Thoroughbreds and Trailer Trash

By: Bev Pettersen



“Yes.” She squared her shoulders. “But I’m also waiting—”

His scowl jerked from Wally’s door to her face, cutting off her words with the force of his displeasure. The female exercise riders had been detouring past the construction site all week, smiling and flirting with the crew, but it was doubtful they’d sent many jokes this guy’s way. There was something hard about him, the same ruthless element that had emanated from her father’s cellmates.

He dismissed her as though inconsequential, the muscles in his arm bunching as he reached for the door. However, she was accustomed to fighting for every inch and had certainly faced much tougher men.

Lifting her chin, she squeezed between him and the door. “Sorry but you’ll have to wait your turn.”

The scowl deepened as he loomed above her. His annoyance mixed with the smell of freshly cut lumber, something piney that was actually quite pleasant. She was tall but he was taller, and for an instant her attention was riveted to his big workman’s body. Damn, she hated when that happened. She quickly snapped her attention back to his face.

He frowned for a long moment then something lightened. His mouth twitched, a tiny movement, almost imperceptible, but enough to crack that ruthless expression. “Of course.” He inclined his dark head and stepped back. “It wasn’t my intention to butt in.”

Sure it was. However, his smile definitely softened her. Wow. If he ever cut loose and actually grinned, he’d be devastatingly handsome. “I won’t be too long,” she said, rubbing her sore shoulder, trying not to stare at his lips.

“Did you hurt yourself at work?”

He hadn’t appeared to look at her earlier and she blinked; no one had asked about her health since her mom had died. “I’m fine. Sort of a chronic thing.” She dropped her hand, hiding the discomfort. “And I won’t be long with Wally. Just need to pick something up before I go.”

“Leaving early?” He checked his watch and his mouth flattened.

“Yes, but Wally doesn’t mind.”

“Nice of him.”

His tone was definitely disapproving and she crossed her arms. “Not much sense hanging around if the work’s done.”

“If it’s done.” He glanced pointedly down the aisle at an abandoned wheelbarrow, still brimming with manure. A blue pitchfork leaned perilously against the wooden handles.

“That’s not my job,” she said, surprised at the defensiveness in her voice. “I’m the masseuse.”

“A masseuse? Of course.” His dark eyes flickered over her in a thoroughly masculine assessment, nothing lecherous, just simple approval that made her pulse kick. She swallowed and realized she’d been wrong. Very wrong. The gallop girls would definitely have noticed this guy.

“We’re one of the best therapy centers in West Virginia with massage, hydrotherapy and oxygen chambers. For horses,” she added, just in case he was a bit dense. The gorgeous ones usually were. “Are you with the construction crew?”

“No.”

“Looking for a job then?” she asked. “Because Three Brooks is a great place to work.” She didn’t usually babble but his sparseness with words was rather unnerving. “Wally’s nice, really easygoing.”

“Obviously.” His gaze flickered down the dirty aisle.

Resentment tightened her mouth. Wally wasn’t the most organized manager, but he was a family friend and genuinely loved the horses. And while it was okay for her to criticize, it wasn’t acceptable for outsiders. This man reeked of disapproval.

He seemed like a tight-ass and probably wouldn’t be good with animals either. Compassion could usually be sensed, and there was nothing coming from him but autocratic authority. She hoped Wally didn’t like him either—in fact, she might be able to help with that.

She unzipped her pack and groped for her keys, beaming her most magnanimous smile. “Since you’re in such a hurry, you can see Wally first. I need to drop off my pack in the car anyway. But don’t wait by the door. He prefers that visitors knock once, then walk right in.”

“Really?” His eyebrow arched and his gaze bore into hers. Clearly he wasn’t quite as gullible as she’d hoped, and the force of those laser eyes sent her into an unexpected fumble. Her hand jerked, knocking her pack sideways, scattering the secret supplements across the floor. Shit!

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