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Stumbling Into Him


By

Molly O’Hare

Copyright 2018 Molly O’Hare



Smashwords Edition


Smashwords License Statement

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


Cover model: iStock photo

Cover art: Just Write. Creations




This title is intended for mature audiences due to adult situations and languages.


Acknowledgments



First, I want to thank YOU. Seriously, thank you!


Over the last few months I have met some amazingly supportive people in my life, and I couldn’t do this without any of them. I am a better writer because of all of you. I want to thank my husband, for always having my back. My friend, my editor, and one of my biggest supporters, Karen. To my friends that supported me when I thought no one would. I love you, CBFFL. To my KB tribe: You have helped me so much. I don’t know what I would do without any of you. I also want to thank Angela Verdenius. I am so honored to call her one of my good friends. I do not really know how to thank any of you other than offering to give you my undying love, which you already have. No take backs!


And, just for good measure. Thank you again… Okay, now I’ll stop.


Fooled you… one more time: Thank you! – Come on, this is me we are talking about. Did you really think I’d stop?


Dedication


I dedicate this story to all of you. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are a unicorn. Do not let anyone tell you any different. The world is a better place because you are in it.

This story goes out to anyone who never felt good enough or looked down upon for any reason. As I said in my last novel, rock who you are. There is only one you out there, so you might as well enjoy every second of it!

Stay awesome. Stay classy. And stay you!


Table of Contents


Acknowledgments

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Also by Molly O’Hare

About the Author


One




“Watch out!”

Holly Flanagan heard a commotion coming from the other side of the park. Ignoring the shouting, she bent over focusing on picking up her Corgi, Waffles, most recent deposit. With Holly’s track record, though, she should have known anyone yelling “watch out,” “take cover,” or “that’s about to fall” was directed at her. Even after years of being the spokesperson for “unlucky,” “klutzy,” and “clumsy” she still disregarded the shouting as she carried on with her dog parent duties.

Before she could register what happened, she was knocked onto her back with a pain radiating from her mouth and nose.

“Well, at least the sky is pretty today,” Holly mumbled as she tried to get her bearings. She reached for her mouth as she felt the pain start to spread.

“Ma’am, are you okay?”

Holly closed her eyes pondering that exact question. Was she okay? She’d just been hit with something in her mouth. She was pretty sure some part of her face, she didn’t know which part, but she was sure something was bleeding. Waffles started barking uncontrollably, and her head hurt. So, was she okay?

Holly sighed. Yeah, she was fine. This was just another day for her, and so far, if being hit by an unknown projectile to the face was the worst thing that happened to her, she’d considered it a good day.

Opening her eyes, she gasped. Above her, only a mere few inches from her face was by far, the most handsome man she had ever laid eyes on. He had dark brown hair and deep blue eyes that were richer than the ocean. His jaw was chiseled, with a light dusting of scruff, in the alpha male, I’m in charge here kind of way.

Wonderful. Okay, let’s add embarrassing yourself in front of a Greek God to your lists of attributes for the day. Hey, it can only get better from here, right?

She realized she was staring at him for what could have been considered too long. She quickly jerked her head forward trying to right herself. Unfortunately for her, she slammed her head right into the Greek God’s forehead.

Freaking wonderful.

Not only was her mouth hurting, her head now pounded.

Absolutely freaking wonderful!

“Shit,” she heard the Greek God say through the wave of pain coursing through her body. Taking the chance, she opened her eyes once more only to see her Adonis holding his own head. And, to make matters worse, Waffles started barking at her, then looked at his recent deposit still on the ground, and then back at her.

“For the love of all things. I was trying to pick it up,” she mumbled taking her hand away from her mouth to deal with his majesty, Lord Waffles. However, the second her hand came into view she saw the blood and screamed.

“Oh shit. Lady, you’re bleeding,” the Adonis said before reaching his hand out to grasp her mouth.

“What happened?” she asked as panic started to course through her. Did she break her nose? Was she unconscious? Was she dying?

The Adonis removed the hand that covered her mouth and tilted her chin back. He then gently held onto her jaw and slightly opened her mouth. “I was tossing the Frisbee with Ripley, and somehow it veered off course. I tried to warn you to watch out.”

Typical. She groaned. Hot guy throws Frisbee. Said Frisbee hits me in the face. Hot guy then insinuates it’s my fault for not getting out of the way fast enough. I mean, I know I’m generally invisible to men like him, but, damn. You’d think these extra wide hips would make me more visible. Instead, invisible me is at fault for being in the firing line of a dang Frisbee. She glared at the Frisbee sitting next to her. Ignoring the object, she moved her attention back to the Adonis.

