look kindly on her either losing her job for failing to finish her chores or fraternizing with the Smith’s fancy foreign trainer. Of course, what her daddy didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.
With a nod of her head, she said, “Mañana.”