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Tempted by a Cowboy

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“Philly, we want to go,” one of the blondes demanded with a full-on whine.

“Fine,” Phillip snapped. “Ortiz, make sure the ladies get back to their homes.”

A different male voice—probably the limo driver—said, “Yes sir, Mr. Beaumont.” This announcement was met with cries of protest, which quickly turned to howls of fury.

Jo didn’t watch. She kept her eye on Sun, who was still freaking out at all the commotion. If he made another bolt for the fence, she might have to let Richard tranq him and she really didn’t want that to happen. Shots fired now would only make her job that much harder in the long run.

Finally, the limo doors shut and she heard the car drive off. Thank God. With the women gone, the odds that Sun would settle down were a lot better.

She heard footsteps behind her and tensed. She didn’t want Phillip to touch her. She’d meant what she’d said to the hired hands earlier—she didn’t hook up with anyone. Especially not men like Phillip Beaumont. She couldn’t afford to have her professional reputation compromised, not when she’d finally gotten a top-tier client—and a horse no one else could save. She needed this job far more than she needed Phillip Beaumont to smile at her.

He came level with her and stopped. He was too close—more than close enough to touch.

She panicked. “I don’t sleep with clients,” she announced into the silence—and immediately felt stupid. She was letting a little thing like prickling heat undermine her authority here. She was a horse trainer. That was all.

“I’ll be sure to take that into consideration.” He looked down at her and turned on the most seductive smile she’d ever seen.

Oh, what a smile. She struggled for a moment to remember why, exactly, she didn’t need that smile in her life. How long had it been since she’d let herself smile back at a man? How long had it been since she’d allowed herself even a little bit of fun?

Years. But then the skin on the back of her neck pulled and she remembered the hospital and the pain. The scars. She hadn’t gotten this job because she smiled at attractive men. She’d gotten this job because she was a horse trainer who could save a broken horse.

She was a professional, by God. When she’d made her announcement to the hired hands earlier, they’d all nodded and agreed. But Phillip?

He looked as if she’d issued a personal challenge. One that he was up to meeting.

Heat flushed her face as she fluttered—honest-to-God fluttered. One little smile—that wouldn’t cost her too much, would it?


She pushed back against whatever insanity was gripping her. She no longer fluttered. She did not fall for party boys. She did not sleep with men at the drop of a hat because they were cute or bought her drinks. She did not look for a human connection in a bar because the connections she’d always made there were never very human.

She would not be tempted by Phillip Beaumont. It didn’t matter how tempting he was. She would not smile back because one smile would lead to another and she couldn’t let that happen.

He notched up one eyebrow as if he were acknowledging how much he’d flustered her. But instead of saying something else, he walked past her and leaned heavily against the paddock fence, staring at Sun. His body language pulled at her in ways she didn’t like. So few of the people who hired her to train horses actually cared about their animals. They looked at the horse and saw dollars—either in money spent, money yet to be made, or insurance payments. That’s why she didn’t get involved with her clients. She could count the exceptions on one hand, like Whitney Maddox, a horse breeder she’d stayed with a few months last winter. But those cases were few and far between and never involved men with reputations like Phillip Beaumont.

But the way Phillip was looking at his horse... There was a pain in his face that seemed to mirror what the horse was feeling. It was a hard thing to see.

No. She was not going to feel sorry for this poor little rich boy. She’d come from nothing, managed to nearly destroy her own life and actually managed to make good all by herself.

“He’s a good horse—I know he is.” Phillip didn’t even glance in her direction. He sounded different now that the ladies were gone. It was almost as if she could see his mask slip. What was left was a man who was tired and worried. “I know Richard thinks he should be put out of his misery, but I can’t do it. I can’t—I can’t give up on him. If he could just...” He scrubbed a hand through his hair, which, damn it, only made it look better. He turned to her. “Can you fix him?”

“No,” she told him. What was left of his playboy mask fell completely away at this pronouncement.

In that moment, Jo saw something else in Phillip Beaumont’s eyes—something that she didn’t just recognize, but that she understood.

He was so lost. Just like she’d been once.

“I can’t fix him—but I can save him.”

He looked at her. “There’s a difference?”

“Trust me—all the difference in the world.”

Jo looked back at Sun, who was quickly working through his energy. Soon, he’d calm down. Maybe he’d even drink some water and sleep. That’d be good. She wanted to save him in a way that went beyond the satisfaction of a job well done or the fees that Phillip Beaumont could afford to pay her.

She wanted to save this horse because once, she’d hurt as much as he did right now. And no one—no horse—should hurt that much. Not when she could make it better.

She wasn’t here for Phillip Beaumont. He might be a scarred man in a tempting package, but she’d avoided temptation before and she’d do it again.

“Don’t give up on him,” he said in a voice that she wasn’t sure was meant for her.

“Don’t worry,” she told the horse as much as she told Phillip. “I won’t.”

She would not give up on the horse.

She wasn’t sure she had such high hopes for the man.

Two (#ulink_09d21950-8ddb-54cd-8abb-eb0a91a99bc4)

Light. Too much light.

God, his head.

Phillip rolled away from the sunlight but moving his head did not improve the situation. In fact, it only made things worse.

Finally, he sat up, which had the benefit of getting the light out of his face but also made his stomach roll. He managed to get his eyes cracked open. He wasn’t in his downtown apartment and he wasn’t in his bedroom at the Beaumont Mansion.

The walls of the room were rough-cut logs, the fireplace was stone and a massive painting showing a pair of Percherons pulling a covered wagon across the prairie hung over the mantle.

Ah. He was at the farm. Immediately, his stomach unclenched. There were a lot worse places to wake up. He knew that from experience. Back when his grandfather had built it, it’d been little more than a cabin set far away from the world of beer. John Beaumont hadn’t wasted money on opulence where no one would see it. That’s why the Beaumont Mansion was a work of art and the farm was...not.

Phillip liked it out here. Over the years, the original cabin had been expanded, but always with the rough-hewn logs. His room was a part he’d added himself, mostly because he wanted a view and a deck to look at it from. The hot tub outside didn’t hurt, either, but unlike the hot tub at his bachelor pad, this one was mostly for soaking.

Mostly. He was Phillip Beaumont, after all.

Phillip sat in bed for a while, rubbing his temples and trying to sift through the random memories from the last few days. He knew he’d had an event in Las Vegas on...Thursday. That’d been a hell of a night.

He was pretty sure he’d had a club party in L.A. on Friday, hadn’t he? No, that wasn’t right. Beaumont Brewery had a big party tent at a music festival and Phillip had been there for the Friday festivities. Lots of music people. Lots of beer.

And Saturday...he’d been back in Denver for a private party for some guy’s twenty-first birthday. But, no matter how hard he tried to remember the party, his brain wouldn’t supply any details.

So, did that mean today was Sunday or Monday? Hell, he didn’t know. That was the downside of his job. Phillip was vice president of Marketing in charge of special events for Beaumont Brewery, which loosely translated into making sure everyone had a good time at a Beaumont-sponsored event and talked about it on social media.

Phillip was very good at his job.

He found the clock. It was 11:49. He needed to get up. The sun was only getting brighter. Why didn’t he have room-darkening blinds in here?

Oh, yeah. Because the windows opened up on to a beautiful vista, full of lush grass, tall trees and his horses. Damn his aesthetic demands.
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