Holly tried to speak, but he was still holding onto her jaw. “I can’t tell if it’s a busted lip or worse,” he said as he examined her.

Holly ripped her face from his hand. She’d be able to tell if it was just a busted lip. She’d had enough of them from falling down, objects to the face, and even falling up the stairs. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the napkin she had stuffed in there from her soft pretzel. She blew off some stray salt and started feverishly wiping at her mouth.

“Let me see,” he demanded, before taking one of the napkins from her hand. He started dabbing at her lips as well.

Well, Holly. This is the most action you’ve had in months. And, if some hot guy who typically wouldn’t have paid any attention to someone like you, is all over you, you might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

She turned her head to face him fully. Waffles, who was now crawling into her lap demanding attention, started to kiss the underside of her jaw.

Why thank you, Waffles, for bringing the attention of my double chin to the Adonis.

“Thanks buddy for trying to help me clean up your mom,” the Adonis remarked before quickly abandoning his job of cleaning off the blood to pat Waffles on the head.

“He’s not trying to help you,” she remarked. “He’s trying to remind me I still need to pick up his poop and then give him his treat.”

“Shouldn’t your mom be the one getting the treat if she’s the one picking up your shit?” he asked the dog.

Waffles, ever the one to argue, looked at the man whom now was sporting a mischievous grin, with the most judgmental side-eye he could muster. She had to give it to her dog, though, no one came between him and his treats.

The Adonis once again pat Waffles on the head before moving back to Holly’s mouth dismissing the pups glare. “I think it’s just a busted lip, but, your front tooth…” he coughed while he looked away.

“My front tooth?” Holly quickly ran her tongue along her front teeth. Sure enough, she felt a jagged piece. “Oh, crap.” She rapidly pulled her phone from her pocket and launched the front-facing camera.

As soon as she saw her appearance, she jerked back. You’ve had better days, Holly. Ignoring her outward appearance, she hastily opened her mouth.

“Oh no.”

Staring back at her was a chipped front tooth along with a busted lip. Wonderful. Thank you so much, Universe. Thank you, so very much. She didn’t know whether she wanted to laugh or cry. Unlucky, clumsy, klutzy, Holly, strikes again, she thought.

As her eyes flooded with tears, a sudden cold nose hit her arm distracting her. She looked to her left and saw one of the most beautifully colored gray and black Australian Shepherds she’d ever seen. Thankfully, her love of animals overrode any sadness and pain she was feeling. “Aren’t you a cutie?” she softly said.

“That’s Ripley,” the Greek God chuckled deeply. “I’d thought you’d be more concerned about your mouth than a dog.”

Ignoring him, she reached out to pet Ripley. “You’re so pretty.” Ripley must have agreed because she barked.

“Ma’am, I’m not a human doctor, but I think we should pay more attention to your injuries instead of the dogs.”

“Human doctor?” she mocked ignoring both of the pups, going back to her injuries. “As opposed to what, an alien doctor?”

“I haven’t worked on any aliens that I know of, but I did neuter a cat named Alien once. Does that count?”

Holly’s eyes widened. “Oh great, you’ve got a body of a Greek God, and now you’re also a vet. Which means you love animals. Freakin’ wonderful. You’re like the most perfect guy, and here I am on the sidewalk with blood pouring out of me with a chipped tooth.” She pushed Waffles off her lap and stood. “Please excuse me while I find a place to die of embarrassment.”

A corner of his mouth lifted. “You’re funny.”

“And you’re hot. So, we’ve now successfully established which groups we belong to.” Annoyed at herself more than anything she angrily started to stomp away from the Greek God.

“Hey, wait up!”

She hastily turned around. When she saw Waffles sitting at the foot of the Adonis, her eye started to twitch. Of course, her dog would betray her. “Waffles, come.” She pulled on the leash slightly, but Waffles wouldn’t move. “Lord Waffles, get your butt over here.”

The man cocked his brow. “Lord Waffles?”

“Yeah,” she answered. “He thinks, he’s a freakin’ king. Hence the “lord” and I love waffles.”

The Adonis threw his head back in laughter before he bent and started to pet her dog. To make matters worse, the betraying Corgi rolled over onto his back asking for belly rubs. That’s it. No more treats for you! She glared at him.

“Who’s a good boy?” the Adonis cooed. “You’ve got a weird name, but to each their own.”

Holly’s eye began to twitch more vigorously. She started trudging back towards her bastard of a dog and the Greek God when her foot hit an invisible rock causing her to trip. Within a split second, she ended up falling right into the arms of the bane of her existence at the moment.

