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  • Writer's pictureLinda Shantz

Retro Good Things Come!

I had some fun with my last author newsletter, sharing a very old excerpt from my novel, Good Things Come. Embarrassing? Sure. But I've never been above embarrassing myself, and I though it might be fun for readers!

This year's Kentucky Derby was a great story, I think, when racing very much needed one. It always makes me laugh when what happens in real life reflects little things I've included in my books. Rich Strike's antics with the outrider after the race made Chique's seem tame, though!

His connections' decision to skip the Preakness reminded me of GTC *before* I tore it apart and rewrote it. My old version was set in the 80s and was a bit too Black Stallion with horses that could never lose. Oh well! The things we write when we're kids, right? But here's another little clip after my magical version of Chique wins the Derby (yes, yes she did!).

The air was cool when she stepped out into what remained of the night, walking across the parking lot to the RX-7. She started when she noticed the figure by her car and stopped suddenly, but laughed, breathing again, when the voice was familiar.


“Miller, what are you doing? I didn’t expect to see you for a while.”

She walked up and leaned on the hood beside him. He was wearing a blue baseball cap pulled down over his eyes, and a navy Triple Stripe jacket over his sweatshirt. Other than appearing a little tired, she didn’t think he looked too bad – considering he’d probably managed the same amount of sleep as her, and had a lot more to drink.

“Well, I knew you wouldn’t be able to sleep so I thought I’d keep you company.”

“Oh, really.”

He smiled, looking just a little sheepish. “I have no car.”

She unlocked the passenger door for him. “Guess we’d better go find it.”

They headed back towards the restaurant. “So how are you doing this morning, anyway?”

Pete looked over as she drove. “I had the most incredible dream. I was riding Chique in the Kentucky Derby, and she win for fun.” He was grinning in the darkness, and Lise laughed at his use of racetrack slang. “And you were in it, and you were wearing a hat.”

The hangover apparently hadn’t hit him yet, and Lise found herself grateful for his high spirits because it prolonged the feeling for her as well. “Sounds like my kind of dream. Except for the hat. That would never happen.”

She dropped him off at the Mustang, and he followed her to the tack. When they walked on the shed Chique nickered in greeting, tossing her head as she stood in the doorway.

“Hey, superstar.” Lise stroked the black cheek and started to take down the haynet.

Pete came up behind her and put a hand on either side of the filly’s muzzle, kissing the soft skin between her nostrils. Chique blew back in his face and pushed up the peak of his hat, then dropped her head to his chest, nuzzling.

“Oh no, no carrots?” Lise said. “How are you going to explain that to her?”

“Yeah, I know filly. She’s right.” He found a peppermint in the pocket of his jacket and Chique accepted that instead.

He helped pull out and clean the feed tubs and water buckets, and started walking the black filly. Lise was sure none of the other jocks that had ridden the Derby were on the end of a shank this morning, but here was the winning rider with his partner. The papers should get a shot of that.

Jeanne came in to find both fillies walked and back in their stalls, Pete and Lise seated outside on a couple of overturned buckets.

“Okay, did you two come right over here after you left last night, or what?” Jeanne walked up to them with her hands on her hips. “I sure didn’t expect to see you yet!” She tapped Pete’s bucket lightly with her toe.

“How long before they’re here?” Pete said, looking over his shoulder.

Lise leaned forward with her arms resting on her thighs, glancing at her watch and frowning. “Oh, any time I’d say.”

“Know what you’re going to tell them?”

Lise knew this time she wouldn’t be able to pass off the responsibility of talking to the press to Pete. “You’d think they could give it a couple days, wouldn’t you?” She sighed. “What do you think, Pete?”

“Okay…I don’t believe I’m going to say this. This has been amazing. Unbelievable. Completely unexpected turn of events. And I think we both know she’d be tough to beat in the Preakness. But the Triple Crown was never part of the plan, I know that. And the Belmont, well, that would be asking a lot, and we’ve already asked a lot of this filly so far in her short career. The Canadian racing fans deserve to have their Derby winner back for the Plate. That’s really where she’s been headed all along. So take her home. We’ve got eight weeks till the Plate.”

Lise smiled, not sure if she was surprised or not by his insight. She watched his face. “You were confident about the Derby, Pete. Wouldn’t you be disappointed about heading home now?”

He shrugged. “Yeah, of course. I think she’d romp in the Preakness. But it would be a lot harder to beg off after that than now.”

Jeanne was shaking her head. “You two make a great pair. You’re both crazy.”

“You think she could win the Belmont, Jeanne?” Lise looked up at her.

“I don’t know, but why wouldn’t you want to try? I mean, if it’s the Triple Crown or the Queen’s Plate, sorry, but I’d want to take my chances with the Belmont.”

“You’ve been living in the States too long,” Pete grinned.

“And you’re altogether too sentimental.”

“When’s the last time the Derby winner didn’t go to Baltimore?” Lise said.

“I’m sure they’ll tell you.”

Jeanne nodded in the direction of the road and both Pete and Lise turned to see the end of their peace and quiet approaching.

“Okay, Jeanne, throw a shank on her. The least we can do is give them a photo op.”


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