Elementary Romantic Calculus (Chemistry Lessons #6) - Susannah Nix Page 0,1

toward the nearest goat and waved her arms, trying to look menacing. “Shoo! Go on. Get out of here!”

Instead of moving out of the road like a reasonable creature should, the goat stood its ground, regarding her with its unnerving sideways cat-eyes. These goats weren’t anything like the cute baby billy goats Mia had encountered at petting zoos. These goats were big and wide, almost half her height, with huge udders hanging between their back legs.

She felt a moment of trepidation as she remembered a video she’d once seen of a man getting knocked over by a rambunctious goat. The video had been hilarious, but it was probably a lot less funny if you were the person being attacked by the goat.

Maybe she should have stayed in the car.

She was dressed for her job interview and didn’t fancy being butted into the ditch by an angry goat. Imagine explaining that to the hiring committee. Sorry I’m covered in dirt and vegetation, gentlemen, but you see I was attacked by a wild goat on my way here.

These goats didn’t look particularly angry, fortunately. Or inclined to rambunctiousness. Mostly they looked bored—and hot.

Mia could relate.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to be here,” she said to the goats in the road. “And I’m definitely not supposed to be here.”

The nearest goat tilted its head at her and bleated. Though it was almost more of a honk than a bleat. It had a big nose for a goat—not that Mia was any great expert on goat noses. But it seemed to have an unusually large, convex nose that gave it a distinctly comical appearance. It also had long, floppy ears that hung down past its chin like a lop-eared bunny.

It was pretty cute, actually.

Based on the bulging udder, she deduced it was female. It also didn’t have any horns, which she hoped meant it wasn’t the sort of goat who went around butting people into ditches.

It started walking toward her, and Mia stiffened in fear. But all it did when it reached her was nudge her hand with its head—the same way her friend Brooke’s cat did when it wanted to be petted.

Mia gave the goat a tentative scratch between its floppy ears, and it closed its eyes in what was clearly an expression of ecstasy.

When it noticed its friend getting attention, one of the other goats wandered over and bumped its head against Mia’s leg. She gave it a head scratch too. They seemed friendly and sweet as long as you gave them what they wanted. They reminded her of dogs, and she’d always liked dogs, despite never owning one herself.

A third goat wandered over, and Mia alternated pets between her three new friends. “You like that, huh? Just call me the Goat Whisperer, I guess.”

This was certainly not how she’d expected today to go. She was supposed to be meeting with members of the Bowman University math department in fifteen minutes, not standing on a dusty farm road sweating inside her interview clothes while she catered to a herd of affection-starved goats.

“How do you guys stand the heat out here?” she asked her hoofed companions as a trickle of sweat puddled inside her bra.

“They’re goats,” a man’s voice said behind her. “They’re used to it.”

Mia started and spun around.

A man in a cowboy hat stood in the road a few yards away from her. He seemed to have materialized out of thin air. There was no other car in sight, and no buildings within half a mile. She had no clue where he’d come from or how he’d managed to sneak up on her.

“Sorry.” The man raised his palms in a placating gesture. “Didn’t mean to scare you.”

Mia had never encountered an actual cowboy before, but she assumed that was what he was. In addition to his cowboy hat, which was made of straw and fraying around the brim, he wore scuffed cowboy boots and dusty jeans. His arms were thick and deeply tanned, and his sweat-stained T-shirt pulled tight across broad shoulders. It was exactly the sort of hearty physique she imagined one developed from years of wrestling recalcitrant cows, lassoing horses, and hoeing crops.

Or whatever it was that cowboys did. Honestly, she had no idea.

The man nodded at her car. “You lost?”

“Is it that obvious?” Squinting, she lifted a hand to shield her eyes from the sun and nearly started again when she got a good look at his face.

She’d been so distracted by the whole cowboy thing, she hadn’t