Home > The Man's Outrageous Demands (Royal Cordova Family Trilogy #2)(3)

The Man's Outrageous Demands (Royal Cordova Family Trilogy #2)(3)
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

“Hello, my Beauty,” Marabeth said to her horse as she entered his stall. “I hope you’re in a frisky mood today,” she said and patted the stallion’s flanks. The horse whinnied and snickered, eager for Marabeth’s touch. “Oh, my. You seem to be ready for a real ride today, aren’t you?” she said and led the great, black stallion out of the stall and into the yard.

Marabeth started the soothing process of saddling her horse, getting ready for her morning ride. Both horse and rider enjoyed these quiet times and Marabeth was in no hurry this morning, enjoying the horse’s frisky teasing.

“I understand,” Marabeth said finally as she lifted the heavy saddle onto the horse’s back, then strapped the buckle underneath. “I’m with you. I need to get away from here. Too stuffy lately,” she said, thinking she was alone. “I’ll bet you haven’t seen that irritating man, but if he ever comes around here, you just throw him off, understand? And tell all your friends, too,” she said and patted the horse’s flank again reassuringly.

“Who in the world are you talking to?” a deep voice said from behind her.

Marabeth spun around, facing the man with the voice, her body instantly starting to tremble as his large frame came closer.

“And who would you like your horse, and the entire stable of horses to throw off his back?” Sam asked, raising one eyebrow as he noted the high color in her cheeks. “Me, perhaps?”

“What are you doing down here?” Marabeth demanded, ignoring his question. She wasn’t going to answer him since he was exactly who she wanted all the horses to toss.

“I’m going riding, of course,” he said. “Didn’t you invite me for a ride?” he teased.

“No. This is my own private time. I ride alone.”

“Pity,” he said, standing too close for her peace of mind.

“Oh, Sam. I’m glad your down here early,” Max said as he came around the corner. “Marabeth! I didn’t know you were going riding this morning. Don’t you usually get out there earlier than this?” he asked. His glance went between Sam and Marabeth, instantly understanding that there was some unexplained tension between the two of them. “Am I interrupting something?” he asked.

“Absolutely not,” Marabeth said and walked her horse over to the mounting block. “I was just on my way,” she said and lifted her leg over the saddle. She settled herself, then smiled behind her at the two men watching her. “Have a good ride,” she said and clicked her heel’s into Beauty’s flanks. The horse instantaneously sprang forward and they were out of the stable area and down one of her favorite paths.

“Is she always allowed to go off on her own?” Sam asked, watching her ride away and noting how gorgeous she looked on the stallion. It was as if the two were made for each other. He inhaled sharply as she led the stallion over a tall fence, then off into the woods, executing the jump flawlessly.

“Yes. She knows those woods pretty well though. She’ll be back in less than an hour,” Max said. “Come on. I think our horses should be saddled by now. I have a lot to talk about with you,” he said and patted Sam on the shoulder.

Sam watched for a few more minutes, then followed Max into the stables to check on their horses. Sam knew what Max wanted to talk to him about so it wasn’t urgent that they get started. He knew Max was trying to make this both private so Sam could turn him down if he needed to, but also a time to talk Sam into taking the position.

Sam knew what his answer would be already. Max was wasting his time. But if it meant getting on a horse and following the sexy redhead into the woods, then Sam was all for it.

“Ready?” Max said, pulling himself gracefully onto a strong, brown and white pinto.

“Absolutely,” Sam said and swung up onto a feisty brown stallion. As soon as he touched his heels to the horse, he jumped forward, eager to gallop through the forest. Sam was glad for the horse’s speed since he wanted to try and catch up with the redhead who had disappeared several minutes ago.

Max led the way through the forest and they spent several minutes racing down a pathway that wound its way through the trees and bushes, then broke out into a field of high grass.

Sam could see where the other rider had ridden. Unfortunately, Max took a different route that led them up a slight incline. The ride was worth it though, since they topped a hill and were able to stop and watch the valley below with the sun rising over the trees. They stood still for several long moments and just enjoyed the stillness.

Max then turned and faced Sam. “So, is there any need for me to try and convince you to take over as Minister of Defense? The current minister wants to retire as soon as possible. Both me and my father think you would be the ideal candidate to replace him.”

Sam looked out over the beautiful countryside. “I don’t understand why you want me to take over. I already have my own security company.”

“That’s exactly why we want you to take over. Your company is arguably the best in the world. Your services are requested by just about every important family and company. You’ve built it up through hard work and common sense. But you also have a strong military background. You’re the ideal candidate to take over as Minister of Defense because you understand both the commercial and military side of all the issues.”

Sam looked out at the horizon, silent for a moment as he took in everything Prince Maximilian was saying. “Basically, I’ve done it all so you now want me to give up the easy life of a CEO who can pretty much come and go as I please in order to serve my country and become embroiled in the security of an entire people as well as the royal family of Cordova.”

Max smiled cheekily. “That about sums it up.”

“So what’s in it for me?”

Max laughed. “Don’t be coy, Sam. I know you better than that. You’re chomping at the bit for a new challenge. You’re company is successful and has a great reputation but you’re bored out of your mind, aren’t you?”

He had a point, Sam thought. The day to day responsibilities of running a large company were starting to bore him. He knew he’d been looking for a challenge, but he was pretty sure it didn’t involve playing politics. “You’re still not giving me any good reason to take the job,” he said.

“You’ll have lots of new toys to play with,” Max said, as if that would entice him.

“I can buy all the new toys I need,” Sam countered. “Not good enough.”

Max watched his friend and considered his next words carefully. “There’s trouble brewing in the military. The training is falling below standards, recruits are starting to get slack, the Navy, although small, is being utilized poorly and the commanders are getting rowdy. The only thing holding the military together is my father’s authority. But he has too many diplomatic obligations right now. We need a strong leader to take over and set things back to rights. That man is you, Sam.”

Sam didn’t move in his saddle and his thighs held the horse still. He considered all the things Max was saying and knew that those were the only words that would have convinced him to take the job. Sam loved this country and knew he would have to step in and fix things. He couldn’t let his beloved country flounder. It was small, but strategic and the strong military and diplomatic finesse of his king were the only two things that kept Cordova from becoming a puppet in the world theatre. He knew he would do anything to keep that from happening.

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