“Whoa, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” she grumbled as she righted herself. Go ahead and add this to the, “it can only happen to me” list.

“I feel like you need to walk around with a warning or at least a crash helmet,” he joked.

“Not the first time I’ve heard that,” she replied. Quickly she bent down and retrieved Waffles. “Well, if you’ll excuse me. Not only do I really need to find a secluded place to die of embarrassment, I also need to call my dentist, or go to the walk-in. Maybe both.” She turned on her heel and started power walking down the sidewalk. As she passed the spot she’d tripped at; she examined the cement. Figures, there’d be absolutely nothing there. If there were a sporting category on tripping over invisible objects she’d win gold twice over.

“Hey,” she heard from behind her. She kept walking, doing her best to hide her humiliation and ignore the Greek God.

Unfortunately, that was short lived. “Hey, I want to make sure you really are okay?” he asked when he caught up to her in two point three seconds. Stupid short legs!

“I’m fine,” she said.

“Your lip’s still bleeding pretty bad.”

She glared at him. “Wonderful.”

“Hey…” He reached for her arm stopping her escape.

“What?”

“Let me help you. My practice is only a block from here. I’ve got all the supplies to clean up your lip. I also can get a better look at your tooth.”

“You’re a vet.” Her eyes started to twitch more.

“I am pretty sure if I can surgically remove nuts from an animal I can look at your busted lip.” He shrugged.

She couldn’t help but laugh. He did have a point.

Sighing she looked at her Adonis. “Thank you for the offer….” She trailed off.

“Ben. The names Ben Richman.” He held out his hand for her to shake.

“Thanks for the offer Dr. Richman, but there is a walk-in clinic not far from where I live.”

“Call me Ben. And, please let me do this. It will help me sleep at night knowing the woman I maimed with a Frisbee is somewhat okay.” She watched as his eyes widened pleading with her. Even Waffles who was still in her arms looked at her and whined. “Oh, for the love of… fine. Lead the way, Ben.”

“Perfect.” His mouth curved into a smile. “Follow me.” He whistled loudly. Ripley was instantly by his side. Before they started their journey, he quickly bent down and fastened her leash.

Holly started following the Adonis, Ben.

She looked at Waffles who was enjoying being carried. “Guess you get an extra trip to the vet.” She burst out laughing when Waffles closed his mouth and glared at her.


Two




For some strange reason, Ben’s heart hadn’t stopped racing since the moment he saw the Frisbee head directly towards the lush woman bending over. Thankfully, his clinic was less than a five-minute walk from the park, but right now it somehow it felt like an eternity.

He secretly glanced over his shoulder. The woman, whom he had yet to find out her name, held her Corgi in her arms all the while she seemed to be having a silent argument with the pup. He did his best to suppress his smirk. The two were perfectly suited for each other. While she was distracted, shooting death glares at Lord Waffles – seriously, who names their dog Lord Waffles? This time he did laugh. He looked at her lip. Fortunately, the laceration stopped bleeding. All that remained were dried blood elements on her chin.

That didn’t distract from her beauty, though.

She was absolutely stunning. If he had to guess, he’d say she was around five-foot-seven, maybe a little shorter. She also had long, dark brown hair, that’d been naturally highlighted by the sun. Her eyes were a deep shade of hunter green, a color he’d never seen before. He quickly flicked his eyes appreciatively over her body. Her curves went on for days, and that was exactly how he liked them. Ripe and full.

The guy in him couldn’t stop his imagination from picturing his hands on her hips. Her breasts would overflow his palms nicely, and he was sure her ass would do the same. The moment he felt his lower half start to awaken, he scolded himself. Nice going, Ben. Could you be any more of a creep?

“Stop glaring at me, Waffles.”

He looked back towards her face before looking at the pup. These two were quite the pair. Her quick wit and funny demeanor were no match for the over opinionated Corgi.

He smiled. A sense of humor and beautiful.

Perfect.

“Hey, Doc. Ben, you got eyes on the side of your face? How do you even know where you’re walkin’ if you’re staring at Waffles and me the whole time?”

Busted.

“Just making sure you’re not still bleeding.”

She quickly wiped the back of her hand against her mouth. “Am I?”

“Not that I can tell.”

“Good. How much farther do we have to walk?” She looked at Waffles. “He takes after his mama. Not the lightest.”

Ben stopped walking, before turning towards her. His brows drew together.

“What?” she asked.

Did she just call herself fat?

