The rhythmic beating of hoof to metal pounded in the young man's ears who sat up in the driver's seat of a red pick up hauling an expensive looking horse trailer. With his two index fingers, he roughly massaged his temples in frustration and closed his eyes, an annoyed groan tumbling past his thin lips. Hurry up.. he thought to himself as he opened his eyes and glanced towards the barn office where his boss was. He and Mr. Red were delivering a very fine horse to Mr. Andy Carlson, Louisiana's finest Arabian breeder in the state. Tim had a feeling this meeting would take longer than it was supposed to since the precious cargo in the back beating up the trailer walls was more of a rare gift that Mr. Carlson bought for himself than an asset to his business. Finally, the door to the barn office swung open and two men walked out; one obviously very nervous and the other anxious. The nervous man was Mr. Red and he was the one in charge of picking up and delivering all the horses or other animals that were to come to Apple Gate Farm. This particular horse in the back was an Arabian mare Andy had bought from overseas from a sleazy, but prestigious, breeder. The horse had a glorious background with the finest set of parents and grandparents, but there was something sticky in her blood that made many men fear owning her. Oh but not Mr. Andy Carlson, the man thought he was God. The dark haired man of twenty-four moved faster than Mr. Red and stopped behind the trailer. He stared at the spot where the repetitive kicking was coming from with a smirk touching his lips. Tim wondered what he was thinking. "Now, Andy..This mare is the devil reincarnated. She is mean, harsh. Be careful." warned Mr. Red as he stepped away from the double doors. Andy chuckled and started undoing the latch. The beating stopped. Everyone held their breath as the doors swung open and Andy jumped back as a slender hind leg swung out in a ferocious kick. "Told you." mumbled Red as Andy he rounded the trailer and stepped inside through the side door. Tim had climbed down from the cab of the Ford and stood beside his boss, a worried frown on his face. The sounds of high pitched squealing and stomping filled the court yard, making the two men standing on the gravel nervously shift about. "Andy?" Red called, taking his hat off and leaning sideways. Tim shook his shoulder and pointed at the ramp as a horse's rear emerged. Andy could be heard clicking and grunting as he backed the fired up mare down the ramp. Once she was on solid ground, she was a whirl wind. Teeth, hooves and flesh flew in all directions. Andy stood off to the side, letting the wild creature fight invisible demons before he reined her in and got her stop. She stood there, her sides heaving and her nostrils flared with her ears flat, as Red and Tim stared at her. "Jesus fuck.." Tim muttered. The liver chestnut mare tossed her wild head, sending her flaxen mane into a fury. Her dark brown eyes rolled in their sockets as she watched the three strange men around her. This was new. These were people she had never seen before, never heard before. And then there was the landscape. A place the mare had never smelt before. She had never felt this uneven, duty ground beneath her delicate hooves. All around her green stuff that looked soft and smelled delicious. She tossed her head again and trumpeted as loud as she could into the cool, crisp air. Horses from around the farm echoed back causing her to prance back and forth, her tail flagged out behind her in the gentle breeze. "You have to admit she is a beauty." Red said, slapping his partner on the back. Tim nodded his agreement and watched as Andy rounded the mare up and lead her inside to the mare barn where he stashed her away in a roomy box stall. As he returned, Red held out his hand with a smile on his worn face. Andy shook it and beamed back, his bright eyes glowing. "Thank you for bringin her here." he said, reaching out to pat the old man's shoulder. "Anytime, Andy. Just please be careful around her. She is a tainted spirit." Red gave the young man a serious look and then tipped his hat. "Off we go, take care now!" Andy stood back and watched as the red pick up maneuvered his drive and pulled out onto the street. It disappeared over the the hill before he turned went into his office. He had some calls to make about his new toy. The mare who was nameless, but known as Succubus in her homeland, paced her stall. She kicked at the wooden walls, moved her straw bedding around and even dumped her water everywhere. Annoyed snorts and nickers filled the ears of the other barn inhabitants. A painted Arabian in the stall next to Succubus lifted her head and looked at her, her own ears flat against her skull. "Could you knock off all that racket?" she snapped, her ice blue eyes boring into the new mare. Succubus stopped her pacing and turned to face the mare who dared to speak to her. "Excuse me?" she asked, approaching the bars that divided them. Jubilee elevated her dish shaped head and spat, "I asked you to knock it off." Succubus narrowed her eyes and lowered her voice, "Just you wait." