Font Size:  

“Have you talked to Kenny since?” she asked.

“Not in years,” Oliver said.

Silence stretched in the car until Oliver admitted, “I have no idea why I told you that.”

“Because we were talking about who we were in high school.” They were complete opposites; that was for sure. She had always played it safe, hadn’t even had her first drink until she was twenty-one. Not that she hadn’t had the chance, but she calculated risks, always had. Her mom used to call her the “cautious one,” while her brother was the wild one. Even her few rebellions had been small.

“Yeah, well, I would have been one of those idiots you wouldn’t have dated,” Oliver said.

Eve thought about that. There had been guys who’d gotten into trouble at her school, and she remembered rolling her eyes at them, thinking they were morons. No, sixteen-year-old her would definitely have steered clear of Oliver.

“Just for the record, I don’t drink and drive,” he said.

“That’s good to know.”

When they reached the program facility, Eve parked and turned off the car. “So, I have a photographer friend who can come out this week and take pictures of the dogs and handlers. Do you think two on Saturday afternoon will work?”

“I’ll have to talk to Sparks and the rest of the guys, but there shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.

“Good. I’d also like to get pictures of the facility. I know this place just opened a month ago, but shots of the kids working with the dogs would be great. I want to have the social-media pages and website up by next Monday, if they aren’t up already. I can show you how to tweak them if you need help.”

“Wait, me?” he asked.

“Yeah, you. You’re helping me, and I have other things to take care of, so you’re in charge of the program’s public image.”

“I barely have a Facebook page,” he said.

“Welcome to the modern age,” she said.

Oliver opened the car door with a rueful smile. “Why me?”

“Maybe this will teach you not to get into bar fights,” she said, her mouth twitching with humor.

He groaned, and before she realized what she was doing, she grabbed his hand. “Hey, thanks for lunch. By the way, can I see your phone?”

“Why, so you can put your number in it?”

Her eyes shot up to meet his, but he looked just as surprised as she felt.

“Actually, yes, since we’ll be working so closely together,” she said softly.

Oliver handed Eve his phone, and she released his hand. He leaned over to watch her fingers fly over the screen as she entered her number.

When she finished, she handed it back to him. “Call me when you find out about the dogs.”

Oliver took the phone, but before she could pull away, he caught her hand. His grip shifted, and he brought the back of it to his mouth, pressing a soft kiss there. “I’ll call you soon.”

Eve’s insides turned to Jell-O, and she said nothing as he released her hand and got out of her car. Tingles still lit her skin on fire, and she lightly ran her thumb across the place where he’d kissed her. She could still feel the warmth of his mouth.

Chapter Four

FIVE DAYS LATER, Oliver stood in the kennels in the back of the facility. There were twenty-five chain link kennels lining the far end of the laminate floor, and although most were empty, there were a few large dogs barking and whining at him, including several shepherds and Labrador mixes, breeds he recognized. Sparks had told him that while the kids were there training, the dogs slept in crates in their bunks. This handful of dogs were the only ones that hadn’t been assigned yet.

Sparks stopped in front of the last kennel. “Oliver, this is Beast. You’ll be training him.”

Oliver looked through the kennel gate, saw the huge brown dog, and scowled. The mutt had a wrinkly, flat face, and his large body rippled with muscle as he stood up. After a long, lazy stretch, he slowly loped over to the front of the kennel. Oliver had spent the week working with several of the kids from Best’s group and their dogs, but up until now, he’d avoided having to train one himself.

Oliver had told Sparks about the dog auction and their involvement, and Sparks had protested until Oliver had told him that Eve’s father was the general. Unless he wanted to end up on the general’s shit list, too, Oliver had suggested that Sparks pull up his big-boy panties and deal.