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Shady Oak Stable

Louisville, Kentucky

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a part of Shady Oak Stable, by Luv-is-a-Bug.

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Luv-is-a-Bug holds sovereignty over Louisville, Kentucky, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Setting

Default Location for Shady Oak Stable
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Minimap

Louisville, Kentucky is a part of Shady Oak Stable.

6 Characters Here

Eden Adler [13] Stable owner and an accomplished equestrian, why she left the show ring is anyone's guess...
Lexington Jethro Churchill [12] "Winning isn't all it's cracked up to be."
Gwyneth Alexander Crusoe [11] “I take it you let yourself believe you drive people away with your winning personality, not your face, right?”
Ali Cooper [9] "I'm young, but that doesn't mean I can't kick your ass..."
Logan Thomson [8] "The name's Thomson. Logan Thomson. And why waste your time on a horse when you can ride me instead?"
Riley Smith [3] "Don't let fear stop you from doing the things your heart desires. Doing that would just be letting the enemy win."

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eden Adler
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The sight of the sun coming up over Shady Oak's pastures never ceased to amaze Eden. The view from the barn was like something out of a movie- the sun peaking its head up over the horizon and stretching its long, yellow fingers out over the earth, warming the tender grass with its rosy radiance. It was a salutation, a warm meeting of old friends, and Eden paused to watch it for a moment before swinging open the Old Barn door and stepping inside.

A few sleepy heads appeared to greet her, and Hobbes, the fat orange barn cat, found his way to Eden's legs, which he rubbed against as he welcomed her with his jungle cat purr. It was a quiet morning, a peaceful morning, and Eden was filled with a sense of well-being. Things were the way they should be. The barn filled with the soft sounds of horses stirring in their stalls, and the air smelled of hay and saddle soap. The familiarity provided an instant calm, a tranquility that banished the stress of bills and competition fees and training expenses. This was her home, and these were her horses.

Still a bit stiff from the slight chill in the morning air, Eden made her way down the barn aisle, her limp more evident now with her body's rigidity. At the end of the barn aisle lay the horse she most wanted to see, and he wasted no time in greeting her. His big grey head hung over his stall door, and his ears were pricked to detect the sounds of her approach. He welcomed her with a nudge to the chest, which she graciously returned with a scratch behind the ear before digging around in the pocket of her windbreaker to find a leftover peppermint. The large grey gobbled it down greedily, then bobbed his head for more, ever the expectant puppy. "Goodness, Sterling, you can't possibly expect to keep your trim competition figure with a diet like that," she teased, shaking her head.

The brunette then set about her morning chores, reveling in the quiet of the barn. She made quick work of Sterling's stall, discarding the old straw and laying down some fresh bedding, then gave him his morning feed (with a few added peppermints, of course.) There would be stress today, she was sure of it. There would be horses to train, bills to pay, feed to order...but right now, none of that mattered. This was her morning, and it was perfect.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eden Adler Character Portrait: Lexington Jethro Churchill
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It was like for a moment the Earth stood still. As the sun began to break through the horizon and wrap the world in a warm hug. He felt the heat hit him, warming his body. The spring chill dissipated quickly and Lex soaked in the morning sun. He heaved one more pitch fork of the soiled sand, from the training ring, into the wheelbarrow. Setting the pitch fork down he walked to the side of the ring, his hands running across the worn wood of what was now considered the old training ring.

His eyes glanced up, just long enough to catch the figure of Eden disappearing within the Old Barn. He figured he should talk to her, at least for a moment. He knew she was stressed out, and spring going into summer, the showing season, was especially stressful. But he looked back to the sun instead, reveling in its power for a moment. He let out a low sigh as he turned back to the barn. He needed to turn Peter out anyway, he thought. And so he set off slowly towards the Old Barn.

He gathered the pitch fork and the wheelbarrow to the side of the entrance, and he just stood there for a moment. Peter’s stall was located down at the end, directly across from Sterling, Eden’s horse. Lex made his way down there quickly, catching Eden as she was feeding Sterling. He turned to look at Peter for a moment, the gelding just bobbing his head, telling Lex he was ready to be turned out. Lex just stroked this thick neck of the horse though and turned to Eden.

“Finished up cleaning the lesson ring,” He said gently. Although Eden had been Lex’s best friend for the past years he couldn’t help but feel the need to tell her of anything he had done. He had been hired on as a lead trainer, but he quickly realized what situation the stable was in. More than once he had offered to help Eden out, financially, but he knew she never would take him up on that offer. “Anyways, that’s done. How are you doing?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eden Adler Character Portrait: Lexington Jethro Churchill
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Eden was so wrapped up in the welcome monotony of morning chores she hardly noticed Lex's entrance. He was so quiet, so calm and purposeful in everything he did, that his presence seemed as natural as that of the horses. When she did take notice of him, she waited for him to speak, comfortable in the silence between them.

She and Lex went way back, long before Eden's accident. She'd met him at some horse expo down South, and the two had hit it off immediately. Even in those days Eden had a way of working herself into a tizzy, and she remembered frantically trying to unload a skittish horse in an attempt to make it to a clinic on time. Lex, as it turned out, had been headed to the same clinic, and stopped to help her with the panicking horse. His connection with horses in turn connected him to Eden, and the two had become fast friends. As her career grew and other horse-y ventures paid off, Eden was able to scrape together the money to purchase Shady Oak Stable. Unable to imagine her equine dream without Lex, she'd hired him on as her head trainer, and he'd yet to let her down.

Even now his mild manner worked wonders on her nerves, and she turned to him and gave him a weak smile. "You're a godsend, Lex. What would I do without you?" she asked, setting Sterling's feed bucket aside. How are you doing? His question reminded her of who she was (at least, who she was supposed to be) and she attempted to widen her smile, putting on a brave face. "Never better. I don't suppose you've seen my feed forms, have you? I've got to order more alfalfa, and I could've sworn they were on my desk last night. Christ, I do my best to keep this place organized, but with all these kids using my office as their play room..." she trailed off, realizing how riled she was getting. Taking a deep breath, she tucked back the one stray strand that had escaped her otherwise perfect bun and looked at Lex.

