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A New Chapter

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Aaron is sitting at his desk looking at the computer screen, biting his lip as reads the list of names that Ren had sent him a few minutes before. He looks to the side when a cup of coffee is placed on the desk by Jeremy who tells him that Robert had asked him to bring him the coffee. Aaron smiles and thanks Jeremy who smiles in return.

Aaron returns to the list, and starts thinking about the day before. He and Robert had gone to the bank early in the day to open new accounts for Aaron and for his business. While they were there Robert had the money for the investiment tranfered into the new account and had secretly transfered money into Aaron's account.
After the bank they went to the lawyers where they read the contracts that had been asked for. Aaron signed the documents, and they were soon sent to Japan and Portugal. They informed Aaron that the clients would recieve them in the morning.

When they returned home, Robert helped Aaron open the digital part of the business, like the email accounts. Robert suggested that Aaron should get a PA, so that he would be able to concentrate more on the horses which he liked to do.

After lunch they had there appointment for register, which both were thankful that it was sooner rather than later, because both wanted to be married as soon as they could.

They had had a very busy day, but before Aaron left the office he sent an email to Ren with details of how to get in touch with him and that he would be recieving the contract in the morning.

Now Aaron was reading the list which had a note that the contract had been recieved and had been signed infront of Mrs Watanabe who was overjoyed.

Just as Aaron was about to do some research on the names that had been sent to him, his phone.

'Hello?'

'Yes, hello Aaron, it's Ren, how is everything?'

'Everything is great and you and your family?', he replied smiling

'All good, listen i'm phoning you because I've just recieved a call from a friend of mine in Austria, that needs you. I'll explain, a very important and powerful man has bought Lippizan, and the one that he chose for his daughter, has become difficult and very agressive, recently. The man is threatening to take the horse by force and have it put down and ruin the reputation of the stud farm. I told him that I know someone that might help, so now I'm calling you. Could you go see the horse?'

'Um, when would I need to be there?' asks Aaron.

'Today or tomorrow morning.' answers Ren.

'Ok, I need the details of where I need to go and who I need to talk to when I get there.'

'Oh, that's great, thank you. I'll send the details right away and I'll call him to let him know.' says Ren smiling, hoping Aaron can do with the troubled horse what he did with Snow.

After a few minutes of talking with Ren he gets an email with the details he had asked for. When he has finished reading it he leaves the office to go look for Robert who had told him that he was going to talk with Andy.

An hour before, Robert was walking towards Andy who was playing with his kids. Everyone looked so happy, but he needed to talk with Andy so when he reached them he asked Andy to join him on a walk.

'I'm sorry I'm interrupting you guys, but I need to know more so I can make a decision.' says Robert.

'What do need to know more about, I don't understand.' replies Andy a bit confused.

'Right, sorry, um, I want to know a more, if you can tell me, what happened when I was sent away, with Sarah I mean.'

'Oh um, ok... well the day you were sent away, was when everything started to wrong at home. When you didn't show up for dinner, Sarah started to worry while Jack just sat reading the paper. After a while she asked Jack, why he was not worried. He didn't even answer her. She told me and Vic, to go to bed and then she left the house to look for you. I woke up when she returned home that night, it was 3am. She kept on looking for everyday for weeks. She also had major rows with Jack everytime they were in the same room. Eventually she left the farm and rented a room in the village, in Edna's house, I think, and she stayed there until Vic was 18, then she left the village.'

'So, do you think that if I look for her she would be happy to see me?' Robert unsure. even though she did look for him.

Andy smiles, 'are you kidding, I think she would be happy. Let's be honest. you had the best relationship with her out of the three of us. Her relationship with Vic, well Vic ruined that, by always believing Jack and taking his side. And me well, she did take care of me, and loved me too, but with you it was different, and then when you dissapeared, she was wrecked with worry and fear. She probably thinks that you're dead or something almost as bad.'

