Seduction, Westmoreland Style(6)

By: Brenda Jackson

“What about Corey Westmoreland’s daughter?”

McKinnon stiffened, pushed away from the table and stood. “What about her?”

“Well, you saw how she handled Prince Charming yesterday. She had that blasted animal eating out of her hands, literally. Do you think she might be interested in the job?”

McKinnon decided now was not the time to mention to Norris that Casey had been interested in the job—in fact, that had been her reason for showing up yesterday. Instead he said, “Doesn’t matter if she would be. You know my policy about a woman working on this ranch.”

Norris stared at him for a long moment before shaking his head and saying, “It’s been over four years now, McKinnon. How long will it take you to get what Lynette did out of your mind…and heart?”

McKinnon sucked in a deep breath before saying, “I’ve done both.”

Norris was one of the few who knew the full story about Lynette. He had been with McKinnon the night they’d arrive back at the ranch from rounding up wild horses in the north prairie to find that Lynette had packed up and left, leaving a scribbled note as to the reason why.

McKinnon’s brisque words should have warned the sixty-year-old Norris that this was a touchy subject—one McKinnon had no desire to engage in; but Norris, who’d known McKinnon since the day he was born, paid no mind. “Then act like it, son. Act like you’ve put it behind you.”

McKinnon cursed under his breath. “You actually expect me to ask Corey Westmoreland’s daughter to come work for me and live on his ranch? You saw her yesterday. She’s no bigger than a mite. Granted she handled Prince Charming okay, but what about the others to come after that? Some twice as mean. Besides, I need a trainer that I can invest in long-term.”

“I heard she’s moving to town to be close to her father. To me that speaks of long term.”

McKinnon’s gaze narrowed. Evidently Norris had asked questions of the right people after Casey’s impressive performance yesterday. Abruptly, McKinnon walked over to the window and looked out. He had barely slept last night for remembering the sight of Casey standing frozen in place while that blasted animal charged toward her. He hadn’t felt so helpless before in his entire life. The thought of what that horse could have done to her sent chills through his body even now.

“The decision is yours, of course, but I think it will be to your advantage, considering everything, to hire her,” Norris said behind him. “The sheikh expects that blasted horse trained and ready to race in less than two months. And the way I see it, Corey’s daughter is our best bet.”

McKinnon turned and shot a hard glare at Norris. “There has to be another way,” he said, his features severe and unyielding.

“”Then I hope you find it,” Norris replied before moving to walk out the door. He hadn’t found another way.

And that was the reason McKinnon found himself arriving by horseback on Corey’s Mountain later that same day. Seeing the spacious and sprawling ranch house, set among a stand of pine trees and beneath the beauty of a Montana sky, had bittersweet memories flooding his mind. He could recall the many summers he’d spent here as a young boy with Corey’s nephews—all eleven of them. Just how Corey managed all of them was anyone’s guess, but those summers had been some of the best of McKinnon’s life. He’d been foot loose and fancy-free, and the only thing he’d worried about was staying away from the black berries he was allergic to.

These days things were different. He had a lot to worry about. He had both a ranch and a business to run, and now it seemed the woman he’d always intended to keep at a distance would be living on his land, within a stone’s throw away…. If she accepted his job offer.

And that was the big question. After the way they’d clashed yesterday, would she even consider coming to work for him now? His contacts in the horse industry hadn’t been any help and now it came down to eating crow and doing the one thing he hadn’t wanted to do—offer Casey Westmoreland a job.

When he reached the ranch house he got off his horse and tied him to a post before glancing around, his gaze searching the wide stretch of land, scanning the fields and pastures. Corey’s land. Corey’s Mountain. McKinnon shook his head thinking it was rather sad that during those times he and Corey’s eleven nephews were spending time on this mountain, somewhere in Texas Corey had three kids he’d known nothing about—a daughter and two sons. Triplets. Being the good man that he was, Corey was trying like hell to make up for lost time.

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