It’s my turn today, to introduce you to the second book in the Pups that make Miracles quartet. I’m thrilled to be book-buddies with Susan Carlisle this month (our books are both out today!), and next month we’ll be having excerpts from Annie O’Neil and Karin Baine’s books.
This excerpt from Festive Fling with the Single Dad introduces Flora and Aksel, along with another very important character. Dougal is a puppy, rescued by Susan’s heroine and his story runs through all four of the books. I don’t think I’m giving away too much to mention that Dougal will be finding his forever home in the final book of the series!
Up close, he looked even more…
More outdoorsy. Taller and blonder and… Just more. A two-day beard covered a square jaw, and his mane of shoulder-length hair was tied at the nape of his neck. His casual shirt and worn jeans gave the impression of an off-duty Norse god, and Flora McNeith resisted the temptation to curtsey. It was slightly over the top as a greeting for a new neighbour.
‘Hi. I’m Flora. From next door.’ She gestured towards her own cottage, tugging at Dougal’s lead in a fruitless attempt to get him to sit down for just one moment. ‘Welcome to the village.’
He looked a little taken aback when she thrust the food box, containing half a dozen home-made mince pies into his hands. It might be more than three weeks until Christmas, but the lights of the Christmas tree in the village had already been turned on, and in Flora’s book any time after September was a good time for mince pies.
‘That’s very kind.’ His voice was very deep, the kind of tone that befitted the very impressive chest that it came from. And it appeared that whatever kind of deity Aksel Olson was, language and communication weren’t part of his remit. He was regarding her silently.
‘I work at the Heatherglen Castle Clinic. I hear that your daughter, Mette, is a patient there.’ Maybe if she explained herself a little more, she might get a reaction.
Something flickered in his eyes at the mention of his daughter. Reflective and sparkling, like sunshine over a sheet of ice.
‘Are you going to be part of Mette’s therapy team?’
Right. That put Flora in her place. Apparently that was the only thing that interested Aksel about her.
‘No, I’m a physiotherapist. I gather that your daughter is partially sighted…’ Flora bit her tongue. That sounded as if everyone was gossiping about him, which was half-true. The whisper that Mette’s father was single had gone around like wildfire amongst the female staff at the clinic. Now that Flora had met Aksel, she understood what the excitement was all about.
‘You read the memo, then?’ Something like humour flashed in his eyes, and Flora breathed a small sigh of relief. Lyle Sinclair must have told him about the memo.
‘Yes. I did.’ Every time a new patient was admitted a memo went round, introducing the newest member of the clinic’s community and asking every member of staff to welcome them. It was just one of the little things that made the clinic very special.
‘Would you like to come in for coffee?’ Suddenly he stood back from the door.
‘Oh!’ Aksel’s taciturn manner somehow made the words he did say seem more sincere. ‘I shouldn’t… Dougal and I are just getting used to each other and I haven’t dared take him anywhere for coffee yet. I’m afraid he’ll get over-excited and do some damage.’
Aksel squatted down on his heels, in front of the ten-week-old brindle puppy, his face impassive.
‘Hi, there, Dougal.’
Dougal was nosing around the porch, his tail wagging ferociously. At the sound of his name he looked up at Aksel, his odd ears twitching to attention. He circled the porch, to show off his new red fleece dog coat, and Flora stepped over the trailing lead, trying not to get snagged in it. Then Dougal trotted up to Aksel, nosing at his outstretched hand, and decided almost immediately he’d found a new best buddy. Finally, Aksel smiled, stroking the puppy’s head.
‘I’m sure we’ll manage. Why don’t you come in?’
Two whole sentences. And the sudden warmth in his eyes was very hard to resist.
‘In that case… Thank you.’ Flora stepped into the hallway and Dougal tugged on his lead in delight.