Authors: Wild Horses
A Stirling Falls Novel
Published by Phaze Books
Also by Asha King
Near to You
Circle of Friends: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?
Circle of Friends: Still in Love with You*
Circle of Friends: Let’s Stay Together*
Sympathy for the Devil*
This is an explicit and erotic novel
intended for the enjoyment
of adult readers. Please keep
out of the hands of children.
Copyright © 2012 by Asha King
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Edited by Adrienne Jones
Cover Art © 2012 by Asha King
First Edition June 2012
An imprint of Mundania Press LLC
6457 Glenway Ave., #109
Cincinnati, OH 45211
All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, Mundania Press LLC, 6457 Glenway Avenue, #109, Cincinnati, Ohio 45211, [email protected]
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without permission from Mundania Press LLC. Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights and livelihood is appreciated.
NEW POST: Published
Hey there, Dani-girls and Dani-boys,
Yep, you read that notice right. I’m going away for a little while and won’t be keeping up with the blog. We have a bunch of guest blogs lined up for the next few weeks. Rachel from Karate Moms will be by on Friday with a story about discouraging your daughters from dressing up like Batman and taking on bullies when your school has a “no vigilantism” policy. Next week our pal Lori-Lou will be back, this time with her Ode to Morgan Freeman’s Awesomeness, and later on Kiana, your favorite retro blues singing internet sensation, will have a post about collaborating on music when you really want to stab your collaborator with a fork.
I hope you’ll have lots of fun while I’m gone. I’ll be back with a bunch of new stories for you soon. I wish I could tell you where I’m going but, of course, I’d then have to kill you.
“I’m just saying, if I blogged about this, I bet my hits—”
saying it,” Therese said sharply as she cut a look to the rearview mirror.
Danyiah’s dark brown eyes met her friend’s and she made a face.
“Mature,” Therese muttered.
is popular in the first place is because I talk about these things openly with my readers. Bad dates, bad job interviews, bad—”
Danyiah pressed her lips together, crossed her arms under her breasts, and glanced out the side window to sulk. Rolling bright green hills, acres of fields, and thick wooded areas passed by. The sky overhead was a rich blue and cloudless, and sun beat through the car windows, warming her arm despite the blasting air conditioning. Still, the beautiful June day did nothing to brighten her sour mood.
“You heard Dr. Van Ike,” Randy said from the passenger seat as he glanced back at her. His auburn hair stuck up in all directions, and Dani had to suppress the urge—again—to offer him a comb. He shifted in the seat, leaning his tall, broad frame back in the seat which was already pushed far back to give him leg room. “Discussing the threats publicly could trigger him.”
Right, so she was supposed to shut down her whole life? For how long? There was a big “ON HIATUS” notice at the top of her blog now. As of this morning, it had nine hundred and thirteen comments, and she hadn’t had time to read them all before her best friend Therese and boyfriend Randy were there to pick her up for the long drive into the country. And now her apartment was closed up, she was on a leave of absence from her part time job at a coffee shop—a job she actually
—and with no idea of how long it would be for. Sure, the good doctor thought staying low while they collected her email and snail mail, intercepted her calls, and monitored her website was a good idea. They might be able to narrow down exactly who they were dealing with. And maybe he was right. But at the same time, she loathed the fact that some creep with too much time on his hands could run her out of her own life like that.
“She’s still sulking,” Randy said with a sigh. His glasses shifted and he pushed them higher on the bridge of his nose, then offered a half-hearted smile.
“Of course she is,” Therese responded.
The problem with Therese was that she’d known her five years, Randy for three, and neither put up with her attitude.
She already missed her home in the city and they’d only left two and a half hours ago. The nearest town out here for miles was an itty bitty, country bumpkin place called Stirling Falls—a real blink-or-you’ll-miss-it kind of deal. She was going to lose her mind.
Danyiah flicked at the bright pink paint on her nails but it didn’t chip. How long that would last, she didn’t know—since everyone at Thompson Hills Quarter Horses had no idea
she was coming to stay there, the story passed around was that she’d be working. Dani had no problem with a hard day’s work; her blog picked up initially as she chronicled her days as a clown at a child’s birthday party, then a clerk at a sex toy shop, then the assistant for an eccentric modern artist, then during her very brief stint making donuts. No, her problem was that she had to be a farmhand and couldn’t document it, couldn’t talk about it—couldn’t reveal where she was, or why she’d gone, or
. After years of cultivating a persona and defining who Danyiah “Dani Girl” Jackson was, she had to stop.
Therese’s GPS announced that they were to take a right. Dani gazed between the seats and glimpsed the long, dusty road leading through tall gates. Log fencing sectioned off the front field and horses grazed over grass, some lifting their heads to face the approaching car and others preoccupied with food. Multiple buildings stood in the distance, barns tall and new-looking, and at the far end of the road sat the sprawling one story ranch house.
Car tires spit dust up as they rolled down the gravel road. Dani glanced around, nervousness rising in her stomach. Out in the middle of nowhere—they probably didn’t have WiFi. She might not even be able to check Twitter.
“I will give you a hundred million dollars if you turn around and take me home
,” she said.
No one responded.
Therese shook her head, long blonde hair swishing over her shoulders. “You don’t have a hundred million dollars.”
. “Maybe I could get that in advertising dollars if I was allowed to blog about this.”
The car turned, swinging around and coming to a halt in front of the ranch house. It was moments before the dust settled outside her door. Dani grasped the strap of her pale blue coach purse, sighed, and hauled open the door.
