Series: Love By Design #4
Author: M.C. Cerny
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy
Release Date: December 3, 2019
Chase Calloway’s career ending football injury gave him the out he needed.
Switching gears from being the star quarterback with a shot at the NFL to checking anal glands of furry senior patients wasn’t exactly the plan. However, it gave him the purrfect excuse to stop pursuing dreams that were never his.
Winnie Grey got exiled from her posh existence to the boondocks as pet-sitter extraordinaire.
It wasn’t her fault she stopped a shoplifter by pulling the fire alarm and got fired from her job. She can’t help that dog acupuncture makes her faint, but lucky for the city girl in exile, the town’s hottest veterinarian catches her, literally.
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I heard someone clearing their throat and turned around, expecting old lady Helen and her menagerie. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see a young woman who looked a bit disheveled trying to control the excited dogs.
Hello, beautiful disaster.
“Whoa, Roswell! No! Bad dog!”
A small pug jumped my dress pants, a little too excited to see me. Slim hands with pink nails pulled the little dog back. The Husky wooed loudly, clearly offended by the chaos, and the Basset Hound woofed, his too long nails clicking on the tile floor.
“It’s all right, I’m used to it.” Nothing like a dog humping my leg to make the day go by.
“Oh God, I’m really sorry. He’s kind of a little shit. I forgot my aunt keeps refusing to get him fixed.” She held the wiggling pug with an ugly face only Helen could love and a sharp bottom tooth sticking out giving him an even homelier half vampire look.
“I’m Dr. Calloway.” I held out my hand to introduce myself and instead of her palm she handed me the dog. The little shit Roswell wiggled as I scratched gently behind his ears, earning me a foul smelling lick. I checked his teeth for plaque buildup but found none and put him down to wander around the room.
“I’m sorry. I’m Helen’s niece and I’m pet-sitting this summer. Clearly, I have no idea what I’m doing.”
Chuckling, I looked her over appreciatively. I didn’t usually check out the owners of my patients, but Helen had been coming since I opened the vet clinic in town and her niece-name-unknown intrigued me. She looked bowled over, windblown, and covered in dog hair against her black Lululemon yoga pants and tank top my sister Kristen would envy. Perky breasts swelled over the top and the edging of a nude lace bra peeked out. The dogs barked, distracting me from my perusal.
“Down, Bailey. Sit, Roswell.” Using my firmest tone, the dogs all sat on the floor, complacent tails wagging.
“Oh wow, that is the best trick ever. They never do that for me.” Nameless girl put her hands on her hips, looking annoyed, and I was guessing the dogs had been giving her a run for her money, making her earn every penny of pet-sitting pay. She was exotic looking with tiny curves that packed a gut punch with her dark hair and almond-shaped eyes over a pert nose. I wondered about her background because I was curious. It was like the way chocolate shouldn’t have wasabi on it, and yet if you gave it a chance you’d taste the sweet heat. She reminded me of a girl I dated in veterinary school. That relationship hadn’t worked out for a bunch of reasons, but it was fun while it lasted and we parted amicably.
“So…does Helen’s niece have a name or are you Precious?” I watched her skin blush with my inappropriate joke, and she shook her head no. I could kick myself for the incredibly lame and forward question after it left my mouth.
“Definitely not. Pumpkin here, aka Precious, is getting acupuncture, which is not my thing.” The Basset Hound, upon hearing his name, woofed loudly.
“So what may I call you then?”
“My name is Winnie.”
She was definitely not a Winnie from The Wonder Years. Pretty in a refined sort of way. Expensive clothes, accessories, and a haughtiness that came with her snappy attitude reminded me of a city girl out of her element. It was a contradiction to the vortex of chaos she arrived with, and I found that curiously endearing.
“All right then, Winnie, let’s get this big guy some relief for his achy joints.” I pulled out some alcohol swabs and lowered the table to the floor to help the big dog who would definitely be getting a dietary recommendation from me later onto the table. “Hold his head and the table will lift him. Do you know if he’s generally nervous? Our regular pet acupuncturist is out, but I’m trained and certified to do this.”
“Oh uh, I have no idea.”
The other dogs stayed sitting, and Pumpkin groaned as the table lifted him up to my reach.
“Keep his head near you and rub behind his ears. That usually calms them and the needle is small so they don’t feel pain, more like a pinch as the pain receptors start working to relieve the joint and muscle pain.”
Prepping what I needed, I glanced up to see Winnie looking decidedly green. This wasn’t good. I’d never had someone faint, but I’d heard stories about it. Her eyes focused on my hands holding the needle.
“Winnie?” I stepped toward her, but she didn’t move, not even a blink.
“Y-yes?” Her throat worked down a swallow, and I had to keep her talking and alert.
“Winnie, look at me. I’m Dr. Calloway.”
Her eyes remained focused on my hands, not my face as I had hoped.
“No, you’re looking at the needle.” I snapped my fingers, causing her eyes to blink and look at me. “You can call me Chase, but look at me.” I put the acupuncture needle down, trying to gauge her level of faint readiness.
“Are you afraid of needles? It’s okay if you are.” I was worried I had a fainter on my hands and those hands were already full of dog, keeping Pumpkin who wanted to roll off on the table.
Her face scrunched with a sarcastic response. “No.” Her head shook. “That’s ridiculous.”
I didn’t believe the weak refusal when she kept talking.
“Um, that’s a really big needle and you’re going to stick that where?”
My mind wandered a second before coming back realizing her eyelashes were fluttering dangerously close together.
“It usually is pretty big.” I slid the first needle in, and Precious blew out a shuddering breath. “Are you all right?” I asked again trying to not think about inappropriate things. Winnie swayed against the table and now was not the time for my dick and my brain to cross signals at work. Making sure she didn’t pass out was a priority to any flirtation I might be entertaining.
“Okay, yeah, I’m good.”
I doubted it, because her voice had gone up a note or two.
“Hey, did the lights go dim in here?” Winnie wobbled, and I reached for her, catching her in my arms before she fell.
“You’re fainting, Winnie.”
She mumbled something, but I was too late to warn her, and she was out cold before she finished whatever it was she wanted to say. I rested my cheek against her head of soft hair that smelled of coffee and expensive shampoo. I felt the soft clammy skin of her hand seeking her pulse. Yeah, she definitely didn’t like needles. I carried her over to a chair and sat her down, calling for Sharon. This looked all kinds of bad with whimpering dogs and an unconscious girl snuggled against my coat.
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M.C. Cerny is a USA Today Bestselling author of fresh and sexy books. She fell in love with books after experiencing her first real ugly cry reading, Where The Red Fern Grows. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Flashpoint was written in a series of post-it-note ramblings that would likely make her idol Tom Clancy and her mother blush. She calls rural NJ home with her menagerie of human and feline fur-babies. When M.C. is not writing, you’ll find her lurking in Starbucks, running stupid marathons, singing Disney show tunes, and searching out the perfect shade of pink nail polish.
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