Authors: Elizabeth Noble
To every romantic who loves the stars, history, and horses.
“We see that space and time are intertwined; we cannot look out into space without looking back into time.”
to thank my betas, Lisa, Ann, and Terry, for their awesome help and continued encouragement. Big thanks to fellow Dreamspinner author Anne Barwell for her historical expertise as well as beta reading for me. Elizabeth North and all of the Dreamspinner staff are wonderful, and I love working with them. In particular I'd like to thank Elizabeth for letting me name my racehorse after her company and for allowing my humble ideas to become books. TL Bland makes spectacular covers and has graced me with yet another winner.
There aren't enough ways to say thank you to my
readers. I treasure each and every one of you and hope you enjoy the story.
lens is a special type of optics used with a telescope to increase magnification, letting you see farther. The starlight we see today began its journey many years ago. Looking at the stars is essentially looking back in time. Using a Barlow lens with a telescope allows the observer to look back even a bit farther, letting the observer “see” history. Like any good story, Barlow lenses are multi-layered and not made from a single lens. For more information about Peter Barlow and the lenses he created, our friend Wiki is a good starting place:
Every Life Is a Circle
Preakness StakesâPresent Day
the backstretch, it's Angels Ascent in the lead, Ramble On and Dreamspinner nose to nose for second, Manic Monday third,” the announcer called out.
Val Mihalic leaned over the railing. Wyatt Harig held his breath when the announcer continued, “Into the far turn, it's Angels Ascent, Ramble On has moved to second, and Dreamspinner has dropped back and is holding third, Manic Monday fourth.”
Punching the air with his good hand, Val shouted, “Go! Izzo, go!” When he lurched forward, Wyatt grabbed him and pulled him back without taking his eyes off the horses thundering down the track. More specifically Wyatt's attention was glued to one horse and one jockey.
“They're into the home stretch, and it looks like Skufca is making her move, getting Dreamspinner into position. Ramble On still in the lead by less than a length. Dreamspinner is coming up on the outside, moving to the front. Angels Ascent a close third, Manic Monday fourth.”
The few people who were still sitting jumped to their feet in the next instant. The applause harmonized with the sound of pounding hooves and almost smothered the announcer's voice.
Absolutely no one at Pimlico Race Course needed to hear the announcer call the final order of horses, “Dreamspinner by a length, Ramble On in second place and Angels Ascent comes in third for this year's running of the Preakness Stakes.”
While Val jumped up and down, cheering, Wyatt jostled the arms of people around them, pointing to the large, charcoal colt at the lead of the galloping horses and yelling, “That's my daughter!”
The horse's pace slowed, and the jockey punched the air with one fist before taking the reins in both hands again. Val twisted away from the rail and threw his arms around Wyatt's neck, hugging him.
He was barely able to contain his bouncing up and down while shouting in Wyatt's ear, “He won! He won!”
As if Wyatt hadn't noticed. “Yes, he did,” he replied and chuckled.
“C'mon,” Val said and grabbed Wyatt's hand. “We need to get down to the stables and meet Rod before they go to the winner's circle.” They began making their way out of the stands.
“You know, if we watched from the owners' box with Rod, we wouldn't have to worry,” Wyatt pointed out. Val's excitement and enthusiasm washed over him, and he laughed again. He turned and waved a good-bye to the race spectators they'd been near and let Val pull him along through the crowd.
Val insisted on sitting in the stands, closer to the track, which meant they'd have to make their trek to the owner area through a swell of people. Wyatt had come to think of the big colt as Izzo, and that was usually the name Val and Wyatt's daughter, Janelle, used to refer to him. To everyone else, press, race announcers, and fans, he was Dreamspinner, and he was currently the most famous three-year-old Thoroughbred around.
Wyatt had no way of knowing for sure, but it was probable Izzo had no idea he was galloping his way into a place in history. He simply loved to run. What Izzo most likely cared about was the extra attention in the form of rubdowns and treats that would be coming to him very shortly. One thing Wyatt had learned in the time since he'd first met Dreamspinner was that the horse did love getting attention.
Val and Wyatt carried passes that allowed them access to the stable area and owners' box, where Rod Duncan, Izzo's owner and trainer, watched the race with his wife. They made their way to the stables and waited near Izzo's temporary home. Wyatt knew the routine. The scene that had played out two weeks prior when Dreamspinner crossed the finish line of the Kentucky Derby, first place by a mere half a head, was about to be repeated. Wyatt said a silent prayer he'd be a part of this same sort of event after the end of the Belmont and see his daughter ride a Triple Crown winner.
Being the father of the first woman jockey to win the Derby and now the Preakness brought Wyatt quite a lot of notoriety. Wyatt had also been instrumental in busting apart a gambling scheme that had escalated to murder. Those events assured his face had become a familiar feature in the news. After decades of keeping his face out of the public eye, people now recognized Wyatt when he least expected it.
That turn of events had pretty much ended Wyatt's career investigating theft of cultural treasures. His face was too well-known now to work covertly. More importantly, it'd mended fences he'd thought long broken with his daughter and brought him and Val together. After the Belmont Stakes and marrying Val in New York, Wyatt would worry about a career change.
The bad side of how he and Val had met was connected with gambling con artists turned kidnappers and murderers. In the process of apprehending them, Val had been beaten violently at Belmont Park. The end result was the partial loss of movement in his left hand, arm, and shoulder.
