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Monday Puzzler > Puzzler - January 26th, 2015

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message 1: by June (new)

June (ladyjune) | 146 comments Heroine hated to admit it, but she was actually relieved when her first day at Rand Labs was over. She loved the work and the people, but she just couldn’t seem to stay on task. It was such an unusual feeling for her that by the time she left the lab, she decided she must be coming down with the flu or a cold. That could be the only explanation for her inability to concentrate.
But oddly, one of the symptoms of this virus was recurring thoughts of Hero. She would be adjusting her microscope, and instead of seeing the cells on the slide, she’d see Hero. Or when she was retrieving a petri dish from the incubator, she would hear the richness of his voice. And over and over, she found herself remembering the way his arms had felt wrapped around her.
Fortunately, she didn’t think any of her fellow scientists noticed her lack of concentration. She hadn’t made any mistakes on the experiments she had done, but she hadn’t lost herself in her research like she usually did.
And not surprisingly, her drive home had been as much of a blur as her day at the lab. But she was determined to get a tight reign on her disruptive thoughts. She was normally a very levelheaded woman and not prone to daydreams. She must be more tired than she realized. A good night’s sleep would have her back to normal, and she could commence her research with an uncluttered mind.
Getting out of her car, she grabbed her briefcase and started up the porch steps. She was so involved with not thinking about Hero that she nearly stepped on the creature lying in front of her door.
She screamed, and the enormous beast rose to its feet, its bushy tail wagging back and forth as if a piercing shriek was just the greeting he’d been waiting for.
It only took Heroine’s startled mind a moment to realize the monster lying in wait was actually a dog. And if appearances could be trusted, a very friendly dog.
Heroine didn’t have much experience with the species, but she liked the ones she had encountered before. So with only slight trepidation, she extended her hand toward the animal.
“Hey, pup, where did you come from?”
The animal immediately lowered its head to retrieve a scrap of cloth from the porch’s worn floorboards. Whatever the item was, it was evident the dog was very proud of the scrap, because he nudged it at her opened palm. Apparently, the bit of cloth was a gift for her.
With a pleased laugh, Heroine patted the dog’s furry head, and then shook out the cloth the dog had brought her.
For a moment she could only stare at the object. Then she laughed again.
The silly mutt had brought her a pair of men’s boxers— with chili peppers on them, no less.
“Somehow I don’t think you really had me in mind when you chose these,” she said to the dog, reaching down again to rub its back.
The dog jerked its back leg in bliss, the movement causing the metal tags on his collar to jingle.
Heroine moved her hand to check them. One said that his rabies shot was up to date. That was good.
And the second tag said his name was Chester.
“Well, hello, Chester.”
The dog’s tail thumped happily against the clapboards of the house in response.
“So, where do you belong, big guy?”
Heroine flipped the silver nametag over, and on the back was the answer to her question.

117 Fletcher Road
Millbrook, ME

Heroine dropped the tag and shook her head as she continued to pet the animal. Even a dog bearing underwear couldn’t keep her thoughts from Hero for long.
With that realization, she held up the boxers and looked at them more closely. Hot peppers. She shook her head again and smiled. Somehow they seemed appropriate.
“Come on, Chester. I think I’d better return you and your master’s unmentionables. Come on, boy.”
Chester happily followed her as they crossed the road and climbed the steps of Hero’s porch.
She knocked on the door and waited. There was no sound. She knocked again, and this time she could hear some muffled noise from inside. A few seconds later the door swung open, and Hero stood before her dressed only in a pair of jeans. His hair and chest were damp, and he held a towel loosely in one hand.
His expression appeared a bit irritated, but it quickly dissolved into a look of surprise.
“Heroine,” he said. Her name sounded absolutely sinful on his lips. “How are you?”
Heroine blinked. Fine, except breathing was becoming only a voluntary reaction at the moment. She hadn’t expected to find him in such a state of undress. But how he looked in such a state was exactly what she’d expected— he looked wonderful. His skin was a smooth golden cover over the lean muscles of his chest and arms.
It took her a few moments to stop staring and answer his question.
“I’m returning Chester.”
The time it took for her to regain her equilibrium had been enough for him to regain his composure too. He leaned against the door frame, a sexy smile on his lips.
Heroine could hear the rhythmic thumping of the dog’s tail behind her when he heard his name; it matched the beat of her heart.
“He considers himself the welcoming committee on this street,” Hero said.
Heroine tried to keep her eyes on Hero’s face, but they had a will of their own and wandered back down to the ridged flatness of his stomach and the enticing line of fine dark hair that swirled around his shallow bellybutton and disappeared intriguingly under the waistband of his jeans.
When she looked back up, she found him watching her with unconcealed interest. A broad grin deepened the dimple in his left cheek.
Heat burned Heroine’s already overheated flesh.
“I also wanted to return these,” she blurted out, extremely embarrassed to be caught so blatantly admiring his physique.
It took a moment for Hero to realize what she was holding, but when he did, it was his turn to look uncomfortable. But he recovered much more admirably than she had.
He chuckled and took the boxers from her. “That mutt. I’m sorry. Not only does he feel the need to visit, but he also feels the need to bring gifts. You’re lucky he didn’t bring you one of my dirty socks. They’re a favorite of his.”
Heroine smiled. “I guess chili peppers do beat old tube socks.”
She waited for Hero to respond, but his gaze was locked on her mouth. Self-consciously, she touched her fingers to her lips.
Hero watched the action intently and then slid a hand into the pocket of his jeans. “Do you want to come in?”
“I should get home. I just wanted to return your pet and... your other thing.”
“You know, since you’ve seen my boxers and all, I really feel it demands that we go out tonight,” he said, his charming smile very inviting.
Heroine wanted to say yes, though she was still filled with uncertainty. She didn’t ever want to be set up like she had been that May night years before.
“I just finished my first day at the lab, and I need to relax.”
“It will be relaxing,” Hero assured her. “Just a casual dinner.”
She wanted so much to accept, but fear wouldn’t let her. “No, I’m sorry.”
“No strings attached. I know you have a boyfriend. I just want to go out as friends.” He held up the boxers. “This has got to make us friends, right?”
“I’m sorry,” Heroine said again and started toward the steps, but Hero’s hand on her arm stopped her. The touch was light, but it felt like a pure shot of electricity jolting through her skin. She looked back at him.
“Please come out with me tonight.” The invitation was so sincere, his pale eyes filled with such earnestness, that Heroine found herself nodding.
“Great. I’ll be over at seven.”

message 2: by Daniellegn (new)

Daniellegn | 232 comments Sounds great. The hero in particular sounds yum :)

message 3: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2093 comments Mod
Definitely haven't read this

message 4: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1912 comments Mod
This is a cute scene! Don't think I've read it.

message 5: by Charlene (new)

Charlene (charlenethestickler) | 320 comments Ditto to all above comments; looking forward to the revealing moment.

message 6: by Okie (new)

Okie (okieb) | 2088 comments Mod
This actually sounds familiar. Now it's gonna drive me nuts.

message 7: by June (new)

June (ladyjune) | 146 comments The puzzler was from Kathy Love's Getting What You Want, first in her Stepps Sisters Trilogy. A really cute series :)

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