Excerpt: Pawfectly in Love

Excerpt: Pawfectly in Love

Book 2: Canine Cupids

Whoa. What was that?

There was a Mercedes in her driveway, parked next to her muddy pickup truck. Not the type of car that any of the locals drove. It was the type of car that a lawyer from her old firm might drive. The same car that she used to have back when she was in the process of losing her mind.

The old sensations trickled back, her chest tightening up and her stomach beginning to burn. Okay, so she wasn’t as recovered as she thought she was if the mere sight of a car like her old one could start the old symptoms revving up.

Then again, it wasn’t just the sight of the car. It was the fact it was parked in her driveway, driven by someone who most likely represented the world that had nearly destroyed her. Someone had come to see her. To ask her to come back? Heaven help her.

Deep breaths. Think of the meadow. The pale pink flowers. Deep breath.

Bandit abandoned her to her own collapse and raced toward the car, barking his pseudo-vicious defense bark, as if he were going to kill anyone who stepped outside. If she turned around and walked quietly back into the woods, pretending she hadn’t seen the car and Bandit ate the person inside, then she could claim complete innocence…

God. Murder? She was actually thinking of murder? She was so much better than that.

Deep breath, Paige. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. What if her old boss got out of the car? Someone from her old firm, coming to check on her?

A retaliatory barking from inside the car sounded as Bandit approached. Paige forgot her breathing rhythm. Dog? Was it a client? Oh, that would be so much better.

She released her last deep breath as she watched the driver’s door begin to open. Please, be a client. One in blue jeans and boots who had stolen the car from an impound lot. Not a lawyer. Not from Boston. Not from her old firm. Breathe. Yeesh. She was going to have to go back for more therapy after this visit if she didn’t start concentrating on pink flowers.

The progress of the door stopped when Bandit ramped up his barking, the hackles on the back of his neck making him look even bigger and more intimidating than he actually was. He was so happy to be scaring the intruder, so she decided not to call him off. She loved that dog far too much to steal his joy by making him stop.

Then again, if it was a client, she did need to let the driver out of the car. If it turned out to be someone from her old firm, then she’d let Bandit eat him. He would have better access anyway, once the driver was outside the car, right? So, that was good.

She liked that plan.

“Bandit! Heel!”

His hackles still up, and his tail rigid, Bandit returned to her side, but kept his gaze fastened alertly on the car. One threatening move and he’d attack. Or at least that was how it appeared In reality, he’d interpret it as a game and slobber all over the person with doggy kisses, not that the driver of that car needed to know that. Besides, she could work with Bandit on that. With some excellent training, she was pretty sure she’d be able to turn him into an attack dog trained to launch himself at any man wearing a suit. She was that good.

“Wait until you have a clear opening for the throat,” she whispered as she grabbed Bandit’s collar and made a dramatic show of restraining him, which probably didn’t do her reputation as a dog trainer much good, but it made her feel better, just in case the visitor was unwanted. She took a deep breath. I can do this. “You can come out,” she called out.

The door opened the rest of the way, and a shiny Italian shoe crunched gingerly down onto the gravel.

Oh, crap. That was definitely not a shoe that would ever be worn by someone local.

Her heart started to pound as the shoe was followed by a pristine charcoal gray pant leg, with a crisp pleat exactly where it was supposed to be. Another shoe and leg followed, which matched, dammit, and then a hand grabbed the doorframe. It was a hand devoid of any calluses or blisters. The hand of a lawyer?

Oh, God. She felt like she was going to vomit.

Sensing her agitation, Bandit sat up and joined her in staring intently at the tinted glass, as if together they could burn a hole through it. He’d stopped barking and gone still, his fur still up, his tail stiff, his body rigid. Damn. He really would attack for her. God, she loved her dog.

A head of thick brown hair appeared, followed by dark sunglasses that were, unfortunately, attached to the face in a completely appropriate and dignified manner. Where the hell were the lunatic, backwoods serial killers in this town? That’s who should be in her driveway, not a well-dressed, proper, dehumanized robot in a nice car. Seriously. What the hell?

Then the driver stood up, and faced her, giving her a full view of him, and she immediately forgot all the complaints that had been forming in her mind.

