Knight Moves:Rodeo Knights

By: Lenora Worth


Rodeo Knights, A Western Romance Novel



Chapter One





Rico Knight parked his big black Chevy truck in one of the paved slots just off the massive garage of the Mesa Malloy Ranch and wondered again how Dyna Malloy would look in person.

‘Cause she sure sounded good on the phone.

Dyna was well-known around the Western Rodeo Circuit. Several of her saddle and bareback riding broncs had gone on to win the regional WRC, held here in Vegas each year around December. He’d researched her, of course. But the images of her online were grainy and hard to see.

Here today in the afternoon heat of a sunny spring day to help her with a particularly ornery gelding named Domino, Rico thought back over the report he’d read. A painted horse, black and white with a dominant tobiano gene, and apparently as crash-and-burn as a stack of falling dominoes from what Dyna had told Rico over the phone. The five-year-old wouldn’t make the circuit this year. But Rico hoped to have the gelding ready for next year’s competition.

Domino’s owner had some attitude, too. She seemed to be insulted by having to call in special help but Edwin Penstone had called Rico last week and offered him a huge amount of money to drive here from Texas and spend a week working with Domino, here on the impressive spread.

“We need to get this bronc back on the circuit,” Edwin had stated in his no-nonsense way. “Can you come?”

“I’m between jobs,” Rico had replied. “Give me a couple of days.”

As a courtesy, he’d called ahead to discuss matters with Dyna and ask her to email him Domino’s file, since technically she was the boss.

“I don’t like this,” she’d told him right off the bat, her voice sliding like honey through the phone connection. “But Edwin seems to think we need an expert and I’ve exasperated just about every trainer in Vegas, including one who’d been with us for years. I had to let him go because we disagreed on some of his tactics. I don’t abide cruelty to animals.”

“I don’t either,” Rico had assured her. “I prefer to be called a trainer, not a bronc buster.” Even though some people thought anything involving the rodeo life involved cruelty to animals. “I’ll come and take a look.”

“And I’ll decide if I need you to stay.”

So here he was, wondering about the bronc in question and intrigued by the woman who had inherited this place from her legendary father, Dallas Malloy.

Dyna Malloy didn’t want him here.

Domino had no idea he was coming.

And Rico wasn’t sure he even wanted to be here.

But he loved a good challenge.



*



Dyna Malloy stood at the wide kitchen window and watched the big truck growling its way up the drive, anticipation causing her afternoon cup of coffee to roil inside her stomach.

Of all the horse trainers in the world, why did it have to be Rico Knight? Not that he didn’t come with high recommendations. The Knights were legendary inside the rodeo world, especially inside the Western Rodeo Circuit, which their ancestors had started over a hundred years ago. Now, after some shady rodeo happenings a few years back, the Knight Investigation Agency, established by the three Knight brothers who lived and worked from Montana to Utah and Nevada and all around, had become a big part of the circuit, too. Good idea to have qualified people on the inside looking out for the circuit and investigating any extra-curricular activities. Jesse, Michael and Sean made a good team and a lot of the locals used their services. Because the rodeo didn’t just produce winners. The circuit carried a lot of losers who liked to stir up trouble, too. The Knight Investigation Agency stepped in to help law enforcement solve any rodeo-related crimes.

No crime here, though. Other than the fact that her prized bucking horse had stubbornly decided not to buck.

But she didn’t need to call in some overblown expert to help her with Domino. The gelding had been the one to draw and had taken bronc riders to the top in two regional championships and after winning Saddle Bronc of the Year twice in a row, had been on his way to becoming a top draw at the WRC Nationals held in Las Vegas in the fall. He knew the rodeo circuit because he’d been bred as a saddle bronc and he’d been trained to buck cowboys since he was a two-year-old colt. She handled his colt training herself and soon realized he could turn into a prime bucking horse. Now all of sudden, Domino no longer wanted to cooperate.

Dyna had fired at least two expert handlers over the last few months. She didn’t need another one telling her what was wrong with her horse.

Her troubles didn’t require any of the Knights, although Sean, a veterinarian who dealt specifically with rodeo animals, had come out to check on her stock on occasion. He was now happily married to one of her neighbors, Cella Cassidy, who owned the Triple Seven Rodeo Ranch.

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