Page 12 of Her Hero

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“Yep, I’m surprised they’ve not whined before now. They love being outside.”

He pulled back their ball and tossed it across the ground. Past a large thicket of trees, there was a large grass field where he took the dogs to go running and chasing a ball. This was where they were now. Not many tourists came up here. He’d made sure the local hiking company hadn’t included part of this trail in their guide. After all, he owned the land surrounding his home. He didn’t mind sharing, but when it came to his dogs, he liked to know he still had privacy. The last thing he wanted were tourists constantly knocking at his door, wanting attention.

Trixie got to the ball first, dropping it at his feet. He picked the ball up and handed it to Josie. “Want to give it a try?” he asked.

“Er, what do I do?”

“You throw it.”

“Right, right, of course. I don’t … I’m not very good at throwing.”

He chuckled. “Then it will be good practice.” He winked at her.

She rolled her eyes, drew back her arm, and threw.

It wasn’t too bad, but the dogs didn’t have far to run. Buster got the ball and brought it right back to him.

“Do you want another go?” he asked, seeing the excitement in her eyes.

“Yes, are you sure?”

“Go right ahead.” He knew that feeling she was getting. The joy from the few simple pleasures in life.

She drew her arm back and threw the ball. The dogs were already chasing after it. She giggled, covering her mouth. “They are so cute.”

He chuckled. “They are.”

“You know, I’ve always wanted a dog or a cat, I guess. It was on my list of things to do, you know, once I’d … I’m not exactly sure what.”

“I get it. Was finding a husband, having kids there as well?” he asked.

She sighed. “Yeah. Did you make a list?”

“Not quite like yours. At first, I didn’t think it was necessary to have kids.” He shrugged.

“And now?”

“Now, it would be nice to have kids. I love kids. Love dogs as well. But…”

“But what?” Josie asked.

“I don’t want to go back to living that life. Get sucked into the shit of it. I like my life up here, and this is not for everyone.”

“Do you ever get lonely?”

“Sometimes. Not in the past few days.”

Josie smiled and Elijah stared at her, wanting to ask her to stay with him. She had been sleeping in his bed, and he had gotten this crazy idea about her staying with him, loving him, marrying him. He could give her a life that meant a birthday would never be forgotten.

“I get so lonely as well,” Josie said.

Buster chose that moment to bark.

She tried to bend down to stroke him, but he’d put so many layers on, it was impossible to do so.

He couldn’t help but chuckle as he bent down, picked up the ball, and handed it to her.

“So, tell me about this list,” he said.