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Glancing at the piece of paper in his hands, he looked at the breeding farm before him. Apple Gate Farm it was called. He wasn't looking to purchase a horse, no, he already had his own horse in the trailer connected to his car. He needed somewhere to stay for a while.Possibly get some work a long the way. His last place he stayed and worked at had been shut down and though Ace had plenty of money saved up, it wasn't like he could live on it for the rest of his life. And he had heard that Apple Gate Farm had lodging here. Maybe, if this place suited his horse, Zodiac, then he'd ask for a job. If the owner of the place wasn't nice then he'd just get over it. Caring for his stallion was his main priority, not making friends. Placing the piece of paper beside him, he drove through the gates and up towards the main house. He had rung up a few days before hand about staying for a while thankfully, so he wouldn't have to explain himself too much as to why he was there. Parking his car, he got out and looked around, seeing no body. But he saw a car, so figured somebody must be here. So Ace walked to his trailer and opened the back door. Walking inside, he untied his stallion and backed him out. The stallion calmly stepped out and once all four hooves were safely on the ground, the stallion snorted. His coat was a pure, clean white with no black other than his black skin pigment. But his mane and tail was a sleek brilliant black, his forelock hanging over his dark brown eyes. His ears flicked forward as he raised his head, nostrils flaring as he took in the scents around him. He could smell all the mares in the area and he whinnied to them, even if he couldn't see them. It didn't take long before a few mares answered his call. Flicking his tail, the stallion pawed at the ground with his light, creamy coloured hooves but quickly calmed when Ace ran his hand along his neck. The stallion nickered gently and head butted the young man softly. Ace softly softly, which lit up his deep blue eyes and tied the stallion to the side of the trailer before closing the trailer door and locking it. Ace went back to his stallion, Zodiac and untied him once again. He ran a hand through his curly caramel brown hair and lead the stallion around in a large circle to stretch his legs, knowing he was probably stiff from being in the trailer for over 3 hours. There hadn't been anywhere to take him out unfortunately. And now his usually sweet and calm stallion was getting a little restless. Zodiac threw up his head with a snorted and swished his tail, prancing beside Ace and wanting to run instead of just walk. Ace glanced at the main house, wondering if the owner of the farm had heard him come or not. Well, with Zodiac making such a fuss with the mares when he stepped out, he'd imagine that he would've heard them. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Deep within the barn, Andy stood before Succubus' stall with his hands on his slender hips. From behind he looked like a well built young man in his wrangler jeans with the infamous dip can outline in his pocket and his brown ariat boots. His t-shirt was lose, but there was no denying the amount of muscle bulked up beneath its thin fabric. He ran a calloused hand over his bare neck and then proceeded to fix his Bucked Up hat atop his head. "A name for a queen." he said aloud, watching the liver colored mare pace impatiently back and forth in her stall. Jubilee stood at the far end of her stall with her ears pinned and her locked on the new mare, blazing with hatred. Andy ignored this as he continued to ponder a name for his new prize. "Cadence." he finally decided, removing his hat and running a hand through his thin dark brown hair. Cadence, formerly Succubus, stopped her pacing momentarily and stared at Andy with brooding eyes. Cadence shuffled along behind Andy as he lead her across the massive indoor arena to the opposing side where a large door sat open wide to let sunlight in. The mare snorted and threw her head, trying to rid her nostrils of the dense dust particles that she sucked up with each breath. Andy just laughed and tugged her along towards the door. As the two made their way out into the sunlight, Andy was greeted by the sound of a foreign neigh that came from up by the house. Stopping the mare, he turned and looked east, putting a hand up to shield his eyes from the sun. With a squint, he could make out a young man and a pure white stallion standing out front his home. Cadence also spotted the stallion and reared up, snaking her head into the air and throwing her hooves. She came down with a scream and yanked roughly on her lead. Andy moved into action and began circling her to get her to calm down. Moving quickly forward, he unlatched a gate and let the angry mare through to an empty pasture where she could run and get all over her dark energy out. Or so he hoped. Making his way across the gravel drive, Andy realized it was Ace and his handsome stud Zodiac who had called the previous day. A warm smile sat upon his face as he approached the duo with an out stretched hand. "Welcome to Apple Gate Farms, you must be Ace." he said, ready to shake hands. