Dark Horse Inc. book 2
Single father and sheriff’s deputy, Joe MacDonald, always puts his family and friends first. When Rick Evans, head of Dark Horse Inc., asks a favor, Joe doesn’t hesitate to jump in and lend a hand. When he arrives to assist Dark Horse’s newest member, he’s surprised to find a pretty little damsel in distress. But not everything, or everyone is as they seem.
Cara Gregory is on her way home to care for her ailing mother. She’s just a few miles outside of her hometown when her trouble begins. With a wealth of bad memories, a ghost from her past and enough mama drama to sink a ship, she’s up to her eyeballs in bad news. Sometimes even the strongest and most capable women need a hand and when a sexy as sin sheriff’s deputy appears, it’s awfully hard to say no. Especially when danger comes knocking at her door, putting them all at risk.
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“You prick!” A husky, feminine voice came through Joe’s earpiece loud and clear. He watched the front of the lot and the bar’s entrance but didn’t see anyone out of place. Then he saw a familiar male form throw his hands in the air and turn his back on a small woman. The man stomped off toward the parked vehicles and recognition hit him. The tall, pissed off man was James Holloway. So that meant that…
He his attention snapped back to where James had been standing. The spot was empty. He scanned the lot and his attention snagged and focused on the door. A curvy little woman with sexy legs and the finest ass he’d ever seen stepped inside the rowdy bar. The door closed behind her.
He knew those legs. He’d dreamed of having them wrapped around his waist. And that hair? He’d lay odds that it smelled like sunshine and flowers. And there was no way he’d wait fifteen minutes before going in after her.
He’d known she was a friend of Rick’s. The Dark Horse founder had even referred to her as a team member, but he still hadn’t put it all together. He had no doubt that she was an intelligent, capable woman, but he couldn’t picture her as a war-hardened soldier. The Dark Horse crew had been in some nasty situations in Afghanistan.
She was too small.
But she was a nurse, right? Maybe she stayed on base or something and waited for the trauma to come to her? What were they doing putting her in a situation like this?
Talk about a mess. If Rick’s information was correct and someone from Potter County showed, then they’d likely see and recognize him. They’d question his reasons for being at a dive like the Thirsty Beaver, but that couldn’t be helped. He’d think of something.
He checked the time and cursed. She expected him to wait a full fifteen minutes? No way.
“Joe.” Rick’s voice sounded in his earpiece.
“Yeah. I’m going in.” He reached for the handle of Trent’s truck. He borrowed it because his beast stuck out like a sore thumb, and anyone from the Sheriff’s department would recognize it.
“Wait. She’ll be fine for a few. She can handle herself. Listen. Do you remember the images of Boyd Campbell from Kate’s rescue? Remember what he looks like? He’s lean, rangy looking, with brown hair.” Even through the connection, he heard Rick’s tension.
“Yeah, I do.” He’d never felt such extreme anger for another person from just their picture before. Everyone suspected Boyd had kidnapped Kate and delivered her to Senator Bailey. He’d also framed Trent for murder. When that fell apart, he planted damning evidence in a way that placed all suspicion on Bailey. After all of it, he’d vanished like a cockroach in the light.
“He and Mayhem have a history, and it’s not pretty. Years ago, when she refused his advances, things got ugly. He pinned her against a wall and crushed her throat, injuring her larynx. It’s why her voice sounds the way it does. Afterward, he dropped off the grid.”
She is so tiny. His anger burned hotter, brighter.
He felt his blood pressure rise and a sudden urge to choke Campbell came over him. He gripped the steering wheel and squeezed, reminding himself it wouldn’t be cool to put his fist through Trent’s window. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “What’s wrong with her voice?” It sounded fine to him. The first time he heard it, the low, sexy tone had gone straight to his dick.
“Nothing really, it just never went back to the way it used to be.”
“Is there anything else I need to know?” His hand itched to remove the pistol he’d left behind.