Around other boarders, Eden was picture of cool, but she'd never been able to mask her feelings around Lex. He knew her too well to let her get away with this bottled-up-feelings crap, and she was simultaneously grateful and irritated by his ability to call her on it. She wanted so much to be the perfect owner, the perfect equestrian...but it seemed the world was working against her as of late.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eden Adler Character Portrait: Lexington Jethro Churchill
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Lex watched with understanding eyes, knowing the time Eden was thinking of. The two had often talked about how life was funny in the way it connected people. His mind wandering back to the first time Eden and he had met, just the same as her. She knew him back before his father died, she had been there through all of it. Even with the past events playing through his mind like a movie, he was able to watch every bit of her movement.

Something always clicked on in Eden’s head, it seemed, when they spoke. But he had noticed it with other people, it was like a turn when she realized she had let her façade slip. What would she do without me, he played it back in his head. “Probably have to clean the training ring yourself,” He said with a gentle shrug, a sly grin growing over his face. His eyes flickered over her face as it changed to cover up the stress both of them felt. “I filed them back in the filing cabinet, the one I bought you three years ago,” He said with a chuckle. “Just like the beginning of every week, I file all your paperwork.”

Eden often came off as cold, but if you let yourself open up to her, she would often do the same. Having met her at one of the lowest points of his life, Lex had turned to her as he had no one else. He often thought that was why they were so close. She wasn’t one to open up first, but reveal your inner feelings to her and she would be there for you. He cocked his head to the side as he watched her, the subtle shaking of the hands, as she worked herself up again. His grin grew as he reached out to touch her arm. “Summer will be over before you know it, and autumn always brings a break.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eden Adler Character Portrait: Lexington Jethro Churchill Character Portrait: Logan Thomson Character Portrait: Ali Cooper Character Portrait: Gwyneth Alexander Crusoe
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Ali was sitting in her window seat in her bedroom, watching the sunrise over the stables. The roof of the old stable seemed to glow in the early sunlight, and she though of Sephey (her beloved horse) waking up the same way she was, with the sun in her eyes. Ali let out a contented sigh and stood from her perch, stretching her arms over her head. She had training for the opening competition today, and Ali wanted to impress whoever would be training her this year.

As Ali looked in her closet, she selected a pair of light skinny jeans, a long sleeved, pale yellow shirt, and a pair of grey converse. After pulling her hair into a braid, Ali descended the stairs to the main dining hall. She wasn't to hungry, but she knew if she didn't eat she had the possibility of passing out from the sun. Ali looked at her long sleeved shirt, then shrugged. If she sweated, that was more calories she lost, and more she could eat at dinner. The young lady decided on an apple and a few triangles of toast and some water for her breakfast.

Ali was just finishing her half of the apple (she'd give the other half to Sephey) when she came up on the stable, she saw Eden and Lex talking. "Morning," She said in her quiet, strongly British accent. She went to the last stall, the one she kept Persephone in, and held out the half apple for her. Ali wasn't one to talk much, but she needed to know if Lex would be training her again this year.

"Hey, Lex, am I continuing to train with you, or did you want me to bring in an outside trainer, since you have Logan and Gwen, too?" The girl pushed a loose piece of hair behind her ear. "Obviously, I'd love if you trained me again, since I did so well last year...but if you think you've got to much on your plate..." She let it hang there, going back to Persephone and stroking her nose. Ali looked back over to Lex, her eyes meeting his. "It's up to you," Ali said with a final shrug, working on Persephone's stall as she did every morning.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eden Adler Character Portrait: Lexington Jethro Churchill Character Portrait: Ali Cooper Character Portrait: Gwyneth Alexander Crusoe
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Gwyn watched the gathering of Eden, Lex, and then Ali with little amusement. She had been at Shady Oaks for the past year now, and had yet to really make friends with either Ali or Eden. She had become slightly more social with Eden as of late, and had been known to talk to Lex a bit. But their encounters were always reserved to the horses or mainly about Lex. He was quiet, she had taken notice. But he was serious, and he was a good instructor.

She clipped in the feed bucket of Bandit’s and stroked the horse’s neck. She had recently taken a break from training, just for the week. After lessons every day for the past three months she figured it would do them both good for a break before the show season. She played with Bandit’s jawline as she listened in on the ongoing conversation. Herself, wondering if Lex would carry on with lessons for the three students and then also the group of youngsters he got every year.

Gwyn appreciated every Lex had done for the students. Although she never expressed it. Her attention turned to Ali. She and the girl, who had been here much longer then herself, never seemed to speak. Maybe it was the fact Gwyn held herself to a higher standard, or the ‘niceness’ of the younger girl never sat well with Gwyn. Gwyn was always one to assume the kind actions of others were always a ploy for them to get something. Although at this point she wasn’t willing to say anything to the girl, knowing Eden and Lex would have something to say about her pettiness.

---

Lex looked down at the girl, Ali. A smile grew as he leaned back against the stall wall. “No, of course you will still be under my instruction. I wouldn’t let one of my star pupils be under the training of another! Why, when we compete this year I’m sure you will do superb and no one will take that credit of training you other then myself,” He said with much excitement. He had seem Ali rise to out preform a lot of the other riders. She, in his eyes, was an excellent student. His attention turned back to Eden for a moment, letting her know he still expected a response.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eden Adler Character Portrait: Lexington Jethro Churchill Character Portrait: Ali Cooper Character Portrait: Gwyneth Alexander Crusoe
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Ali smiled brightly, wordlessly going back to Persephone. The young woman had been training under Lex since she came to the establishment she'd come to call home, and she really didn't want another trainer. Ali looked at Lex as a father figure, and it always made her incredibly happy when he told her she was his star, and he was proud of her. Ali lived for the moments when he would just sit and stare at her. Even when she excelled at things she and Persephone had never actually competed in, Lex would get this look of pure and utter pride and astonishment in his eyes. Ali adored Lex, and she knew he felt the same way for her.

