By Kishan Paul
Lindsey sat cross-legged on the concrete floor in one of the training rooms of Paws for Veterans. A beautiful chocolate lab lay next to her with her head in her lap. Her eyes were closed as she brushed her thick coat. In the hour she’d been there, the owner of the agency had given her a tour and described in detail the service they provided. Rescue dogs, many from the very shelter she volunteered at, were brought here, trained, and then connected to soldiers injured in combat.
Considering she once worked as a trainer in a similar facility back in her teenage years, she pretty much knew how the place worked and what it stood for. The pay had sucked but the experience had been invaluable. That summer job was what cemented her decision to become a veterinarian. It was also why she had just volunteered to help train Java and his new owner for the next couple of weeks.
The dog planted a paw on her lap. She grinned and brushed it. “Today you’re going to meet your daddy.”
Java pulled her ears back and stared up at her with her dark brown eyes, as if looking for reassurance.
“I bet he’ll be an amazing daddy.” She scratched the patch of fur between her ears. “He’s probably worried if you’ll like him, too.”
Before she could say more, the dog rose to all fours and stared at the door behind her. Lindsey turned in time to see it open. Scuffed dark brown boots stepped in. She took in the frayed edges of the person’s jeans as her gaze inched higher. Thick muscular thighs hugged in denim towered over here. Soon she found herself staring at another part of him hugged by the denim.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” The deep, familiar baritones of the man’s voice echoed in the room.
She sucked in a breath and forced herself to lean back and stare into the irritated hazel eyes of her jerk of a neighbor.
Her mouth dropped. Of all the veterans in the country to walk in that door, of course it had to be this one.
Mr. Monroe closed his eyes and mumbled something to himself as he took some deep breaths of his own. She watched in complete fascination at the way his grey cotton tee stretched against his muscled chest when he inhaled a slow, deep lungful of air.
For some reason, she couldn’t think straight when he was around. Her brain went from screaming for her to run the hell away to wondering what he would look and feel like…naked…on top of her. She forced herself to stare at the floor as she tried to collect her thoughts.
Java nudged her cold nose against her chin and licked her cheek. She smiled and gave the dog a hug. She was right. She was tougher than this.
She climbed to her feet, kept a firm grip on the lab with her right palm, and stretched out her left arm. “Mr. Monroe, I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. I’m Lindsey Marshall.”
The look of irritation on his face changed to one of anger as he waved his artificial left hand at her.
She cringed and dropped her arm to her side as she cursed under her breath. “Yeah, sorry I forgot you don’t have a …”
He tipped his chin at Java and cut her off. “Is that my dog?”
She nodded and pet the chocolate lab, who was currently pressing her head against Lindsey’s leg. “Yes, this lovely young lady is Java.” She rolled her shoulders back and flashed her most professional smile. “And I will be your trainer for the next few weeks.”
The corners of Asshole Monroe’s lips curved up. “Trainer? How about you work on training your own dog first?”