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His Temptation (The HIS Collection #4)
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Dog walking was supposed to be Katie’s easy third job.
Enjoy the other books in the His Collection by Jenika Snow, Roxie Brock, Frankie Love, Dani Wyatt, and Aria Cole.
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I sprint up the bluestone steps winding up the side of the enormous Atlanta property to the gate and twist the handle. The lock sticks. I rattle harder and shove my shoulder into the wood.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
I’m so late. So damn late. So late I don’t have the nerve to use the front door.
I pant for breath. It’ll be fine. I’ll make it fine. He doesn’t even have to know. I’ve snuck in and out the side gate before he’s realized three times this week already. I stare up at the tall, picket gate that separates the open front of the property from the secluded back yard.
He must’ve locked it. Gah, why today? He never locks anything. He’s hopeless like that. As though he thinks no one will have the nerve to trespass on his watch.
I swipe my wrist over my sweaty nose then toss my backpack over the gate. My pulse kicks up speed. It’s possible his confidence isn’t unfounded. I mean, I’m half-shitting myself, and I’m meant to be here.
I climb up on a large rock, wedge my sneaker into a gap in the fence beside the gate, and hop twice before jumping. I grab hold of the top of the gate and haul up my body. The flat, wooden pickets press into my ribs, knocking air out of my chest.
I tilt forward, unbalanced, and let out a squeal. Something clamps around my hips, halting my face dive. A bark snaps behind me. My heart somersaults.
Someone draws me back, steadily lifting me down as though I weigh no more than a rascally, inept-at-fence-climbing kitten. For a moment, I hover in the air, secure in a strong grip—the kind of grip you can count on. The kind of grip that doesn’t let you down.
Then I’m up against someone else. Heat engulfs me. Heat from a body so much bigger than mine. My back slides down a hard chest, a hard body, then my feet touch the ground.
I close my eyes. I’d rather have taken the face plunge. I can’t move forward or backward, or closer or farther away. All I can do is stand here, every sense fixed on how close we are, how neatly he lifted me, how firm his hands are at my hips, how warm he is behind me. How the raw scent of him, so masculine that it feels like some strange, primeval déjà vu, makes my knees feel non-existent.
And how angry he must be.
There’s a very mean, very fucking sexy man standing right behind me, and he just found me ass-up, bent over a fence, trying to sneak in an hour late.
My face burns. My whole-self burns.
A warm, furry weight presses up against my calves. I breathe out, open my eyes, then sink down to pat Dixie. She leans her big, burly dog body against me. Her leash dangles from her collar.
My shoulders clench. Dammit. I’m in real trouble. My gaze goes to the sneakers beside me and then up over long, thick legs in running shorts, up farther over a mountain of a man to a fierce, scowling face.
I clear my throat and grasp Dixie’s leash. “Looks like Daddy already walked you, didn’t he, Dixie?”
If it’s possible for total-scowl to increase by fifty percent, his does. Increases from total-scowl to the wrinkled-nose, top-lip-curled, super-scowl he’s literally famous for.
Baseball legend, construction tycoon, all-round scowling asshole.
He squints. He always squints. Shame, since his buttery-hazel eyes would be nice to see occasionally.
“I have a meeting this morning.”
His voice is as rough and surly as his expression and makes my insides jolt.
Oh, god, and by that he means I’ve held him up? I lick my lips. I’m going to get fired. I should be fired. There’s one essential job requirement to dog walking, and it’s walking the dog.
And I did not walk the dog.
I press a palm to the gravel path to keep myself up. The exhaustion of the morning hits me all at once. I meet his gaze, though. He can fire me to my face. That’d be the cherry on top of this cluster-fuck of a morning.
He can be mean as he likes about it, too. Use that trademark, barking shout on me. Jab at me with that pointing finger that’s always on the front cover of the papers. Clay “The Grinch” Colson. At this point, there’s not much that’s going to upset me.
Upset was something I dabbled in four hours ago when I was elbow deep in a toddler shit explosion.
A twin toddler-shit explosion.
For the novice, which I’m not, that’s two toddler-shit explosions at the same time. Twin toddler-shit explosions. Story of my life. And this morning, because my life is epic, the twin toddler-shit explosions happened while I was fielding calls from my crying mother because a pipe is leaking in my brother’s room, above his bed, and can I fix it?