She looked at Gwyn out of the corner of her eye. Ali couldn't understand why the older girl was never speaking to her, or was never nice to her. The British teen recalled one day in particular during the last season, when Gwyn had forgotten her riding boots at Shady Oak and they were at an out of state competition. Ali had competed in her converse so that the older girl (who was luckily the same shoe size) could wear her performance boots. Gwyn had never thanked Ali for this, and it kind of bothered the younger girl.

Ali sighed, looking around the barn. It was mostly clean, the stalls done and the horses fed. "Did you want me to go over to the new barn and take care of the lesson horses?" Ali asked Eden. Ali liked the lesson horses, and she tried to ride a few of them when she wasn't training with Persephone (which was hardly ever. Ali never took a break from training). Ali looked at Persephone, then Sterling. Maybe she would talk to Eden about breeding them after this season...

Ali looked out the window at the rising sun. It was nearly 8 a.m. by its position, and Ali knew that Lex would soon be busy with the first trickling paperwork of the youngsters (most were no younger than Ali, but she was almost professional by now) who would be coming in for summer lessons. Ali didn't like the kids who came for summer lessons, but she knew Eden got a lot of money from those kids, and she tried to be nice to most of them, but some were just stuck up, spoiled brats.

Ali looked at Gwyn. "Would you care to help me?" She asked gently, not wanting to insult the older girl. She knew Gwyn didn't like her (for what reason, she didn't know), but Ali thought it'd be easier on Lex and Eden if all the competitors got along this year. Last year, there was just to much drama.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lexington Jethro Churchill Character Portrait: Ali Cooper Character Portrait: Gwyneth Alexander Crusoe
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“If you don’t mind, that would be lovely,” Lex answered for Eden. Lex had spoken to Ali on more than one occasion about her past. He knew she, too, had a difficult one. But he admired that she didn’t let that alter how she approached her current situation. He wanted to open the doors for his pupils, but he didn’t want to just give it to them. He appreciated those that trained hard for everything they earned, and Ali was certainly one of them. He turned to look at Gwyn, who had clearly finished her caring of Bandit’s morning routine. “Why not,” He said to her, knowing the young girl would listen to him.

---

She held back the scoff at Ali’s suggestion when Lex answered for her. “It would be my pleasure,” She groaned as she turned about to head over to the recently built barn. She sauntered out of the Old Barn, expecting Ali to be at her side at any second. Oddly enough, the suggestion to go take care of the lesson horses didn’t bother Gwyn much. She did enjoy the company of animals, it was the company of the younger girl she didn’t look forward to having.

Gwyn had never really interacted much with Ali. Sure the girl had given her the boots at the show the previous season, but she acted like that was world changing. Ali just didn’t understand the world wasn’t a loving place, but Gwyn also didn’t know Ali’s back story. She kicked the gravel with despise as the jealousy over the attention Ali received from Lex grew. Gwyn didn’t think Ali was that great of a rider, but apparently Lex saw it right away. Often she tried to respect her trainers, but sometimes she couldn’t help but think Lex was on something for even giving Ali the time of day.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eden Adler Character Portrait: Lexington Jethro Churchill
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Eden allowed herself a small laugh at his comment on the training ring, shaking her head. Oddly enough, it was his humor and flexibility that kept her sane, his ability to foresee her rising stress levels and calm the turbulent waters of her emotions. Where she was battle cries and balled fists, he was warm smiles and welcoming handshakes. Their social and managerial skills shouldn't have worked together, but they did. That was the beauty of horse-lovers: come hell or high water, they were always there for each other.

She heaved a sigh of relief as he informed her of his filing work, recalling his last words to her as she'd left the barn last night. "Eden, I'm putting the feed papers back in the filing cabinet, alright?" She seemed to remember grunting a reply before dragging her weary body from the barn back to the house, but she couldn't be sure. "Right, the filing cabinet. You'll have to forgive me, Lex; I haven't had my coffee this morning, and I'm positively useless without it," she smirked, passing a hand over her tired face. At 27, the first few strands of gray were already appearing in her dark hair, and the circles under her eyes sold the secret of her sleepless nights. Dressed to impress in a crisp white polo and tan breeches, Eden did her best to appear the put-together and controlled woman she had once thought herself to be. "Never let them see you sweat" had been her motto in the show ring, and it'd served her well in other facets of the equine world.

Eden drifted off momentarily as Lex struck up a conversation with Ali, her mind straying to her long to-do list. To add to her guilt, she had a horse in top showing condition and no one to ride him. She'd considered asked Lex to show him, but her head trainer had enough on his plate without the added stress of another mount. Since her injury, Eden had tried a slew of riders on the loving grey, but few were experienced enough to guide the dependent horse through three grueling events. She mostly brought him along to have at the show grounds; he was a veteran of the highest levels of competition and soothed the more easily excitable youngsters.

“Summer will be over before you know it, and autumn always brings a break.” Lex redirected his attention to Eden, drawing her from her thoughts. How was it that he always knew exactly what she needed to hear? "Autumn's a long way off, but it's something to look forward to. I've got a new boarder coming in today, so there's paperwork that'll need to be done, and I'll have to see about getting someone to fix that fence in the back pasture. Oh, and the winter blankets need to be washed, my god, they're a mess!" She caught herself in the midst of her long list and paused to paste on her smile. "But it's nothing I can't handle," she said, brushing a nonexistent speck of dirt off her polo. "And I'm sure you've got plenty to do yourself, so don't let me keep you."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eden Adler Character Portrait: Lexington Jethro Churchill
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“You know I always forgive you,” Lex said with a grin. He watched as the two girls walked off and turned back to Eden for a moment. She needed a break, a break from the stress this world seemed to pile on her, that much Lex knew. But he knew she would never listen to him, at least not when it came to those matters. He wanted so badly to hold her, to force her to listen to him, to accept everything he could give her. But he also understood the determination that was the cause of that gray hair, those sleepless nights he heard her in her room.

