Racing Hearts

Racing Hearts

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781784309091
Publisher: Totally Entwined Group Ltd
Publication date: 12/08/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 237
Sales rank: 1,173,446
File size: 3 MB

Read an Excerpt

Copyright © Bailey Bradford, Morticia Knight, Helena Maeve, L.M. Somerton, Ethan Stone, Molly Ann Wishlade 2015. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Pride Publishing.

Excerpt from 'The Lonely Ones'

Marshall Evans parked his rental in the driveway of the dilapidated residence. The whole place—land, house, barns, stalls, equipment—looked much worse than he remembered. Selling it might be more of a problem than he’d expected.

The slight throbbing that had started up behind his eyes after his flight had landed became a more intense pain. Marshall sighed and tried to remember where he’d put his migraine meds. Not in the carry-on, damn it. He’d have to get out in the hellish heat and retrieve his suitcase from the trunk.

Closing his eyes, he tried to take a few deep, cleansing breaths, counting silently as he did so.

The whap to the driver’s side window almost gave him a heart attack, and Marshall screeched at an embarrassingly high-pitched level. His head pounded as he whipped it around to glare at the man bent over and glaring back at him. Even through his own anger, Marshall could see how attractive the stranger was, and it made him even more pissed off for some reason.

“What the fuck is your problem, man?” Marshall growled, reaching for the window switch. He only thought how foolish it might be to lower the window after the fact. By then, the glass was halfway down and he could think of no way to salvage his pride—if that were possible, considering his squeak of alarm—should he raise the window up again.

“You’re trespassing,” the stranger drawled, his dark brown eyes glittering with irritation or some other unfriendly emotion. His thin lips were pressed together so tightly the skin around them was almost white against the rest of his darkly tanned face.

“I’m not trespassing, you are,” Marshall snapped back at him. “So—”

“I live here.”

Marshall shut off the car. “Oh really.” It wasn’t a question. He made it sound as snotty as possible. “Funny that wasn’t mentioned when Mr. Rogan called me.” Allen Evans’ attorney hadn’t mentioned anyone else living on the property.

The man blanched and after narrowing his eyes until they were almost closed, he looked away toward the house. “Yeah, well. Rogan is a son of a bitch, and your grandpa wasn’t much better.”

Marshall opened his mouth to argue, but promptly closed it. There was, after all, a reason he’d never been back to visit his grandpa after that last time. Then it occurred to him that he was at a serious disadvantage, because the stranger knew who he was, at least in a general way.

Excerpt from 'Racing for Home'

I wish I’d never come here all those years ago.

Charlie lounged in the hay of one of the empty stalls at Piedmont Farms, idly chewing on a bit of straw. As one of the grooms at the top race horse farm in Long Island, New York—perhaps all of the east coast—he’d been designated to prepare the larger stall for Golden Dreams. The champion mare was nearing her time to foal and Charlie had kept himself busy with his chore. The only thing that ever prevented his thoughts from drifting into melancholy waters was taking care of his beloved horses.

Not my horses.

He let out a self-pitying groan then mentally chastised himself. No good ever came of wishing for what could never be. He had to be tough, be a strong man, survive. That’s what his papa had told him before he’d sent him off to the farm to live for good when he’d turned fourteen. His ma had been felled by a local influenza outbreak in 1904, which had left his father to care for him and his siblings. The job Charlie had taken at the farm to help ease the family’s burden had inspired his father to speak with Albert Piedmont about taking him on full-time. A growing boy about to become a man was much more expensive to feed than his two younger sisters. Once they’d left the area a couple years later, he’d never heard from them again.

Eight years.

For eight years he’d lived at Albert Piedmont’s beautiful horse farm, and for five of those years, he’d been in love with Albert’s even more beautiful son, Edward. He ran through all the significant milestones from his life in his mind. Losing his mother. Being forced to leave home. The first time he’d locked eyes with Edward and known they were meant to be. Their first kiss. When he’d lost his virginity in the very stall where Charlie currently lay, and they’d declared their everlasting love to each other. The day Edward had left Piedmont to go live with his new bride, Alice Normandy, on her family’s estate across the island.

