Home > Flipping Love You(2)

Flipping Love You(2)
Author: Erin Nicholas

“There is no one else I could possibly entrust my beloved animals to. I know that you will give them the love and attention and care they need and will make the choices for them no one else can.”

Jill lifted her head and met William’s eyes.

Animals?

Oh…shit.

Clearly, A.J. had had pets. That didn’t surprise her.

But he thought she would be good at taking care of them?

Of course he had. She was a veterinarian. Sure, she specialized in wildlife, but yeah, they’d covered cats and dogs in vet school. She remembered the basics. Plus, tons of non-veterinarians had cats and dogs. Obviously. Most cat and dog owners weren’t vets.

But Jill was…not good at taking care of other things. Laundry. Home repairs. Feeding herself. Other things with a pulse.

Unless the other thing was black and white and had flippers.

Nope, that wasn’t even true. She would have no idea what to do with an orca whale.

She was good at taking care of penguins.

And that was pretty much it.

Penguins were all she cared about. Caring for penguins, helping save them from extinction, was her life’s work and well, she didn’t want to do anything else.

She’d fallen in love with penguins at age eight. When she was thirteen she’d found out that she could work with them—like actually touch them and feed them and pet them every day—if she became a wildlife vet and that had been that. It was all she’d ever cared about.

Okay, so A.J. hadn’t known her as well as he might have thought.

William was watching her, seemingly finished reading aloud.

Jillian sighed. “How big is it?”

William lifted a brow. “How big is what?”

“The dog.”

She supposed it could be a cat. Or, God forbid, multiple cats, but A.J. seemed more like a dog person.

Her heart thumped. That wasn’t true. A.J. was more of a cat and dog person. With maybe a ferret and something odd like a snake—she shuddered—and, now that she’d seen his house, maybe a pony. And the type to have multiples of each.

Crap. He was giving her living beings.

He couldn’t have given her…a vacation home? He’d often said that she worked too much. That would have fit. She could have used a vacation house. Or a car. He had six. Did Mathias need all of them? She couldn’t have had one? She’d even take the pick-up.

But no, A.J.—the sweet man who’d thought she was amazing and she’d let talk her into thinking so too…at least on Thursdays—wanted her to take care of a living creature. Probably more than one.

That was just great.

She was going to freaking forget to feed and walk it, and probably kill—though accidentally of course—one of her sweetest friends’ beloved pets.

Awesome.

William shook his head. “There’s no dog.”

Jillian stared at him. Then felt her breath whoosh out. She covered her chest with her hand. “Oh, good. Sorry. I just…”

You can’t tell them that you, a freaking veterinarian, don’t want to be responsible for keeping a bunch of non-penguin animals alive.

“…have a very small apartment. And I don’t think my lease allows pets. And I work a lot, so I’m gone a lot.”

There were probably other good reasons she shouldn’t have pets. Other than the 98% chance that she’d forget about the poor things entirely.

William smiled. “We won’t have to worry about keeping them at your apartment. You’ll have plenty of funds to be sure they are housed appropriately.”

So it was a “them”. As in more than one. But she was going to have funds to house them. What did that mean?

Dammit. They were horses or something.

She liked animals. She really did. She just shouldn’t be in charge of taking care of them. And she honestly didn’t know much about horses.

“Where are they housed now?” She assumed a barn. But was it here on this property that was now Christine’s or—

“It would be better to show you,” William said. He pushed back from the desk and stood.

It probably would. They’d taken Mathias down to see the cars. That was when it had really sunk in for him, and William had been able to answer his questions. Maybe it would be good for Jill to meet the horses.

She rose and followed William out of the study. Christine and Mathias were right behind her. She and Christine had gone down to see the cars too. And on the way, she’d gotten a brief tour of at least a portion of A.J.’s—now Christine’s—house.

Holy shit. The man had lived in this? It was three stories and had to be thousands of square feet. Jill wasn’t that good at estimating things like that, but the place was huge.

A.J. had worn blue jeans with red suspenders and white t-shirts and tennis shoes every day she’d seen him. When it was cool, he’d wear a tan jacket. And a red cap. When it was cold, he’d wear a navy-blue coat and a red stocking cap. It was all basic, non-descript, totally average stuff. He’d looked like every other seventy-something man in any other setting.

“Down this way.” William turned into a hallway that led to the east part of the house.

Jillian’s heart started beating faster for some reason.

Anything that had been important to A.J. was important to her. If he wanted her to take care of something, she would. Or she would try. Or she’d hire someone to do it. And hope A.J. wasn’t the type of guy to haunt someone for half-assing what he’d asked her to do.

Or for finding the animals a new home. Someone who would actually want a horse. Or four. But damn, that made her feel instantly guilty. William wanted her to take care of them.

Please don’t let there be more than three or four. Please don’t let there be more than three or four.

Lord, even four horses was a lot. Who did she know that would take four horses?

William led them down one hallway. Then another. They took another left turn, then a right, then descended six stairs and then went through a large door. As Jill stepped into the room behind William, she was still thinking through all the people she knew who loved horses. It wasn’t that many.

If A.J. was giving her dogs, she could find them homes. If they were cats, she could definitely find them a place to go. Maybe even all together. Margie Perkins might even…

“Ms. Morris?”

It took her a moment to realize they’d stopped. She blinked.

The room they stood in looked like what she would assume an indoor in-home swimming pool would look like. It was a large open area with two glass walls that overlooked the property. A property that was just as gorgeous as the rest of the house.

There was emerald grass, tons of trees that were starting to change color now that it was early September, and numerous bushes and a gorgeous flower garden. But that wasn’t the most stunning thing.

What she couldn’t believe was the dirt, sand, rocks, and greenery inside the enclosure. Along with the man-made swimming pool, with its very own waterfall. And then of course the inhabitants of the area.

Penguins.

There were penguins in this room.

Five of them that she could see.

Real, live penguins.

Jill was barely aware of Christine and Mathias coming into the room and joining William at the small, waist-high gate that separated the doorway from the rest of the enclosure. The penguins were nowhere near the gate. And why would they be? They wouldn’t want to escape this room. It had everything they needed. It was a penguin paradise.

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