Cover & Excerpt Reveal
The Stable Book One
Caught in a web of deceit, Caroline must run the race of her life to save her family home. Her reputation as the high society owner of the #1 stable for Ponygirls in the world is on the line. And, there’s only one man who can help her win.
Edward Hastings is steamy, passionate and dangerous. With molten brown eyes and a rock hard body, the notorious playboy could have any woman in the world, but he only wants her. The first time he’d seen Caroline dressed like a pony, he’d been enthralled. Now, nothing will keep him from her.
They strike a deal. He’ll train her if she sticks to his rules. But rules were made to be broken. The moment he slides the bit into her mouth, she knows she’s in trouble. As he ignites a fire in her body and her mind, will she make it through the week without losing her heart to him? Or will she be able to train temptation?
Genre: Erotic Romance
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Shifting closer to the senator, Caroline gazed over his shoulder at the reflective glass in the French doors behind him. She spotted the reflection of the man staring at her and the smile faded from her face.
She had to get away, fast. “Excuse me senator, allow me introduce you to Prince Franco. He just arrived.”
“Trying to get rid of me so soon?” he joked.
She leaned in and whispered, “Franco just acquired Bareli Enterprises. The announcement will come Monday, but you might want to discuss the details of his intended merger with Denning Corp.”
The senator arched an eyebrow. “Merger? It seems that the prince and I do have something to discuss.”
Attempting to disguise her distress, Caroline played the proper hostess and steered him toward the prince. After introducing them, she turned to escape.
Blend in. She could blend into the party if she hid amongst the other guests in the ballroom. With over two hundred guests at the party, she could avoid him.
Caroline threw open the heavy mahogany doors to the ballroom and her eyes darted around the room. No sign of him. Excellent.
The rhythmic beat of drums and the soulful singing of the sultry woman draped across the piano filled the ballroom with electric energy. Laughter carried through every corner of the enormous room.
A sigh escaped her lips. She knew he would be here, so why was she nervous about seeing him? Caroline had spent the last five years ignoring him. Not an easy accomplishment. Their particular fetish du jour, sexy athletic women dressed like horses, ensured they’d see each other at almost every event. This week marked the 13th Annual International Ponygirl competition. Everyone who was anyone would be here.
The sound of shattering glass smashed through the ballroom snapping her into the present. Conversations sputtered then roared back to life as the piano singer continued her song. The carnal hunger of the crowed swirled around her. Everyone’s eyes seemed misted with anticipation for the race.
Overwhelmed by the energy in the room, she threaded her way through the crowed to the safety of the kitchen where broken wine glasses littered the floor. The chef barked orders as the kitchen staff scurried to clear the mess.
She leaned over to help pick up a shard from the floor. The glass bit into her hand. Dammit. Pain slashed across her fingers and blood dripped from the wound.
The chef grabbed a clean dishrag and wrapped it around her hand. “Are you okay?” he asked.
“Let me call a doctor.”
“I’ll be fine,” she lied. She hadn’t been fine since Anton’s threat and she wouldn’t be fine again until she was sure she wouldn’t lose Sheridan Estate. Tears formed in her eyes but she blinked them away.
The staff stared at her. She followed their attention downward to where droplets of red stained her dress. She needed to change.
She turned to leave and Edward appeared out of nowhere. “There you are.”
Great. He’d cause an even bigger scene if she didn’t get rid of him quickly. She brushed past him. “Excuse me.”
The chef stepped between them. “Sir, you can’t be in here.”
“It’s okay, I’m a doctor.”
Aware the staff was listening, she lowered her voice. “You never finished med school.”
“It doesn’t take med school to slap on a bandage.”
She thrust her wrapped hand toward him. “Blood is dripping everywhere. Please get out of my way.”
“Wait, let me help you.”
She shoved past him and stomped down the hallway.
“I was pre-med at Stanford,” he said.
She paused. Maybe he could be of some use after all. Avoiding Edward for the rest of the week would be pointless. Why was she trying so hard to avoid him anyway? It wasn’t like he was a serial killer. Men like him were always around the stable with their latest flavor of the week, so why did she get so rattled when he was around?
She stood up straighter and pushed her shoulders back. She wouldn’t let him get to her. “All right doctor, I have a first aid kit in my bathroom but you better behave.”
