But for Lilly and Easton, it turns out to be exaclty what they each need.
He needs Otis to help him calm his temper.
She needs Otis to walk and get paid.
Must Love Dogs...and Hockey
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I open the door on Saturday to see Easton and Otis. My heart gives a funny little bump in my chest and awareness sizzles over my skin as I lay eyes on Easton. Holeeeeey shit.
Oh my gawd, he’s so frickin’ attractive my bones are melting. For a moment I lose my words, taking in his big, lean body dressed in...a suit. A gorgeous, expensive-looking, navy blue suit with a blue-and-white-checked shirt beneath it and a patterned blue tie. I follow the line of the narrow pants down, over muscular thighs, then lower to polished brown shoes.
Seeing me taking in his attire, he says, “I’m headed straight to the airport from here.” He holds out his arms. “Game day.”
“Ah.” I clear my throat and drop my gaze to Otis. “Otis!”
Laughing, I sit on the floor, holding Otis back and trying to calm him as he wriggles and squirms.
Easton enters the apartment and sets down Otis’s belongings, then closes the door. at him. “He remembers me.”
“Of course he does.”
“He’s grown!” I run my hands over his fur.
“It’s only been a week,” Easton protests.
I shrug, rubbing Otis’s head. “I’m sure he’s grown a little.”
“I wonder how much bigger he’ll get.”
I look up
I lift my gaze from Otis to Easton again. “Why do you still have him?” I keep my hands on Otis, gently petting him. He’s calmer now.
Easton grimaces and rubs the back of his neck, looking away. “I’m not sure, actually.” A slow smile tugs at my lips. “I think you want to keep him.”
Easton doesn’t reply right away. “I was going to talk to you about that.”
I tilt my head and regard him quizzically from where I sit on the floor. I decide “a talk” should be done at eye level, or as close to eye level as I can get with him without a stool, given he’s about eight inches taller than me. I go to my knees, then push up to stand so I can face him. “About what?”
“If I keep him...would you look after him? It’s more than just dog walking, I know; I need someone to look after him overnights, and sometimes it would be for a few nights.”
My heart picks up speed and my mouth goes dry. “Really?”
He gives me a sheepish look. “I don’t really know what I’m doing with a dog, but...” He lifts one shoulder. “He’s kind of fun to have around.”
My heart turns to warm pudding. “Yeah, he is.”
Otis is padding around the apartment, and he jumps onto the couch and curls into the shape of a giant shrimp, quite at home.
“And I kind of feel I should keep him in case his owner comes looking for him. If I take him to a shelter, they’ll never see him again.”
“We can talk more when I pick him up. Would you think about it?” “Okay. I’ll think about it.”
I don’t tell him that I’m getting a little desperate. It’s only been a week, but I don’t have any other clients yet, so—oh my God!—a steady gig looking after Otis is a stroke of luck! But rather than jump up and down and squeal, which is what I want to do, I keep my cool. Because...Easton.
He asked me out. I turned him down. I don’t want to date him. But I really, really want to bone him.
“We need to talk about your fees,” he says.
I hand him the flyer I’ve printed out that has my rates for various services, which I’ve researched from similar businesses in the area. He peruses it and nods. “That’s fine.” He looks up. “We fly home right after the game. With the time change, we’ll be home around one in the morning. I can pick him up first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Whatever’s convenient for you,” I say in my best customer-service tone.
“How about nine? Or is that too early?”
Easton walks over to Otis on the couch and rubs his head. “Bye, buddy. Be good for Lilly. Otis’s face changes. He always looks sad, but now he looks panicked.
“Oh no. He’s upset,” I say.
“Shit. I better get out of here.” Easton scrunches up his face and strides to the door. “Sorry.”
“No worries, he’ll be fine. We’ll go for a nice, long walk in the park.” I follow him to the door. “Good luck with your game tonight!”
“Thanks.” His eyes dart toward Otis, now standing and whining faintly. “Crap. I hope this gets better.”
“It will,” I assure him.
Half out the door, he pauses. “Thank you for this. I really appreciate it.”
“Of course!” I beam a smile. Jeez, I should be thanking him. “I’m glad I can help.”
“It’s a big relief.” A faint smile curves his lips, and then with a wave of a big hand, he heads out. Okaaaaay.
I’m still having a bit of difficulty breathing and my knees are unsteady, so I stagger over to the couch and collapse beside Otis. I set my hand on his solid little body. “Otis, my man. Your dad is hot.”
Can an idealistic dog lover teach a jaded hockey player new tricks?
Lilly: My life is like the love child of a train wreck and a dumpster fire right now. I’ve been canned, my professional reputation is shredded, and now I’m walking dogs to make ends meet.
But I still believe everything will work out. Somehow.
Then a dog at the park attacks my friend’s dog. At first, I’m ready to give the owner hell—but it turns out he’s in desperate need of doggie daycare. I figure, why not? I love dogs and I need the cash.
Too bad his cocky bad boy attitude annoys me. He’s too damn cute for his own good. And I’m not talking about the dog.
Easton: My coach is riding my ass and I’m not handling it well. When I’m saddled with an abandoned pooch, my teammate thinks a dog will keep my temper in check. I think I have enough problems already.
But when my new dog gets into a tussle that leads me to meet a smoking hot chick who knows how to handle the rascal, I start to think pet ownership isn’t all bad. At least it gives me an excuse to see Lilly again. . . .
Neither of us are interested in a relationship. First they steal your bed, then they steal your heart. And I’m not talking about the dog.
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USA Today bestselling author Kelly Jamieson is the author of more than forty contemporary romance novels. She writes the kind of books she loves to read—sexy romance with heat, humor, and emotion. She likes coffee (black), wine (mostly white), and shoes (high!). She also loves watching hockey.
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