New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jay Crownover continues her delightfully sexy Saints of Denver series with the next thrilling standalone, SALVAGED! Order your copy today!
Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.
Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.
The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.
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“I don’t know that I have the time to take on a puppy right now, Poppy.” He lifted a hand and rubbed it across the back of his neck. His mahogany-colored eyebrows pulled into a vee over the top of his nose and the corners of his mouth pulled down in a frown that was too harsh for his pretty face. I liked it much better when he smiled and his twin dimples cut deeply into his cheeks.
I bit my bottom lip to keep the distressed noise that I could feel climbing up the back of my throat at bay. I knew he might say no but I couldn’t hide the fact that I was disappointed by his decision. I honestly felt like he and the puppy would be good for one another, that they could bring a little joy into each other’s life. It broke my heart a little that Wheeler wasn’t ready to open his heart up again, even when it was to something that was so obviously eager to love him unconditionally and irrevocably, unlike his ex.
“It’s okay, Wheeler. Like I said, I’ll take him home until I can find a place for him. I’m sure Dolly could use a friend.” I crouched down and wiggled my fingers to get the dog’s attention, and grinned when he bounded over, tripping over his front legs as he scrambled in my direction. “I can take him to work with me and hold on to him until I figure something out. One of the boys at the shop will step up if Dixie doesn’t want another dog.”
I heard him sigh and looked up to see him watching me intently. He opened his mouth like he was going to say something, then let it snap shut with his teeth audibly clicking together. I didn’t know much about Wheeler, but what I did know I liked. He was nice. He was polite. He was thoughtful and he was kind. But more than any of those things, he went out of his way to hold himself in a way that wasn’t threatening or intimidating because he was aware without me saying a word how jumpy I was around people, men in particular. I hated that they were bigger than me. I hated that I knew firsthand how badly they could hurt me if they had a mind to. I hated that I wilted and cowered under their attention, even if it was innocent and friendly. The fact that he took care not to spook me spoke volumes and made me feel awful for putting him in such an awkward position.
“Poppy…” He sounded regretful and I had no interest in dragging the torture out any longer for either of us. I scooped up the dog and buried my nose in the top of his head.
“Seriously it’s no big deal. I love him and I’m happy to wait until I can find him a proper home. It was stupid of me not to consider how busy you are with everything you have going on in your life right now. A puppy is a big commitment and that’s not something you can put on someone else without discussing it with them first.” The dog swiped his tongue across my face, no doubt feeling my distress and rising panic. I wanted to tuck his warm little body to my chest and run away like I was trying to score a touchdown in the other team’s end zone. “I should have known better.”