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Horner Springs, The Institute Ch. 06

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Blonde

Jacob McAllister, Ph.D. (MSU), Assoc. Prof. of Soil Science, slipped out of the saddle and let his beloved Ponca graze on the fresh grass under the cottonwoods beside the Horner River. The shade was a relief after spending the morning in June’s hot sun checking his experiment plots on the Running H Ranch. The chance to sit under the trees and rest for a bit was welcome. Then his cell phone rang. Looking at the screen he was it was his friend Jay Horner, owner of the ranch—along with many of the rest of the major businesses in Horner Springs.

“Hey,” he answered.

Jay’s voice was somber. “Have you heard about Hal Millard? He’s in the hospital. Stroke.”

“Oh shit! How bad is he?”

“The doctors are optimistic to a point but he’s not going back to ranching. His daughters won’t want to come back from Denver and Salt Lake City to run the place, either. Basically they all know they’ll need to sell the place to take care of Hal. Interested?”

Jake snorted. “When Hell freezes over! I became a college professor to get away from ranching. But I know someone who might be . . .”

“Uh-huh,” Jay’s replied dryly, “Justin. I foresee a Futter Technical Institute’s Heityme Field Laboratory for Environmental Studies. He could pay enough to keep Hal in the best possible care and damned near count it as beer money. I thought I was rich but Heityme? Whoa.”

“Yup,” Jakes voice was equally ironic, “along with a new, expanded home for the Beindre Mustangs and a Tarbox Polo Academy. I predict the old Millard place is due for some serious gentrification. It’s funny how this quiet little burg is managing to attract so much heavy capital. You, I can understand. Your great-grandfather founded the place. But what brought Patel and Doss here? And then Justin shows up. We had no idea how much money the little squirt was worth until his Aunt Hester came along and spilled the beans. Anyway, I’ll let Laurie know. Justin and Michelle are on their honeymoon in Ireland drooling over horses—and each other.”

Jay chuckled. “You been into the bride’s panties yet?”

“Hell, no. Give the kids a chance, fergawdsake. She’s so in love with Justin and Laurie it would be just wrong to start making moves on her. Life is long. There’s plenty of time for the seven-year itch to start, though this being Horner Springs it’ll be more like the seventeen-month itch. Who I should be working on is your wife!”

Raucous laughter came out of the phone. “Well, what in Hell are you waiting for? Maribel would jump at the chance to climb your frame. Shall I invite you and Willow over for dinner?”

“Not yet,” Jake answered, “She’s still obsessed with Jared. Maybe when he gets to be a year old. It seems to be a ‘mommy’ thing.”

“Mm-hmm. Maribel was the same way after each of the boys was born. Took her a while to get back in the swinging of things. Anyway, got to go. Tell Laurie. I’m sure she’ll just forward it to Justin’s trust managers and Hal will be taken care of. I suspect we’ll have to go architect shopping, though. Ever since Hannah died, Hal hasn’t had much interest in keeping his house up. Better to just demolish and start over.”

Jake was surprised. “That bad? Okay, I’ll tell Laurie. Bye.”

*****

Laurie Beindre was helping Willow bathe four month-old Jared McAllister. Getting to play grandma without the bother of raising the parents was working out just fine and she smiled benignly as the little guy giggled and splashed in his tub. Her cell phone buzzed so she pulled it off her concho belt and looked down to see a text message with the news about Hal Millard. She showed it to Willow.

“Oh dear. Poor Hal,” Willow shook her head in concern, “but to be honest I see no end of silver linings in this dark cloud. Both Denver and Salt Lake have a collection of high end retirement communities and if Justin buys the ranch . . .”

Laurie snorted delicately. “Not ‘if’, honey. The kid will be all over this. One of his cousins is an architect and she’ll just drool over the chance to turn the Millard place into a show stopper for research and horses. But I’m not sure whether to send this to him, yet. I mean, look at this photo they sent me from County Derry.”

The indicated snap showed Justin and Michelle clad in coordinated tweeds and leaning on the side of a burgundy Rolls Royce. They looked right at home.

“You can move the Brahmin out of Boston, I guess,” Willow chuckled, “but you’ll never pry the Brahmin out of the Bostonian. I’ll bet they have even switched back to their original accents. And Michelle was developing such a cute drawl, too.”

