Authors: Inglath Cooper
Tags: #Adult, #Romance, #Humor
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.
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
After what seemed like forever, she
said, â€œOkay. 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
â€œThere you go,
Colby said, smiling. â€œYou were doing
your best not to join us out here,
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.
â€œLet'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.
We're almost there, Colby said to the
mother cow, looking up at Ian and
adding, â€œI just need to
make sure there's not a third.
â€œShe could have
another one? he asked, incredulous.
â€œOh, yes. I've
had it happen.
Amazed, Ian hoped for the cow's sake
that it didn't
A minute or so later, Colby said,
â€œLooks 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.
â€œYou'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
The second calf raised its head and
let out a
halfhearted bleat. Colby laughed.
â€œLooks like she arrived
with an appetite.
Harry Pasley bent over to give the
cow a pat on the
side. â€œYou did
good, girl. You, too, Doc. But then you
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.
â€œThese three have
some bonding to do. Colby wiped
her damp forehead on her shoulder,
then looked up at Ian
and smiled. â€œThanks
for being so patient.
Ian didn't remember a smile ever
affecting him quite
the way hers did in that moment.
something incredibly special. He
thought of the business
he'd put his life into over the past
seventeen years and
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
olby finished cleaning Til y up and
gave her a shot
Cto fight off infection. â€œLet
me know if they have
any problems, Harry.
â€œI'll do that,
Doc. Thank you for coming out so late. I
really appreciate it.
â€œNo problem. She
pul ed a fresh pair of coveralls
from her bag and said, â€œMay
I use your office to get into
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:
amazement. After she'd changed, she
left the office and
returned to the stal , where Harry
still stood. â€œGood night,
she said. â€œCal me
if you need me.
â€œNight, Doc Wil
iams, Harry said. â€œThanks again.
Outside, Colby found Ian staring up
at the night sky.
â€œSorry to keep
you waiting, she said, coming up behind
GOOD GUYS LOVE DOGS
him and glancing at her watch.
â€œIt's after midnight. I didn't
realize it was that late.
He turned around, his gaze finding
hers. â€œI'm in no
hurry. How did you do that? he
asked, pointing at the
â€œI keep an extra
pair in my bag. You don't want me
riding in your car with the other
ones on, she said.
â€œIt wouldn't have
mattered, he said, shrugging.
â€œAre you sure you
don't mind taking me home? I
could ask Harryâ€”
â€œOf course not,
Ian said. â€œCome 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.
â€œI wouldn't turn
around in the driveway if I wereâ€”
Before she could finish, the two
back tires dropped off the
gravel. â€œUh-oh. I
should have mentioned the mud back
there. You can't see it in the dark.
â€œShouldn't be any
problem. He pushed the gas. The
back wheels made a whirr-hissing
sound, spinning uselessly.
â€œI'l go get
Harry, Colby offered. â€œHe'l give us a pull
with his tractor.
â€œThat's okay, Ian
said, opening the car door.
â€œWatch 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
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. â€œGuess 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.
â€œCan you slip
across and get behind the wheel? I don't
recommend getting out.
cheeks hurt with the effort of trying not
He made his way to the back of the
car, mud slurping at
his shoes with each step. â€œI'l
let you know when I start to
push, he cal ed out. â€œGive
it the gas when I say go.
She adjusted the seat so her feet
reached the pedals. A
few seconds later, he said, â€œAl
right. Hit it.
She pushed the pedal. The car
groaned and protested,
the back tires whirring again.
She stopped, and he called out,
â€œOne more time.
They repeated the process, only this
time the tires spun
once, then the car shot out of the
mud like a launched
Back on the gravel, Colby parked and
Harry came out. â€œWhat
â€œWe got stuck,
â€œI'd have pulled
GOOD GUYS LOVE DOGS
â€œIt 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.
â€œIt kind of
splattered, he said, wiping a hand across the
side of his mud-covered face.
Harry chuckled. â€œI'll
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.
â€œI'm sorry, she
said, trying to stop. â€œIt's not funny. Really.
â€œNo, actually, it
kind of is, he said, his smile broader
â€œHow about those
coveral s? Harry offered. â€œI've got
a hose inside if you'd like to rinse
â€œI think I'l take
you up on them this time, Ian said,
disappearing inside the barn with a
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
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
number of copies had he been wearing
them on one of
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.
â€œSure you trust
me to drive you home? he asked with a
â€œOf course, she
Shaking his head, Harry waved
goodnight and went
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
When she final y stopped, Colby
wiped her eyes and
said, â€œI'm really
sorry about all this.
â€œHey, it's not
your fault. I'm the one who backed into
the mud and then insisted on playing
She chuckled again. â€œYeah,
but I should have warned
â€œI'm a little bit
like Smidge. I might have to bumble my
way through a few mishaps before I
get the hang of country
â€œThat could have
happened to anyone.
GOOD GUYS LOVE DOGS
â€œRight, he said,
looking skeptical. â€œThanks for trying
to save my pride, but I already left
it in tatters back there in
Colby smiled. â€œYou've
been a good sport tonight.
â€œYou're the one
who did al the work, he said as they
headed down the driveway. â€œThat
was pretty amazing in
there. Are twins uncommon?
â€œNot 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
Ian frowned. â€œMeaning?
â€œHe'l sell her to
â€œOh. That's too
bad, he said, sounding more than a
little bothered by the thought.
â€œThat's one part
of my job I don't think I'll ever get
used to. Farming is a business. Feed
He stayed quiet for a moment and
then said, â€œYou
were great in there.
The offhand compliment pleased her.
you'd never seen anything like that?
He shot her a sideways smile.
â€œCity born and bred. We
don't have too many cows in
â€œHow did you end
up in Keeling Creek?
â€œI had a realtor
looking in this part of the state.
â€œIt's a long way
from New York. In more ways than
â€œI think I pretty
much found that out tonight.
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
Ian swung the vehicle into her
driveway, braking to a