' What I don't understand is this thing with Vic. I asked Aaron about her and he told me, that she is exremely bosy and nosy, that the best thing is to keep her at a distance. But that just doesn't seem to be enough of a reason for Sarah to move away from her, there must be more to it, surely.' Robert says frowning.

'I don't know what else might have gone on between Sarah, Vic and Jack, but Aaron was right, she is nosy and is extremly bosy. Why do you think I stayed with Moira and Cain when I left Katie?, she would have bulldozed over everything, wanting it all her way. She never came to see if I was ok or anything. Katie and Jack probably told her some story, blaming me.'

'But what if you talk to her? Does she not consider you her brother? You've lived around her most of her life.'

'Honestly, I'm her brother when it suits her. She can be very cold sometimes, and maybe it's because I was adopted by Jack, you did know that I hope?...., ok, well maybe because of that she doesn't see me as her brother, I don't really know. She was really glad to see you in the hospital, but she was also very high on sedatives, so don't really know what her real reaction would be with you.'

'I don't know, I mean she is my sister, but everything that I have heard, I don't know if I could ever have a relationship with her. You know we message each other once in a blue moon, but she never told she was married or that you have kids.... I think I will try and find Sarah, she was always honest with me and I'd also like to see her. With Vic I'll see, I'm not sure yet...'

Just as Andy is about to say something, Robert sees Aaron walking in there direction with a serious look.

'Aaron, what is it?' Robert asks, a little concerned at how serious Aaron is.

'I need to talk to you. Sorry to interrupt your conversation.'

'No, it's okay, we can continue later, right Andy?'

'Yeah, don't worry about it. It seems like it's something important, I'll leave you two to talk.' Andy says then starts walking back to the kids.

'Um, Ren just phoned me and he asked me to go see a troubled horse, that the owner is threatening to put down, I said I would go. I have to go to Austria, today. But I need some guidance on how to get there, by plane or train and where I should stay, you know things like that. You have a lot of experience with things like that and it's something I've never really done before, so can you help me? Aaron asks biting his bottom lip.

Robert smiles and holds Aaron face in his hands, 'yes ofcourse I'll help you. Come on let's go sort this out for you.' He removes his hands from Aaron's face and takes his hand as they start to walk back to the house.

When they are sitting in the office, making the arrangements for Aaron, Robert asks, 'would you like me to come with you?'

'Um, I'd love you to come with me, but I'd also like to try going this time on my own, as a challenge to myself. The list Ren sent me of possible clients are mostly overseas and you won't always be able to go with me cause you have you own business to run, so I want to try. But I promise I will call you straight away if I can't handle it.'

'Aaron, you don't need to be nervous, I admire the fact that you want to do your first time abroad on your own, but I know how good you are and I believe in you. It will go great, but if you need anything, anything at all, just call me, ok. Oh god, we've never been apart this long since you came here, if I can't handle it, being away from you for so long, I'll just go to you....'

Aaron smiles, feeling better from Robert encouragement, 'I love you, you know that, very much, and I'll be home tomorrow, I hope...'

'What do mean you hope? Aaron?...' Robert asks with wide eyes looking ar Aaron.

'Well, I don't know what I'm going to find. I might not even be able to do anything with this horse, but I will only know when I see him and get more details what has been going on. If I need to stay longer, then I must, I don't want the horse to be killed. But I will let you know, ok.' Aaron says brushing his finger against Robert's neck then leaning down and giving him a kiss.

A half-hour later Robert was driving Aaron to the airport, holding his hand as he did so. When they arrived, Robert took the bag in one hand and Aaron's hand in the other. Robert spent the time waiting for Aaron to go, holding him and whispering into his ear, making Aaron blush as people walked past them. When time came for Aaron to go, Robert kissed him passionately, holding him as tight as he could.

