As soon as Turn On A Dime was offloaded he dropped into a huge sandpit and kicked his legs, and everyone fell in love with him.
Then he stood and flattened his ears and kicked out a few times just to spoil it.
It was as if he sensed Maya was leaving, and it took a couple of hours until he was stabled and finally settled.
Maya went through all his charts and regimes with the owner of the centre until it was finally time to say goodbye.
For four years Turn On A Dime had been her confidant and companion, and now it was ending.
Maya stroked his mane and rested her head on his neck. She did not know how to leave.
Turn On A Dime had maybe a couple of races left in him and then he would sire, but he was supremely difficult. She wasn’t confident that Matteo Di Sione knew what he had taken on and she was scared for Turn On A Dime’s future.
Scared that the rich playboy would decide he was too much work and sell him on.
‘Who’s going to love you like I do?’ Maya asked.
She knew that to be true.
And so, instead of breaking down and weeping into his mane she straightened up.
Luka was right—it was time to take herself seriously. So she walked into the office of the Equine Centre and stated her case.
‘Di Sione can afford it,’ Maya said when the owner questioned the hourly rate she was proposing. ‘It’s for three months and I’m worth every cent.’
She left the owner to make some calls and stepped out into the day to make a difficult call of her own—to her father to say that she would not be returning.
And then she saw him.
Leaning against his car, and somehow patient.
Maya knew that there was a certain patience to him that he exercised now as she walked towards him.
‘I don’t want you to go back to Dubai.’ He was as direct as ever, and though he did not waste words, he used them now, for suddenly having Maya stay was vital. ‘I should say that I’m not trying to sway your decision but the truth is I want to sway it. I want you to stay and to give us a chance.’
Maya stood and the tears she had held back all morning silently fell as this reticent man opened up his suspicious heart to her.
‘I apologise for my words this morning. The truth is I want you to needle your way into my life. In fact, you already have. You’re right—that’s what I couldn’t deal with.’
‘I want our chance too,’ she admitted. ‘I want it more than anything.’
‘Maya.’ He was serious, that was who he was, but he took her hands and looked right into her eyes and gave her a piece of his heart. ‘Giovanni has been going on about these Lost Mistresses and how he hopes they might work their magic. I advised him against…’ Luka shook his head, for it was too much to explain, yet he felt as if they were already working their magic.
Since yesterday life had changed.
It had turned on a dime.
‘Come back to my home,’ he offered. The most suspicious of men invited a woman he had just met right into his life. ‘We’ll sort something out…’
‘Oh no.’ Through her tears, she interrupted him with a smile. ‘I’m already sorted. I have a job and it’s live-in. I couldn’t just leave him. I was there the day he was born, I broke him in…’
‘I feel the same,’ Luka said, and they both smiled at the little innuendo. Yet it was true—Luka had been there the day the new Maya had emerged, and he didn’t want to simply turn her loose.
‘I took your advice,’ Maya said. ‘I negotiated hard and I’m about to sign for three months’ work with two days off a week. I start tomorrow.’
She wanted nothing from him but himself, Luka knew.
Maya wanted to be with him.
It meant a lot to him. ‘So that means you’re free tonight.’
‘I am.’ Maya smiled.
‘How about I take you somewhere fabulous?’
‘I don’t have anything to wear and hardly a cent to my name.’ Easily now she told him her truth. And the eternally suspicious attorney took out his wallet and peeled off a large wad of notes and smiled a slow smile as she took them.
‘Tonight I’m taking you out. I’ll be here at seven,’ he said as her hands went up to his neck, ‘and I want you dressed to the nines and ready for the night of your life.’
There was no doubt on either side that afterwards she would come back to his.
‘We’ve got three months,’ Maya whispered, and stared at that unshaven jaw and then back up to black eyes that held hers.
‘I’m hoping for more.’
He kissed her then, a long slow kiss, and it tasted of the first rays of a new love and it felt like something else—certainty.
His hands came down to her hips and he made sure to kiss her. She wanted him to pick her up and carry her to his home and make long slow love the whole day through. But then Luka pulled back.
‘I have to go.’
But he did. Luka had but one thing on his mind now.
By tonight, Luka needed to be in possession of a ring!
‘I’ll see you at seven,’ he told her.
‘I’ll count the hours till then.’
Their future started tonight.
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