He stretched, muscles rippling as he shifted his weight on me. I could feel his breath against my bare thigh, his nose nudging against my skin.
“I’ve got work to do,” I murmured, trying to focus on the computer screen in front of me. But this time, it was his tongue—rough and soft—against the top of my leg that dragged my attention away as he growled into my skin.
I moved my hand towards his head, when suddenly, his teeth sank into my leg. Hard.
“Oh you little fucking asshole!”
I yelped, jumping from the chair and sending Simon skittering across the room. He jumped up onto one of my filing cabinets, glaring at me as his tail twitched, a little pout on his face at being banished from my lap.
“Don’t give me that look,” I muttered rubbing the cat bite on my thigh and swearing under my breath. “That’s what you get when you’re a dick.”
Simon yowled at me, licking his lips before he turned around plopped his tubby ass down, butt towards me like he was trying to send a message.
“Heard loud and clear you fuzzy little douchebag,” I mumbled, rolling my eyes as I sat back down at the office computer.
Truth be told, I loved Simon, even when he was a temperamental prick. I mean, the guy had a rough childhood. He’d come to my clinic by way of a little old lady who found him on the side of the road. He’d been flea-ridden, bedraggled, mangy, and pathetic looking, and I’d fallen for him instantly. Almost six months later, here we were, like an old married couple.
A year ago, when I’d first come here to Blackthorn Mountain, it was going to be a temporary thing. My sister Jackie had finally hit rock bottom with her abusive ex-husband, and when she and my niece Brooke had gone on the run, they’d wound up here. It’s actually kind of a long story, but in any case, I’d stayed, even if I wasn’t really sure why.
Now, Jackie stayed because of Stone—the rough, gorgeous ex-biker who’d saved her from Darrel. I mean, yeah, if a guy like that who looked at her the way Stone looked at my sister was taking me to bed every night? I’d live on the fucking moon.
Don’t get me wrong, Blackthorn was really nice. I mean it was sleepy, but beautiful, and peaceful in the way it felt removed from the rest of the world. I’d stayed for Jackie and Brooke at first, and eventually a few months in, I’d opened my veterinary clinic in town, right down the street from the garage Stone ran alongside the other survivors of his old biker gang, Ryker and Axe.
Okay, there was one reason to be living on Blackthorn: it was like every guy here was big, rough, alpha, gorgeous, and tattooed. You’d think there was some sort of “you must be this hot of a man to live here” sign somewhere I’d missed, like one of those height requirement things when you’re about to get on a roller coaster.
And again, I liked it on Blackthorn—I had Jackie and Brooke, I had my clinic. and business was great. I had my house-mate, Lucy, who, while a little crazy, was quickly becoming one of my best friends. And of course, Simon—the furry little asshole growling on the file cabinet behind me.
But even though I know that all sounds great, it felt like there was something missing.
My face went red as my thoughts betrayed what that “something” might be.
For all the hot bearded mountain-men-types, and the ex-bikers and all that, it wasn’t like I was out there living it up. For one, most of the men of Blackthorn already had their true-loves. Stone with Jackie, Ryker with his gorgeous young wife Addison, Axe with the amazing Larkin and their kids… plus all the other couples already living up here.
But the other reason was no one had really drawn me in. I wasn’t really a casual dater at all. Look, I knew if times got that desperate, I could drive a few towns over to a random bar and find a guy to make me feel wild for a night. I mean, I kept in great shape, I ran almost daily, and c’mon, I owned my own business. Pretty sure we call that a catch, right?
But the casual thing wasn’t for me, and so for the last, ugh, year, I’d been having an ongoing love affair with my vibrator. And I was perfectly fine with that, thank you very much.
I glanced at the time and winced. Shit, I’d been here later than I thought. The clinic was closed, but I was trying to reconcile out old accounts before I took Axe’s wife Larkin up on her offer to go over my books. I know, weird, kind of like cleaning your house before a house-cleaner comes over because you’re embarrassed at what a slob you are.
I stood, rubbing my hands on my cut-off jean shorts before I stretched, trying to clear my mind of the lamenting thoughts of being single. Still.
But single was good. Before I’d run with Jackie and Brooke, I’d had my own guy trouble, with Nick, my ex. Nick hadn’t always been horrible, but towards the end, he’d moved from being a bit of drunk to stealing medications from my old job to sell. And he’d gone from lying to me to slapping me around. I shook my head. Yeah, fuck that. Single was fine.
And then, there were a couple of single guys on Blackthorn. Two of them, to be specific. Two gorgeous, dangerous, rough-but-so-freaking-enticing looking guys who certainly pulled my attention. And I was pretty sure I was crushing hard on both of them. But that was complicated.
I shook my head again as I grabbed my bag and glanced at Simon, who lived full time at the clinic.
“Think you can lock up tonight?”
“See if you can get through last quarter’s receivables too. I left QuickBooks open for you.”
Simon yawned and looked away and I rolled my eyes as I rubbed his ears and turned off the lights. I stepped into the brightly lit main medical area of the clinic—a back room with a few operating tables, some empty kennels for any patients that needed to stay over, and over-head operating lights. And I was already wondering what I should watch on Netflix or if Lucy had eaten the leftovers in the fridge from last night yet, when suddenly, there was a slamming sound at the back door.
