Authors: Jill Shalvis
“I get that, but you've got aÂ .Â .Â .”
She felt the brush of his fingers at her ass, and she craned her neck and glared at him in disbelief. “Are you serious? We just agreed that this”âshe waggled a finger between themâ“never happened.” God help her but she couldn't do this without his cooperation. “That's the plan. Remember the plan.
to the plan.”
He stared at her for a beat through those sexy glasses, then lifted his hands in surrender.
Turning away, she peeked out the door. Seeing no one, she stealthily slid out and took a deep breath. Shook it off. Just a minor setback on The Plan she told herself. Just a little hiccup, and a huge mark in the con column of Sunshine. About six-feet-two-inches huge.
Trying to be cool, she walked down the hallway, and had just passed the staff room when the woman from the front desk stuck her head out.
“Hey there,” she said. “I didn't get to introduce myself before. I'm Jade Connelly.”
Emily shook her hand. “Are you related to Dr. Connelly?”
“Married him. Did you know you have a birthing glove stuck to your ass?”
emused, feeling a little bit like he'd been hit by a tornadoâa cute, feisty, sexy-as-hell tornado named Emily, Wyatt stepped into the hallway. He was just in time to catch sight of Jade pointing out what he'd tried to tell Emilyâthat she had a birthing glove stuck to her very sweet ass.
Her own hands on that sweet ass, she was twisting around to try to see herself. She went still, and then yanked off the glove. She stared down at it, and then, from the length of the hallway, lifted her head and caught his gaze.
He raised a brow.
Someone should probably point out to her that in order to ignore someone properly, you didn't blush every time you caught sight of that someone. But it wouldn't be him, since they weren't going to talk. Not about their personal lives, and certainly not about that night.
And yet he remembered it, every detail. Sometimes he'd flash to the feel of her lips on his skin, her breath warm on his neck, her bare legs wrapped low and tight around his back, hardened nipples pressed to his chest as she arched up into him. And the sound of her sweet, needy gasp in his ear on that first thrustÂ .Â .Â .
He blew out a breath and shook it off. He knew what she wanted from him, and he agreed. They needed to ignore what'd happened in Reno, for
of reasons, not the least of which was that like her, working at Belle Haven was everything to him. No way in hell would he put it in jeopardy. He knew how to be professional, and for both of their sakes, that's exactly what he'd be.
The center's tech, Mike, came down the hall, his eyes going to Emily. “Pretty,” he said to Wyatt.
“A good vet,” Wyatt said.
Mike smiled. “Even better.” He handed over a file. “Exam room two. First timer. Has aÂ .Â .Â .
Wyatt slid him a look. “Care to share?”
From exam room one came the sounds of a scuffle, and then Dell's voice calling out for Mike.
“Oh shit,” Mike said. “Gotta go.”
“Hey, what's the unique problem?”
But Mike was gone.
Instead, Emily was moving back toward him. Someone, probably Jade, ruler of their universe here at Belle Haven, had given her a lab coat to put on over her suit. He wasn't sure why she'd been in a suit in the first place when her job was wading knee deep in questionable shit all day, but hell, he had sisters, two of them, both bat-shit crazy, so he knew better than to question a woman's clothing choice.
Besides, she'd looked sexy as hell in her fancy suit, with her pretty blazer offering peek-a-boo hints of some lace thing beneath, as she helped Lulu give birth.
In general, Wyatt didn't have a “type” of woman. For him it was about a certain gleam in her eye, a spark that said she knew life was hard as hell but that it could also be fun as hell, and she could make it work in either scenario.
Right now the look in Emily's eyes was
bring it on
, and damn if he didn't like that, too. He tore his eyes off her and opened the patient file in his hands. He read Mike's prereport and smiled.
“What is it?” she asked as he came to a stop before her.
“Gonna be fun.” He handed her the file and walked into the exam room, hearing Emily's sharp intake of air behind him.
She was a fast reader.
Lady was a year-old Tibetan mastiff. She was sitting next to her owner, Sally Feinstein, humping Sally's leg.
