The last time I saw Declan St. James was at our rehearsal dinner. That was shortly before he jilted me at the altar. To avoid the swarm of whispers and finger pointing every time I dared to show my face in public, I fled two hours south to Atlanta and never looked back. Over the last decade, I’d planned hundreds of scenarios about how our next meeting would go down. The expletives I’d hurl at him. Which knee I might use to annihilate his balls. Which dimpled cheek on his ridiculously handsome face I would send a stinging slap across.
But being elbow deep in a cow’s ass was not one of them.
Normally, I didn’t get up close and personal to a bovine’s rectum. At least not since veterinarian school. But desperate times found me back home to attend my grandfather’s funeral, who happened to be the town’s large animal vet. Those two facts had left me wading through manure in Roy Wallace’s pasture to care for a distressed heifer.
While time and maturity seemed to have changed him from the boy I knew, I still wasn’t falling for his charm. Or his hard, chiseled body. Or ass you could eat dinner off of.
No, I wasn’t going back down that street again. Unfortunately, Declan didn’t seem to get the message. Instead, he seemed as stubborn as he ever was and ready for a fight. It’ll be the fight of his life for me to let him back in my heart.
“Do you want to know what I think?” Declan asked.
“No. But I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”
As Declan loomed over me, I took a tiny step back. “I think you still have feelings for me.”
“Oh, I’m sure you heard me.”
“I didn’t think I could have considering how delusional you sounded.” When I jabbed my finger into his chest, I momentarily lost my train of thought. His pecs were rock-hard. Damn, he was even more built now than he was back when he was playing football in high school. Once I regained my senses, I spat, “Of course, I have feelings for you. Murderous, angry feelings.”
“I hate they’re all still so negative. I still consider you one of the smartest, best-looking, and kindest women of my acquaintance.”
“Why is it you haven’t come back home in ten years?”
“Don’t be pedantic.”
He grinned. “You always loved using those big words.”
“So am I. Call me crazy, but I always found your intelligence sexy.”
“Sure you did.”
“I did.” He waggled his brows. “It kinda turned me on when you used that extensive vocabulary of yours.”
What the hell? Was this real life? “Are you drunk?”
Shrugging, he replied, “No. I’m just stating facts.”
“I would think you would have to be drunk or high to stand before the woman you humiliated and flirt with the finesse of a teenage boy. We’re at my grandfather’s funeral for God’s sake.”
That seemed to sober him up a little. I had no idea where this was coming from. Only a few minutes ago he was angry at me.
“You’re right. I’m sorry.”
“Look, Declan, I need to get back inside. Thank you for apologizing. That helped. But if we need to rehash the past can it not be today?” I took a deep breath, hoping it would give me the courage and strength I needed to get my game face back on. I need this day to be over.
But then his eyes focused on my lips, and too many odd sensations ricocheted through me. I had to get the hell out of there. I took a step back and my foot came down on air instead of concrete. Flailing, I started to fall back when Declan grabbed my hand. As I tried to pull myself toward him, I ended up jacking him toward me. A high-pitched scream escaped my lips as I tumbled backwards off the porch and into the shrubs below.
Although it should have been a soft landing with all the brush, the branches scraped and scratched like agony, causing me to shriek with pain. Of course, it didn’t help when Declan’s body crushed onto mine.
For the second time in twenty-four hours, Declan asked, “Are you okay?”
“Can’t. Breathe,” I wheezed.
“Shit. I’m sorry.” When he started to get off of me, he bellowed in pain. “Fuck. I think there’s a branch up my ass,” Declan grunted.
A laugh burst from my lips at his statement and the absurdity of the situation. “Oh, you think me being victimized by a shrub is funny?” Declan demanded.
“It sure as hell is.”
About the author:
Katie Ashley is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author of both Indie and Traditionally published books. She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her daughter, Olivia, and her spoiled mutt, Duke. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Shakespeare, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Scooby-Doo. With a BA in English, a BS in Secondary English Education, and a Masters in Adolescent English Education, she spent eleven years teaching both middle and high school English, as well as a few adjunct college English classes. As of January 2013, she hung up her red pen and expo markers to become a full-time writer. Each and every day she counts her blessings to be able to do her dream job. Although her roots are firmly planted in the red Georgia clay, she loves traveling the country and world to meet readers and hang out with fellow authors. When she’s not writing or chasing down her toddler, you might find her watching reruns of The Golden Girls, reading historical biographies, along with romance novels, or spending way too much time on Facebook.