Heat blasted her immediately from the hot sun overhead, and a cough sputtered past her lips—apparently the dust wasn’t that settled after all. She gave a groan of displeasure and stepped out of the car. Gravel crunched under her heels as she stood straight and shifted, smoothing her jeans subconsciously. She slid the strap of her bag over her arm and pulled the sunglasses off the top of her head down to cover her eyes, then kicked the door shut with her heel.
Therese and Randy rose as well, talking amongst themselves, and car doors slammed behind her as she took in a view of the farm again. The air was tinged with the scent of animals and wind blew, tossing her dark hair around her shoulders.
“Dani!” a voice called behind her.
She turned and waved over the roof of the car at Gus Campbell standing in the open doorway to the ranch house. He was an old friend of her late father’s, in his sixties with no family, and owned acres of ranch land. Gus had been kind to her for as long as she could remember and there seemed no better place to hide out for a while. He was taller than he looked, leaning heavily on a cane held in his left hand. The heat didn’t agree with him, dappling his broad forehead with moisture, and she figured he was doubly warm in the red plaid shirt tucked over his girth and pair of worn dark jeans.
Gus grinned broadly and then moved to talk to Randy, who carted her bags out from the trunk.
A Doberman came barreling out of the house past Gus, stump of a tail struggling to wag, and long pink tongue rolling form its mouth. It paused for a moment by Dani, let her give it a scratch behind the ears, then raced in the direction of the fields in the distance.
like animals, and there were plenty to get along with. Danyiah took several steps from the car while Gus, Therese, and Randy spoke, glancing around.
Middle of nowhere.
Indefinite amount of time.
This will be unbearable with or without a dog to keep me company.
She had her laptop—she could journal still. And would. And maybe when everything was sorted out and they were able to catch and put a stop to whatever loser had been threatening her, she could post everything she’d documented. In fact, she’d be set for blog posts for maybe a month or so when she got back.
Unless this turns out to be the most boring place ever
. Which was possible, but then Dani Girl was known for finding something funny with everything. Its writer stalked, threatened, sent into hiding, working as a farmhand? Oh yeah. It would be funny.
A pair of horses whinnied from the fence several feet away. She took a few steps toward them, grinning. One was a bay, the other palomino, both hanging their heads over the top of the fence.
“You angling for food?” she said softly.
Voices shouted in the distance and a steady thrum beat the ground.
Danyiah turned, frowned. The noise grew louder.
Around the side of the bright red barn ahead, dust flew and a huge brown horse came barreling toward her at full speed, blond mane flying and dark eyes wide.
Dani froze from head to toe, staring wide-eyed at the beast.
Behind it, a pair of men shouted, waving their arms. One deep voice carried over the beat of hooves, hollering for her to stop it.
Stop it? It was the size of a Mack truck!
Panic filled her, heart jumping up into her throat. As the horse neared, she squealed and covered her eyes, shoulders turning inward in a cringe as she braced to be run down.
Breeze brushed past her left side, whipping her hair for a moment as the horse passed. She peeled her fingers back one by one, glanced down to see she was fine. A little dusty, but all in one piece. She breathed out a sigh of relief just as the pair of figures beat around the side of the barn after the horse.
“He’s headed—” one started.
“For the grain—I got it.” A short, skinny guy ran past her, tipping his head in her direction with a grin. “Ma’am.” And off he went, in pursuit of the enormous horse who had his head stuck in a barrel against the side of the house.
Dani shook her head. It would make
a good vlog topic—she could get really animated in her telling of it and do sound effects and stuff.
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
She snapped to attention again, turning back to face the other white man.
A black Stetson sat on his head, casting dark shadows over his face—but she glimpsed enough of his expression to see it was a scowl. Brows pulled low over dark eyes, and his chiseled jaw was scruffy with something well past five o’clock shadow. As for the rest of him, he stood over a head above her, and a white T-shirt streaked with dirt stretched over his powerful shoulders and chest.
If he hadn’t just snarled at her, she might’ve needed to pick her jaw off the ground; instead, she prickled with irritation and crossed her arms under her breasts. “Excuse me?”
“You hear us shouting to stop a horse and you
cover your eyes
? Just standing there? I repeat, what the hell is wrong with you?”
Dani ground her teeth. “Your freakishly large horse could’ve killed me! Was I supposed to grab on? Stop it with my mutant psychic powers or something? Create a force field?”
He stared at her. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about you expecting some random person to—”
“No harm, no harm.” Gus ambled over, gravel crunching under his feet and cane. “Look there, Dewey’s got him. Everything’s fine.”
Only when Gus reached them and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder did she realize just how tightly she was wound. Dani sucked in a breath, trying to calm her nerves, but glowered still at the stranger who glared right back at her.
“This is my...well, sort of goddaughter, I suppose you could say,” Gus said, gesturing at her. “She’ll be staying here for a bit.” He turned to her next. “Danyiah Jackson, meet my head horse wrangler, Adam Cooper.”
Cooper did not extend his hand.
Neither did she.
“Erm...well.” Gus cleared his throat.
Steps approached and a moment later, the giant horse appeared in her peripheral vision along with the guy—Dewey, Gus had called him—leading him with firm hand on the halter. Cooper said nothing more, just reached for the horse and swung onto him bareback.
Once he’d settled, he glanced down at Gus. “I’ll discuss this with you later.”
Gus brushed his hand over his sweaty brow and nodded.
Cooper urged the horse on, not looking back once. Dewey jogged at his side, turning just once to nod again at Dani before catching up.
Dear God, I want to go home
“Come, Dani.” Gus smiled at her and gestured for the house. “Let’s get you settled inside. Adam will warm up the more you talk to him, you’ll see.”
Danyiah sighed as she followed. “I think I’ll just avoid him.”
“Oh, that’ll be a bit hard considering he’s your new boss.”