I have shamelessly borrowed characters from Walter Farley's Black Stallion series and Steven Farley's Young Black Stallion series. I don't own them and sadly make no money from them. Original characters are mine.
Joey was a newly minted apprentice jock and had only been that for about a week and a half now. He was close to being too big for a jockey; his five foot eight wasn't the problem so much as his weight. It was hard—really hard for him to be able to ride at one-sixteen but he had no choice. If he wanted to do this—and he did—then he had to just suck it up. He could do this. He could.
"Now, you just keep to the outside, y'hear me? Keep him under a good wrap, don't let him have his head and stay out of the way of anyone trying for a speed work, y'got that?"
"Sure, boss. No problem." He could do this. He had to do this. He needed to let the trainers know he could follow orders, that he could be trusted with their animals.
He moved the big bay gelding towards the outside of the track, did as he was told and would have been just fine until he heard the hoof beats coming up behind him so fast he though he was being passed by a train or something. Glancing over his shoulder he saw what was as close to a freight train as he was going to ever see at Belmont; the Black was going through a speed drill and looked like he might set another track record.
He was something; a legend like Seabiscuit or Man O'War or Secretariat. He was that good and Ramsay was the only one who could handle him. Together they were as close to unbeatable as you could get in this sport. Incredible. Joey just watched them blow by him.
Ramsay was a big reason he was even on the track at all. Alec was the one who stood up for him when he was asking around for a break. It had all started about six months ago when he was still mucking stalls and asked this skinny kid pushing a wheelbarrow where he should dump the dirty straw. They'd got to talking and it turned out that the quiet kid he'd thought was a fourteen-year-old stable hand, was really twenty. His name was Alec Ramsay and he had a couple of Derbies and a Triple Crown to his credit—along with a list of major wins as long as your arm. He was one of the top riders in the country, if not the world and could go anywhere he wanted to work and name his own terms. Joey knew all this and was incredibly embarrassed he—somehow—hadn't recognized Alec the second he saw him.
And Ramsay was mucking stalls? He just shrugged and said someone had to do it, no big deal. After that Joey had picked up barn work for Hopeful Farm, but they didn't need another rider so Alec had done what he could, talked to trainers and owners and now Joey had his chance.
Alec opened the door for him. What he did with it was up to him, but if Alec hadn't done what he had, well…he'd still be hustling for menial labor. When he'd asked, Joey found out that Ramsay had done the same for at least half a dozen other guys trying to get started and had a rep as being as decent a guy as anyone hanging around a track.
Joey would second that opinion.
The Derby was over an hour ago, Hopeful Farm had it's third win in three tries with Raven and the party was going full steam in the barn area at the Downs. Steve Turner was the trainer of the second place winner, a big boned gray named Gray Mist and he was thinking that if Jimmy, his own jock, hadn't gotten boxed in going into the third turn the champagne would be flowing out of his tack room and not Hopeful's again.
But that's horse racing for you. Mist had been blocked but not illegally—just good race riding by Ramsay and there you are. Wait till the Preakness, just you wait and in the meantime, ah hell, might as well be a good sport about it, right?
"Good race, Alec, good riding. Henry? You pulled another rabbit out that hat of yours, congratulations, old man."
"Watch who you're calling 'old man', Steve. I'm feeling pretty spry today, and that's the truth."
Steve smiled; Henry was a friend and he still had what it took to get a horse to do what he wanted, no two ways about it. He looked about twenty feet down the row where Alec was talking to a couple more reporters, still in his silks and caked with mud. Ramsay was always good about that kind of thing; he was savvy enough to understand that publicity was part of the game and the way to good PR was being nice to reporters, smiling for the cameras, being accommodating and—this was important—being modest. Alec had it all down pat and he could do an interview in his sleep, he'd done so many of them.
Still, Steve watched and listened and the more he was around Alec the more he became convinced that it wasn't calculated; Ramsay really was modest and self-effacing. That wasn't an act.
"Hey Alec, were you worried about a foul being called for you blocking Gray Mist in the final turn?"
"I wasn't blocking him, he could have gone to the outside and tried to get past me."
"This makes three wins in three Derby tries—you planning on stopping at the hat trick or you think you're going for it again next year?"
Alec smiled and almost blushed. "C'mon, Lou. Horse racing; you know only idiots make predictions. As long as Raven stays sound, I guess we'll be at the Preakness but other than that, I don't even plan what I'm having for dinner."
