All Roads Lead to You (Stay Series #3) by Jennifer Probst
All bets are off in this heartfelt romance by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst.
Happily single, Harper Bishop trusts in only one passion—her rescue farm and healing her thoroughbred, Phoenix. Her dream is to lead him to the Triple Crown. But how unreachable is it without experience or help? A handsome new guest at her family’s B&B has what it takes to make it come true. And with his irresistible brogue, warm smile, and soothing touch, he’s a major distraction.
After a bitter betrayal, horse trainer Aidan O’Connor has fled Ireland for a vacation in New York’s Hudson Valley. When he sees the horse with the fighting spirit, he’s inspired with a new goal: to train Phoenix to win. He’s also facing an unexpected new challenge: his feelings for Harper.
How can she dare to open her heart to a man who’ll be there only long enough to break it?
So Harper and Aidan agree: try to keep it professional, and focus only on Phoenix and the finish line. But along the way, they could also learn a few lessons in love, trust, and taking chances. And, as painful as it promises to be, saying goodbye.
Excerpt All Roads Lead to You (Stay Series #3) by Jennifer Probst
Something was coming.
Harper Bishop shot up in bed, heart rocketing at full speed, and squinted into the shadows. Soft fur and flaming heat surrounded her, but her body was so used to the raging temperatures, she couldn’t sleep unless she was surrounded in a wolflike pack. Her dogs muttered in annoyance and shifted even closer, not sensing anything wrong as the clock struck three a.m. Slowly, her body relaxed. Probably just a crazy dream. With her canine menagerie, no bad guy had a chance of sneaking in, and everyone in town knew there was nothing to steal in her two-bedroom cottage unless they wanted a rescue animal.
She lay back on the pillow and stared at the ceiling. Her insides shifted again as if sensing a storm rolling in. Sometimes she wondered if she was becoming more animal-like because of her company. But this primitive instinct stirring her gut didn’t feel like danger.
No, more like a premonition her safe, orderly, protected life was about to unravel.
Her brother, Ethan, would understand. He’d once confided he’d gotten those feelings back when he was in the military, ready to jump out of a plane on a rescue mission. A prickling of awareness that his old life was about to change for good.
Biting back a sigh, she carefully extricated herself from the queen-size bed, where she barely had enough room to breathe, and padded to the kitchen. Moonlight trickled through the windows, and a soft spring breeze wafted in, caressing her bare skin. Figaro lifted her head from her perch on the top of the recliner and shot her a disgusted stare. Then went back to sleep.
Harper shook her head. Figaro never acted like a rescue cat. The black feline had been half-starved, rain-soaked, and shivering in the bushes when Harper saved her. A few days later, the cat had claimed her space like the royal queen she believed she was, forcing the dogs to accept the new hierarchy. Harper’s animals were like a bunch of moody teenagers, hating when their sleep was interrupted even though they got about eighteen hours per day. Harper counted herself lucky if she scored five.
Flicking on the light, she perused her choice of coffee beans, deciding on the special Kona blend she had shipped straight from Disney World. She watched the pot drip, sucking in the amazing smell of energy and life, then took her mug to the oversize leather chair—the one Figaro didn’t currently occupy. Curling her feet underneath her, she cuddled under the worn afghan and settled in to watch the world slowly wake up.
Her mind drifted, touching on the various tasks that made up her day. Running one of the oldest horse-rescue farms in the quaint town of Gardiner was her passion, but extremely demanding. There was another horse auction to attend, where she’d be on the lookout for any abused or broken horses to bring back and rehabilitate. Three horseback-riding appointments for guests at the bed-and-breakfast on the property, which her sister, Ophelia, ran. One vet appointment for Stitch, who might have bruised her foreleg. And two buyer appointments she prayed would go successfully. God knew there were only so many stalls in the barn, and the more animals she was able to place, the more she could take in. It was a vicious cycle, often filled with disappointment and heartbreak, but she lived for the victories. Time had taught her how to wall her heart high enough so a loss didn’t wash away all she’d worked hard for. One animal saved in this world by her hand was enough. Sure, she wanted to rescue hundreds, but wasting worry and precious time on wannabe intentions only drained her energy. In the past few years, she’d been able to find more balance in her life. Everything was exactly the way she’d dreamed it would be.
She was lucky her siblings had joined her in running the family business after their parents passed. When her brother and sister had found their soul mates, she was even more thrilled the ones they fell in love with had stayed in Gardiner, allowing them all to be together.
Watching them pair up was a happy and bittersweet experience. The family table had nearly doubled, and she was the single one. Yes, she was lonely sometimes, but she’d never focused on finding a partner because she knew herself too well. Knew she was set in her ways, stubborn to a fault, and would pick an animal over people every time. In fact, the few short affairs she’d engaged in had ended with a jealousy over her job that had nowhere to go except Splitsville, USA.
She hadn’t been upset to see them go. Even with the benefits of sex, no man seemed to interest her further than a few weeks. It was as if she were built differently from other women. She was thirty-three years old and hadn’t experienced even a twinge of a ticking biological clock.
No desire to try on white wedding dresses, or pick out baby names, or dream of a man who could complete her.
She was complete all by herself.
Which was why she didn’t need a strange voice rising up to threaten her perfect life. She didn’t want something new rolling her way. Lord knew she had enough work, enough security, and enough happiness as is. So Harper did the only thing left to do.
She told the annoying voice to go away.
The sun eventually rose, and the coffeepot diminished to dregs.
The dogs jumped out of bed to greet her with their usual enthusiasm of licking tongues, wagging tails, and adoring gazes. Harper reset her mind to tackle the day ahead, and soon the strange premonition evaporated and it was business as usual on the farm with no surprises.
Just the way she liked it.