Millionaire's Shot

By: Bev Pettersen



“It’s a good thing this chukka is almost over,” Grace said, “and Mom can switch horses. Maybe she’ll get a goal before the end of the game. That would make her feel better. But I’d like to drive home with you tonight…if that’s okay?”

“Of course,” he said. He might have to placate Rachel with a new polo pony but paying her off had proven the easiest way to buffer Grace. And it was a price he was happy to pay. “I’ll talk to her after the match,” he said. “Let her know you’ll be with me. She can join us later for dinner if she wants.”

“She won’t,” Grace said. “She’d rather us all eat at the Club. That’s why I had to wear this.” She smoothed a self-conscious hand over the front of her dress, a frothy thing of pink and white that seemed rather garish for a nine-year-old.

“But I really don’t want to go to the reception.” Her voice was low and hesitant, as if watching his reaction. “Do you?”

“Not one bit.” He resisted the impulse to scoop her up and escape the fawning people clustered around them. But lately she considered his hugs embarrassing, at least in public. “We better let your mom know we won’t be staying,” he added.

“She won’t care what I do,” Grace said, and the sad truth to her words tugged at his heart. “She just wants you around.”

“She’d prefer we both be there,” he said. “But polo is her hobby. It doesn’t have to be ours.”

“Well, I like polo a lot, just like Mom,” Grace said quickly. “We like a lot of the same things. But I really don’t want to go to the reception.”

“Then we won’t go,” he said.

She tugged at her lower lip, the way she always did when she was agonizing over the best way to please.

“We’ll make some people very happy by giving them our tickets,” he added. “It would be a nice thing to do.”

Her face brightened. “Then that means we can leave right now. And I can change out of this dress and go to the barn and check on the kittens. And I’ll still be able to help with the horses when the grooms bring them home.”

“Sure,” he said. “I’ll have the cook make us something.”

“I’d rather have pizza and eat in the barn,” she said. “Then we won’t miss the horses when they arrive. And we can play with the kittens while we’re waiting… But only if that’s what you want.” She gave a little shrug, as if it didn’t really matter. She hated drawing attention to herself and always tried too hard to please. However, she was more excited now than she’d been during the whole afternoon at the ritzy club. And he lived for these moments.

“That’s exactly what I want too,” he said. “Pizza, horses and my favorite girl. My idea of the perfect Saturday night.”





CHAPTER TWO





“Are you sure the doctor said the polo game was okay?” Cassie’s hands tightened around the steering wheel and she shot another concerned look at her grandfather.

He leaned forward in the cab of the truck, face pale but eyes sparkling with anticipation. His expression reminded her of the vigorous man he’d been before his heart attack. And anything that took away his recent despondency must be good. Still, he wasn’t supposed to get too excited.

“I’m not going into the Club,” he said. “We’ll just watch the mare from the sidelines. And I’m not talking business there, I promise.”

She gave a cautious nod. Her grandfather had been a trainer and horse broker his entire life, but she’d rarely seen him this excited about a pending deal. Of course, most of the horses he sold didn’t cost fifty grand. She’d been putting aside a portion of her paycheck to help with her grandfather’s retirement but it wasn’t nearly enough. This sale to the collegiate team would be a godsend.

Maybe his lifetime of honesty and hard work would finally be rewarded. Usually his investment in a horse’s care ate up most of the profits. He was a wizard at finding horses with potential and then following up with appropriate training. Had built a reputation for being able to turn around dangerous animals, and more importantly, matching them with suitable riders. But his generous nature left him vulnerable to buyers who couldn’t afford his asking price. If he thought they’d give the horse a good home, he always lowered the price and made the deal happen.

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