“I finally get to play doctor with you.” He grinned.
Caroline put her injury-free hand on her hip. “This is exactly why I don’t think you should come up.”
He held his hands up as if he was surrendering. “I promise to be on my best behavior.”
“The only reason I’m letting you come up is because you’re the only doctor here, and I hate hospitals.”
He gestured toward her hand. “From the way it’s bleeding, it may not be minor, but I need to look at it to be sure.”
“Fine.” She could tolerate him for a few minutes.
He remained silent as they climbed the staircase to the third floor. Her room occupied the end of the east wing of the mansion.
“Sit here.” He pointed at her crushed blue velvet settee. Her hand throbbed as he unwrapped the kitchen towel. “The bleeding has slowed considerably but we need to wash it out to avoid infection.”
He grabbed a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, cotton balls and a gauze wrap. His eyebrows furrowed and his lips pressed together. Interesting, he actually seemed concerned about someone other than himself.
“This is going to sting.” He held her hand over the sink and poured the liquid onto the cut.
Shocked by the burning sensation, she yanked her hand back. “Damn, that hurts.”
His expression softened. “I know, but I want to make sure it’s completely disinfected.”
She allowed him to grasp her hand again. His fingers encircled her wrist and warmth spread up her arm.
Their eyes met in the mirror and for a moment, neither of them moved. The corners of his eyes were softer. His full sensual lips relaxed into an inviting smile. She couldn’t look away.
“Thank you.” Maybe there was more to him than just an arrogant playboy.
He dropped his gaze to her hand then brought it up to his lips. As he brushed his smooth lips across her knuckles, he seemed to be searching for something in her eyes. The pain in her hand was forgotten as her heart threatened to explode in her chest.
The tense edge of her mouth relaxed when he looked down to wrap gauze around the wound. “You need to apply ointment twice a day. If you see any redness or swelling, or if the pain gets worse, you need to see a doctor right away, okay?”
In a daze, she nodded.
A twinkle lit up his eyes. “You realize you owe me now, right?”
His question snapped her back to reality. “I’d say name your price, but I don’t think I want to know.” Of course, he wasn’t doing this out of the goodness of his heart.
He sat next to her and turned to face her. “I’ll settle for a kiss.”
She sat perfectly still as he leaned toward her. Her pulse leapt when his fingers grazed her sensitive earlobe as he settled a lock of hair behind it.
He whispered, “You can say no.”
Mesmerized, she wouldn’t stop him. His tongue flicked out darting across his bottom lip. She wanted more than anything in that moment to taste him, to suck and nip at his lips, to tangle her fingers in his thick, luxurious hair.
Intoxicated by the subtle scent of his cologne, she inhaled deeper, pulling his essence into her lungs. Her eyes locked on his face as he shifted closer to her. Closing her eyes in anticipation, she could hear the sound of her breath mingling with his. His wine laced breath caressed her face.
“Excuse me, Lady Caroline?”
She smacked her head against his hand as she jerked back. Scowling at her maid, she said, “Amanda, you need to knock when you enter my chambers.”
“I did knock.”
“Did you wait for a proper reply?”
The maid stared at the floor. “No, Lady Caroline.”
“I should send you to the groom the ponies in the stable this week. What do you want?”
The maid glanced from her to Edward and back to her. “The guests who are staying on the property wish to retire for the night.”
Caroline stood and towered over the maid. “You have the list of who is staying in each room.”
The maid nodded toward Edward, a wry smile crossed her face. “Does he know where he’s staying tonight?”
“He’s staying in the blue room in the west wing, not that it’s any of your concern.” She raised an eyebrow and glared at the maid.
“Should I show him to his room?”
“That won’t be necessary. I was just about to escort him out.”
What was this girl up to? She wasn’t jealous of the maid, was she? The maid excused herself then sauntered out the door.
Caroline turned to him. “It’s been a long night. I trust you remember how to get to your room?”
She struggled to read his expression and it bothered her.
He stood. “I guess it has been a long night. Until tomorrow?”
As soon as he stepped into the hallway, she closed the door. She sagged against the wall as tremors rippled along her spine. The stress of being behind on mortgage payments coupled with the stress of organizing the competition killed the ability to think clearly. She'd fallen right into a trap like all of his other playthings.
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Diana Baron Amazon author page
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