Robert drove home feeling proud of Aaron but lonely hoping that Aaron would not need to stay in Austria for too many days. When he arrives home, he sits in his car and the only thing he wants to do he go to the airport and follow Aaron, but he realises that Aaron was right in needing to do this by himself. He takes a deep breath and leaves the car. As soon as he walks through the door Jack and Sarah are hugging his legs, making him smile. He starts walking, dragging the children with him, making them all laugh.

After the kids finally let him go after some more hugs, he goes to the office and makes a call.

'Hello Mike, I need you to find someone for me. Her name was Sarah Sugden. I don't know what her last name is now.'

'Ok, I was just about to call you actually, remember that guy that was looking for Aaron that I said was just waiting, well he is not waiting anymore. Did Aaron do anything with official documents?'

'Oh, um, we had an appointment with the register to get married. Is he in any danger, because he is not in the country at the moment.' Robert starting to get worried.

'Oh, no I don't think he is, but I'm keeping an eye on this guy. Where did Aaron go?'

'He went to Austria on business.'

'Ok, don't worry, if this guy get's a flight I'll get in touch with a contact I have in Austria...wait hold on a sec....ok, so he is actually going West and he is not going to any airport, but like I said I'm keeping an eye on him. As for your request, I'll get back to you as soon as I have anything.'

'Thank you, Mike, keep me informed of everything.'

Robert ends the call and he almost starts to call Aaron, but then he decides not to. He will let him get settled first.

 

When Aaron is walking out of the arrivals, he sees a man with a holding sign with his name in big black letters. He know's it not Robert's doing because he saw everything he did while booking everything.

He reaches the man and says he is the man he is waiting for. The man nods and says, 'Welcome to Austria, my name is Lukas and I will be your driver for the duration of your stay in Austria,' he then takes Aaron's bag and walks to the car.

When leaves the terminal, he looks around to, not paying attention, until he sees the driver opening the door of the car for him. He stops and looks at the car, his eyes start to widen, infront of him is a Rolls Royce, he doesn't know the model, except it's modern and he can tell it's a Rolls Royce because he can see the mascot on the front of the car. He starts to move forward and asks Lukas if he is sure that this is his ride. Lukas nods but doesn't say anything else.

Aaron gets into the car and he feels sad that Robert is not with him to share it with and he also feels a bit uncomfortable, the car is even more luxurious than the Bentley Robert got for them when they went to Leeds. Aaron decides to call Robert and ask him if he got the car for him.

'Hello, Robert '

'Aaron?, What... is everything ok? Robert asks worried why Aaron is calling him so soon.

'Yes everything is fine. Listen, did you rent a car for me here in Austria?'

'No, the riding school said they would take care of it. Why, are you left stranded at the airport?'

'No, I'm already on my way to the riding school. I'm just phoning because of the car I'm in.'

'Oh, is it a shit car?, Aaron are you on the phone while you are driving? Please tell you're not.'

'No, no, I'm not driving, the driver is. He was waiting with a sign with my name and the car, well it's a Rolls Royce.'

'What? Are you sure?' Robert asks confused.

'Yes I'm sure, wait let me ask what model it is....ok, Lukas the driver says it's a Phantom VIII.'

'Oh wow, um, that car was not sent by the riding school, it must have been the owner of the horse. Did Ren tell you who it was?'

'No, just that he was a powerful man that bought the horse for his daughter.'

'Ok, well are you enjoying you ride?'

'Well, I'm sad I'm not sharing it with you. I think you would like it. I miss you.'

'I miss you more, and I love you even more. Everything is ok then?, the flight was ok?'

'Yeah, it was, everything is fine, promise.' Aaron replies smiling.

'Ok well, I have to go Jeremy says I have a call to take, but you be safe, I love you.'

'I love you more.' Aaron ends the call and puts the phone on his lap as he looks outside his window seeing the unfamiliar view, wondering who this client is.

 

Robert looks at Jeremy, and takes the phone.

'Hello?'

