We’re delighted to share an exclusive excerpt of The Vet’s Unexpected Hero by Traci Douglass, the first novel in her First Response in Florida Medical duet.
Vet Lucy is happy with her quiet, ordered life. Until a tropical storm threatens her Florida Keys animal sanctuary, and the arrival of gorgeous, yet guarded, emergency medic Jackson Durand brings disorder – and desire…
“You sure you’re okay?”
“Great.” She swallowed hard, wondering when exactly it had gotten so hot in there.
He watched her a moment, frowning. “Lucy?”
She concentrated on the shelf behind him as her OCD spiked and her tics took over. There were five boxes of corn bread mix, but there should’ve been six. Why weren’t there six? She always bought them in even numbers and made sure to stock up often, so they stayed even. Now they were odd. She stepped past him and began to fiddle with the boxes, searching behind and around them for the missing box. The storm outside had nothing on the whirling tornado of anxiety inside her. She was getting lost again, lost in the weeds of her disorder…
Then his fingertip nudged her chin upward, and she met his eyes. Her pulse stuttered, but she couldn’t look away, trapped like a deer in headlights.
Jackson narrowed his gaze, watching her more intently as he reached over and turned down the lantern, plunging the small space into shadows.
Her heart slammed harder against her rib cage, an odd mix of apprehension and anticipation crashing over her like a tsunami. “Wh—what are you doing?”
Time screeched to a halt as he pulled her against his chest, one arm around her waist, the other around her upper back, his hand in her hair, cupping the nape of her neck as he pressed her cheek against his shoulder. She stood completely still, too stunned to react, to move away, to do anything but let him hold her.
“Put your arms around me,” Jackson whispered against her scalp.
Like a robot, she looped them around his lean waist.
She squeezed, feeling his hard body press into her soft curves. Like a life preserver in a riptide, she found herself hanging on for dear life, yet battling it every step of the way. She couldn’t let him in, couldn’t let him close, because if she did, she’d lose everything she’d gained. “Jackson?”
“Hmm?” His voice hummed beneath her ear.
“Let me go.”
He stiffened, then released her before turning the lantern back up and moving away. She missed the heat of him immediately, crossing her arms as he hobbled back to his seat at the table. He flopped down, looking about as discombobulated as she felt. Finally, he said, “Sorry.”