I froze, my heart jumping into my chest.
The pounding came again—the sound of a fist slamming against the door and sending my pulse racing. I backed away, reaching for my phone, when a voice a called out.
“Doc! Doc, open the door!”
I froze again. I knew that voice.
Landon and his best friend Caleb Rawlins were also pretty new to Blackthorn, arriving just before I crashed the party here. They were old friends of Ryker’s or something. They’d been helping out in the garage when I first arrived, but like me, they’d opened their own business here—a tattoo parlor.
Oh, and the previously mentioned hot single guys in Blackthorn I’d been crushing on, where it was complicated?
…That would be Landon and Caleb. Temping, dangerous-looking and hot. But so very, very off-limits. For one, I knew trouble when I saw it, and those two had “favorite mistake” written all over them. The other problem though?
Well, like I said… there was two of them.
…and I was pretty smitten with both.
I swallowed, trembling at the ferocity in his voice coming through the door. I didn’t really know either of them. I mean, I knew them in passing and through Stone. We’d interacted and I dare say flirted a little before, but that was it. Which begged the obvious question: what was Landon Jacobs doing banging on the back door of my veterinary clinic at eleven o’clock at night?
I snapped out of it, jolting and running for the door. I unlocked the deadbolt and swung the door wide, and my jaw dropped.
Oh my god.
“He’s hurt pretty bad.”
Landon gruffed the words out, pushing past my gawking silence as he carried a half-unconscious looking Caleb into the operating room. Blood soaked through his shirt, and he groaned incoherently.
I blinked, shaking the fog from my head.
“There,” I croaked, jabbing at one of the larger operating tables. “Put him down there.”
Caleb grunted as Landon scooped him up onto the stainless-steel table, and as I moved towards him, my heart skipped again as my eyes landed on the hole in his shirt.
“Is…” I swallowed. “Is that a fucking bullet hole?”
I glanced up to see Landon looking at me grimly, his dark eyes burning fiercely and the ink of his tattoos rippling along his neck by the collar of his t-shirt.
“You want to know the answer?”
“I want to call an ambulance.”
He shook his head grimly. “No can do.”
I stared at Landon. “Look at him! Call a fucking ambulance, Landon, he’s bleeding out!”
“Which is why we’re here.”
His voice was grim, his eyes holding mine ferociously as I swallowed thickly.
“What the hell is going on. Why are you here and not a fucking hospital? And how the hell did he get—”
Landon’s voice was edged in steel, his jaw clenching as his gaze bore into my eyes.
“I’m not a doctor, Landon!”
He growled. “Okay, fine, cat-doc, I need you to patch him up. Ambulances mean cops, and…” he shook his head, and his look hardened before I finally saw the fear somewhere in those eyes too.
We held each other’s gaze for another minute, the only sounds my own heart racing in my ears and Caleb, groaning quietly on the table.
I swore, somehow pulling my eyes away from Landon’s fierce, gorgeous gaze.
“Okay, fine. Let’s do this.”
And just like that, instinct took over. I whirled, rushing to the sink and soaping my hands off before I started yanking things out of drawers—gauze, bandages, antiseptic wash, a scalpel. I turned at the sound of Landon tearing Caleb’s t-shirt away, moving towards them both with the syringe of morphine in my hands.
“Okay, I’m going to give him something for the pain—”
I gasped, glancing down to see Caleb’s eyes half-open with unconsciousness fighting to take a hold.
“No meds,” he croaked, his eyes flashing brilliant blue.
I stared down at him on the table.
“Okay, yeah, I get it, you’re tough. But trust me, you’re going to need—”
“No,” Caleb hissed again, groaning in pain, his eyes burning fiercely as he held my gaze and shook his head. “No fucking drugs. No painkillers.”
I stared at him before glancing at Landon.
“He’s joking, right?”
“Sober,” Caleb croaked out again, grunting as a fresh gush of blood leaked from his bullet wound. “I’m sober.” His eyes held mine though, unblinking and looking into me in this way that stole my breath away.
“Do it, doc, please. No painkillers though.”
I glanced at Landon again, who nodded grimly. “He’s good.”
I swore, swallowing again as I put the syringe down and reached for the scalpel.
“Look, this is…” I bit my lip, looking Caleb in the eye.
“This is really, really going to hurt.”
“Hang on, doc,” he groaned, beckoning me closer.
“What is it?”
I bent down, leaning over him, when suddenly, his hand was on my cheek. And before I knew it, his perfect, soft, demanding lips were pressed to mine as he kissed me deeply, taking my breath away.
My pulse skipped, my entire body trembling in shock and pleasure and confusion before suddenly, he pulled back, dropping back down to the metal table, a sleepy grin on his chiseled, handsome face.
“Shit, that’s all the painkiller I need.”
I stared at him, my pulse racing and my eyes wildly darting over his face as he sank back into the table with a groan.
I glanced at Landon. “Hold him?”
He nodded, his thick arms flexing as he grabbed Caleb’s shoulders and pinned him to the operating table.
I moved back into position, my pulse still racing from everything as I picked up the scalpel and took a deep breath.
“Okay, let’s do this.”