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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

In Brist's Time - Chapter 7

Chapter 7




“Oh Cream! You’re here too?” Brist was both dismayed and pleased at the site of her beloved horse. Cream nodded as if she were answering Brist’s question. “I’m sorry, baby. I didn’t mean to neglect you! If I had known that you were here too, I would have tried to tend to your needs. Can you forgive me?” Brist talked to Cream in a soothing voice.

Cream again nodded in answer to Brist’s question. She also punctuated her forgiveness by burying her head in Brist’s neck as if giving her a hug. The entire Evans family burst out laughing.

“What?” Brist questioned

“You talk to your horse?” Nicholas laughed.

“Yeah, so?” Brist said slowly, as if talking to a person who was low in intelligence.

“Why? It’s not as if the dumb beast can understand you!” Nicholas stated, still in amusement.

Cream snorted her disapproval of the statement.

“You’re not very good with horses are you?” Brist stated more than asked.

“The best there is!” Nicholas boasted with a silly grin.

“Not with horses!” Richard heckled.

“Watch it little brother,” Nicholas warned playfully.

“In our family, Jonathan and Morgan are the best with horses, but I wouldn’t count on them to win any races,” Richard informed Brist. She gave an example of a brilliant smile upon hearing Jonathan’s next statement.

“I can win a race over anyone here,” he boasted.

“Are you sure about that?” Brist challenged, an overly sweet smile on her face.

“Yes, I am,” he assured her with every ounce of male pride that had been bred into him.

“Well, you won’t mind racing me then, will you?” Brist cast him a mischievous smile that should have warned him that she would win no matter what he thought.

“Only if you promise not to be upset when I win,” Jonathan agreed confidently.

“Only if you promise not to be upset when I win?” Brist countered. Jonathan grunted his disbelief that a woman could beat him in a race.

“Oh not now. We are going shopping,” Regina pouted, dismayed that a woman would challenge a man to a race.

“Why not? It would only take me a few minutes to win,” Brist stated charmingly as she mounted her horse. Regina gasped.

“Ladies must ride side saddle, someone get her a side saddle to ride upon,” Regina insisted in a near panic.

“Regina, when I come from, women no longer have to ride side saddle. In fact, I’ve only done it once or twice just for fun,” Brist explained, a little bit of stubborn independence coloring her words.

“Well… to tell you the truth, I’d prefer not to ride like this myself, but it is the proper way to do things. Please have your horse resaddled.” Regina smiled at Brist expectantly.

“Sorry mum, but we don’t have another saddle for the horse, let alone a side saddle,” Nicholas explained with a helpless shrug.

“Oh very well! We shall just have to buy another while we’re shopping,” Regina exclaimed, then sighed in defeat.

“I bet Jonathan wins the race!” Morgan said, enthusiastically reverting the topic back to the prior, much more exciting one.

“Not a chance!” Brist responded.

“Care to make a wager?” Nicholas questioned, warming up to the idea of this prideful girl embarrassing herself.

“How much?” Brist grinned at the prospect of gaining extra money.

“50 dollars says that Jonathan will win,” Nicholas replied, positive that no woman alive could beat a man in a fair race. It's easy money, he thought. Brist nodded her consent.

“I’ll add 50 to the pot, for Jonathan,” Thomas said.

“Count me in.” Lucas added.

“And me.” Gregory said, making it – including Jonathan – 5 out of the 8 brothers wagering on Jonathan.

“Well I, for one, will stand by my word. I said that I wouldn’t count on Jonathan to win any races, and so I’m placing my money on Brist,” Richard said.

Morgan, and Curtis would be taking part in this bet, but as the only two brothers under the age of 18, they didn’t have enough money to do so. However, that did not stop them from watching with interest as each participant in the bet handed their money over to their father for fair disbursement.

“All right then,” Jonathan said confidently. “We will race across the field, around that big tree in the distance, and back. My brothers will make a line to represent the finish line. Anything wrong?” Jonathan asked upon seeing the grim expression on Brist’s face.

