A little while ago, I blogged about my hero, Sam Jackson, a brilliant but commitment-challenged party animal, gambler and player. This excerpt illustrates Sam’s terror when he learns the heroine has a son.
Unless Katie had taken in a younger brother or nephew or some such for an overnight or two—and Sam sincerely hoped she had—she apparently owned a son named Josh. Struggling to get his breathing under control, he scanned the living room for evidence of a child. Sure enough, video games and two action figures lay beside a stack of comic books on a side table. A wooden baseball bat stood in a corner. Pictures of a child at various ages of development studded one wall.
Yep. The evidence was there, but he’d been blind to everything but Katie.
The creamy yellow walls of her living room closed in on him. A cold sweat broke out on his forehead. Kids terrified him. In fact, he made a point of avoiding women who had children.
Shouldn’t Katie have mentioned her kid? Most mothers talked about them all day long, obsessing over their accomplishments, bragging about their irresistible cuteness. Katie hadn’t demonstrated any of those telltale symptoms. Hell, she hadn’t uttered one word, not a whisper or hint about a son.
A smart man would leave, pronto.
Apparently, he wasn’t smart at all, because he ambled into the kitchen to meet Katie’s visitor. And possibly—he had a hard time wrapping his head around the notion—her son.
The kid caught Sam’s attention first. The boy’s resemblance to Katie was so strong, he had to be her offspring.
In one corner, Katie and a knockout blonde spoke to one another in low voices, no doubt discussing Josh’s misbehavior. They were so engrossed in their conversation, they paid no attention to Rex dancing around the boy, backing him into a corner. The kid’s eyes, wide with terror, silently begged him for help.
Blindsided by compassion, Sam grabbed Rex’s collar. “Sit,” he ordered, pushing hard on the dog’s rump. Thankfully, Rex obeyed, and sat there panting. Forgetting for a moment how much he disliked children, Sam hunkered down. “This here’s Rex. He looks big and scary at first, but he loves kids. Hold out your hand so he can sniff it. I won’t let him hurt you.”
The kid stared back, then looked at the dog. Ever so slowly, he extended his hand. Rex snuffled at it. A long, pink tongue swept over the fingers. The boy giggled and snatched his hand away. “It tickles.”
Talking to kids wasn’t as hard as Sam had feared. He made sure he had a good hold on Rex before saying, “I’m your mom’s friend, Sam Jackson, but you can call me Sam.”
“Well, Josh, Rex likes you to scratch behind his ears and stroke his head. Watch.” He demonstrated the dog’s favorite head-scratch. “Want to try it?”
The kid did. Rex moaned in ecstasy. Josh grinned at Sam. “He likes it.”
“Yep. I think he likes you too.”
“I’m okay now. You can let go of Rex.”
Maintaining a tight grip on Rex’s collar, Sam got to his feet. “You sure? He might want to play.”
The kid sucked in a lungful of air, blew it out. “I’m good with that.”
“Okay, then.” Sam released the collar, ready to step in if the kid freaked out. Rex shook his head, jingling his collar, then sprawled at the kid’s feet. His tail thumped the floor, as if to say, I know you’re a kid so I’ll be gentle.
The kid scratched Rex’s thick ruff of fur.
Cold Feet Fever is available in print copy and all e-book formats.
I would love to hear what you thought of the excerpt. Will Sam and Josh bond? What could have made Sam so terrified of children?