Authors: Roxy Wilson
I Only have Eyes for You
Westbury Ranch Series
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places, businesses and incidents are from the author’s imagination or they are used fictitiously and are definitely fictionalized. Any trademarks or pictures herein are not authorized by the trademark owners and do not in any way mean the work is sponsored by or associated with the trademark owners. Any trademarks or pictures used are specifically in a descriptive capacity. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons living or dead, is coincidental.
Editing & Book Design By: Leanore Elliott
Cover Art: Fantasia Frog Designs
© October, 2015. Roxy Wilson
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Loving St. Nick
Resisting temptation is never an easy thing…
Born and raised on Westbury Ranch, Paige feels natural in the saddle and at peace with nature. She could hardly wait to return to the farm upon her graduation from college, so she could work alongside her mother, Jackie, and two sisters, Cullen and Shayne, as well as to fulfill her dream of opening an equestrian school. What this tomboy isn’t so enthusiastic about is roping herself into a committed relationship. But tha
s before she meets Lando Saldana, a handsome Spaniard, recently employed at the ranch. Can he persuade her to take the romantic ride of her lifetime.
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e haven’t done this in a while; but I hope you didn’t forget all your tricks.”
Paige Westbury was happy to be back home. It felt good to ride her horse, Lightning, across the meadow on Westbury Ranch. It had been far too long since she felt so alive and exhilarated. College days were behind her and now, she could really concentrate on what she loved the most—riding. Leaning forward, she glanced at the hedge that loomed right ahead.
She dug her foot in the horse’s flank with just the slightest hint of pressure. The horse knew her better than any human being ever could. Understanding her intent, it picked up speed and she laughed when they both sailed right over the hedge.
“Good boy!” She prepared to turn right by bringing her right rein out and back slightly, while at the same time using her left leg to give Lightning some nudges to encourage him to move, but was distracted by the arrival of another rider. “Who could that be, Lightning?”
Paige waited for the rider to catch up to them. Much to her delight, the rider and the horse executed a perfect jump over the same hedge and then trotted towards them. When they drew closer, she sucked in a breath. She hadn’t met this man before.
Under the wide brimmed hat was a man that could make even a dead woman come alive. His sable colored eyes stared at her with frank interest, and his wide jaw and the sharp cheeks made up a fascinating face.
“Hi,” he greeted. His European accent was unmistakable.
Paige frowned. “Who are you? This is private property.”
“And I work here.” He thrust out his hand. “Lando Saldana. I’m the new horse trainer.”
She shook his hand. The touch of him sent a tingle straight through her gloves. She pulled her hand way before he could figure out how she felt. It was disconcerting to look at a man and imagine all the ways she could take off his shirt. He was hot, undeniably so. “Cullen told me about you. You joined a few weeks ago?”
He nodded. “Yes. And you must be Paige. Cullen talked a lot about you.”
During the years that Paige had been away, Cullen managed to expand the farm with an intensity that still had her head reeling. Already, the new cattle were settled, and she was still debating the purchase of sheep. Then the new horse trainer was supposed to teach children and adults equestrian tricks and even train them for competitions. Paige was eager to become a part of this new and improved farm, and she hoped to put her own mark on it. It was too soon to do anything though. First, she had to adjust to the new routine and understand the ways it was run. Getting to know everyone who worked here was part of the process.
She smiled brightly. “Is this the first time you’ve lived in America?”
“No. I came here less than a year ago. It’s a beautiful country. When I got the offer from Cullen, I couldn’t say no.”
“I hope you like it here,” she said. “Have you seen much of this town?”
He kept riding alongside her at a gentle pace. “Graeme and Juston took me out a few times.”
“It’s a far cry from the big cities,” she said as they rode side by side. Without realizing it, they had fallen into an easy rhythm. “The pace is slow, but the people are genuine and nice. You can count on them.”
“Yes, that is what I heard. You were studying in Chicago?”
Paige nodded. “I have a degree in Farm Management,” she declared in a proud voice. It was damn hard for her to stay away from the farm long enough to acquire the skills she needed to run it along with her sister, but it was important.
“Cullen mentioned that. She’s very proud of you.”
She sure hoped that she would be able to justify her sister’s trust. It was a little disconcerting to realize that Cullen relied on her to take the expansion efforts even further. Of course, now that Shayne was also here, they had a lot of support. The farm was doing well, and they had to make it work even better. It was a challenge Paige was willing to take. “Where do you live?” she asked.
“In one of the new cottages on the farm.”
She still hadn’t seen them. “I heard they’re spacious and comfortable.”
“Maybe you could come by to see,” he suggested. “They’re not too far from the farmhouse. The ones next to mine are still empty but at the rate Cullen is hiring people, I don’t think they are going to remain that way for long.”
The way he spoke and his accent sent shivers down Paige’s spine. When he removed his hat and raked his fingers through his dark brown hair, she resisted the need to lean forward and touch the silky strands. Sure, she felt attracted to some men, and since she was an adult, she acted on that instinct at times, but nothing prepared her for this hot and needy sweep of passion that burned and sizzled through her body. It made her nervous. What was about this man that made her feel so out of control? It was better to keep her distance, and yet she couldn’t force herself to move away. It was pleasant to ride with him and talk about things. “Maybe I will,” she said.
Paige made a note to not go there when he was around. She would take the keys to an empty cottage and take a look when Lando was at work. Although she was sure she would enjoy living at the farmhouse, Paige didn’t think she would do it forever. At some point, she would need to be on her own. Shayne had already moved in with Juston. For now, Paige was happy to live with her mother. Pretty soon though, Cullen was planning to get married to Graeme. But after the wedding, Paige might consider taking her own place. Of course, she would have to discuss it with Jackie, and she might not like the idea of her youngest moving away too. True, the cottages were right around the corner, but Jackie hadn’t lived alone ever since their father, Wesley, died.
