Operation Mustang [The Service Club 3] (Siren Publishing Ménage and More)

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Book: Operation Mustang [The Service Club 3] (Siren Publishing Ménage and More) by Tonya Ramagos Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tonya Ramagos
Tags: Romance
she couldn’t say he moved easily. Each step revealed the arthritis setting in his bones. She didn’t want to think it, but her gut feeling told her if she had him another ten years, it would be a gift from God.
    “As it happens, you do,” she told him when he reached her. “Can you take a break for a minute, and let’s talk?”
    “I reckon I can spare a couple.” He put his cowboy hat on the hood and raked a withered hand through his wiry gray hair. “What’s on your mind?”
    Mustang pushed a hard breath from her lungs, dreading what she had to say, what it meant she would be revealing. But it has to be done . “Some things have happened since last night.”
    Chester nodded. “I know somethin’ happened at the horse barn this mornin’. Heard you callin’ for Lucky over the radio.”
    Mustang told him about the colt, how she’d found it stumbling around until it fell over, how Gunner and Lucky agreed the horse had been tranquilized.
    Anger flashed in Chester’s soft brown eyes. “Coulda killed that colt. ’Specially if the dose was too much, like you say.”
    “I’m not sure he’s out of the woods yet. I left Lucky watching over him.” It had pained her to walk away. She had wanted to stay herself, to be there when the colt regained his alertness. Living on a ranch her whole life had taught her about horses, but she was woman enough to admit Lucky knew far more when it came to what ailed them.
    “Best thing you coulda done.”
    Mustang nodded her thanks, the only indication she gave of how much his approval meant to her. “Did you see anyone this morning going in or coming out of that barn?” She shot a look Thomas’s way. He’d stopped a few feet from them and kneeled, resting his forearms on his knees as he watched them. “Did either of you see anyone?”
    Chester rubbed the back of his neck. His eyes narrowed as he gave her question a moment’s thought. “Naw,” he finally drawled. “Didn’t see a soul.”
    “I saw Lucky comin’ and goin’ just after sunrise,” Thomas volunteered, plucking a blade of grass from the ground by his boot. “Didn’t think nothin’ of it, though, what with the new colt and all. I just figured he’d be in there checkin’ up on it.”
    “You figured right, which means whoever went in there did it between the time Lucky came out and I went in.”
    “Had to have been shortly before you went in,” Chester commented. “Usually don’t take more than twenty minutes for a sedative to kick in.”
    “True.” Mustang nodded. “But the effects of a normal dose can last for one or two hours with residual signs long after that. That colt wasn’t given a normal dose, Chester.”
    “Fair enough,” Chester conceded. He moved a half step, turned and spat on the ground before facing her again. “You thinkin’ it was one of my hands, ain’t ya?”
    Mustang sighed. “I don’t want to think it. Every man we have working for us has been with us for a number of years.”
    “Everyone except Diek,” Thomas pointed out.
    Mustang slid him an incredulous look. “Really, Thomas? Diek wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
    “I’m not saying it was Diek,” Thomas said quickly. “He might be a trained killer, but I can’t see the man doing that to that colt any more than you can.”
    “He’s a trained protector,” Mustang corrected. “He’s a solider taught to defend our country by whatever means necessary, not to tranquilize an innocent horse for no flipping reason.”
    “Come on, Hot Rod,” Thomas said as he straightened, sounding every bit like the little boy she grew up with. “Don’t get so defensive. I’ve known that man just as long as you. Like I said, I’d never believe he’d do such a thing either. I was just statin’ a fact.”
    “What else happened since last night?”
    Mustang turned her attention back to Chester. “Someone was in my bedroom last night.” She kept her expression blank, her tone neutral.
    “What?” Thomas closed the distance

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