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Wandering closer to the trees she stopped and listened. It was easy to catch the sound of a horse even if it was some distance away. The ground was strewn with dried leaves and twigs which made quite a noise as the horses moved across them. But all she could hear were the songs of the birds.
Constance was agitated. The mare had not been out of the front fields for two weeks and Elizabeth could feel her back legs move under herself. That meant only one thing. Constance was getting ready to run. She pulled the mare's nose around to her knee as Andrew had taught her and it did settle the horse but not for very long, and the dancing and prancing began anew.
"Oh bother," Elizabeth said to no one. "This is silly. It's my forest for heaven's sake. Ok girl - let's go," Elizabeth declared, and slackened the reins, signalling to Constance they were going down the track after all.
Constance surged forward breaking into a fast canter. It was exactly what Elizabeth had expected and stayed with her, but kept the run in check. Having not ridden the track for some time she needed to stay alert in the event of new obstacles on the path.
It was exhilarating. Constance felt solid under her as the trees whizzed by and flashes of sunlight darted between the branches. They reached the spot where she would normally turn and head for home but the horse wanted to keep going and Elizabeth had no desire to stop, so forward they went, though she slowed the mare to a trot.
It was a new trail and there was no telling what might lie ahead or where it might lead, and excited by the exploration she continued on as the path revealed itself in bends and turns. To Elizabeth's surprise the trees became less dense and she sensed a clearing ahead. Trotting forward she found herself moving into a beautiful meadow leading down to a small pond, and there, sitting on a large blanket enjoying a picnic lunch completely alone, was Andrew Carrington. She heard a whinny and looking across saw Zeus, his saddle and bridle off, happily grazing on the rich green grass.
"Hello Elizabeth. What are you doing here?" Andrew asked, jumping up, pretending to be surprised to see her.
What she didn't know was that for the past week he had been laying in wait. He had carefully packaged foods into tight containers which he pulled into a tree at night to prevent raiding from wildlife. He knew it wouldn't take her long before she'd want to go through the forest again, and he also knew that Constance, detecting Zeus's scent, would seek out her Greek God. It was only a matter of time, and when it came to the seduction of pretty young women, especially rich pretty young women, Andrew Carrington was a very patient man.
"My goodness!" she exclaimed. "How extraordinary. And what a beautiful spot," she declared, walking her mare forward. Zeus, seeing his lady love, started across to greet them.
"Careful - we don't want any bad behaviour from our horses," Andrew chuckled. "He's a lovely fellow but he is a stallion after all, and your mare is very beautiful indeed," he winked at her, and Elizabeth felt a warm flush cross her face.
Choosing not to respond to his provocative remark she slid off Constance and pulled the reins over her head. Andrew hurried toward Zeus with a rope in his hand and caught him easily, then led him away and tethered him to a tree. Elizabeth watched as he headed back and noticed he had a very powerful walk. His legs marched forward with long graceful strides, and his hair, no longer covered by his hat, was thick and curly and a rich coppery colour. He was far more handsome than she had thought.
"I'm sorry I only have one rope. I wasn't expecting anyone else," he apologized, looking directly at her, being the skilled fabricator that he was.
"Oh - no bother. I shouldn't stay," she stammered, wishing she could. The fruit and sandwiches look delicious and there were some flasks obviously carrying beverages.
"But you must!" he insisted. "It's so lovely here and I would be delighted to share it with such an enchanting young lady, spoken for or not," he smiled.
She looked around. It was quiet and still. There was not a soul to be seen and it was exceedingly pleasant. What would be the harm in having a little something to drink and quick bite to eat? Lunch was at least an hour away. And it would be nice for Constance to have a break after her long run through the trees.
Andrew studied her. It was obvious she wanted to stay. She just needed a little convincing.
"Your mare looks as if she could use a breather," he commented, moving closer. "See how her belly is moving? You don't have to join me but I think it best to remove her saddle and allow her to at least catch her breath - if only for a few minutes," he said.
"Do you think so?" she asked, staring at her mare's ribcage. She was breathing quite rapidly. "Perhaps you're right. Would you be so kind as to help me remove her saddle?"