Before he could question her, she tripped over a crack in the sidewalk. “What the-“

Ben’s instincts were right on the mark. In less than a second, he caught Waffles who was flying through the sky and was able to use his body to keep, the klutzy woman from falling onto her face once again.

“Lady, you’ve got to be the most uncoordinated person I’ve ever met.”

As she righted herself, she pushed the hair out of her face. “Thanks for the insight, now I can die fulfilled knowing I am once again the winner of the unlucky clumsy award.” She was breathing heavy, making her chest rise and fall. He forced himself to look into her eyes. “How much farther is your office?” she asked before plucking her dog out of his arms.

He pointed to the sign across the street that read ‘Richman Veterinarian Hospital.’ He pat Waffles on the head, before doing the same to Ripley. “Right over there, Grace.”

“Hey, that’s not my name!”

He gave a half-smile. “No? Well, it should be since you’re so graceful.” He watched as her eye began to twitch, just as it had in the park.

“My name is not Grace.” She walked past him as Waffles gave him the side-eye. “It’s Holly.”


~*~


Holly made it to the front door of the clinic and turned to see Ben looking her way. His eyes were bright, and his smile stretched from ear to ear. With a quick shake of his head, he whistled for Ripley before making his way towards her. “Grace suits you better.”

She glared at him.

“But, I like Holly, too.”

“I’m glad you approve of my name. Now, can we please get this over with?” She started tapping her foot. She still couldn’t fathom there was a vet clinic here. She’d driven and even walked up and down this street tons of times. Well, in her defense she was usually looking down making sure she wasn’t going to trip, but she would have known if she’d seen a veterinarian’s office. Ehh, she would definitely need to be more observant. Especially, if hot vets were roaming around in the city.

Once Ben was right next to her, he smirked. “Right this way, Grace.”

Instinctively, she kicked out her foot while he walked into the clinic effectively tripping him. Once he caught himself, he stared at her. “Well played.”

She raised her eyebrows triumphantly. “One point for Holly. Now, Doc Ben, I would like to get this over with.”

“Oh, you sure are a feisty one.” He shook his head. “Do you think you can walk back to exam room one without breaking an arm?”

“Very funny.” Holly ignored him and started making her way towards the room marked one. Unfortunately for her, the weight of Waffles in her arms, combined with his panic of being at a vet’s office unbalanced her. Before she could adjust her dog, she ended up falling into the door which swung open. “Oh for the love of-“

“I thought you said you could do it with no incidents,” she heard from behind her.

Holly righted herself before putting Waffles down. “I didn’t break anything!”

His eyebrows rose as he walked into the room. “Yet.”

“I don’t have to stand here and take this.” She bent at her waist to retrieve the shaking Waffles. “Let’s go, baby. We can head to the urgent care.”

Before Holly touched Waffles, a warm hand grasped her shoulder. “Hey, I’m just joking with you. You know, trying to lighten the mood in what could have been a terrible situation.”

He was right. She was more or less taking her anger out on him. She couldn’t help it though. No matter how many lucky pennies she carried, or good luck charms she had, she was always the one at the short end of the stick. Plus, she had so many other worries rolling around in her head. Now adding the busted lip, and chipped tooth did not ease any tension from her.

Taking a deep breath, she did her best to center herself. All this man was trying to do was help her. And, she couldn’t really blame him for poking fun at her. She was a walking disaster ninety-nine percent of the time. “You’re right.” She opened her eyes. Ben stared into them almost as if he were studying her. The intensity of his gaze caused her to swallow.

“I try always to be right,” he spoke softly. He gently stroked her lip with his thumb. She felt like she was in a dream or some weird reverse Hollywood movie. The kind where the hot guy falls for the unpopular, and unattractive girl.

He removed his thumb from her lip, and slowly traced down her chin, never once breaking his gaze on her.

Then she heard it.

The telltale sign of one, Lord Waffles, marking his territory. She instantly broke their trance scanning the room, seeking out her disobedient pup. “Really, Waffles, really?” She glared at him. I know the lust in his eyes was all in my head, but did you have to bring me back to reality so soon, Waffles?

Ben threw his head back and laughed. “Gotta love dogs.” He lowered himself to his knee, which caught Waffles attention. Within less than a second, the betraying bastard was at Ben’s side, begging for belly rubs. No piece of bacon for you! Ever again.

“It’s okay, boy,” he said while he scratched Waffles. “Us men need to mark our territory.”

“Men do not need to mark their territory,” she snapped.

Ben looked at her. “Sure, we do. It’s how we get the word out.”

