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Rejecting the Prince

Rejecting the Prince

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Kimber isn’t sure she wants to keep working for a Prince of Durham, especially when he refuses to consider using a female jockey in the Royal Stakes races. But she’s not willing to give up three years of training one of his horses with a good chance to win just to follow tradition.

Prince Oliver, the nephew of the royal family in Durham, has loved horses almost as much as his late father and would do anything to protect his legacy and memory. But when a beautiful and feisty trainer starts to make him question everything he thought he knew, he worries upholding one tradition might mean the loss of more than a race.

Intro into Chapter One

Oliver stepped out of the car and breathed in the clean air of the country. He hadn’t been to his father’s home—his home now—for months. Everything in Castlebridge was just too busy lately and it was nice to get away. Though his sister, Emma, had decided against coming with him this time, he didn’t mind too much. A solitary week to rejuvenate his soul was just what he needed.
The head of his household staff stepped out of the front door and came to meet him. “Good morning, Your Highness.”
“Samuel, you know I don’t like to be called that.”
“And you know that I follow rules, Your Highness.” Samuel smiled, belying the formality. “Was your trip successful?”
“I’m still waiting to know for sure, but I do have hopes that my plans will work out.”
“Very good. Are there any new instructions before I see to your things?”
Oliver shook his head. He knew better than to try to argue with Samuel about his luggage so he went inside and headed to his father’s study. It hadn’t been his father’s for years, but Oliver just couldn’t see the house as his own. He’d spent the last fourteen years living with his aunt and uncle, the queen and king of Durham, and his younger sister and four cousins. Every time he came home, the house still felt so much like it did when his parents were alive.
He didn’t normally let himself dwell on their absence much, but today he felt it particularly strong. When he opened the door to the empty office, he hoped he would feel some kind of familiarity—something to tie him to his father—but instead he felt empty. Logically he knew it was a ridiculous emotion, but he hated the way he felt like he’d been abandoned. Taking a few steps into the room, he took a slow deep breath and when the familiar scent of the wood polish and the old books registered, he allowed himself a small smile.
There it is, he thought. It would take a while for him to ground himself into who he was but he didn’t mind. Oliver had made sure there was nothing in his schedule that required his immediate attention. He was free to just enjoy himself and work through the emotions that always hit him during this time of year.
When he’d tried running from it and staying busy or away from home, it had been harder to deal with. For the last five years, he’d engaged in this same rejuvenating routine instead of dreading the anniversary of his parents’ death.
After an hour of quiet reflection and time spent remembering things about his childhood home, he stood from his father’s desk chair and left the office in order to walk through the remainder of the house, bringing back memories of the place. Someday, he would have a family, and this would be his home. Yet he couldn’t imagine having any woman be the lady of the house. That had always been his mother, and he didn’t want to see what kinds of changes might happen to Dorset Hall.
But he had plenty of time. There was no rush for him to find a wife, even if two of his cousins had found the women they swore they could not live without. Oliver felt blessed that he wasn’t the son of the king. The same pressure Alex, Stefan, and now even Henry was under was not there on him.
Oliver continued walking through the house, admiring the way his staff had taken care of it. No one lived here regularly, but they always made sure it was ready for him whenever he, or even Emma, wanted to return.
Of course, his sister had held social events and private parties here from time to time, but it was far enough away from the main events of Durham’s nobility that he didn’t have to worry about outsiders constantly paying attention to the events they held here.
It was also the perfect place to keep his horses.
Oliver decided to make a small adjustment to his earlier plan to walk through the house and instead turned to the doors leading outside. A nice walk across the back gardens to his stables would be just what he needed.
When he reached the gate, he nodded to his lead stable hand, then moved into the stables and headed directly to his favorite horse, Complexity. He’d been the last horse Oliver’s father had purchased before his death, and Oliver had done everything he could to train the horse in the way he hoped his father would have liked.
Of course, not knowing much about horses as a young boy, it had been difficult to make informed decisions, so when his uncle Geoffrey had helped him find the right man to hire as his head trainer, Oliver had gladly taken that assistance. With Mr. Osbourne’s help, Complexity had won a few stakes races, ultimately leading up to the coveted title of the Triple Stakes. He’d also sired dozens of fantastic horses including some that Oliver still owned. The stud fees from Complexity had been well used to grow his wealth as he invested it in the different markets.
Complexity lifted his head over the half door of his stall as Oliver approached, making Oliver smile at the sight of him. He was no longer a racer, but Oliver could see the desire to get out onto the track for a run.
Oliver looked around to see if Mr. Osbourne was anywhere near. Usually the man spent at least part of the day at the stables. Instead, Oliver caught sight of his head stable hand and waved him over.
“George, when was the last time Complexity was ridden?”
“Yesterday morning.”
“I think I’ll take him out then,” Oliver said.
“Of course, Your Highness. Do you need any assistance in readying him, sir?”
“I’ll be fine, thank you.”
George nodded and returned to what he’d been doing before Oliver arrived. He stopped for a moment and turned back to Oliver. “Mr. Osbourne has taken to riding him around the field on occasion instead of just the track, but Complexity still prefers the track.”
Oliver smiled as he rubbed the horse’s head. “I don’t blame you. It’s a thrill, I’m sure.”
Oliver turned to the equipment to pick out the saddle and gear he’d require, glad the horse no longer needed the small jockey saddle. At nearly six foot, Oliver would have looked ridiculous trying to fit on the horse like that.
Before long, Oliver found himself racing down the track, reveling in the thrill and freedom of riding. He wished he could be free like this more often, but his passions in life didn’t allow for him to just keep to himself. Unfortunately, breeding and racing horses didn’t give him unlimited funds.
But that wasn’t him. He liked to be involved in the world. To do things that would make a difference. He’d been thrilled to help Jenna, Stefan’s new fiancée, with her funding to continue with her cancer research, and the progress her lab was making still astounded him.
Most recently, he’d returned from South America where he’d helped establish an organization that would ensure clean water and housing materials that would help the people there live better lives. And in order to do the things he wanted to do to help, he had to make connections and continue to grow his wealth.
But for now, he would put all that aside as he pushed Complexity even faster down the track.