He shook his head as she piled on the list of things that needed to be done. “Don’t worry about the fence in the back pasture, I’m sure Logan and I can handle it,” He said with a certainty that was meant to settle her nerves. “And I’ve always got time for you,” He said in a haste that she didn’t try to escape their little meeting. “I’ve got a group lesson of four later today, but I’ll handle the fence and the blankets if need be,” He said with a nod of his head.

Once again he caught his mind wandering to his own list of things to do, but he put them to the back and moved her's to the front. “If you like, when I turn Peter out I can take Sterling also,” He offered. “But before that let’s go get some coffee,” He suggested as he shoved his hands into his back pockets. He popped up on his toes and gave Eden a goofy grin, a trait he had inherited from his father. He knew the usual reaction that he got from Eden, laughter. Over time, it had grown into a way to remind her of the old days. The days when he chased after her with a love only a teenage boy could possess. Now he hid his feelings within, knowing that wasn’t the person she needed. What she needed was just a friend.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Logan Thomson
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Logan sauntered into the barn at a quarter to nine, finally gracing the stable underlings with the glory of his presence. He'd seen Gwyn and Ali on his way over and had briefly considered exchanging less-than-gentlemanly salutations, but had thought better of it. He was already behind on his barn chores, and after Eden had caught him paying a younger boarder to feed and muck for him last week, he'd been "strongly encouraged" to step up and take more responsibility. And he was...he was just doing it on his own time.

Nonchalantly passing a hand through his dark locks, Logan mixed up Spy's bucket and made his way to thoroughbred's stall. Spy, annoyed by his rider's late arrival, had begun banging his hooves on his stall door, much to Eden's chagrin. If Logan noticed, he didn't show it, and strolled over to greet his horse. "Hey bud, sleep well?" he asked, scratching the stallion's neck. Spy tossed his head excitably, though he was clearly more interested in receiving his morning feed than answering Logan's question. "Yeah, me too," Logan replied, entering Spy's stall and unceremoniously dumping the food into the feeder. He tossed in a few flakes of hay and alfalfa, then set to mucking, which took about fives times as long as it should of due to Logan's frequent breaks to chat with the other boarders now tacking up and heading out to start their work-outs.

It wasn't that Logan didn't care about Spy (his work with his horse was all Logan had to be proud of), he just didn't see the point in the stress of the daily grind of stable life. Take Eden, for instance. In the year he'd known her, he didn't think he'd ever seen her sit down. And how about Gwyn? Talk about doom and gloom- for such a pretty girl she sure was a downer. The horse world was supposed be exciting and glamorous, and mucking stalls was so...not. With a huff, he set his pitchfork aside and exited the stable, picking bits of hay off his breeches. He still had a bit of time to kill before his work-out and lesson later in the day, so he decided to go find trouble. And if there wasn't any...well, he was perfectly capable of creating it all on his own.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Eden Adler Character Portrait: Lexington Jethro Churchill
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Before Eden could take a single step in the direction of her office, Lex had waved his magic wand and banished her troubles once more. He offered the solutions to her problems on a silver platter and asked nothing in return, his selflessness unmatched by anyone she'd met. "How do you put up with me?" she laughed, shaking her head in disbelief. "I'd have left me a long time ago."

She stood silent for a moment, just looking at him. He was wearing that goofy smile she'd come to love, and there was something hopeful about him, something eager. She was about to comment on it when Hobbes reappeared at her feet, purring loudly and batting the toes of her spotless boots. "Silly me, you didn't get any breakfast, did you? So many mouths to feed...." She grabbed his dish off a nearby hay bale and disappeared into the feed room to pour out a bowl of cat food, Lex's voice drifting through the door as he offered to turn out Sterling.

"Oh would you? Could you? Oh gosh, that'd be great," she said, popping her head out the door and smiling gratefully. She set down the dish of cat food and turned to the tabby, raising an eyebrow. "You know, if you weren't such a terrible mouser I wouldn't be spending so much on cat food," she scolded, squatting beside the massive orange feline. As usual, she'd found herself unable to stand still turning a conversation, and even as Lex spoke she found her eyes scanning the barn, seeking out any errors that might betray her. Everything had to be perfect; she had to look as though she had it all together. There, she could see a broken rein dangling from a bridle in the tack room, and someone had left their dirty wraps and bell boots on the tack room floor.

“But before that let’s go get some coffee,” Lex's offer was too good to refuse, and she looked up at him, a smile playing at her lips. The broken rein could wait. The dirty wraps could wait. Hard as it was for her to believe, Lex had often assured her the world would not stop spinning if she were to sit down and rest for a moment, and she was more than ready to test that theory. She straightened up, masking a wince as the pain flared up in her leg. The injury wasn't nearly as bad as it had once been, and if she followed the doctor's orders and attended physical therapy regularly (which she very rarely had time for) it hardly hurt at all, but she'd never quite regained her confidence after that fateful accident. The injury was just an excuse, an inconvenience that allowed her to duck out of any attempt to get her back in the show ring.

Returning to her poised, upright position Eden returned his smile and swept a bit of cat hair off her breeches. "Coffee sounds lovely, actually. Lead the way."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ali Cooper Character Portrait: Gwyneth Alexander Crusoe
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Ali looked at Gwyn. She'd always wanted to be friends with the girl, though Gwyn had never let her. Ali started down on the south end of the bar, by a horse she was used to riding in the time between when Ali had gotten Persephone and when Blizzard had died. As she worked on his stall (Logan had really been slacking on his chores) she went to glance at Gwyn more than once. Ali really couldn't understand what she'd ever done to the older girl, except try to be nice.

"Gwyn?" She asked, just barely taking a side glance at her. "Why...why do you hate me?" Ali asked, standing up fully and meeting her eyes. "What have I ever done to you?" Normally, Ali wouldn't deign to talk to someone who disliked her, but she had to know. The fact that Gwyn hated her really irritated the sixteen year old, and Ali didn't like being irritated

Ali looked out the window, uncomfortable under the glare of the older girl, and saw Logan. He was another person who irritated her. He was good looking, that Ali would admit, but he was so cocky! He tried to pay someone to do his work! Ali put hard work and personality way above good looks and equine abilities.

