She and Duchess sat in fine leather upholstered chairs by a blazing fireplace. A stiff-jawed butler served them each a glass of cognac. Janey sipped at her drink while glancing around the room for her contenders. Greek God gathered with other god-like men, all with long hair and muscles. Valentino, Don Juan and Rico Suavez wooed themselves in the mirror with winks and pistol salutes. Guitar Guy jammed with other long-haired dudes.
Duchess stared hard at Janey. “You have a distinct disadvantage in your race.”
“Because I am a woman?”
“You have a wider class to handicap.” Duchess admired Janey’s contenders. “Since there are not as many men offering themselves up to compete for a woman, you must wager on several different classes where different techniques and strategies apply. Normally, a man bids on just one class, say Hot Chicks. He handicaps based on the characteristics and performance of a Hot Chick. For you, it’s harder. It’s like comparing apples to oranges? How do you judge between the king of jocks and a powerless god, the least seductive lover and the greatest guitar hero?
Janey eyed Dwayne among the other jocks. “Perhaps all I need to do is bet on the class. Say, I bet on the Jock class to win.”
“Do you really think it’s that easy? What do you really know about the men contending for your favor? All you see is the fantasy they are playing to you.”
“Isn’t what the race is about, illusion?”
Duchess leaned forward in her chair toward Janey. “Do you think it is fair to judge your contenders on their image?”
Janey’s interest turned to Nick, who had just entered and was obviously uncomfortable. She watched him closely, as he walked through the crowds of wagers. He boasted no winnings claim, or sappy sad story. He entered the competition a free man who recently gave up his freedom in exchange for the race. She leaned toward Duchess. “What if a man runs free without a group?”
Duchess followed Janey’s eyes directly to Nick. She gave him the once over and then quickly dismissed him. “A free spirit? He’s a stag for when you’re between races.” She turned toward Janey. “Tomorrow you will start your handicapping. Research, tests and examinations to be compiled, concluded and calculated to find your best match. Meet me tomorrow at ten a.m. sharp at the main barn.” And with that, and a quick gesture with her hand, the conversation was over. Janey rose from her seat in the clubhouse, leaving Duchess alone in the room with the men.