By Kaitlyn DeRose
Copyright 2015 by Kaitlyn DeRose
Published 2015 by Kaitlyn DeRose at Shakespir
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission of the author. Any resemblance to actual persons or events is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
About The Author
Keller rolled his head in slow circles, loosening the tight muscles that were developing after hours of mucking stalls. He’d offered to clean the stud barn after a stable-hand called in sick. He was already regretting the decision. You try to be nice and look where it gets you, Keller thought. Now I’m cleaning every stall in the joint. He’d literally rolled out of bed that morning and got in the car for work. He ran a hand down his face and felt the prickle of morning beard. His hair grew faster than he could handle. The horses sure as hell didn’t care what he looked like, and there weren’t any girls he wanted to impress. His job had become his first love, and he wasn’t going to screw it up like he’d almost screwed up his life eight years before.
Keller Pratt wasn’t the type of guy to take no for an answer. He’d never been the guy to take a hit without punching right back. He grew up poor to a woman addicted to heroin, and a nonexistent father beyond the name on the birth certificate. His life had been a wave of inconsistency. Sometimes his mother would be at work, and other times she’d pass out and forget to go to work at all. She barely remembered to feed her only son, or even take care of herself.
Keller had learned to take care of himself at a very young age. It was either that or die. Living was less painful than dying of starvation or addiction. He’d gone to school in the same clothes every day. He’d eat twice as much as the other kids ate at lunch because he definitely wasn’t going to be eating at home that night. He’d become a baseball superstar during middle school, but had failed miserably in his classes. People had respected him, but they had never liked him.
He’d been a brawler first and foremost, stirring up trouble and spending more time fighting other students than doing his required homework. It wasn’t until Malcolm took him under his wing that Keller’s life started to turn around. Malcolm Floyd, his mother’s brother, had made all the difference in the kid that no one wanted to deal with beyond the baseball field.
Keller wiped his brow and leaned his weight on the pitchfork. He could distinctly remember the night Mal had found him as if it happened only yesterday.
Mal had just accepted a job with Witch Creek Farm as an aspiring assistant trainer, and wanted to celebrate with his closest friends. Mal had never been much of a drinker, but a night on the town seemed appropriate enough. Unfortunately, his celebratory evening was cut short by family responsibility. He’d run into Keller outside a bar and recognized the wild-eyed look of a kid about to do something he’d regret.
Keller remembered how Mal had grabbed him by the nape of his neck and dragged him away from the mini-mart he’d been casing to rob. He’d hated that initial roughness, but now he could see why Mal had done it. He’d fought Mal off out of embarrassment. You couldn’t get a reputation on the street when your uncle put a stop to your first robbery. At 17, Keller had been slick as a fish and primed for a fight, but Mal hadn’t cared. He’d been buoyed by raw anger and shame. That shame wasn’t totally directed at Keller though. Mal had been ashamed to find his nephew on the verge of committing a crime, and even more distressed to see what had become of his sister and her son.
Keller chuckled as he continued to toss manure into a wheelbarrow. God, he’d been full of himself. How he’d ever thought he could take down the well-muscled 23 year old, he’d never know. He’d been ballsy as a teenager. Sometimes he wished that old ballsiness would return just for old time’s sake. Life could get pretty boring when all you did was work all day and then go home too exhausted to do much more than heat up food in the microwave.
“What the hell are you laughing at?” Mal asked from the stall entrance.
Keller shook his head, rolled his gray eyes. “Nothing. I just can’t believe some of the shit I used to get into.”
“Lots of shit. You were the ultimate pain in the ass.”
“I wasn’t that bad,” Keller grumbled. “I just knew what I wanted to do.”
“Which was to not cooperate with any sort of authority even if said authority was bigger, stronger, and more intelligent.”
Keller threw the pitchfork into the wheelbarrow and smiled at Mal.
The thirty year old version of Malcolm Floyd was a huge improvement over the younger version that Keller remembered. Mal had endless patience now. He used to get so angry every time Keller did something wrong. Now Mal was wiser. He knew enough to let Keller stew if he had something on his mind or until he figured out how to deal with his own issues. Mal was no longer the guy looking to prove himself capable as a man, or as the assistant trainer at Witch Creek Farm.
Eight years later, Malcolm was the main trainer at the farm. He was Keller’s uncle, roommate, friend, and boss. Mal had become the father figure that Keller had been missing. He’d never approved of how his sister had raised Keller, and he’d tried to step in several times, but Pamela had always pushed him away and accused him of meddling. Keller would always remember his mother as a flake. She’d never been able to protect him, and if she had thought of someone other than herself, she would have let Mal step in sooner.
