Author: Jill Shalvis


And Tank’s big, bad, gorgeous hunk of an owner.


“You think an alpha guy can be trained as easily as a dog?” Chloe asked.


Chloe was engaged to Sheriff Sawyer Thompson, definitely an alpha guy, and Grace laughed. “Good luck.”


After Chloe left, Grace spent a couple of hours on Amy’s shoe box, enjoying the task more than she thought she would. She knew accounting was dry to most, but somehow the numbers soothed her. By the time she went to bed, she had Amy shockingly organized.


The next morning, Grace showered, dressed, and paid up for her stay at the B&B. She’d be sorry to leave the very lovely inn, even more so since they gave her an extra plate of chocolate chip cookies as a going-away gift.


She drove to Josh’s place. It was early but she had that interview, and she wanted to make sure she was set up somewhere with Internet.


The front door opened before she knocked. Josh was dressed in a T-shirt and basketball shorts, a messenger bag slung over one shoulder and a duffel bag over the other. To the gym and then to work, she figured. He was also carrying the cupcakes on a tray and had Toby, with his Star Wars backpack, by the hand.


Both man and boy looked at her from twin chocolate gazes, and her heart did a little somersault in her chest. She smiled at Toby. “Enjoy the cupcakes.”


Josh eyed her own big duffel bag. “You’re going to stay in the guesthouse.”


“If that’s still okay.”


“Very. Give me a minute.” He walked with Toby to the end of the block just as a yellow school bus pulled up. They both disappeared onto the bus, and then after a few minutes, Josh reappeared without the cupcake tray.


“The bus driver’s a friend,” he said to Grace when he’d walked back to the house. “She’ll make sure Toby gets into school without getting mobbed on the bus for the cupcakes.” He took in Grace’s interview suit. “You have an interview today.”


“Yes, in an hour.”


“I e-mailed you the file of nanny applicants so far.”


She nodded. “I’ll get on that today and hopefully help you find someone perfect for Toby.”


“Thanks.” He dropped his bags and took hers. “I’ll show you the guesthouse. Whatever you do, don’t let me come in with you.”


“Why not?”


His gaze ran over her body, tingling and heating every inch it touched, and it touched a lot. “It would be a bad idea,” he said in a voice that scraped over her erogenous zones. “For both of us.”


She checked her clothes to make sure they hadn’t gone up in flames. He was right. It would be a very bad idea.


But at the moment, very bad was sounding really great. Because once again, he smelled amazing. His T-shirt strained over his biceps and pecs but was loose over his flat, hard abs. When he turned to lead her through the house, the material stretched tight over his athletic-looking back. And then there was his butt in those basketball shorts. Edible. That’s how it looked, and she wanted to sink her teeth into—


He turned to say something and caught her staring. She quickly pretended to be watching her own feet. Look at that, her heels were looking a little worn. “Pretty hardwood floors,” she said.


“You weren’t looking at the floor. You were looking at my ass.”


Giving up, she sighed. “Okay, yes,” she said as primly as she could. “But it’s impolite of you to point it out.”


He laughed.


She walked past him so that she was in the lead, thinking at least now he couldn’t see her face.


“Grace?” he said from behind her.


“Yeah?”


“Your ass is ogle-worthy too.”


She bit her lower lip to try to keep her smile in and kept walking. “We’re being inappropriate again.”


“You started it.”


Going out the back door, he led her around the pool to the small guesthouse. There he pushed open the door, dropped her bags inside, and very purposely remained in the entryway.


He was right—the place was tiny. But cute. The living room, kitchen, and bedroom were all open to each other, done in soft blues and neutral colors.


“The bed’s behind that screen,” Josh said, pointing. “The kitchen’s minimally supplied. You’ve got wireless, but the electrical is crap. Can’t run the toaster and the heater at the same time. I’ll work on that this weekend.”


Grace turned to him in surprise. In her experience, men were either cerebral or good with their hands. And never the two shall meet. She’d pegged this “late-bloomer nerd” as the cerebral type. Not too much of a stretch, given that he was an MD. “You do electrical?”


He gestured to himself. “Not just a pretty face.”


