Excerpt from . . .

Race to Win
by Libby McKinmer

Meg’s head was pounding by the time she turned into the driveway to Forrestholme, her grandfather’s three hundred acre “homestead.” A state of the art broodmare operation, Forrestholme had a foaling barn, two separate mare barns, a stallion barn, artificial insemination lab, hundreds of acres of pasture, an indoor riding arena, a training track and a custom designed, four-bedroom stone home. He had worked hard to attain his dream, and now, like a cold shadow over it all, there was something seriously wrong.

Meg rounded the final bend in the driveway and stood on the truck’s brakes. With a scattering of loose gravel, the pickup skidded sideways and Meg had to do some quick steering to keep from sliding into one of the huge maples that lined the drive. Less than a foot from her front bumper loomed a twelve-foot high wrought iron gate. It was closed and locked. From its top, two video cameras panned the driveway area, and at the bottom to the left of the gate, an intercom stood silently, its unseen operator waiting to grant whomever approached entrance or exile.

She stared, frozen in stunned shock, for a moment or two. That fence had not been there when she had left for Florida in between Christmas and New Year’s. But it was very definitely there now. Putting the pickup in reverse, she straightened it out and angled up to the intercom. As she rolled down her window and leaned out to figure out how to call its control center, the intercom coughed to life as a nasal voice challenged her.

“Who’s there?”

“It’s Meg,” she said slowly. “Meg Forrest. I live here.”

There was a momentary pause before the disembodied voice responded coolly, “I’ll open the gates. Drive through slowly and straight up to the house. Don’t get out of your truck and don’t deviate from the road to the house.”

She could only stare at the intercom.

With a clank and a thud, the double wrought iron gates began to swing open in front of her. Meg put the truck in gear and started through the opening. As soon as she cleared them, the gates swung back into place. Something was definitely weird. Meg looked around as she started slowly towards the house. The tall fence extended in both directions as far as she could see, curving off around the house and down past the barns out of her sight to the pasture areas. She checked the broodmare barn automatically. Noting the lights still on, she started to turn down the lane leading to the barn when she remembered her directions to go straight to the house.
It’s still my farm to go where I want. And I think I’ll just check out the ladies on my way to the house. With that rebellious thought, she quickly twisted the truck’s wheel to the left and headed to the broodmare barn.

After easing to a stop in front of the main entrance to the mare’s barn, Meg turned off the truck and was about to step out when she happened to glance to her right, up the grade toward the house. Racing at full speed, eyes pinned to the truck, were two of the largest Dobermans Meg had ever seen.

By the time she’d registered their existence, they were at the side of the truck. Silently, they sat beside the driver’s door and fixed her with cold stares. No barking, no jumping, and definitely no tail wagging was going on here. More than a little rattled, Meg shoved the key back into the ignition, started up the truck, and turned for the house. She glanced in her rearview mirror and, sure enough, the two Dobes were trotting up the driveway behind her.

What the hell is going on here?

By the time she got to the house, Meg was furious. The last time she’d looked, Forrestholme had been their property. She was sure her grandfather would have mentioned it to her if he had sold it, so she was mystified by what was going on here. When she put the truck in park at the house, Meg was in no mood for the Dobermans. She leaned on the truck horn until someone ran out from behind the house. She kept on sounding the horn until the man hurried to the window of her truck.

“What’re ya doin’, lady?” The man had the look of an ex tackle on a professional football team. “Are ya tryin’ to get the dogs all ticked off?”

“Am I supposed to be worried about your dogs?” Meg’s tone sliced at the man’s arrogance. “I suggest you get those dogs back in their cages or kennels or wherever they live, and I suggest you do it now.”

Accustomed to obeying orders, the guard gave a quick whistle and a couple of hand signals. The dogs obediently trotted off behind the house with their handler following. As soon as they were out of sight, Meg wearily shoved open the truck door and climbed down onto the interlocking stone driveway. She pushed her hair back and straightened her shoulders. Time to beard the lion in his den.

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