Page 24

“I can’t ask you to do that.”

“You didn’t ask.” Together, they looked down at the dog in Emily’s arms. His eyes opened and locked on Emily, big and forlorn.

She sucked in a breath.

Already, the dog knew how to charm a woman.

“I’m taking him with me,” Emily said, and looked at Wyatt. She caught his grin. “Just until I find his owner,” she repeated.


“You can resist these warm, brown eyes?” she asked.

“Sweetness, I live with two sisters who are the queens of male manipulation. I can resist anyone and anything.”

An empty, hollow untruth, because he’d never been able to resist the underdog, the injured, the weak. Ironically, he couldn’t resist Emily either, though she was just about the least weak woman he’d ever met.

“So not true,” she said, calling him on his bullshit. “You live with your sisters because you can’t resist taking care of them. And you spend way more time with each animal you see than is necessary. And I’ve seen you treat them for free when their owners don’t have money. You can’t resist a damn thing.”

No kidding, and especially not her.


You think you have me all figured out?” Wyatt asked softly.

Did she think that? No. Not in a million years. “Maybe not completely,” Emily said.

He looked at her for a beat, then took the dog from her and gently set him inside a crate.

“But—” she started, stopping when he turned back and pulled her into him.

Her body instantly came alive. “Wyatt—”

“Shh,” he said, lowering his head to press his jaw to hers. “I need a hug.”

This wrung a laugh out of her because they both knew who needed a hug, and it wasn’t him. But he was big and strong and warm, and damn.


He felt so good that her limbs acted of their own accord and snuggled in, burrowing, inhaling deep the very male, very delicious scent of him.

“Did you just smell me?” he asked.


He laughed quietly, not bothering to call her on the lie. Stroking a hand up her back, he let out a low sound of regret. “Ah, Em. You’re one big knot.”

“It’s my life,” she said, closing her eyes, holding on tight, hoping he wasn’t planning on letting go anytime soon.

Or ever.

She shifted to plant her face into his throat, loving the scent of him, the texture of his skin, the heat of him. God, she loved it when he held her like this, like for a moment he’d shoulder all of her problems.

“You need to make time to relax once in a while,” he said, his big hand stroking up and down her back, making her want to stretch into him like a cat in heat.

“A drink might do it,” she said. “So would ice cream.”

“I’ve got something better.”

She snorted.

He laughed softly and squeezed her tight. Her heart rate ramped up, which had nothing to do with the adrenaline rush of the rescue and everything to do with the man holding her. He was in his usual cargoes and T-shirt, sans the doctor coat tonight. She’d been too discombobulated earlier to see what the shirt said, but she couldn’t deny that he was sexy as hell in everything he wore. Now he was all the more after watching him work on a dog that wasn’t even his patient, and in no way his responsibility.

And yet he’d given one hundred percent to the dog.

And her.

When she’d first met him in Reno, she’d convinced herself he was a shallow, one-night stand guy. But over the past weeks, she’d come to realize how wrong she’d been.

He was strong, inside as well as out. He was smart and funny and protective, and incredibly sexy. But more than just about everything else, he was rock solid steady and unflappable. A guy you wanted at your back.

And he wasn’t in her plan. Still wasn’t, though she hadn’t updated her plan in a while. She didn’t even know how many days were left in Sunshine. If she opened her calendar right now, John would still be in it as one of her goals. “Dammit.”

Wyatt went still, then pulled back just enough to meet her gaze. “Problem?”

“Sorry. You make me forget my plan.”

“The one with an almost boyfriend on it, the almost boyfriend who you never talk to or about?”

“Hey, you’re one to judge. You never say one word about Cissy.”

He laughed. “You know her name isn’t Cissy.”

She crossed her arms over her chest. “Why don’t you ever talk about her, about Caitlin?” Her gut squeezed. “Did she break your heart, Wyatt?”

His mouth curved. “You worried about me?”

“I do like to worry.”

“Caitlin isn’t a factor,” he said. “Not with us.”

Her heart fluttered, and she wasn’t sure if that was because of the way he’d said Caitlin’s name, with such aching familiarity, or that he’d said “us.” She drew a deep breath. “There is no us,” she said. “And how is Caitlin not a factor, when you can’t even talk about her?”

“Do you talk about John?”

“You know damn well he’s not really a factor.”

“And yet you still put him between us.”

There was that “us” again. “Look who’s talking, the guy who’s got a daily Casserole Brigade.”

“At least those women are real.”

She should have picked up the dog and headed out. It was late, she was tired. And her resistance was down—as evidenced by the urge to throw herself at him.

Wyatt looked at the dog who’d curled up in the crate and gone to sleep, the poor, exhausted baby—and then he grabbed Emily’s hand and tugged her from the room and into his office. “I’m going to head out,” she said. “I—” She broke off when Wyatt yanked her into him.

“I don’t care about a stupid name on your calendar, a name of some dumbass who’s too much of a dumbass to make you his,” he said.

She stared up at him. His eyes were filled with heat, and a surprising temper, a really heady combination. Something wriggled deep inside her. It felt a little bit like a piece fitting into a puzzle. There were emotions, too. Affection, and hunger for this man who never seemed to care what a mess she was. “Crap,” she whispered, still staring at him. Not again. Still . . .


“This,” she said, and tugged off his glasses. Then she tugged him down to her level, and kissed him.

He let her have her way for a minute, and then took control, hands in her hair, tongue in her mouth, hard body settling against hers. The heat of him seared into her as she tried to pull him in even closer. Hell she’d have climbed him like a tree if she could.

He pulled back a fraction, smiled a satisfied badass smile, and kissed her again until she forgot to breathe, forgot who she was, hell, she forgot where she was. All she could feel was Wyatt from the top of her head all the way to her toes, and everywhere in between.