Ali dared to glance back at Gwyn, but the girl still hadn't moved or said anything. So, conceding defeat in this latest attempt, Ali went back to work. Ali must've spooked the horse, because he started to buck. Ali had to move fast to avoid his kicks, and she ended up jumping over the stall and landing on her ankle. "Ow! Shit!" She tested her weight on the ankle, and fell against the stable. "No...no no no! Not with training starting..." She muttered to herself.

Once again, Ali tested her weight. This time, she took a few steps before wincing. "At least it isn't broken..." She said with mild relief. Even if it was broken, Ali wasn't going to tell anyone. She would deal with it, like she dealt with her broken wrist last year. The wrist still gave her issues, but she never told anyone about her fall from a horse named Grace. Ali went back to work with a limp, but she didn't let it bother her. "Anyway, why do you hate me?" Ali questioned again after a few minutes of working and ignoring the pain in her ankle.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eden Adler Character Portrait: Lexington Jethro Churchill
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How do you put up with me, I’d have left me a long time ago, his mind played those words over. Tossing and turning them, as if they would bring up something else. At least I’m good at hiding my feeling, he thought as he just gave her a smile. “And leave all these poor boarders to fend for themselves,” He asked jokingly, always sure to never hint at why he was still here. “Besides, when Shady Oaks becomes the stable I know it will be, I’m gonna be head trainer of a pretty rad stable.” He let that sentence hang there for a moment before continuing. “And you aren’t so bad, just too hard on yourself.”

He pulled his hands from his pockets and gave a chuckle. “Yeah, Dr. Seuss, it would be no problem. The two get along just as well as we do anyway.” His eyes fell to Hobbes purring around Eden’s feet. “I was gonna put Peter in the left pasture along the drive, so Sterling should be fine. He enjoys running along with the cars after all.” He could see her eyes scanning, picking out the imperfections. It never ceased to amaze him how quickly she could do that. Perhaps it was because he was a man and she a woman, but those small details never seemed to jump out at him. Except when it came to conformation, then everything seemed to speak to him.

Lex’s mind registered the pain that Eden had felt, her wince giving it away. But he had, long ago, figured out to leave that subject alone. It was a shame she never rode anymore, Lex had always been thoroughly impressed by her. That was one of the things that had made him want to be lead trainer at Shady Oaks in the first place, and what caught his eye about Eden the first time he saw her ride. She was always one with the horse, her movement was fluid, she was meant to be there. He remembered thinking that exact same thing the first time he saw her. But then he came back to reality and looked toward her. “As usual,” He said as he turned about to make his way toward the boarding house.

---

Gwyn hummed lowly to herself, an old song that often got stuck in her head. It was a lullaby that she remembered from her toddler years, she could never remember the words, simply the melody. But it soothed her on any occasion. She scooped and dump the soiled bedding, her mind playing over the last lesson she had with Lex. Over the critiques he had made on her form, keeping her heel, hips, and shoulders aligned always seemed to be an issue. But Lex had commented how she was vastly improving, he had taken a break from training last year to go back to Texas and told everyone to practice on their own while he was gone. That was what Gwyn had focused on the most.

Just as she was in the middle of dumping another scoop of soiled bedding Ali spoke. Her voice cracked the silence that was in the air, making Gwyn wince slightly. “I don’t hate you,” Gwyn answered, shrugging slightly. “Don’t really like you though.” She knew her answer didn’t answer the second question Ali had posed, but she didn’t really care either. Gwyn began to spread out new bedding when she heard the solid thud of a horse hoof against wood. Her head shot up to see Ali jumping over the stall wall, clearly landing on her ankle. She muttered something under her breath, not loud enough for Gwyn to make it out, but she could guess.

Gwyn ignored the girl’s question the second time, having already answered it. Instead she slid the door open to the stall and grabbed the pail of brushes and the hoof pick. Placing it on the ground she strode toward Oliver, who Gwyn affectionately called ‘King Oliver’ because of the horse’s white medicine hat, which she always thought resembled a crown. Although that was in secret that she called him anything. She was supposed to be a super bitch, and liking any other horse but her own simply did live up to that in her mind. She took hold of the horse’s halter and led him to face the interior of the barn and set to work curry combing the horse.

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Character Portrait: Logan Thomson Character Portrait: Ali Cooper Character Portrait: Gwyneth Alexander Crusoe
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Logan idled outside Spy's stall, toying with a bit of hay and watching as the thoroughbred gobbled down his late morning meal. He wasn't usually around the barn this early, and he now found himself in the sort of predicament that most lazy and/or entitled people run into whenever they are forced to stop being lazy/entitled. He was finished with his chores, but it was too late to return to the comfort of his bed to get the rest of his beauty sleep. At the same time, if he hung out around the barn, Eden or Lex were sure to find him more chores to do. What was a bored, slovenly teenager to do? Brighten the days of others, of course.

Well, that settled it. With the swagger of the extremely arrogant, Logan strode down the barn aisle and out into the spring air, the sun's golden rays lighting his face. He'd heard Ali and Gwyn exchange some talk of lesson horses and (ugh) more chores, and he set off in the direction of the New Barn. He had no intention of actually making himself useful, but Gwyn was always good for a laugh. Her haughty airs and turned-up nose almost made him homesick for the many preppy, wealthy boarding schools of his youth. Almost...but not quite. Pushing open the door with grandeur, Logan listened for the sound of blathering women folk and went from there. He found Gwyn and Ali a few doors down and walked up just in time to hear Ali say "Anyway, why do you hate me?" Well, what do you think of that? And here he was thinking it was going to be another boring morning of stable drudgery!