“No one will ever be peeing on my leg to mark their territory,” she said with utter disgust at even the thought of it. “And, if someone even dared to try it, I’d rip off his manhood and make him eat it.” This enticed one of the most genuine deep laughs she had ever heard come from anyone before.

“I like you, Grace.” When she lifted her arm as if to grab him, he held up his hands in surrender. “I mean Holly. You’re funny. And, I wasn’t saying men have to pee on items or people to mark what’s theirs. That could be done lots of ways.”

“Oh yeah,” she questioned crossing her arms over her chest. “And, what do you suppose that is?”

“Well, for starters, a wedding ring would do a pretty good job, maybe a tattoo declaring their undying love for the other person.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’d never be foolish enough to get a tattoo of someone’s name on me.” She wasn’t going to admit the idea of having her husband tattoo her name on him sent shivers down her body. In reality though, she knew if she ever did get a tattoo, with her luck the ink wouldn’t take or worse. She’d most likely develop some infection and the entire body part she’d tattooed would end up having to be surgically removed. No, thank you. She was not taking that chance.

“Men aren’t the only ones that can mark,” he said. The tension in the room shifted. “My favorite marks are scratches down my back.”

Heat flooded her cheeks.

Ben stood before taking a step closer to her. What in the world was going on? She fought the urge to look around for the cameras. She had to be on some prank show. “Yeah, well, I’d think a vet would be better equipped to detain his patients so he wouldn’t be scratched.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, her face paled. Oh, God, Holly. Good going. Why are you so awkward! Now, he probably thinks you’re into all the handcuff and tying up stuff. She scolded herself. Why do I have no brain to mouth filter?

His eyes darkened. “Maybe you’re right.”

“Nope!” she backtracked. “No, I’m not right at all. I am so far from being right; I’m left. Oh, look over there.” She pointed behind him. When he turned, she bent and tried to pick Waffles up.

Ben laughed again. “You are something else, Holly.” He nodded toward the exam table. “Come on, let’s have a look at you.”

Holly glanced at the table and then to Ben. Did he really think she’d get up there? The exam table was higher than her hips. She then looked at the one metal pipe holding the table in place. There was no way in hell that thing would hold her weight.

Ben must have read her mind. “It’s weighted for four hundred and fifty pounds. I don’t just get domestic animals in here, I’ve been known to perform surgeries on pot belly pigs.”

“Did you just call me a pot belly pig?”

His eyebrow rose.

“Okay fine, even if it was weighted with some industrial enforcing secret ninja strength mechanism, how do you suppose I get up there?”

Before she knew it, Ben’s hands were on her hips lifting her onto the table. “Well, okay then.” Her mouth was slightly open in shock and awe.

He smirked. The confidence radiating off him sent shock waves through her. His jawline was intense. She had the urge to reach out for it. She felt her arm start to move when a growling commotion on the floor drew her attention away, effectively breaking the spell. What the hell is wrong with you, Holly Flanagan? Get it together. This insanely hot vet is not flirting with you!

Shaking those thoughts from her head, she looked to the dogs who were now wrestling.

A chuckle from Ben diverted her attention once again. “Come on, Holly. Let’s take a look at the damage.” Ben reached for the extendable light attached to the wall.


Three




Ben pivoted the light, so it was directly in front of her mouth. His heart slammed against his chest. He hadn’t known what came over him, but the second she questioned getting onto the exam table he jumped at the chance to assist her. He was glad he did. Her hips molded to his hands perfectly. He had to stop himself from slipping his fingers under her shirt to feel her skin.

Get it together, Ben. Sure, she was beautiful, but even this was unusual behavior for him. There was something about her, that ignited every nerve ending he had. Right now, the only thing he wanted to do was explore all the possible reasons why. Maybe it was her quick wit, her adorable clumsiness, or her insanely delicious curves, but whatever it was, he wanted to drown himself in it.

Taking a deep breath, he commanded his body to control itself. “Close your eyes, Grace, so the light doesn’t blind you.”

He was instantly rewarded with her defiant glare. Oh, she sure is fun to rile.

She gave him a dirty look. “I will sic Waffles on you in a heartbeat.”

“Do you mean the same Waffles that’s licking my leg right now?”

She glanced towards the floor, her eyes narrowing before shooting back at him. “He’s faking you out. He’s trying to trick you into believing he is as sweet as maple syrup, but as soon as I give the command he’ll attack.”

“Is that so?”

To make a liar out of her, Waffles rolled onto his back and demanded a belly rub. Ben didn’t even try to suppress his laugh. Which only caused the glare coming from Holly to be then turned on him. This woman was something else, but as he spent more time with her, he realized he hadn’t had this much fun in months.