'Yes it's Mike, I've found Sarah Connolly, she did change her name after the divorce, it's her mother's maiden name. She is living in Ware, thats 8 miles from where you live. She owns a book shop on high street and she never remarried.'

'Oh.... are you serious? 8 miles? this has to be a joke, do you know if she has always lived there?'

'From what I found out she has been there for some years. But that is all I found out in the small amount of time since you phoned earlier. If you want me to do a full research on her, it will take some time.'

'Um no, it's fine, you don't need to do any more, um thanks.'

Robert sits, stunned, that she has been so close the whole time he has lived here. He takes a moment to think what he is going to do. He decides not to say anything to Andy, yet, and he will wait for Aaron to return until he does anything else.

 

Aaron arrives at his destination, having asked Lukas to drive there instead of the hotel, and it's not what he had expected, it's an enormous palace. Lukas stops the car and idenfies himself to the security, which is everywhere, let them through.

When the car stops again Lukas opens the door for Aaron and when he leaves the car, he sees a lot of security close to the car, he is met by a man who he discovers is the Ren's friends and next to him is a young woman who when she walks forward, everyone steps aside and she introduces herself as Ayesha.

Aaron asks about the horse and instead of the man talking it's Ayesha.

'His name is Mercury, he's 4 years old. My father bought him for me, and everything was fine until a few days ago.'

'Ok, and what changed a few days ago?'

'My father arrived with a new trainer and some riders.'

'Right, but who was riding him before, the new trainer arrived?'

'I was, but when the new trainer arrived, my father said I wasn't allowed to be present when he trained Mercury.'

'Does the trainer use, crops or whips anything like that?'

Ayesha nods, 'he uses a crop.'

'Ok', Aaron then turns to the man, 'I need somewhere to change, where can I do that?'

The man takes Aaron to a changing room, where he dresses new clothes, all in black that Robert bought for him as a gift, when they went the day before to London to open his accounts. When he opens the door of the changing room, Ren's friend is waiting for him and takes him to the riding hall.

When they reach the door Aaron sees Mercury, and he looks very agitated. Aaron sees a man standing by the entrance with a crop in his hand, who he realises is the trainer. Aaron turns to Ayesha who is behind him and he signals with his head for her to come closer, when she does Aaron whispers asking if the man infront of them is the trainer and she nods.

Aaron approaches the entrance and the trainer turns to looks to look at him with a frown. The frown only deepens when he sees that Aaron is dressed to ride and then the man looks back to Ayesha and get's confirmation.

As Aaron is about to enter the trainer tries to hand the crop to him, but he just says, 'no' and walks in and closes the door. Mercury continues to be very agitated. Aaron starts to approach him very slowly, there is no one else around except two men sitting in the box on the first level of the hall, which is a good thing because he doesn't know how agressive or dangerous Mercury is and he needs to concentrate.

Aaron is nearly in the middle of the hall when Mercury looks in his direction. When Mercury starts to gallop at full speed to him Aaron bows his head and puts his arms to the side.

Mercury stops abrupty right infront of him and breathes heavily onto Aaron, he then turns and gallops away, when he has reached the far end, he does the same as before and gallops towards Aaron, only to stop again. Mercury does this for an hour, testing Aaron. Then he does it one more time but this time he doesn't stop almost on top of Aaron, he stops close by but then he walks up to Aaron.

Aaron lifts his hand as he did with Snow, slowly he approaches it to Mercury's neck, when suddenly there is a loud bang, startling the horse and Aaron. Mercury rides away, Aaron turns and walks in the direction of the door. When he opens it, the trainer is smiling, Ayesha approaches Aaron and says,

'It was him, he hit the glass on the door with his crop.'

Aaron turns to the man with a frown and says lowly, 'leave, now before I break the crop on your face.'

The trainers eyes widen, he goes to look at Ayesha and Aaron says, 'don't look at her, I'm only going to say it one more time, leave.'