“Oh, it will come back as soon as they hit the tarmac at Horner Field. But I don’t want them doing that any too soon. They still need time alone with each other. That’s why I stayed here at first. I’ll join them in Dublin next week. That’s soon enough to tell them, though if I don’t get the word to Hester right away I will hear about it! If she wasn’t so much fun, I’d call her an interfering bursa escort old biddy but she is so I can’t.”

*****

Hester Heityme-Bacon read the text and raised her eyebrows. Then she pulled up her contact list and pressed ‘call’.

“Lowell, McNaughton and Peabody Architects,” the receptionist trilled, “how may I direct your call?”

“Natasha, it’s Hester. I need to talk to Jacqueline—now!”

“At once, Ms. Heityme.”

There was the faintest of pauses, one just long enough for a very quick explanation and a rapid connection.

“Grandmother,” Jacqueline chirped, “this is a surprise. Have you decided to rebuild the townhouse?”

“No, dear, I’m just giving you a heads up. Your cousin Justin doesn’t know it yet but as soon as he and Michi get back from Ireland he’s going to find himself owning a ranch some ways outside of Horner Springs. It’s called the Bar Noon and the owner has had a stroke. His daughters will need to sell the spread to take care of their father and it will be the perfect place for Justin’s research, for Laurie’s horses and for, once she graduates, a polo school for Michelle to run. So look the place over and start coming up with ideas because I don’t expect escrow to go over thirty days from the minute he lands.”

Jacqueline’s eyes lit up. A chance to design an entire Western ranch complex? And naturally she would have to visit regularly to oversee progress. Or better yet, she might have to have a place on site to live. One of those lovely Newell motorhomes would be just the ticket. And if what Grandma had told her about ‘society’ in Horner Springs was true this could be just the sort of change her jaded life needed. She was wearying of the men in her social circles, anyway, so a fling or two with some cowboys could be lots of fun!

“I’ll get right on it, Gran. We’re coming to completion on the McMillen complex so I should be free by the end of the week. I’ll get some satellite images to start with and then fly out. Are there any hotels you recommend?”

“Stay at the Cornelius, dear, and tell them you want the Presidential suite. I didn’t stay there myself. Thaddeus and I just moved in with Laurie and Justin but it has the reputation of the most decadently luxurious place in town. A bit Victorian, to be sure, but in the best possible way. Do let me see your first sketches. Toodles.” And she hung up.

*****

Everett Peabody III knocked on Jacqueline’s office door and let himself in. It bothered him slightly that she even had an office what with her being not only female but barely thirty. However, Mr. Lowell had politely but firmly told him to shut his yap as the Heityme family’s accounts added considerably to the firm’s bottom line. If a little coddling of their in-family architect helped keep those accounts with the company, then she would get her office early and if he didn’t like it she might just get his. So he kept a lid on his attitude and remained polite.

“Come in. Oh, hi Ev. What can I do for you?”

“Hello, Jacqueline. I came by to see what your plans are now that the McMillen project is over. Mr. McNaughton isn’t sure the firm can support as many staff as it has until a new project comes along and he wants to know how many of us plan to move on. He’s hoping that attrition will make letting anyone go unnecessary.”

Jacqueline read the hope in his voice and grinned internally. She liked needling the senior partner’s son. Calling him by the familiar was just one technique that kept him at a slow simmer. However, one couldn’t always play at this game so perhaps it was time to cut the line.

“Funny that you should mention that. I was just putting in for a leave of absence. Some family business has come up and I’ll have to go out West. Be a dear and hand this to your father? And let him know that it probably won’t be necessary to hold my office until I get back. I may be some time.”

*****

“My parents are buying me a what?” A manic grin spread across Justin’s face and at his side Michelle began to jump up and down in a frantic little gig of joy.

“Well, you don’t have to take it . . .” Laurie’s face broadcast wry mischief, “but Jay, Jake and your Aunt Hester thought you might want to.”

“Where do I sign?”

“Hold on, hold on,” Laurie raised a finger in admonishment, “you don’t get it until after we get back and there’s still at least a week of honeymoon to go. I didn’t fly all the way to Ireland just to get back on the plane and go home! Besides, tomorrow’s itinerary calls for an appointment at Lishmar to look at some Connemara Ponies. Now, have Sidney drive us back to the hotel. I need a shower, something to eat and time to get over my jet lag.”

