“Personal triumph and a delicious love story all in one book!”
From shattered dreams to incredible joy.
Being a female jockey in a man’s world is tough, but nothing like what she faces now. Soul destroying questions and equally stunning answers take Dusty to a new low, but she picks herself up, dusts herself off, and gets on with living…and loving.
“If Kathleen Eagle, and Barbara Samuel are on your auto-buy list, you will love, Into The Sunrise.”
Lexington Kentucky, Winter 2001
CN Dark Angels was an unusual name for a racehorse, but this was not your average thoroughbred.
Sure, she looked innocent enough standing in a bright, airy stall, nibbling from a pile of alfalfa, but Chase witnessed her performance earlier, and yeah, wing-nut was putting it mildly.
Angel approached the door and sniffed at his hands as though looking for treats. He huffed a breath toward her and was pleased when she blew back, with her ears forward and her eyes staying soft, without a hint of aggression. But then she jerked her head up high to stare past him.
Turning slowly, he wasn’t surprised to find a stranger assessing him from the doorway of the fancy Kentucky barn. Probably making assumptions based on appearance because Chase stood out like a painted pony among blue bloods. His ancestors had blessed him with a wiry frame, skin more copper than brown, and straight black hair.
Closing the distance between them, the man wore a polite and almost welcoming smile, oozing the kind of confidence one was born with.
“Richard Selby, COO.” Would Chief Operating Officer be the fancy name for farm manager?
“Chase Mathews.” He shook the man’s hand, noting the lack of calluses or roughness.
“How can I help you?”
Tilting his head toward the filly, Chase said, “Nice horse. Too bad about her mind.”
“Are you interested in buying her?”
Okay, so they weren’t going to exchange pleasantries. That was good. He preferred straight talk. “I don’t have the kind of money you’re asking, but I’d sure love a chance to work with her.”
Selby shook his head. “You must have missed her performance in the round pen.”
“I was there.” He reached up to stroke the filly’s face.
“You think you can break her, even though the best in the business couldn’t?”
Chase turned his back on the horse and met the man’s look square on. “I think it would be a damn shame to give up now and never see her on a racetrack.”
“You’d rather she hurt a few people or beat herself to death first?”
“Of course not. But she’s at least worth the time it would take to bring her around.”
“Well, you’re the only person here today with that opinion.” There’d been a big crowd for the showing. Lots of money and experience gathered on the platform above the round pen, watching her go berserk.
“How many were here?”
“Forty-nine signed in at the gate.”
Chase stifled a grin. “Fifty to one odds. I’ve always been a sucker for a long shot.”
Selby looked him right in the eye. “Mind if I ask you a personal question or two?”
Chase’s mouth twitched. Might as well make it easy for the guy. “I’m Canadian, got a job mucking stalls when I was about fourteen, worked my way up to race riding, which ended when I grew into my boot size. These days, I rehab problem horses, break a few for other people, and run my own small operation in Canada, called Buck Hill Ranch.”
With a glimmer of a smile, Selby nodded. “Ever encountered anything as crazy as she is?”
He shook his head. “Nope.” Then shrugged. “Well, maybe a black-tail doe with a broken leg. She didn’t think much of humans either.”
With a nod toward the filly, Selby said, “Twice we’ve had to scratch this one from sales because she threw wrecks in the van and required extensive vet work to put her back together.”
Chase rubbed the filly’s forehead. It was as though they already had an invisible connection and her spirit was reaching out to him. “Would you be interested in leasing her?”
“I’d have to speak to her owner. What kind of terms?”
Chase was adept at negotiating this kind of thing. “Ninety-ten split for two years, renegotiable after one if she’s made over a hundred grand.”
Selby pinned him with a serious look. “You’re absolutely certain you want to take her on?”
“Very.” Should he have played it cool? Probably, but he didn’t want to miss this opportunity. “But I’d like to work with her here for a few days before I move her.”
“We’ll see.” Selby walked the full length of the long barn while he made the call, and was looking pleased when he returned.
“Here’s the bottom line. Mr. Sanderson, the filly’s owner will give you an eighty-twenty split for twelve months. She’s your financial and legal responsibility from today until this day next year. The paperwork will be drawn up and here for you to sign at this time tomorrow.”
Chase barely managed to resist a fist pump and completely failed to squelch the unprofessional grin. He stuck out his hand. “Deal.”
Selby’s smile was wry. “I wish you luck, young man. She is bred to be something very special but her mind… Well, like I said, good luck with that.”
“I believe Angel is capable of great things. But for now, I’ll focus on getting her home in one piece.”
“You have your own rig?”
“Yup. I’ll bring it back with me in the morning.”
“I hope you have good insurance. She doesn’t like closed spaces. Tends to want to move walls and partitions, and she’s not dainty about it. As a yearling, she managed to gut a trailer in less than ninety seconds.”
Ranch Country, British Columbia, Early Spring 2001
Unbecoming behavior for an adult, but Dusty didn’t care. She sprinted down the hall, around the corner, and slid to a stop, but her father’s housekeeper beat her to the phone.
“I’m sorry, he’s not in,” she was telling someone while smoothing a hand down the front of her long black apron.
Dusty waved her arms. “He’s in his office. I’ll get him.” She shot out a side exit to what looked like a detached garage and knocked on the heavy wooden door, yelling, “Dad.”
There was no response. Probably asleep in his easy chair. She grabbed the knob but the door didn’t budge. She heard an odd sound. A groan? Was something wrong? She pounded on the door. “Dad.”
“What the hell do you want?”
“Are you okay? You sound funny. Open the door.”
“Go away, girl.”
The familiar words were like a slap, and she sagged against the doorjamb. “There’s a phone call for you.”
“I don’t take calls when I’m working. The damn housekeeper knows that.” His voice grew stronger, or louder at least.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” How could she? It had been more than ten years since she fled the isolated ranch where she grew up. What made me think anything had changed?
“Never mind, I’ll take it. Go away.”
She wanted to bang her forehead on the hard wood, but instead did what she’d always done. Headed for the barns.