Forever and a Day(5)

By: Jill Shalvis

And she’d just killed his puppy.

“Um, hi,” she said. “This is Grace Brooks. Your…dog walker.” She choked down a horrified sob and forced herself to continue, to give him the rest. “I might have just lost your puppy.”

There was a single beat of stunned silence.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

More silence.

She dropped to her wobbly knees in the sand and shoved her wet hair out of her face with shaking fingers. “Dr. Scott? Did you hear me?”


She waited for the rest of his response, desperately gripping the phone.

“You might have lost Tank,” he repeated.

“Yes,” she said softly, hating herself.

“You’re sure.”

Grace looked around the beach. The empty beach. “Yes.”

“Well, then, I owe you a big, fat kiss.”

Grace pulled her phone from her ear and stared at it, then brought it back. “No,” she said, shaking her head as if he could see her. “I don’t think you understand. I lost Tank. In the water.”

He muttered something that she’d have sworn sounded like “I should be so lucky.”

“What?” she asked.

“Nothing. I’m two minutes away. I got a break in the ER and was coming home to make sure you showed.”

“Well, of course I showed—”

But he’d disconnected.

“Why wouldn’t I show?” she asked no one. She dropped her phone back into her purse and got up. Two minutes. She had two minutes to find Tank.

Chapter 2

Okay, so maybe chocolate doesn’t make the world go around, but it sure makes the trip worthwhile.

Josh’s day had started at five that morning in the gym. Matt and Ty, his workout partners, spent the hour sparring in the ring, beating the shit out of each other while Josh lifted weights. The three of them worked hard while retaining enough breath to sling ongoing insults and taunts. It was what friends were for.

By six-thirty, he was in the ER, patching up a guy who’d gotten in a bar fight in Seattle hours before but had been too drunk to realize he was bleeding profusely as he drove down the highway. From there, Josh had moved on to a heart attack victim and then to a two-year-old who’d swallowed a few pennies and was having understandable trouble passing them.

By noon, Josh wasn’t even halfway through his day, and he’d already been overloaded and overworked and was quite possibly teetering on the edge of burnout. He could feel it creeping in on him in unguarded moments, like now when he was parking his car between his house and the beach to deal with Grace Brooks.

He knew who she was. He’d seen her around. Blue eyes, a quick smile, long, shiny blond hair, and a willowy yet curvy body that could drive a man right out of his mind if he gave it too much thought.

As he walked across the sand toward the water, doing his best not to give it any thought, he caught sight of her in the water. She was facing the waves, her hands on her head in a distraught pose. With a frown, he picked up the pace, just as something dashed toward him in his peripheral vision.

Something small.

Something evil.

Something named Tank. Josh scooped up the sand-covered puppy and held him away from him. The pug wriggled intently, running in the air, trying to get closer to Josh. Finally giving up, Tank refocused his attention on the woman in the ocean.

“Oh, I see her,” Josh said. “And what the hell have you done now?”

Grace was panicked. It was one thing to lose a job. It was another thing entirely to lose the job. Damn. Her parents had always told her “keep your head down and work hard” and she’d done her best. She really had.

But she’d still screwed up. And it wasn’t like she could call them for advice on this. Neither of them could possibly understand the thought process that had led her to a dog walking job, much less why she’d placed fun as her newest, highest priority. “Tank!” she yelled at the waves. “Tank?” Wading back in up to her waist, she turned in a full circle to rescan the beach, then went utterly still.

Standing on the sand was a man. His tall, broad stature implied strength and control, and he was rocking a pair of navy blue scrubs and dark wraparound Ray-Bans.

Holding her archnemesis.


The puppy was panting happily away, and Grace could have sworn he was smiling. Forget the pig or alien theory—Tank was a rat. Relief at seeing the thing alive nearly brought her to her knees, but she’d have drowned, so she locked them—just as the next wave hit her from behind.

She was very busy fighting a full-facial, saltwater cavity wash when two big hands gripped her arms and hauled her upright.

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