"Don't do your own cooking, huh?"
"Don't be silly, Steve—I'm a jockey, you know we don't eat."
"How about another picture of you and Pam—where is she, anyway?"
Alec smiled the way he almost always did when anyone mentioned his girlfriend and the reporters knew it. The kid had it bad for the girl and it was sweet to see. Alec was a favorite with the writers and, hard-bitten though they were supposed to be, they were glad to see him content. He'd been through enough in his short life to earn some real happiness and it was nice to know that sometimes the world can be a fair place afterall.
While it lasted, anyway.
"Well, I don't know anything about betting. I just pick the prettiest horse."
"I go for the nicest outfits. Y'know—bright colors and stuff."
"Girls, seriously—pick the cutest jockey. That way even if they lose they're still cute."
"The jockeys? They're dwarfs. C'mon Lily, get real. They're all like four foot six and weight like eighty-five pounds."
"Not all of them—look here." She showed her friends the pictures in the program. "This Jorge guy isn't bad."
"Wait, stop—go back, who was that?"
"Um…Alec Ramsay. Okay. Not bad, not bad."
"Major cute. What does it say about him?"
"Uhh…. Twenty-one, from New York, college grad, won the Kentucky Derby three times and the Triple Crown. Five six, one hundred and ten pounds; so he's skinny. It says he's the only flat rider—whatever that means—who's won the Hambletonian, whatever that is. Oh, damn. It says he's engaged."
"Maybe he'll get divorced."
"He's getting married way too young, it will never last."
"Maybe when his wife is home with the kids and he's lonely…"
"Marcia, you're bad!"
"Come on, girls, let's place our bets."
"Of course on Alec."
Alec was sitting calmly on a hay bale outside the Hopeful Farms stalls, polishing some tack when the argument broke out down the row. It didn't involve him and he didn't have any intention in getting involved when the raised voices got louder and closer. Finally they were standing directly in front of him.
"Ramsay, what do you think here?"
Alec looked up. He really hadn't been listening and didn't know what they were asking him to give an opinion on. "About what?"
"Sam is denying he deliberately bumped me in the backstretch in race four this afternoon and he's a lying pig. I could have gotten hurt bad."
Alec kept rubbing the leather saddle as he looked up. "What did the stewards say?"
"Nuthin'. They didn't say nuthin'."
"Then I guess they didn't see anything wrong, Bill."
"Did you file a complaint, get the tapes reviewed?" Alec reached for a clean rag. He hated acting as referee for someone else's arguments.
"No, but I may."
"You file right after a race or you forget it. You know that Bill. That's the way it works. Get over it."
Bill wasn't about to drop it this easily. "They have their favorites, you know that. Hell's bells—you're one of them. You could plant a bomb in the starting gate and they'd claim it was an accident. Sam bumped me—I almost went down with a half dozen horses behind me, f'chrissake. I coulda been killed."
Alec sat back, Bill standing there challenging anything Alec would say and Sam hanging back, smirking. Alec hadn't seen the race but from the way this was playing out, Sam probably had bumped Bill's horse. The stewards likely missed it because of a bad angle or something and a journeyman rider like Bill would be hard pressed to make a strong case without being labeled a troublemaker. It wasn't fair but there was little Alec could do about it—he wasn't a steward, he was just another jock.
"If I planted a bomb, I think I'd at least get a reprimand."
"Hey Benny, you see Ramsay around?"
"I think he's still getting changed, 'should be out any minute, be my guess."
The two reporters sat down to wait. They'd both been following Boy Wonder's career since that match race years ago and Benny was working on a new instant biography to capitalize on this new Triple Crown win yesterday. The manuscript was due next Thursday and all he needed was an exit interview now that the kid had clinched the Belmont this afternoon. Much as he'd hate the book that'd be coming out in a few weeks, he was usually pretty good about being willing to spend some time answering questions. Not like some of the jocks—prima donnas and divas once they got a taste of money and success. Ramsay was still pretty decent—the kid had manners and that was a nice change from some of the jerks they had to deal with…professional athletes; just another definition for a swelled head as far as Benny could see.
"So, y'know—it's kinda nice to see Ramsay doing okay after all the garbage he's been through."
