Beneath These Scars (Page 56)

Holy. Wow. There was rich, and then there was rich. Lucas led me past stall after stall constructed of ornately carved dark wood—all empty.

“Horses to fill all of these come with the place?” I asked, intending the question as a joke.

Lucas squeezed my hand, which he’d taken as soon as we’d gotten out of the car. “Yes, actually. They’re a big part of the reason I’m considering buying it.”

My mouth barely stayed closed, saving my jaw from dragging on the floor. I did a quick count of the stalls we’d walked by. “You’re not serious. That’s so much work. I mean, they’re amazing, but damn.”

Lucas’s laugh echoed off the stamped concrete floor and the tall, stained-wood ceilings. “And that’s the beauty of having full-time grooms and stable hands. With this many animals, you really have no choice. It’s in the best interest of the animals, not just the owners.”

If this barn were full, that would be a lot of horses. “Is there a reason they have so many?”

Before he answered my question, we reached a room at the end of the aisle and a boy, probably around eighteen or so, stepped out.

“Welcome back, Mr. Titan.”

Lucas shook his hand. “Good to see you, Chris. Can you tack up two mounts? Titan, and one that would be suitable for a beginner?”

The boy, Chris, looked at me as if sizing me up. He said nothing about my unconventional outfit. “Sure thing. No problem. I’ll go round them up while you two change. Let me know if you need anything else.”

As soon as Chris was gone, I tugged Lucas’s hand. “Seriously? You’re going to ride a horse named after you?”

His laugh rolled free again. “Not exactly. He’s a big beast, named after the Titans, not me. Good mount. He was rehabilitated after they rescued him.”


Lucas nodded. “That’s the answer to your question, why there are so many. The current owner has rescued over half of them from bad situations. Some take years to rehabilitate to the point where they can be ridden again.”

Lucas Titan wants to rescue horses. The revelation was . . . not what I expected.

“That’s actually very cool.”

His easy posture stiffened. “It’s not a big deal. I’d buy it even if the barn was full of thoroughbreds and Arabians. Of which there are several. And the thoroughbreds bring home plenty of purses from the races.”

He tried to hide it, but I’d caught that flash of compassion for abused animals. Still, I’d let him pretend he was all about the money if it would bring back the easiness from a few moments ago. Call me crazy, but I thought I might actually be starting to understand this man.

“The sport of kings. Seems appropriate for you.”

His smile flashed again. “Obviously.” Then he jerked his chin toward the room next to the one Chris had come out of. “Let’s get changed.”

I’d been skeptical about the clothes Lucas handed me, but surprisingly my ass looked pretty damn good in these . . . jodhpurs. The jaunty white shirt, black jacket, and velveteen riding helmet didn’t look so bad either. The knee-high leather boots were amazing. So amazing that I was tempted to try walking out while wearing them.

When Lucas stepped out of the men’s changing area wearing jeans and a T-shirt, I sputtered, “What the hell? Why am I the only one in this getup?”

His smile—it was coming faster and more often now—flashed again. He turned me by my shoulders toward the door, lowering his head to speak into my ear. “Because I knew your ass would look amazing in those. For the record, I was right.”

I looked over my shoulder at him. “And where did your clothes come from? I didn’t see jeans in there.”

“I left them here last time.”

His answer raised another question. “How long have you been thinking about buying this place?” It sounded as if he’d visited more than once. The kid knew him by name, although maybe that wasn’t surprising. The more surprising part was that he knew the kid by name. But I was making judgments again. Maybe Lucas remembered everyone’s names.

“A few months. I came here originally as a guest, and we’ve been in discussions since then. He’s waiting for me to make a decision.”

“What’s stopping you from deciding?”

Lucas’s smile faded. “I have my reasons.” He jerked his head toward the stable door. “Our mounts will be ready by now. Let’s go.”

I tried to parse through what Lucas said and what he wasn’t saying. It was clear to me that he wanted this place, but something was holding him back. I wanted to know what that something was, and I wanted to know very much.

My mind fixed on solving that mystery, we walked outside and I gasped at the giant, gorgeous beast of a horse before me. “This must be Titan.”

“Yes, ma’am. He’s certainly a fitting mount for Mr. Titan.”

He was a glossy dark brown with a black mane. He stood, shifting on his hooves almost impatiently.

Yes, certainly a fitting mount.

“Creole Belle is yours, ma’am. We call her Belle.” He stepped over to stroke the forehead of a much more petite, silvery-gray mare with a white mane. White spots speckled her hindquarters. “She’s an Appaloosa. She’s been here about five years and is a favorite with our guests who are less familiar with riding.”

And hopefully those who aren’t familiar at all.

Even though she was small compared to Titan, she looked huge compared to little old me.