“Don’t you have a job to do?” she demanded.

He laughed harder, placing his hand on his stomach. “Yes, your highness, I do. Now close your eyes and let me take a look.”

Holly finally listened to his instructions. He was now able to get a better look at her lacerations. He could hear Ripley and Waffles playing on the floor, he ignored them and focused his whole attention on Holly.

On her bottom lip, there was a cut about four and a half centimeters wide. He used his fingers to move around the tissue to see if there was any other damage. Even though they were bruised and swollen, they were soft. He caressed the side of her lip that didn’t have the cut. He couldn’t stop himself from imagining what it would feel like to have his lips pressed against hers.

Quickly, he averted his gaze to the wall. What the absolute fuck is going on with me? No one ever enticed these reactions from him before. Taking a deep breath, he focused. He examined her upper lip and noticed a smaller laceration; this one was only about a centimeter. Thankfully, neither seemed to need stitches.

When he first asked her to get onto the exam table, he’d pulled out some cotton balls and cleaning solution. He took one of the saturated swabs and started wiping away the dried blood.

“Ouch, you jerk.”

“This is the exact reason why I went the animal route instead of the human route,” he said holding her jaw with one of his hands as he cleaned her cuts with the other.

“Why, because humans fight back?”

“If you think animals don’t fight back you are sorely mistaken,” he answered. “Animals don’t run their mouth while I’m trying to clean and fix them.”

“I wasn’t running my mouth. I explained what you were doing hurt.”

At first, he thought he really had hurt her and was going to apologize. However, that was before he looked into her eyes. The little shit was messing with him. “Sure thing, Grace,” he said retaliating.

Instantly her face changed from smug to annoyance. “Jerk.”

He shook his head. “Open, Grace. Let me take a look at your tooth.”

She crossed her arms over her chest, but did as he asked.

When she opened her mouth, he was able to see the chipped front tooth clearly. He did some more examining, and from what he could tell there weren’t any cracks that had appeared. He used some of his dental examination tools to double check though. He also moved the tooth around to see if it was loose. Once he completed the task, he turned off the light and pushed it back towards the wall. He removed his gloves with a snap, causing both of the dogs to turn his way. “Well, Grace, your lips will survive to bring enjoyment to unexpecting patrons another day.” Her eyes started to twitch again… Maybe he really should have her go to the urgent care in case something was wrong with her brain.

“That’s good to know,” she finally said.

“Yup, no stitches. Your tooth on the other hand-“

She threw her hand to her mouth. “Am I gonna die?”

“You’re pretty dramatic; anyone ever tell you that?”

“Am I gonna die is a legitimate question for someone that finds herself in certain positions more times than not.”

Ben chuckled. “And, what might those positions be?” he asked. When her eyes narrowed, he held up his hands in surrender. “Like I was saying, your tooth definitely has a chip in it. But, I don’t see any cracks. Which is a good thing. I’m not a human dentist, but no cracks mean your tooth should be fine. I’m sure a dentist can easily add some composite to the chipped part, and you’ll be good as new.” Ben turned away from her retrieving his phone from his pocket.

“All you see is a chip?”

He didn’t look from his phone as he answered her. “Yeah. I also moved your tooth around. There is some looseness, but nothing to be too concerned about. I don’t think you’ll have any lasting issues with it.”

“Do you always ignore your patients?” she asked.

He finally looked from his phone. “I’m not ignoring you. I’m setting up a dentist appointment for you.”

“You’re what?” Her eyebrows rose.

“That’s the next logical step. I’m trying to see if they can get us in today.”


~*~


Did he just say us? Holly’s head spun as she tried to make sense of what was happening. “What do you mean us?”

Ben leaned against the counter across from her. He crossed his legs as he furiously typed on his screen. He looked at her. “Well, we would have to drop the dogs off at my house first, so not them.”

“Whoa,” she said, “you need to take a step back. I am not dropping my dog off anywhere that isn’t in my apartment. And, I am not going to some random crackpot dentist.”

“Oh, I cannot wait to tell John you said he was a crackpot. It’ll make his day.” Ben, then started to text on his phone again.

“I am not going to your dentist.”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t know him. Hell, Ben, I don’t even know you.”

He put his phone down and opened his arms. “What do you want to know, I’m an open book.”

“That’s not what I meant.” She took a calming breath. “I appreciate what you are trying to do, but I really just need to get out of here.” She looked around the room for something to help her get down from the table.

Ben must have read her mind again because his hands were once again on her hips before placing her safely on the ground.

