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A DARKER HORSE



 A Darker Horse cover

By riding a dark horse into the history books, charismatic female jockey, Arielle LaSalle, spares her father from financial ruin, but in turn brings a killer to his door.

 

Bred true, former Dubai racing celebrity, Napoleon, should have been a prolific sire of winners. However, in the hands of stud master, Trent Winnings, the fabled stud fails to successfully settle, time after time. The reckless investment threatens to bankrupt the illustrious Pandora Estates stables.

 

With three unexplained murders at a rival nearby breeding farm, the Hunter Valley local police wonders how Chantilly Farms’ proud owner, Will LaSalle, has ever crossed paths with a member of the notorious Cosa Nostra, now bent on revenge.

 

With her family honour and reputation at stake, Arielle is left with no choice but to call upon a man she has spent a decade forgetting. With betrayal and blackmail suddenly on the agenda, the emerging scandal is prone to turn the racing industry on its head.

 

To save her future, Arielle will have to choose between compromising the Sport of Kings for generations to come and burying her deadly secrets in the burning desert sands.

 

A Darker Horse is Carline’s third novel.

In Store Price: $29.95 
Online Price:   $28.95

 

AMAZON

EBOOKS
Ebook version - $AUD9.00 upload.

ISBN:978-0-6480998-1-9               
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 324
Genre: Crime Fiction


Other books by this author:

Halibut Cove
, SPRA, New York, 2011
The Fleuron Connection
, Green Olive Press, 2013

Cover: Clive Dalkins


Author
-
  Carline Bouilhet
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published:  2017
Language: English


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FOREWORD AND WARNING 

 

A Darker Horse is a work of fiction and a product of the author’s imagination. Any similarities with people, dead or alive, and events, past or present, are purely coincidental, even though true events may have been inspiring.

While the intrigue is spun against the glamorous world of horseracing, its aim was never to enlighten with its insights the trainers, breeders, jockeys, stewards or any other professionals who derive their livelihood from what has long been called the Sport of Kings.

Its aim was always to entertain the occasional punters, the men and women of all creeds and ages who attend the races for the unique atmosphere, the distinctive ambiance and the matchless excitement; for those who, once a year, on the second Tuesday of November, stop all work at 11 am, spend a small fortune on hats and boutonnieres, and wait with bated breath for the clock to strike three; and for anyone who admires these most noble of animals, once meant to roam free across the plains of most continents.

The author hopes to be forgiven for taking some factual liberties which may have stretched the boundaries of reality to enter the realm of possibilities.

CHAPTER I  - PART SAMPLE 

In the last six weeks, Arielle LaSalle’s favourite mare had started to bag up, with her udder visibly swelling. A five-year-old solid dark bay horse with a spritely temperament, Dauphine had bonded with her rider since her birth. Together, they had tallied an impressive number of races and everyone hoped that her best traits would be passed on to her progeny. Watching her, Arielle worried about her maiden foaling. For the past few days, she had lovingly brushed the horse to calm her down, sometimes twice daily. Until yesterday, when she had finally noticed her nipples waxing – a sure indicator that the foal would be born in a day or two – she had regularly sponged her udder and teats so that the foal would nurse easily. After spending hours cleaning one of the dozen large birthing stalls available at Chantilly Farms, and laying soft, dry straw on the ground for the mare’s comfort, she was now impatiently waiting for her waters to break, braiding and wrapping her long black tail in the meantime. Outside, a quarter-moon hung high in the sky.

Arielle caressed the horse’s muzzle, but the latter remained unresponsive to the familiar gesture, whipping her head around as if human touch was too much for her to bear. In the dimly lit stall, Arielle suddenly heard the unmistakable gushing of water: Dauphine’s placenta sac had just broken and the mare instinctively began to lie down on her side. Within minutes, powerful contractions racked the swollen horse, her legs twitching. She groaned and whined as she did so, her nostrils flared. Arielle quickly punched in the veterinarian Nathan Heather’s number into her mobile phone: the local surgeon had promised he would be there within minutes to offer assistance when the time came. Under normal circumstances, he would have offered to wait up with her, but he had had a trying day at a nearby farm, resulting in a stallion being put to sleep, a decision which always tugged at his heartstrings.