Kimber pulled up in the front of the stable yard after returning from her lunch break and errands. A frown crossed her face at the sight of someone racing down the track. She was sure her father had told her he had no plans to run any of the horses. Kimber climbed out of the car, leaving her purse inside and slammed the door closed when she realized it was Complexity racing down the track.
“Who the heck approved him for running today?” Kimber didn’t see anyone outside the stables so she rushed forward heading directly toward the fence that separated the track from the rest of the stable grounds.
The man on the horse was definitely not one of the stable hands, and was too large to be a jockey getting practice. She wanted him off that horse. No one was supposed to just take horses out for a ride without specific approval.
As the rider raced around the corner, she couldn’t make out his face since he was crouched forward, not quite floating like a true racer would do, but he had a good seating on the horse. At least he wasn’t a complete moron.
But Complexity was a little too old to be running that hard, especially with his health issue. She didn’t want to deal with her father’s wrath when he found out the owner’s favorite horse was being roughed up so she started waving her arms and yelled, “Get off that horse, you idiot!”
As Complexity neared, she was sure the rider was going to just zip past her so she waved once more and shouted with every last bit of air in her lungs, “Stop!”
Seconds after he passed her, the rider must have finally realized she was there because he yanked back hard on the reins. Complexity, unused to being stopped in the middle of the long stretch like that, faltered and Kimber stared in horror as the horse almost went down.
Kimber could almost see her life flash in front of her eyes. If she ended up being the cause of Complexity being injured, she wouldn’t have to worry about convincing the prince to allow a female jockey to race one of his horses in this male dominated field. She’d never be allowed near Prince Oliver’s horse again. But if anyone found out that a stranger had decided to take Complexity for a joy ride anyway when she was supposed to be the one on duty, she’d be in loads of trouble. And who knew what that might mean for her father.
As the horse managed to keep his feet, Kimber let out a breath of relief. That relief was only momentary because the man on Complexity struggled for a moment to get the horse to calm down enough to keep running forward a few yards instead of stopping him cold.
At least that was in his favor. He wasn’t completely unfamiliar with horses. Kimber held her hand up to shield her eyes from the sun as she tried to get a good look at the man who had taken the horse without permission. When he turned the animal around in order to come toward her, Kimber’s mouth dropped open.
“Great,” she grunted. “I just told the prince to get off his own horse.”
Kimber squared her shoulders. It didn’t matter what he thought; it was her job to make sure the horses were cared for and she wasn’t going to back down.
Prince Oliver’s face looked more livid than she’d ever seen him before. Not that she’d seen a lot of him in person. No, mostly he was just on television or plastered on social media and news sites. There, he was considered handsome and charming, but she knew enough high-ranking people in her work to be aware that many of them had completely different private personalities.
Kimber pressed her lips together in her own stern expression, knowing it was better to come across as tough as nails when it came to men and horses. Otherwise, he’d ride over the top of her no matter how much she knew about the business.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Prince Oliver demanded as he dismounted the horse and stood directly in front of her, forcing her to have to look up at him.
“I was about to ask you the same thing,” Kimber said, loving the look of shock that crossed Oliver’s eyes. “I don’t care that you own everything here, you shouldn’t just take Complexity out and run him that hard. Do you have any idea about his history lately? The state of his health?”
“I spoke to George.”
“So,” Kimber said. “George is not the one that determines the exercise schedule. Nor does he decide how fast to run Complexity. Especially if he hasn’t been run that hard for weeks as he’s healing from an abscessed tooth.”
“No one said anything about that.” Prince Oliver looked at the horse as if planning to check his mouth right then.
“Did you ask?” Kimber demanded. “Or did you just decide to do what you please no matter the consequences?”
“I didn’t think I needed permission to ride my own horse.”
“Of course not. And if you decide to damage an amazing creature like this, I suppose that’s your choice, but it’s an incredible waste.”
“Who are you?” Prince Oliver said, his voice getting low and indicating she might get herself fired if she kept shouting at him, but part of her almost wished for it.
“Kimber Osbourne. My father has been in charge of your horses for twelve years, and if you paid any attention, you’d know who I was because I’ve been working with him for the last four. But of course, you never pay attention to anything here, just demand to have what you want when you want it, consequences be hanged.”
Kimber almost slapped her hand across her mouth. She had to back pedal fast if she wanted to keep her job, but she wasn’t going to apologize to the infuriating man just because he was a prince or her boss.
“Look, sir,” Kimber said. “I just want to be sure Complexity is okay. Seeing him running like that without the right conditioning lately isn’t good on him. And if that abscess isn’t completely healed, you could have caused some more damage. I’d suggest you take him back to the stables after you’ve walked him a bit more. Now if you’ll excuse me, Your Highness, I’ve got things to do.”
Kimber turned around, not waiting for Prince Oliver to respond. Hopefully if she got far enough away before he had a chance to fire her, she might be able to hide in her office for a bit as he took care of the horse and met with her father, who should be arriving soon.
Then maybe in the privacy of her own home, she could get chewed out by her father.


