A sweet FOR KEEPS excerpt

So, maybe you’ve heard that my second book, FOR KEEPS, comes out tomorrow! EEK! I’m just a wee bit excited :) And I wanted to share an excerpt with you. Most of the snippets that get shared are the steamy, sexy ones, but this one is sweet, and it’s one of my favorite scenes from the book. My hero, T.J. Jameson, is a sexy cowboy who’s also a large animal vet. But thanks to an incident in his past, he’s wary of dogs, especially strays. Naturally my heroine, Merry, is an animal rescuer, and she works her magic to convince him to foster Amber – a formerly stray dog. And I *love* this scene between T.J. and Amber. I hope you do too!


 

T.J. stepped from the shower and wrapped himself in a towel. It was just past midnight, and he was dead on his feet. The afternoon and eveningFor Keeps cover_lo res had been one emergency call after another. He’d finally gotten home twenty minutes ago, smelling like a cow’s ass, too dirty even to eat before a shower.

Amber lay on the bathmat, waiting for him. She’d carried the stuffed porcupine in with her, and the duck. As he watched, she nuzzled the yellow stuffed animal, then licked it, like a mother dog grooming a puppy.

He shook his head and walked into the bedroom, where he shrugged into a clean pair of Wranglers and a worn t-shirt. Amber followed with the porcupine in her mouth. She set it in her dog bed, then went back for the duck.

He sat on the bed and watched her for a moment. “Are you a momma?”

She looked up at him and thumped her tail against the bed.

He slid down and crouched beside her. He lifted her right front leg to inspect her teats. Yep, she’d nursed a litter. Probably more than one.

“Hungry?” he asked.

His stomach was so empty it had started to devour itself, leaving him with a dull ache in his belly. He led the way downstairs. The soft shuffle of Amber’s paws followed behind him.

He pulled a slab of roast beef from the fridge, cut a thick wedge, and slapped it between two slices of bread with a big squirt of mustard. He couldn’t hold in the groan of appreciation as he took the first bite.

Amber curled up on the linoleum nearby, too polite even to beg.

“I really don’t like mutts, you know,” he told her.

She stared, her solemn expression betrayed by the steady thump of her tail against the floor.

“I don’t know a thing about you. You could have been raised by wolves for all I know. You could be part coyote.”

She rested her head on her front paws with a sigh.

“Well, fine, but only if you promise not to tell Merry.” He dropped a chunk of roast beef into her bowl.

With a happy swish of her tail, Amber gobbled it up, then came to lay by his feet again.

T.J. stuffed himself on roast beef, then walked her outside. Just before one a.m., he stripped to his boxers and collapsed in bed, bone tired and dead to the world.

Sometime later, he jolted awake. A crack of thunder shook his bedroom, drowning out the howl of wind and the steady drumming of rain against the roof. He rolled over and stuffed an arm under the pillow.

North Carolina had some wild summer thunderstorms. He watched as a bolt of lightning streaked across the sky, followed by the resounding boom of thunder. His horses would have taken cover in their outdoor shelter, safe from the storm.

He’d always been awed by the power of the storm, the way it could light up the night and shake his house on its very foundation. Alas, tonight not even the majesty of mother nature could keep him awake. Desperately tired, he let his eyes drift shut. Sleep always came quickly for him, and he felt himself start to slide into its embrace.

A scuffling sound came from under the bed.

Instantly, he was awake. Alert. He heard it again, a scuffle, then a bump. What the hell? Something was under the bed.

Had a squirrel come in through the attic? Mice?

He peered over the edge of the bed, saw the empty dog bed, and groaned. Amber. He’d forgotten all about her. See, this was why dogs didn’t come inside. Made them sissies afraid of a damn thunderstorm.

He swung out of bed and peered beneath it. Sure enough, there was an Amber-sized lump. “Hey, Amber. Come here, girl. Nothing to be afraid of, just a thunderstorm.”

Lightning lit the room, revealing Amber huddled beneath the bed. T.J. reached his hand toward her. How the hell did you comfort a frightened dog? Merry would know.

He dropped to his stomach against the cool floorboards and reached for her. The next lightning bolt revealed two shiny rows of teeth gleaming back at him.

“Jesus Christ!” He yanked his hand back so fast he banged his head against the side of the bed. “F***.”

The damn dog was snarling at him! Good for nothing mutt. T.J. rubbed at his temple as he glared at her from a safer distance. That’s it, she was going back to Merry’s house in the morning.

Amber scooted backward and watched him.

Why was her mouth open? Surely she wasn’t still trying to bite him. He reached up and flipped on the lamp on his bedside table, then winced against the sudden onslaught of light. Beneath the bed, Amber panted as if it were a hundred degrees in his bedroom.

Slimy strands of drool dangled from her jowls, her eyes so wide he could see the whites all the way around. She hadn’t snarled at him at all. She was just terrified of the storm.

Well, damn. “Come on, Amber. Buck up, woman. It’s just a storm.”

Amber stared back, her eyes glazed with terror.

“Being homeless must have been loads of fun for you, huh?” Exhausted, he sat on the floor and talked at her until the storm passed. Finally, she slunk toward him and climbed back into her bed.

T.J. collapsed against his pillow. He didn’t even feel his eyes close before the alarm started beeping. Warm sunlight filled the room, stabbing into his weary eyes. Groaning, he rolled over. Beside the bed, Amber lay curled around her faux puppies.

It was hard to hate a dog who cuddled with stuffed animals.


Now if you prefer your excerpts a little steamier, check out this first kiss scene that’s being shared on my blog tour. It is most definitely not PG rated 😉 Enjoy!

FOR KEEPS hits shelves tomorrow!

PRE-ORDER IT IN PAPERBACK:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books A Million | Powell’s

PRE-ORDER THE E-BOOK:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Books A Million

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