Single Man Meets Single Mom(3)

By: Jules Bennett


She hadn’t felt anything but frumpy and still a bit pudgy since having Emily. The extra weight that refused to go away coupled with her husband leaving her for another woman were damaging blows to her self-esteem. Yet, Ian had held her with ease, which wasn’t helping her ignore the potency of the mesmerizing man.

Getting swept away by another handsome man with sultry eyes and a powerful presence wouldn’t do her any good. She had to concentrate on helping her sister, Tessa, win her way to the Triple Crown. They’d worked side by side nearly their entire lives, always with the dream of being Triple Crown winners like their father. And here they were, about to make history, and Cassie couldn’t be more excited.

When Cassie had been too far along with her pregnancy, her father had stepped up to train Tessa. This racing dynasty truly was a family affair.

One race down, two to go.

The fact that the Barrington estate had been turned into a film set was icing on the cake. A script surrounding her father’s legacy, legendary racing and past winning streak had piqued the interest of Hollywood A-listers, and, suddenly, the horse farm was all abuzz with lighting, sound guys, extras and security.

Cassie actually loved seeing her father’s life played out by Max Ford, the handsome, newly married actor. And playing the role of her late mother was beautiful Southern belle and it-girl Lily Beaumont. So far the two were doing an amazing job, and Cassie couldn’t wait to see the final product.

To cap off the racing season, Cassie was moving full throttle toward opening her own riding school for handicapped children. Since having her own child, Cassie wanted to slow down, and she’d always had a soft spot for kids anyway...something she’d thought she and her ex had in common.

Launching the school would be one more step in the healing process. So now she just needed to keep saving up—she wouldn’t dream of asking her father or anyone else for money—to get it off the ground.

“Daydreaming?”

Keeping a firm grip on the lead line, Cassie glanced over her shoulder to see Tessa moving toward her in slow, cautious steps. MacDuff really did get treated with kid gloves by everyone until he learned they were his friends.

“Maybe just a little,” Cassie admitted, gently pulling MacDuff into a soft trot. “Give me just a few minutes and we’ll get to work.”

Tessa shoved her hands into the pockets of her jeans. “I’d rather hear what has my big sister so distracted this morning.”

Cassie rolled her eyes at Tessa’s smirk and quirked brow. She led MacDuff forward a few steps, stopped and moved back a few steps, pleased when the stallion kept up with her exact number and didn’t try to fight her.

He was learning. Finally.

“I’m always amazed at how broken they seem to be,” Tessa said softly. “You have this patience and gentleness. It’s almost as if they know you’re determined to help them.”

“That’s because I am.” Cassie reached up to MacDuff’s neck, offering him praise. “He’s just misunderstood and nobody wanted to work properly with him.”

“He was abused.”

Cassie swallowed as she led MacDuff back to the stables. The thought of someone beating him because he hadn’t had the right training sickened her. She’d known he’d been abused on some level, simply because of how he’d arrived all wide-eyed and nervous and then threw Tessa the first time she’d mounted him. But the second any horse, rescued or not, stepped onto Stony Ridge Acres, they were treated like royalty. No matter their heritage. Yes, they bred prizewinning horses and bought from a long lineage of winners, but it wasn’t always about the win.... It was about the love and care of the animal. And since Stony Ridge was a massive farm, they could take in those strays Cassie had a soft spot for.

She’d always loved watching the trainers her father had for his horses. Years ago, female trainers had been frowned upon, but her father had insisted women were more gentle and less competitive by nature than men, thus producing better-tempered horses—and winners.

“You didn’t happen to see a certain new hunk on the set this morning, did you?” Tessa asked as she pulled out the tack box and helped to brush MacDuff.

Cassie eyed her sister over the horse’s back. “Aren’t you engaged?”

“I’m not dead, Cass.” Tessa brushed in large circular strokes. “I’ll take your lack of answering to mean you did see him.”

Saw him, fell into his arms, got lost in those sexy eyes that could make a woman forget she’d been burned...and maybe reveled in that powerful hold a tad too long.