It was time to make his move.
As far as Declan O’Rourke was concerned, it was way past time to make his move on blond and kick-ass Harper Castleberry. He’d been patient, waiting for the single mother to send a signal that she might be ready for something more than the just-friends relationship they had.
But as he watched her training the new Hell Belles recruits, he knew running the turtle-slow and cautious race hadn’t netted him the trophy. It was a hot, sunny day in June, the horses were kicking up their heels and playful in the training center pasture, and the Hell parade would celebrate its third year in October.
Which might mean nothing to the lay person who hadn’t visited Hell, but to Declan it meant almost three years Harper had been here, and almost three years he’d been sitting on the fence mooning after her.
His buddies and co-owners of the Hell’s Outlaws Training Center, Trace Carter and Saint Markham, had said that being a hero was going to bring him nothing but heartbreak, and though he usually took their advice with a generous dose of salt, they were married, and he wasn’t even close to being kissed.
In fact, Harper barely seemed to notice he was alive. All her attention was on the team she’d taken over from Mayor Judy Jasper, slowly turning it from a bullfighting team into a trick riding team. Just as dangerous, in some ways, and he missed the old focus on bulls. Bulls he understood. This business of slinging oneself around a horse and doing what he called circus tricks left him exhausted.
Someone was going to get hurt.
Trace and Saint and he had resisted training Judy’s team to be bullfighters, their hearts too involved to want to see Ava Buchanan, now Trace’s wife, or Cameron Dix, Saint’s wife, get stomped.
But there was something about this trick riding that really blew his mind.
Worse, it brought his evil twin, Fallon, to the Training Center to watch Harper train. Fallon said he was just hanging around to watch the show, as he considered himself an ace trick rider himself.
Fallon wasn’t fooling him. He might be a damn good rider, but Fallon also had a thing for Harper.
Yet even that wasn’t the worst part.
Lately, Declan had noticed Dr. Jack Turner hanging around the Training Center, too, conveniently during the hours that Harper trained the team. Everybody loved the soft-hearted vet. Declan liked him, too. Jack was a good man, ran a good outfit where animals were treated well and sent home cured of their ailments. Jack was tireless in his care of big and small creatures.
He’d be perfect for Harper. The man would make a great dad for six-year-old Michael, who was in first grade over in Hawk where there was an elementary school, unlike Hell. Through the Hell grapevine-Judy and her sheriff, Steel Durant, not to mention Trace and Saint-he’d heard that Jack had driven Michael over to school a couple of times when Harper had competition conflicts with her team.