“Don’t go right up to her. Wait five minutes then go in, but sit at the bar and have a beer. Watch her like you’re attracted to her. Think about how the scene will look before you make your move. If you rush in and storm right up to her, it’ll look suspect. You don’t even have to make a move, just provide an extra set of eyes. Watch your back. Noah’s inside, and he’ll tell us if he smells trouble.” Rick sounded resigned, as if trouble were inevitable. Joe prayed that wasn’t the case.
Storm right up to her? He wasn’t that big of an idiot.
A little voice somewhere in the back of his head laughed hysterically.
He sat back to watch the five minutes tick by. Hell, he could do this. He’d give her six.
His fingers fisted on the steering wheel until they turned white.
on sale until the end of the month.
Trent Dawson, horse trainer and former soldier, smells trouble at a simple charity auction. His good intentions get the better of him and he bids a small fortune on a damsel in distress. It turns out there’s far more than meets the eye to the former Miss Kentucky and their chemistry is off the charts.
The only thing standing between Kate MacDonald and her worst nightmare is Trent Dawson and the men of Dark Horse Inc.
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Excerpt – “How do you know Steve and Carol?” The deep voice brushed by her ear in a warm caress.
Okay, she could do this. She could make small talk with the best of them, so one farm hand shouldn’t be a problem. “I met Stephen years ago at a charity function. We’ve been friends since then. You?”
“They’re old family friends. I’ve known them for ages.”
She concentrated on the big round eyes looking up at her with trust and resisted the need to turn and face the man behind her. She’d been too rattled by Preston’s appearance for anything other than a fleeting impression to register.
One moment she’d been trapped alone and the next a tall, dark knight in faded jeans came through the doors. She hadn’t known whether to feel relief or fear, but it had taken about two seconds to realize that he was no friend of Preston or the Senator.
When he’d walked over and mentioned their date, she wanted to swoon with relief. But swooning? That wasn’t her.
“I think they’re gone for good.” His warmth left her and she turned to face him. “Wait, watch the dress.” His long arm reached around to prevent her from leaning back against the stall door and his rough palm met the bared skin of her back. Shivers of pleasure cascaded through her.
“Oh no. I forgot I’m wearing Carol’s dress. I’ve gotten used to my old tees and jeans.”
Dark blond hair that fell in waves almost reached his shoulders. Jeans so faded and worn they looked thin in places covered long, muscled legs that ended in old, battered boots. A faded black T-shirt stretched across broad shoulders and storm-gray eyes looked down at her.
“What made you leave the party in a dress like that and come out to the stables?” His other hand dropped and brushed over her hair, stopping just below the first, at the small of her back. With light pressure he pushed her toward him until not much more than a breath of space separated them. The air they shared simmered, ripe with sultry intensity. His stony gray gaze held her immobile.
He stepped back, pulling her with him and away from the stall without breaking their stare. She forgot how to breathe. Luckily for her, there was no need for air in the heavy daze they’d created.
Molly rustled against the door behind her and broke the spell. She silently thanked the little filly. She dragged in a deep breath and fought for lucidity.
What did she say? She didn’t want to burden him with her drama when he seemed like a decent enough guy. He reminded of her of men like her father or her cousin, Joe, steady men who worked for everything they had and took care of it because it meant something to them.
“The crowd and noise gave me a headache, and Stephen knows how much I like horses so he told me about Molly. I just wanted a few minutes of quiet.”
“Are you used to being around horses then?”
“Yes. We had horses when I was little and I spent as much time as I could with them and my dad. Right now, I have an orphaned foal that’s stolen my heart.”
“Orphans can be tricky. Do you have help?”
“I do. The local vet has agreed to help. We’ll get by all right.”
“Would you like me to walk you back to the party? I was headed that way for a bite to eat. Carol will have a fit if I leave without at least taking a plate with me.” A rueful smile stretched his face and softened the masculine angles.
