“Hi, my name’s Missy Tempton. I’m twenty-three years old and I love my job.” I practiced a winning smile in the mirror, only to realize that I had a blueberry stuck in my teeth.
I groaned in chagrin. Not that the blueberry muffin I’d had for breakfast hadn’t been worth it.
With the rogue blueberry dealt with, I practiced my smile again. I had a charming smile, I thought. Dimples would appear in my round cheeks that had been called adorable on more than one occasion. When my teeth were free of blueberries, they were sparkling white and straight.
But today, for some reason, my smile just wasn’t reaching my gray-blue eyes. My eyes showed the stress I was feeling inside.
I honestly wasn’t sure why I was so nervous. I had a whole legion of high-brow clients, this one was no different.
Except for the fact that he was insanely handsome, that was.
I bit my lip reflexively as Logan Rourke flickered through my mind. God, the man was gorgeous.
I shook myself, feeling self-abashed. I had to get it together or perhaps I should rethink taking him on as a client.
Being a dog walker as my day job meant that I couldn’t exactly be picky when it came to clients; competition in Miami was fierce no matter who you were or what you did.
Dressing for my interview was much harder than usual, despite my best efforts to pretend not to care.
It was shaping up to be a hot day outside and I dreaded having to leave the cool sanctuary of my loft to brave the unrelenting humidity.
I let my blonde hair keep its natural waves because there was simply no use fighting the inevitable. I put it up, however, into a flirty half-ponytail.
Being a dog walker, people expected me to look a certain way, especially my wealthier clients. I did my best to live up to their expected aesthetic.
I chose a pale blue cold-shoulder blouse, a flared white skirt, and a pair of espadrille wedges. They were my favorite pair because they were four inches tall and flattered my legs. I was only 5’3” and I had to do what I could to make myself look taller and be taken more seriously.
I finished off my look with sunglasses, a swipe of Chapstick, and my little blue satchel.
Standing in front of my floor-length mirror, I sighed. Why was I doing this to myself? Why did I care?
Shaking my head, I turned away from the mirror and smiled down at my giant orange housecat. He was stretched out on his favorite spot on the floor, directly in front of the fan. He was a longhaired cat and he was still mad at me for moving down from Maine to Miami where he was always overheated.
He glared at me now with his vivid green eyes.
“I love you, too, Watson.” I said sardonically, scratching the top of his orange head.
He continued to glare at me, unimpressed with my love.
“I’ll be back soon, buster, then maybe I’ll give you a cool bath, yeah, would you like that, big guy?”
I knew I was probably reading into things a bit, but I could swear he gave me a look of disgust at hearing this.
Laughing at his expense, I kissed his whiskers and turned to leave.
“Don’t go anywhere!” I teased him.
I have no way to prove it, but I’d bet anything that he rolled his eyes when I shut the door behind me.
Normally I took the bus or rode my bike, but the bus system didn’t run through a neighborhood as nice as the one Mr. Rourke lived in so I was obliged to take a cab.
My stomach, which had already started out the day queasy, was clenching more and more the closer we drove towards the address.
We had left the apartment district behind and were now in an older neighborhood where the streets were lined with old trees, dripping with Spanish moss.
The houses grew increasingly grand and fabulous until they couldn’t even be called houses any longer. They became Mediterranean villas and then sprawling, modern mansions, as snowy white as clouds, and I felt my little heart start to race.
It wasn’t the wealth and opulence itself that excited me, I already had a handful of clients in this same neighborhood, it was the reminder of the man himself who I was on route to meet.
Logan Rourke was so unlike any man I had ever had in my life. My type tended to lean towards the good-ole-boy style; I liked a man who wore blue jeans and drank domestic beer. I got the distinct impression that these traits did not describe Mr. Rourke, but still, there was just something about him that had caught my attention, beyond the obvious, superficial things.
We had met only once before and I doubted that he would remember me. I had been recommended to him by a different client of mine; one of the other people who lived in this neighborhood.
Vivian McAllister had invited me to a breakfast social at her mansion last summer and Logan Rourke had been there.
The first thing that had struck me about him were his vividly green eyes.
I remembered smiling to myself because they reminded me instantly of Watson’s cat eyes. Apparently I had let out a rather rude snort of laughter, though I swear I hadn’t meant to or even realized it at the time. Vivian had scolded me afterwards that I had snubbed Mr. Rourke by “rudely snorting at him” when we were introduced.
Vivian was a teensy bit of a control freak, to put it politely, and that was hardly the only thing I did that day that offended her delicate sensibilities. I hadn’t been invited to any more events at her place. I had therefore been rather surprised when Mr. Rourke’s secretary emailed me to say that Ms. McAllister had recommended me as a personal pet sitter.
I might not be posh enough for Vivian’s social circles, but I was competent enough when it came to walking dogs, I supposed.
I sighed to myself as the cab pulled up outside of a massive set of wrought iron gates.
The cab driver glanced back at me ruefully, eying my attire as if even he thought I was kidding myself by coming here. “What should I tell the com, babe?” He asked me.
“Just tell them Ms. Tempton is here for her 4p.m. appointment, babe.” I replied with a benign smile.
The driver merely rolled his eyes and snapped his gum at me to let me know just what he thought of my cheek. He reached out and pressed the button on the intercom system. He sort of grunted out what I had said and the gates miraculously slid open.
We slowly rolled up a long driveway that circled around an elegant fountain at the end. I admired the lush landscaping even though it was a little too manicured for my taste. It was a classic Miami style of design; with palm trees bordering the drive, the lawn as closely cut as a golf course green. The wisteria trees that shaded the property were heavy with their violet blossoms.
I paid the surly driver and gave him a big smile just to annoy him.
Then there was nothing else to do but climb the intimidating steps and ring the bell.