Clare O’Beara Shares ’Racing and Romance in Ireland’
Geri and Jackie O’Keane inherit their father’s riding stables in Ireland and, both business women, set about modernising, including a website. When Jackie meets Valentine Murney, a rising star in the flat racing world, her life appears complete. Val, who admits that he’s no saint, is dedicated, good looking, kind, and a great lover. Jackie sets her sights on the highly competitive ‘most stylish lady’ raceday prizes. Meanwhile Geri is drifting towards her own relationship.
But when two spiteful stable girls tell Jackie that her jockey boyfriend has been sleeping with someone else, she faces making a decision which might be the greatest mistake of her life.
Val’s ride, a golden colt, came second in a blisteringly fought finish among the top three, in the feature race of the day.
Jackie had lost twenty euro on it, but she didn’t care. The adrenalin of watching was tremendous. The winning jockey punched the air with his whip hand as he rode back to the winners’ circle, and exchanged remarks with friends in the crowd. Val was patting his colt’s neck, telling the horse he’d done well.
The colt tossed his head happily and jogged the last few steps to his stable lad who waited to take the reins while Val weighed in. Jackie watched the presentations. After Val left the winners’ circle in his red and white silks he went back to the jockeys’ room because he was riding in the next race.
His third ride, in the final race, was a big burly iron grey colt which reared and refused to enter the starting stalls. Val, in blue and yellow, sat the colt steadily until the handlers had him under control and eventually persuaded him into the stalls, where he kept tossing his large head.
A bookie next to Jackie’s perch was lengthening the colt’s odds from four to one, his manner dismissive. Jackie hadn’t meant to bet again, but suddenly she felt defensive of Val. He’d said he was always worth a bet. She’d never betted with a track bookie but she stepped right up and offered the man a tenner, the last of her budget, at five to one. He took it and the clerk issued the ticket. The starting gate sprang open and the grey colt, which had been beginning to rear again, got a jump on the field and tore out to the front. The jockey had space to steer him to the rails, keeping him perfectly balanced, and no other horse came near them all the way to the finish line.
Again Val was calmly patting his horse all the way to the winners’ circle.
“We could have dinner here if you like,” Val suggested at the end of the day as he sipped a cup of tea. Crowds were departing, backs were being slapped, hands lifted in farewell. Several people greeted Val as they passed him. The bar smelt of spilt beer. “Or, my flat is on the way back to Crosbeg, we could go there and I’ll rustle something up if you prefer.”
“That sounds fine. I can help cook,” acquiesced Jackie, feeling very bold, in the Irish sense of the word.
“I warn you, ever since I saw you in that silk outfit I’ve been thinking about stripping it off you,” continued Val, a merry glint in his blue eyes. “Hey, I never said I was a saint,” he added, as she looked at him with raised eyebrows. “Don’t worry, I can control myself.”
Jackie laughed and leaned in and kissed his cheek, just because it was that kind of evening after that kind of exciting day, and he slipped his arm around her waist and escorted her to the car park. When they were alone in Val’s tiny studio flat and he’d set the heating going, there didn’t seem to be any reason not to continue kissing and touching, and next thing she was unfastening his shirt buttons and he was sliding down the zipper from the nape of her neck.
Jackie stifled a moan as Val’s strong fingers played down her spine. She tugged his shirt up out of his waistband and pushed it back, feeling his ribs below a muscled chest and knowing there wouldn’t be a spare ounce on him.
Somehow they got to his bed, which had a fresh-smelling duvet, and laughed as they tugged each other out of their remaining clothes. Jackie felt her breasts tumble free and figure soften as her expensive dressy bra was removed, and Val sat back and gazed at her for a few seconds before leaning forward to kiss her nipples delicately.
“You’re beautiful,” he told her.
“So are you,” she breathed. “Like a Thoroughbred.” He was sleek, muscular on top and light legged, just like one of the colts. Jackie’s arms were muscled too from helping out in the yard, but horses hadn’t been her day job for the majority of her life. She inhaled his clean masculine scent and stroked his chest. A length of heat pushed against her abdomen, and she recalled her senses.
“We should -”
“I’ve got some somewhere,” he said. “If I can find them, and they’re not out of date.” She let him find the packet, in the second place he looked, and check the date which was still okay. No need to mention her own supply. Not unless they ran out.
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