Jennifer Marie Stephensen was apprehensive as her husband drove up to their employer’s house. On the surface she had no reason to be. She and her husband, Jon, had worked hard and had been quite successful in training their employer’s race horses and polo ponies. They had been winning a fair amount and selling reasonably well for a new business. Now Jennifer and her husband wanted more.
They had put in their time and shown what they could do. It wasn’t for them; so much. It was for their daughter, Madison. The ebullient fourteen-year-old had been mucking the stables, galloping the race horses and trained quite a number of the polo ponies. Her husband had a good start crossing and experimenting with the breeding of the Argentinian Criollo and the Arabian Thoroughbreds into a quick-starting and stopping horse with speed and endurance. It was also a beautiful group of horses.
Madison had started cleaning the stables and feeding the horses since she was about ten. She had started riding them soon after. Her goal now was to get to ride the polo matches. She had done it in some of their training and even some exhibition games and impressed the paid assassins.
Going to Luke Santana’s house was to see if they could convince him to let Madison ride in next month’s exhibition in front of the Saudi buyer who would be in town.
Her husband’s Toyota 4-cylinder pickup pulled off of the asphalt highway midway between Basalt and Aspen. With the houses in Basalt at about a million and a half, and the houses in Aspen averaging over five million, it hardly seemed economical to buy ranch land in the canyons between them. “How can you make a profit on polo ponies on land that costs over $20,000 per acre?” she wondered.
Jenny had heard about this place from other riders who had been there, but this was her first time. She might not have been able to see it if she hadn’t heard about it before.
Luke had dammed up the lake at the top of the mountain in order to complete the construction. He had taken the face of the red granite cliffs at the bottom and carved out an area over sixty feet wide and just as high and about 3 feet back into the cliff. The first level was parking for about three cars on each side of the spiral staircase that was wound around the elevator. The floor above that was the living room on one side of the elevator and dining area on the other. The kitchen behind the elevator joined the two spaces. Above that were a series of bedrooms, game rooms, library and an exercise room. The whole space was covered with an exterior of Pilkington glass from the level above the car parking to the stone above.
When the lake above was re-diverted, it came out f a series of holes through the granite cliff in three sheets of waterfalls. You had to know where the structure was and know enough to drive through it to park your car or get into the building; either up the stairs or into the elevator.
The falling water hit a metal grating; drained through it into an underground drainage system and into the pool on the plaza in front of the house. The forty feet of space between the waterfall and the pool had large granite pavers up on spacers to let the water flow down through the pavers and from the waterfall into the pool.
Another hot springs source of water was guided in channels into the sauna adjacent to the main pool. At each end of the pool on an axis parallel to the waterfall and cliff, were two bath houses. One was for dressing and toilets. The one at the opposite end had a kitchen and food service. Jennifer was impressed.
Seated in the sauna was the towering Luke Santana with his cell phone on. Across from him were Miguel, Raul and Diego. Her husband stopped his truck on the granite pavers. When Luke saw him, he stood and closed his phone. He waved.
Now Jennifer understood her anxiety. She had only seen him before at a distance. She was much closer now. As he came out of the water, she tried not to stare. He was only about 6’-6” tall, but seemed closer to 7’-0” to her. He had a green, almost military style vest with millions of pockets and zippers. It was open and he had no shirt. His shorts were Pittsburgh Steelers football pants, cut off just above the knees. He had thong slippers. His hair was shaved along the sides, with a short dyed blond Mohawk. He held his arms outstretched, even with his shoulders in a grand gesture of “hello,” as he walked to greet them.
“Sit; sit; please.” He gestured to them as he pointed to some Adirondack chairs near the pool.
“I’m so glad to finally meet both of you.” he said as they all picked out a seat.
“I’m impressed.” Jennifer said, nervously, as she glanced around at the setting.
“I’m glad you like it. I’ll show you the house in a few minutes he said as he gestured towards one of the servants at the kitchen. He used his cell to order some drinks and snacks.
