Days go by like the wind
And this life is too short
It makes no sense to give in
To release you from my thoughts. (from Keep Your Heart Broken by the Rasmus)
"Dogs are wise. They crawl away into a quiet corner and lick their wounds and do not rejoin the world until they are whole once more" Agatha Christie
"Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to." Alfred A. Montapert
"Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." George Eliot
Running her hand down the reed thin leg of the skittish colt, Meagan felt for any signs of misshapen or broken bones, her eyes closed, letting her fingertips tell her mind anything she needed to know. The colt's heart was beating quickly and it shuffled warily in the straw. Not that it was afraid, just that everything was novel to the newborn and she was just one more smell it didn't recognize. The mare breathed slowly and evenly, and was the only reason the colt wasn't even more skittish. Snowbird was used to the sight and scent of the dark haired vet and besides, the mare knew about the sugar cubes she kept in her pocket. As a vet, Meagan knew the sugar wasn't the kind of treat you should give a horse, but Snow was a special case.
"He's lovely Snow," she smiled, straightening and digging into her pocket for the special treat, putting two of the cubes in the flat of her palm and holding them up for the mare to take. She grinned at the tickle of the mare's soft muzzle against her hand, the velvet lips parting to take the cubes, exploring her hand for more, her warm breath blowing over skin. The colt raised his head and sniffed at the vet's hand, wondering what his mother found so interesting there. Meagan smiled as his soft muzzle searched her over, finding the empty pocket and giving it a nudge. "No, none of those for you. You stick with mom for a while. Maybe in a few months huh?" she added, stroking her hand along the white blaze on the colt's forehead. He stood still for a moment and then turned and wobbled on his still weak legs until he reached his mother's side, and began nuzzling the mare's still swollen belly. "I'll leave you to it huh mom?" Meagin grinned at mother and son, even as the emptiness filled her own belly, making tears prick at the corners of her eyes. "Is this ever going to get any easier Snow?" she sighed, taking a deep breath, letting the familiar warm smells of fresh hay and warm horseflesh soothe her rattled nerves. Sometimes the accident seemed a long time ago, and sometimes, like today, it seemed like yesterday.
Taking one last deep breath Meagin reached up to brush the tears away as she pushed the gate of the stall open before she turned to head back into the house and ran head long into the solidity of a wide male chest.
Putting her hands out to stop from falling, her fingers spread out over the rock-hard expanse of a set of wide male shoulders encased in a soft cashmere sweater. He was taller than she was and smelled nothing like horses so she knew that this definitely wasn't Billy from next door, although he was known to hang out in her barns and offer to help sometimes.
"Can I help you?" she managed to stutter reminding herself that she was supposed to be here to help the locals and not to just tend to her own animals, and found herself looking up into a pair of hazel eyes rimmed by long black eyelashes that would be the envy of any model, any woman for that matter. Biting the inside of her cheek she tried not smile as he blinked back at her, but it was too late. The same immediate attraction she was feeling showed in his gaze as he held her at arms' length.
"A dog...was hit...in my car," he tried to explain pointing back towards the driveway while still blinking at her in what looked a lot like disbelief. With a roll of her green eyes Meagin squared her shoulders as she got her bearings. Helping a dog was something she could deal with, flirt with a guy with dark wavy hair and a wide sensuous mouth that smelled like expensive cologne was something she definitely could not deal with this early in the morning, if ever.
"You hit the dog?" she asked, reaching for her medical bag and pulling the gate shut behind her and latching it with her free hand.
"No!" he insisted, sounding shocked somehow that she would think so. "I mean, I saw the guy who hit him but he just drove off," he continued rapidly, falling easily into step beside her as she marched toward the driveway. Meagin had a moment to smile to herself as she glanced up at him.
Good, she thought, I'd hate to think a guy with eyes that kind would do something like hit a dog.