“Is something wrong?”
Paige didn’t even realize she’d been lost in her thoughts for so long. She shook her head. “Nothing. I was just thinking about the changes that have taken place while I was gone. Cullen has done an excellent job, and now that Shayne has joined us, they’re an unstoppable force.”
“And what plans do you have?”
She glanced at him, a little taken aback he’d read so much in her words even when she didn’t say anything. Yes, she was ambitious, and yes, she wanted to implement some new strategies to make the farm become profitable, but Paige hadn’t even said anything to Cullen yet. She was new, and she needed to prove herself. “First, I’ve got to work hard and learn the ropes.”
“But I’m sure you know a lot about farming already. You grew up here.”
“I’m interested in equestrian art,” she blurted out. Maybe he would understand because he had the same interests. “Cullen has been giving lessons to children for some time and now that you’re here, you’re also doing the same, but I want to open an equestrian school. The farm has plenty of space. If we do that, we’ll have to buy more horses and train them.”
“You’ll train people to take part in competitions?”
“Yes, and also teach them about every aspect of horsemanship, including but not limited to care of horses, maintaining saddles…you get me?” Paige smiled, aware of the adrenaline coursing through her in her excitement. “I want to eventually have our own shop where we would manufacture custom made saddles and harnesses as well as other items that riders prefer. We could have dancing stallion shows and maybe even compete for them on an international level.” She laughed when she realized she was babbling too much. “It’s all in the future, of course. The farm has to be far more profitable before we delve into all that because the capital investment is huge.
“I’m sure you can do that if your heart is set on it.”
She felt relieved he didn’t laugh at her. When she gazed at him, her breath caught in her throat. She wrestled to compose herself. The last thing she wanted was for him to think she was some giggly teenager. “Of course, I haven’t said anything to my sisters yet. It’s too soon, and even I’m not ready to pursue all this.”
“My lips are sealed,” he said with a smile.
She stared at him once more and her heart skipped a beat. As they rode along, she felt a shiver run down her spine. There was something about him that she couldn’t ignore. It wasn’t just his looks, although of course, she was charmed by them, but also the way he listened. He really appeared to understand her. Funny, she never felt like that with another man. She barely knew this guy. It was time to change the subject. “When did you learn to ride?”
“My father was a horse trainer, and he put me in the saddle when I was a baby. Maybe I was a year old.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Of course, I don’t remember. But all I know is that I grew up with horses.”
“And where is your father now?”
“He and my mother own a riding school in Spain.”
She cocked her head. “Why didn’t you join them?”
“I worked there, but after a while I wanted to be—how do you say it? Out of my comfort zone, because it’s only then, you realize your true potential.” Lando chuckled. “Someday, I might go back and help them run it. I don’t know…we’ll see.”
It was brave of him to come so far and to start from scratch when he could have had an easy life. She admired that he had the guts to do it. As she watched at the way he handled his horse, Paige was struck by the sheer beauty of his profile. He and his horse were one. She could sense that, and the realization made her admire him even more.
What the hell is happening here?
Her body’s reaction to this stranger flummoxed her. She’d dated a number of men in college but no one affected her quite like this. Her skin felt overly warm as she rode beside him. It took all her effort to concentrate on the horse, and not the man who was by her side. “Do you like it here?”
“Yes, I like the people. Your sisters are very hard working, and Graeme is very good at what he does. I like everyone because they’re dedicated to their jobs, and that is a quality I respect. When you do something, it must be done from the heart; otherwise it doesn’t make sense doing it.”
“I thought Latinos didn’t like to work hard,” she said. Immediately, Paige felt bad about her statement; a wave of disappointment over her careless remark washed over her. “I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have said that.”
“We’ve got a bad reputation, but it isn’t true that we Spaniards don’t like to work. We work hard and we play harder,” he stated in an even voice. “And of course, when we find a beautiful woman, we stop and admire her.”
She couldn’t help but laugh at the way he said the words. “Only admire her?”
“On occasion, we’re known to try and wrangle a date from her.” He gave her a dazzling smile.
For some odd reason, his tone made her tingle all over. Paige glanced away from that gorgeous smile and was amazed to find two men at one of the fences. They were on the other property, the one that belonged to their neighbor, Max Hayes. She’d expected they would be working, but instead she saw them breaking the fence.
“What are those men doing?” Lando urged his horse to move forward at breakneck speed.
Much to her amazement, she watched him ride ahead. Not wishing to be left behind, she gave chase.
When the men saw them coming, they abandoned what they were doing and ran to their horses.
By the time Paige and Lando reached the fence, the men were long gone. Paige looked at the boundary marker that was cut. “Why the hell did they do that?”
Lando got off his horse and inspected the damage. “I’ll inform Graeme and he can send Blade to fix it. This is ridiculous. I’d heard about it, but didn’t know the situation was this bad. That was deliberate sabotage.”
“Why would Max do that?”
“You know the man who owns the property?”
“He grew up here, and yes, of course, I’ve met him on a number of occasions. He dated Cullen for a while. He must be told what his men are up to.”
Lando mounted on his horse. “He already knows.”
“That’s not possible.”
“It is,” he countered. “But if you don’t believe me, talk to your sisters and get the details.”
“I’ll do that,” she said. They rode away from the fence. “It seems things have changed far more than I realized. Back when my father was around, no one dared do such a thing.”
“People get greedy where money is concerned, and I suppose this farm is doing quite well and that has caused many to look here with envy. Hats off to your sister for making such a success of it,” he said.
Paige didn’t quite know what to say. It was kind of him to say such nice things about Cullen. “Now that you’re here, I’m sure we’ll see even greater success.”