AVOIDING THE BADGE
Arizona K9 #1 by Dorothy F. Shaw Genre: Contemporary Romance Pub Date: 9/4/2018
Rayna Michaels may be a veterinarian, but she knows a little something about the human heart—especially when it comes to worried pet owners. Law enforcement’s bonds with their K9 partners are legendary, and Derek Hansen is a perfect example—he’s had his dog Axle in more times than she can count in the last few months. And Derek’s sculpted muscles and heart-stopping smile would be truly irresistible, if only he wasn’t an officer of the law…
Derek can’t get Rayna’s stunning face and no-nonsense smarts out of his mind. Any excuse to see her will do, until he works up the nerve to ask her out. He’s not sure where her resistance to cops comes from, though he’s more than willing to prove he’s one of the good ones. But when casual dating turns into explosive lovemaking, Derek knows he has to come clean about his past before the woman he loves finds out what he’s been hiding and turns tail to run…
“Ahem... Heeeee’s heeeere.”
At her head vet tech’s declaration, Doctor Rayna Michaels looked up from the lab report she was reading in the back of the main treatment area and furrowed her brow. “I’m sorry. Who is ‘he’?”
Andrea leaned her hip against the counter and dipped her chin. “Seriously?”
“Always.” Careful to keep her expression blank, Rayna stared at the woman.
Andrea sighed and rolled her eyes. “He as in the hottest pet owner we have.” Even as Rayna returned her focus to the lab report in her hands, Andrea continued. “Come on, really? He as in ‘the cop’ who’s so freaking hot we could fry an egg on his unbelievable abs. We haven’t seen the abs, but we all know he’s got them. In spades. The same he who’s so totally into you—so into you that the rest of us are green with envy.”
He was not and they were not. Rayna sighed and set the report back on the counter. Yes, she knew exactly who Andrea was talking about, but no way was Rayna going to let her vet tech know that.
And yes, Officer Derek Hansen was handsome—very handsome in fact. The kind of handsome every hot-blooded woman, self-assured man, or more specifically a gay man—her receptionist Billy had pointed out last time Officer Hansen had been in—on the planet took notice of. If they didn’t, they were likely dead, because very handsome was not only accurate, it was also an incredible understatement.
Dark, close-cropped hair, just a little longer on top. Dark, straight brows. Green eyes. Full lips. Always clean-shaven, but Rayna bet he looked good with a five o’clock shadow, too. His nose wasn’t perfect, but it fit his face perfectly. And then there was his body...
Rayna sighed. Great. The mere thought of how good-looking Hansen was had heat spilling through her system like warm syrup. If she hadn’t put the report down, she could’ve used it as a fan—though that would’ve been way too obvious. “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to be a bit more specific.”
“I swear, Doctor Michaels. Sometimes I don’t even know what to do with you.” She threw her hands up in the air with a harsh sigh, then let them flop back down at her sides. “Fine. Officer Derek Hansen is here with Axle for yet another ‘checkup.’ Specific enough?” Andrea smirked.
“Well then, let’s hope Axle is okay. I know Officer Hansen has been a tad...cautious, possibly overly so, since his canine partner was injured. But honestly, as you know, there is nothing wrong with taking good care of your animal. Especially one as important as Axle.” She smiled, knowing her statement was only going to annoy Andrea further. Which served as a fantastic distraction from the heat rising in her body. Rayna cleared her throat. “What room is he in?”
Andrea let out an exasperated groan and grabbed a file off the counter. “Exam room four. And not for anything, but he’s been in twice already this month. This makes visit number three. I think it’s a sign.” Andrea grinned and started to turn away, but then stopped. “All professionalism aside, enjoy the view for the rest of us, please? You know we’re all going to want a full report when you’re done in there.” After a wink, she headed for the short hallway leading to the front of the office.
Rayna watched her go before picking up the lab report and reading it over once more. Deep breaths, in and out. In and out. In and--
It wasn’t working. Desperate for some relief, she fanned herself with the lab report.
Around six months ago, Officer Derek Hansen’s canine partner, Axle, had been injured in the line of duty. Apparently, her clinic had been the closest place to where the injury happened, and when he’d burst in the front door, of course she’d immediately treated the animal.
The injury hadn’t been anything too serious, thank goodness. Axle had needed a small laceration stitched up, but the animal had also popped his kneecap out of joint on his left hind leg. Leg injuries could lead to hip issues with many big dogs, but shepherds especially. Ensuring Axle was healed properly was essential for his career as a police dog, but more importantly, the animal’s overall well-being and quality of life.
However, after the dog had healed, Officer Hansen continued to bring Axle into the clinic—to the tune of every three weeks, give or take, for what he called “regular checkups.” It didn’t mean anything more than that the man was caring for his animal. Rather typical for an officer and their canine partner. Those teams never left each other’s side.
Besides, who was she to turn away a patient?
Hansen wasn’t a man of many words, but he was always polite, respectful. And, of course, considering Rayna was counted as a red-blooded woman, she’d also noticed he was gorgeous. How could she not? She had a pulse, after all.
Still, checking out her patients’ owners wasn’t something she made a habit of, or ever did, so she made sure to keep their dealings strictly business. It would be unprofessional and highly inappropriate for her to act in any other way.
Every time he’d been in the office, Rayna tried for all she was worth to not focus on how beautiful he was or how incredibly well built his body was, but with each visit, she failed. Plus, whenever she was in one of the exam rooms alone with him, her skin got warm all over, and without a doubt her face was the shade of a fire truck, her spray of freckles becoming little red spotlights.
Worse, each visit, she emerged with the effects he had on her nervous system on display for all to see. As if she were having some sort of allergic reaction, the skin covering her sternum and neck was completely flushed and blotchy. Her entire office staff would not let her forget it.
Frankly, not noticing the officer wasn’t possible. After all, how could anyone with a set of functioning eyes not notice a well over six-foot-tall, hard-muscled, incredibly gorgeous cop?
The answer was plain and simple: they couldn’t.
Rayna grabbed her mini medical bag filled with doggie treats and moved to exam room four’s entrance. With another deep breath to cleanse her mind and hopefully cool down her body, she pressed her palm to the metal panel of the door.
As she was about to push it open, Andrea sauntered back into view, a stack of files in her arms. “Good luck! He looks really, really good today,” she whispered.
Rayna’s eyes went wide. She was going to kill Andrea if Officer Hansen heard the woman’s comment. “Are you done yet?”
Andrea grinned from ear to ear. “Nope. I have to get these files updated in the system.”
Reining in the nervous tension crawling up her spine, Rayna switched topics. “How many more appointments are on the schedule for today?”
“Lucky you, none. He’s your last one. You get to take all the time you need.” Andrea placed the files on the counter and sat in front of the computer.
“Great.” What on earth did luck have to do with it? And wait, he looked good today? How was that different from any other day? The man always looked good. Like when he crossed his thickly muscled arms over his very broad chest, the veins in his forearms stood out in harsh relief against his tanned skin.
A flash fantasy of running her tongue along all those perfect veins made—oh dear, she hoped like hell the heat rising from her stomach to her chest like a wildfire would settle enough for her to do her job.
And do it without her face glowing bright as the Arizona sun.
Dorothy F. Shaw lives in Arizona where the weather is hot and the sunsets are always beautiful. She spends her days in the corporate world and her nights with her Mac on her lap. Between her ever-open heart, her bright red hair, and her many colorful tattoos, she truly lives and loves in Technicolor!