When the love of Austin Bale’s life—Rupert the German Shepherd—is critically injured in a car accident, he has to find seventeen hundred dollars and fast. Austin lives alone, works a minimum wage job and has no one he can turn to. The only thing he can offer vet Lynton Brooke, by way of payment, is himself.
Lynton takes him up on his offer and is soon smitten by the reclusive Austin. Both men recognise a kindred spirit, a lonely soul that needs a mate, but Austin is too aware of their different backgrounds. Can he ever hope that Lynton could be the one?
This is a previously published book. The title remains unchanged.
Lynton’s shift finished at eight but he didn’t leave until nine that night. This was usual for him. Sometimes he got the time back if the hospital was quiet. A quiet day, though, was rarer than hen’s teeth. He changed into jeans and a t-shirt, threw his scrubs into a linen basket, and found his bag and car keys. His lunch sat uneaten in a Tupperware dish. He guessed he would eat it for dinner when he got home.
He walked across the dark parking lot and unlocked his car with the remote. As he stowed his jacket and bag on the back seat and opened the driver’s door, a sudden rustle behind him made him start.
He swung around to see Austin Bale standing behind him. “Jesus Christ, what are you doing?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.” Austin looked no less pale and red-eyed than twelve hours previously.
“What can I do for you, Austin?”
“I’ve thought of the only way I can do this.”
Lynton felt both relieved and wary. “Go on.”
“If you do it for free, you can…have me. For one night.”
Lynton’s eyes must have bulged. He almost laughed with nerves. “I’m sorry?”
Austin went on undeterred. “Come on, I know you like me. That much is obvious. I’ll do whatever you want. Anything and I mean anything. I’ll sleep with you every night for a week if you want. A month. A year. The rest of your life. I’ll do anything. Only please…” Austin’s voice broke. “Please save my dog.”
Here was a new one. Never yet had someone offered their body as payment. Lynton’s mind whirled with X-rated scenarios. Austin wasn’t stupid. He offered the only thing Lynton would be interested in.
Nonetheless, he laughed. “Come on, behave yourself.”
“I’m serious, Lynton!”
“Yeah and so am I. It’s not a case of me doing it for free. That isn’t a figure I made up out of thin air, you know—it’s the cost of all the equipment, of the pin from the animal surgery company that I’d have to buy myself. And besides, I don’t need to pay for sex. Why exactly do you think you’d be worth seventeen hundred dollars?”
He hadn’t meant to be so cruel, but Austin recoiled, tears standing in his eyes, his face flushed with shame. “Please,” he said again, hopeless, defeated.
Lynton regarded him stonily. “Go home.”
When Austin merely stood there staring with those tears hanging suspended from his eyes but refusing to fall, Lynton raised his voice. “I mean it. Go home.”
Austin whirled away. He stumbled across the dark parking lot towards a battered, boxy Korean car that was at least fifteen years old, then jumped into it. It didn’t immediately start and Lynton watched him pound on the steering wheel and yell something before the engine caught and Austin roared away on squealing tyres.
Lynton sighed. Only when he climbed into his car did he realise he was shaking.