My Regelence Rake
Before you find your prince, you have to kiss your share of rakes.
With his days occupied with duties as Captain of the Guard, and nights consumed with upholding his reputation as a rake, Lord Sebastian Hastings’s schedule is filled. There’s no extra time to be anyone’s bodyguard, but the royal family’s safety is a task he sees to personally.
Prince Colton Townsend has loved Sebastian for as long as he can remember, but he’s done pining for a man who has vowed never to remarry. So he consoles himself with the second love of his life—horses. Stable building and horse racing consume his every thought, at least until he’s stuck with Sebastian dogging his every step.
While looking over the prospects at an auction, Colton is trying to ignore his sexy, pesky bodyguard when he feels compelled to take on a bully to protect an abused horse. Sebastian is dragged into the fray, and their good deed sparks a string of nasty rumors.
There’s only one way to quell the political storm: marry. But instead of solving everything, Colton realizes his new husband is a bundle of secrets, none of which he’ll give up easily. Unless Colton makes one, last-ditch effort that could break his heart for good.
Warning: Contains an obnoxious filly, a love-struck prince, a meddling king, a matchmaking duke, vicious rumors and hunky ex Special Forces soldiers.
Read an Excerpt
The wind caught the door, throwing it and Colton against the side of the stable with a bang. “Bloody hell.” The icy breeze buffeted his face as he struggled against the weather. Brrr… It was freezing out here. Perhaps he should have gotten his coat. His hands were frozen. It was amazing they hadn’t cracked and fallen off. The chill cut right through his clothes.
Fighting with the door, Colton was determined to win. He dug his heels in and heaved. At that precise moment the current of air faded, and the door slammed shut with a resounding boom. He landed on his arse inside the stable.
The horses shuffled their feet and snorted. One of them kicked a wall. Apollonia nickered, already fussing to be let out. The wind whistled outside, but the crisp, clean scent of hay and oats surrounded him. He loved that smell.
Teeth chattering, Colton lay on his back in the middle aisle with his lungs burning. He’d planned to check on the horses, but he hadn’t known he was going to get a workout. What a picture he probably made. Now his appearance was as ruffled as his emotions.
Tonight, he’d not only danced with Wentworth, but kissed him. Obviously, Wentworth had not been as thrilled by the kiss as Colton, so why had Wentworth done it? Why had he even danced with Colton? Colton groaned. Since the man was now his business partner, he couldn’t ignore him—not like he was doing a good job of that anyway—but he had to keep things professional between them. And for galaxy’s sakes, he had to stop kissing the blasted man.
Trying to catch his breath, he stared up at the haylofts on each side of the peaked roof and groaned. What was he going to do with Wentworth?
Apollonia nickered again, louder this time.
“Hush, Apollonia.” Sitting up, Colton rubbed his arms and pushed himself to his feet.
Apollonia danced in place inside her stall.
His lip twitched. “Okay already.” On the way by he petted her mother, who had stuck her head out of her stall. “Good evening, Belle.” Moving to the next stall over, he unlatched Apollonia’s door and pointed his finger at her. “You can have out of your enclosure, but we aren’t going outside.”
She hurried into the center aisle and turned back to him, nudging his arm and flipping it up with her nose.
His hand landed on her head, making him chuckle. “Okay, pretty girl.” He rubbed her neck. The red chestnut coat appeared even darker in the dim overhead lights. Resting his head on her shoulder, he put his arm around her neck and the other on her back. He was still chilled, but her warmth and the heat in the barn seeped into him. “Maybe Wentworth’s libido got carried away, and I was in the right place at the wrong time. Or is that the wrong place at the right time?” None of it had felt wrong. Even now his lips tingled, and he fancied he could feel Wentworth’s lips pressed to his. Or maybe they were just cold.
Apollonia leaned against him.
“Ack.” Colton shuffled around to keep from being knocked over and shoved against her side. “Stand up, you dolt.”
She turned her head to look at him as if to say, You started it, I was only cuddling.
Colton patted her side once more for good measure. “You have not developed the fine art of listening like your father.”
