Taylor Fyre never thought he’d find love at the dog park, but when he spots Nicky Campbell and his dog, Nagy, he begins to think the impossible is possible.
Taylor Fyre isn’t wild about dogs. He’s got serious reservations about the animals and the last thing he wants to do is cover a story about the dog park. When he arrives at the park, he realizes facing his fears won’t be easy, but if Nicky Campbell is part of the healing process, he’s ready to start. The handsome, tattooed mechanic makes him want to bare his soul. But Nicky’s got a dog and things could get sticky.
Nicky Campbell would rather keep to himself than talk to new people. He’s tired of being labeled dangerous because of his tattoos. His dog, Nagy, a pit bull mix, faces the same discrimination. When Nicky runs into Taylor at the dog park, he expects a fight. But the more they talk, the more he’s drawn to the polished reporter. If he and Taylor can overcome their differences and be themselves, they might find they have plenty in common and can have the forever they both deserve.
Reader advisory: This book contains expressions of homophobia, references to male prostitution and reference to past abuse at the hands of an uncle.
General Release Date: 31st December 2019
“I need a story.” Taylor Fyre eased back in his chair and stared at his computer screen. The cursor blinked, mocking him. He didn’t have to look at the calendar to know what day it was—October twenty-seventh. He loved his job at the Collinwood Chronicle, but he had nothing to write about. He’d turned in his column, but he wanted more than one small story in the paper. He wanted something that didn’t have to involve trick or treat, too. Sure, the activity was appropriate for the time of year, but there had to be more going on. Still, he had nothing. Collinwood was so small a town that not much happened, so his options were limited. On top of that, rumors kept floating that there were job cuts on the horizon.
Mitch Davids, Taylor’s editor, rounded the cubicle. “Hi. I’m glad I found you.”
His stomach tightened. He worked hard to be indispensable, but no one was irreplaceable. “Hi.”
“What story are you working on?” Mitch dragged a chair over. “Something good?”
He had to come up with something fast. “Well, I’ve got a couple of leads.” Shit. He needed more than an idea. “I’m expecting an email back from the school on their grandparent day dates. I thought that might be a feel-good story for the community section.”
“It would be, but do you have anything else?”
“Not yet.” His heart sank. He had to work harder and scrounge for a story. “It’s been a bit slow in the area.”
“I know.” Mitch folded his hands over his non-existent belly. “I’m here to save the day. I’ve got two ideas for you and I want you to run with both. The first is covering the local book sale. The Friends of the Library have been getting the books together and I thought if you talked to them tomorrow, then during the sale—those would be two nice community stories. Plus, it’ll help draw attention to the sale. Go to the old fire house tomorrow at nine-thirty. They’ll be waiting.”
“Will do.” Taylor enjoyed talking to the folks with the Friends. They welcomed him with open arms and kept trying to con him into joining. One of these days, he would. “I like it.”
“Good.” Mitch smiled. “Now the other story…I want you to go to the dog park.”
Fear gripped Taylor. He wasn’t wild about dogs. He’d rather strip naked and walk down the main drag of Collinwood than interact with a canine. Despite his misgivings, he had to be professional. But could he get out of the story? “Okay, but Missy likes dogs. She’d be perfect for this.”
“Missy is three days from maternity leave and the last thing she wants to do is tromp around a dog park. She’s itching to have the baby already. Besides, once she does have the baby, she’s done here at the paper.” Mitch tipped his head. “So, I want you to visit the dog park. Find out about this place. It’s the ‘it spot’ to be. People are meeting up there and according to stories I’ve heard around town and through my friends, it’s the location to meet your future partner. I didn’t know we had that many dogs in town to need a special park.” He chuckled. “I’d go there, but I don’t have a dog.”
“I don’t either,” Taylor said. “Mitch…”
“You’re single.” Mitch grinned. “You need a date. Why not go with an open mind and an eye for the hot guys? Maybe brush your hair and straighten your shirt.”
“I’m not looking for love.” But he did want to catch his reflection in the mirror. He’d just had a haircut two days ago and he’d pressed his shirt that morning. He prided himself on presenting professionalism.
“Who says you’re not looking for love? You’re lonely. Ever since Joe left, you’ve been mopey.”
Fuck. He’d thought he’d kept his feelings under wraps. “So you’d send me on a story to get a date? That’s wrong.”
