“We’ll all think he’s great until he’s chewing our shoes and anything else he can get his paws on,” I remind her as I lead them out to the truck. Seth jumps in the back and Cara hands him the pup before shutting the door and climbing into the passenger seat.
“I’ll train him,” Seth announces. “I’ll look at videos online and learn how.”
He giggles as the puppy licks his face and then burrows in Seth’s neck to take a nap.
Cara clasps my hand in hers and squeezes tightly. “This is good for him,” she whispers.
I nod and drive us back to the ranch.
“What are you going to name him?” Cara asks as I pull up to the house and we all climb out.
“Optimus Prime,” Seth announces proudly, making me laugh.
“That’s a long name,” Cara reminds him with a chuckle.
“He’s not a Spider-Man.” Seth furrows his brow, deep in thought.
“No, he’s not,” Cara agrees dryly.
Seth leads the dog around the yard, waiting for him to relieve himself before going into the house.
“I know! Thor!”
“Thor?” I ask. The kid obviously loves comic-book movies.
“Thor.” Seth nods his head decisively.
“I like it.” Cara’s smile is sweet and happy.
“Thor it is.”
“Come on, Thor, we have to do our science project.”
“We don’t have any supplies for him.” Cara frowns up at me as Seth guides Thor into the house.
“We have other dogs on the ranch, honey. I brought a dog bed in. He can eat with the other dogs in the morning, and we’ll get him some toys the next time we go to town.”
“Okay.” She pulls me to her and stands on tiptoe so she can brush her lips over mine. I immediately grip her hips and pull her against me, sinking into her.
Each time I kiss her it’s like the first time.
“What was that for?” I ask as I pull back to give us both a chance to breathe.
“I just like you.” She shrugs as if it were no big deal.
“Gee, that’s convenient.” I swat her ass, then soothe it with my palm. “You’re not so bad yourself.”
“Convenient,” she agrees, and plants a sweet kiss on my chin, then pushes her hands into my hair and pulls me down for another all-consuming kiss, practically climbing me. It’s all I can do to not pull her into the backseat of my truck and take her hard and fast.
“Thor peed!” Seth announces as he comes barreling out of the house with a happy Thor.
“You go back to work.” Cara laughs and pulls away reluctantly. “I have to teach science and potty-train a puppy.”
“I didn’t mean to add more work for you.” I grimace as I realize that’s exactly what’s just happened.
“It’s fine.” She shrugs. “You owe me.”
“I’ll make it up to you, sweetheart.” I feel the smile grow across my face as I picture exactly how I’ll make it up to her.
She answers with a grin of her own. “I know.”
* * *
“So did you find the Mustang?” I ask my brother, my phone pressed to my ear, as I stride toward my house. The sun is shining brightly again today, making my head sweat under my green hat. I need a shower.
“Yeah, the bastard sold it back to me.” Zack sighs on the other end of the phone. “I have a feeling I paid more than what he bought it for.”
“Kensie didn’t tell you what she sold it for?” I ask with a frown.
“I haven’t spoken to her since before she left Seth with you.” He sighs again. “Is Seth nearby?”
“He’s in the house with Cara, working on math or something.”
“He still won’t take my calls.” I hate hearing the defeat in my brother’s voice.
“I wonder what that woman told him,” I murmur.
“I’m sure she told him many, many things that aren’t fucking true and are pretty fucked-up.”
“I’m sure you’re right.” I walk through the back door of my house, a smile spreading across my face at the sight of Cara sitting at my table, looking all fresh and sexy in her jeans and green T-shirt. Her honey-blond hair is tucked behind her ears and I want to push my fingers through it.
I can’t get enough of her.
She looks up and grins back at me, those hazel eyes shining in happiness.
“Sorry, Bro, got sidetracked.”
Seth’s head snaps up and he eyes me warily, but Thor hops up from his napping place at Seth’s feet and greets me energetically, dancing around my legs, his pink tongue hanging out of his mouth.
“So when will you be here?” I ask as Seth leads Thor back to his feet at the table. I pull a bottle of water from the fridge, twist off the cap, and guzzle it down in one long gulp. Cara’s eyes are glued to my neck, her mouth slightly open and her eyes wide, and when the tip of her little, pink tongue peeks out to touch her upper lip, I almost grab her and take her to my bedroom to keep her under me for hours.
She recovers and blushes, looking down at her papers. Fuck, she’s adorable.
“I’ll be there by this weekend.”
“Awesome, I can use the help.”
“I miss you too,” he mutters dryly. “Be nice to my kid.”
“Seth’s being taken care of,” I assure him, wave at Cara and Seth, and head for the shower.
“Is he as bad as Mom says?”
“He’s doing better. Cara’s been great for him. He’s enjoying the ranch and we put him to work every day with chores, but I think he secretly loves it, he just doesn’t want us to know it.” I start the shower and start stripping out of my sweat-soaked, smelly clothes. “Louie’s Lab had pups a few months ago. He gave one to Seth.”
“Sounds like us at that age.” Zack chuckles. “A boy needs a dog. I’m nervous about seeing him, man. Kensie has him hating me.”
“So prove the bitch wrong, Z. Seriously, Seth will come around with time. You deal with eighteen-year-old kids fresh out of boot camp every day. You can handle one kid who secretly hero-worships you.”
“I don’t need him to hero-worship me. I’d settle for speaking to me over the phone.”
“He’ll come around.” I watch the mirror go cloudy with steam. “Do you need me to pick you up from the airport?”
“No, I’m driving up. I’ll leave tomorrow morning.”