Hey guys! First time I've written a fanfic so please R+R! This is set straight after book 11, Liberty and the Dream Ride.
As 17-year old Issie Brown stepped off the plane with her best friend and groom, Stella Tarrent, and her trainer, Tom Avery, she was not expecting the sudden flashes and shouts from the crowd.
"Isadora! Over here!"
To her left, a woman was running up to her. One arm was outstretched, holding a microphone, and a camera man followed close behind.
"Tell me, Isadora, how does it feel to be the youngest ever competitor at the Kentucky Horse Trials, and to do no less than win?"
"Um…" Issie started, before Avery stepped in.
"I'm sorry, but Isadora is in a rush. We must get going." And with that, he ushered the girls away to the baggage claim, undeterred by the blinding flashes from the cameras.
When they finally reached Avery's car with their bags, Issie breathed a sigh of relief.
"Thanks, Tom. I wasn't expecting all that!"
Avery smiled, "No, I wasn't quite aware of how much media interest there would be either," he admitted.
Alongside them, Stella giggled. "It's kind of exciting though, isn't it? Feels just like we're celebrities or something!" She grinned, "I hope they caught my good side!"
Issie frowned. Typical Stella, only thinking of the glamour of it all. Of course, the media interest wasn't a bad thing; it encouraged companies to become sponsors. But when she had left for Kentucky just a week or so before, Issie had been an unknown face and had travelled without any fuss being made. Since winning one of the biggest events on the equestrian calendar, however, Issie had become an overnight celebrity. Tiggy Brocklebent, for Horsing Around magazine, had been the first on her tail, even before the competition had begun. Now it seemed that all the equestrian magazines, and a variety of others, wanted to talk to this "teen superstar rider", as one recent news headline had put it.
As Avery turned down the lane leading to Laurel Farm, Issie couldn't wait to see the horses. Comet was in quarantine for a few days due to having flown back over from America, but Issie had three other rides here; Storm, who was her own mare's foal and possibly the most promising eventer, Raven's Wings and Twisted Dancer, two recent imports from Dulmoth Park. Although Avery was no longer responsible for the day-to-day managing of the farm, having passed that role to his head girl Verity when he left for England, he had arranged with the owner, Cassandra Steele, that horses would be bred and bought by Dulmoth Park then trained up and sent over to England for Issie to compete. The arrangement worked well, as it meant Issie did not have to pay large amounts of money for new horses.
Before Issie had left for Kentucky, the future of Storm had been quite uncertain. Laurel Farm had been struggling with funds and had needed to sell one of the horses. This had been Amaretto, and the money from his sale had been enough for Issie to travel to Kentucky. However, to secure the future of her other horses, most of all Storm who was worth the most, she had needed to win, which she had although not on Comet as she planned. Whilst over there, various goings on had given Issie a chance ride on Valmont Liberty who Issie had proceeded to ride to victory. Although the majority of winnings went to the mare's owner, the success and media interest had encouraged many companies to step forwards with sponsorship offers and Issie now had the financial backing needed by riders of the sport. Consequently, Storm did not have to be sold and was now in training for the Badminton Horse Trials in a couple of week's time. Francoise, who had remained at the farm to look after the horses, had kept him at the peak of fitness and continued with his dressage training.
Before she could see Storm and the others, however, Issie was greeted by Francoise who enveloped her in a big hug as soon as she stepped out of the car.
"Congratulations, Isadora! I knew you could do it!"
As the girls and Avery took their luggage out of the car, they briefly retold the story of how Issie had come to ride Liberty in Kentucky. Of course, Francoise had many questions to ask them and by the time they reached the door of the house, the Frenchwoman was fully caught up on what had happened. Issie pushed the door open, and was immediately caught up in a big hug for the second time that day. The person released her, and took a step backwards allowing Issie to see who it was.
"Oh my god! Kate!" she squealed before hugging her friend properly.
"Kate! What are you doing here?" gasped Stella as she entered the house behind Issie.
Kate was their other best friend, but had stayed in Chevalier Point to take over from Avery as head instructor of the pony club.
"I called Francoise a few days ago, and she suggested that I fly over to surprise you when you get back! I arrived last night. Morgan is covering for me at the pony club so I can spend a week over here with you both!" explained Kate.
The girls were thrilled, and Avery rolled his eyes at the news but he didn't really mind. On one condition. "Issie, you must not neglect your training. Badminton is in less than two weeks. You and Storm need to be ready."
"Of course, Tom!" Issie was serious about what she was doing, and Kate volunteered to help her and Stella whenever possible.
"So, tell me about Valmont Liberty." Kate said as soon as the girls got upstairs.
"She's a lovely horse, really sensitive but absolutely amazing." Issie smiled, thinking of the silver dapple mare she rode and won with at Kentucky.
"Marcus isn't bad either!" giggled Stella.
Issie shook her head, and Kate raised her eyebrows. "Who's Marcus?" she Stella could say anything, Issie started talking. "He was supposed to be riding Liberty but he broke his arm and asked me to ride in his place." She went on to explain how Marcus had broken his arm, and how she had realised that the mare's owner was plotting to kill her so he could claim insurance. Of course, she missed out the part where Mystic had showed up and cornered the man. No one knew about the pony, although it had been a close call that day; Stella had woken up and seen him, recognising him immediately. However, she had still been drowsy from the sleeping pills that Mr Valmont had slipped into her tea so she showed no recollection of having seen the grey pony, which had died a few years previously.
"Wow, sounds like I miss out on a lot of adventures!" grinned Kate when Issie had finished telling her what happened.
Issie laughed, then looked at the clock on her bedroom wall. "Well here's one you won't miss," she said, "lets go for a ride!"
Hope you liked it and it didn't suck too much!