When he pulled away again, she didn’t have the brain cells left to protest. Instead she moaned as his lips trailed down her face, her neck, to the pulse racing at the base of her throat.


She had to clear her throat twice to answer. “Yes?”

“Now’s the time to look me in the eyes and say this is still just a fun time, that this isn’t going to hurt you.”

She stared at him. His hair was more tousled than usual—from her fingers, she realized. His T-shirt was untucked. His gaze was heavy-lidded as he waited for her to process. “A very fun time,” she said.


So fierce. So careful with her. Her heart tightened. “And you’d never hurt me,” she whispered, knowing it as the utter truth. The only way he could hurt her was if she cared more for him than he cared for her, but she could see that wasn’t the case.

“Never,” he agreed, voice low and utter steel. “But now is the time to say no if you’re going to.”

One of her hands was still fisted in his shirt, one of his thighs between hers, and when he rubbed it against her at the same time that his hand swept up from a hip to stroke a thumb over her nipple, she got a rush so strong it might have been an orgasm. The sound she made was horrifyingly needy and she tried to suck it back in.

“I’m taking that as a yes,” he said, and swept a hand over his desk, knocking files and various piles of crap to the floor.

“So we’re done talking?”

“For a few minutes.” He ran his tongue along the outer edge of her ear, nibbling on the lobe as he brought her palm to his erection.

She shuddered and stroked him. “You think we’ll be done in a few minutes?”

“Keep that up and it’ll be a lot less.”

She popped open his pants, tugged down his zipper, and slid her hand inside. He was hot velvet over steel, deliciously, heart-pounding hard, and every single inch of her trembled in desire and anticipation. “And if someone shows up?”

He backed up enough to hit the lock on his door.

“They might still hear.”

“You’ll have to be very quiet,” he said, and stepped into her until she backed up into his desk. “Can you be very quiet, Emily?”

Oh, God, she thought, that smooth whiskey voice. “I don’t know.”

“Let’s see.” Hands to her waist, he plunked her onto his desk. “Take off your sweater.”

She rushed to do just that but he lent his hands to the cause, stripping it off her himself.

She’d dressed for the day a very long eighteen hours ago, and couldn’t remember what underwear she was wearing. She took a peek and groaned.

Wyatt ran a long, callused finger along the edge of her plain white cotton bra. “Problem?”

“I was hoping I was miraculously wearing black silk,” she said. “Or something good to catch your interest.”

He smiled and stroked her nipple through the cotton with a callused thumb. “Sweetness, you caught my interest a long time ago.” And then her bra was gone, tossed as carelessly over Wyatt’s shoulder as her sweater had been.

“Lift up,” he said, fingers deftly unbuttoning and unzipping her pants.

“You want to see if my panties match?” she asked.

He smiled. “Among other things.”

Yep, Wyatt discovered a minute later, her panties did indeed match the white cotton bra somewhere on the floor behind him. He wanted these there, too. Hooking his fingers in the soft material, he slowly pulled her panties down and took in the sight of Emily na**d and sprawled out for his viewing pleasure. “I’m never going to look at my desk in the same way again.”

“Wyatt . . .”

His name left her throat on a raspy whisper of longing. He liked that. He f**king loved that. Stepping between her spread legs, he slid a hand into her hair at the nape of her neck to bring her face to his.

“You’re still dressed,” she whispered.

He loved that, too, the way she could be so shy and yet climb all over him in his truck. Or in the yard by moonlight.

Or let him seduce her in his office . . .

He cupped her br**sts and her ni**les pebbled against his palms. “God,” she said on a rough exhale, her arms wrapping around his neck as she leaned into him. He smiled, knowing she’d already forgotten to even try to be quiet.

He didn’t care. He loved the sounds she made.

“Mmm,” she murmured into his mouth, like he was the best thing she’d ever tasted. Her tongue fought with his for dominance, but he won the battle when he cupped her ass in one hand, the other sliding down her belly, between her opened thighs.

So wet.

At the feel of her, his entire body tightened, and his h*ps thrust into her reflexively. She moaned when he pulled away, and tried to reach for him, but he dropped to his knees. With a hand on each trembling thigh, he leaned in and put his mouth on her.

Above him, she made an unintelligible sound. Her head fell back, and when he used his tongue, rubbing in slow circles as he sank a finger into her, she closed her legs on him, like she was afraid he’d stop.

Not a chance.

He stroked her thighs with his hand to reassure her that he was here, right here and not going anywhere, staying close enough to feel every tremor, every quiver.

For him.

She was rocking into his mouth, speeding up, and, given the desperation behind her movements, needing to come bad. When he teased her by slowing down, she merely tightened her grip in displeasure.

Laughing softly against her, he once again increased pressure, and she came for him, hard and fast. She was still shuddering when he rose to his feet, wrapped his arms around her and lifted. He took her the two steps to the couch against the wall, and turning, fell onto it backward, bringing her down on top of him.

She tugged up his shirt. He yanked it over his head and pulled a condom from his wallet. She tried to help him roll it down his length, but only succeeded in nearly making him come. Finally he grabbed her hands and tugged them behind her, squeezing gently.

Getting the message, she held still—well, except for her rocking hips, which was sexy as hell. She watched while he protected them both, eyes glossy, cheeks flushed to match her hardened nipples. He looked his fill, too, considering himself just about the luckiest bastard on earth when she lifted up on her knees. “In me. Please, Wyatt.”

Yeah. He’d please.

She cried out his name again as he thrust up into her, and for a single beat the both of them went stock-still in utter bliss.

Then she bucked against the hands he had tight on her hips, an entreaty for more. When she didn’t get it, she wriggled, the impatient gesture making him both groan and laugh. He loosened his grip, letting her take the reins she wanted so badly.