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Betty Jo “BJ” Mountford grew up on the west coast of South America, as her father worked for the Grace Steam Ship Line. After she graduated with honors from high school in Barbados, her parents sent to her Caracas, Venezuela, for a year, where she spent her time swimming in the local Olympic-sized swimming pool and later won the women’s 100-meter qualifier for the crawl in the 1951 South American Summer Olympics. After attending Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania for a few years, she began a real estate career. In the 1980s, she sold her office to become a full-time writer. In 1997, Mountford volunteered for the National Park Service at Portsmouth Village, the setting that would inspire her to writer her first published novel, Sea-Born Women. Over time, she studied the arrival of horses on Emerald Isle, leading her to write Bloodlines of Shackleford Banks. She and her family currently live on Emerald Isle.
Bloodlines of Shackleford Banks (2004)
Sea-born Women (2002)
PROLOGUE from Bloodlines of Shackleford Banks
Shackleford Banks, a Tuesday night in January
The chestnut stallion raised his head and stared unblinking into the night. He pawed the ground, tail lashing, as he listened to the restless shuffling of the captured herd.
Swirling sand plowed up by the hooves clouded the air. Blowing to clear his nostrils, Triton paced slowly up and down the barricade. He'd run long and fast for two days before he'd been forced into this enclosure. Even then, he hadn't been able to rest. After rounding up his harem, he had to jockey for the best position, kicking and nipping until even the smallest foal was fed.
The young bachelors, excited by the proximity of so many mares, were quick to take advantage of the slightest lapse of vigilance. Now, Triton's lead mare, Scylla, came to his side, nudging his shoulder. She would stand guard while he dozed. The stallion let his head drop, eyelids closing. His long, white lashes had just touched his cheeks when he jerked up. Danger in the form of man awakened his nose. He rolled his upper lip as Scylla pawed uneasily. In the distance, above the crashing waves, he heard the beat of small hooves. One of the foals was about. The acrid scent grew stronger. Triton's nostrils flared. This particular scent was familiar-one of his captors. Flicking his ears, he searched for the source of his unease. Yes, an elongated, two-legged form drifted by the gate. Even as he watched, Scylla's foal approached the shadow. Triton stamped a warning at the foolish youngster, but the colt paid his sire no attention. The little pony was altogether too trusting. Earlier that week, he'd discovered the joy of fingers tickling his head and neck. Eager for more, he butted against the person. A light flashed and was gone. The colt gave a frightened snort. Immediately, his dam, Scylla, raised her head and pranced toward her wayward foal. The stallion spun around, lifting a foreleg, his eyes fixed on the shadow as Scylla initiated the warning. Metal rasped.
Ears back, neck arched, nose high, Triton began a forceful, challenging trot toward the intruder. Something banged against the barricade, sending vibrations along the wire fence. The colt, resisting on stiffly planted legs, was being dragged through the gate. Thrusting his head forward, mouth open, teeth bared, Triton lashed his tail and charged with a spine-chilling scream. But it was already too late. The gate slammed shut just as the stallion crashed into the bars. The nearby horses snorted, stamping the ground to give the alarm. Bucking and kicking, the stallion whipped back and forth along the perimeter of the fence, staying as close as he could to the fast-fading scent of the foal and his abductor. Then, raising his head, Triton trumpeted. From the distance came a shrieking neigh. It cut off abruptly. A loud crash broke the eerie silence. Triton charged the fence. Time after time, he rammed it, using the force of his shoulders, then his side and his rump, but to no avail. Blood ran down his flanks. The wire fence rattled and rang but held firm. Now, the other stallions began circling and bucking, while the mares stood alert, close to their foals, adding their calls to the general uproar. But there was no answer. The foal was gone.