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Sugar by Sam Crescent, Jenika Snow (1)

1

Sugar tried to keep up with her tiny Pomeranian as she hustled ass down the street. She tightened her hold on the white leather leash, Poppy’s little bell dangling from her collar, ringing with each step she made.

The streets were packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic, the sidewalks filled with pedestrians. Although she loved the city for its culture and variety, she hated it for the fact there was no intimacy.

She stopped at the crosswalk and waited for the sign to indicate she was safe to go. As soon as the little white stick man popped up she walked across the street, Poppy trailing behind her. She was at the park about five minutes after that, the enclosed dog area a place for Poppy to let off steam and interact with her furry friends. It also gave Sugar time to catch up on emails.

Once Poppy was in the dog run and Sugar was seated on one of the benches, she watched for a moment as her spunky Pomeranian ran around in hyper circles. Sugar fished out her cell and started going through her emails, answering some, verifying appointments in others, and doing things she’d rather put off.

Periodically she checked on Poppy, who was now busy chewing on a stick under the shade of a large tree. A second later Poppy ran over to Sugar, the stick in her mouth almost as long as her body. She lay down at her feet and started the process of chewing at the end. A breeze picked up, a reprieve from the hot July weather beating down on them.

Sugar was vaguely aware of the sound of the dog run gate being opened and closed, and of the tinkle of tags dangling from a collar coming closer and closer. She looked down at Poppy, who perked her head up and made this combination of a low growl and whining noise.

“What’s wrong?” she said to Poppy a second before a large furry body propelled itself onto her, successfully knocking her off the bench so she landed on her ass beside her yipping Pomeranian. Her phone was knocked out of her hand and lay a few feet from her sprawled body.

The dog on top of her had shaggy hair and started frantically licking the side of Sugar’s face. She couldn’t help but chuckle as she gently pushed the beast off of her, hanging on to his collar in the process.

“You’re just so excited, aren’t you, boy?” She patted his head.

“Dammit,” a deep male voice hollered out and she looked up to see what she presumed was the owner hauling ass toward them. He was dressed in a pair of slacks and a crisp looking button-down shirt, the light blue coloring coordinating perfectly with the navy shade of his pants. His short, dark blond hair was immaculately styled, and the shine of his loafers was almost blinding.

Although this was the city and it wasn’t like she wasn’t used to seeing people in business attire, usually when they came to the park, especially the dog run, they tended to go with more relaxed clothes.

She righted herself and started scratching behind the dog’s ear. He immediately lay on his side and started kicking his legs, Sugar obviously having found his sweet spot.

“You’re just encouraging him.” The deep, gruff voice came through like a crack from a whip.

Sugar felt her body tense as she lifted her head and looked at the man, who now was only a few feet from her. The brown leash he held looked designer, with gold accents and little wear. She stood fully and brushed off her legs, pieces of dirt and grass falling from her thighs. “Excuse me?”

“Come here, Boscoe,” the man said and patted his side. The dog jumped up a little uncoordinatedly and trotted over to his owner. He started licking his hand, and although the man was stiff and stern looking, he ran his palm over the dog’s head.

“What exactly did you mean by that?” Sugar asked again and crossed her arms over her chest.

“I’m sorry he knocked you over but I’m trying to train him. So rewarding him by giving him positive reinforcement after he just put you on your ass is not the message I want to send to him.”

Is he for real?

Sugar lifted her brow. He was reprimanding her? She could’ve laughed. “Well, I could suggest keeping your dog on a leash, but given the fact we’re in a dog run, isn’t the point for him running around to let off some steam?” She saw the way his jaw tightened under his clean-shaven cheek. Sugar could tell what kind of man this was.

He was used to getting his way, maybe not having someone challenge him or talk back to him. But then again, he’d obviously never met a woman like her, strong and independent, not about to let him talk down to her.

Poppy decided to drop the stick and run over to the dog, yipping and jumping, clearly wanting to play with him. Before the man could rein in his canine companion, Poppy and the big, brown shaggy beast started running around together. Sugar couldn’t help but smile, but a look at the stranger just a few feet from her told her he still had a stick up his ass.

“You can relax, you know,” she said with a lighter tone. She didn’t know what was going on in his life. Maybe he’d had a bad day, or was dealing with personal things that made him a cranky asshole. Either way, she didn’t have to have a nasty attitude toward him like he was with her.

Sitting back on the bench and working on her emails again, she could see him out of the corner of her eye. He still stood there stiff as hell, his arms crossed over his broad chest, his back arrow straight. She lifted her head and looked over at him, hoping he didn’t see her checking him out.

For being so rude he was extremely attractive. And for some eye candy she could look past his sour personality.

With broad shoulders and a narrow waist, Sugar had no doubt that he was sporting a defined abdomen under that too-starched shirt. The slacks fit his muscular thighs and ass to perfection.

He glanced over at her and this time he was the one who lifted a brow. She felt her face heat and glanced away.

Busted.

Maybe I should hire you to train him since it’s clear you’ve got a way with animals.” Although she could’ve taken that as a compliment, his brisk tone made her feel like he was almost talking down to her again.

She looked over at him and smiled as sweetly as she could. “Honey, although I’d love to help you with your animal, I’m not a dog trainer. Animals just know when someone is an asshole.” Sugar smiled, flashing her teeth but holding in her chuckle as she saw his lips purse and his eyes narrow. Nope, he definitely was not used to being talked to this way. Well, good, served him right.

She held her hand out. “The name is Sugar, by the way.” His lips twitched and she knew what he was about to say before he spoke.

Sugar, as in the condiment?” It was her turn to feel her body stiffen as if she had a stick jammed up her butt.

“That’s right, but don’t let the name fool you.” She grinned wider. “I’m not always as sweet.” She said the last part with a bite in her voice.

“Colton McGuire.” They promptly looked back at the dogs. “My name’s not nearly as interesting as yours,” he said and she saw the way the corner of his mouth lifted up. He looked over at her and all-out grinned this time and she couldn’t help but reciprocate the act. He acted like he had this hard exterior, but she could tell that shell could be broken. Too bad she didn’t have time to chisel away at it.

A relationship was certainly not on her agenda.

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