Read Good Guys Love Dogs Online

Authors: Inglath Cooper

Tags: #Adult, #Romance, #Humor

Good Guys Love Dogs (9 page)

his hind legs out. In a normal birth
he would have come

out front hooves first.

Ian watched in amazement as she
slowly pushed the calf

forward. As the cow began to strain
again, she stopped and

held the position. It was a long,
slow process. He couldn't take

his eyes off the scene. He'd never
witnessed anything like it

in his life. Colby, up to her
shoulders in work a lot of men

wouldn't have the fortitude to do.

She approached the effort
matter-of-factly, when she

spoke, her voice low and soothing.
He saw that she, too,

sympathized with the cow's pain.

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GOOD GUYS LOVE DOGS

Her coveral s had been splattered
with blood, and a

strand of her hair clung to the side
of her face. He subdued

an unexpected urge to smooth it back
for her.

After what seemed like forever, she
said, “Okay. I've

got the back hooves out. We're on
the right track now.

Ian stood to the side of the cow,
his arms folded across

his chest, the drama of the
situation making him tense. The

process went on for a good while
longer, with the cow

pushing and Colby helping to pul the
calf forward until it

final y slid onto the straw in a
heap.

“There you go,
Colby said, smiling. “You were doing

your best not to join us out here,
weren't you?

Harry picked up the calf and moved
it close to its

mother, placing it back on the
straw. Wonder assaulted Ian.

He thought about his own son's birth
and how incredible it

had been to hold the tiny body in
his arms. He recal ed the

instantaneous love he'd felt for
him, and his chest ached

with the memory of it and a yearning
for things to be right

with Luke again.

“Let's get the
other one, Colby said, reaching back

inside the cow.

When the second calf emerged onto
the straw with

Colby's help, the same sense of
wonder washed over him.

This one was noticeably smal er, its
eyes round and startled.

Ian's heart contracted.

“Okay, girl.
We're almost there, Colby said to the

mother cow, looking up at Ian and
adding, “I just need to

make sure there's not a third.

“She could have
another one? he asked, incredulous.

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INGLATH COOPER

“Oh, yes. I've
had it happen.

Amazed, Ian hoped for the cow's sake
that it didn't

happen now.

A minute or so later, Colby said,
“Looks like that's it.

She sat back on her heels and patted
the cow's side, her face

alight with satisfaction and what
looked like the same kind

of relief he felt for the animal.
“You're all finished.

Ian bent down and stroked the cow's
head. He'd never

real y thought about it, but he
would have imagined this sort

of thing became routine for a
veterinarian. But the look on

Colby's face suggested it was just
as gratifying to her now as

it would have been the first time
she'd helped with a

delivery.

The second calf raised its head and
let out a

halfhearted bleat. Colby laughed.
“Looks like she arrived

with an appetite.

Harry Pasley bent over to give the
cow a pat on the

side. “You did
good, girl. You, too, Doc. But then you

always do.

The cow weakly reached around to
swipe the closest calf

with her tongue. If the birth of the
first one amazed Ian, the

second seemed like a miracle.

“These three have
some bonding to do. Colby wiped

her damp forehead on her shoulder,
then looked up at Ian

and smiled. “Thanks
for being so patient.

Ian didn't remember a smile ever
affecting him quite

the way hers did in that moment.
He'd witnessed

something incredibly special. He
thought of the business

he'd put his life into over the past
seventeen years and

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GOOD GUYS LOVE DOGS

couldn't remember one incident
during that time that made

him feel this way.

Crazy but true.

And he had no idea what to make of
that.

83

12

olby finished cleaning Til y up and
gave her a shot

Cto fight off infection. “Let
me know if they have

any problems, Harry.

“I'll do that,
Doc. Thank you for coming out so late. I

really appreciate it.

“No problem. She
pul ed a fresh pair of coveralls

from her bag and said, “May
I use your office to get into

these?

“Sure thing,
Harry said.

Alone, Colby wondered what Ian
thought of being here.

It couldn't have been his cup of
tea, but throughout the

past few hours, she'd been surprised
by the range of

emotions she'd seen on his face:
sympathy, interest,

amazement. After she'd changed, she
left the office and

returned to the stal , where Harry
still stood. “Good night,

she said. “Cal me
if you need me.

“Night, Doc Wil
iams, Harry said. “Thanks again.

Outside, Colby found Ian staring up
at the night sky.

“Sorry to keep
you waiting, she said, coming up behind

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GOOD GUYS LOVE DOGS

him and glancing at her watch.
“It's after midnight. I didn't

realize it was that late.

He turned around, his gaze finding
hers. “I'm in no

hurry. How did you do that? he
asked, pointing at the

coveralls.

“I keep an extra
pair in my bag. You don't want me

riding in your car with the other
ones on, she said.

“It wouldn't have
mattered, he said, shrugging.

“Are you sure you
don't mind taking me home? I

could ask Harry—

“Of course not,
Ian said. “Come on, get in. You're

probably tired after al that work.

Giving in, she got inside the car
and gave him

directions to her house.

He put the car in reverse and backed
up, cutting the

wheel to the right.

“I wouldn't turn
around in the driveway if I were—

Before she could finish, the two
back tires dropped off the

gravel. “Uh-oh. I
should have mentioned the mud back

there. You can't see it in the dark.

“Shouldn't be any
problem. He pushed the gas. The

back wheels made a whirr-hissing
sound, spinning uselessly.

“I'l go get
Harry, Colby offered. “He'l give us a pull

with his tractor.

“That's okay, Ian
said, opening the car door.