“Just that we’ll be racing across the family graveyard,” Brist said, staring at the tall, fat, incredibly huge tree that only possessed one branch.

“No it’s not, or rather not yet, I would guess,” Jonathan informed her.

“That makes sense, since the first person buried there is alive and well right before my very eyes,” Brist told Jonathan, then glanced down so that she wouldn’t give away just exactly who it was. Nicholas cleared his throat, deciding to redirect the morbid curiosity that had suddenly entered his mind.

“Let us line up and get this race over with already. I’m already making plans on how to spend my share of the winnings,” he said.

As soon as everyone was in position, he announced that they should begin on three, then proceeded to count to that very number. Brist kicked Cream into a slow gallop to assess Jonathan’s riding ability. He handled his horse with a passable ability, but he wasn’t sitting correctly for the horse to reach optimum speed without his falling. He was also confusing his horse with slightly conflicting signals. He had managed to stay two yards ahead while Brist had been assessing his abilities, but now Brist gave Cream a signal to speed up, and passed him quite easily.

She was 5 yards ahead of him by the time she rounded the tree. She felt sorry that he had to race her when he was obviously not able to match her level of skill. She considered slowing to allow him to make the race appear close, but every one of these men assumed that women were unable to do anything, and so she decided against her more noble plan and opted to show them just what a woman could do. Grinning devilishly, she told Cream to go as fast as she wanted too, knowing quite well that Cream loved to gallop wildly.

Cream was in a similar mood and wanted to prove that she was no dumb beast. So, she carried Brist over the finish line mere moments after Jonathan had rounded the tree in the distance. Then, since both horse and rider were in such high spirits – and seemed to read each other’s mind and both felt like showing off – they performed their own special victory dance. They had created it together after they had been practicing for a show one day.

Cream pranced around in circles, adding as much smug attitude as she could before it became downright rude. Meanwhile, Brist held her arms up twirling one down with a flourish to rest on her stomach as she bowed, then raising her arm to join the other once again so that she could repeat the motion with the other arm. Brist’s smile glowed with triumphant glee. Everyone there looked shocked, but Richard recovered first and burst out laughing.

“Good show! Well done!” He praised the woman who had just earned him $125.00.

“Is there anyone who still thinks that a woman can’t beat a man in a race?” Brist questioned. Each man tactfully kept his mouth shut and suddenly became very interested in grooming himself. Jonathan finally finished the race and came to a stop along side Brist.

“That was an unfair race, you obviously possess ten times the skill I have. I don’t think that the bet should be considered valid,” he argued charmingly, trying to keep possession over his money.

“Mismatched skill or not, I still won. I even tried to tell you that I would do so, but you did not believe me. So, the bet is certainly valid. However, if in the future should we race, I will personally see to it that you have been properly trained in the equestrian arts, and therefore may actually have a chance of winning,” Brist told him graciously.

David handed her the portion of the money from the bet that she was entitled to. Brist quickly placed the money in the most convenient spot she could think of at the moment, between her cleavage and her skin-tight vest. Then, at Regina’s gasp of dismay, she readjusted the shawl that she had to wear to cover up her improper outfit. Brist giggled mentally at Regina’s attempts to maintain propriety, and was grateful that she had managed to slip the two hundred dollars David had given her earlier into the very same spot without being seen.

“So, now that you’ve raced, and done such an admirable job of winning, can we please be on our way?” Regina asked sweetly, barely able to conceal her impatience.

“By all means, let’s go shop!” Brist said cheerily.

Regina glanced at her husband, signaling him to lead the way. The twins followed them closely. Brist began the trip by following the twins, and she was followed by all of the Evans’ sons in no particular order.

David led them in the general direction of Treepass, and the trip was conducted in a lighthearted manner with Morgan and Curtis ribbing Jonathan humorously about losing to a woman. The twins provided a constant song of giggles in response to their brothers’ teasing comments, which mingled pleasantly with the laughter that tumbled out of everyone’s mouths.

