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The McKenna Curse Book 5
BY PATRICIA ROSEMOOR
Horse trainer Aidan McKenna has the ability to glimpse into the future. So when the dreams begin—searing, erotic dreams about his new partner, Cat Clarke—he knows the dangers of ever falling in love again. Aidan and the beautiful horse breeder had staked everything on their racing venture. But when Cat’s missing stable manager turns up dead, it becomes clear they have more to lose than races. Aidan knows he has to find a way to defeat the curse to save the woman of his dreams.
Giving Mac a peppermint, Aidan McKenna shut the stall door behind him and stared at the light in his older brother’s eyes, the same McKenna-green as both his own and their younger brother Tiernan’s. The three McKenna men looked alike, too, all tall, broad-shouldered, with thick dark hair brushing chiseled features. Today, Cashel’s were softened into something that looked like hope.
“Aidan, our problems are solved!” Cashel said. “This is Catrina Clarke from America. We can have the backing we need to race Mac there.”
But Aidan didn’t have reason to trust hope. “And what kind of backing is it you offer from America, Miss Clarke?”
“Call me Cat. I’m a breeder and I came to Ireland on a buying trip, to add new blood to my stock. But when I saw Mac Finnian run…”
Her breath caught in her throat and Aidan’s caught in his. It wasn’t just her natural beauty, but something in her voice—something that told him she was more than a businesswoman when it came to fine horseflesh—that seduced him.
Just for a moment.
“Out with it, then,” he said.
“I know you don’t have the funds to race him in the U.S., and I’m willing to make a deal so that will be possible.” Her smile widened, lighting up her whole face.
Once again, he was caught by the fire that burned within her.
Until the colt kicked the stall door for attention. Mac had hung his head into the aisle and now snorted at his owners. Aidan reached back and scratched the sweet spot on his long, muscular neck before turning his attention back to his brother.
“We’re not selling anyone half interest in our colt!”
“But that’s not the deal I offered!” the woman protested.
Knowing he had to get away from the Clarke woman before he caved, Aidan snorted and headed for the exit. Cashel followed and Aidan realized the lass had chosen to remain where she was. He took a good look back. There she stood, her back stiff, her mouth now in a straight line. And then her cell phone rang and after a glance at her screen, she frowned and wandered off to take the call in private.
“I wouldn’t agree to sell,” Cashel said, grabbing his arm and stopping him from leaving. “The Clarke woman wanted to buy Mac outright, but I told her that wasn’t possible. What kind of sodding fool do you take me for?”
“What are her plans for Mac Finnian?”
“She simply offered a very fair partnership. She’ll not own any of Mac, simply get a share in the winnings until we retire him from—”
“How much, then?”
Aidan gaped at his brother. “’Tis ridiculous!” he shouted.
Cashel raised his voice, as well. “You want to give it up, then, just stay here and run him on Irish grass?”
Looking out through the open door into the misting rain and the emerald green pastures beyond the barn, Aidan wanted to say the colt would do well enough, but he knew “well enough” would be a disappointment to them both. In a country where races were run on grass like that which stretched on forever before him, they’d bred a colt who wanted to run on dirt. A colt who ran like the wind on dirt. A colt who could win big on dirt.
But it wouldn’t be here or in any country close by.
The logical thing was to race Mac where he would run best, and that would be in the United States. There Mac Finnian could race on dirt tracks.
“Think about it, Aidan. He could advance to the Breeders’ Cup Classic with an honest chance of becoming a world champion.”
And if that happened as they both thought it could, at last McKenna Racing would earn the reputation it needed. Then they would have their pick of top-flight racehorses to train.
But the only way they could race Mac in America without selling parts of him off was to take the deal. Something deep inside was telling him this was a bad idea.
“We’re nearly broke and you know it, Aidan,” Cashel continued. “The stud fees to get Mac and the fees to nominate him for the Breeders’ Cup ate up our savings, and the horses we’ve been training haven’t exactly had a grand year.”
True, those fees had totaled six figures. Plus, their share of winnings this year had been slim enough that Aidan feared losing owners who might not keep faith in them to train their Thoroughbreds to be champions.
When Aidan still didn’t say anything, Cashel went on. “You know the cost of flying Mac Finnian internationally, quarantining him and setting him up in a foreign barn—not to mention the racing entry fees—well, that’s more money than we’ve seen in too long a time.”
Aidan knew that as well as his brother. Realizing he would have to consider the offer as much as he hated to admit it, he relented. “Mac’ll never be the best he can be racing here. We do need to consider the partnership.”
