Relief rushed through her when she reached a driveway studded with hanging lights. Surely whoever lived here would let her wait out the storm. She walked through the ornate iron gates, up the palm-lined drive past landscaped lawns, until finally she reached a three-story stone mansion. Black wrought iron lanterns illumined the entry.
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Yes, most definitely—Lynette had to die. He studied the schedule a second longer. Who exactly is going to perform those surgeries, Lynette? In the dungeon, women were always crying. Lynette could save herself the trouble of squeezing out some salt water.
And now he knew why Saxon had been pressured to give Lynette a job—and why her sole job reference had been so noncommittal. Even basic receptionist tasks were beyond her.
The slender blonde was about as useful as dewclaws on a Chihuahua. Jake looked up, and his mood lightened. Since then, many of the Shadowlands members had brought their pets to the clinic. Considering how the trainee avoided him at the club, her presence here was a surprise. Her streaky brown hair was in an intricate coil at her nape. Even drenched and mud-streaked, she looked amazing. Saxon had once commented she could be a model for a BBW—big, beautiful woman.
And that was only the beginning of her appeal. The blanket wrapped around the animal showed a growing bloodstain. Dark brown eyes, wavy filthy fur. A small dog with an equally small growl. Jake would simply be careful, as always. Nothing obviously broken. Alert, eyes slightly glazed—probably with pain. Breathing fast. Where was the blood coming from? Off Highway A quick glance ascertained gender. Your mama will be proud of you. That he was there to help. That he could help.
She studied him for a moment. Some of the Shadowlands Masters had the bulky musculature of powerlifters. Not Master Jake. He was a couple of inches over six feet with a lean, muscular build. Not too lean, though. The shoulders under his white polo shirt were broad, and the sleeves strained to fit around rock-hard biceps.
The man was drop-dead gorgeous, with the chiseled features of a model. Shadowy designer stubble added a dangerous cast to a hard jawline. Every instinct told her to flee. A sizzling hot guy she could handle. But not this one. And…her entire life had been flushed down the toilet that day because of him. Not his fault, certainly. But on the phone, Linda had insisted Jake was the best vet in the area. Master Sam, Marcus, and Master Z, took their pets to his clinic. Maybe Linda was right. Sheffield seemed very competent, carefully checking every inch of the little dog while murmuring reassurances.
The ball of fur was shaking less. Then Jake touched something painful, and the dog yelped. His warm hand closed on hers. Just for a minute. The dog on the metal table scrabbled in an attempt to stand. Eyes the color of dark chocolate watched her anxiously. She could feel the tug, as if a string had been tied to her heart. She loves you, see? And full of burrs. Do you live in the country?
A car in front of me with Boston plates. I just got stuck with damage control. She was horrendously late. And her suit was wet and muddy and covered with dog fur. You can pick him up tonight on your way home. Maybe not. Rainie could see the hollowing below the ribs. A little dog? A warm wave of kinship to the animal ran through her. She knew how it felt to be abandoned. Alone and not wanted. Surviving on the streets. Oh heavens, what was she thinking? Brows pulling together, she scowled at Jake.
The light amusement of an utterly confident Dom made her insides shiver. His voice returned to a normal level. Charge me? But…but… This day kept getting worse. She drew herself up and gave him the iciest look she could muster.
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