“Ground still slick on the track?” Keller asked, forcibly interrupting his thoughts.
Mal sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Unfortunately. Things always start slowing down on us around this time of year. Kevin’s tractor is still in the shop so I’m s-o-l if I want to work horses. Luckily, most of our runners are somewhere else.”
Upstate New York was not a kind place to be in the winter months. They could be as mild as a lamb and then wham!—shit hit the fan. Troughs would be frozen a foot deep, snow would be up to mid-thigh, and temperatures would be 10 below for a month straight. It sucked for those who lived it, and drew national attention for those who didn’t. Somehow, the crazy New Yorkers would get through the winter though and then prepare to do it all over again the next year. Both Malcolm and Keller considered themselves among the crazy.
“I guess we’ll give them a day off. Hopefully, Kevin starts looking at building an indoor track. We’ve got plenty of room and I’d just love to torture my riders with year round labor.”
“Very funny,” Keller grumbled as he dragged the wheelbarrow down the hallway. “I hope Kevin gets that tractor back soon. I’d really like to not have to cart this wheelbarrow over the ice all winter.”
Kevin Marsh was the founder and owner of Witch Creek Farm. The farm was a neat addition to the New York racing industry. It provided breeding, foaling, boarding, and training for thoroughbred racehorses. The farm was quickly rising in the ranks, and had received its first big break with their homebred runner, No Nonsense, last year. The bay horse would be siring his first babies last winter and was becoming a very popular stud among the breeders in the northern state.
Keller considered Witch Creek his second home and his saving grace. Even though he hadn’t been a big fan of being put to work as a stable-hand by Mal, Keller had appreciated the windfall of money. Never had he missed a week of paying his bills or struggled to find cash for food. Granted, Mal probably would have paid for him, but Keller would have been too proud to ask.
He’d met some cool people and still maintained the good friendships that he’d first created when he’d been hired, even if those friends had moved on to other places. Keller never intended to leave. This was his home, his people, and his first love. It was his hope and dream to become Mal’s assistant trainer someday.
“You going to stay for dinner tonight at the Marsh house?” Mal asked when Keller returned from dumping the wheelbarrow.
Keller shrugged and moved onto the next stall. “I might. Why?”
Mal scoffed. “Well, last I heard, a certain girl was coming home from college for Thanksgiving.”
Keller straightened in surprise. He’d forgotten how fast time was flying. If Ripley, Kevin’s daughter, was coming home then he really needed to get thinking about Christmas shopping. He’d been so busy that he hadn’t even thought about Ripley coming home. He always kept track of when she came back. Of all the friends he had, Ripley was the most important to him. She’d been a smart ass troublemaker that he’d kept an eye on for Kevin. In the early days at Witch Creek, he’d been suspicious that Kevin put him on watchdog duty just to keep Keller out of trouble. Trouble was hard to get into when you had a pre-teen tagalong attached to your hip.
He scraped manure together with the pitchfork, his brow wrinkled in thought. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d spoken with Ripley. He started to pull his cell out of his pocket, but Mal snatched it from his hands and tucked it in his jacket.
“Give that back,” Keller said.
“Nah. I need you to get to work since you’re coming to dinner with me. I can tell you haven’t talked to Ripley in a while and I’m not going to stand around watching you text when you’ll just see her in a couple more hours.”
Keller shot Mal a look, but the trainer was already on his way out of the stall. Keller slammed the pitchfork into the wheelbarrow when he heard the tune of a happy whistle. Malcolm was his role model, but even a role model could incite moments of frustration!
Warmth enveloped Keller when he stepped into the farm house later that evening. He still wore his black t-shirt, but he’d grabbed a clean pair of jeans out of his locker. Kevin and Mal wouldn’t mind the sight or smell of dirt and manure on his pants, but Leah would. Leah was Kevin’s wife and was notorious for being a clean freak. He’d crossed her once by tracking mud in on his work boots. He’d vowed to never do it again. If he’d been her son, he wouldn’t have been able to feel his ass for a week.
“Let’s go see your girlfriend,” Mal taunted as he led the way down the hallway.
“Mal, stuff it. She’s not my girlfriend and she’ll never be my girlfriend.”
“Aren’t you a little old for cooties?” Mal replied.
