NY Times and USA Today bestselling author, Terry Towers, is proud to present:
Special agent, Colin Almond, has a problem - or four - in the form of abandoned meowing kittens on his doorstep. When he tries to drop them off at the animal shelter he finds shelter worker Gabriella Simons is less than accommodating. She flat out refuses to take his annoying bundles of joy since, apparently, the shelter is full and he needs to man up and take responsibility for his kittens. (Her words, not his.) Colin isn't used to not getting what he wants and after meeting the feisty shelter worker he decides what he wants: her. Even if it means he becomes a pet owner in the process.
When Colin asks Gabriella out she's hesitant - he's way too smooth, way too cocky and way too sexy for his own good. He's exactly the kind of man she tries to avoid. But... he also has an air of danger and excitement about him that's impossible for her to resist. However, as their relationship develops, Gabriella discovers that the Colin Almond she's falling for isn't exactly who he says he is. He has deep, dark secrets and that darkness is threatening to destroy them both.
Plus, there's the kittens...
Novel length - No Cliffhangers!
“And what exactly am I supposed to do with them?”
Gabriella snickered softly as she watched her co-worker at the animal shelter, Tonya Gibson, deal with a tall, dark-haired, strikingly handsome man who was attempting to drop off a carrier of kittens. She inched her way a little closer to the open doorway, while trying to keep out of sight from the man on the other side of the counter.
“What every other responsible pet owner does, man up and keep them.”
The man on the other side of the counter was becoming increasingly irate as it became clear to him that the shelter was not about to take the pet carrier of four crying kittens from him.
“Man up! Have you not been listening to me? These are not my kittens!”
Tonya crossed her arms over her chest and narrowed her eyes at him. “If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that, I wouldn’t be working here for a living, Sir.”
The condescension in Tonya’s tone wasn’t lost on Gabriella. Apparently it wasn’t lost on the man either; she could see the muscles flex in his throat as he attempted to force his temper down and she covered her mouth in an attempt to stifle another giggle.
“Listen, lady. I woke up this morning, I went outside to go to work and lo and behold there was a carrier of kittens on my doorstep. I don’t want animals. I don’t like animals. I don’t have time for animals. And I know damned well if I did have animals I wouldn’t have a cat and sure as hell wouldn’t have it wandering the streets getting knocked up so I would have even more animals.” He threw his hands up in exasperation. “Are you following me, honey?”
Gabriella almost lost it again at the pissed-off expression on Tonya’s face as the man threw the endearment “honey” at her.
“Oh, I follow you, baby. But you need to listen to me now. Even if I did buy your story, we’re full up here.”
“Full up? What do you mean full up? How can you be full up? This is a shelter. You guys take stray and abandoned animals and I happen to have abandoned animals.” He pointed to the pet carrier of kittens.
Tonya straightened up to her full 5’9”, which was roughly six inches shorter than the man, planted her hands on her hips and raised a brow at him. “So you say.”
Gabriella had to bite down on her knuckles to keep from laughing full out as the man on the other side of the counter was rendered speechless. Knowing that Tonya’s technique in dealing with him was getting them nowhere, Gabriella unbuttoned a couple of buttons on her white blouse so there was a teasing view of her white lace bra and pulled the elastic band from her shoulder-length blonde hair. Flipping her head forward, she fluffed out her hair and straightened back up. There was more than one way to get a guy to take some kittens home; time to try a different angle with him.
She emerged from the back room, strolled around to the front of the counter and went over to Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome.
“I can take it from here Tonya,” she said over her shoulder to her co-worker before settling her bright blue eyes on the man before her.
“Hi, I’m Gabriella and you are?” she extended her hand to him, the golden bangles on her wrists clinking with the movement.
Slightly thrown off by the bad cop, good cop routine that seemed to be taking place, he took a moment to adjust his attitude and took her hand. “I’m Colin.” His larger hand closed around her dainty one, giving it a firm shake.
She smiled up at him, giving him her best seduction smile as she kept her hand in his several moments longer than necessary. As they looked at each other, his dark, nearly black eyes searching hers, she felt an intense sexual attraction flowing between them. On many occasions she had to force the flirting but in Colin’s case there was no forcing involved.
She released his hand, reached out and fingered the lapel of his black suit jacket. By the feel of the fabric and look of the cut she could tell it was an expensive suit. He was a lawyer; that was her guess anyhow. No one could argue with such gusto and look so “GQ” and not be a lawyer, or something of the sort.
“So are you single, Colin?” She chewed at her lower lip and was pleased to see his dark eyes lowering and pausing at her lips, then taking a moment to admire her cleavage before rising back up to catch her gaze.
He straightened up, squaring his shoulders. Oh, she had him right where she wanted him. He was interested. No doubt in her mind.
“Ummm. Yeah. I’m single.”
“Live alone?” She turned to the kittens and removed one from the carrier. It was a tiny long-haired female calico, perhaps ten weeks old. She held the kitten to her bosom and stroked its long, soft fur.
“As a matter of fact, I do.”
“House or apartment?”
He thrust his hands into his pockets and continued to eye her, a smile spreading across his lips. Damn it, even his teeth were perfect. Her pulse accelerated and her body became warm under his gaze.
Keep to the task at hand Gabby, she coached herself, as she continued to stroke the kitten’s soft fur. She had one goal, having those kittens go back home with him so he could take care of them. Emotions and her attraction to him couldn’t get in the way of that.
“House, just outside the city.”
She flashed him the most seductive smile she could muster as she placed the kitten back in the carrier. “In that case, they’ll be perfect pets for you.” She grabbed the handle of the carrier and pulled them down from the counter. “They’ll hunt for you and keep mice and other rodents away. They’ll cuddle with you at night. And you’d be amazed at how good having a pet is for your health. It’s a known fact that people with pets are less stressed.”
His smile faded as he clued into her little seduction plot. He took a step backward, waving his hands in front of him. “No. No. They’re not coming back home with me.”
She was interrupted by one of the dog-walking volunteers entering the shelter with Oscar, a four-year-old English bulldog on a leash.
“Hey Gabby. Oscar had a good walk today.” He started to make his way around the counter to take the dog out back when Colin stopped him.
Colin’s eyes focused on the dog. “I have an idea.” He pointed toward Oscar. “I’ll trade you. I mean, look at him.”
The dog, sensing he was being talked about, sat back on his haunches and eyed Colin.
“That dog is what … say, fifty pounds, right?”
Gabriella shrugged. “Yeah, I guess something like that.”
Colin pointed to the kittens peeping out from behind the metal door trapping them in the carrier. “And they're tiny. No more than five or six pounds for the set, right? So less space, less hassle, less mess. I think you guys are getting the best deal here.”