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Chapter 1


Rick... Rick Carling, sir!”

It was a one-sided introduction as no name was offered by the questioner in return. Rick didn’t need to ask for one though, which was just as well, as he was hardly in a position to quiz anyone given his current situation...

Poor Rick, he thought he’d come prepared but he hadn’t planned for this – to be standing naked in the freezing cold with torrential rain lashing his skin, his flesh bombarded by some particularly nasty British weather that was living up to all the hype. No amount of coaching could ever have primed Rick for something so foul – England in November simply had to be experienced, which the young American was doing to the extreme on this his first trip across the pond to the homeland of the Pilgrim Fathers. He was one of twenty-four men standing on parade, legs slightly spread, with hands behind the head, drenched and shivering as they were individually inspected by a tall foreboding figure who was sensibly dressed in protective black leather, from the hat on his head to the boots covering his toes.

So this must be Angus McCloud,’ thought Rick as he absorbed the gaze that everyone had received, taking strength from its intensity – a warming ray in the chilly vileness all around.

And indeed it was – there in front of Rick stood Big Bad Angus himself, making a rare appearance at Bears Den, the slave training stable in Kent that he owned. Five years had elapsed since he’d last inspected the candidates, having washed his hands of day to day management and installed a new man at the helm – an ex-soldier no less, one Major John Hamilton, or ‘Falcon’ as he was better known. But this year Angus had made a special effort and came down from London in the inclement conditions to see what had turned up for Boot Camp Week!

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