Brist slowed her horse, allowing each person that was behind her to pass her up, as she contemplated this ancestral family of hers. She decided almost immediately that she might have really liked having nearly a dozen siblings. Especially if they were as close as these siblings were. They shared a bond that went beyond mere family, just as she had always been bonded with Drew. She was beginning to understand why Regina had allowed herself to conceive this many children.

Her mom had told her many times that she had always wanted exactly two children – a boy and a girl – and she had gotten her wish. Her father was happy with the results as well. It wasn’t that her parents didn’t love children – they owned an orphanage to house and educate unfortunate children – but they had little to no time for the children that they had. Far more interested in business, they had no desire to create even more.

Brist thought that there was another reason that this family seemed even more bonded than any normal family, but she couldn’t quite explain it. She wondered if maybe it had something to do with the fact that David and Regina acted vastly different than her parents.

For instance, they participated in their children’s jokes, and their laughter seemed genuine, not the type that one gives when they’re expected to laugh. Also, they listened to their children when they spoke. Not just a “that’s nice” kind of listening, but an “I’m truly interested in what you’re saying” kind of listening.

Not that Brist’s parents never laughed or listened to them, but they had a way of always thinking about some business detail in the back of their minds that made them never be truly present and sincere when dealing with their children.

Nicholas caught Brist’s attention when his horse wandered off to munch on an enticing patch of grass and wouldn’t listen to Nicholas’ shouts to remain on course.

“I say, he doesn’t seem to be paying you any mind. Does he Nicky?” Gregory said, trying not to fall off his horse because he was laughing so hard.

Nicholas dismounted, firmly took hold of the reins, and used his sheer brute strength to drag his horse away from the now half-eaten patch of grass.

Brist would have helped him with his seemingly impossible task, but seeing him reminded her of Muskles, and she was struck again by how much he really did look exactly like her ex-boyfriend... only he was older. She wondered just exactly how old he was as she admired his similarities and differences from her ex.

He was taller, more powerfully built, and his hair was slightly longer. His jaw line was also more defined, but other than that, his chin length dark brown hair, his crystal blue eyes, and his face structure were exactly the same. Well… his extremely well-fitting clothing differed from Muskles too, Brist admitted as she allowed her eyes to roam his tight pants and the obviously muscular legs inside them.

Get a hold of yourself! She ordered herself mentally. She continued her mental conversation. Even if he is an exact copy of Muskles, only older with a great sense of humor… caring enough to help a stranger passed out on his property, apparently single, and so damn good looking! Hell he is everything I want in a man, God has basically taken Jesse Muskles and improved him, all for me!

Brist’s attempt to control her thoughts failed miserably until she reminded herself that he was her ancestor. Hmm, I wonder… is it still incest if I sleep with a great grandfather who’s been dead for almost two hundred years. Wait! That sounds even worse than plain old incest! Think about this rationally, he’s related, and therefore off limits.

Yes, but he has to be, like, seven generations removed, and that has to pretty much mean that the same rules no longer apply. I mean if a person can marry their 2nd cousin, which is only two times removed, then surely 7 generations is better. Brist! Stop thinking about this man in bed! Once again Brist ordered her mind to regain control.

While she had been talking herself in and out of his bed, the object of her thoughts had regained control of his horse, and then revisited his prior observance of her. In his opinion, she was quite a character. She acted like no woman aught to, but it was charming. Which was exactly what she had done to his family, charmed them all.

Maybe she really was just a highly trained thief, working to somehow rob them blind. On the other hand, she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. If his parents hadn’t been in the room when she had kissed him this morning, he didn’t know what might have happened. Nicholas wondered why he was so hot for her? He currently had two different mistresses; one in his town home in London and one in his flat in Paris.

Her eyes are very expressive, he thought to himself. Just now, she’s trying to figure something out, and it must have something to do with that fellow she calls Muskles, for she’s looking directly at me.

If he knew what Brist was really thinking, he might have tried to come up with an excuse for the two of them to return home… alone. Just then, her puzzled eyes cleared up, and he found himself lost in their direct eye contact. Brist watched his eyes watch hers and was fascinated by their crystal blue purity.

