What do books and Halloween have in common? They allow us to be someone else. We can step outside our own world and enter an entirely different one of our choosing.
In Protecting Kate former Miss Kentucky, Kate MacDonald has spent the majority of her life making others happy. In essence, she’s lived in a world that’s not her own. She gets a wakeup call and decides to take control of her life and her world. But then trouble comes knocking. Enter Trent Dawson and the men of Dark Horse Inc.
Trent is the kind of man whose idea of a vacation is to enjoy a cold beer in the shade. But when trouble shows? He’s the first to step in. Dangerous, loyal and sexy as sin, that’s Dark Horse Inc.
He’d been up since four a.m. and gone nonstop since. He wanted nothing more than a shower and his bed, but neither would do him any good until he checked on Molly one last time. When he approached the barn’s corner and heard the low sound of unfamiliar voices, he stopped. These weren’t his stables, but the hushed tones were all wrong nonetheless.
“Trust me, she’ll be out here with the animals. She never could get of enough of them. Telling her I had an allergy was the only way I kept her from filling the house with mutts and alley cats. If you pursue her, you may want to develop the same allergy.”
“I don’t have time for a wild goose chase. What makes you think she’ll cooperate if you haven’t spoken to each other in months?”
“She’s a doormat and a do-gooder down to her very core. She won’t be happy about seeing me, but even if the sight of me makes her sick, she won’t want to be rude to you. Politeness is in her DNA.”
“I need her… cooperation. I looked over your photos. I need her. No one else will do.” There was an odd, flat tone to the man’s words that made Trent’s senses go on alert.
“You’ll have it. Remember, she’s a doormat and charity is the way to her heart.” Their voices dimmed and Trent guessed they’d probably entered the stable.
Assholes, the both of them. But who did they expect to find in the stable? As far as he knew, there weren’t any female stable hands in the Mitchell’s employ. No matter, he’d had enough. They could take their shit somewhere else.
He’d get rid of the trouble, say goodbye to Molly, then the Mitchells, grab a bite to eat and head home to end his long day. That’s it.
He rounded the corner and stopped in the barn’s open doors.
Several things hit him at once.
A stunning brunette with hair halfway to her ass stood near Molly’s stall in a dress that displayed a body capable of making grown men cry. The boots, though a smart choice for the barn, were the last thing he’d ever expect to see on such a beautiful woman. Her classical good looks spelled trophy wife.
The slightly taller man in a blue button-up and city shoes had moved into her personal space and, though he seemed to know her well, the look on her face made it clear she was anything but happy to see him.
The second, slightly older man stood back a bit and watched with interest. He’d honed in on the brunette, fixated to a point that left Trent doubting a bomb blast could break his focus. Like the first man, he wore expensive shoes that shouted boardroom or…shit—politician.
Maybe he couldn’t toss the two pricks out with the trash, but he could put an end to their harassment.
“Preston, I divorced you, remember? Please leave me alone.” Her voice reminded him of honeyed bourbon. The warm, smooth tones whispered through him, making every cell take notice and reach for more.
“Kate, this will only take a minute of your time. We have a proposition for you…” The first man stepped even closer before he reached out to grasp her arm. She shrank back, pressed against the stall door. When Trent saw the golden tan of her arm turn white beneath the man’s brutal grip, he saw red.
She winced and tried to yank her arm free, but the man held fast. “I just need you to listen to me. Damn you, always so stubborn,” the man said through gritted teeth, as if ready to lose his temper.
Trent had heard and seen enough.
“Kate? There you are. I’m sorry I was late.” He slid in beside her and asshole number one immediately released her arm and stepped back. Figured. Trent couldn’t think of much worse than a coward who’d lay a hand on a woman, but didn’t have the balls to stand up to another man.
“Can I help you? I promised to introduce my…Kate… to pretty little Molly, here.” Trent’s smile filled with pure menace and let the men wonder about his relationship with the brunette. He turned his back to the men, dismissing them.
He glanced at her face to verify that she understood and would cooperate. Light brown eyes met his full of equal parts shock, wariness and relief. He could work with that. Once the tension in her heart-shaped face eased, her beauty jabbed him in the gut. Something deep and primal took root, an unbreakable leash holding him fast to his course.
Heaven help the man who tried to sway him.
“Where’d you find the boots? I didn’t even think about your shoes when I made my offer.” He clicked at Molly, and she cautiously came to stand in the middle of the stall. Another strike against the two idiots. They’d made one of his horses nervous. Molly might belong to the Mitchells, but she’d always be one of his animals.
“They’re Carol’s barn boots. I didn’t think she’d mind.” Her voice knocked him in his chest and slid down low beneath his belt.
“Smart girl. A man’s gotta love a lady who knows her way around a farm.” He clicked again and murmured to his girl. He loosely caged his arms around the two legged female and did his best to focus on the four legged one. “Come see Kate. You’ll like her. Ignore those two suits. They’re leaving.” Molly came forward and allowed Kate to rub a gentle caress over her nose.
He turned his head back to the men and didn’t bother to hide the fury from his expression. He hoped they understood they weren’t welcome and, if not for the females, he wouldn’t let them off with a verbal warning. “Gentlemen, we’ll see you later, correct?”
***CLOSED***For the Hop. I have two prizes. For one winner, anywhere, I will gift a ten dollar gift card to the ebook retailer of the winner’s choice. To another winner in the United States, I will give away one print copy of Protecting Kate, with a canvas tote and swag. Both will be chosen randomly. To enter…just tell me if you are dressing up for Halloween and if so, what are you going as? I’ll announce my winners November 1. Happy Halloween!—- I just sent emails out to the winners, Corey and Heather! Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by!