One Summer

One Summer by JoAnn Ross

Book: One Summer by JoAnn Ross Read Free Book Online
Authors: JoAnn Ross
Tags: Romance, Contemporary
daddy,” she told the dog as she scooped him up from her bed, where he’d settled into the throw pillows for a well-deserved nap. “He isn’t going to be the easiest guy to win over. But I have every faith you’ll pull it off.”
    If the wag of his fluffy tail and the happy swipe of his tongue on her face were any indication, the dog agreed.
    “It’s obvious you two have a lot in common,” she said, continuing her pep talk as she carried him down the stairs, “since you’re both survivors. And tough.” After all, how many nine-pound dogs could be abused and dragged beneath a van and still come out of the situation with their sweet temperament intact? “And you know what? I think he needs you every bit as much as you need him.”
    Even though he wasn’t prepared to admit it. Which might be because he wasn’t ready to admit it to himself. She suspected when you spent so many years in war, you learned never to show weakness. And it wasn’t merely warriors who’d developed that instinct that probably went back to caveman times. An instinct humans definitely shared with other animals.
    She’d once treated a formerly feral calico cat who’d gone months hiding a broken leg that had healed crookedly on its own. Fortunately, after surgery and recuperation, it was doing fine, spending its days in the window of Tidal Wave Books, basking in the sun and the admiration of passersby and customers.
    This little guy and the hard-edged, granite-eyed Marine would be good for each other. Which was why she was so determined to match them up.
    “Who are you kidding?” she muttered to herself.
    The truth was while she really did believe that the match would benefit both of them, she just wanted to keep Gabriel St. James in town a little longer. Not forever. She could recognize a rover when she met one. But just long enough to explore these unsettling, exciting feelings he’d stirred.
    Charity had lived thirty-one years without experiencing a single sexual fantasy—unless you counted imagining herself as Amy March being courted by Christian Bale’s breathtakingly handsome Laurie, but that daydream had remained as sweetly mild as the Little Women movie on which it had been based.
    Last night’s dream of the Marine’s dark hands leaving a trail of sparks over her breasts, her stomach, the crease of her thighs, his mouth hot and hungry between her legs, had definitely not been G-rated.
    He was waiting on the porch when she came out.
    Before he could object that he didn’t want the damn dog, as she knew he intended to, she simply shoved it up against his broad chest. As the ball of freshly shampooed fluffy black fur lifted its front paws to his shoulders, she backed away, giving him no choice but to grab hold.
    “Good try,” he acknowledged her ploy as a pink tongue came out, and even with the inflatable “comfort collar” designed to keep him from bothering his wounds and neutering stitches, the little dog managed to lick the Marine’s face. “But I’m still not in the market for a dog.”
    “So you say.” She folded her arms so he couldn’t shove it back at her. “Personally I think the two of you are a perfect match. And whether you want to admit it or not, you need him as much as he needs you.”
    “And you know this how?”
    “I bought your book this morning. Semper Fi. ” She gestured to where it still sat on the table between two of the chairs. “My stepfather’s right. You’re very talented.”
    “Thanks. But what does you buying my book have to do with pushing a homeless dog on me?”
    “He won’t be homeless if you take him.”
    “Hell, in case you’ve forgotten, I don’t have a home.”
    “Of course you do. It’s merely on wheels at the moment. Dogs are very adaptable. Much more so than cats. He’ll fit right in. Besides you can’t travel forever.”
    “Want to bet?”
    Although she’d carefully planned out her argument ahead of time, after looking through his photos, that curt question

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