Mesmerised, Arielle witnessed one delicate front hoof poke out, quickly followed by another, both covered by a rubbery coating. Through the wet glaze she observed the full length of the front legs slide out, immediately followed by nose and head: one last push and the foal lay at its mother’s feet. The mare paused, remaining immobile, snorting noisily, her breathing still laboured, contractions still racking her body. Puzzled, Arielle wondered why the mare did not stand up immediately. Tentatively, she approached her to see what the matter could be. Minutes ticked by but Dauphine still laid on her side, her eyes wild and panicked. Could there be another foal? Could Dauphine’s difficulties of the past few days be due to carrying twins?

As per the instructions given by Nathan earlier that day, she promptly lubricated her hand and arm and bravely slid it down the mare’s birth canal. The horse didn’t protest at the invasive but gentle gesture. The young woman soon grasped a foot and then another, tugging at them, slowly pulling them towards her until the head and shoulders finally appeared. Gently, steadily, she continued to slowly pull out a second foal. Behind her, Nathan whistled softly.

“Well done, Arielle!”

Covered in a wet, slick substance, Arielle looked up at her lover, her eyes shining bright, emotion choking her.

“Now let her rest and bond with her young,” he coached.

The exhausted mare nonetheless stood up within minutes, the sudden movement breaking the umbilical cord. She looked down at the two foals lying at her feet, circling them once and sniffing the air, before studiously licking each foal clean and nuzzling them. Nathan quickly reached for the iodine solution to coat the foals’ navels and began to carefully sponge off both mother and foals, Arielle silently following suit.

“We still need to wait for Dauphine to evacuate the placenta and make sure the foals stand up. Are you all right?” asked Nathan minutes later, looking at Arielle’s tired face.

“Look at them: they are so beautiful. They are as black as their father! And look, they have their mother’s unusual markings. I just can’t believe there are two of them…” whispered Arielle in awe, her eyes moist and her lips trembling. “I never cease to find this experience amazing,” she added, watching the firstborn tap his forelegs together as if trying to judge how he would sustain his weight.

She laughed softly when he tried to stand once again, falling and rolling back on his side. After a few more comical attempts he finally stood under the approving eye of his proud mother. On the other hand, the second-born foal had remained alarmingly inert, his head rolling from side to side, calmly observing the proceedings. Distraught by his inactivity, the mare came around, nuzzling him repetitively, nudging him over and over again, as if trying to convince him to attempt to stand, but all for naught. Worried, Nathan and Arielle finally approached the colt cautiously, aware that the mare may at any moment unpredictably react to their undesirable interference.

Large liquid eyes, the colour of dark chocolate, stared into Arielle’s own and the foal tentatively sniffed the air around her, taking in her soapy scent now mixed with sweat, fear and fatigue.

“Come on, little one,” begged Arielle, “please stand up.”

At the sound of her voice, the foal retracted its forelegs underneath his torso. It was now obvious to both observers that the second foal was not only smaller in size but also much weaker than the first, his long legs almost too fragile to support his weight on their own. It took another three hours of failed attempts and nervous pleadings before the foal finally stood and joined his twin and mother in the small paddock outside the birthing stall. Pre-dawn already crackled when they began nursing. With the birthing ritual finally over, Arielle lit a cigarette and watched them play, hopeful that despite the obvious difference in initial birth size, both colts would now survive.

Their coat was a true black, with just a white irregular blaze resembling an upside comma in-between their eyes. The only true visible difference between them was that one had a coronet on each front leg, right above the hoof, while the other failed to display such distinctive markings. In Arielle’s eyes, they were both gorgeous specimens yet, from experience, she already feared that when her father, Guillaume de la Selle, owner of Chantilly Farms, came and inspected the newborn foals later that morning, the second twin might not meet with his approval. She sensed that due to its smaller than normal size, he might not reach expectations and be disregarded outright as a potential runner.

 

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