Rose looked over her list of appointments for the day. At the bottom of the list was the Flying S Ranch. This time, there was a new stallion to examine. All signs pointed to Santos beginning a breeding ranch.
She sighed. It’d been a week since she brushed off Nick Santos’s offer for dinner. If he didn’t live in her county and wasn’t one of her clients, she would have dragged him into his house and had her wicked way with him. Her trip to Dallas couldn’t get here fast enough.
The man was gorgeous with a capital G.
His good looks suggested a mixed heritage. Thick black hair, olive-toned skin, and baby-blue eyes. Despite her attraction to the man, she was a professional. She’d inspect the stallion then leave just like she’d done several days ago with the mares. When she’d checked back in on the bay, Rose was in and out of his place before she caught sight of Santos. The mares were fine. No need to bother the man.
Maybe Rose could get lucky this time too and avoid him completely.
She grabbed her bag. Her appointments would never get done if she stood there fantasizing about his dreamy blue eyes, his well-built body, and thick black hair.
* * * *
Turning onto the main drive to the ranch, Rose pulled in directly behind a horse trailer. It appeared she was arriving just in time for the stallion’s appearance. No way would she avoid Nick this visit.
Seeing no one around, she slipped out of the SUV and headed toward the paddock. A glance proved that the mares had been moved to a field farther away. Good thinking on someone’s part with the new stud ready to be unloaded. With a quick pivot on her heel, she moved back toward the trailer. She watched Jesse and two other men work at coaxing the stallion out. The foreman greeted her with a nod before he concentrated on the prized animal.
Santos strolled out of the nearby stable. He seemed cockier than he had the last time. His walk and the way he carried himself showed his confidence. Overconfidence, she mused. He probably thought she’d agree to dinner this time.
“Mr. Santos.” She held her hand out to greet him. Being polite to her clients made good business sense. Especially ones she wanted to drag to bed. Today was no exception. Dressed in jeans and a chest-hugging T-shirt, he looked as delectable as ever. The bulging muscles reinforced her desire to run her hands over his well-toned body.
“Miss Kincaid.” He shook her hand with a light grin. “It is miss,
She tilted her head and watched him. She sensed something different about him, but she couldn’t say what. “Yes, Mr. Santos, but everyone calls me Rose.”
“Rose. A beautiful name.” He continued to hold her hand. With a tug, she drew it back. Excitement ricocheted through her body from his touch. She swore Santos chuckled at her discomfort. Doing her best to ignore him, she turned toward the trailer and watched as two men exited while leading the stallion.
The animal was magnificent with perfect contours and composition. A deep reddish brown, he danced out of the trailer. She paused while the men led the horse into the paddock before she approached. The spirited stallion pranced and tugged on the lead rope Jesse held in a tight grip.
A quick inspection of the stud confirmed that Santos had purchased an excellent specimen. She ran her hands over the stallion’s body and legs, feeling the power rippling below the skin. He’d sire high-quality offspring.
After leaving the paddock, she stopped next to the man who’d haunted her dreams over the past week. “Exceptional animal. He doesn’t appear to have been affected by the trip. He’s sound.”
“Great.” He clapped his hands together and smiled. “Now how about a drink?”
She laughed and shook her head. Not giving up, was he?
Slipping past him, she made her way to her SUV, tossing a parting comment at him. “I told you, Mr. Santos. Not with my clients.”
ETHAN SANTOS WATCHED the stunning vet climb into her SUV and drive away. He turned and strode toward the stables as Nick stepped out of the building to join him. Nick had remained hidden to give Ethan time to meet the lovely doctor. The two brothers met halfway across the yard. They’d been switching places since they could walk—usually to pass tests or tease girls in school. Being identical twins did have its advantages.
“So what do you think?” Nick asked his younger brother.
Ethan grinned. “She’s exactly as you described. I think she’s going to prove a bit of a challenge though. Do we need to get a new vet so we’re not her clients?”
Nick chuckled. “If that’s what it takes, Hermano
Ethan slapped Nick on the shoulder. “Let’s get a drink and make plans. I took some steaks out this morning. Did you finish setting up the playroom?”
Nick snorted but kept in step with Ethan as they headed toward the house. “Damn, you’re bossy. You’ve been here half an hour and already giving me orders. Just remember who’s older, Little Brother.”
Ethan scowled. “You’ll never let me forget those twelve minor minutes, will you?”
With a wide grin, Nick stepped onto the porch. “Nope. Never. It’s my prerogative as the oldest to remind you every chance I get.”
The two continued to banter and tease each other as they began planning Rose’s seduction.