He pushed himself up from the hay, angry that he’d let his musings stray so far. He slapped at the bits and pieces of straw clinging to his woolen trousers, then smacked his newsboy cap back on his head, giving it one final pat before stomping out of the enclosure. The early spring chill hadn’t yet given away to the warmth of the impending summer, and he had horses to worry about. Not traitorous ex-lovers.

Excerpt from 'The Secret of Delville Wood'

“Is there something you wish to tell me, mon chou?”

Silas had thought the sitting room empty. He whirled around when that familiar, smoky voice trilled out of the shadows.

The wingback by the silent hearth was inhabited by a silk and rhinestone lampshade number, which revealed more than its fair share of long, pewter-dark legs. Their owner’s silhouette resolved in the dark, looking more like Silas than any other resident of this little corner of Scandinavian paradise.

Beatrice Lazare tipped forward, grinning. “I didn’t scare you, did I?”

His heart still relaxing its fervent drumming, Silas mustered a shallow smile. “You’re a riot.”

She was also up well past bedtime, although in Silas’ experience, jazz singers weren’t exactly known for keeping reasonable hours.

Even her chuckle was melodious. “Drinking on the sly, are we?” She clucked her tongue. “What will our hostess think?”

“Tell her and find out.” His good mood wavering, Silas resumed his straight shot to the sideboard. Beatrice could be pleasant company in small doses, provided she was sober and her sharp wit focused on a target other than Silas. Fulfilling neither condition, this run-in was best cut short.

The crystal decanter clicked against the rim of a clean glass. Silas had to concentrate to avoid spilling Ms. Eckdahl’s liquor in the dark. “Then again, what our hostess doesn’t know can’t hurt her.”

“You rake… Oh, no,” Beatrice tittered, when Silas began to splash the Norwegian akevitt into another stem glass. “None for me.”

“It’s not.”

Beatrice’s T-strap heels met the oak floor with the click of castanets. “Ah, bon?”

Pulsing clouds of Chanel No. 5 heralded her approach. Silas feigned indifference as she draped herself over the sideboard like she might have done a grand piano, sending glasses and decanters wobbling on their silver trays. With the staff dismissed sometime before midnight, no one had been left to tidy up when the household guests had finally retired.

“Go on,” Beatrice wheedled. “You can’t leave me hanging. Who is it, the ice queen or the ingénue?”

Silas fanned his fingers around the bowl of both glasses, raising them elegantly out of her reach. “Neither.”

“Ms. Eckdahl herself, then?”

A note of disbelief had entered Beatrice’s voice. Silas knew it was petty to take pleasure in thwarting her nosiness but couldn’t resist. “Bonne nuit, Beatrice.”

Excerpt from 'Keeping the Luck In'

Pip heaved yet another barrowload of mucky straw from the stable. He walked backward, finding it easier to pull than push, and almost collided with one of the other stable hands.

“Oops, sorry!” He put the barrow handles down and rested for a moment, hands on thighs.

Carrie grinned at him. “I can’t believe you keep coming back for this hard labor every summer, Pip.”

Pip grinned back. As always, Carrie’s smile was infectious. “Unlike you, I need the money. I have student loans up to my eyebrows and my new job doesn’t start until September.”

Carrie pulled a piece of straw from Pip’s hair. “I’ll let you take me for a drink tonight and you can tell me what it’s like to be a fully qualified vet. I want to hear all about this job, just to make sure it’s good enough for you, you understand. Now you don’t have to study every minute of the day, we can check out the talent at the same time. You’ve been practically celibate for the last three years.”

Pip shook his head. “Are you ever going to stop trying to set me up? Our taste in men is poles apart and you know full well I haven’t had time to get out and meet people.”

Carrie wrinkled her nose, making her freckles merge together. “You just need re-educating and I’m the girl to do it. I’ll come and find you around six. Make sure you have a shower and change because I’m not taking you out dressed like that.”

“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” Pip peered down at his mud-stained navy jodhpurs and ratty T-shirt. His ankle boots were caked with mud and straw.

“You look hotter than I do, that’s what the problem is. Wear something unflattering, I don’t need the competition.” Carrie flicked her bright orange hair and pouted. “It is so unfair that you’re prettier than I am. My butt swells to huge proportions in jodhpurs.”

