Promises Kept, Promises Broken

Part 1

by Mary Christmas (unicorn_76010 at lycos.com)
2/16/03

Yep, another new story...this one is going to be finished soon, though, I just have to find where I've got it all saved at and post it.

The air was heavy with promised rainfall -- the dark grey stormclouds glaring balefully down at the world below, intermittent flashes of lightning punctuating its threat. None of this mattered one whit to Beth Lestrade as she gently urged the nervous black stallion she was riding forward. She kept her body relaxed and her voice soft so as not to spook the creature any more than he already was, though she was mentally cursing her stupidity. She had forgotten how quickly storms could brew on the plains, and had ignored all the signs when she had ridden out earlier that day. Now she could only hope that the gale would hold off, at least until she could get within sight of the barn.

"Easy, boy," she murmured as a flash of lightning had the horse’s ears laying flat against his skull, "We’re almost home...don’t worry." He shook his head with a snort and relaxed ever so slightly.

And they were almost home. She could see, to her great relief, the dark green roof of the barn. It was slightly worn and needed a new paint job, but it had lasted for eight years, and would likely last at least that much longer. Soon the main pasture fence came into view, and she fought the urge to gallop to her destination. She’d get there soon enough and didn’t relish spending the night in the barn after having to cool her horse down. The storm was getting closer now, judging by the frequency of the bursts of light and the sound of thunder, and if she wasted too much time she wouldn’t get to the main house before the worst of it hit.

Finally, she reached the safety of the farm building and quickly dismounted. The doors were closed, and she fumed to herself about the idiot who hadn’t checked to see if everyone was back in yet. Probably her brother. Or C.C. That child didn’t ever think of anything except what was on her mind at the time. Lestrade gave an exasperated sigh and pushed the doors open, leading the dancing stallion inside. It had begun sprinkling already, so she had to wipe him down. She didn’t want him to catch a cold. He was her favorite. When she had first moved here, after graduation and before she’d settled into any kind of career, a man had brought him in and left. He had been in very poor condition, and obviously had been abused. Unfortunately no one could handle him. At least that’s what Laurie had said. But Beth, being the stubborn person she was had refused to accept this and had, over the next year, gradually healed the stallion.

Now, though she was the only one he condescended to let ride him, he allowed others to feed and groom him. He was still partly mistrustful of people, but she figured that would never go away. She understood.

"There you go, Raven." She smiled and patted his nose after giving him his evening oats and then checked the others. Sure enough, none of them had been fed, and they were all quite happy to see her, nickering softly in greeting.

"What do they do when I’m not here, eh?" Lestrade questioned when she had finished. Though that wasn’t quite fair. It wouldn’t have killed the horses to go one evening without oats, considering they had plenty of roughage. In fact, all the animals on the ranch were extremely spoiled. However, she liked to think that they liked her just a little bit better than everyone else. Perhaps it was egotistical of her, but she felt she deserved to be once in a while.

She laughed to herself as she ran through the now pouring rain. Whatever would Holmes think of her if he knew her thoughts?

"Girl, what were you doing out there?" Laken, Will’s wife, asked incredulously when Lestrade rushed through the door, soaking wet.

"Oh, you know, I just love dancing in the rain," Lestrade quipped, slightly annoyed.

She wasn’t really angry with the petite blond girl. She now knew her brother had definitely been the one to close the doors without feeding the horses or checking to see that they were all there. He only very rarely visited, but when he did, Laurie made him do chores. Unfortunately, everyone had to go back and check to see that they were done right nearly every time. Lestrade was glad she lived in New London now; she was tired of cleaning up after brother’s messes, both literally and figuratively speaking.

Laken just smiled, thinking her sister-in-law was just joking with her, and walked off. To go back to bed no doubt, despite the time of day. Lestrade shook her head disparagingly and fixed herself a quick snack before heading up to her room to take a shower and change clothes.

She had only been here a week, and already she had had to keep C.C. from nearly getting herself killed several times by not paying attention, talk Will out of buying an expensive ring he didn’t have the credits for, and solve several other minor family emergencies. And Katy and Colin weren’t even there, this being a week they spent with their dad. So much for vacation.