"Aw, don't take it personally, Ali," Logan said, propping his elbow up on the stall door and slouching against it, "Gwyn hates everybody, don't you, Gwyn? Stems from some sort of self-loathing, I think. Somebody wasn't hugged as a child." He smirked, raising his eyebrows in challenge. He looked back to Ali, his face suddenly gravely serious. "Whatever you do, don't look Medusa in the eye," he said, abruptly turning his back on the stall before giving her an impish grin over his shoulder. Logan had nick-named Gwyn Medusa shortly after meeting her, thinking it a proper fit for her dangerous temper and wild curls. There was an on-going battle of wit between the two of them (Gwyn providing the majority of the wit), and Logan delighted in their daily battles. She wasn't as easy to rile as some of the younger boarders, but when you got her going she was near impossible to stop.

"Quick, Ali, behind me!" Logan snatched a hoof pick from a grooming box outside the stall door and thrust it in Gwyn's direction. "Back, beast, back I say!" Thoroughly enjoying his own performance, Logan made a great show of parrying and thrusting...or at least what he thought parries and thrusts looked like.

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Character Portrait: Logan Thomson Character Portrait: Gwyneth Alexander Crusoe
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Gwyn heard the door swing open, the strut she heard she knew quite well. It didn’t surprise her in the least to see Logan appear, nor did she find it all that amusing. “Well look what the cat dragged in, I mean if there was a cat who loathed itself enough to touch the likes of you,” She fired back as Logan threw around the ‘nickname’ he gave her. She placed Oliver’s hoof back on the ground and stood straight up. All peacefulness quickly drained from the surrounding area. Oliver shook his head and looked back at Logan and Gwyn. “Trust me, if I was Medusa you would have quickly turned to stone how often you gawk at me,” She retorted as she walked around the horse, her hand trailing along the back the whole time.

“Do you just hit on everything around you, in hopes that some poor creature will be stupid enough to be tempted by such a vile thing?” With that remark she bent back over, her hand running down the horse’s leg and asking him to pick his foot up. He shifted his weight, lifting his foot enough for her to begin to scrape the filth from around the frog. “I mean honestly, Logan, desperation isn’t becoming of anyone.” She set the foot back down and looked towards him. Her eyes were alit with a fire he always seemed to bring out in her. Not that she didn’t like it, he added to her days sometimes. And at least she wasn’t stuck talking to Ms. Perfect. She gave a soft chuckle, knowing Logan and she weren’t that different, besides anatomy and well she was better at everything(in her mind), but the latter was just a given.

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Character Portrait: Logan Thomson Character Portrait: Gwyneth Alexander Crusoe
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Ah, yes, here she was, the fearsome Gwyn in all her glory. He dropped the hoof pick and clutched his chest, the grooming tool clattering to the floor. "Oh barbarous Medusa, thou art a villain!" he cried, staggering backwards. He made a big show of playing out his death, managing to turn everyone agonized groan into something that sounded like it should've been coming from a bedroom. After several long seconds of dramatic moaning and carrying on, he fell back on his heels and looked at Gwyn, grinning as she fired off another round of biting insults.

"Oh Gwyneth, dear, sweet, Gwyneth, how could I resist such...feminine charm?" he smiled, picking himself up and strolling into the stall. He leaned in as though to tell her a secret, speaking out of the side of his mouth. "In all honesty, I thought you could use the ego boost of some harmless flirtation from one of the more attractive members of your species. The only man I see you with has such a long face, and he's awfully hairy," he said, referencing Bandit. "Come to think of it, he looks a lot like you."

He danced out of the stall before she could swat him over the head, laughing from the other side of the stall door. "Speaking of desperation, Gwyn, when are you going to ask for my help in clearing that double oxer? If you're worried about my consulting fee, I'm not asking for much...just a box of chocolates, a dozen roses, a romantic dinner. I'm a fan of lobster, if that helps at all."

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Character Portrait: Logan Thomson Character Portrait: Ali Cooper Character Portrait: Gwyneth Alexander Crusoe
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Ali rolled her eyes. "If you've nothing better to do than pick on Gwyn, I suggest you help us work. We've got quite a few stalls to muck, plus there's that broken segment in the southern fence that needs mending!" She tosses him a pitch fork with a huff. "Get to work, pretty boy," Ali went back to working on the stall she was on, a young mare named Serenity, and turned her back on Logan.

In all honesty, Ali wished she got the attention from Logan that Gwyn got. He was attractive, that she'd admitted the minute he'd arrived at the barn. However, he was arrogant and hated working. Ali glanced at the still motionless boy with the pitch fork at his feet. "Do I have to stab you in the foot with the pitch fork? Stalls don't muck themselves!" Ali made an extra motion, an unfriendly hand gesture, to make sure he knew she wasn't joking.

By the time Ali had finished three stalls, she was starting to sweat. Ali knew she had a camisole on under her yellow shirt, but she didn't want to give Logan the pleasure of seeing her take her shirt off. Ali debated for a second, but ultimately decided to take off the yellow shirt. Her gray camisole was a low v-neck with lace around the neckline. Ali was aware that the faint outline of her black bra could be seen, but she didn't really care.

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Character Portrait: Logan Thomson Character Portrait: Ali Cooper Character Portrait: Gwyneth Alexander Crusoe
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“I don’t have any idea why you would think anything you say would boost my ego,” She countered, her eyes cutting through him. Logan was amusing, yes, but sometimes he was just downright annoying. Gwyn had just played it off in the beginning as flirtation, which a bit still was, but now it always seemed to be a bit more biting and condescending. The two came from the same world, privileged, but she knew her parents supported her more than Logan’s single father. But she never took pity on such a thing, it was just an excuse as far as she was concerned.

“Bandit has more going for him then you ever will, Logan,” She answered as she rubbed Oliver’s forehead. “And come to think of it, I only ever see you with a man, do you have something to share with us, perhaps?” Her eyes turned toward him, a smile growing along her face. “Logan,” She said drawing his name out. “The only thing I would ever buy you would be a donkey, an ass for an ass. And Bandit and I jump the double oxer just fine, thank you. But if you are asking for some help with for conformation, I’d be glad to help.” And on that note she turned toward Ali who had been speaking.