“What time is it? Yes, I really need to get back.” She couldn’t be late. She’d already caused enough trouble.
He pulled a cell phone from his back pocket and checked. “It’s five ‘til eight.”
“Shoot, I really need to hurry, I’m sorry.” She’d be late to the auction.
“There’s no need to apologize.” Great, she’d met a seemingly nice man who didn’t have money or social status on the brain and now he looked at her as if she’d grown a second head. “I’ll get you there, Cinderella. My truck is right outside the barn. How about I drive you up?”
“Yes, please. I need to be there by eight. I shouldn’t have come down here, but I just wanted a few minutes of peace and…it was stupid of me.”
“Stop. There’s nothing wrong with seeking a few minutes of quiet with the horses. If you know Stephen and Carol any at all, you’ll know they don’t give two shits about you spending an extra few minutes at the barn.”
“I suppose you’re right.” She didn’t know why, but she couldn’t bring herself to tell him why she had to be back at eight. There was no harm in what she was doing, but she hated to think that his opinion of her would change. She knew it was ridiculous, but she couldn’t shake the feeling.
He walked her to an enormous charcoal dually with a small horse trailer attached to the back. He opened the door wide, grabbed her low on her waist and plucked her up as if she weighed no more than a bale of hay.
Dizzied, she held on to his shoulders. She told herself the odd feeling had everything to do with not having been carried since she’d been a small girl and nothing to do with the feel of cut muscle beneath her hands.
He set her in, shut the door and, as good as his word, he had her up to the main house in no time at all. The clock’s glow on the dash read two minutes after eight.
The truck barely came to a stop before she opened the door and hopped out. She shouted a rushed thank you over her shoulder and ran for the mudroom. She changed shoes, hurried to the bathroom where she’d left her purse, brushed her hair, swiped on a fresh layer of lip gloss and all but sprinted to the back patio where everyone had gathered.
She stopped at the closed doors, took a deep breath and plastered on her best pageant smile. She’d rather muck stalls than stand up on the auction block, but she’d be damned if she’d hurt Carol’s feelings or leave her friend in a lurch.
She opened the doors and braced herself.
Bio – As a teen Amy read horror and fantasy as fast as she could get her hands on it. She’d never met a Dean Koontz book she didn’t like.
Until one day at the bookstore she stumbled across a pretty blue cover complete with a bare-chested, sword-wielding Highlander. That Highlander and his heroine showed her the magic of a happily-ever-after and she’s never looked back.
She’s read and written her way from Kentucky to Arizona and California then back to Kentucky which she and her family now call home.
Protecting Kate is my “dream book” or the book that I always wanted to write. Or at least it feels that way. A few years ago I was looking at Pinterest where an author friend posted pictures of hats she was considering wearing for a Derby party. The hats were lovely and I had the simple thought that I would love to go all out for the Kentucky Derby just one time. And then BAM! I was hit with one of the most vivid story bombs I’ve ever experienced. For me, it’s a sudden rush where all at once an entire story explodes in my head. I sat down and started scribbling notes as fast as I could write.
I was in the middle of writing another story and after I finished my notes I set Kate aside for what was supposed to be a short time. I would write a little bit, tinker a little more and then set it aside for a couple of months. Eventually I had to stop everything else and concentrate on finishing Kate’s story. It wouldn’t leave me alone.
Over the course of a couple of years, the derby story morphed into something else as the world around me changed. A friend’s simple comment- “I don’t follow horse racing. It’s so hard on the horses.” stuck with me and then came the idea for Kate’s orphaned foal and the animal rescue. And Trent became so much more than a horse trainer. An entire group of ex-soldiers came to life. When I came to Cara’s brief mention in Protecting Kate, I knew she had to have her own story and that she was meant for Joe MacDonald. And now Leigh and Rick are waiting very impatiently for me to write their story. And beyond that I can see at least two or three more books waiting.
It’s a good thing I love writing!