Megan Montgomery has always been the careful type. Except…one time at her cousin’s wedding when she threw caution to the wind and had the steamiest hook-up of her life. But that was two years ago—why can’t she stop thinking about it? So when Megan accepts a job at her cousin’s company, she does everything she can to avoid Alex—knowing he’ll shake up her carefully crafted world.
Alex Rebat’s been living a good life. He loves his career and friends, but like Megan, hasn’t been able to stop thinking about their passionate encounter. And once Megan moves to town, Alex makes it his personal goal to show her that maybe it’s time to start taking a few more risks…
Alex was drinking coffee and looking out at his backyard. He loved his home, his property. Living in the suburbs was something he had always wanted to do, and when he found this house, it had everything he needed—lots of green space and room for him to put in the pool he now had and the kind of landscaping that ensured his privacy. He wasn’t antisocial or trying to avoid his neighbors, but he had thought if he was able to work with clients out of the house, they’d appreciate the privacy.
With June almost here, the weather was starting to turn warm, and he’d opened up the pool the previous weekend. The water level was perfect, and so were the chemical levels. The pool was heated, and maybe in another week or two, he’d be able to start using it.
Off his back porch was a hot tub, and for now that worked fine.
He was considering changing and doing a little soaking when his phone rang. When he saw Megan’s name on the screen, he was pleasantly surprised.
“Hey,” he said when he answered and hoped his enthusiasm wasn’t too obvious.
“Oh my God, Alex,” she began breathlessly. “I’ve lost Maylene!”
“Um…what?” She immediately relayed what had gone on, and she was getting to the point of near hysteria. “It’s going to be all right.”
“You don’t understand, Alex! I had one job to do— one stupid job!—and I screwed it up. I have to find her, and I have no idea where to look!”
He was already grabbing his keys and locking up the house. “I’m on my way. I’ll be there in ten minutes, and I’ll be on the lookout for her as I drive over.”
“What do I do? Where do I even begin to look for her?” she cried.
“Go and grab her leash and start walking up one side of the block and then down the other. I’ll be there as soon as I can. I promise.”
He heard the shaky breath she let out. “I have to find her, Alex,” she said quietly. “I can’t believe I lost her.”
“You haven’t lost her, Megan. She’s a handful— Ethan talks about that all the time. She’s gotten out before, so we will find her. Trust me.”
“I…I don’t know…I’m not sure where to even start…”
At that moment, he hated how he wasn’t there already with her. He could hear the devastation in her voice and knew she was going to have a serious meltdown any minute. “Megan,” he said, his voice going firm and authoritative, “you need to do what I’m telling you. Get Maylene’s leash, and then start walking down the block to the right of the house. I have a feeling that’s the direction she’d go in first. Start there, and I’ll be there as fast as I can.”
That seemed to work because by the time she hung up, she sounded a little more in control of her emotions. Back when they had dated—and he used the term loosely—he had never seen Megan get emotional. She got frustrated, sure. But never emotional—never to the point of tears. And he wasn’t sure how to react to it. His initial response was…well…it made him like her a little more. It softened her and showed how she wasn’t as cold as she’d seemed when they had ended things.
That memory instantly got pushed aside because now was not the time to be focusing on it. The important thing right now was to get to her and help her find Maylene.
Luckily, traffic was on his side, and he didn’t hit any red lights and turned onto Summer’s block six minutes later. Alex immediately spotted Megan and pulled over, rolling down his window. “Megan! Hop in! We’ll hit the other side of the street now.”
Nodding, she quickly jogged over and climbed into the truck. It was pointless to ask if she’d had any luck— the simple fact that there wasn’t a dog on the end of the leash told him she hadn’t. He pulled over close to the right side of the road and drove slowly. They each called out to the dog as they went. After two blocks, Megan rested her head on the back of the seat and sighed loudly. He pulled over.
“It’s no use,” she said miserably. “She’s gone. She’s just…she’s gone! I’m going to have to break it to Summer that I lost her dog!” She looked over at him, her brown eyes brimming with tears. “She loves that dog! Do you have any idea how much this is going to kill her?”
Unfortunately, Alex did know how much Summer loved her dog, and no doubt this was going to be devastating for her. Reaching over, he took one of Megan’s hands in his and gently squeezed it. “We’re not giving up, okay? We’ll keep driving around. We’ll knock on doors. We’ll put up posters and post on social media if we have to. I’ll drive around all night if that’s what it takes. All is not lost here, okay?”
The hesitant look on her face told him she didn’t think it would do any good, but he refused to quit. Not after only two blocks! With her hand in his, he started driving and was relieved when she turned and called out to Maylene again.
They drove for several more blocks and then turned around and made their way up the other side. By the time they were back in front of Summer’s, Alex decided to pull into the driveway and park. “We’ll knock on doors now,” he said.
“Maybe we need to go off the block,” she suggested.
It was possible, he thought, but he had a feeling if they were on foot, they’d have more luck. “Why don’t you go and grab a handful of her treats? This way if we spot her and she thinks we’re playing, we can lure her over with a snack. What do you think?”
“Sounds good.” Megan took off up the driveway, and Alex watched her disappear around the back of the house and into the yard. A minute later, she called his name, and he quickly jogged back to her. At the gate, he spotted her pointing to the far corner of the deck. When he stepped closer, he started to chuckle. “Don’t you dare laugh.”
He knew she was trying to sound intimidating, but there was a hint of laughter in her own voice.
There, sitting in the corner of the deck in Ethan’s hammock, was Maylene—peacefully sunning herself. Alex glanced at the dog and then to Megan. “Um…”
“She was not there earlier. I swear.”
“I’m serious, Alex! She didn’t come when I called her, and she wasn’t there when I brought the mail in and put it inside either of the houses. I heard her barking when I came out of the main house, but by the time I came out of mine, she was gone!”
“I believe you,” he said carefully and took a step closer to her. “I’m sure she was just playing with you.”
She shot him a bland look. “Seriously? That’s what you’re going with?”
He laughed a bit, unable to help himself. “I’m not sure what else I can say. The thing we should be focused on here is that she’s not lost. She’s home and in the yard, and even though I happen to know for a fact that Ethan doesn’t like her sitting in the hammock, it’s better than the alternative.”