*****

Satellite photos were soon joined by USGS topographic maps and Google-map images on Jacqueline’s personal touch-enabled table. First there had to be sites. Where to put the home, where to put the research building/conference center, where to put the polo school with both arena bursa escort bayan and outdoor fields—all these had to be answered long before decisions about what they should look like. However, these images could only answer so much. Without putting her Gucci’s on the ground, Jacqueline would never be able to do justice to the project. And so two weeks later an immaculately maintained Learjet landed at Horner Field to let her off.

Grandmother Hester was right. The Presidential Suite at the Cornelius was definitely luxurious in a late Victorian bordello sort of way. She wondered if she might talk one of the local gentlemen into dressing up in a frock coat to come visiting but dismissed the idea. Grandma wanted sketches and at her age, patience was not a virtue. Looking out a window, Jacqueline mused that Horner Springs might be a smallish town but it had enough amenities for her current needs. Lyft, Über and two car rental agencies all provided 4×4 vehicles, the Cornelius had Wi-Fi and cell phone service was pretty universal. She could function.

“Hi, Jacqueline,” the next morning Justin grinned from the driver’s seat of the Land Rover, “Aunt Hester says you’re going to do the design work for the ranch I haven’t got, yet.”

Jacqueline made a wry face. “But you know you will; Grandmother has so decreed. Your parents will make it so, Mr. Heityme. And, yes, I am. I thought that’s why you were here to pick me up, so we could go look at the place.”

“Well, it is,” Justin admitted, “but our first stop is McClendon’s Western Wear. It’s July, Jackie, and you don’t go out there in the open without a hat, preferably a big hat. Auntie would have my hide if I let you get heat exhaustion and the sun at this altitude is nothing to play with. Climb in.”

Half an hour later, an Akubra Stony Creek™ firmly settled on her head, Jacqueline was getting a firsthand look at the country she had previously only heard about or seen in pictures. It wasn’t exactly harsh or forbidding but it definitely lacked the homey green, soft rolling vistas she was used to in Western Massachusetts. Horner Springs sat in a little valley in very big country under a huge, bright sky and a blazing sun. Silly as she first felt when she tried the hat on, once she got out of the car she understood Justin’s concern. July in the West was hot!

“So the first concern for the complex will be keeping cool?” she asked.

“In the summer? Yep. But winters here are brutal. The campus shuttle bus spends a lot of the time wearing chains just to get us from one campus to the other. We get snow, ice, and freezing rain, and a lot of it. The wind starts at the North Pole and has nothing to slow it down before it hit us but some strands of barbed wire. We don’t get the lake effect snow that Buffalo does but this is no country for sissies, I can tell you!”

They walked around the Millard’s old ranch house, now empty and forlorn, its contents in storage.

“And in weather like that Hal lived here? No wonder he survived the stroke. He must be one tough old buzzard.” Jacqueline shook her head.

“They all are. And anyone who moves here gets that way or just dies in place. You’d never suspect that the Patels and the Doss’s came from sunny, tropical New Delhi or that the same women who are so sexy and voluptuous in their saris are perfectly capable of laying a hot branding iron on a calf right alongside their husbands and ranch hands. It’s a world of ‘adapt or die’ for the people, the wildlife, and the plants. Hell, even the microorganisms are tough.”

Jacqueline’s eye roamed the surrounding hills and the distant Rockies. She looked at the weathered wood of the old barn and the ranch house. Bending down she picked up a rock and turned it one way and the other.

“Justin, you’re in Environmental Studies. I presume, then, that you want your place to be as much a part of the land as possible? All recycled wood and native stone?”

Justin nodded slowly. “Mm-hmm. And the lines should reflect the land. It’s a Post-Modernist world, Jackie, and I don’t want anything even resembling ‘sleek’ or ‘edgy’ here. Horner Springs has deep, old bones.”

A coyote stuck its head out from around a juniper. Seeing that neither of the two humans was carrying a rifle (and the coyote was old enough to know what that was!) it yawned and sat down in the shade to watch them. Humans could be quite interesting when they weren’t trying to kill you.

“Is that a coyote?” Jacqueline asked.

“Hm-hmm. The Integrated Pest Management folks got together with nearly all the local ranchers about ten years ago and convinced them that trying to exterminate coyotes was a waste of money. It was more profitable to better protect young livestock. Of course, with the Asian market being what it is for long fur, some of the local guys will go out mid-winter with a call and a rifle to take some. And there is enough of a grudge against them that a number of folks around here will get dressed up all fancy escort bursa and break out the English saddles and the hounds and chase them for the heck for it. But I can’t recall the hunt actually killing any. Mostly they just run until the song dogs get bored and hole up in a rock pile. Then the hunt calls off the hounds and leaves a couple of open cans of dog food for the ‘yote. The riders and the hounds have fun and I’m not sure the coyotes don’t either.”