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ At the sound of a mare screaming, at him no less, Zodiac swung around, almost knocking over Ace with his rump. His ears flicked forward, his dark eyes bright as he raised his head high and looked over at the liver chestnut mare. He watched as she yanked on the lead and the stallion knew she was angry. The stallion snorted, tail bannered out behind him, standing proud. He may usually be a gentle stallion, but he was restless and agitated from staying cooped up for so long. He didn't have time for such antics from mares. He shook his head roughly, kicking out a hind leg and turned away from her, choosing to ignore her as the man leading her turned her in tight circles. It was over quickly when the man let her loose in a pasture and he looked over at the mare before he lowered his head as Andy approached. Ace ran a calming hand over Zodiac's strong neck as he watched the mare who was so obviously agitated. When she was let loose in the pasture, he calmed down and turned his attention toward the man ho was now walking toward him and his horse. He could only guess that he must be Andy. He couldn't help but admit he was attractive. And he wasn't ashamed to admit that to himself. After all, Ace was gay. Sure, to most people, he didn't across as so, but that wasn't his problem. Mentally pushing his thoughts away, Ace tugged at the hem of his black polo shirt which fit snugly. To anyone who looked, it was obvious that Ace was used to a hard day's labour with his nicely toned body, tanned skin and sightly worn boots. His dark blue jeans that sat upon fairly slender hips just completed the look. When Andy came close, a smile on the man's face, Ace couldn't help but return it. And as he spoke, hand outstretched, Ace switched Zodiac's lead rope into his other hand and shook the man's hand firmly. "That's correct and i'm guessing you're Andy," he replied lightly. Being close to Andy, Ace could tell he probably about an inch shorter than the man before him. Releasing his hand a moment later, he watched as Zodiac stepped forward, now a bit calmer and inhaled Andy's scent into his nostrils, remembering his scent. the stallion raised his head for a moment before taking another step toward him and head butting him lightly. "Ah, right. And this is Zodiac," he introduced as the stallion flicked his black tail at Ace, almost whipping him in the face. "Is it still alright for us to stay here for a while?" Ace asked, just wanting to confirm with him. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Cadence snorted and kicked her heels up into the air, turning up chunks of black dirt and grass. When her hind hooves landed, her front ones came up in fierce stabbing motions. The spirit of the desert ran through her veins like fire, fueling her and driving her to run and show off. She threw her head again, sending her orange mane in all directions, making it look like a fire was blazing all around her. She sent out a high pitched trill and bucked her heels even higher into the air. Horses in the surrounding pastures stopped their grazing to lift their heads and watch the hot scene unfolding before them. They whispered among themselves, asking who the new horse was. Cadence heard their whispers and amped(sp) up her game by trotting gracefully along the perimeter of her enclosure and flagging her tail behind her. She kept her infamous dish shaped head elevated with her dainty mug tipped up as if she were snobbish. Andy momentarily ignored the mare's annoyed calls and grasped Ace's strong hand in greeting. "The one and only." he responded with a chuckle. While looking the young man before him over, he took mental notes about his stature. It appeared he had former ranch work, but also had a tender personality and an old soul. Releasing his hand, Andy was met with the grey stallion's gentle bump. "Hey there stud." he laughed as he brought his hand up and offered it to the horse. When he was accepted, he reached out and stroked the beast's neck affectionately. The silence between the two brought Andy back to the realization that Cadence was still out there making fuss and that Zodiac had already noticed her presence. Ace spoke and Andy returned his attention to him with another beaming smile. "Of course. Iv got plenty of rooms available up in the house. Its the off season right now so I don't have any other guests. Iv got you situated in the mother-in-law suit on the second floor." he told him, his green eyes watching the other man's face. "Zodiac also has a rather luxurious stall set up in the gelding portion of the barn. Just follow me and Ill show where to put him." Andy signaled with a wave of his hand to follow him and lead them across the court yard to the barn entrance. When they stepped inside, mares whinnied their greetings to the handsome stallion as they passed. He guided them down a long hallway lined with box stalls, mostly empty ones, until they reached a roomy stall on an end cap. "Here we are. Close to the wash station, entrance to other indoor arena, personal tack room, and he had access to a private pasture. Also there is a bathroom just around the corner and the feed room is located down this way." Andy pointed to each amenity with a proud smile on his face. