There’s a new member in the Petal cast – Joe’s dog Buck.
Petal, Ga: LOST IN YOU by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2013, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, Samhain Publishing
Releasing March 12 in digital formats, September 3 in trade paper
Buck saw her and barked, nearly skipping—cutest damned thing she ever saw, his little prancing dance—over. Joe sent a look her way, part pleased, part pleading to be freed from Dolly’s clutches.
“Hey, Buck.” She bent to scratch behind his floppy ear and straightened. “You ready, Joe?”
Joe blinked and then nodded. “Yes. Ready.”
Beth put the cookies on the counter and turned to Dolly with a smile. “Hey, Dolly, thanks for keeping Joe company until it was time for him to take me to lunch.”
“He never said anything to me.” Dolly tried to look triumphant but she just looked dumb. As usual.
“Why would he?” Beth laughed and turned to Joe, who’d grabbed his keys. Lunch was impromptu, but she didn’t want Buck here suffering, not that Joe would leave the dog there anyway. “Want me to grab Buck’s leash?”
Joe couldn’t help but be impressed by Beth. She breezed in, looking amazing. Especially in comparison with Dolly who apparently didn’t believe in the less-is-more philosophy.
The damned dog actually danced to her, barking happily. And she had cookies? He could totally take her to lunch just for that. Then she’d saved him from Dolly and made sure he understood she wanted Buck along?
Every time he ran into her, he had less and less defense against her charm. Because she was charming.
And really hot.
He handed the leash to Beth and turned back to Dolly, once again pushing the bill and the keys her way. “So like I said, I changed the oil and checked everything over.” He’d known, of course, that there was not a damned thing wrong with the car and that Dolly had been interested in him, not his mechanical skills. But he remembered what she’d been like in school and that had left him sour on her ever since.
Beth bent, chatting to the dog as she got him leashed. “Sorry, the cookies are triple chocolate and dogs can’t have chocolate. Which really sucks, Buck, because chocolate is awesome. But I promise to let you have some of my ham sandwich as a consolation prize.”
Joe held back a smile, shaking his head, amused. Dolly gave an annoyed huff, but paid and stomped out.
“Every single woman in town is going to be bringing in dog treats now.” Beth straightened, handing the leash to Joe.
“None of them mean it.”
She shrugged one shoulder. “I still aim to make you go to lunch with me.” Buck barked. “And you too, Mister Buck. I haven’t forgotten the promise of the ham sandwich.”
He opened the door, locking it in his wake after he put out the lunch sign. “I need to lock the garage. Hang on a sec.”
He needed to hire someone else. Which was actually a good thing.
“There’s a nice shaded picnic table behind the salon. We of course have a very lenient dog policy.” She said this as she knelt to get eye to eye with the dog. He liked how she was with Buck. It wasn’t fake at all. She was as goofy with Buck as she was with Joe.
“He’s going to leave me for you at this point.”
She grinned, standing. “We can get sandwiches and stuff at the Honey Bear. I called ahead so they’d be ready. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Ever since you mentioned food, I’ve been starving.”
She handed him the leash again, and took his arm. He should have stopped her. But he didn’t.
She indicated the table under a big oak tree as they walked past the salon. “It’s the Murphy version of a break room.”
He laughed and very nearly leaned in to kiss her temple. “Why don’t you and Buck head over. I’ll grab lunch and be back in a few.”
“Fine. I’ll get some water for him. To wash down the ham sandwich.”
He walked a block down and then across the street to the Honey Bear bakery and café. William worked there, Joe knew, as a baker. The early hours and solitary nature of the job suited his friend well. Joe got that too. He liked his job. Liked solving problems with an engine on his own. Puzzling through and going step by step to finish.
No one got on his nerves. He had no boss to take orders from either. It was just him and the thing he was best at.
He recognized the woman at the counter, and she grinned, holding up two big bags. “Got your order ready.”
“That’s some kind of service. Thanks.”
She wouldn’t take his money though, saying that Beth was like family and they had a deal with the ladies at the salon. He shoved a ten in the tip jar and headed out.
But when he got back across the way, she was lying on a blanket with Buck, scratching his belly. The dog opened one eye as Joe approached.
“He likes to drink from the hose. I told him he could have it from the bowl, but he snorted at me and got dog snot and spit on my leg. We had a talk about such behavior, and he assures me he won’t be repeating that again.”
Today I’m giving away two digital ARCs of LOST IN YOU, chosen from the comments to this post tomorrow, 3/9 – Do you like animals and/or kids in your romances? If so, any favorites?