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If Wishes Were Horses
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Andy’s last undercover assignment nearly broke him. Now he’s got another chance to capture his target, but the gorgeous rancher he’s investigating makes him long for things he can’t have.
Ken gave up his society life to run a ranch, and he’ll do anything to protect what’s his. When he starts to suspect his new employee is hiding something, he knows he should send the man away. But Andy is as gorgeous as he is infuriating, and he‘s pulling Ken to him like a magnet. Both men long for control, yet neither knows how to surrender.
A clash of wills is inevitable, but neither man expects the tenderness that grows every time they touch. With secrets between them and outside forces threatening the ranch, each man will need to decide how far he’s willing to go to protect the other.
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Ken wrapped his hand around the ornate door handle and tugged. He was not going to ring the bell at his childhood home, though that was what his parents expected. Even as a kid, he’d been treated more like a visitor than a member of the family.
He stepped into the foyer and glanced around. His mother had redecorated since he’d been here last, but the style still screamed ostentatious wealth like it always had. He strode down the hall and into the dining room where his parents were already at dinner. He was an hour late, and his mother wouldn’t have risked upsetting Renata, the cook. Thinking of Renata made Ken smile despite the tension pulsing through him. She was perhaps the only person on earth his mother was afraid of.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” he said as he took a seat.
His mother sniffed. “It was to be expected.”
His mom was justified in starting without him. He’d never been enthusiastic about family gatherings, but he’d shown up late or failed to show at all since he’d stopped hiding who he really was—a gay man who disagreed with the way his father ran Carver Corp.
Of course, if his family had ever given him a warm reception, he might have tried harder to be punctual. Tonight, though, his tardiness had been unpreventable. He’d been stuck in a meeting for hours, finalizing the sale of the company he’d built, an offshoot of his family’s conglomerate. He grinned as he laid a starched linen napkin in his lap. His parents were going to be pissed even though he had sole ownership, and the capital he’d invested had all been his. The idea of anything bearing the Carver name being sold outside the family would give his father a heart attack, if he had a heart.
Ken had arranged to have dinner with his parents so he could let them know before the news became public, more courtesy than they deserved considering they’d have taken the company from him in half a second if they’d had legal grounds to.
His mother looked up from her plate wearing the cool smile she used for public appearances. “How have you been, Kenneth?”
“Just peachy, which you’d know if you ever called,” he responded, giving her the false look of graciousness he’d been schooled in from infancy.
“I’m not the one who broke off contact.” Her icy calm infuriated Ken.
“If you hadn’t insisted—”
His mother interrupted. “The only time you called even before the tacky airing of your private business was when you needed something, so don’t try the guilt trip with me.”
His father cleared his throat. “You said you had something important to tell us.”
Ken nodded. “Yes, sir. I do.”
“Then let’s get down to business before we all lose our goddamned appetites.”
That’s how it had always been. Business first. As far as his father was concerned, his family was just another arm of Carver Corp, a public relationship requirement.
Conversation stopped as the main course was brought in. Ken acknowledged the kitchen staff member servant who’d just set his dinner in front of him with a warmer smile than he’d given his parents, even though he didn’t recognize the woman. He looked down at the steak, grilled asparagus, and creamy mashed potatoes with gravy on top and nearly sighed. This might be the last meal of Renata’s he’d ever have, and he doubted he’d get to eat it.
“I sold Carver Pharmaceuticals.”
“What? That’s impossible,” his father stammered.
“I assure you it’s not. I put out the word that I was looking for a buyer. I found one, and we just signed the paperwork. That’s why I was late.”
His mother pinched the bridge of her nose as if trying to fight off a headache.
“I’ll top the offer,” his father said as Ken had predicted he would. That was the main reason he’d kept things silent until the deal was done.
“The deal has been finalized, and my buyer will not be accepting offers.” He’d given the man, an old friend from boarding school, a good price, a steal really, and he’d put a clause in the contract that his friend could not sell the business to anyone in Ken’s family.
“He’ll take mine,” Mr. Carver insisted.
“He can’t. The sales agreement won’t allow it.”
His father narrowed his eyes, then almost smiled. “I hadn’t given you credit for being that big of a bastard. You’ve got bigger balls than I thought to try this shit with me.”
“I learned from the best.”
“Why?” his mother asked, giving her patented hurt look. “Why do you need to hurt us?”
“I don’t,” Ken said, though that wasn’t exactly true. “I sold the company because I decided to retire. I’ve bought a horse ranch.”
“I used the money I earned—my money, not yours—to buy a ranch. I’m moving there, and I’m going to run it.”
“You’re going to run it?” His mother looked truly appalled at the idea that he might get his thousand-dollar cowboy boots dirty.