“John’s been our family friend, and later dentist for years. Let me help you here, Holly. I feel horrible that it was my miscalculation with the Frisbee that caused all of this. I want to fix it,” he reasoned with her.

To make matters worse, her betraying dog plopped his big butt next to Ben’s foot and whined at her. Do you not understand, I’m the one who feeds you?

She ran her tongue over her tooth one more time. She knew the chip wasn’t that bad, but she also knew she wouldn’t be able to stop touching it with her tongue.

She closed her eyes. Could she deal with the possibility of cutting her tongue on the jagged edge? Opening her eyes, she saw a picture-perfect scene. Ben was on his knees with Waffles on his right, and Ripley on his left, all three of them sported the puppy dog look. “Fine, you know what, let’s go to your guy, but I swear if he turns out to be some weird dealer on the black market trying to harvest my appendix, tell him it was removed years ago. Oh, and I will murder you.”

He plucked her dog into his arms. “You mean you’ll finally sick Lord Waffles on me?”

She was going to kill them both.


Four




Ben observed Holly from the corner of his eye as they sat in the waiting room. She bounced her leg nervously as she pretended to be focused on an old magazine in her hands. There was something about her he couldn’t quite put his finger on. He couldn’t help but feel enamored by her.

Everything about Holly screamed adorable. Especially right now, every few seconds she’d shift her weight in the seat, trying to relax. Maybe she wasn’t a fan of going to the dentist in general?

Then she did it again.

Fuck me. Ben did his best to bite back his groan. Holly once again ran her tongue across her plump bottom lip, feeling the laceration. His heart accelerated as he imagined it being his tongue. He’d kiss away the pain and discomfort she felt. Or better yet, he’d kiss along her jawline, being cautious of the tender spots, he’d make it his mission to distract her with his hands. Jesus fucking Christ, Ben. Calm the fuck down. Now, he was even starting to scare himself. He needed to get himself together. The poor woman had been through a lot today, and she didn’t need him fantasizing about her to add to it. It didn’t matter the raw lust he was feeling towards Holly was a new sensation to him. Sure, he’d lusted after beautiful women before, who hadn’t? But with Holly, his nerve endings came alive, and he had absolutely no idea why.

His eyes continued to stay focused on her lips. He was soon rewarded for his ogling. Within less than a minute her little pink tongue snuck out of her mouth to caress her lip.

Did she not understand what that did to him? Right now, his dick pressed so tightly against the front of his jeans; he was about to explode.

“Yo, earth to Ben, can you hear me?”

Jarred out of his thoughts, he looked at her. He felt his cheeks slightly heat. Clearing his throat, he sat straighter in his seat, discreetly tugging on the front of his pants, desperately trying to make more room. “Uh, yeah.”

Holly raised a brow.

No pulling the wool over her eyes apparently. “You caught me. I honestly haven’t the faintest idea what you were saying.”

“Ben, this is serious.” The panic he saw in her eyes, acted like a bucket of cold water being thrown on him. He uncrossed his legs, moving a few inches closer to her. “What’s the issue?” He knew, no matter what was upsetting her, he’d do anything to fix it. It didn’t matter the cost, if it were within his power to fix, he’d fix it. “What can I do?”

“For the love of all things, you’re weren’t even a quarter listening.”

“I already said I wasn’t, Grace, now tell me what’s got your panties in a bunch?” The glare she shot him went straight to his crotch. Focus, dumbass.

“Do you think Waffles and Ripley will be okay at your house? I’ve never left him alone with another dog. What if he thinks Ripley is out to steal some scrap of food that was left on the floor and they fight to the death?” She worried her lip between her teeth. “Ouch.”

Without questioning his gut reaction, he reached for her lip, pulling it from her mouth. “Careful, Holly. It’s stopped bleeding for now, but you can easily break it open again.” He used the opportunity to caress the sensitive tissue briefly before pulling away. “Ripley is a very well-trained dog, but she’s also a huge couch potato when she’s at home. I can guarantee you right now, she’s sleeping on the couch, probably with her legs in the air.”

“How can you be sure there isn’t a food scuffle going on at this moment?”

His heart warmed. Someone this concerned about her dog was an animal lover, he had no doubts about it. Another point for Holly in the “pro” column. She’d be the perfect balance to an animal doctor that devoted his life to saving them. “Ripley is the best vacuum cleaner you will ever find in the city. Every nook and cranny of my house has been well accounted for. I can assure you there will be no food scuffles.”

“But aren’t you, like, not supposed to leave animals that just met by themselves?”