This made her laugh. “I just meant because you’re a doctor. Doctors usually can’t do anything other than…well, doctor.”


“Hey, don’t judge us all by our pedigree.”


She met his gaze, knowing she’d just done exactly that. And she of all people knew better. “Are you really not coming in?”


His eyes darkened, and her body reacted with feminine predictability. “If I come in, you’re going to miss your interview.”


Her heart skipped a beat. “Oh.”


His mouth curved very slightly. “Not in our best interests,” he said softly, giving her another of those searing looks that made her knees wobble. “Lock the door behind me, Grace.”


When he was gone, she let out a shaky breath and locked the door. She looked over her new place and felt…right at home. She’d had a lovely childhood home back East but she hadn’t lived there in years. She’d gone to college, then on to her own places, none of which she’d stayed in too long. She’d attributed that to restlessness, the need to climb the ladder of success. But it’d never mattered what size her place had been or how much it cost; she’d never really found home.


Obviously, this wasn’t it either, but the fact that she wanted to unpack and nest reminded her that it had been a damn long time since she’d felt at home like this.


Too long.


“A week,” she said out loud to remind herself what she’d told Josh. “This is only for a week.”


She did her Skype interview and scored a request to come to the Portland offices for an in-person interview in a few days. Then she texted her parents with the news. She wasn’t a complete loser! After that, she left for her modeling job, dropping Anna in town at the girl’s request.


To Grace’s surprise, Anna was waiting by her car when she came back out of the gallery an hour later. “Aw,” she said to the frowning Anna, “you missed me. How sweet.”


Anna snorted and got into Grace’s car, then sat there like a queen while Grace wrestled with getting the wheelchair folded and into the trunk. “You know,” Grace finally said, swiping her brow with her arm, “if you learned how to do that yourself, you could have your own vehicle. One of those adapted vehicles that you could drive yourself.”


“Oh, actually I do usually handle it by myself.”


Grace gave her a long look, and Anna lifted her hands. “Sorry! But people like to help me, you know? Makes them feel better about being with me.” She smiled sweetly.


Grace shook her head. “Don’t give me that crap. You were totally amusing yourself by watching me fumble ineptly with your chair.”


“Or that.” Anna grinned. “You and Josh are the only ones to call me on this stuff, you know that?”


“What else does Josh call you on?”


Anna shrugged. “He says I’m not good at toeing the line. And that he’d get me a special van to drive but that I’m too angry to be on the road.”


“So get unangry. Learn to toe the line. I could teach you. Once upon a time, I was most excellent at toeing the line. At least the pretense of it.”


“He treats me like a child.”


“Then stop acting like one,” Grace said. “And while we’re on the subject, he cares about you very much. You know that, right?”


Anna shrugged.


“I figured you didn’t know, seeing as you treat him the way you do.”


“And how do I treat him?” Anna asked.


“How do you think?”


Another shrug.


“I bet if you treated him nicer, he’d loosen up a bit with the reins,” Grace said.


“He’s not the boss of me.”


“So you can do whatever you want.”


“Exactly,” Anna said.


“And what is it that you want?”


Anna didn’t answer for so long that Grace figured she wasn’t going to get one. But then Anna finally spoke. “I want my mom and dad back.”


Grace kept her eyes on the road but her throat went tight as she nodded. “I can only imagine. But it makes me doubly glad you have other family. Toby, for instance.”


“Yeah, the rug rat’s pretty cute.”


“And Josh,” Grace said.


Anna turned away and looked out the window. “Anyone ever tell you that you drive like a girl?”


“I am a girl. Don’t you have class today?”


“Missed the bus.”


“I’ll drive you.”


“Missed class already.”


Grace looked at her. “Call me crazy, but I’m getting the feeling you don’t like your cooking and writing classes.”


“Gee, ya think?”


“So why don’t you go for something more challenging?”


“Like?”


“Like a degree,” Grace said.


“In what? I’m in a wheelchair.”


“Are your eyes and brain paralyzed?”


Anna rolled her unparalyzed eyes.


“What interests you?” Grace asked.


“Getting home to see if Devon’s there.”


“Is he a good guy? Good to you?”


A shrug. “Yeah.”


“What do you like about him?”

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