Keller was just about to open his mouth to comment, but stopped short when he caught movement on the staircase.
Mal winked at him, “Hey there, Ripley Ann.”
Keller wanted to crawl under a rock when silence met Mal’s words. He hadn’t even seen her yet and she was already going to be pissed at him. If only Keller had some of that bravado he’d had as a teenager, facing Ripley’s wrath wouldn’t be that big of a deal. He would just treat her like her opinion didn’t even matter to him.
“Keller, I should have told you long ago that I’d never be your girlfriend. I didn’t mean to keep your hopes up for so long.” Her voice was so mocking, but it didn’t piss him off like it would have with any other girl. Ripley’d always had one of those sexy voices that he wanted to listen to on repeat.
Keller’s nose curled up in irritation as he lifted his eyes for the first time to really look at her. Keller’s eyes widened in surprise, but he kept his mouth from dropping open. She looked nothing like the girl that left for college in August, and she sure as hell didn’t look like his figurative little sister. She widened her cat green eyes at the lack of response and turned to look at Malcolm.
“What did you steal his tongue before I got down the stairs?”
Mal chuckled, “I guess you stunned him speechless.”
“She didn’t. I was just soaking in the fact that my nuisance friend is back home for a couple days.”
“Oh, Keller…” Ripley said as she walked down the stairs. She smiled up at him once she reached the bottom. “I’ve never been a nuisance.” She patted him on the cheek like he was a little boy and walked away. Keller stared after her in shock.
She hadn’t been this curvy or sexy. She hadn’t looked like a woman or had the confidence of someone much older. He was so used to her coming home with a thinner body and a haunted look in her eyes. He wondered what had caused the change in her. However, he was more worried about the fact that he found her so sexy in black leggings and a man’s white button down shirt.
She was already sitting down next to her dad when he walked into the room. He eyed her warily and then the empty chair beside her. She tilted her head, shifted her rioting red-bronze curls behind her shoulders and aimed him a taunting look. He held his breath and prayed to God that this was just a practical joke.
“Hey, Keller,” Leah said cheerfully from behind him at the kitchen door. “You can sit down next to Ripley. I’m just waiting for the ham to cool down. Are you coming to Thanksgiving dinner?”
“What day is that?”
The way Leah stared at him made him wonder if he’d magically grown another nose. “The same weekday it’s always been? Thursday?”
“Oh, right.” Keller flashed her a smile. “I am. I wouldn’t miss any of the food that you make.”
“Don’t suck up to me. I still haven’t fully banished the memory of mud and horse poop rubbed into my carpet.”
Keller winced and dashed for the safer part of the dining room. He settled into the chair beside Ripley and stretched out his legs underneath the table. It felt nice to sit down and feel totally at ease with his adopted family. Leah’s comment made him feel all the more welcome. She wouldn’t say something like that to just anybody. She’d been born into a rich family and knew hostess manners like the back of her hand. Any stranger in the house would be treated like royalty even if they didn’t really deserve it and no matter what class they came from.
Keller felt Ripley watching him. He didn’t have to look up to know she was making a funny face or staring at him impatiently. He was tuned into her and could see that her body was daintily angled in his direction. Her legs were crossed and her bare feet rested just at the base of her chair. Prim and proper Ripley was not despite her current appearance. Ripley was far from the respectful and well-mannered girl that Leah Marsh had thought she’d raised.
“Aren’t you going to talk to me, Keller? Mal said he prevented you from texting me because you wanted to avoid working.”
Keller grinned sheepishly. “I wasn’t trying to avoid work. He stuck me on stall cleaning detail and I needed a break.”
“Oh please,” Mal remarked from across the table. “You had a long break when you finished cleaning the stalls.”
“I wish I could clean a stall,” Ripley said softly. “I miss being around the horses and being home.”
“You don’t want to clean a stall, Marsh,” Keller replied with a purposely nervous voice. “If you say that, Mal will never let you leave and get that fancy diploma you want so badly.”
Ripley made a noncommittal noise and picked up her glass of wine. “Please. Mom wants that diploma. Not me.”
“Isn’t it a waste of time anyway? You’re just going to come back here and work with me. I did that with only a high school diploma.”
Keller followed the pointed look Ripley aimed toward her mom. He grinned at the defiant look in her eye and knew that despite her sudden outward change, Ripley was still the spitfire she’d always been. She would still defy her mother any chance she got. It had always been a sexy quality to-. He coughed loudly as he realized what direction his thoughts were going. What the hell was he thinking?