She watched the girl for a second, move down to the other stalls. She worked through them quickly, but she was quiet. She turned back to Logan giving him a questioning look before moving on to the next stall. The next one was Oliver’s best mate, Tragedy. A chestnut overo, a favorite among the students who took lessons here. He wasn’t much of a jumper, but Gwyn thought he was a fine horse anyway. And she was pretty sure Lex kept him around because he and Oliver together were stunning. She turned back to look at Ali as she took off her shirt, it was the beginning of spring and didn’t seem all that hot, but then she realized probably why the girl had done it. Her eyes slowly turned to Logan.

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Character Portrait: Riley Smith
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As soon as Riley spotted Shady Oak she immediately knew she was way in over her head. The size of the place.. The beauty of it; she almost talked herself into turning back around, getting in the truck and going home. She swallowed hard and glanced over her right shoulder, watching her grandfather's old, red Ford pick-up truck disappear in a gentle cloud of dust as it sputtered down the driveway, pulling the rickety horse trailer behind it. There was no going back now. Another glance at the boarding house made her stomach churn uneasily(it was like Biltmore compared to her grandparents' one story home and dusty barn with a roof that was not-so-promising).

A tug at the lead rope gripped firmly in her right hand brought her back to reality. Her gaze flickered to J.W., her thoroughbred she received as a present from her grandfather at the age of fourteen. He was starring at her with knowing eyes, yet she saw the impatient gleam behind them. "I know, I know, you're hungry.." Riley murmured, squeezing her eyes shut briefly, taking a deep, needed breath. This really wasn't the place for her. All her life she'd grown up riding for pleasure, trail riding, that is. She use to only ride western saddle in big ole' groups for the fun of it. Then, around sixteen, she got bored with that and started training J.W., learning to ride English saddle and so forth. They entered a couple local competitions and always done fairly well, but she yearned for something more; she wanted to advance in what she done.

Last week was Riley's eighteenth birthday. For said birthday she had asked for a new saddle. The one she used previously was her grandmother's old English saddle and though it was okay for it's age and wear, she really wanted one of her own. Instead, her grandfather slapped down a brochure for Shady Oak Stable at the breakfast table that very morning of her birthday and went on to tell her that her first month had already been paid for. Riley was thoroughly surprised to say the least. Her grandparents could barely afford the fed they had to buy for the five horses they had, let alone send her to some fancy rich-person place.. thing to pursue her dream of becoming "one of the best." It was crazy.

Yet, when she tried talking them out of it the look of hurt that entered her grandmother's pale blue eyes changed her mind. She would do this. She would win- she had to. However, two days after the news Riley had a spill on J.W. They were going for a jump when she lost her balance foolishly and tumbled off, landing hard on her left side, breaking her left arm in the process. Though angry at herself and feeling utterly defeated(having talked herself out of coming to Shady Oak at all with a big, bulky cast that shouted her stupidity), her grandfather pushed her to come anyway.

So, there Riley Jo stood, lead rope in her right hand which felt mighty awkward, small suitcase tucked in under her right armpit, backpack on her back(obviously), and her left arm snug against her side(if you would consider smothered in plaster, a cast, if you will.. and stiffly held there "snug"). She was small compared to this place.. Small compared to the rich, experienced folk who were the denizens of said place. Her green gaze trailed down to her dirty, deep brown cowboy boots, then to her old faded jeans, then to her loose fitting, royal blue and black flannel shirt; wasn't she a "lovely" site.
Riley looked at J.W., as if for guidance, as he tossed his head restlessly and pawed at the soft dirt beneath his hooves. It was his way of telling her the time was now or never. Either plunge into this thing head first or go home. Sadly, her only way home was in a small, red truck taking the four and a half hour drive back to her hometown in Tennessee. There was only one other option.
"C'mon J.W., time to meet the stable owner." the small brunette murmured, timidly moving forward towards the boardinghouse at a slow pace(mostly because of her full arms and such). This was going to be quite the experience.

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Character Portrait: Eden Adler Character Portrait: Lexington Jethro Churchill Character Portrait: Riley Smith
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“And you aren’t so bad, just too hard on yourself.” Eden gave a faint smile at his comment, shaking her head. If only that was the worst that could be said for her. How was it that where he saw strength and determination she saw only timidity and foolishness? She was weak; she was crumbling; the armor she'd used to protect herself was now falling away, leaving a soft underbelly exposed.

But she couldn't very well say that aloud, could she? No. Not here, not now. Not ever. Lex had already moved the conversation along, and her moment of guilt passed as though blown away on some wind. "I'm still waiting for Sterling to realize he isn't a dog. After 12 years he still looks at me as though he'd like to jump up on my lap," she laughed, looking back to him. She forced herself to put the messy barn at the back of her mind and engage with him. Over the years he'd become so familiar to her she'd stopped really looking at him, and she did so now, her eyes studying his face with the same scrutiny she had the tack room. They were about the same age, but Lex had a look of youth about him- a ruddy, healthy-looking complexion and brown eyes that always smiled.

She felt old and weak beside him, and as she looked at him she felt something that was like envy, but not, growing in her chest. Her eyes dropped her eyes to the floor a moment, and it came upon her like some great wave: she was embarrassed. Embarassed...in front of Lex? She couldn't be. Still...what must he think of her when he saw her now- mouth tightly drawn, skin pale and pallid? She used to wear her hair down- she'd always liked the feel of it on her shoulders when she rode- but she couldn't remember the last time it'd been out of it's severe bun. They'd grown up together, reveling in the trials and tribulations of the show ring. ...When had he left her so far behind?

He saw her wince, and she watched him watch her, seeing her injury through his eyes. He'd long given up on his mission to return her to the show ring, but she couldn't help but feel guilty for any pity he sent her way. But he didn't know. He didn't know why she could never look at a competition the same way again, why she froze up at the thought entering a show ring. He didn't know, and he could never know, not ever. If he did, he would hate her, and he would leave, and she would never forgive herself for that. He was her sanity, and, in some twisted way, to lose him was to lose the one part of herself worth keeping.

