Vanessa Beaumont is desperate to protect her beloved thoroughbred, Ransom from her ex-husband’s clutches. Intent on hiding Ransom at her friend’s farm hidden in the mountains of Pennsylvania , Vanessa falls short of her destination, when she collides with a deer during a summer storm and is forced to rely on the kindness of a stranger to help protect her horse. What she didn’t count on was her own attraction to him or the ease with which she fits into his life.
Sheriff Riley Whitaker thinks nothing of the consequences when he opens his home to Vanessa, but finding out her ex is out to get her spurs Riley’s protective nature. Before long, Riley can’t picture his life without Vanessa in it. When Vanessa’s vindictive ex-husband discovers her whereabouts, placing her life in danger, Riley knows he’ll puts his own life on the line to protect the woman he loves.
She shook her head as she brushed Ransom’s coat. “Go eat, Riley. I’m not mad.”
The pain in her voice struck him deep. “No, you’re hurt. I owe you an apology. You’re right. It’s none of my business who you spend your time with.”
“Fine. I accept your apology. Now go finish your dinner before it gets cold.”
Ignoring her, he stepped inside the stall. Ransom snorted and turned his muzzle to Riley.
“Hey, big man, how you feeling?” He rubbed the roan behind his ears. The horse lifted his head and nibbled at Riley’s arm.
“He likes you,” Vanessa said.
“Why wouldn’t he? I’m a likeable kind of guy.”
She smiled, but only slightly. “That may be, but like I said before, Ransom doesn’t care for men. There are only a few he’d ever allowed to get close.. It was a man who abused him.”
Riley ran his hand down the horse’s neck. The evidence of the stallion’s abuse was apparent beneath the pads of his fingers. “How did you get him?”
“I stumbled across him when I was wandering around the back stables of a track in Nashville . He was shut away, sick and lame. I inquired and found out he was for sale, so I bought him on the spot. It took me a year to get him well.”
“Do you always take in strays?”
She looked up at him, her blue eyes dark under the soft lights of the barn. “No, but there was something about the way he looked at me. It was like he was begging me to save him.”
His heart jumped with the sincerity of her words. She was the kind of woman, he realized, who when she loved, did it with all her heart. “Um, Vanessa. About the other day in my office…”
Her gaze dropped away and she resumed the methodical brushing of Ransom’s coat.
“You don’t have to explain yourself.”
He covered her hand with his, stilling her motion. “I think I do.”
Her pulse scrambled beneath his touch and she quickly pulled away. “Riley—”
Before she could say another word, he tipped her chin with his finger. “I don’t know what it is you’re doing to me, Vanessa, but I know I have to do this..”
Instead of pulling away as he expected her to, she returned his affection, her lips parting in invitation. He crushed his mouth over hers, slipping his tongue past her teeth. The brush hit the floor before her arm snaked around his neck and she melted against him.
His mind raced as he slowly lost himself in her. He’d expected her to pull away, slap him in the face and cuss him out, but not this.
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