The winner's circle was far less crowded than other parts of the track. One horse, one jockey, Rod and his wife, and Val and Wyatt stood together for a few pictures and the presentation of the trophy, the Woodlawn Vase. Today a blanket of black-eyed Susans, not red roses, adorned Dreamspinner. Their drink of the day had been a rather refreshing concoction of vodka, St. Germain, and a few varieties of juices, called, appropriately, a black-eyed Susan.
Val's brother, Vin, waited just outside of the Winner's Circle and watched the proceedings from there. Vin claimed his sudden interest in horseracing was to spend more time with Val, but he managed to always have a dinner invitation for Janelle, devoting more of his time alone with her. That gave Wyatt a warm feeling; he liked Vin.
When the commotion died down and Izzo was led back to his stall for a well-deserved dinner and rest, they waited for Janelle.
“Daddy, we won!” Janelle's arms went around Wyatt's waist, squeezing tightly. “And we're going to do it again in New York.”
“Of course you are.” Wyatt hugged her, and when she pulled away, he bent and kissed her cheek. He hadn't been
for nearly fifteen years, and it felt damn good.
Later, they all were in attendance for a big, festive dinner. Since Wyatt had, as Janelle very sweetly pointed out, commandeered her regular date for these events, she was forced to find another. He wasn't in the least surprised to see Vin accompanying her. Val found a new hobby, nudging Wyatt's elbow and casting sly glances at Janelle and Vin.
Wyatt leaned closer to Val while the salads were being served and whispered, “You know, you're really not that subtle.”
The delightful black-eyed Susan drinks flowed freely, as did the conversation among the diners. The discovery that there were several other homosexual couples, including the owners of another of the horses that had raced that day, relaxed Wyatt and allowed him to let his guard down more than usual. A quick internet search and some recommendations from the locals and Wyatt had found a place to take Val once they could politely leave the restaurant. He slid his chair closer to Val's and put his arm over the back and around Val's shoulders. “I called a cab,” Wyatt said.
“And why is that?” Val said and grinned.
“You like to dance, and it's a nice night for a walk later.”
Val looked down at his suit and adjusted his tie. “We
all dressed up.”
“C'mon.” Wyatt moved his hand off the chair back and reached down, wrapping his fingers gently around Val's wrist. They said their good-byes during dessert and slipped outside to the waiting cab.
The small club Wyatt had found was in an area with several establishments that catered to a mix of gay and straight visitors. They walked around, stopping in a few clubs here and there, getting a drink and testing out dance floors.
“There is a twenty-four hour waiting period after we apply for our marriage license in New York. I thought it would be nice to get there a few days before the race and put in our application so we're all set for the following Tuesday,” Wyatt said. They were waiting outside one of the clubs for a cab. He slipped one arm around Val's waist and pulled him closer, giving his cheek a soft kiss. “Hmmmâ¦ I hope the ride to the hotel isn't too long.”
Once they were back at their hotel, Wyatt ushered Val into their room, not bothering with the light. They were high enough up there was no need to close the drapes, and light from the city cast a soft glow over them.
As Val unbuttoned his suit jacket, Wyatt stepped up behind him, placing his palms on Val's shoulders, then rubbing lightly up and down his arms a few times. “Let me give you a hand.” Wyatt eased the jacket off and kissed the side of Val's neck, nudging his head to the side as he did so. A low moan rumbled out of Val's chest. Wyatt dropped the jacket on a chair and slipped his hands under Val's shirt, caressing Val's skin with his fingertips.
When he reached Val's tightening nipples, he rubbed small circles until Val's hips jerked. Val shuddered and pulled in a quick, shaky breath, making Wyatt smile. Val's tie and shirt joined his jacket. Wyatt ran his hands over Val's torso before returning them to Val's shoulders. He lightly traced the scars on Val's shoulder with first his finger, then his tongue.
Val's surgery to repair the damage done in the course of stopping some seriously dangerous people, who had been trying to force jockeys to throw races, had left several scars. They weren't red, raised, and angry anymore. Val never complained about them hurting, but the marks were still puckered and darker than the surrounding skin.
“You know,” Val whispered between dragging in a breath and panting it out again. “That first time we went out to dinner, I was so worried you'd think I was some uncouth, country hick because I don't know about wine and art. And that I was too young to bother with.”
“Hmm, do you know what I worried about when I was thirty?” Wyatt scraped his teeth across Val's shoulder blades.
“Getting a sweet piece of hot ass,” Wyatt said in a low voice.
Val laughed. “Well, you're sort of slow. Took you long enough. Worth the wait?”
“Oh, hell, yes.” Wyatt maneuvered Val to the bed.
They left a trail of clothes, shoes, and socks. It didn't take long before Wyatt was buried deep inside Val. Reveling in the heat of Val's body and feel of his ass pressed firmly against Wyatt's groin. He kept up a steady pace. Wyatt's entire body shuddered. He leaned forward and braced against Val's back, groaning against the warm, supple skin of his shoulders. A tingle blossomed at the base of Wyatt's spine, his balls tightened, and he shoved harder into Val, wrapped both arms around his hips, and desperately pulled them even closer together when his cock pulsed, sending ripples through him.
Val gripped the sheets and stuttered out something that was a mix of moaning and words. Wyatt moved one hand to Val's cock. He gripped hard for a few seconds before he stroked Val fast. Val bucked back against him and held his breath for a few seconds. Wyatt felt Val's body clench; he gulped in deep breaths and let them out fast when waves of tremors shook his body.
They collapsed onto the bed. Wyatt pulled away and rolled so they were on their sides, then repositioned and tucked Val firmly against him. He ran one hand along Val's neck, turning his head enough to press a soft kiss to his lips. They lay there together, muscles twitching and quivering until they were spent.