After a passionless marriage under the scrutiny of high society, Avery Stowe is taking back her life. All she wants is a little privacy and a quiet place to raise her autistic daughter, Hailey. Redwood Ridge, Oregon, seems to offer all the right ingredients. Except for the problem of the local sexy veterinarian. The last thing she needs in her life is to fall for his irresistible allure, even if he is a nice guy who keeps doing her favors. But the well-meaning patrons of her new hometown have other ideas, and it appears playing Cupid is one of them.
Cade O’Grady has never met a woman he couldn't handle, but when Avery Stowe walks into his office late one night cradling an injured puppy, he’s struck stupid. Which might explain her total lack of interest in him. But now that she’s working for his family’s clinic, he doesn't have to lust from a distance. He might just have a chance at convincing Avery—and her too-guarded heart—that falling for the right man isn't a mistake . . .
Finished with a round of patients, he headed up front where Aunt Rosa was reading a romance book and Avery was typing away on the computer. “Whatcha doing now?”
Avery didn’t glance up from the screen. “Making a supply list in Excel.”
Hell. Why was that hot? She wasn’t his usual type.
Okay, to be honest, any female with too many brain cells wasn’t his type. It wasn’t out of a sense of shallowness he sought that variety, but preservation. Until he found someone who made his heart beat like Heather used to do for Drake, he’d stick with superficial. No point in getting hurt or hurting someone else. But ever since Heather died, Cade tried less and less to settle down or find that person. He was aware of it, aware he was doing it, and damn if he ever questioned his actions until now. People rarely recovered from that kind of love. Why search for it?
Perhaps it was Avery’s long legs in those black leggings, or her pink sweater the same shade as her cheeks when she blushed, or her brown hair—more chestnut really in the sun—piled on top of her head and held in place with a pencil that seized his interest. He bit back a sigh. Nope. It was her brain, her humor, and her strength.
Aunt Rosa glanced at him over the top of her book, a knowing smirk on her face.
“A supply list?” Bully for him. His voice sounded normal. He still had no freaking clue why, but if he wasn’t bumbling like a moron around Avery, he was saying moronic things. Where the hell was his swagger?
“Mmhm.” Type. “So we don’t over order things or run out. Gabby and Brent can just check off what they need and I can order from the supplier.” Type, type. “Did you know you had ten cases of cat litter? Insane.”
He scratched his jaw. “Uh. No.”
“Putting Zoe’s stuff on here, too. Her shampoos and whatnot for grooming.” Type.
“She’s making a supply list,” Rosa beamed, waving her hand like this was an epiphany. I told you I’m all-wise. I hired her!
Cade frowned at his aunt. She’d been the office manager, for Christ’s sake. She should’ve been doing this.
Flynn came up to the desk and tapped Avery’s shoulder. “Have you seen my backup bag? Gabby and I need to head out to Miller’s farm.”
Avery nodded. “In the supply room, stocked for you. Your new bag should be here Monday.”
At Cade’s questioning glance, Flynn signed, “A goat chewed my other one when Gabby was busy chasing a barn cat.”
And this was why he wasn’t the house call vet.
Flynn tapped Avery’s shoulder to get her attention again. “Marry me?”
She laughed. “Not today, but you’re welcome. Shoo, now.”
What. The. Hell.
As if sensing Cade’s thought train and derailing it, Avery said, “He asks me to marry him daily. Hourly, depending on what I’ve done.” Type, type. “Relax, Dr. Cade. He’s joking. Besides, I don’t do office romance.” Right, Flynn? she signed.
Flynn grinned, the asshole, and strode into his office, only to emerge moments later with Gabby and his travel bag.
Cade flipped him off behind Avery’s back as he was walking out the door.
“Saw that.” Type.
Of course she did. All moms had eyes in the backs of their heads. And that was the other thing. She had a kid. Not that he didn’t like kids. He did. Maybe even wanted a couple of his own someday. But it wasn’t just one person involved when dating someone like Avery. It was two.
And they weren’t dating. Not even a little. He hadn’t asked her out and, aside from that first day when her gaze had shown interest, she’d seemed immune to him.
That hadn’t happened in…ever. He found it oddly refreshing.
With Flynn and Gabby gone, Cade glanced around. “Where’s She-rah?” The cat was usually perched on top of the printer, plotting world domination.
“Avery put her on time-out. She’s in the back room.” Rosa’s grin grew to oh shit size, and he figured his aunt had read all his previous thoughts. Like a Vulcan mind meld. Which was never a good thing.
Wait. A time-out? He looked at Avery. “You put a cat on time-out?” He didn’t know whether that was cute or genius.
Avery never stopped typing, which was beginning to infuriate him. “Yes, she was scaring Thor.”
Cade looked down, just noticing Thor’s head in Avery’s lap from the other side of her chair. The Great Dane looked at him as if to say, Neener, neener. “Dust bunnies scare that dog.”
“Well, the cat needs manners. Plus, Thor and I are working on his courage. Aren’t we, boy?”
Thor barked. And not in fear. Yes, my liege.
About the Author
Bestselling author Kelly Moran says she gets her ideas from everyone and everything around her and there’s always a book playing out in her head. No one who knows her bats an eyelash when she talks to herself, and no one is safe from becoming her next fictional character. She is a Catherine Award-Winner, Readers Choice Finalist, Holt Medallion Finalist, and earned one of the 10 Best Reads by USA Today's HEA. She is also a Romance Writers of America member. Her interests include: sappy movies, MLB, NFL, driving others insane, and sleeping when she can. She is a closet caffeine junkie and chocoholic, but don’t tell anyone. She resides in Wisconsin with her husband, three sons, and two dogs. Most of her family lives in the Carolinas, so she spends a lot of time there as well. She loves hearing from her readers.