Sally was calmly ignoring this behavior, thumbing through Facebook on her phone. At the sight of Wyatt and Emily, Sally put her phone aside and gestured to her hundred-pound dogâwho looked twice that at least, thanks to her crazy, thick fur. “I'm on a road trip to my parents' house down south. I've only had Lady about two weeks. They've never met her before, and I can't take her there while she's doing this toÂ .Â .Â . everything.”
Lady had switched from Sally's leg to the table leg.
Wyatt crouched low and introduced himself to Lady by offering his fist for her to sniff.
Lady took a polite sniff, licked his knuckles, and went back to her humping.
“I try to ignore her,” Sally said. “I didn't want to reward this embarrassing behavior by bringing attention to it.”
Jade must have briefed Emily on protocol because she pulled a pen from her coat pocket and began to ask Sally the usual questions about their patient. What did Lady eat, had Lady been exhibiting any odd behavior lately, etc.
“I call trying to screw my mailbox odd behavior,” Sally said. “You've got to fix this.”
Emily made a note.
“She even humped my pastor,” Sally said, distressed. “She humped the little old lady who lives next door. She humped my other neighbor's prized gardenias, and her husband nearly shot Lady.”
Emily made some more notes.
Wyatt listened to the ongoing conversation with one ear while he sat next to Lady and began to examine her. He found the problem in about ten seconds.
“Could it be some sort of odd vitamin deficiency?” Sally asked hopefully.
“That seems unlikely,” Emily said, and put down the file. She crouched at Wyatt's side, meeting his gaze.
He gestured for her to go ahead and make her own assessment. She looked at him for a long beat, and he knew he hadn't completely hidden his good humor from her because her eyes narrowed.
He waited as she turned her attention to Lady, examining her in the same manner he hadâthoroughly. So he saw the exact second she realized what he'd already discovered. Her mouth curved, then her teeth chewed into that bottom lip to try to hold it back, but her hazel eyes were laughing when they met his across the length of Lady's body.
The moment was brief but oddly electrifying, broken when Sally dropped to her knees beside them. “What is it?” she asked, sounding deeply concerned.
“Mrs. Feinstein,” Emily said. “You said you adopted Lady two weeks ago?”
“Yes, I've got a friend who's got a cousin whose sister-in-law's brother breeds Tibetan mastiffs. Lady was the last in a long line of winning show dogs. I don't have her paperwork yet. It's been delayed for some reason. It doesn't matter. I'm not going to show her, no matter how expensive she was. I just love the breed because they look like teddy bears. No ugly reproductive parts showing all the time.” She shuddered distastefully.
Emily bit her lip harder.
Wyatt rubbed Lady's tummy, and the dog went boneless on its back, spread eagle. Lady
indeed resemble a teddy bear. In fact there was so much hair everywhere the dog might have been a stuffed animal from a child's room.
Except for the huge erection between its hind legs, sticking straight up in the air.
Sally stared at it. “What in the Sam Hill is
“A penis,” Wyatt said.
“I was really hoping you were going to say tumor,” Sally said. She paused. “Why does my girl dog have a penis?”
“Lady isn't a female. And there doesn't appear to be a thing wrong with himâother than he hasn't been neutered.”
Sally shifted her shocked gaze from dog to vet. “Lady's not a she.”
“Not in the slightest.”
Tired of being flat on his back, Lady leapt to his feet and panted happily at them. Then he tried to hump Emily.
Wyatt rose, pulled Emily up with him, and then Sally.
Lady wasn't bothered by being disrupted in mid-hump. He went back to dating the chair.
“We could take care of this for you,” Wyatt told Sally. “Dr. Connelly is doing the surgeries today, I could check and see if there's an opening for Lady.”
“Good gracious,” she said faintly, a hand to her heart, still staring down at Lady like she'd just discovered she was the owner of a green-striped pig. “Yes, please. I'd like to get thisÂ .Â .Â . taken care of.”
*Â Â Â *Â Â Â *
Wyatt took Emily through two straight hours of patients before giving them a moment to breathe in the staff room, where they inhaled the plate of sandwiches Jade had put out for them. They stood at the counter, and though Wyatt didn't know about Emily,
was giving the whole ignoring her thing a good ol' college try.