"Yeah, I was happy to see he was all right after that pileup a couple months ago down in Florida. Man, I was sure the kid would be in traction—if he was lucky, if you know what I mean." Hank nodded. That had been a bad one, all right.
Yeah, Ramsay was one of the good ones and he didn't just mean his riding. In all the years he'd been following the kid he'd never heard Alec be rude to anyone; hell, he'd never even heard him swear and that was sayin' something. And the stuff the kid had been through—the shipwreck, of course, and the plane crashes but even beyond that he'd survived big time racing and that wasn't any walk in the park with the egos and competition—not to mention the number of farms going broke these days. "Yesterday he wins the Triple Crown, pulls in a ton of money and today he's riding in a cheap training race. Go figure, huh?"
"I guess a ride's a ride, y'know? You think he's gonna keep racing?"
"Yeah, sure. Why wouldn't he?"
"I think the kid wants to train, that's why. I think he'd be good at it, too. 'Sides, you train, you don't get hurt, y'know?"
Benny shrugged. "Mebbe." Could be; Ramsay was about the smartest thing walking around racetracks on two feet and worked at least as hard as anyone he'd ever met. It could happen. He had to be getting' tired of eating mud comin' from behind, right?
"Hey, Benny—I heard you're waiting for me."
The two reporters looked up as Ramsay walked over to them, cleaned up and professional, ready to get this part of his job out of the way so he could get some dinner.
Just another day at the office.
Henry Daily watched Alec as he spoke with the reporter from the New York Times. The boy was relaxed, calm and seemingly having a good time as he and the reporter laughed about something they'd been talking about. No—that wasn't right. Alec wasn't a boy anymore; he was a young man and one with a list of major professional and personal successes to his credit. When he stopped to think about it, which wasn't all that often, Henry thought all over again just how proud he was of Alec, how impressed he was with the way the young man lived his life. It was the kind of thing people usually didn't notice unless it went wrong.
It wasn't hard to make the mistake of underestimating the jockey; Alec was a small man and still didn't weigh any more than he had when he was in school, barely topping 110 dripping wet and looked at least five years younger than his age. He was hardly preposing and sometimes that worked to his advantage. Most people just thought he was a good looking, well-mannered kid. Then they found out how sharp he was, how hard he worked, how he took everything in, didn't miss anything.
And Alec had a way with people, though he'd probably deny that. It was just that people seemed to naturally like him, were drawn to…something. Charisma, that's what they called it. Henry knew, of course, that a lot of it was simply everything he'd been through and done, everything he'd overcome and survived that should have killed him and all the odds he'd beaten. He'd learned not to take anything for granted. He was a genuinely decent man; modest and self-effacing, still got embarrassed when faced with fans. He made a point of being polite to them, too, always took a minute to sign an autograph or take a picture. It made a difference to people and that was no lie.
Henry used to think of Alec as his son.
No, that wasn't quite right. Henry thought that if he had a son, he hoped that the kid would have been like Alec, though he knew Alec never thought of anyone other than Bill Ramsay as his father. Bill and Alec loved one another, that was beyond question, but they often didn't see eye to eye. Their politics were different, so were their attitudes towards religion and how much risk was acceptable in their day to day lives.
Henry knew Alec's parents were scandalized when Alec stayed with Pam up in her apartment over the training barn while Henry had thought it was just a natural step for two young people falling in love. He knew Bill Ramsay had more than one talk with his son about that, about how his mother was upset when she knew his bed hadn't been slept in but it didn't seem to make any difference. Alec lived his life the way he saw fit and within the bounds of his own morality and ethics.
He and Alec spoke the same language; they understood one another and always had, despite the decades separating them.
And his parents didn't understand their son's love of everything involving horses, from making sure their shoes were set just right to caring for their sprains. They couldn't really understand the thrill of bringing home a winner, of beating a field of top horses and riders just as anxious to win as you are and they couldn't justify the inevitable injuries.
Henry also knew that one of the few things guaranteed to annoy Alec was when someone referred to him as a 'role model'. "I'm not a role model for anyone, Henry. I don't want to be and I'm not." That and the nickname 'Boy Wonder'. He hated it, hated the implications that he hadn't worked for what he had, that he was some kind of phenomenon and not a living, breathing man who worked his fingers to the bones for what he'd achieved. He was hard pressed to manage even simple politeness when someone used that name on him.