“You okay, Keller?” Ripley asked warily. “You seem a little out of it today.”
“No more than usual,” Mal said. “Perhaps he has an illness.”
“I don’t have an illness,” Keller shot back furiously.
“Can you three stop bickering?” Leah asked. She glared at them from the end of the table and placed her hands on her hips. “Ripley’s just returned home and you’re already bickering!”
“Don’t worry, Mom. I’m just here for a couple days and then you can have your peace and quiet.”
Keller winced at Ripley’s abrasive tone. Mal just shrugged and drank his beer. He’d heard the spats between Ripley and Leah plenty enough to not care any longer. Mother and daughter never would understand each other. Leah was a former rich girl who’d become a hostess to a farm in the middle of nowhere. Ripley wanted to remain in the middle of nowhere and do exactly as she pleased. As far as Mal was concerned, if there weren’t fireworks every now and then, the family was just pretending to be perfect.
Leah piled heaps of food onto the table. Bowls containing mashed potatoes, vegetables and beef. Keller’s mouth was watering by the time she set the last plate down. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten that day. He restrained himself until Kevin and everyone else grabbed food before loading his plate up. Ripley laughed at him when he dumped three helpings of potatoes on his plate.
“That’s what happens when you work all day.”
Keller nodded to her barely filled plate. “That’s what happens when you don’t.”
Ripley rolled her eyes and spooned some extra potatoes on her plate. She would have to get back into the habit of eating. When she was at school, Ripley didn’t eat a lot of food out of stress. Keller stabbed his fork into a piece of roast beef and set it on Ripley’s plate. She looked up at him and grinned that blazing smile. His heart stopped momentarily.
“If you keep looking at me like that, I’m going to get a complex.”
“He just can’t handle pretty women,” Mal chuckled.
Keller let out a sigh and made a point to not interact with either Malcolm or Ripley for the rest of the dinner.
It was snowing when Keller drove into work on Thanksgiving morning. Apparently, winter was trying to get an early start on torturing the northeastern states. He turned up the heat in his truck, soaking in as much of the warmth as he could. The temperature reading said it was a brisk 32 degrees. The weatherman said the high would be around 40. In other words, the snow could fall for as long as it wanted, but it would be obliterated by the warmth of the sun before too long.
Keller pulled down Witch Creek’s long gravel driveway, appreciating the beauty of the sparkling snow that covered the grass on either side. The whiteness of the snow hid the brown dying grass and made the drive a bit more scenic. He pulled into the main drive and spotted Ripley walking down the porch. She wore a red pea coat jacket and jeans, and looked like she belonged on a shopping magazine.
He stopped the truck and rolled down his window. “You want a ride?”
She laughed and jogged over. “Thanks for your impeccable timing.”
He smiled, unlocked the door, and watched her climb in. She placed her hands in her lap and glanced around the truck. He was glad he’d remembered to clean it. He couldn’t remember the last time his car had been this spotless. He drove down the pine path that led to the barns, and kept a wary eye on Ripley.
For the first time since she’d arrived, he saw that old haunted look in her eyes. She looked at everything, but didn’t really see it. He wondered what kind of misery she faced when she went back to school. His life was so simple that time flew by, but Ripley always seemed miserable during the school year and often complained how time dragged.
“You’ve got two weeks left right?” Keller asked.
“Yeah. Not a lot of time, but it’ll drag. I’ve got so many projects that are due the last couple weeks of school.”
“Too bad I won’t get to see you over winter break.” Keller wasn’t sure if he felt relieved or upset that he wouldn’t see her for the month she was back. She’d starred in his dreams last night and he felt a little awkward to be sitting beside her now.
“Why?” she asked.
Keller shrugged, “Just need some time away. It’s been a while and I’ve got loads of time. We’ll see where I end up.”
She narrowed her eyes at him in suspicion. “That seems a little vague.”
He shrugged and used the excuse of getting out of the truck to avoid her speculation. He shut the door and winced when she slammed hers. “Can you not slam my truck door?”
She glared at him. “If it wasn’t so heavy, it wouldn’t sound like I was slamming it.”
He shook his head and marched to the stallion barn. The horses inside nickered in greeting, but they were probably more interested in getting their breakfast than the humans.
