“I’m always careful, Ms. Dare.” But his eyes said otherwise. Something kindled in them, like a burst of blue flame. “Besides, he’ll be on a leash to start.”
“Allison.” That spark made her want to smash through the walls he’d put up. “Call me Allison.”
Mack’s blue eyes fixed on hers and she resisted the urge to wet her lips. “Okay, Allison.”
The sound of her first name on his lips was indescribable. Most of the soldiers she worked with called her Dare. It was different with Mack, though. She wanted things more…personal than professional. If she hadn’t been in danger of melting into a puddle before, she was now.
Sir Precious Picklechips’s tail was erect and quivering. She knew that posture. Any moment now, the damn dog would cop a squat in her kitchen. Sir PP, indeed. The perfect name for the perfect little nuisance. If she wasn’t completely certain he’d never answer to it, she’d rename him.
She flung the back door open and Precious sprinted outside.
“Sorry, the new dog food ran through him,” she apologized, keeping her gaze fixed on Precious until she was sure he wasn’t making a run for it.
Mack shrugged. “Warned you.”
“Yeah, well. If you can give me just a few minutes, we can start.”
“It’s your dime.” He picked up the latest outdoor gear catalog from her counter top and started idly thumbing through it.
She was about to tell him where he could stick that dime when an odor assaulted her nose. Dare looked down in dismay. There, glistening on her hardwood floor, was a nugget of fresh dog shit. Though it was no bigger than a tootsie roll, there was no way in hell she could leave it there. What if her superstar dog trainer stepped in it? She exhaled slowly, feeling the first twinge of a headache between her temples. The dude was standing by the sink, his stupid broad shoulders blocking her path to the paper towels. Damn it.
There was no way she could get past him to the garbage can either. Outside, she heard Precious bark, a sign he was ready to be let in.
“One second,” she called to the nuisance. Gritting her teeth, she bent down and scooped up the still-warm turd nugget, cupping it in her bare hand. Eww, ewww, icky ewww. For the first time in months, she’d found a man she wanted to impress and she was cupping her fingers around a turd. There was no way to dispose of it without being completely obvious that she was holding fresh shit. Precious barked again.
“I think he’s finished,” Mack quipped, without taking his eyes off the catalog. He sounded bored.
“Yeah.” As if she was such a horrible fur-parent she couldn’t tell when her dog was ready to be let in? In a flash, she opened the back door and tossed the turd into the yard. Precious bounded in, tail wagging and immensely proud of himself.
“Great. We ready to go?” Mack set the catalog on the counter with an expectant brow raise.
“In a second. I need to freshen up.” Meaning, she needed to wash the dog shit off her hand before she entertained the idea of holding a leash.
“You look great.” His eyes hawked over her. “No need to get fresh on my account.”
The way his gaze rested on her made her breasts tingle. A burning in her midsection blossomed. She tried to push past him. “I’m not prettying up for anyone. Precious did a number two on the floor. I had to pick it up with my bare hand.”
“Your…hand?” With a chuckle, Mack stepped back, allowing her access to the sink. “There’s paper towels right here.”
“You were blocking my way. Besides, it’s cleaned now.” She washed and dried her hands on a paper towel and spun to toss it in the garbage when something squished under her heel. The unmistakable scent of fresh dog shit wafted in the air as her foot landed on another freshly laid turd nugget.
“Blocking you?” A red flush crawled up from the collar of his shirt. Those midnight eyes of his were suddenly hard as iron. “Why didn’t you say so? I’m more mobile than I look.”
J.A. Coffey writes both sizzling contemporary romance and epic historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page.
A complete cupcake addict, when she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found hunkered over her laptop in a European cafe, test baking desserts, or “feathering her nest” with spruced up flea market finds. J.A. is currently working on her latest novel and trying not to get cupcake batter on her keyboard.
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