The Dream Guy Next Door (The Guys Who Got Away #1) by Lauren Blakely



“Everything and coffee cake,” Betty says.

As we leave, my neighbor picks up her hose and resumes drowning the flowers as she scouts down the street.

Once we’re a few houses away, Wednesday clears her throat. “You think she considered that the guy in the rental car might be, oh, gee, someone just passing through?”

I laugh in agreement. “That is exactly what I was wondering.”

“Also, who needs a man that badly?”

I hold up my hand. “Preach, sister.”

She smacks my palm then downs more of her beverage. “I like boys too, but I don’t get the man-session this town has. Who cares if the neighbor is a hottie or a nottie? There are plenty of other things to do besides date.”

“Exactly. I have taught you well.”

After more than a decade with a man who didn’t love me, I am a happy camper to be single at last.

Single and not in need of a date.

Not in want of a man.

Single and truly single.

No men need apply. Not for anything.

I’ve been teaching my girl the same thing—that you don’t need another person to complete you. You are enough.

I believe that with my whole heart.

At the teal mailbox painted with ladybugs—an adorable addition courtesy of my best friend, Alva—we turn onto the stone walkway leading to our porch.

In spite of myself, my eyes swing one house over.

A red sedan is parked in the driveway.

Hmm. Perhaps Betty is Miss Marple after all.

And call me Agatha Christie, because I spy with my little eye a moving truck and a couple of burly men in blue dockers lugging a black leather couch up the steps.

There’s no sign of the owner though.

“We’ll pop over later and introduce ourselves. See if they need anything,” I say as I climb the porch steps.

A door creaks, and a voice rumbles across the yard. “Yes, this is a little quieter than New York City. But I have a hunch it’s going to be absolutely fantastic.”

I stop in my tracks.

That voice.

He sounds like an English hottie, like Tom Hardy, Daniel Craig, or Henry Cavill.

What are the chances though? That the face will match that kind of a voice?

One thousand to one?

No.

One million to one, easy.

No way can any man have that yummy of a voice and as fine a face to go with it.

He’ll be a nottie.

I turn around.

There go the odds.





2





Liam





A few days before



* * *



I’m a glass-half-full kind of person.

Life gives you lemons?

Don’t just make lemonade. Make lemonade with vanilla bean extract, organic lemons, and homegrown honey from your own beehives and sell it at a roadside stand. You’ll make a mint.

Yes, I did that when I was younger. I made a pretty penny with Liam’s Roadside Lemonade, thank you very much.

Wake up well before the alarm clock? Log ten extra miles on the bike as the sun rises and the birds chirp, and don’t forget to stretch your hammies when you’re done.

Sounds like my day yesterday, and I like to think my heart thanks me for the cardio love I give it every morning.

But being asked to diagnose a malady I don’t treat? That ranks right up there with eating broccoli.

That happens to me more than one might think. Not the consumption of broccoli—one of the greatest benefits of adulthood is never having to eat a veggie you hate. Goodbye, broccoli. Farewell, brussels sprouts, and see you never, radish.

But I can’t escape people telling me about their corns, even though my work has nothing whatsoever to do with feet.

My profession is paws.

Trouble is, when your patients can’t speak, their owners make up for it by flapping their gums, mostly about themselves. When someone’s beagle has an allergy to fish, you learn about the owner’s reactions to salmon, and Have you ever heard about salmon allergies, and what should I do about it? When Rover comes in with an upset belly, you’re the audience to a soliloquy from his master about his own digestive woes.

To hear or pretend not to hear—that is the question.

But ignoring a client goes against my nature, so I wind up listening to all sorts of ailments every time I examine Fido and Fluffy, Puss and Boots, and Lucy and Rex. I love my job, but this is one of my least favorite parts of it, and that’s saying something, because I have to give rectal exams daily.