* * * *
The county’s Spring into Summer event was the highlight every year for the sleepy little town of Spring Creek. People swarmed to the fair grounds on the bright Saturday morning for enjoyment and pleasure. The excitement was palpable as children laughed and ran. The adults gossiped, taste tested the home-baked goodies, and sampled the beer or wine. School classes were over, people were ready for the hot sunny June weather, and tourists flocked through the countryside. This was just one reason Rose had fallen in love with the locals when she moved here three years earlier.
Everyone in the county came out. Old-fashioned games, like a dunk tank and a kissing booth, were annual favorites. A petting zoo, craft sales, pie-eating contest, and a judged bake-off rounded out the small-town delights. The air was filled with sounds of people having fun. The delicious aroma of food cooking drifted throughout the fair grounds. Rose had attended the state fair in Dallas every year before she moved to the charming community. This reminded her of it but on an intimate scale.
She set up her usual table with an overhead canopy. Pet owners would bring their animals for free shots and a quick checkup. She closed her Saturday morning clinic so she could provide this service to the community. Her brother helped, but she knew he became annoyed at the word free
. He was a businessman after all, and he hated giving away anything. She tormented him mercilessly about his stinginess. Reed smiled and accepted her teasing good-naturedly until given an opportunity to flee. Mayor Sinclair took pity on Reed and asked for his help in judging the pie entries. Her brother leaped at the chance.
Right after lunch, Rose turned her table over to the vet from a neighboring county. They often filled in for each other. In fact, Dr. Nelson covered for her every other month when she went to Dallas on her four-day weekend retreats. As far as he was concerned, she visited her mother. For now, Rose would take her turn at the dunk tank to raise money for the school. Then she had rounds to finish.
Settled on the seat hovering over the tank of cold water, she joined in on the teasing from the local residents. The locals had embraced Rose when she took over the practice from the retired vet. By now, she knew practically everyone. Laughing, she lightheartedly accepted their bantering. Then she glanced up and saw him.
She’d put Nick Santos out of her mind for the past two weeks. In fourteen more days, she’d be in Dallas, enjoying herself and doing her best to wipe him from her thoughts. She hated to admit it, but he continued to haunt her dreams. It was not a good sign.
Determined to ignore him, she turned back to the boy standing in front of her. She’d saved his prized calf several months ago. Now he was paying money to sink her into the chilly water. Let him try.
She grinned, egging him on. “C’mon, DJ. What are you waiting for? Afraid you’ll miss?”
The first ball zinged past the trigger by mere inches.
She laughed. “What was that? I thought you could throw.”
The second ball whistled by even closer. He was good. Too good. DJ was on the high school’s baseball team.
The thought of plunging into the cold water sounded refreshing on such a hot day. She also needed cooling off after seeing Nick in the crowd. Rose found her gaze locked with his. His intense stare focused on her; a shiver raced through her body. A movement at his side caused her to glance at the man standing beside him. Astonishment flashed through her just as the bell on the tank rang. The sun wasn’t hot enough for her to be seeing double. Was it? She slid into the cold water and shrieked. Santos had an identical twin.
NICK WATCHED ROSE from the crowd. He’d thought of no one but her over the past two weeks. His and Ethan’s conversations revolved around the lovely sprite preparing to be dunked. They had decided to wait an appropriate amount of time before approaching her. Although Ethan wanted to rush in, Nick put him off.
Stepping up next to him, Ethan leaned in toward Nick and spoke in hushed tones. “The kid’s good, but he’s taking too long.”
“Give him a second. He’s putting on a good show. He could have dunked her the first try.”
“What do you think she’ll do when she realizes there are two of us?”
Nick wanted to hush his brother. He tried not to think of her possible response. If their past experiences were any indication, she’d be thrilled. Although, from her conversations with both brothers, Nick was afraid she’d remain aloof. She didn’t date clients, whether they were identical twins or not.
They’d received their share of female stares and double takes since arriving at the fair. The twins were accustomed to the same expressions of wonder over the years. Women described them as sexy, and discovering they were twins was the stuff of feminine fantasies. The brothers had learned to ignore it or use it to their advantage when needed.
“I’m betting on no bra.”
Nick shifted a puzzled glance toward his brother. Where had that come from?
Ethan shrugged, a smile creasing his face. “Don’t tell me you haven’t wondered what she’d look like naked.”
Nick chuckled. Ethan would wonder. “You know I have. No, she’s not the type, but you’re on.”
The two brothers stood side by side. They watched as Rose teased and cajoled the boy before her. He looked about fifteen and determined to dunk her. As he drew his arm back for his third and final throw, Rose looked up. Her eyes met Nick’s. He smiled. Her gaze shifted to Ethan. The surprise on her face was worth the wait. Both brothers grinned as the ball connected with the release device on the seat and a beautiful and shocked Rose plunged into the water tank.