“There are another couple caveats to which we must agree.”
“And those would be?”
“The Clarke woman gets a third of his stud fees for the first year. And she gets to use him at stud on her own mares with no fee. One live foal per mare, an even half dozen. That was the price of not selling a share in him outright. She wants to expand her business. I’m thinking she might want to get into racing in the future, as well.”
If so, Aidan couldn’t blame her. Thoroughbred racing fueled his blood. And his dreams. Dreams that, under the proper conditions, Mac could make come true.
“I don’t like her setting the terms, though,” Aidan muttered, thinking she was likely to get under his skin the moment he saw her again. Attraction warred with irritation. He didn’t need either. As if she’d heard him via some mental connection, she was stalking toward them now, her face wreathed in an angry thundercloud. “If only there was another way.”
“You know there is. We could syndicate the colt, then.”
“And divide him up into little pieces?” He glared at Cashel. He knew his brother didn’t want that any more than he did. It was simply Cashel’s annoying attempt at getting his way. Cursing under his breath, Aidan said, “All right, then.”
“Grand! Don’t worry, I’ll see that Mac will be well taken care of.”
Aidan started. “What does that mean?”
“Just what it sounds like. I look forward to the American races.”
As usual, Cashel was trying to take over as if he were Aidan’s boss rather than his partner in the business. The curse of having a sometimes autocratic older brother.
“You’ll be doing no such thing.” Knowing it was time he made his own mark, Aidan stood his ground. “I’m the one who trained Mac practically from the time he was foaled, not you. I’m the one who will be taking our colt to America.”
Truth to tell, Aidan would be glad to get away from his overbearing brother for a while. Noting the smirk Cashel quickly hid, he wondered if he’d been tricked into volunteering.
Seeing that Cat was standing there like a stone-cold statue, obviously tuned in to their disagreement, he ground out, “To where exactly?” Even if Cashel had tricked him, Aidan wouldn’t back up now. Mac Finnian was his responsibility. “Kentucky? New York? California?”
“My farm is in Woodstock, Illinois.”
“The Midwest?” He knew Cashel had been in the area once before for the Arlington Million, while Aidan had stayed behind to tend to the other horses they were training.
“That would be in the middle of nowhere!”
“As if this is the only somewhere,” Cat said. “Get over yourself, McKenna. There are places in the world other than your little patch of green. I can provide the means for you to see them, but I need to catch the next flight out. I’ve been called home for an unexpected court date. And my barn manager has done a disappearing act—” Catching herself before going on, she took a big breath and looked him squarely in the face.
“When you decide what you want to do, call me.”
With that, she headed straight for the exit.
Cashel laughed. “At least Cat Clarke is something to look at.”
Aidan found no fault with her looks—she was indeed fair, with a small waist and full hips and dark hair that teased breasts lush enough to tempt a man—it was the lass herself and the attraction that stirred his guilt that created the problem.
“I’m going to town to pick up some supplies,” he said stiffly.
“If you have no further objections, I’ll make the arrangements, then,” Cashel said. “I assume your agreement stands.”
“Do what you need to.”
Striding out of the barn into the soft day, where a fine, light mist covered him like fairy dust, Aidan wondered what he was getting himself into. Cat Clarke had come to Galway on an equine buying trip and had been sidetracked to watch Mac Finnian run on a practice dirt track, where she’d apparently been overly impressed with his time.
While he’d been overly impressed with her until she’d taken that call. Her snapping at him was enough to convince him that he’d do best to stay away from her. She had a temper, that one, and she had attitude that reminded him of Cashel. Always one to be in charge.
He preferred his women easy-going and good-natured, and Catrina Clarke was the complete opposite. Put her with himself and they were like oil and water.
Facts were facts, though. They’d had no better offer.
Mac Finnian wasn’t just any horse. He wasn’t simply a commodity to either McKenna brother and especially not to Aidan, who’d connected with him on a whole different level from the moment he’d been born.
Maybe getting away from Galway would free him from the dreams that haunted him, the guilt and memories of how their troubles had really begun.
Of how the only woman he’d ever loved had died.
Because of him.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Patricia Rosemoor has had 100 novels with 8 publishers and more than 7 million books in print. Always fascinated with “dangerous love,” Patricia combines romance with crime in her stories. She has won a Golden Heart from Romance Writers of America and two Reviewers Choice and two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times BOOKreviews, and in her other life, she taught Popular Fiction and Suspense-Thriller Writing at Columbia College Chicago.
Links to Patricia’s website, blog, books, etc.
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