She blinked, banishing the nightmarish scene that played behind her eyes. Lex was already headed out of the barn, and she paused a moment to collect herself before striding after him, her calm and control restored. As she stepped out into the late morning sun, she spotted two figures moving up the drive- horse and human. Of course, her new boarder! How could she have forgotten? "Lex, I'm going to have to take a rain check on that coffee. I've got a new boarder attend to. ...Find me if you need anything?" she asked, looking to him for conformation before hurrying past him to intercept the newcomer.

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Lex was lost in his own world as he walked. The only thing keeping him there was the lack of foot steps behind or beside him. Eden had gone to her own world again, she had that glazed look on her face. Lex looked at her, his eyes searching for something he wasn’t sure of. He knew he would never be that person she needed, in his mind, but he was never going to leave her. There were a lot of women who had been interested in Lex for a great deal of time. Having competed so long in the horse world you get to know people, and the majority of people are the female variety. Lex was sought after, that he was aware of. But after a couple years of girls chasing him they all soon began to realize the dedication he had to Eden.

He remembered the day their relationship had changed. He didn’t know if Eden had forgiven herself for the death of the horse, or if it was something much larger. The two never spoke of that day, and he always left it alone. But now as he looked at her, he saw something change in her face. She was still the beautiful woman he had always seen her to be, but a change he didn’t yet recognize took place, leaving him questioning their relationship. But it was then that she spoke, her demeanor changing again. He heard only the last part of her statement, but was able to figure it out from prior information. He gave her a gentle nod, his brow furrowed as he tried to figure out the change he had seen in her. “I’ll be fine, and down in the back pasture rekindling my relationship with that fence down there,” He offered as joke, a sly smile playing across his face. But with only half dedication, his mind elsewhere.

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Character Portrait: Logan Thomson Character Portrait: Ali Cooper Character Portrait: Gwyneth Alexander Crusoe
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Before he could continue his assault on Gwyn, Ali jumped in with a dispute of her own. He wasn't really listening (though he thought he heard the words "muck" and "mending"), so the pitchfork that came sailing towards him came as a bit of a shock. Logan readily admitted he was something of an ass, but he hardly thought his comments warranted mutilation. Spotting the large, pointy object in the nick of time, he sidestepped the tool and watched it clatter to the floor. He looked at Ali and shrugged as if to say "I have no idea how that got there", laughing after her as she stalked off to finish her work.

He turned back to Gwyn in time to hear her rattle off the next list of insults, playing his part by scoffing and jeering at the appropriate times. "Oh, Gwyn, that's cute. I guess this is the part where I'm supposed to bring out that female dog I got you, but...nah, that joke's just too easy," he scoffed, dismissing the thought with a wave of his hand. "As for my conformation...well, I've got a long list of references that would attest I'm built just fine." He struck a few poses to illustrate his "fine conformation", and was in the middle of beating on his chest Tarzan style when Ali reappeared, fuming worse than before.

"Stalls don't muck themselves!" Logan nodded and touched his index finger to his lip, pondering this. "No...no, they don't. But hey, what do you know, you do!" he said, gesturing to the row of spotless stalls. "And might I say you're both doing a fabulous job." Un-phased by her crass gesture, Logan flashed a winning smile and bent down to pick the pitchfork up off the floor, stroking it lovingly before resting it against a stall door. This didn't seem to please Ali much, but, being who (or rather what) he was, he didn't much care.

Between his banter with Gwyn and Ali's attempt to maim him, Logan had had just about all the estrogen he could handle. Ugh, women. You couldn't live with them, and it was sexist to order them to make you sandwiches. What was a man to do? And then Ali did something rather uncharacteristic of a self-proclaimed Logan-hater: she took off her shirt. Well, that had escalated quickly. He looked at her quizzically , wondering what he'd done to induce such a favorable turn of events. "Nice bra," he said, noting the outline through her shirt. "I wish I had some undergarments of my own to flaunt, but alas, all my delicates are in the wash."

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Character Portrait: Eden Adler Character Portrait: Riley Smith
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Eden hurried over to intercept the newcomer, pausing but a moment to ensure her hair was secured and her polo spotless. First impressions were of utmost importance to her, mostly because you only got one of them. Growing up she'd had a hell of time getting people to take her seriously, and over the years she'd developed a straightforward, no-nonsense persona that had served her well in business and management. Firm handshakes, eye contact and efficient conversation (heaven forbid you waste anyone's time) were a must, as was a commanding, controlled presence. Often perceived as a cold fish, Eden's practical approach hadn't earned her many friends, but it'd allowed her to hold her own in a world dominated by the rich and greedy equine tycoons. From her humble beginning as a groom to her success in the show ring to her achievements as the owner of a prestigious (albeit financially struggling) riding facility, Eden had dealt with people of every shape, size and personality. If there was one thing she'd learned, it was to expect the unexpected.

She racked her brain for all she knew of her new boarder, trying to conjure up an image from the bits and pieces of personal information she'd gleaned from file. Eden knew she was a female- young, too. Nineteen? Eighteen? She couldn't remember. Did she come from money? Those kids were the toughest- the one's who'd had life's finest served up on a silver platter, and now expected the same of Eden and her staff. The last thing she needed was another Gwyn or Logan stomping her barn aisles. Did she have a competition history? She couldn't recall anyone major shows or prizes from her file. Would she bring her own trainer? Would she get along with the other boarders? As was her usual policy, Eden decided to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Now a few yards from the girl, Eden tried to take the advice Lex had given her so many times before. You're so stiff, Edie. Smile, why don't you? It won't kill you, I promise. Easy for him to say. Nonetheless, Eden attempted what she hoped to be a warm, inviting smile, her professional demeanor still reflected in her upright posture and proud carriage. "Hello," said Eden, striding over to the girl and extending her hand in welcome, "you must be Riley. Welcome to Shady Oak. I'm Eden Adler, the owner."