When the guy at the gas station had directed him to the house at the end of the road, the last thing Sidney had thought he'd find was a curvy little brunette with bright red lips and deep green eyes. He'd been worried about the dog and worried about being late for his meeting. Still, when he'd seen her standing ankle deep in the straw of the horse stall running her hands over the spindly legged colt, all those worries had sped straight out of his mind.
Even through the fleece jacket with a hoodie underneath, jeans and rubber boots he could see she was built like a Playboy centerfold, and then she'd turned around. Without a stitch of make up on and her long dark hair pulled back in a cute pair of pig tails, she was a knock out. He'd hardly been able to get out the reason he was in her barn when she'd asked, his brain was way too busy undressing her. But now she was practically accusing him of hitting the dog and that snapped his brain back to business.
"No!" He cried, ready to argue the point like he would with a ref on a bad call. "I mean, I saw the guy who hit him but he just drove off," he continued, suddenly finding himself needing this curvy little woman to believe him. He even felt relieved when she glanced over at him and he thought he could see just the hint of a smile play across her full pink lips.
He watched with interest as she walked up to his SUV, not even pausing to ask permission as she flipped open the hatch. He was used to people giving him a wide berth, or at least having someone keep people from touching his car and here this woman was crawling into his vehicle without so much as looking back at him. In fact, she'd looked right at him but at no point did he see even the smallest inkling of awareness of who he was.
"I see you found her," Colby grinned back at him over the back seat, his knowing eyes sweeping over the woman now bent over the injured dog laid out on his jacket. He watched the dog wag the tip of its' tail weakly as she bent over him speaking softly, her hands running quickly and expertly over its' body. He found himself feeling jealous of the dog.
"Was this the side he was hit on?" she asked, not looking up at either of them, her voice light but holding an edge that made the question sound like a command.
"Sort of more like a bum rush," Colby leered at her, his eyes raking over her perfect skin, the curve of her back, down to the wings of what looked like a butterfly just visible between the waist band of her jeans and the top of her fleece jacket. Sid's gaze stuck there, and the thoughts in his head made his mouth go dry.
"Poor little guy," she cooed, carefully and slowly running her hands down the dog's back legs and Sid felt an answering shiver run down the back of his thighs. "I think one of his legs is broken," she sighed, stretching as she straightened, a silver moon dangling from her belly button flashing as she stretched her arms over her head before tugging her hoodie back down to cover the golden coloured flesh. "Can you guys carry him inside?" The glance she sent Sid made him duck his head to try and hide the heat that was rising in his face. She knew he'd been staring, and she clearly wasn't impressed.
Meagan felt her cheeks heat as she turned to head for the house. She hadn't intentionally given those guys a show, in fact it was the farthest thing from her mind, but she hadn't done all of her chores yet this morning and she was sore from sleeping on the cot in the infirmary. It seemed crazy, considering she was wrapped up like a mummy and she didn't have a stitch of make up on, but they had been looking and what's more, they'd been looking like they appreciated the view.
Giving herself a little shake, she dismissed the idea from her mind. She couldn't think about that now, there was an animal that needed her help, and no matter how gorgeous the dark haired sex god was, that dog was her priority. Besides, she told herself as she watched his considerable muscles flex beneath his almost too tight sweater as they put the Golden Retriever down on the examination table, there was no way a guy that hot would be single anyway.
Willing herself not to look at him and not to feel his eyes watching her as she tossed her jacket in the corner, followed by her hoodie, she concentrated on what she had to do, in what order and tried to forget about the two men crowding her surgery.
"Need some help Em?" Meagan looked up gratefully to see her friend Tess pushing her way through the door, sizing up both men, and lastly looking down at the dog who tapped the end of its' golden tail weakly on the table.
"Yeah, I'll need some plaster mixed up," she began, reaching for a splint in one of the drawers and some gauze to tie it with. What she wanted was to have Tess see the two men out, especially the stockier darker one. He made her feel...uncomfortable, and in a way that was no longer familiar to her, but she knew it would just be rude to dismiss them out of hand especially after they'd actually stopped to help an animal in need. "Can you keep him quiet while I put some things together?" she asked, glancing up into his hazel eyes, feeling that immediate warmth wash over her as he smiled and nodded. "Good, I'll be right back," she promised, putting her head down and rushing out of the room after Tess.