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Zodiac huffed in agreement when Andy called him stud and pressed into his touch as he stroked his neck. But the liver chestnut mare's antics soon caught his attention once again. He raised his dished head and looked over at the mare, ears forward and alert. He watched her with great interest as she trotted around the perimeter of her pasture, strides elegant and graceful, tail flagged behind her and head held high, as if she was snubbing those around her. He could tell that she was the type to show off. And though he wasn't usually the type to go for such aggressive and mightier-than-thou attitudes, she caught his attention. The stallion stomped his hoof on the ground with a snort as he watched her. His ebony forelock falling over his eyes as he raised his head even higher in the air. However Ace soon tapped his shoulder and he reluctantly returned his attention to the man and lowered his head. When Andy told Ace that he had the mother-in-law suite, his brows lifted in surprise. He wasn't expecting that. "Why, thank you," he said as he ran his hand down Zodiac's shoulder. Touching him was the easiest way to keep his attention for some reason, so it was relatively easy. He was lucky he had such an easy to handle stallion and not one of those hot headed, stubborn things that try and drag you to the next town for a mare in heat. When Andy continued to say that Zodiac was in a luxurious stall in the gelding portion of the stalls, Ace grinned, already knowing that Zodiac would like it. He didn't need any more encouragement to follow the man toward the barn. He heard Zodiac's hooves grind against the gravel driveway and was thankful that he was a no nonsense horse once again. Still, he was a little impressed that he didn't bat an eye at the new terrain underneath him. When they came into the barn and the mares whinnied to Zodiac, the stallion's head raised once more, his nostrils flaring as he took in their scent and he quickly whinnied back in reply, his tail swishing happily as he walked behind Ace. When they arrived at the roomy stall, Ace grinned, clearly impressed. He glanced at Ace, looking at where he pointed to when telling him where everything was. The man nodded softly. He already knew his horse would be at home here. "This is fantastic. Zodiac will love it," Ace said as he lead the stallion into the stall and then took off his halter. He stepped out of the stall and looked it behind him, watching as Zodiac shook his mane and flung his head up, happy to be rid of the piece around his head. "I really appreciate it, Andy. I never expected to stay in the mother-in-law suite, nor that Zodiac would be in a stall this nice. It means a lot," he said honestly. "Your place is amazing," he told him just as Zodiac laid down and started rolling in the bedding. Ace shook his head lightly with a fond smile at the horse. Now he'd have to give him a wash and a good brush. He knew that Zodiac would appreciate the attention. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Cadence rushed the fence, charging towards it with a speed and grace only found within pure Arabian bloodlines. Before barreling into the hot wire, she flung her body to the side and skidded to an effortless halt, sending more dirt and grass spewing in all directions from her sharp hooves. Upon stopping, she threw her head up and back, the whites of her eyes showing against her dark pelt, and whinnied. The whinny ended with a snort from her flared nostrils and an aggravated grunt. The stud with the man who claimed her had noticed her and that made her devilishly happy.The other mares in the adjacent pasture were all lined up along fence line watching her in awe and a few in jealousy. "Too bad Jubilee isn't out here to see this.." whispered one of the mares to another, referring to Cadence's stall neighbor. "This new mare might put her prancing to shame." Cadence over heard this and a wicked smile spread across her face. Competition. Andy was pleased to know that Ace and Zodiac were happy with the stallion's living quarters and he was sure that Ace would be more than happy about the mother-in-law suite once he saw it. "Well, when you get him all settled you can come on up to the house and ill show you around." Andy gave the stallion an admiring look and then nodded to Ace before heading back down the hallway and out of the barn. He made a pit stop out by Cadence's pasture to see how she was doing. She obviously hadn't calmed down any. He walked away towards the house, leaving her staring after him. Climbing up the front porch steps, he stopped just before the front door and turned back around to face the driveway. The sun was gradually falling across the sky as evening approached and casting a golden glow across his farm. He smiled and turned to go inside the house to make sure the suite was perfect enough for Ace. It was gonna be nice to have someone in the house again after so many night alone. After his father died two springs ago, people sort of forgot about the little farm and stopped coming to stay. It used to be the perfect romantic get away for couple of all ages. It even accommodated small families looking to get a peek at a life with horses. They offered trail rides and lessons for free throughout the stay, bon fires, BBQs, live entertainment, and they even hosted events like weddings and birthday parties. It hurt Andy deeply to see the place so lonely all the time.