The trainer quickly turns and leaves. Aaron then turns to Ayesha with his normal gentle voice, 'I might need you to come inside, when I hold out my hand in your direction come to me and stand behind me, ok?'

'What if Mercury hurts me?'

'Have you ever hurt him?'

'No, never,'

'Well, then you have nothing to fear.' He says and then smiles before he goes into the riding hall.

This time Mercury is aware of Aaron walking to the center of the hall and before he reaches it Mercury starts to trot towards Aaron. This time Aaron does not bow his head he looks straight at Mercury.

When Mercury reaches Aaron, he seems to be calmer, so Aaron starts to talk to him and lifts his hand and strokes Mercury's neck, who then bows his head lower to Aaron and he let's him rub his forehead.

Aaron then walks around Mercury always touching him, letting him know where Aaron is until Aaron has returned to the front of him.

Aaron slowly starts to remove all the gear on Mercury until he has nothing on him, then Aaron moves to his side and Mercury lowers his head and Aaron mounts him, leaning forward, always talking. Aaron sits up Mercury starts to walk, then he starts to trot and after a bit he starts to speed up but soon slows down and stops.

He leans forward again, strokes his neck as he is talking, when sits up Mercury starts to perform as he was trained to, in Dressage, while Aaron keeps his hands on his thighs. After a while Mercury stops, Aaron dismounts and walks to the front of him smiling and patting his neck.

Aaron leans his head against Mercury's forehead, always talking, then he leans back, contnuing to stroke his neck as Mercury straightens, Aaron holds out his hand in Ayesha's direction, she soon enters the hall and walks in their direction with a smile. She stops behind Aaron as he had asked her to do.

Aaron then takes a small step to the side holding his hand out for Ayesha to take it, which she does, and he places it on Mercury's forehead.

He asks Ayesha if she wants to ride Mercury, she nods with a smile, but then asks 'what about the gear, I've never riden a horse without gear.'

'Try without the gear, feel Mercury as you ride together without anything between you two, I will be close by, I won't leave you, I promise.'

Ayesha nods and slowly approaches Mercury's side, nocticing that Aaron is whispering to him. He then stops and helps her mount the horse. He smiles to Ayesha and tells her to try. He then takes a step back and for the first time he sees the two men in the box are now standing and when he looks to the door he can see a lot of people there. He turns back to Ayesha and Mercury who are calm as the trot around the hall.

After a bit, Mercury stops by Aaron and he rubs his forehead then Aaron asks Ayesha to dismount for them to put the gear back onto Mercury. They do so gently and when Mercury has all his gear, Aaron tells Ayesha to mount him again, which she does.

But as she and Mercury start to move Aaron can see he is becoming tense, so Aaron moves forward to them and tells her not to hold so tight because it is making the horse uncomfortable and for her to relax a little and trust Mercury. She nods and does what Aaron has told her to do.

This time when Mercuy starts to move he is more relaxed but very graceful as he does the routine.

When the routine is over, the two men in the box clap and Mercury walks up to Aaron who has a big smile. Ayesha who also has a big smile, dismounts.

'That was amazing, he has never been so good. He didn't make one mistake. I don't know how to thank you, you saved him.' She then hugs Aaron and when she lets go she is emotional. Aaron just stays silent while smiling.

Ren's friend walks into the hall smiling, followed by the two men from the box, who are followed by security, but that stay by the door.

Ayesha introduces her father not by his name just as 'my father' and introduces the other man as The President of Austria. Aaron's eyes widen, stunned, he shakes both mens hands.

One of the security guards walks up to the President and whispers something to him which makes him turn to everyone and excuse himself. Ayesha's father then asks Aaron what he did and how. He also asks why Aaron didn't use anything.

Aaron explains that he never uses crops or whips and that he thinks that Mercury was the way he was because of the trainer and as soon as Aaron asked him to leave after hitting the door with the crop, the horse began to relax.