No Nonsense was the first to shove his head out of the stall. The big bay stallion tossed his head and aimed his best begging eyes Keller’s way. Nonsense wasn’t the staff’s favorite horse to work with due to his attitude, but he’d always been Keller’s personal favorite. The handsome horse was a champion and had given Witch Creek enough excitement to last a lifetime. Keller patted the white star in the middle of the horse’s forehead. “Hey buddy. I brought you a snack. She looks like something you could chow down in one sitting.”
Ripley laughed when both horse and guy turned to evaluate her. A blush colored her cheeks when Keller continued staring for longer than necessary. She shifted uneasily, but walked toward them. No Nonsense sniffed her hands and then lowered his head for petting. She grinned at the kind gesture and rubbed his face until he threw his head up in impatience. Nonsense could only tolerate affection for so long before he had to reassert his domination.
The pair of them watched the stallion stalk back to his stall and stick his head over the lower half of the Dutch door. Keller heard him suck in the air excitedly as the breeze carried snow into the barn. The horse let out a squeal of excitement and pranced for a couple steps back to the humans.
“I’m glad someone likes this weather,” Ripley said. “I just want to be able to get back on a horse over the winter.”
“Don’t go up to the creek in January, Ripley.”
She glared at Keller’s back as he walked toward the grain room. “Of course not. I don’t need you tell me to be careful. I know that it’s slick out. I’m not going to risk King to see the creek when I can just walk myself.”
“I’m just saying. I won’t be here to rescue you.”
“Who says I need rescuing? I’m plenty capable of saving myself. I certainly don’t need a man to watch out for me.”
Keller growled in his throat as he entered the room and opened the grain bins. Ripley could antagonize a dead man and get a response. She could be so persistent that it would drive anyone insane. He scooped grain out into buckets and thrust them in Ripley’s direction. She stood there mockingly for a couple minutes with her perfect eyebrows raised. He narrowed his eyes at the defiance he saw.
“Jeez, Ripley. Do I have to do everything or are you just going to be the spoiled owner’s daughter for as long as you’re home?”
With a huff, Ripley snatched the buckets and marched out of the room. Keller followed quickly behind. She dumped each bucket into each of the three stalls and whirled back. When she stalked by, Keller snagged her by the waist. She squealed and the buckets rolled down the hallway. The horses paced nervously, but their bellies won over their fear.
Keller held tight when she smacked playfully at his chest. She squirmed in his arms until she grew tired. He felt more alive than he had in a couple months. He scooped her up and carried her out of the barn. She battered him now with hands and feet.
“Will you sit still, Marsh?” he exclaimed.
He dropped her outside of the barn and spun her around to face him. “I just have to remind you that although you are the owner’s daughter, I am still bigger, stronger, and ultimately much cooler than you.”
She snorted at that. “Oh, please. We all know that’s not true.”
“Would you like me to remind you again?” he asked teasingly. He leaned forward threateningly and the simple movement sent her running.
She dashed down the hillside, her legs pumping wildly beneath her. He followed more slowly. She was a heck of a lot more agile than he was and she knew this area better. She laughed breathlessly and leaped over the boulder. For a moment, she was suspended with her long bronze hair flying around her and then she dropped out of sight.
He leaped himself and rolled down the leave covered hillside. She was waiting and jumped on him when he stopped. “You could be stronger, but you’d never beat me in a foot race, Keller Pratt.”
He smiled up at her, admiring the view as much as the positive energy that radiated around her. He loved banishing her ghosts. She used to be so carefree, but adulthood had finally caught up to her. He reached up and touched the slim bags under eyes. She froze under his careful touch and held her breath.
“How come there aren’t any boys chasing after you?” Keller asked.
“I don’t have time for them right now. Plus, who has money to spend on expensive dates these days? I live on ramen noodles and cereal.”
He lowered his hands down to his chest. “You should have boys chasing after you anyway.”
“Why? What’s the point? I don’t want to waste my time if I don’t see forever.”
She rolled off of him and into the water speckled grass. Already the snow was starting to lose its fairytale appeal. Keller watched a darker emotion overtake the happiness and wanted to slap himself. He’d been stupid for bringing that up. He wasn’t even sure why he’d thought she’d react well to that statement. He wanted her to tell him that there were other boys chasing her and that he didn’t need to waste his time pursuing her. He shouldn’t even want to pursue her! He didn’t want to be attracted to her because life at Witch Creek would become extremely complicated!
“That’s very depressing,” Keller said.
“No it’s not. It’s realistic. I don’t have time for boys. I have to figure out how to manage the next couple of months I have left at college. I can’t wait to be done and move on already!” Keller sat up when he heard the mourning tone in the last sentence. She looked away and brushed at her eyes.
