Last Chance #5
Does he dare to love her?
After his mother goes too far in her attempts to marry him off to a woman of social standing, Dillon Hatcher follows in his brother’s footsteps and escapes to his grandparents’ house. Though he misses breeding the American Quarter horses at home, he’s happy to help the horse rescues at Last Chance Ranch. What he’s not happy about is Hailey Pennington literally dropping in. Do his mother’s schemes know no bounds?
Hailey, “the Hellion” as her brothers fondly call her, has been crushing on Dillon for over a year, so when she discovers he’s moved to Last Chance, she takes the opportunity to meet up with him without his mother’s interference. It doesn’t take long for her to see the man is open to a relationship…as long as it isn’t with one of his mother’s favorites. Just her luck, that’s exactly what she is.
Determined not to fall for Hailey, Dillon finds himself becoming far too interested in her. But before he can decide which is more important, denying his mother or pursuing his own happiness, fate steps in, leaving him no choice at all.
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“What the hell?” Dillon Hatcher stepped out of the barn at Last Chance Ranch to find a hot air balloon sinking fast just beyond the house.
“What is it?” His grandmother joined him, wiping her brow with the back of her gloved hand. “Well, I’ll be a burro’s butt. Are they supposed to come down that quickly?”
At her question, the fear in his gut was confirmed. “Shit, no.” Running for the corral where Eclipse was trying to impress Macy, he whistled. The black stallion turned at his call and broke into a run. Dillon swung the gate wide, and as the horse came to a halt before him, he grabbed his mane, jumped on his back, and kicked him toward the soon-to-crash balloon.
Galloping through the desert, as opposed to the new dirt road put in for Cole and Lacey’s house, made it a shorter ride, but he still wasn’t going to get there before touchdown. “Come on, boy.”
Unfortunately, his position gave him the perfect view of the catastrophe about to unfold. Two people stood in the basket, one working on something while the other was clearly yelling. He hoped his grandmother had called 911.
“Holy shit.” The balloon dropped fast, closer to the prickly pear cacti covering the area. Just as the basket was about to meet its shadow on the ground, it jerked upward about twelve feet.
His heart in his throat, he squeezed his thighs to slow down Eclipse and jumped to the ground.
The balloon floated slowly down to Earth, somehow finding an empty spot between the plant life.
Running up, he grabbed the rope lying on the ground, not sure he’d be able to keep the balloon from moving, but it had to be worth a try.
Laughter, light and happy, came from the basket, causing him to move his gaze to the occupants. The contrast between them couldn’t have been greater. A dark-haired man scowled and shook his head at the woman with golden blonde hair, who was clearly thrilled by the experience. Somewhere in the back of his head he was thinking that she should be screaming or crying at the operator of the balloon.
“Hector, that was awesome!” She threw her hands up before giving Hector a squeeze he clearly didn’t appreciate.
“You almost destroyed my balloon.”
She pulled back, keeping her hand on his arm. “You know if that happened, I’d take care of it. How am I supposed to learn? I have to do it myself. I have to make my own mistakes and learn from them. And look, I did! Here we are safe and sound.”
From the man’s shaking head, Dillon was pretty sure he wasn’t convinced. That’s when the man saw him and nodded in his direction.
The blonde turned around and he froze, irritation sizzling up his spine. “You.”
“Dillon Hatcher, right?” She hopped up on the edge of the basket and jumped down onto the desert floor. “I didn’t expect you to be out here.”
“Hailey Pennington, are you crazy?” He stared at the woman his mother had been trying to get his brother and now him to marry. Or rather, one of the women she wanted them to marry.
Hailey paused, cocking her head to the side. “I don’t think so. You are Dillon, right?”
He barely controlled the low growl wanting to come out and threw his free hand up toward the balloon. “I mean the balloon. What the hell were you doing driving that thing, or flying or whatever you call it?”
She grinned. “Oh, I was learning how to fly it. It’s an amazing feeling.” Her green eyes lit with the thrill of her adventure. “Have you ever been in one?”
His stomach lurched at the thought. “If man was intended to fly, he would have been given wings. I keep my feet firmly planted on mother Earth.”
“Well, it’s exhilarating to reach beyond our limitations. You should try it some time.” She spun toward the balloon. “You can go, Hector. I’ll just catch a ride back to my car.”
Hector looked him over as if deciding if he was safe to be in Hailey’s company then scowled.
He let the man off the hook. “Go ahead, Hector. I’m sure someone at the ranch house can give Ms. Pennington a ride. It’s probably safer than letting her back in your balloon.”
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