Return of the Bad Boy

By: Jessica Lemmon

She was more shocked to notice someone across the street watching her.

A scowling rock star dressed in jeans and a T-shirt with faded gray angel’s wings on the front. In his hand was a leash and at the end of it a tiny dog.

Asher Knight did not look happy.

Not one little bit.

* * *

Who the fuck was that?

Asher’s hand tightened around the bag from the pet store and Tank’s leash, and as if the dog understood exactly what was pissing Asher off, Tank barked at the departing maroon four-door. Gloria met Asher’s gaze from across the street, then lifted a hand to wave like she hadn’t been making out with some guy in broad daylight.

Oh, hell no.

Rather than drag the dog, Asher palmed him and walked straight for Sun Up’s patio, Tank tucked under his arm like a football.

“Refill to go, please,” Gloria told the departing waitress as he put his hand on the railing separating guests from the general public. “Did you make a new friend?” she asked, nodding at the dog.

“’Bout to ask you the same thing.”

She rolled her eyes.

He frowned. Behind his sunglasses, his gaze dipped to her low-cut shirt—her usual style, but he couldn’t help wonder if she’d dressed with her lunch date in mind. The whole thing pissed him off.

“Oh my goodness.” She stood and bent slightly, giving him a view down her shirt—and his teeth sawed together at the idea of the guy who was just here getting that same view. She scrubbed Tank’s face with her fingers. In a soft voice, she said, “Aren’t you cute?”

Tank licked her face and wagged his butt against Asher’s chest.

“He’s a boy,” Asher grumbled. “He’s not cute. Who was that?”

“Well, excuse me.” She pursed her lips, flashing him a look he couldn’t read because her electric blue eyes were hidden behind her own sunglasses. “You’re handsome,” she said. To Tank.

“Takes after me,” Asher said when Gloria kissed his head. Lucky dog. “Who was that?”

“No one,” Gloria grunted. “Are you dog-sitting or something?”


“Asher.” There was a tense moment when she stood, fingers in Tank’s fur, eyes on Ash, and he stood, dog in his arms, glaring back at her. The air crackled between them, same as it always had.

“He’s mine,” he said, ending the standoff. He was getting used to people being surprised about him with a toy dog. Rock stars weren’t known for having miniature anythings.

“So this is the dog you told me about.” She snuggled Tank a little more. “You kept him.”

He’d told Gloria about Tank (at the same time he’d called to tell her about the house in the Cove), but not the truth. The truth was Broderick had been staying with him at the time. Their newest and youngest bandmate had hooked up with a groupie who brought the dog in her purse and left him there. Ash woke up the next morning with a wicked hangover and the dog followed him outside to do his business while Ash did laps in the pool. The dog followed him around the pool’s edge for every lap. Tank was his shadow. The groupie never returned—Broderick was smart enough never to contact her again—and Asher kept the dog.

When Ash had told Gloria he’d found a dog, she’d responded, “Uh-huh. Some girl left him with you, didn’t she?”

She knew him well.

Gloria, to-go coffee cup in one hand, opened the black gate separating the outdoor cafe from the street. Asher stepped aside and walked with her. “What’s his name?”


“Tank?” Gloria snorted.

“Hey, his former owner had him in a pink collar with a tag that read ‘Tinkerbell.’ He’s not effeminate. Tank is a badass.” The dog smiled up at him, tongue lolling.

She snuggled the dog again and Asher caught a whiff of her perfume when she did. Gloria smelled like the beach and made him want to lean down and bury his nose in her neck. Speaking of…

“Were you at the beach today?” With that dick.

“No. I’ve been working all day.” She frowned. “What are you doing here?”

“Doggie life vest.” Asher lifted the bag in his hand, showing her the pet shop logo. “Not sure how much of a water dog he is but figured better safe than sorry.”

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