“Technically, as a DVM, I would say yes. However, I was watching the way they interacted when we were all together before. There were zero signs of aggression. Not only that, Ripley is a certified therapy dog. If there is a high-stress situation, she defuses it pretty quickly. Or, if she feels the best course of action is to remove herself from the situation, then she will.”

Holly’s eyes still showed her concern. “You think they’re okay?”

“I can prove it.”

Ben pulled out his phone, before opening his home security app.

He started to laugh. Damn. He should have bet her money. “See, Grace. Exactly like I told you” He handed her the phone. Ripley laid precisely where he said she would be, on her back with all four paws in the air, sleeping away. Waffles on the other hand, though, was trying with all of his might to jump onto the chair in the corner of the room. Unfortunately, for him, his little Corgi legs did not help.

“My poor baby,” Holly cried.

Ben looked at the video feed again. Waffles backed up a few feet, then ran with all of his might trying to jump onto the chair. Waffles: Zero. Chair: One, or however many times the poor guy had tried to jump onto the cushion. They watched as once more Waffles went through the motions, however this time, when he jumped his stomach hit the chair causing him to be flipped onto his back.

“Waffles!”

“He’s fine,” Ben said, through laughter. “Watch.”

Waffles gave up his stance on sitting on the chair and moved to the dog bed by the wall.

“Crisis averted.”

“For now,” Holly grumbled.

“Let’s do something to take your mind off everything,” he suggested.

Holly turned all her attention on him. “Okay, like what?”

“Tell me about yourself?”

“There’s not much to tell.”

“Sure, there is.” Ben once again crossed his legs. “Where do you work, what are your hobbies, have you ever been arrested, do you have a boyfriend?”

Holly scrutinized him for a second before throwing her head back in laughter. “You are something else, Benjamin.”

He shuddered with annoyance and disgust. “Don’t call me that. That’s what my mother calls me.”

She studied him. “Oh, that is definitely something we are going to explore.”

“Not on your life.”

“Oh, yes, Benjie. Friends talk to each other, isn’t that what you kept insinuating we are… Friends, that is?”

“Well, yeah.” However, the last thing he wanted to talk about was his over botoxed, judgmental, bitch of a mother.

He needed to change the subject and fast. “I see you’re avoiding the questions, is there something your hiding, Holly?” he asked, hopefully diverting her from her course.

“Nothing to avoid. I work for the public library on Eighth and Johnson, I’ve been employed there for three years now, and I love it. No boyfriend, unless you count Lord Waffles. I love to read, hence working at the library. It’s a dream job for me. I also like to write short stories here and there. I want to try my hands at writing a full novel. But, I really spend most of my free time taking care of my dad. As for being arrested, I plead the fifth.”

So many questions and images were running through Ben’s head. A fucking librarian? There was no way for her to be more perfect. His heart started to race as fantasies of her being the dirty librarian ran through his head. He’d love to see her hair pulled into a tight bun, maybe some dark-rimmed glasses on her face. Her wearing a black tight pencil skirt with a white blouse. This time he didn’t hold back his groan.

“You okay?” she asked.

Through his haze of lust, her other words dawned on him. “Wait, were you arrested?”

Her face flooded with heat. “Yes and no.”

He uncrossed his legs before bringing his elbows to his knees leaning closer. “Explain.”

“There isn’t really a lot to explain. It was all a misunderstanding. Like today, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Keep going.”

“Well, I decided one day I wanted to walk a new route home after work. You know, mix things up a bit. Well, I got a little lost and ended up in some back alley. After a few minutes of walking, I saw some gentlemen leaning against a brick wall.”

“Oh, Holly, please tell me you didn’t.”

“I thought they could help me get back on the right path. Before I knew it, I was being thrown against the wall and being told I was under arrest for buying drugs.”

Ben shifted back into his chair and burst out laughing.

“Hey it wasn’t my fault, and as soon as everything calmed down, I was released.”

“You really are something else,” Ben said. “Okay, so a felon you ain’t. You said you take care of your dad during your free time, does he live close.”

Holly’s face lit. Clearly, the mention of her dad brought a youthful joy to her. He couldn’t help the slight chuckle that escaped him when she smiled showing her teeth. The chipped tooth in the front was ever present.

“Yes, he only lives a few miles from me. I’ve been trying to get him to move in with me, but he swears he’s still able bodied enough to live on his own. I don’t agree, but it’s like beating a dead horse. Eventually, he’ll get the picture.”

“Why do you want him to move in with you? If he’s able to live on his own, I don’t see a problem with it.”


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