Make You Feel My Love - Kait Nolan Page 0,1

surface was more appealing than Venus herself.

With a quick glance at her charges, Mary Alice stepped into him, rising on her toes. Judd still had to lean down so she could whisper in his ear. “Maybe after you’ve slept, we could spend some quality time together. Do a little catching up.”

He hummed a noncommittal noise, wondering why he couldn’t drum up any enthusiasm about getting reacquainted with those legs of hers. It was the double shift. Had to be. A flash of red hair distracted him from the suggestion of what they could do with some of that quality time.

Autumn Buchanan, his oldest, dearest friend, cut through the crowd with Boudreaux, Judd’s massive bloodhound-mastiff mix, trotting beside her on a leash. While he’d been on nights the last week, she’d been dogsitting. Livia Applewhite, the children’s librarian and one of her closest girlfriends, trailed in her wake. Judd straightened, eyes zeroing in on the number pinned to Autumn’s chest.

“Good morning, y’all!” She immediately launched into cheery greetings to the children she and Livia knew from the library, introducing them to Boudreaux. The dog sat, patiently enduring the kids’ adoration, his big tail slowly sweeping the sidewalk.

“Are y’all looking forward to the race?” Livia asked.

As she drew the children into excited conversation, Autumn stepped forward, extending the to-go cup in her hand. “I come on a mission of mercy. A Zombie Killer from The Grind. Extra shot of caramel, just how you like it. Figured you’d be dragging about now. Plus, Boudreaux’s missing his daddy.”

Judd automatically took the cup in one hand, and gave his dog a head rub with the other, but he couldn’t tear his eyes off of Autumn. “Thanks. What are you wearing?”

She glanced down at her shorts and fitted tank top, which displayed miles of lean, toned legs and arms that he forced himself to ignore. “I realize you’re on a double, but if you’re so tired you don’t recognize running gear, I’m not sure you should be on duty.”

“I’m talking about the race number.”

She deliberately widened her green eyes at him. “It’s called participation.”

“You’re not running.” With a struggle, he managed to make it a question rather than an order.

“I am, actually. Livia, Riley, and I are doing it together.”

Frustration whipped through him. “You aren’t supposed to exert yourself. Dr. Webb said—”

“That exercise is good for my heart.”

“He meant yoga or swimming.” Hadn’t he? Nice non-competitive stuff that wouldn’t get her heart rate or blood pressure up. Nothing that might aggravate her heart condition.

“It’s a one mile fun run, not a triathlon. Besides, Boudreaux is looking forward to some exercise. Aren’t you, boy?” She scratched behind his ears, and Boudreaux pressed into her touch, eyes rolling back in bliss.

Missing his daddy, my ass.

“Boudreaux’s idea of exercise is walking from the sofa down to the end of my dock.”

“Which should be proof enough that I won’t be over exerting myself. Stop worrying, Grandpa.”

That was like ordering him not to breathe. He couldn’t just turn off twenty-five years of protective instincts. Not when he could still so clearly see her lying in that hospital bed, hooked up to half a dozen monitors and machines.

Someone’s voice boomed over a bullhorn. “Everybody participating in the Fun Run please take your position behind the starting line. The race will begin in five minutes.”

Livia craned her neck to look over the crowd. “We should go find Riley.”

“Gotta go.” Autumn was already turning away before he could think of any other rational arguments against her running in this race. “Drink the coffee, Judd. You’ll feel better. Bye, Mary Alice!”

Beside him, Mary Alice lifted her hand in a wave. “She’ll be fine.”

Judd grunted a response and scanned the course to see what medical personnel were on duty, in case something went wrong. The First Aid tent was about thirty yards away, on one corner of the town green. They were more expecting scraped knees and sprains, but a defibrillator would be there. And he had his own EMT training to fall back on in an emergency.

None of it made him feel any better, but short of bodily stopping her from participating, it was the best he could do. Not that she’d had any incidents in years, and her last check-up with her cardiologist, three months before, had given her an all clear.

Judd blinked, realizing Mary Alice had been talking to him. “Sorry. What?”

A flicker of exasperation passed over her pretty face. “I asked if you’d be up in time tomorrow for us to go