“Will you stop looking at me like I have three heads?” she snarled. “You’ve been doing that since Tuesday and I don’t like it. I’m not crazy and I’m not going to break down in front of you. I already know you hate my crocodile tears.”
She stood up quickly, brushed the leaves off of her pants and jacket. She gathered her hair back and straightened her shoulders. He sighed and knew it was game over then. Once she got her chin up, he wouldn’t be able to talk to her reasonably for a couple of hours.
“I’ll see you at dinner,” Ripley said stiffly.
He watched her climb the hillside until she disappeared before he flopped back into the grass. He dragged his hands down his face and sighed. “Way to go, idiot.”
She didn’t look at him at dinner. In fact, she sat between Mal and her dad and didn’t even look in his general direction. He tried to get her attention, but she wouldn’t budge. He ate silently and was grateful that no one really prodded him to speak. Kevin and Mal brought Ripley up to speed on all of the horses. Leah vanished into the kitchen to call her other daughters, Martina and Diana on the phone. Keller leaned back in the chair and thought everyone looked much happier than he felt.
He blamed it all on himself. He’d been the stupid one to ask questions that were guaranteed to start a fight. He’d been the one to gawk at her and make her feel foolish. He needed to cut this shit out and start accepting that his feelings had changed. That was something he’d deal with while Ripley was back at college.
She excused herself and slipped down the hall. Keller slipped away from the table with a mumbled excuse about going to the bathroom. He ignored Mal’s curious look and followed her up the stairs. He jumped when he looked up and found her waiting for him at the top. “What do you want, Keller? More trouble?”
“No, of course not,” he said defensively. “Are you okay?”
“For now,” she said. “I just have a lot on my mind. I have literally seven months until I have to make huge decisions. My mom already reamed me out yesterday when I said I was going to go into the family business. I don’t need any more doubts and I don’t need any more people looking at me like I lost my mind.”
At least you know you haven’t lost your mind. I certainly feel like I have, Keller thought.
“I’m tired Keller. I’ll catch you in the morning sometime. I have to go back to school tomorrow night. I forgot I have an essay due Monday.”
He grabbed her hand when she went to turn away. She stopped and looked at him.
“I won’t see you until May. You’ll miss my birthday too.”
She looked at him in surprise and stepped down the stairs until she was on even par with him. “I forgot… Whatever you’re going to do on winter break, I hope you know that I’ll miss you. It’s going to be too quiet around here.”
He smiled and pulled her in for a hug. He buried his face in her hair and vowed to keep in touch this time. She wouldn’t be the only one looking forward to the end of May. “Maybe you can come out to Albany on your birthday and we can go out.
He pulled away and pushed her lightly back upstairs. “That’d be a good idea. I promise I won’t stay out of touch this time.” He stepped down the stairs and flashed her a playful smile, “I’ll tell them you’re sick as a dog and that the mashed potatoes didn’t agree with you.”
“Don’t even,” she threatened ominously. “I might end up at your place tonight if you do that. Mom’s driving me nuts as it is.”
He smirked at her words, but inwardly winced. She didn’t have a clue that he’d love for her to end up at his place.
“I’ll keep my mouth shut then, but it’d be worth your wrath.”
He relished the sound of her laughter, but knew Ripley didn’t have a clue that he’d meant what he’d said. He let out a long breath and headed back downstairs, thinking only of the girl he was leaving behind. This situation would be his ultimate test of patience, but she would be worth it in the end.
About The Author
Kaitlyn was born and raised in Upstate New York. When not working on her new books, Kaitlyn spends her time at her day job or working with her off track thoroughbred CC. Her hobbies consist of being an avid horse racing fan--be forewarned, she will talk your ear off of the sport-- and reading. She also spends her off time with her family, friends and boyfriend.
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Like What You Read?
Check out the Ripley Marsh Trilogy and follow Ripley on her journey to follow her dreams and become a respected member of the family business.
Keller Pratt has everything going for him. He has a good job at Witch Creek Farm, a great relationship with his uncle, and he feels like he has something to call his own. His busy life leaves him surprised when Thanksgiving rolls around and Ripley Marsh comes home for a brief visit. However, Keller is more shocked to find that his once brotherly feelings for his boss’s daughter have transformed into unexpected feelings of attraction. In the prequel to Crossed Lines, Keller must come to terms with his new feelings for Ripley Marsh in a very short amount of time.