"Beth!!! You came back!!!"

Lestrade groaned as the fifteen-year-old girl ran into the room and threw her arms around her.

"Well, of course I came back, C.C. I was just out riding," Lestrade said, allowing a bit of her annoyance to creep through.

"I know, I’m just happy you’re here," C.C. responded, not at all put out. Then she pouted. "I don’t want Katy and Colin to come."

Lestrade rolled her eyes. "Because you’re not the center of attention. I know." She held up a hand to forestall a protest. "Aren’t you a little old to be acting like such a baby?"

C.C. frowned, upset because her ploy to get someone on her side against the older girl hadn’t worked. "But Katy’s mean...." she whined.

"Then you should ignore her. Simple as that. Believe me, if Kait didn’t think she could get to you, she wouldn’t tease you."

"But it isn’t simple," the girl continued to whine, "she’s got a boyfriend who doesn’t live around here....and she said if I told anyone she’d hurt me real bad."

"You just told me, didn’t you?" Lestrade answered, unsympathetic.

Normally she’d be understanding, but C.C. was just as spoiled as the animals, and it did her good to be told no once in a while. At least the girl would listen to her, though she screamed and yelled and threw a tantrum around Laurie, and simply whined to her mother. Laurie was rather more strict with her children, even though C.C. wasn’t technically hers, than Lestrade thought most situations warranted. It was probably why C.C. acted that way, and why Katy was so mean. How Colin had turned out so...normal...was beyond her. He had been the sweetest little boy, even if there had been a few bad moments -- no one was perfect after all -- and he was a kind and considerate young man at age fourteen. His older sister Katy was sixteen, and in the same kind of trouble most teenagers were these days.

"Yeah," C.C. nodded, "because Katy wouldn’t dare do anything to me if you told her not to. Besides, Will thinks this boy is some kind of criminal, by the way he looks and talks." C.C. lowered her voice slightly. "He’s black," she said as if that had any bearing on anything.

And here, in a rural area of Texas, perhaps it did. But Lestrade had long since grown out of any prejudice she might have had as a child, even before she had graduated high school. She had no tolerance for those who did, which was rather ironic in its own way, when one thought about it. Hypocritical too.

"So, you told Will also?"

"Uh...no. NO! I didn’t!"

"Then how does Will know?"

"Because...because...." C.C. floundered, unable to come up with anything.

"Because you told him," Lestrade finished, satisfied that she was right. She’d much rather be dealing with Deidre right now. At least she was straightforward.

"So?" C.C. questioned, now deciding to take another route.

"So, I really don’t care. Katy’s sixteen years old, and I certainly have no control over what she does." No one does, she thought, now that her father screwed everything up. She thinks she doesn’t have to listen to either of her parents, because she lives with each of them every other week. Each week has a different set of rules for the poor girl.

Lestrade had once made the mistake of pointing this out to Laurie, who had taken it personally rather than as an opinion based on observance. That’s when Lestrade had left and joined the police academy in New London after Professor Presbury had invited her to stay the summer with his daughter.

"But," C.C. continued, oblivious to Lestrade’s growing ire with her prattle, "there’s been some weird things happening. What if Katy’s involved?"

"Then I’ll do something. Now go out of here so I can take a shower, please." Without waiting for a response, Lestrade turned around, stomped into the bathroom and slammed the door behind her.

As the rivulets of water coursed down her body, rinsing off the mud and grime and warming her, she thought on what C.C. had said. There could be some merit to the girl’s words, but it would have to be looked into carefully. Without alarming Laurie. So far, she had kept it from everyone in her family that she was a New Scotland Yard detective, and she planned to keep it that way.

Just before she fell asleep, she made a mental note to ask C.C the name of Katy’s boyfriend so she could check it with the Yard’s database. And if that failed to bring up anything, she’d use her connections with some of the American law enforcement agencies. She was sure, though, that it was just C.C trying to get Katy in trouble by repeating an assumption made by her ‘uncle’.

On to part 2!

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