Eve Dayton, owner of a riding ranch, rose above her childhood past and overcame the emotional damage her boyfriend caused when he married another woman. When someone starts sabotaging her ranch, Eve is desperate to find the culprit before she loses everything. Is it a coincidence or is the return of Denton Johanson tied to the mystery?
Divorced Denton Johanson returns to his hometown to help convict the embezzling controller of the family business. When he runs into Eve, he realizes his feelings for her are still strong enough to try and win her back. His fear of horses won’t get in the way of his goal and decides the only way to be near her is to take riding lessons from her. Can he convince her that his love is real and he is not behind the mystery surrounding the ranch?
“Darn. I’m late.” Eve grabbed her mug of coffee and the clipboard with her notes for the day. “I’m never late. Ever. This is what happens when you let a man get under your skin.” She jogged across the driveway to the barn. The clients weren’t due for another half an hour, but she wanted to meet with Tom early to go over her notes once more to make sure the horses matched the riders.
Her steps slowed as she entered the barn. Tom was talking to one of the employees at the other end of the barn. Since he didn’t immediately notice her, she took her time walking through the building, making sure the tack was all in place according to horse, helmets and riding sticks hung in order of size, horses back in their stalls from the field, and no stray horse droppings or straw littered the barn floor.
As she passed the row of licenses showing their employees were qualified as riding instructors, and she and Tom owners, he turned and waved her over.
“So how did your evening go last night, sweetheart? You danced quite a bit with Denton.”
“Yeah.” She batted her eyes at her friend. “You didn’t have anything to do with it would you, honeybunch?”
Tom laughed, threw an arm around her shoulders, and gave her a hug. “Ah, busted.” He kissed her forehead. “He’s not so bad, you know, Eve. He’s made some mistakes, and I believe he sincerely regrets them. But if he does anything to hurt you again, he’ll find himself lying in a pile of manure, face first.”
Eve grimaced at the image. “Well, I hate to say you’re right, but I did have a good time. I forgot how easy it is to talk to him. Besides, he can’t hurt me if I don’t let him.” She slid the clipboard from under her arm and started flipping through pages. “That doesn’t mean I’m still not mad at him. It’s going to take more than a few dances to get me into his good graces.”
“Give him a run for his money?”
“Yeah,” she muttered, glancing at her watch. “Now, let’s compare notes before our subjects arrive.”
For the next few minutes they walked companionably through the barn looking at stock, comparing horse sizes, and temperaments to clients. The stable of twenty-five horses ranged from duns to piebalds to grays and Appaloosas and included a few ponies for younger riders. Eve loved them all.
“I’ll take the slowest, laziest one with the shortest legs,” Denton said, interrupting Eve and Tom’s decision to pasture a smaller horse needing to be re-shod.
Eve nearly dropped the clipboard at the sound of Denton’s deep voice as she locked the stall door and tacked a note to the front for her staff. Keeping her back to him, she didn’t hide a smile at his nervous tone. By the time she faced him, the smile disappeared, but not the heat that had risen to her face.
“Mornin’, Dent,” Tom said, stepping over to the next stall. “I think old Della here will do fine for you.” He ran a hand down the bay’s forelock, over the blaze markings to her nose and slipped a sugar cube into her mouth. “Eve’s helped so many people learn to ride she’d teach me a few things, and I taught her to ride.”
Denton let out a breath of air and took a few steps closer to the stall. “Good to know.”
“Don’t be misled, Dent,” Eve said, following Tom’s hands down the horse’s face. “Della may be getting on in years, but she’s a horse and horses can pull a few tricks on the unwary.” Denton’s Adam’s apple slipped up and down as he swallowed a gulp. She pressed the clipboard to her chest. “Don’t worry, since I’ll be training you, I won’t let anything happen.”
“To me or the horse?” he asked.
“Good question,” Eve answered over her shoulder as she sauntered away from the men.
Denton raked his fingers through his hair and suppressed a shudder.
“Scared you, didn’t she?”
“And you’re enjoying it, aren’t you?”
“Don’t worry, boy. She’s never let a customer get hurt. Yet.”
Denton breathed a sigh of relief. He wouldn’t get hurt, not physically, anyway, he thought. His emotions were another matter. His heart tripped a little faster as he watched her walk through the barn.
The rest of the group began entering the building. Amazing how, in such a short time, a person learned to recognize someone, even by their black silhouette against the bright sun-lit entrance to the barn. The unmistakable buxom figure of Jackie was outlined in the door.
His breath left him and he quickly searched for a place to hide. After her seduction attempts at the dance, she was the last person he wanted to encounter. He still felt her body pressed against his, his arm muscles even a little sore from trying to stop her from performing the vertical bedroom tango publicly. The next woman to use his body in any way would be Eve, whether she knew it or not.
So desperate to be out of Jackie’s sight, he contemplated leaping over the gate into his horse’s stall and hiding behind her rump, then grabbing a shovel to start mucking out manure or take a hoof pick and clean out her hoofs. Before he could consider the wisdom of doing any of those things, Jackie spotted him.
He groaned. Everyone gathering at the end of the barn turned as she shrilled out his name. He moved toward her. If he moved fast enough, he’d get to the others and mingle, be able to hide among his compatriots, then shove her off on some other, more willing, male in the group.
Soul Mate Publishing: http://www.soulmatepublishing.com/riding-for-love/
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As a child, Tina always had stories floating around in her head, but had no idea those stories could be put down in book form. One day her brother (yes, her brother) introduced her to Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Flame and the Flower. Tina was hooked and a love of reading and eventually writing romance began. She is also a non-fiction writer with six history books in print. She also has two children's books that were recently released.
Tina has been married for over forty years and lives in Wisconsin. After careers in accounting and teaching (not necessarily at the same time), she found her career in writing is what fulfills her the most. When not writing, she loves camping, hiking, photography, reading and playing with her five grandchildren.
She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America.
Facebook: Tina Susedik, Author