Oliver stared in amazement as the woman turned her back on him and stomped away. Of course, it wasn’t really a stomp, and she walked incredibly poised in her low-heeled boots and tight-fitting jeans. Her dark hair, almost black, bounced with each step as it hung down her back, nearly reaching the center of it.
He blinked a few times, not sure how to react to the woman. She’d nearly unseated him as she hollered at him to stop as he’d raced Complexity down the track, but the way she’d torn into him because she was worried about his horse made him smile. He turned to the horse, who had just nudged his shoulder with his nose, then moved to the side in order to mount him.
After walking him around the track once to be sure he wasn’t going to have any difficulties after his run, Oliver dismounted again and walked him the rest of the way to the stable.
George was nowhere to be found, but the on-site veterinarian he’d hired met him and started assessing the horse.
“How does he look?” Oliver asked.
“The mouth looks great, Your Highness.” The vet turned the horse toward Oliver as if ready to help get the mouth open for him to see. “I don’t think the bit bothered him in any way. How did he handle for you? Did you notice anything strange in his gait or did he seem to hold back at all?”
Oliver shook his head. “No. In fact, it was difficult to hold him back when we first started. Like he didn’t even want to spend time warming up. He was ready to go the moment we reached the track.”
“Complexity knows who he is, Your Highness. Never seen a horse like him before. You’ve got a mighty fine animal.”
Oliver nodded and patted the horse’s shoulder. “I surely do.”
“Your Highness.” A younger stable hand stepped forward. “I can take care of him for you if you’d like.”
Oliver met the boy’s eyes. “That’s all right.” He hesitated, not sure if he had ever met this kid before. “What’s your name?”
“Jason, Your Highness.”
“Thank you, Jason, but I will put Complexity away myself.”
The boy turned to walk away, but Oliver stopped him. “Jason, do you know where Ms. Osbourne is?”
“Probably in her office. Shall I fetch her for you?”
Oliver shook his head. “No, I’ll go find her when I’m done here.”
He had a lot of questions for that woman, the main one being something he could never ask out loud. But he wanted to know where she had been all his life. And was she always that spunky and demanding, because he was definitely not used to being chewed out by people who worked for him.

She’s the daughter of the royal horse trainer. He’s the prince she berated for taking his own horse for a joy ride. Can they swallow their pride and find a way to work together?

Main Tropes

  • Falling for the Boss
  • Royalty
  • Forbidden Love
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