That was something a magazine had hung on him a few years ago when his story was just starting to get a lot of play in the press. It had started as human interest coverage when Alec was rescued from the shipwreck, continued when Black won the special match race and after that every event in Alec's life, even the minor ones, were seen as fodder for an article or two. Sport's Illustrated made a point of chronicling his victories on the track; there were three biographies they'd refused to cooperate with available in the bookstores. He'd become popular well beyond the confines professional sports. He'd been turned into an example of tenacity and grit, wining against odds and was written up as the fair-haired boy who battled back against everything and made himself a winner when he should have been dead several times over. He was painted as some kind of wish-fulfillment character—a plucky young man making his way against the odds—going his own way no matter what and doing it with integrity, talent and spirit, or something like that.
People sitting at home in their living rooms could follow his travels, wins and loses and try to imagine themselves in his place; young, on top of his chosen profession and with a limitless future. Even the management of his home tracks, Belmont and Aqueduct, tried to get him to do publicity as a hometown boy who'd made good. Alec was in demand for speeches at schools, sports dinners and as a motivational speaker, though he hated talking in front of a crowd and refused as often as he could. Sports agents called regularly hoping to represent him. Reluctantly, Alec was thinking of signing with one, just to handle that side of his life so he wouldn't have to deal with it as much.
The alumni of Townsend Harris High School were holding the fifth reunion for their graduating class, the reunion was supposed to be a full weekend of activities, but the organizers assumed that Alec Ramsay would be too busy to make most of the events. He was riding Raven in the final race of the Triple Crown on Saturday so, win or lose, he'd be tied up with reporters and everything else that went along with the hype on Friday and Saturday. In fact they'd pretty much written him off, even though Belmont Racetrack was only a ten-minute drive from the banquet hall they'd rented for the big dinner on Sunday. Then, with surprise, the head of the organizing committee had gotten an e-mail the week before from Alec saying he'd make the dinner, alone and maybe be able to get away for the softball game earlier that afternoon behind the school.
Sure enough, about three Sunday afternoon, Kim Peterson saw him as he walked across the field behind the school. From a distance he looked exactly the same as he had the last time she'd seen him five years ago. Some of the old classmates, maybe a hundred people or so were casually sitting in the bleachers and standing around the diamond, talking and not paying too much attention to the game. Kim cringed when she saw Alec try to fend off one of the guys who'd gotten on the outside of a couple too many beers.
"Alec! Man, saw you on TV yesterday—awesome race!"
"Colton. Colton Greaves."
Alec nodded. He obviously had no idea who this guy was.
"So I guess this makes you like the most successful member of the class, huh?" Alec just shrugged as he kept walking over to the bleachers. "I heard on TV you'd make like over half a million between the race and some kind of bonus. Damn! I should have learned how to ride horses, y'know?" Alec nodded and kept walking, trying to lose this guy. "So, do you like own those horses? I mean, they're worth like a ton of money, right?"
"No, uh...Colton. A jock can't own and ride horses. It's against the rules—conflict of interest." Alec hadn't slowed down as he tried to lose Colton.
"Bummer, dude, but you still get a butt-load of money to ride, right?"
"Only if I win."
Kim watched Ramsay leave Colton behind then heard him slur some comments to Jim Ryerson, getting angrier and louder the longer he went on. "Snotty, arrogant runt…well, whatever. It's not like Ramsay had a lot of friends when he was in school, right? You remember what he was like; quiet, sat in the back, didn't talk much, honor roll—stupid geek. Then he survived that big shipwreck and you'd have thought he was the Second Coming when he showed up back in Queens. Yeah, well, he's still a jerk. He rides racehorses? Big deal. It ain't like he's curing cancer or anything, right? Yeah, well, jockeys get killed all the time and maybe Ramsay will get his ticket punched one of these days, right on national TV. That would be something I'd pay to see, man…"
Jim gently but firmly took Colton's arm and steered him over to the parking lot and away, thank God. Alec seemed to be ignoring the whole encounter.
Kim smiled at Alec as he climbed onto the bleachers, greeting a few people along the way. She'd been the head cheerleader, prom queen, was actually nice to everyone and every boy's dream girl back when they were in class together, including Alec's. "Ignore him, Alec—he was probably going to ask you for money." He smiled back, laughed and kissed her cheek hello. "We're all real proud of you, honey—you know that, right?" Alec had always been a sweet guy and wasn't one of the idiots who made all those rude comments when she walked down the halls. He hadn't grown too much since they graduated, but he was handsome and might be small, but he was built. "C'mon, sit by me and I can fill you in on what everyone's been doing since you got famous."