Apollo, who was next door to Apollonia, lifted his head. Some hay hung out of his mouth as he chewed. Flicking his tail, he looked at Colton. How many times had he come out in the middle of the night to brush and talk to Apollo over the years? Too many to count. “Hi, boy. How’re you this evening? Let me check on Dazz and see how he’s settling in then I’ll come brush you.” Colton rubbed the velvety nose and started down the aisle.
Halfway there, the stable door opened and a chill whipped down Colton’s back. Wrapping his arms around himself, he turned to face his intruder.
With his frock coat flapping in the wind, Wentworth struggled to close the door.
That familiar tingle he got whenever Wentworth was near niggled at Colton. He hadn’t thought to see Wentworth again so soon. Maybe it was too soon. Colton had no idea where things stood between them.
The door finally slammed shut, and the roar of the air rushing inside converted to a howl outside. Wentworth glanced around. When his gaze landed on Colton, he grinned. “I wondered if you’d be out here.” Wentworth’s shoulders sagged more than normal, and his black eye was darker than it had been at the ball.
“What’re you doing here?”
“Max is here.” Wentworth gestured to the back of the stable.
Colton glanced over his shoulder. Sure enough, Max was in a stall at the back. “Oh. I was checking on Dazz.”
“How is he do—?” Something jangled as Wentworth strode forward. He stopped in front of an open enclosure. “Give me that.” The deep dulcet tone was like wrapping up in a blanket.
Glancing around, Colton realized Apollonia was not in the center aisle anymore. Oh no.
Wentworth disappeared into the empty stall. “No. Bad.”
The jingle sounded again, and Apollonia snorted. Her hooves clicked a few times in rapid succession on the cement floor. What was she into now?
Amused, Colton walked over to investigate.
She held the end of an old leather harness clenched between her teeth. Wentworth gripped the other end. “Gimme this. You don’t need it.” A tug-of-war ensued, and Wentworth’s boots slid on the concrete floor. Little by little she tugged him right into the pen with her.
Stifling a laugh, Colton grabbed the harness and added his strength to Wentworth’s side. “Apollonia.” He tsked. “Drop it.”
She turned her head slightly, eyeing him.
“Why is she out of her stall?” Wentworth shook the ends of the halter, trying to loosen her grip.
“Because she wanted out.” Colton tapped her cheek. “Just what do you think you’re going to do with this, young lady?”
Wentworth groaned. “That’s the problem. You try to reason with her, and you think everything she does is funny. Training her is going to be pure hell because she runs right over y— Ahh!”
Apollonia let go.
Colton and Wentworth went down in a tangle of arms, legs and frock coat. Colton’s back hit the cement, and the air whooshed from his lungs. His head hit something soft. Gasping for breath and not getting any, Colton tried to grab his chest but Wentworth’s weight on top of him made that impossible.
“Ow. My back. Are you okay?” With his coat over his face, Wentworth eased off Colton and fell to his side, leaving his arm under Colton’s head. He jerked the heavy fabric down with a grin. “Colton?” The grin faded.
Colton shook his head, still unable to breathe from having the air knocked out of him. He needed air. Now. He had to breathe. He couldn’t… Air.
“Shh… Relax. Calm down. Listen to me.” A feather-light touch brushed Colton’s cheek. “Calm down and take a deep, slow breath.”
Staring into the blue depths of Wentworth’s midnight eyes, Colton willed himself to relax. The pain in his chest eased little by little, and air filtered back into his lungs. Closing his eyes, he inhaled several times before the burning let up entirely. “Dust, I hate that. I haven’t done that since I was a kid when Aiden shoved me off a swing and I landed on my back.”
Now that his lungs were functioning properly, he was cold. Why couldn’t he have landed in one of the occupied pens where there was hay? He opened his eyes and was caught by Wentworth’s gaze. His breathing ceased normal activity for an entirely different reason.
Wentworth’s hand still rested on Colton’s cheek. His dark hair lay over his forehead in disarray, and his face was flush with exertion. Sebastian’s blue eyes appeared deeper than normal. A man could get lost in those eyes. Bedroom eyes, Colton had once heard them called. It was fitting. The slightly lowered lids hinted at naughty secrets. They gave Wentworth a wicked gleam.
Wentworth traced Colton’s lips, and his gaze followed his movement.
Oh galaxy, he’s going to kiss me.