"Nice," Tess grinned as she reached over Meagan's head for the powder to begin mixing the plaster as Meagan turned on the tap and reached for a measuring cup.
"The Golden?" Meagan began, knowing full well that wasn't what Tess was talking about, but something in her gut told her now wasn't the time to be gossiping about the thickly muscled God in the next room.
"Yeah, of course you would only notice the dog," Tess sighed dramatically, upending the box of powder into the bowl of water as Meagan began to mix. The sarcasm in her friend's voice stung, but she knew it was well deserved. For anyone that had only known her a few months, like Tess, it would probably seem like she didn't take any interest at all in the two legged upright variety of mammals. After all, ever since the accident she just hadn't had the energy to even think about dating, let alone a relationship, even of the overnight kind. But then there hadn't been any high cheek boned dimpled hot guys smiling at her either. Or maybe she just hadn't been aware of any, but then, she was sure if she'd seen him before, she felt sure she would have noticed.
When she came back in with the bowl and bandages, their eyes locked over the length of the dog's body and for the first time that tender smile that made her eyes light up was for him as he stroked his hands along the dog's neck and shoulders, trying to keep the animal calm. Her gruff all business exterior melted for a moment as he bent over the dog, whispering soft encouraging words and he felt the warmth of her smile right down to his groin.
Damn she was fine. Now that she'd shrugged off her baggy garments, he was getting an eyeful of her high round breasts through the tank top, and as she moved, he kept getting glimpses of that shimmering piece of jewellery hanging from her belly button. He'd ignored Army's choice comments when she'd left. He hadn't needed any prompting to watch her round little ass sway as she left the room and he didn't need reminding now to look at her ample cleavage as she bent over her work, her gaze levelling on the Golden's knee joint, feeling along the slender bones for the break.
He felt the dog jerk under his hands and felt her gaze on him as he tried to hold the dog down without hurting him and without getting his hands anywhere near its mouth. Not that it had tried to bite him. Somehow the dog seemed to know that they were only trying to help but he wouldn't blame it if it did take a chunk out of him. He certainly knew what it felt like to have a trainer pulling on parts that hurt and more than once he'd wanted to take a chunk out of one of the trainers.
Kneeling, he looked into the dog's big brown eyes and spoke quietly to it while she quickly set the bone. He saw the pain in the poor pup's eyes but it held still under his hands this time and when he looked up again, she was giving him another one of those warm considering smiles that, if he'd had one, would have made him want to wag his tail for her. He watched her wrap the leg with the wet plaster covered bandages, watched her smooth them with swift expert passes of her fingers and he found himself biting his lip to stop from moaning out loud.
"That should keep him for a while," she sighed, looking down at her handiwork for a moment before turning to run her hands under the water in a nearby sink while her assistant removed the bowl and remains of the plaster. Sid caught her glance, a quick elevator look with her dark eyes behind the rims of her glasses and was surprised that he felt relieved. She obviously knew who he was. It made him wonder if she'd filled in her boss, but as she backed out of the door and the shapely vet turned around to look at him, he didn't get the feeling that she had. "Can you write down for me the intersection you found him at? He might have a microchip I can pass on to the local shelters."
Sid found himself jumping to take the pen from her hand, and it was only as he put the pen down on the pharmacy pad she'd shoved in his direction that he realized she hadn't asked for his phone number but that's what he was writing down. His hand paused over the pad, a grin of sheer disbelief tugging at the corners of his lips. He didn't even know this woman and she was getting under his skin in the best possible way, and the worst. He was going to be leaving for the 'Burgh in a few days. Now wasn't the time to be starting anything and yet...
"I'd like to stop by later and check in on him, if that's okay?" he asked sheepishly as he handed her the paper he'd torn from the pad, stuffing the extra page he'd taken with it in the back pocket of his jeans, the one with her name and the phone number of the clinic on it.