He was no lawyer. He was a man, in every virile sense of the word, if one were using the word to mean things like tall, strong, broad-shouldered, five o’clock shadow, corded thighs that were visible even beneath the suit, and a strong jaw that would be perfect for running her tongue over…

Oh, crap. Had she really just thought that? She was still too strung out to think about sex, especially sex with strangers, and especially sex with strangers driving nice cars.

His strong jawbone was tensed in apparent agitation, and a muscle flexed in his cheek. Hey, she knew what that kind of tension felt like. They could be besties, and she could massage it out of him…

And…again, with the “oh, crap, had she really just thought that?”

His dark lenses hid his eyes from view, giving him an air of mystery that was irritatingly appealing. She knew enough about high-end men’s fashion to know that no store-bought suit would have fit his broad shoulders, narrow waist, and stacked thighs. He was wearing custom all the way, which normally would give her hives…except on him…the only word she could think of was yum, which had to be a sign that she was losing her recently recovered sanity.

Honestly, she’d always considered suits on men to be code for “uptight, out-of-shape, misogynist asshole alert.” She’d never thought a man in a suit could be hot, utterly male, and viscerally untamed, but she’d apparently been wrong. She could almost see him tossing a load of firewood over his shoulder and hiking through the woods, wearing jeans that fit his butt just right, and beat-up hiking boots that had years of outdoor manly activities scuffed into the leather…

Suit-guy/potential outdoor hottie cleared his throat in that way that people did when they had absolutely nothing in their throats except irritation that you weren’t paying appropriate attention to them… making Paige realize she was gaping at his broad chest.

And…yeah. Chalk one up for “how utterly embarrassing.” She immediately closed her mouth to put an end to the gaping and potential drooling. She then cleared her throat as well, but it was more to make sure she was capable of sounding at least semi-normal. She wanted to give some articulate, sane welcome speech that made her sound competent, calm, and not on the edge of a freak out.

That’s what she wanted. It’s what she intended. It’s what she thought she could manage to accomplish.

When she started to talk, she realized that she had, apparently, completely overestimated herself. “Hi.”

Hi. Hi? What kind of articulate greeting was that? It was so not enough to distract him from her gaping at his hotness.

“Good afternoon.” He nodded, his head tilted at the wrong angle for him to be looking at her face. She studied the angle of his sunglasses and then tracked the likely path of his eyes…holy crap. Was he staring at her chest?

Dear God. No man had looked at her like she was a woman in years. He had to be a pervert, or suffering from a neck cramp, or just randomly insane, right? But just to be sure…she looked down just to confirm what he was looking at…and immediately wished she hadn’t. Or at least wished the ground would swallow her up.

She’d forgotten that she was covered in dirt and leaves from her wrestling match with Bandit. But that was no big deal, at least not in comparison to the fact that her wet, white tee shirt was spotlighting to the world, and to her nice-car-hottie specifically, that she had not bothered to put on a bra for her afternoon walk.

Double crap.

Going braless was so not a big deal when the only male she was with had four legs and a tail. An entirely different matter when faced with a ridiculously handsome man dressed like he was ready to pose for a cover of GQ.

Damn. She wasn’t sure she could ethically attribute all sorts of nefarious adjectives to him now. It would have taken a eunuch not to at least glance at a pair of nipples gawking at him, and given the way her body was reacting to his overpowering maleness, she was willing to wager that he had a couple of perfectly functioning testicles inside those expensive pants. Gritting her teeth, she crossed her arms over her chest and tried to appear nonchalant. “Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for Freedom Dog Training, but I must have taken a wrong turn.” His voice was a deep rumble, so insanely delicious that she almost asked him to keep talking, just so she could listen for a while.

Dear God, he was like a sex-demon-incubus-hypnotic-vampire-seducer or something. He had to be, because she simply didn’t find men in suits attractive, and she was not the type to start purring at the sound of a man’s voice.

Oh, wait…she belatedly processed his words, and realized that he’d come looking for a dog trainer.

This delicious cauldron of smoking hot male, who clearly represented the world that had almost destroyed her, come looking for her.

 

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