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“Release him to me, and I’ll run him down to my veterinarian. They’ll go over the extent of his injuries and let me know what he needs.”

Dani stared at him, her gaze wary. “Why would you do that? And what about the dogs you’re supposed to evaluate?”

What the hell was he doing? He wasn’t even sure the dog was trainable, let alone what his injuries were.

But he could still remember Rex’s body as it cooled and stiffened in his arms. There had been nothing he could do to help Rex, but he could help this dog.

“If you will run interference for me with that guy, I’ll drive . . . ” Tyler hesitated to call the dog the bullshit name. “I’m sorry; he needs a better name than Fugly.”

Dani laughed, but her voice shook a bit as though she might cry. “The workers that brought him in were calling him that.”

“Not anymore. Whatever his name is, I’ll drive him up there, drop him off, and come back here. If his owners show up, you can give me a call.”

“I don’t have your number.” She closed the cage door and stood up.

“The front desk has it, but do you have your phone on you?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’ll go get it.” She left the room, and Tyler studied the dog. He was probably a good hundred and fifty pounds, which wouldn’t be a problem to carry, but if he had more injuries they couldn’t see, Tyler was concerned about jostling him around and doing more damage. He’d ask Dani if they had a stretcher when she got back.

She came back through the doors and handed him her phone. “Here.”

Tyler stood up, staring at the screen saver of a smiling toddler with his arms wrapped around Dani’s neck. Well, shit, that sent whatever attraction he’d had crashing to the ground. He had three rules for hooking up: Be honest from the get-go, no sleeping over, and definitely no repeats within the same week. And then there were the types of women he steered clear from.

No crazies. No attached or married women. And definitely no single moms.

No ifs, ands, or buts about it. He had watched his own mom get screwed over enough times to know that if you weren’t ready, just stay far away.

Clearing his throat, he swiped his thumb over to her contacts and put in his information. “Cute kid.”

“Thank you.”

“He yours?” he asked.

“Yes, he’s mine.”

Was it just him, or did she sound defensive?

“How old is he?” Tyler handed the phone back to her, disappointed that she was off limits.

“He’s almost two.” Dani slipped her phone into her pocket. Her curt responses told him she didn’t want to discuss her child with a complete stranger, and he couldn’t blame her.

Apparently, he was just a nosy, interfering bastard today.

“About Fugly. I was going to just carry him out, but I’m afraid of causing more damage.”

“He doesn’t have internal bleeding, at least not that showed up on the X-rays. Most of the impact from the car occurred on his back end. Plus, I gave him a dose of pain meds when he first came in, and it should last him a while.”

“Okay then, you get the door, and I’ll get the dog.”

Dani unlocked the cage again and unhooked the dog’s IV, wrapping the tubing over the mobile pole by the cage. As gently as he could, Tyler reached in and picked up the dog, who tried to thrash for half a second before Tyler spoke firmly. “Stay.”

The dog stilled, and Tyler stood up with him in his arms. “It’s gonna be okay, boy.”

Dani opened the doors as they went, but once they got to the lobby, Lab Coat Guy spotted them and spluttered, “What do you think you’re doing?”

Dani puffed up. “He’s taking the dog to his vet, since you won’t do anything to help him.”

Tyler had to admire the set of balls on Dani as every eye in the room swung on Lab Coat, pinning him with accusation.

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