She wants his horse. Only those dedicated to the equine, perhaps, will understand how serious the contest between Austen Heath and Becca McQuaid is.
Rebecca McQuaid was in England for one reason.
To find the perfect match.
Size was important. Becca was a tall girl. Money was of no consequence whatsoever. Becca was a wealthy girl. Heart mattered most. He must have the heart to go the distance. She dreamed of a partnership that would last a lifetime. But looks did rank quite high on her list of priorities.
“I simply can’t ride an ugly horse. That would be like dating an ugly man.” Tossing her long blonde hair over her shoulder, she laughed and winked at her friend.
Meg shot her a frown, her tone accusing Becca of being an uncivilized colonist. “Rebecca McQuaid, you say the damnedest things.”
An appreciative chuckle turned her around to squint into the sun. A tall, elegant, dark figure of a man on a magnificent horse caught her imagination mid-stride. She couldn’t see the rider’s face, but she knew he’d overheard the exchange with her friend. He saluted her with a tap of his whip to the brim of his hat as he rode past. Excitement capered over her, and she smiled. The horse’s muscled, blood bay rump glistened. The stallion was sixteen-two hands, fit and impeccably groomed.
“Nice buns. That one’s good-looking enough for me.” She elbowed her friend. “Who is it?”
Meg shaded her eyes. “Gambler’s Choice and Austen Heath. Both horse and rider satisfy your criteria, my dear girl.”
“The horse is handsome.” She wished she had gotten a better look at the bay, but he was a mahogany blaze in the morning sun. “Are you telling me the rider is?”
“That’s the general consensus, but Austen hides in that rambling, dark mansion of his.” Meg studied the pair picking up a trot along the arena. “Fierce competitors. Hard to beat at Intermediate. We’ll see how they handle Advanced.”
“An Advanced horse?” Becca wriggled her shoulders. “I’m in the market.”
“Look elsewhere.” Meg’s finger jutted at Becca’s nose. “Austen won’t sell Gambler for love or money. Guaranteed. Not even for the kind of money you’re willing to spend.”
“Meggie.” She linked arms with her friend. “Everything has a price.”
Meg balked like a donkey. “You’re in a different world, princess.”
“Well, not everything. Love doesn’t have a price.” Pain wrenched her heart as a memory of the breakup with Daniel flashed through her mind. The hurt was too fresh to even think of another man. “But I’m not in the market for love.”
Becca had found that the best way to protect her heart was to play spoiled little rich girl. She had that part down pat, and, as Winston Churchill had said, There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. She was looking for a horse to fall in love with and help mend her broken heart.