“It does not.” Pip rolled his eyes. Carrie was attractive in a curvy, girly kind of way and she knew it. “You’re just fishing for compliments. Now get out of my way, I have shit to shovel.”

“And that’s why you spent five years at vet school.” Carrie stuck her tongue out at him then flounced off.

Excerpt from 'Just My Luck'

I wasn’t exactly sure why I was at the club. Well, I did know, but I wasn’t sure why I felt the need to get laid on my first night in a new town, especially when I started my new job the next day. Regardless, there I was, at CC Slaughters observing men of various ages and sizes bumping and grinding to the beat of the techno-club music.

After finishing off my whiskey, I ordered another one from the cute, young bartender who handed it to me and winked.

“Here ya go, cowboy.”

My dark, wide-brimmed hat set me apart from everyone else in the bar. Living in a large, metropolitan city was new for me, a necessary part of advancing in my career. I could’ve ditched the hat and boots to fit in more with the crowd, however I had never hidden who I was and wasn’t about to start now. Well, I did hide certain aspects of my life but that went with the job.

Stepping away from the bar, I approached the crowd, still keeping a distance. I took a sip and leaned against the wall. Most of the guys were younger than me but that didn’t stop my ogling. Younger men weren’t usually my type, but after several years with a man five years my elder, I craved something different.

Not that I was looking for a relationship, not at all. One night was all I wanted. A ‘Welcome to Portland’ present for me before I started what could be an intense and time-consuming job. However, it had to be just the right man.

I knew it the second I spotted him. He was a smaller man, couldn’t have been more than five feet tall. He moved with a smooth, graceful quality that entranced me instantly. At first he was dancing with a small group of women he was clearly friends with, then a guy with blond hair slid in behind my brunet stud. The object of my affection spun around, noticed the intruder, and glared at the guy so strongly it stopped the guy in his tracks. My guy waved him off. The other dude dropped his chin to his chest and sulked away.

The interaction made me laugh. The guy obviously knew what he wanted. The question was whether I was his type or not. He peeled off his sweaty T-shirt and the disparities between the two of us couldn’t have been more pronounced. In addition to the foot and a half height difference between us, I was as hairy as he was smooth. I had wide shoulders and a chest that tapered down to muscular abs. His upper body and torso were flat. The distinctions just made me want him more.

Excerpt from 'Horses and Harleys'

Henry peeled his eyes open and waited for his vision to clear. His mouth was furry and his head threatened to explode. He dragged open the drawer of his bedside cabinet then dug around until he found two aspirin.

Tablets swallowed, he closed his eyes and lay still, willing the medication to disperse quickly into his bloodstream. It was becoming routine, this morning-after-the-night-before suffering. He knew that it had to stop but so far he’d been lacking the willpower—or even the inclination—to end the destructive cycle.

A rustling at his side made his eyes spring open again, and he cursed as pain ricocheted through his skull.

“Shit!” He blocked out the world with his hands and took a few deep breaths.

“Hey, handsome.” An unfamiliar voice penetrated the haze and Henry flicked back through his memories to try to place it.

Nothing.

Zero.

His mind was blank, his body ached with dehydration and toxins and his heart was heavy.

“How’re you feeling, lover boy? That was one hell of a party last night.”

Henry blinked cautiously behind his broad palms, allowing the light to seep in. If he took it slowly, maybe it wouldn’t hurt. He peered at the man who lay tangled in the sheets beside him.

Who the fuck…

The interloper started to laugh. The noise was deep and throaty, the guttural chuckle of a heavy smoker. “I take it from your expression that you don’t remember inviting me to stay the night? I’m George Monroe.”

Henry sat bolt upright. There had been champagne. Lots and lots of champagne. In fact, he wouldn’t be surprised if they had emptied his well-stocked wine cellar last night.

There had been business. Talk of horses. Upcoming races. Breeding plans.

Then there had been pleasure. Lots and lots of hedonistic, no-strings-attached, primal fucking.

And now he had the hangover from hell and an empty heart to prove it.

Typical Saturday then.

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