She saw Alec blush but he sat beside her as she rattled on about who was married, who was divorced already, who had four kids real young and how Eric was going to MIT for his doctorate.
"So what's the deal, Kimmie? What have you been up to?"
Kim showed him her hand. There was a ring with what had to be five carats of diamonds on it. "The big day is September 20th for me and Tommy. You remember him—Tommy Smits?"
"Played football, right?"
"Um-hmm. And you?" She looked at his bare finger.
"'Girlfriend, but we're not married. Not yet, anyway."
Seeing the look on his face, Kim smiled, pleased for him. Nice guys like Alec should be happy with someone, and the girl would be lucky to have him—she hoped whoever she was realized that. "And she thought spending time with your old classmates was a fate worse than death? Smart girl."
He laughed and Kim thought what a great smile he had. "She helped take the horses back up to the farm so they could get away from the hype at the track." He sipped the bottled water he had with him. "I'm going up later tonight."
"You know, they're going to make a deal about you at the dinner later—after you won the race yesterday they wanted to make some kind of special award or announcement or something." Alec made a face and she knew he'd hate that. "I could try to stop them if you really want but I heard some of them talking and the principal is going to say something or other."
Alec gave her a look like she'd just said they were going to amputate his leg. "…Or I could leave when this game is over and get home earlier."
Kim squeezed his arm. "No, come. Please. I'd love to see the look on everyone's face." She stopped. "Unless you'd really hate it."
He hesitated, almost seeming to be shy. "I've had enough attention this month to last me the rest of my life and I haven't really kept up with anyone in the class, so maybe it would be better if I just skipped it."
"No, don't, please. Come and be my date. Tommy is in California working and we could keep each other company." She squeezed his arm. "I'll make sure they leave you alone—no announcements and no speeches, okay?"
"If you promise no special attention—I mean really, okay?" Alec smiled at her, suddenly happy and confident again when she nodded at him. She'd make sure he was just another alumni and nothing more. "You know you're fulfilling a fantasy of mine, don't you? I've had an unrequited crush on you since fifth grade. You're not just teasing me here, are you?"
"Are you kidding? Tease the man of the hour?" She picked up a copy of the Sunday New Times Sports section. A large full color photo of Alec and Raven crossing the finish line all alone, the field trailing by over fifteen furlongs across the top half of the page. Alec blushed redder, clearly embarrassed and proud. Laughing, Kim leaned over and kissed his cheek.
Later that evening Alec was seated at Kim's table, amused that he seemed to have arrived, at least as far as the high school pecking order was concerned. The comments were almost impossible to miss, though:
"He's still a dwarf."
"C'mon, lighten up, dude—he's not a bad guy."
"Yeah, just because he's making more money than anyone in the room, doesn't mean he's stuck up or anything, y'know. And pigs fly, too."
"I'm just saying he could have helped out the school or something, is all. It's not like he's exactly hurting for cash or anything."
"…And then the principal gets up and pretends to be his best friend and everything. I mean, c'mon. I bet Waxman didn't even know his name until that stupid horse race this weekend."
"Except Alec has been a big deal since he was rescued from that island, remember? How many articles have you seen about him the last few years? And books, too, did you know there are books about him?"
"I don't think he's such a bad guy. I mean, c'mon, did you see that thing a couple of years ago? He was in a plane crash and his obituary was in the New York Times. That's gotta be weird for him, reading his own obituary."
"I bet that was tough on his parents."
"Yeah. He's an only child, right? That must …you know, be hard to deal with. You've got kids, imagine if something like that happened to them."
"Yeah, well he's still a dwarf."
"Shut up, man, he'll hear you."
Dinner was over, Alec was about to escape to get back to the farm when Kim looked over at the center of the room, trying to think of something to make this easier for him. "Dance with me, Alec?"
"You're taller than I am."
"I'll take off my heels—or would your girlfriend be upset?"
"She trusts me."
"As much as you trust her? Good for you—for both of you." He was such a sweet guy; Kim hoped his girlfriend knew what she had in Alec and treated him the way he deserved. If not, there would be plenty of other girls who'd see what she did. Alec was all right. "If I send you a wedding invitation or a Christmas card, will you get it?"
