Home > Deathly : The Dillon Sisters(7)

Deathly : The Dillon Sisters(7)
Author: Brynne Asher

My hair flutters as a truck rumbles past. Every step I take closes the gap between me and Brand. With each of those steps, it’s harder and harder to keep my mask of confidence secured in place.

His arms cross and eyes narrow as I join him on the sidewalk. He’s wearing his uniform pants again, but today they’re dirty and he smells like a bonfire.

Oddly, it doesn’t smell bad, but rather elevates his masculinity to levels I’ve never encountered. I’m wearing my old-school Adidas instead of heels. He’s got at least six inches on me and I’m not a short woman.

His jaw tenses before he snaps, “Not sure how you missed the memo, but when you bid on a dog, you actually take that dog home with you.”

I hitch my purse up my shoulder. “I had an emergency.”

“That’s what they told me.” He motions to the fire station behind him. “I have a job, too, and it always involves emergencies. I do not have the time, patience, or inclination to babysit your dog.”

“Well, I’m here now. Where’s Muppet?”

His head tips. “Muppet?”

“Yes, Muppet. The dog.” I exhale. “My dog. If you point the way, he and I will be out of your hair and you can tend to all your emergencies.”

Brand shifts his weight and analyzes me, but not as if he likes what he sees. I shiver as he studies me like a complicated riddle, one he doesn’t care what the solution might be. “You just want the dog.”

I roll my lips in to wet them and sharpen my tongue—I need to be done with this. “Yes. I paid handsomely for him, after all.”

“About that, why the hell would you pay that much for a dog?”

I shrug. “Muppet and I had a moment. It was short, but we bonded. I didn’t want to see him go to anyone else. He belongs with me.”

“That’s it?” he demands.

I ignore his question. “Where is my dog?”

He lifts his chin. “In the station. I’ll take you to him as soon as you answer my question. What are you after besides the dog?”

“Why would I be after anything else?” With blank eyes and a quick shake of my head, I move around him on the sidewalk. “Never mind. I’ll find him myself. How many dogs can there be in one fire station? Unless you’re stereotypical and have a dalmatian.”

Boots clomp behind me in unison with the swishing of his bulky pants. I ignore it all and stalk straight to the front door. I find myself in the middle of a reception area with no one in sight.

“Aria,” Brand growls, but I don’t look back. A door marked Authorized Personnel Only stands in front of me.

Well. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I really need to quit telling myself that.

I push through the door even though I’m not authorized and enter a large room filled with sofas and chairs arranged for prime viewing of an enormous TV mounted on the old brick wall. Beyond is a kitchen with miles of counter space and a huge range that looks like it should be in an old diner instead of a firehouse. Everything is clean and tidy even though it is ancient.

“Can I help you?”

I look to my left and another firefighter is standing in the doorway to the bays dressed exactly like Brand. “I’m here for my dog from the auction last night. Brown, curly, friendly. Do you know where he might be?”

A hand wraps around my bicep and my face instantly warms when Brand butts in. “I’m taking care of this.”

“You’re the big spender?” The firefighter breaks into a grin. “I hope Vitale’s worth it.”

I try to pull my arm out of Brand’s grip, but he’s having none of it. “Shut your trap, Moreland.”

Moreland does not shut his trap, and the grip on my arm tightens. “Brand better up his game for the price you paid.”

I shake my head. “I just want the dog. I’m happy to skip the date—”

“Come on,” Brand interrupts. “The shithead is in the laundry room. I had to lock him up when we got a call.”

I don’t have a chance to convince Moreland or Brand of anything, but I do manage to twist my arm from Brand’s hold and turn to glare at him as he pushes me through the massive space to another set of doors.

“What is your problem?” I hiss.

A deep voice rumbles so close to my ear, a chill slithers down my spine. “Aside from the auction, your dog, and you ignoring my calls, my list of problems is long and varied. Don’t piss me off any more than you already have, Ms. Dillon.”

I don’t dare correct him, even though I worked damn hard for the title of doctor.

With one hand plastered to the small of my back pushing me forward, he reaches around and throws another door open. In the middle of a room lined with washers and dryers, my new long-term, spur-of-the-moment commitment is beside himself with excitement, despite the fact he’s tethered to a leash. He’s also sitting in a puddle since his water dish is tumbled next to him upside down.

I know nothing about dogs and even less about puppies, but that isn’t his fault. I silently apologize to him for the long hours I work and hope that his new Aunt Briar will make up for my shitty life choices.

I go to him instantly. Thank goodness he’s just as excited to see me as he was last night and doesn’t understand that I actually ghosted him. “Hey, buddy. I’m here to take you home.”

He barks.

Brand grunts.

And I’m reminded of my goal—get the dog and run away.

I untie his leash. “Let’s go. I don’t have a yard but I’m working on it. I’ll do my best, I promise.”

“He’s a runner—I was cursed with the experience last night when you skipped out on him. And he likes mud. My bathroom will never be the same.”

I stand and square my shoulders. “I appreciate you taking care of him.”

Brand’s broad frame fills my only escape route and the need to put this behind me, once and for all, increases. I ignore Muppet’s excitement because the hero’s dark eyes pierce me. “We have another issue to address.”

I jut my chin to the doorway he’s standing in, trapping me in the laundry room. I’m in varied levels of hell. “I came to collect my dog so he and I can start bonding. That’s it. I know you wanted no part of the auction—you spelled that out quite clearly last night. Consider yourself off the hook. I’m not dating right now anyway—I don’t have the time or the energy for anyone.”

“I don’t need to be let off the hook,” he bites. “I wasn’t happy to be there but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to follow through. I never hedge on a commitment.”

“Really, it’s okay.”

His dark eyes narrow. “It’s not.”

“But it is.” Muppet’s wet paws are seeping through my jeans since he continues jumping on me and I regret already swimming laps for an hour this morning because I think I’m going to have to start running with my new dog to tire him out. I take a deep breath and unglue my feet from the floor. “Excuse me.”

Brand proves once again he doesn’t care about manners or social cues because he doesn’t budge. His arms drop to his sides and I wonder if he’s fisting his hands because his biceps flex. I focus on his sharp eyes when he bites, “You don’t know me, Aria Dillon.”

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