Page 19

Toby let out a little whimper.

With a little sigh she looked over to find Toby pouting with his muzzle once again resting on Mr. Cuddle's stomach. "Not you, buddy. None of this is your fault," she said, reaching over to give him a little scratch behind his ears.

"Oh that's good to know," Trevor drawled from her doorway, scaring the living hell out of her.


"This isn't what it looks like!" Zoe managed to say as she gasped for air and tried to hide the large puppy on her bed by stepping in front of it.

"It's not?" he asked in a bored tone and nearly rolled his eyes when she tried to discretely toss a throw blanket over the poor dog.


She was such a horrible little liar, he thought, but appreciated it all the more since it meant that she would never be able to pull anything over his head.

He leaned back against the door frame, crossed his arms over his chest and nodded towards the bed. "Then what's that?"

"A blanket?"

"Uh huh, did you know that your blanket is moving?" he asked, watching as the puppy began playfully wrestling with the blanket.

Zoe nibbled on her bottom lip, drawing his attention. He had to admit that he liked her lips. A cute little top with just the right amount of curve and a pouty little bottom lip that made him wonder if they were as soft as they looked.

Holy hell he needed to get laid if he was checking her out, which he was. It was happening more frequently than he'd like to admit and truly frightening him since she was in no way his type. If he didn't think lack of sex was responsible he'd be worried about all those late night fantasies he'd been having about her.

"The house is infested?" she said, sounding like a question again. He idly wondered if she realized she was doing it.

"I see," he murmured, looking around the obscenely clean and tidy bedroom. There wasn't a dust ball to be found, a crumb of food or a single thing out of place much like his place. He had to admit that she did great work even if she was a horrible little liar.

"So, that thing on your bed beneath the blanket is......," he prompted.

She noticeably swallowed as she dared a glance over her shoulder. "A huge rat?"

"Then why didn't you tell me the house was infested?" he asked, trying not to laugh at the expression of pure panic on her face while she tried to come up with a suitable lie.

"I didn't want to scare you?"

"That was really nice of you," he said, pushing away from the door. He walked over to the bed and reached past her to tug the blanket off the playful pup. "Oh, look at that. It seems we're also infested by puppies," he mused, folding his arms over his chest while he stared down at her, cocking a brow as he silently dared to her to try and bullshit her way out of this one.

He watched as her mouth worked soundlessly for a moment before she worried her bottom lip between her teeth and nodded as her shoulders sagged with defeat. "We're not infested," she mumbled.

"No shit," he snapped, making her jump and not caring one bit as all the humor from the situation disappeared. She not only ignored one of his rules, one of the rules he'd like to point out that she agreed to, but then lied about it and tried to hide it from him.

"I'm sorry," she said softly.

"Sorry's not good enough, Zoe. You signed a rental agreement that clearly stated no pets, but you went and got one anyway."

"I know," she said unhappily.

"Good. Then you can bring it right back to where you found it," he told her.

"I-I can't do that," she said quietly, shooting another look over her shoulder at the dog.

"Where did you get him?" he demanded, already reaching for the dog. He pulled the good size puppy into his arms, ignoring the tail wagging against his leg and the little puppy licks he was giving his neck.

"The shelter," she answered, twisting her hands together.

"Good," he said, heading for the door.

"Where are you going?" she demanded, following him out into the short hallway.

"The shelter. Where else?" he asked, heading down the stairs. Anyone else and he would have told her to pack her shit up and move out, but this was his little tenant and he didn't like the idea of tossing her out. So the only choice of course was getting rid of the puppy, who was currently tickling his neck with its whiskers.

He heard her gasp behind him. "You can't do that!" she cried, running around him and plastering herself against the door.

"Watch me," he said, heading for the backdoor only to find his path once again cut off.

"No, I'm serious," she said, holding up her hands to stop him. "As much as I would like a dog I wasn't going to keep him, but I couldn't leave him there."

"Why the hell not?" he asked, getting mildly annoyed now with the bullshit. "You're not keeping this dog, Zoe, so get the hell out of my way."


"Zoe," he bit out between clenched. "Move your little ass right now or I swear to god I will put you over my knee."

"Look, I knew I couldn't keep him, but I also couldn't leave him there. They were going to put him down today. I was just trying to buy some time so I could find him a nice home," she said in a rush, reaching out to pet the dog almost as if she couldn't stop herself.

"Aw, hell," he said, dropping his head back and closing his eyes. She just had to go and say that.

"I knew you wouldn't be happy and I did leave. I really did, but halfway to my car he started crying and barking and I just couldn't leave him there," she said, sounding close to tears. "I'm really sorry, Trevor."

There was no way in hell he was opening his eyes and taking the chance of seeing her cry. Crying from any other woman usually just irritated the shit out of him, but for some bizarre reason the thought of Zoe crying damn near unmanned him. He knew it probably had something to do with the fact that Zoe was the only woman he'd ever been flat out rude to and that in the grand scheme of things her feelings shouldn't matter, but they did.

With a resigned sigh he put the dog down and stood up, happy to see that Zoe wasn't crying. She looked a little nervous, but he could handle that better than tears.

"I'll help you find someone to take the dog," he started, only to have Zoe cut him off with an excited little squeal and smile that he refused to find adorable. Although he may have noted that certain assets bounced when she got excited, but he pushed that observation from his mind and focused on the problem at hand.

"I'll help you find him a home, but you're not keeping him, Zoe. If we can't find someone to take him in a week then he's going back to the shelter," he warned her.

Zoe wringed her hands together once more as she looked quickly down at the dog and then back up at him. She gave him a firm nod. "He's cute. I don't think we'll have any problems finding a good home for him," she said, making him damn near sigh.

"Whoever wants him can have him, Zoe," he said, holding his hand up to stop the argument that he knew was coming. She wanted the dog to have the perfect home and he just wanted it out of his. "That's the deal. Take it or leave it."

She pursed up her lips and arched her brows in that stubborn expression of hers and he waited for the argument he knew was coming and wanted to avoid. It was late and he wanted to crash, but not before she read to him some more and if she was pissed at him then that might not happen.