"Of course," he replied, and expertly unbuckled and removed the saddle from the mare's back. Constance shook in appreciation and nudged Elizabeth with her nose.
"There. I'm sure she'll recover in no time," Andrew announced. "And if you take the reins like this," he said, unfastening them where they joined together, "you can twist them around each other like this and loop them through her bridle. This way she can graze without stepping on them but they're still attached. I think Zeus is far enough away that she'll be all right. If you'd like to join me on the blanket we can keep her next to us," he offered.
Elizabeth sighed. It seemed perfectly natural and she promised herself she would tell Lord Michael everything just as soon as he returned. It was all perfectly innocent.
"I'll stay just for a few minutes. Just until she catches her breath," she said, acquiescing.
"Good. I have a flask of a delicious speciality of mine. It's very refreshing on a day like this," he offered, taking her elbow as he walked her over to the blanket.
"Really? Is it like lemonade?" she asked.
"A little. You'll see," he grinned.
"I'm sure it will hit the spot," she smiled back.
Hit the spot? My dear girl, it will do that and more, he thought, very pleased his little trap had snared the elusive prize.
They settled on the blanket and Constance began munching on the delicious thick grass, paying Zeus no mind. Andrew pulled two silver cups from the basket and poured them a drink from a sizable silver canister. It was heavy on alcohol but cleverly disguised with various juices and mint.
"It's best drunk like this," he explained, and taking his goblet to his mouth, which had only a fraction of the amount he had poured for Elizabeth, swung his head back and downed it in one gulp.
"My goodness. I've never seen anyone drink in such a manner," she giggled.
"Go ahead. You'll love it. I promise," he coaxed.
"Very well," she said, and raising the silver cup to her lips threw her head back and splashed the beverage into her mouth and down her throat. It was tangy and sweet and tasted like nothing she'd ever had before, and made her smack her lips and shake her head.
"Heavens!" she exclaimed. "I - that is quite amazing."
"Here - have another. It's mostly just fruit juice," he said, a beguiling smile crossing his mouth, and once again poured himself a tiny amount and filled her goblet to the rim.
"You don't seem to be having as much," she said, noticing the disparity.
"I don't wish to be selfish," he fibbed, "and I've been drinking it since I arrived here an hour ago.
"Oh Andrew," she gushed. "Aren't you such a gentleman?"
"Here's to Constance and Zeus," he proclaimed, raising his drink.
"To Constance and Zeus," she echoed, clicking his cup, spilling some of the liquid across her hand. "Ooops," she giggled.
"Never mind," he said, "drink up."
She downed it in several gulps and shivered as the sour note invaded her tongue.
"That is the most interesting drink," she said, staring at him. "You must give me the - the - way to make it. You know, like a cake," she stammered.
What is that word? The list of things and how to put it together to...
"I'm feeling a bit strange," she mumbled. "A little dizzy."
"It's the sun. It's quite hot here. Why don't you lay back and close your eyes," he suggested. "I'm sure it will pass. You had a long gallop and you've not done that in a while."
"Hmmm. Perhaps you're right. I shall," she said. "Just for a minute."
Having had just a small breakfast of fruit and a little bread, her stomach was basically empty and the alcohol had traveled directly to her head.
Andrew watched as she laid back. It would only take a few minutes and she would be completely at his mercy. He would have his way with her and when her betrothed found out and left her, he would be there to offer his understanding and love, coming gallantly to her rescue.
He glanced around. Zeus was standing quietly, snoozing in the late morning sun, and Constance was thoroughly enjoying her grass. He munched on a sandwich as he eyed her body and let the strong drink do its work. Her breasts were full and proud and her waist tapered in quite marvellously. Her hips weren't two wide but he suspected she had a full, plump bottom. His cock was stirring and he licked his lips. Rolling up his sleeves he leaned down on an elbow and ran the fingers of his free hand across her forehead. She lifted a hand and swatted at it, thinking it was some kind of insect.
"Aren't you lovely," he crooned, leaning in to kiss her.