"Sure," she shrugged, turning back to her charge to hide the blazing heat in her cheeks as she pushed the piece of paper he'd given her onto the counter behind her. He'd given her his phone number before what she'd asked for, almost like the intersection had been an after thought. So it wasn't her imagination, he was definitely hitting on her. "Umm, thank you," she managed glancing up at him to find his hazel eyes waiting for hers, an answering pinkness in his own young cheeks.
"Oh you're jacket," Tess moaned, re-entering the room without a spot on her uniform, which made Meagan look down at her tank top and jeans dotted with drying plaster. She never could keep her self presentable and Tess never failed to. "I'll see what I can do with it, when he's ready to move," she promised smiling brightly at the dark haired one. What did he write on that piece of paper? Meagan shook her head. If she looked at it again she'd seem interested and she wasn't, she couldn't be.
"Don't worry about it, he's got lots," the hawk nosed friend interjected with a grin and as he headed for the doors. "Coming Sid? We're already late buddy," he added with a smirk as he watched his friend pause at the other end of the table, his hand going to the thick golden ruff and giving the dog a last pat.
"So I'll...see you later?" he asked hopefully, his gaze holding Meagan's for long enough that it felt like her heart was trying to climb out of her throat and into her mouth so she could spit it at his feet. What was it about his long lashes and soft pink lips that turned her into a blithering idiot.
"I'm always here," she managed, turning abruptly away and willing him to leave so that she could breathe again. She heard the door close and listened for the sound of the outer door to the clinic closing before she let go of the edge of the counter.
"Nice catch girlfriend," Tess giggled, sliding her hands under the Golden as he began to stir and try to slide off of the table.
"I'd say I don't know what you're talking about," Meagan sighed, glancing over at where the slightly crumpled piece of paper was staring back at her, "but I don't suppose you'd believe me."
"I'd say I can't believe you don't know who that was, but I know where your brain has been for the last couple of years," Tess grumbled, lifting the Golden off of the table and backing into the door. "A little help here?" Meagan gave her head a shake and followed Tess down the hall to the indoor cages, bending to open one of the big ones on the floor before turning to fill a water bowl.
"So you're saying you weren't just making eyes at him because he was incredibly hot?" Meagan offered, carrying the water bowl carefully over to the cage and kneeling to slide it inside before reaching for the Golden's velvet soft ear again to write the number of the tattoo she'd glimpsed inside.
"Like you didn't notice," Tess coughed sarcastically. "I find it hard to believe but I know you don't read the paper and if it doesn't have fur you don't pay any attention to it but he's pretty famous around here," Tess continued, reaching into one of the cages to pull out one of the cats that was in for boarding, cradling it to her chest and running her hands over its' ebony fur.
"Famous?" Meagan repeated, writing the last number before slowly and a little reluctantly closing the cage door.
"He's only a Canadian icon. You must be the only woman under the age of...I don't know, dead, that doesn't know who he is," Tess continued, following Meagan to her office and leaning in the doorway while she pulled out the numbers of the local shelters and rescue societies.
"So who is he Tess? Because you can do this twenty questions thing all day and I still won't know," Meagan reached to begin dialling the phone before Tess reached in front of her with one hand to shake the mouse in front of the screen and with one hand aimed at it her favourites list.
"I can't believe I've worked here with you this long and you haven't even caught on," Tess muttered impatiently while the screen changed to a black and gold one with flashing icons and dissolving pictures. Meagan watched the pictures change in front of her until she snatched the mouse out of Tess's fingers and aimed it herself.
"Him?" she said quietly, calling up a picture of a young dark haired hockey player kneeling close to a tiny blonde haired boy, holding a plaque and smiling. "That's him?" she heard herself repeating.
"Sidney Crosby, yeah," Tess shook her head at her and made a 'tsking' sound before turning and heading back to the cages to continue with her morning chores, leaving Meagan gazing at the screen, shuffling through the pictures online.