"If you send them here, I will." He handed her a business card he had in his wallet with the Farm's address on it.
"I'll send them, then."
"And I'll answer."
The dance ended and they stayed on the floor as the slow music started for another. "You know, I think I should have paid more attention to you back in school, Alec."
Belle Ramsay walked into the kitchen around six-thirty in the morning to find Alec sitting at the table with a cup of coffee and the New York Times opened to the sports section. The headline was about the Belmont and the picture illustrating the article was a color shot of Alec with Raven in the near background. She realized, with somewhat of a start, that her son had become a very handsome young man.
"You know, if anyone had told me twenty years ago that I'd be living on a horse farm and enjoying it, I'd have thought they needed to have their heads examined." He gave his mother a half laugh. "How was the reunion?"
"Fine—good, in fact."
"Glad you went?"
Alec nodded and smiled at her as he stood up, kissed her on the cheek and headed out to his office in the stallion barn, coffee cup in hand. Aside from the long list of congratulations cards, e-mails and calls, he knew he had a stack of business calls to return from a long list of people who had made inquiries about breeding their mares to Hopeful Farm studs. She also knew that Alec was anxious to see Pam—not that she believed for a moment that he'd slept in his own bed last night when he got back and she wasn't happy about that turn of events. Pam was a nice girl, but Belle wasn't happy about what the kids were up to right here at the farm. It was just inconsiderate and she was close to saying something to her son about what he was doing, though she knew he'd do exactly what he wanted no matter what she said. She watched Alec disappear into the barn just as her husband came in for his breakfast, pouring his own cup of coffee—neither of the men in the family functioned without a shot of caffeine in the morning and conversation was pointless until they'd had some.
"Quite a weekend." He was looking at the sports section Alec had left on the table.
She nodded. The Belmont and Triple Crown trophies were sitting on the counter, waiting to be put in the trophy case and the article would go into the scrapbook. "You know, something occurred to me after the race Saturday—have you noticed that Alec isn't a boy anymore?" Bill gave her an odd look. "I mean he's an adult; I guess it sort of snuck up on me." She finished her comment a little lamely.
Her husband did, in fact, know what she was talking about. "He's twenty-one years old now and he's been working as a professional since he was sixteen—before that really, when you include the early races with Black."
"I know, but I don't mean that. I mean…well, there's nothing about him that…" She trailed off, annoyed at her own inability to express what she meant.
"The boy is gone and grown into the man and now he seems to have a young lady he wants to make his life with. On top of him being at the top of his profession. Is that what you mean, Belle?"
"I suppose. It means that we're done raising him. I feel like I'm losing him, Bill, like he's slipping away." It had to happen, it was something every parent faced when their children grew up. And it was always difficult, no matter how good a job the parents had done or how well the children turn out. One part of their lives was ending and the simple fact was that their son was perfectly able to function without them and might even do better on his own. It was a shock to realize. "I think he's been an adult since he came home from that island, in a way. There's been so much that's happened since then and sometimes I think that in a way he was robbed of his childhood by everything. I think that we may be partly to blame for that—for allowing it to all happen and let him become involved in all of this."
Bill Ramsay knew that his wife was right, that Alec had been forced to grow up years earlier than might have been. Perhaps he had lost some part of his innocence or naivete because of it but, "He's turned out as well as anyone could have hoped, Belle. I think we did a pretty good job with him, frankly. I couldn't be prouder of him if I tried."
"I feel the same way, but…" She poured herself another cup of tea. "It's just that I hadn't thought it would happen this soon." She glanced at the Times again. "I guess I just miss the little boy who used to hold my hand and listen to bed-time stories. I know that sounds silly."
Bill gave her a sympathetic look, he knew what she was talking about but there was nothing to be done now. "Well, I suspect that in a few years we may have grandchildren you can read to."
"Yes, we might—sooner rather than later, I suspect." She put some sugar in her teacup, sighing slightly. "I just feel badly for him sometimes; he seems to be rushing headlong into something and it worries me."
"We can't live his life for him, Belle, you know that."
Yes, she did, but everything seemed to be going out of control sometimes and that frightened her.
"He's smart and he knows what he's doing and what he wants—he'll be fine." Bill finished his coffee and headed to his own office to work on the books.
Alec's mother sat at the table a while longer.