“You two have done an excellent job with the Arabians, so far. The polo ponies are coming along too.” He said.
“Thanks Mr. Santana. That’s part of why we’re here.”
“Oh? I thought you just wanted to see the house.” Luke said.
They chatted for a while. Finally, Jennifer gave her husband a look. “Get on with it.” Her expression seemed to say.
“Mr. Santana, we came her to ask for a favor; sort of’” Luke looked at him; somewhat between amusement and curiosity.
“We, ... we ... we think our daughter, Madison has worked hard for several years. We would like to see her get a chance to ride in the polo matches this summer. She is light. She knows how to ride. She has done a lot of the training and knows all of your horses. She’s a damned good rider.”
Luke looked at Jon. He looked for a long time at the foothills across the river; then over at Jennifer.
Jennifer was starting to feel a little uncomfortable. She thought maybe she shouldn’t have worn the Levi cutoffs. At least she shouldn’t have worn the pair that was cut off so short. The cutoffs worked two ways.
On one hand, in the back of her mind, her looks could always get her almost everything she ever wanted. On the other hand, it also brought her more unwanted attention from people she didn’t want it from.
It had never been said outright; but she and her daughter had begrudgingly got the idea that sex sells. When they went to the stables in their high leather lumberjack boots; short, short cutoffs, tank tops under the denim jacket and their brownish red hair in a long French braid, they got noticed and were able to get the riders and other workers to do what they wanted.
Luke thought for a while. He knew that his horses were well trained. He was getting more than a free galloper, stable worker and polo pony rider from the fourteen-year-old Madison. He was sure that that slim, trim girl riding the polo ponies was also bringing higher prices from the Arabs too. Those Arabs are not used to seeing a woman without the hijab; and some not without a veil. To see a young girl, practically naked by their standards riding a horse worth thousands, was beyond belief. Women in their country are not allowed to leave home un-escorted and seldom in a working situation. To them this was like watching a polo and porno exhibition at the same time.
But a horse trader is a horse trader. He who talks first loses. Jon and Jennifer had lost by stating their position first. Luke knew this was a good deal for him. Now he would see what kind of bargain he could get out of it. He knew that Madison could earn an unbelievable amount of money as a successful polo rider. Jennifer knew it too.
“Well, I don’t know.” He said, staring into the water. “She’s new; never been tested. Those are expensive horses and a lot of responsibility for a girl just getting into school when the summer is over.” He continued starring.
“If she were legal...” His voice trailed off. He starred openly; brazenly at Jennifer as she sat in the Adirondack.
“If she were old enough, I could fuck her for it. It would be a fair exchange. We all know that after this summer she could make lots of money if I let her ride.” He starred at Jennifer’s exposed legs.
“Perhaps if you signed some papers giving me complete authority over her...”
There it was. Jennifer covered her mouth. “Oh, no. Please Mr. Santana; anything but that.” She choked on her words. She and her husband starred at each other; hardly able to believe their ears. Jenn’s mind raced to find a solution. In a sense, he was implying he would let her ride. On the other hand, the price would be unthinkable.
Luke turned and said something to the other riders who were sitting in the sauna. It was in Spanish. They all grinned and smiled as they looked at Jennifer. Luke got up. “I’m going to get another drink. You two talk it over between yourselves. You have to be in agreement.” He finished his drink and pulled himself up out of his chair. He walked to the far end of the pool to get another drink.
Jennifer looked down into the water. She looked over at her husband. He was no help. Jenn thought about their lives. They had struggled in the horse business. Her husband had worked lots of meaningless jobs, struggling to get by as a trainer. It was a stroke of luck that Luke Santana had retired from being a professional runner. He had won an unbelievable number of gold medals as a sprinter in the Olympics. He had gone through the last few years with an unbelievable amount of endorsements. The money for the horses, land, house and staff was a drop in the bucket compared to what he had made on endorsements the last eight years.
.... There is more of this story ...