“Nicholas!” Raven called as she dropped back to join them at the rear of the party, effectively breaking the spell that they had been enchanted by.

“Yes?” He answered his sibling.

“I’m uncomfortable, may I ride with you?” She asked. Brist answered for him.

“No wonder you’re uncomfortable, sit up straight, take a firm grasp on the reins,” she advised the girl.

“If I sit straight, then I will fall off the horse,” Raven voiced her fear.

“You’re not going to fall,” Brist assured her.

“Yes I am,” Raven pouted. Brist would have proceeded to give the girl lessons in riding a horse, but Nicholas didn’t allow her the opportunity.

“Come here.” He reached for Raven and pulled her onto his lap.

“Thank you Nicky.” Raven smiled at her eldest brother in adoration. In return, Nicholas gave her an affectionate squeeze. Brist shook her head slightly at the way he encouraged her to be a dependent female, but thought the gesture was sweet anyway.

Soon, the party reached the edge of their property.

“The trees are different,” Brist murmured.

“Oh? How so?” Lucas asked.

“It’s hard to explain, there will be a wall of trees right about here,” Brist elaborated.

“A wall of trees you say? Well Nicholas, do you still think there’s nothing to her story?” David asked his obviously still skeptical son. “There’s no other way that she could have known about that.”

Nicholas could do nothing but gape at Brist. As much as he hated to admit it, there really was no way that she could have known about his secret plans to have a wall of trees surround his property. He had a detail of slaves that he knew could be trusted not to speak of his plans working on the north and south walls, having finished the west wall already, and soon they would start on the east wall. That was the side that they would need to put a hidden entrance in.

“Can I ask a question that’s been bothering me for a while now?” Brist asked David.

“Of course,” he permitted genially.

“If we’re merely going shopping, then why do all you men have guns on you?” Brist grinned mischievously. “What? Are we going to rob them?”

“We most certainly are not!” Regina exclaimed, offended by the very thought.

“We need our riffles to defend ourselves from the thieves that lurk in the forest,” Lucas answered Brist’s question promptly, hoping to impress the beautiful woman from the future.

“Why not just have the police arrest them?” Brist wondered.

“The police force is limited, highly incompetent, and would probably expect us to handle them ourselves anyway,” David informed her.

“Are there a lot of them?”

“It’s hard to be certain,” Lucas responded, again trying to impress her. Brist barely had time to smile at him in thanks before a voice rang out from the forest.

“Get down off your horses and throw down your guns!” It commanded. Brist wondered why that voice sounded so familiar. The feeling that she had heard it somewhere before nagged at the back of her mind. The entire party came to a stop.

“Just like last time, we will not surrender our weapons or our valuables. You will have to fight us for them!” David called back to the voice.

A lone figure on horseback appeared before them. Brist’s jaw dropped when she saw the man who now sat proudly on his horse in front of them. It was an older, taller, and downright more gorgeous version of Randy. Brist smiled in appreciation of yet another handsome man to look at. Is every man this gorgeous in this time?

Nicholas noticed her smile and was caught off guard by a pang of jealousy that was intensified when he saw the brigand return her smile. His jealousy immediately turned to suspicion, and he began to entertain thoughts that Brist was actually a member of the band of thieves. The man attempting to attain their possessions had actually been smiling to show them that he was confident that he would be victorious, and merely reflected Brist’s positive attention back upon her.

“This time will be vastly different from before. You will obey or you won’t have a chance to fight. If you will note, my men are hidden amongst the trees, and each one has his gun pointed at a different person in your party. If you do not do as I say, I will give the command for them to begin shooting you one by one. I assure you that you will be unable to defend yourselves.” The man smiling at Brist explained the situation for the family so that they would be more inclined to cooperate this time.

“Cowards! Come out of hiding and fight like real men!” Lucas shouted. A shot rang out from the forest, shooting Lucas, and Brist saw a flicker of rage pass over the older image of Randy’s eyes. She correctly assumed that he was upset that a shot had been fired with out his command.

The twins and their mother screamed as Lucas fell from his horse.

Go To Chapter 8 

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