Wounded warrior Gary Sanchez gets a new lease on life from a visiting therapy dog while in the Veteran’s Administration hospital to recover. He knows at once what he wants to do when he gets out and back on his feet. With the help of Angie, a very special rescue dog, he follows this dream -- smack into a young doctor with a major canine phobia and a hard-ass attitude.
Mirmar has struggled and suffered to get his MD and build a life in his adopted homeland. Childhood trauma has left him with a deep fear of dogs. When he sees one in his hospital, he’s ready to kick some serious butt. However, the man on the end of the leash is another matter entirely. What is it about the handsome Latino that draws him like a magnet?
Can these two bridge their differences and find a way to fill the aching empty spot in their lives with each other? Only Angie knows for sure.
Mirman felt a strange tingle of energy as Gary’s square, solid hand closed around his wrist. He felt strength, heat, and a shocking jolt of pure energy. For a few seconds sorting those sensations distracted him from what Gary was actually doing. Then all at once he became aware of the silky texture of Angie’s furry head beneath his fingertips. Another kind of energy arose from that contact. He couldn’t believe how soft the dog’s fur felt.
He’d spent a lifetime avoiding touching any canine, carrying the mistaken notion that their fur would feel harsh and rough, bristly or even prickly, as threatening and repelling as the appearance the huge beasts he recalled from so long ago. Instead Angie’s fur was as soft as any plush toy or velvet cloth yet warmed with life and a gentle radiance. He’d almost say it felt like love.
“She’s soft,” he blurted. “I thought fur would be rougher, prickly, and harsh.” He bit down hard on his lower lip, realizing his whole body trembled. “You can let go of me. I’m not going to jump back. It feels good. I like it.”
He moved his hand slowly, pressing down with his palm on the gentle curve of the dog’s skull, running his fingers into the thick wavy strands of black and white hair, then feeling the flaps of her ears, which seemed even softer. Angie edged closer, rubbing her side against his leg and tilting her head to look up at him. He could have sworn she grinned as if she said, “See, I’m not anything to be afraid of.” Of course she didn’t speak the words aloud but he heard them in his heart.
Gary released his arm and took a half step back. “Okay now?”
Mirman didn’t try to restrain his grin. He nodded. “I can’t believe it. This is -- I just can’t believe it.”
Gary’s eyes probed his with a gentle insistence. “Okay, so what’s with you and dogs? I recognized right away you were real uncomfortable with them, even Angie, and she’s such a sweetie.”
Mirman nodded slowly. “I’ve been scared all my life. It was back in Darbhur, at my father’s place. We lived in a walled compound and he kept a pack of mastiffs. They patrolled the area every night, sometimes even during the day. They seemed so huge and savage. I was terrified of them.” He stopped, exhaled in a long breath, nearly a sigh.
He looked up at Gary, not sure what he would see. There was no scorn or contempt in the Latino’s expression. Finally Gary nodded. “Shit, that must have been really tough for a kid. How old were you?”
“Not quite seven when we left. I’ve been foolish to let it go so far, so long ... I’m not sure yet that I’ll be able to approach every dog I see but at least I know I’m safe with Angie.”
“You’re safe with both of us.” Something in Gary’s calm words sent a dart of hunger and urgency through Mirman. It settled low in his abdomen and then burst free with a surge of power that had his cock stiffening to full attention in seconds.
“Do you mean what I think you mean?” He barely got the words out because something beyond his intellect propelled him out of the chair, forward toward the arms Gary suddenly extended to him and then into their encircling warmth. “Because if you don’t you’d better explain yourself real fast.”
“If this is what you want it to mean, it’s what it means.” Gary said. “Like this.” Somehow their bodies and then their faces came together. Two strong noses slid past each other without a bump and their mouths met and merged, completing a circuit that sizzled with power and need. Mirman wrapped his arms around Gary’s solid warmth and felt Gary’s arms lock around his own leaner frame. They couldn’t get close enough but it still felt wonderful.