Mike broke their uneasy silence when he poked his head in and held out their next file. Wyatt gestured for Emily to take it. She reached out for it and a birthing glove fell from beneath her white lab coat.
Mike grinned. “You don't have to hoard those, Doc, we keep 'em in every exam room.”
When he was gone, Emily looked at Wyatt. “You could have told me I had another stuck to my butt.”
“That would've suggested that I'd looked at your butt.”
She pulled off her coat and one last glove fell from her. She made a noise from deep in her throat that suggested she blamed him.
This wasn't a surprise. Something else having sisters had taught himâblame was easily assigned to the nearest male in the room.
They went back to work and saw twenty-seven more patients before the end of the day. He sent an exhausted Emily home with the rest of the support staff, and then went to Dell's office, where Dell and Adam were waiting on him.
Adam was Dell's brother, and while not a vet, he helped run Belle Haven. He was a search and rescue expert, an S&R instructor, and taught all the local dog obedience classes.
“How did the new girl do today?” Dell asked.
“She's smart,” Wyatt said.
Dell nodded. “And?”
Sweet. Cute. HotÂ .Â .Â . “Good with people and animals,” he added.
Dell smiled. “We already know all that, it's why we took her. Tell me something I
“She's a quick thinker, and knows her stuff when it came to the domestic animals.”
Adam hadn't moved. He remained sprawled back in his chair, as still as a cat, just as intelligent as his brother. “But?” he said.
“I already know,” Dell said. “We all know. She's not used to this kind of work, she's a city vet. She startled when you treated Sergeant and he nearly took off her hand.”
Sergeant was a bad-tempered sheep who'd come in today with a stomachache. “Sergeant has nearly taken off all our hands at one point or another,” Wyatt said.
“How about Crazy Charlie?” Dell asked. “He throw her off her game?”
Crazy Charlie had come in with his even crazier parrot who tended to shout all sorts of racial obscenities.
Like owner, like parrot.
Turned out, Emily wasn't all that good at corralling her emotions. Annoyance, embarrassment, fear. Wyatt had seen each and every one of them as she felt them. So had everyone else.
She was going to have to do better there. “She's finding her footing,” he said.
Adam arched a brow, but didn't say a word.
Dell smiled. “You're defending her.”
Wyatt shrugged. “You like her, too, or she wouldn't be here. You already know she was worth it.”
Dell nodded. “But it's good to know you feel the same.”
“Yeah,” Wyatt said. “I feel the same.” Aware of Adam's quiet, knowing gaze, he left and went to his office to handle the mountain of paperwork waiting for him.
He was still at work at seven o'clock, stomach growling, hunched over his computer when his cell phone buzzed an incoming text from Zoe, his older sister.
So as it turns out, the gas stove isn't working. No worries, the fire department said all is well now.
Jesus. He grabbed his keys and headed out. Someday in the near future,
would be the house he built on the land he'd purchased earlier in the yearâten acres out near the lake on the outskirts of town. For now, home was the place he and his two sisters Darcy and Zoe shared, the house that the three of them had inherited from their grandparents.
might actually be the wrong word. Money pit. Yeah,
was definitely right. The huge, rambling old Victorian was falling off its axis, but it was the only home the three of them had ever known. The plan was to fix it up just enough to get out from beneath it. They'd divide the profits, and each would go on their merry way with their lives. But it had been a year and they were still stuck with each other.
Zoe was the oldest at thirty-two. The classic oldest, she was driven, bossy, and a perfectionist. Wyatt, the middle child, was only eleven months behind her, and the baby, Darcy, had just turned twenty-six andÂ .Â .Â . well, she was as crazy as they came. Not three-day-emergency-hold crazy so much asÂ .Â .Â . uncontrolled, uninhibited, and scary as hell.
The three of them had grown up quickly, and at the mercy of their foreign diplomat parents, whose jobs had taken them all over the world. Liberia for two years. Bolivia for three. Jordan. Hungary. IndonesiaÂ .Â .Â . It was mostly a blur now, but the lifestyle of being ripped away from everything you knew every few years, or even every few months, had left its toll in varying ways on each of them.