The Hellion and The Heartbreaker(3)

By: Jennifer McNare


“No way,” Rory proclaimed.

“Absolutely not,” Gavin exclaimed at exactly the same time.

Transfixed, Scarlett barely heard them. “Oh please, please can I have him?” she begged, turning her wonder filled gaze toward her brothers.

“Not a chance, Minx.”

Scarlett turned. She hadn’t noticed that Colin and Conner had joined their little group. “But Colin…”

“Save your breath, Scarlett, there is no way you are getting up on that brute.” Colin’s features were set, his tone adamant. “Besides, he has already been promised to someone else.”

“Promised to whom?” she demanded, her brow furrowing in irritation.

“To the Duke of Worthe, that’s who. And I don’t think he would appreciate you gadding about on his new mount before he’s even had a chance to see him.”

“You’re selling him to some stuffy old duke?” Scarlett demanded incredulously, her eyes widening in disbelief.

“Alec Weston is neither stuffy, nor old, Scarlett,” Colin replied with an amused grin. “In fact, he happens to be a very good friend of mine.”

“Well, if he’s your friend, I’m sure he won’t mind when you tell him that we have decided to keep him,” Scarlett retorted, her tone matter of fact.

“I’m sorry Scarlett, but we are not keeping him.” Colin replied firmly, with a negative shake of his head.

“You don’t think I can handle him, do you?” She eyed her brother knowingly. She had learned to ride almost as soon as she had learned to walk. Horses were the family business after all. However, despite her first-rate skills as an equestrian, her brothers continued to treat her like a baby, insisting she continue to ride Max, the docile gelding she’d been given on her ninth birthday, or a few of the more even-tempered mares they housed in the stable. It was maddening!

“As a matter of fact, I don’t.” Colin admitted. “There is no way you could handle a brute like that, Scarlett, not yet anyhow.”

“Humph,” she snorted in disagreement. She turned and searched the faces of her three other brothers, seeking their support. Their expressions turned guarded, and they all seemed suddenly to be looking elsewhere, skyward, over her shoulder, down at their shoes, none of them meeting her eyes. She glared at each of them in turn, and as the seconds ticked by the air grew fraught with tension. Finally she heaved a frustrated sigh and cast her eyes to the ground. Apparently she needed to change tactics. Taking a slow calming breath, she turned once again to Colin. She looked up and met his gaze, her lower lip quivering.

“No, Scarlett.”

So much for that idea, she thought, her temper quickly escalating.

Colin visibly braced himself as Scarlett’s expression shifted once again into a mutinous glower.

Despite her youth, the fiery temperament of the McPhearson’s Irish ancestors ran strong in her blood, and at present it was boiling. She stood on the fence rail nearly eye to eye with her brother, seconds seeming like minutes as they stared each other down. From the corner of her eye she noted Conner and the twins shifting restlessly in the background. She mentally weighed her options. Her brothers rarely denied her anything, but in this instance Colin’s demeanor was surprisingly unyielding. It was an unexpected development, and for once she wasn’t quite sure how to proceed. After a moment, she looked away, turning her gaze back to the stallion. He was so beautiful. She’d never wanted anything more, but Colin wasn’t going to budge, she could tell. Beyond frustrated she jumped to the ground, turning on her heel without another word. She stomped back toward the house, kicking up little clouds of dust as she went, her arms swinging furiously at her sides. She wasn’t giving in, she just needed a plan.

In silence, her four brothers watched her go.

Conner was the first to speak. Glancing toward the stallion, he started to voice what they were all obviously thinking. “Perhaps…”

“Don’t even think about it,” Colin said, cutting him off. “She’ll get over it.”

The optimistic statement was met with three sets of raised eyebrows and three rather dubious expressions.

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