“Sounds like Virginia or maybe Maryland.”

“Pretty much,” Justin allowed, “though the horses here are a bit bigger and stronger. Most hunters in the Horner Valley are Belgian/Thoroughbred crosses with a bit more draft than racer in them. The country is rougher and requires a horse with stronger legs. And the hounds are all Plotts that would normally be chasing cougar or bear. But it’s the same general principal. Ride hard over rough country following hounds that are baying their hearts out chasing something fox-ish. Personally, I kind of like coyotes.”

Jacqueline and the coyote looked at each other calmly.

“Well then, good hunting brother,” she called out, quoting Kipling’s Mowgli, “we be of one blood, you and I.”

The coyote blinked in response and then remembering an important engagement with a ground squirrel, loped off into the brush.

*****

“Are Justin’s parents really going to buy the place?” Michelle asked Laurie.

“Well, according to the terms of his trust, he isn’t old enough to, yet. But his parents are so pleased with what he’s accomplished here that they’re setting up a foundation to own it for him. He’s the second son, you know, so he wouldn’t inherit the family estate. Basically, there is nothing to tie him to Northbridge. Have you noticed that his Boston accent disappears once he gets back to the Springs? He loves it here.”

“Yeah,” Michelle wrinkled her nose, “but the biggest reason he loves Horner Springs is that he loves Laurie Beindre—and so do I.”

“And Laurie Beindre loves both of you.” Laurie looked at the girl fondly and then cocked her head to one side. “Michi, take your clothes off and come sit with me. Justin won’t be home for a while yet and he hasn’t said anything about bringing Jacqueline with him. Let’s you and I play for a while and then when we hear the Rover you just get down on all fours and wait for him.”

“Will he spank me?”

Laurie was a little surprised. “Has he ever spanked you?”

Michelle blushed slightly. “No, but Willow was telling me about the times they’ve had downstairs and I’ve been thinking. I might like being spanked. Aunt Hester says she does.”

“Honey, what Willow likes is a good deal more severe than spanking. That’s her kink. Jake goes along with it because he likes making her happy. Justin actually enjoys dominating Willow. Of course, now and again he gets thoroughly dominated and likes that, too. But if it’s spanking you want, you just come right here, girl. Pull down those pants and lay over my knee and I’ll introduce you to it good and proper.”

With a giggle and a wiggle Michelle dropped her jeans to her knees and then slid her thong down over her ass slowly and seductively. Then she bent over Laurie’s knees and arched her back invitingly and wiggled her butt.

“Ooo!” A resounding smack filled the air as Laurie’s palm left a bright red print on the girl’s ass. Michelle giggled nervously and then squealed when her Mistress hit her again. The sharp sound of flesh on yielding flesh resounded accompanied by wails of protest and wordless squeals. Minutes later it stopped and then the expert hands that had administered the punishment turned to rubbing and caressing. The squeals became happy crooning and then soft moans as Laurie’s fingers found their way to Michi’s sex.

A lifetime of study went into the probing, the rubbing, the caressing that Michi got. Laurie knew better than almost anyone how to find a woman’s exact pleasure spots and she put that knowledge to work on her young lover. Nor was Michelle any slouch when it came to erotic concentration. The curriculum at Futter College was specifically designed to maximize the students’ sexual pleasure by giving them skills with their own bodies. Breathing properly, tensing the correct muscles, focusing her mind all soon had her trembling in anticipation until like electric shocks through her brain Michi cried out and unstoppable paroxysms convulsed her body. Again and again she climaxed, wailing in ecstasy until, at last, she gasped “No more, Laurie, no more!”

After a few minutes, Laurie whispered, “Go into the bedroom and get a Feeldoe™, Michi. Get the big red one. I’m going to use you so hard!”

Still flushed and panting, Michelle returned carrying the awesome tool to find Laurie naked and grinning, a coil of soft rope in her hands.

“Give me that!”

Laurie slipped the Feeldoe™ More into her snatch where it jutted out threateningly. Taking the girl in hand she swiftly hogtied her over the back of the sofa with her bum sticking out and her thighs spread wide.

Oh am I going to get it now! Michelle thought, and I’ll probably still be here when Justin gets home and then I’ll get it again. Can you actually get loved to death?

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