Ayesha confirms what Aaron is saying and adds that the trainer likes to use the crop a lot and sometimes the whip, on all the horses. Her father frowns, not having known any of what he has just heard. But tells his daughter it won't happen again.

He turns to Aaron, 'Do you only work with horses that compete in Dressage?'

'No, I've worked with different types of horses, including those that do not compete.'

'Then I'd like for you to work with my horses. I have horses in the UK, Ireland, Japan, Australia, the U.S.A, France and in the Middle East.'

'Um, well, that's a lot of horses, I cannot be exclusive to you as I have other clients as well. But if you have any horse with an issue, doesn't have to be like Mercury, then you can contact me and I'll do everything I can to help the horse. If that is ok with you, then I can send you a contract.' says Aaron unsure if he is doing this the right way.

'No that sounds very good, but I can get a contract in 5 minutes.' Before Aaron can reply the man is flicking his fingers and a man is running on their direction.

When the man reaches them he bows his head then listens to what Ayesha's father is saying, which Aaron doesn't understand because he's never heard the language before. The man then takes papers out of his brief case and hands them to Ayesha's father who turns to Aaron with a smile,

'Here is the contract, it doesn't have any figures on it yet, but send to your lawyer to check it and then before we sign, I'll add the numbers.' He then turns to Ren's friend and says, 'help this gentleman do what he needs to do so we can sign the contract and once it is done guide Mr Aaron to me.' After that he smiles to Aaron, he then turns and leaves.

Aaron is a lost at what is going on, how this man is commanding most of the people around him. Ren's friend calls for Aaron to follow him.

They are soon walking into an office, where Aaron phones his lawyer as the contract is being scanned and emailed and asks him to check it.

Five minutes later he phones back to Aaron and tells him that everything seems to be in order, being a very simple, generic contract and he just needs to pay attention to the dates and the figures before he signs.

Aaron is then being taken to the man and he is soon in a conference room in the palace where Ayesha, her father and his lawyer are. Everyone stands up smiling. Ayesha's father approaches and asks for the contract, he then fills the details that were missing and signs it before handing it to Aaron.

He starts to read the document, he sees it's for 1 year and then his eyes widen when reads the amount of money, he looks at everyone and then back to the paper.

He takes a few seconds and then signs it. The laywer takes the document, takes a copy of it, hands the original to Aaron. While that was being done, Ayesha's father wrote the cheque, then hands it to Aaron.

He cant't believe he has that amount in his hand. They all say their goodbyes to Aaron leaving him alone in the giant room. After a while Aaron folds the cheque, looks around to see if anyone is looking and puts it in his underwear.

He then remembers that he has his phone with him and he takes a few photos of the room he is in. Before he leaves, he phones Jeremy, asking if he is alone, once that is confirmed, he tells him about his plan.

After the phone call, Aaron leaves the room and finds Ren's friend waiting for him. As they walking back to the change room, he thanks Aaron for everything that he has done.

Aaron is soon changed and walking out of the palace, he takes his phone and takes a photo of the building to show Robert, adding to the other photo's he took of the Winter Riding School arena, where he was with Mercury, and other things he has seen. He then sees the car, the Rolls Royce and takes a few photos of the car.

Lukas smiles as he approaches and opens the door for him. During the drive to the airport, Aaron asks Lukas what does Ayeshas father do. When he gets the reply he sits shocked the rest of the ride and only snaps out of it when the car stops and Lukas opens his door. Before he goes inside to check in he thanks Lukas and shakes his hand.

The airplane lands and Aaron is soon walking out of the terminal finding Jeremy waiting for him with a smile. When he gets in the car he asks, 'does Robert know that I'm coming home?'

'No Sir, he does not, everything has been done as you asked, so he is unaware of your arrival.'

Aaron smiles, 'good, thank you Jeremy, I hope he likes the surprise.' Himself unaware that Robert has news of his own and not just about finding Sarah.