“No, the dog park phenomenon is a thing and we should report on it.” Mitch shrugged. “I’ve known you since high school and worked with you here for eight years. You want success and love so much, but you’ll push away any chance at love so you can have that career you think will evaporate before you hit thirty. Not everyone will be repulsed by your past and drive. There is a guy out there who wants a man with bent edges and a few tears. He’ll find those parts of you that need healing and will do the work.”
“Right.” Because the others I dated did so much along those lines.
“Kole was a jerk and Tevin wasn’t ready to grow up,” Mitch said. “Joe couldn’t settle down if he tried and he’d never be happy in a small town.”
“Thanks.” He’d come to the same conclusions, but hearing Mitch say them out loud broke his heart. He’d picked some real winners.
“So, go to the dog park. I called the shelter and they’ve started walking the dogs there, too, to get them socialized. Maybe you could find a dog you love if you can’t find a guy,” Mitch said. “There’s got to be a pup out there aching to be hugged.”
“Guy or dog?” He wasn’t one for younger men. “Is this an order?”
“Uh-huh. Go to the dog park this afternoon and the fire house in the morning. I want stories by Monday, so don’t goof off,” Mitch said. “I’m planning on running both features by Thursday.”
“Thanks.” He tamped down his irritation, but not by much. He wanted to tell Mitch to shove the dog park story, but he didn’t want to lose his job for being difficult. “Mitch?”
“Yes?” Mitch sat up in the chair. “Issue?”
“I’m not a dog person.” There. He’d said it.
“I’m not cut out for the dog park story.” When Mitch stood, Taylor did, too. He followed Mitch across the newsroom to his office. “You know?”
“Maybe I do.” Mitch ushered Taylor into the privacy of his office and shut the door. “Maybe I don’t.”
He groaned. “Don’t play mind games with me. Are you going to push me to complete this story?”
“Look, I don’t like baseball. Never have. I went to so many games in high school to watch my brother and hear stories about how I’d never been good enough because I wasn’t like him. If I never see another game, I’ll be fine, but I was required to cover the baseball season for five years. I’d still be on that beat if I hadn’t gone for the editor position. Even when we don’t like the story or situation, we have to suck it up and follow the trail. That’s the job.”
Mitch had a point. Writing stories about the rottenness in society didn’t help him sleep at night. Taylor lived for the positive ones. He’d have to do this one, but another better-fitting story would be along soon.
“Sorry. You’re on the dog park feature. I’m not budging.” Mitch grinned. “Anything else?”
“But it’s fluff,” Taylor said. His favorite kind of fluff, but still. He couldn’t help himself. He needed to get out from under this story. Mitch would never understand his aversion to dogs.
“Fluff rhymes with rough. Suck it up and visit those dogs.” Mitch pointed to the door. “Thank you. I’m glad you’re interested in the feature and thrilled to cover it.”
So much for getting Mitch to budge. “Fine.” Christ, he hated his editor’s sarcasm. “I’m on it.”
“Wonderful. It’ll be painless. You might even have fun.” Mitch escorted Taylor from the office. “I’ll see the rough draft of both stories by the end of day Monday?”
“Yes.” He turned on his heel and headed into the corridor. He hated dog parks. The places were smelly, full of bodily functions…not to mention the dogs. He stifled a shudder as he returned to his desk. He grabbed his keys, wallet, phone and messenger bag. If he had to cover the story, he’d do it, but he wouldn’t like it. Maybe no one would be there. Maybe he’d have to pass the story to someone else…no visitors, no story. A dull ache started behind his eyes.
No one knew he wasn’t a fan of dogs. Even Mitch, his friend for years, didn’t know about the incident from his childhood. But at three years old, being tackled by an overly amorous black dog that had seemed gigantic had scarred him. Back then, he’d thought the dog wanted to kill him. Licked to death and nibbled was more like it, but at three, what did he know? Ever since, he’d been hesitant to be alone with dogs. Then there was Joe’s dog, the snappy Chihuahua, Dainty. He’d been bitten so many times… Joe refused to correct the dog and Taylor hated having to hide the marks.
Damn it. His job was more important than any relationship or fear. He’d overcome his aversion to flying and heights while working for the Chronicle. He could conquer his fear of dogs, too.
Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.
When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice.
Find out more about Megan on her website, and sign up for the newsletter here. You can also check out her Blog, Amazon Author Page, Bookbub and Instagram.