“Watch out! she
warned just as he slid out and mired

up to his shins in mud.

Silhouetted in the light shining
from the car's interior,

he looked at the ground where his
two feet were currently

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INGLATH COOPER

held prisoner. He pul ed one free,
then the other. They made

a loud, sucking noise.

Laughter bubbled up in Colby's
throat. She clapped

her hand over her mouth to stop it,
but failed miserably.

Ian ducked his head back inside,
chagrined. “Guess I

should have taken Mr. Pasley up on
those coveralls, huh?

She did her best to keep a straight
face, but the tears

leaking from the corners of her eyes
gave her away.

“Can you slip
across and get behind the wheel? I don't

recommend getting out.

“Sure. Colby's
cheeks hurt with the effort of trying not

to laugh.

He made his way to the back of the
car, mud slurping at

his shoes with each step. “I'l
let you know when I start to

push, he cal ed out. “Give
it the gas when I say go.

“Okay.

She adjusted the seat so her feet
reached the pedals. A

few seconds later, he said, “Al
right. Hit it.

She pushed the pedal. The car
groaned and protested,

the back tires whirring again.

She stopped, and he called out,
“One more time.

They repeated the process, only this
time the tires spun

once, then the car shot out of the
mud like a launched

rocket.

Back on the gravel, Colby parked and
got out.

Harry came out. “What
happened?

“We got stuck,
she said.

“I'd have pulled
you out.

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GOOD GUYS LOVE DOGS

“It only took two
pushes, she began, and then stopped

when Ian stepped back into the light
shining from the barn.

She stared at him in disbelief.
“Oh, no!

“It kind of
splattered, he said, wiping a hand across the

side of his mud-covered face.

Harry chuckled. “I'll
say.

Colby couldn't hold back her
laughter any longer. The

sophisticated New Yorker beside whom
she'd sat at dinner

earlier that evening now stood
covered in mud, head to toe.

“I'm sorry, she
said, trying to stop. “It's not funny. Really.

It isn't.

“No, actually, it
kind of is, he said, his smile broader

now.

“How about those
coveral s? Harry offered. “I've got

a hose inside if you'd like to rinse
off.

“I think I'l take
you up on them this time, Ian said,

disappearing inside the barn with a
grinning Harry.

Colby waited outside, drying her
eyes with the back of

her hand. At least the man had a
sense of humor. She

thought about Doug and the
comparisons she had made

between the two. When she and Doug
started dating, she

brought him home one weekend to meet
her parents. She'd

taken him out to the Bower farm,
where she'd worked part

time in high school, doing odd jobs.
She tried to teach

Doug how to milk one of the cows,
and when he'd been less

than gentle at the task, the cow
planted a hind hoof beneath

his chin. From then on, Doug did a
poor job of hiding his

eagerness to leave Keeling Creek.
She'd often thought that

was the point at which she should
have seen they had no

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INGLATH COOPER

future. The Doug she had known would
not have laughed

about what happened here tonight.

Harry and Ian reappeared. Ian wore a
pair of old blue

coveral s that would have sold
Today's Farmer
a record

number of copies had he been wearing
them on one of

their covers.

He had apparently taken Harry up on
the use of his

hose, too. His hair was wet, the mud
no longer evident on

his face and hands.

“Sure you trust
me to drive you home? he asked with a

sheepish grin.

“Of course, she
said.

Shaking his head, Harry waved
goodnight and went

back inside.

Ian threw his discarded clothes in
the trunk, and they

both got into the car. Their gazes
caught and held for a

second before they started laughing
again.

When she final y stopped, Colby
wiped her eyes and

said, “I'm really
sorry about all this.

“Hey, it's not
your fault. I'm the one who backed into

the mud and then insisted on playing
Superman.

She chuckled again. “Yeah,
but I should have warned

you.

“I'm a little bit
like Smidge. I might have to bumble my

way through a few mishaps before I
get the hang of country

life.

“That could have
happened to anyone.

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GOOD GUYS LOVE DOGS

“Right, he said,
looking skeptical. “Thanks for trying

to save my pride, but I already left
it in tatters back there in

the barnyard.

Colby smiled. “You've
been a good sport tonight.

“You're the one
who did al the work, he said as they

headed down the driveway. “That
was pretty amazing in

there. Are twins uncommon?

“Not real y. With
the hormones they're giving the cows

these days, the odds are increased.
Unfortunately, the little

girl will probably be sterile. She
won't be of much use to

Harry.

Ian frowned. “Meaning?

“He'l sell her to
the stockyard.

“Oh. That's too
bad, he said, sounding more than a

little bothered by the thought.

“That's one part
of my job I don't think I'll ever get

used to. Farming is a business. Feed
costs money.

He stayed quiet for a moment and
then said, “You

were great in there.

The offhand compliment pleased her.
“Thanks. So,

you'd never seen anything like that?

He shot her a sideways smile.
“City born and bred. We

don't have too many cows in
Manhattan.

“How did you end
up in Keeling Creek?

“I had a realtor
looking in this part of the state.

“It's a long way
from New York. In more ways than

one.

“I think I pretty
much found that out tonight.

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INGLATH COOPER

Colby turned her gaze back to the
road. It had been a

strange night, yet she felt more
relaxed than she had in ages.

She couldn't remember the last time
she laughed so much.

Even if it had been at Ian's
expense, she had the impression

he real y hadn't minded. Although
she wouldn't admit it to

Phoebe in a mil ion years, she
actual y enjoyed his

company.

Ian swung the vehicle into her
driveway, braking to a

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