ADD TO GOODREADS
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.
“Whoa, Roswell! No!
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
“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
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
“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.
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.
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
“My name is
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
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
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
“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
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.
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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