About the Book
In this sequel to A Kiss Before Dawn, Chris Martel has recovered from her near fatal assault and has built Went Farm into a top-notch foaling farm. Under pressure from her partner Mary Jo Cavanaugh and her Gram, Chris hires Mitch Jordan to help with the additional workload. In the meantime, Mary Jo takes over Doc Hall’s equine veterinary practice. The extra responsibilities of running a business leaves Mary Jo exhausted and with too little time for Chris.
Chris and Mary Jo are feeling the stress in their relationship because of their non-connecting, busy lives. It doesn’t help that Mitch is single, cute, and exceptionally good with the horses. Mitch eases some of Chris’s loneliness and they become fast friends. But does Mitch want more? Can Chris and Mary Jo’s relationship survive this latest challenge to their life together?
Satisfied everybody was stable for the night, MJ checked for messages at the desk, gave Snowball a pat, locked up, and headed home. She turned the truck air conditioning off, opened the windows, and let the coolness and heady smells of the country blow in. The truck tires hummed a higher pitch as she crossed a bridge.
Chorus frogs and bullfrogs serenaded her from the creek below. The town lights quickly faded from view and moonlight took over. A couple of sets of deer eyes glowed when the truck headlights swept over the adjacent field as she turned onto the farm driveway.
She wasn’t surprised at the absence of light in the house. Most of the living area was in the back, giving the place a vacant look unless the outside porch light was on. She stopped the truck, and shifted into park, and noticed a glow on the side of the barn from the office light. She shook her head. Chris was undoubtedly trying to catch up on the seemingly endless paperwork that accompanied running a farm specializing in breeding and foaling.
“Maybe you can drag her out of there for the night,” Gram said from the porch shadows.
Chris’s Gram lived with them full time now. Both Chris and she had spent a long time trying to convince Gram to move in with them. For many months, they’d traipsed her back and forth to Albany for short visits. Gram finally relented and told them she was tired of spending half of her remaining days on earth in a vehicle. MJ secretly thought it was because Gram wanted to spend more time with Frances and her card-playing friends. It gave her something to do when neither she nor Chris could be around to keep her occupied. For whatever the reason, Gram was the only real family Chris acknowledged and after so many years separated, MJ was happy to see them together.
“Have you called her?” MJ already knew the answer, but thought she’d ask anyway.
“So many times that she stopped answering the phone. I was just about to march down there and drag her in by the ear when I saw your headlights coming down the drive. I figured I’d let you do the dirty work.”
She laughed. “I’ll see what I can do. But you know she has piles of paperwork to take care of.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just get my granddaughter in here so she’ll eat something. She’s going to blow away in a strong breeze if she doesn’t start putting something in her stomach besides chocolate chips and peanut butter.”
The porch swing squeaked as Gram rose to her feet, and then the screen door banged behind her a few seconds later.
MJ drew a heavy sigh and let it out slowly. She wasn’t looking forward to giving Chris the news. “It’s now or never, I guess.” She shoved the keys into her pocket and walked to the barn.
The big door stood open like an ominous gaping mouth leading into the long building. Subdued light from the office fell on the floor at the other end. She didn’t bother turning on additional lights. Her feet knew the way without her thinking about it. She’d walked this aisle countless times in the dark at both ends of the day.
Her hand was on the doorknob of the office door and two arms slipped around her waist and a familiar body pressed against her.
“Looking for somebody, vet lady?”
MJ smiled. “As a matter of fact, yes. The woman I’m searching for is tall and very tan. All over her body in fact, which I find very sexy. She’s got short dark hair and is extremely good looking. Seen anybody like that in these parts?”
“Nope.” Chris nuzzled MJ’s neck and flicked an earlobe with her tongue. “Nobody here fits that description.”
MJ turned and put her arms around Chris’s neck. “Well, I guess then you’ll have to do.” She leaned in and kissed Chris lovingly, lingering until Chris opened her mouth to give her access. “How was your day?”
“Tease. It was good. Kate came over and helped me take pictures of the foals I’m weaning next week.”
“She didn’t have any dog training classes today?”
Kate Winter and her blind partner, Faith Hutchins, were regular visitors to the farm since Chris had given one of her horses to Faith. Kate had a horse of her own that she boarded elsewhere. Kate had been instrumental in training Juneau, Faith’s seeing-eye dog.
“No. Apparently there was a flea infestation at The Dog House and they had to have it fumigated. So they both came over and while Faith rode Ruby in the ring, Kate manned the camera. The dogs are exhausted from playing with Juneau. For a highly trained seeing-eye dog, she’s crazy when she gets together with Cagney and Sadie.”
“I’m sorry I missed them. But I’m glad you had help.” She bit her lower lip and fidgeted.
“What’s the matter?”
“Something is. Your body language changed in an instant. You feel different. Is there something you need to talk about?” Chris leaned back and cupped her chin, forcing eye contact.
“Crap. I’ve been dreading this all day. Dad called me before the closing. He was at the courthouse filing a restraining order.”
She took a deep breath. “The restraining order is for Cindy Jenkins.”
Chris smiled. “That’s a little premature, don’t you think?”
“No. You don’t understand. She was released early.”
Chris’s smile faded to a frown. She dropped her arms and stepped back. Her eyes narrowed. “Wow. I wasn’t expecting that.”
She put her arms around Chris’s waist. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine. Just surprised. I knew it was going to happen eventually, but I never dreamed they’d let her out early.”
“Dad didn’t know all the details, otherwise I’m sure he would’ve told me.”
“As long as she doesn’t show her face around here, I’ll be fine,” Chris said.
MJ gave Chris her best reassuring smile. “I’m under strict orders to get you up to the house to eat something. Gram was sitting on the swing when I pulled up.”
“Good gods, that woman called me every ten minutes.” Chris ginned sheepishly. “She’s probably not real happy with me right now because I stopped answering her calls. I’m actually surprised she didn’t come down here and drag me up there.”
“No, I can’t say as she is. All the more reason to get your tail up there, missy.”
“Listen, I have a foal registration I have to finish up on the computer. I’ll be up in ten minutes. Would you go soften her up for me?”
“It’ll cost you.” She knew just what she wanted for the exchange and knew Chris knew it too.
“You are one high priced woman. But I guess it’s for my benefit.”
“I’m hoping the price itself is worthwhile.” MJ shoved her pelvis against Chris’s. She released her, ran her hands down Chris’s chest, and winked devilishly. “See you in a bit, Martel.”
Chris watched MJ walk away before entering the office. She stopped just inside and a wave of numbness washed over her. Out of force of habit when she was stressed, she lifted her shirt and lightly ran fingers over the puffy scar permanently etched in her stomach.