Home > Charming as Puck(2)

Charming as Puck(2)
Author: Pippa Grant

“Quit holding last year’s drunken Thanksgiving ramblings against me. And yes. That Kami.”

“Wow,” she says at the same time the calf moos at me.

Despite probably not being more than three or four months old, the calf is already working those big cow eyes to her advantage, using them to ask for someone to love her. As if I couldn’t with those twitching brown cow ears that she hasn’t grown into yet and her soft muzzle and that cute little baby moo on top of everything.

Fresh anger surges through. She should be on a farm. With her mommy.

And she probably would be if Nick hadn’t started the farm-animals-in-the-apartment game when Felicity fell in love with one of his teammates a year ago.

“Don’t you worry, Sugarbear,” I tell her. “I’m going to find you the best new home ever. After I figure out where you came from. And you are not going to be ground beef. But until I can find a place, you need to stay here for a few more hours. I recommend pooping on the bed if you need to do it again.”

I wince, because I’ve spent a lot of time in that bed with Nick driving into me until I shattered like spun glass on marble.

Though last night it was on the couch.

Where the cow is now.

I blink back the angry tears stinging my eyes.

Nick Murphy might be an ass, but he knows how to use his equipment.

And I was an idiot to think he could’ve ever seen me as something more than an easy lay.

But not anymore.

“Ground beef?” Muffy says, and I realize she’d actually gone silent. “Pooping on the bed? What—who’s Sugarbear?”

“The calf that I agreed to get out of Nick’s condo this morning.”

“Oh. This is all starting to make sense. I can give you the friend and family discount, but I have to add the over-thirty surcharge.”

“The what?”

“Sad fact of being a woman. You’ll be harder to match now that you’re the big three-oh.”

Of course she remembers my birthday. “Fine. But I want a rush job. And don’t cheat me, or I’ll charge you the old-cat surcharge the next time you bring Rufus in for his shots.”

“He’s three!”

“That’s like seventy-six in cat years.” Okay, it’s not. But I’m mad. At everything. Except the cow.

“Ooooh, I get it.” I can hear Muffy nodding. She inherited the loud nodding gene from Aunt Hilda. “He forgot your birthday, didn’t he?”

“Can you do the rush job or not?”

“I’m gonna match your muff so hard and fast, you won’t know what hit it.”

“Oh, gee, add a muff punch while you’re at it. That’ll go great with the knife twisting my heart,” I mutter.

“Okay. Let’s do this. New file, Kami Oakley…”

While keyboard keys click on the other end of the phone and Muffy breathes in my ear, I give the calf a quick once over. I don’t work with large animals, even if I’d love to live in the country and have a small farm of my own, but she seems reasonably healthy. Especially with that mess she left on Nick’s rug. Both messes, actually. Kidneys, intestines, and colon are all apparently in perfect working order. And she’s clearly interested in the grains, so that’s good.

I was worried she wouldn’t be weaned yet.

“You’re such a good girl,” I tell her.

“I know,” Muffy says.

The cow moos at me and nuzzles my hip.

I glance around the living room. Since I’m here, I should clean out anything I might’ve accidentally left here, but with our arrangement, I don’t even have a toothbrush.

Still, after I set out food and fill Nick’s biggest pot with water in the kitchen, I wander through the empty apartment, Sugarbear on my heels while Muffy talks to herself about all of my basic details.

Yes, I’ve named the cow. And she is definitely a Sugarbear.

I actually name all the animals I get called in to re-home when the Thrusters are done with them.

And there’s another surge of fury.

Animals are not pranks.

But the only thing yelling at hockey players will do is encourage them to turn the pranks to me.

Unless…

Ideas are taking shape.

Ideas that rational, kind-hearted, animal-loving, sweet Kami—if I had a nickel for every time someone called me sweet, I’d be richer than all the Thrusters players combined—would never entertain.

But ideas that just might be necessary.

When in war, do what the most hardened warriors do.

“Okay, got the basics,” Muffy announces. “Just a few questions.”

“Just a few? Don’t you have an entire questionnaire or something?”

“I do, but I know you well enough. I can do it for you. Now. Men or women?”

“You don’t know me well enough to answer that question for me?”

“Sometimes family hides things. Both is also an acceptable answer.”

I give half a thought to if I have any interest in women, and I decide I’m lacking that gene, which is probably too bad. “Men, please. But no hockey players. Or baseball players. Or football players. Or—”

“No sportsers. Got it. How many kids do you want? Keep in mind zero is a valid answer.”

“Three,” I reply without hesitation as I walk into Nick’s bedroom with the cow on my heels.

The dark blue sheets on his king-size bed are disheveled and twisted and the thick navy comforter is tossed to the ground. I take my time straightening the covers and making the bed while I answer Muffy’s questions about my favorite color, which planet I’d be from if I weren’t an earthling, and how many times a week I masturbate.

And while I write Nick a note.

Dear Nick,

Bite me.

Kami

I have no idea what he’ll think I did to his bed, if anything, but as a friend once said, sometimes making them think you did something terrible is just as effective as actually doing something terrible. And making his bed neatly—which he’ll notice, since he never makes it himself—is a pretty good sign that I’ve been in his bedroom.

I smirk.

And then I leave a tube of my lipstick next to Nick’s toothbrush in the bathroom.

When I realize he might think it’s from a bunny he banged—no, I don’t want to talk about not demanding that we be exclusive in our arrangement, and about never asking him if he was hooking up with anyone else on the side—I get mad all over again, so I also pull the toilet paper off the roll and hide it under the counter, knowing he won’t notice until he needs it.

“Kami?” Muffy says.

“What? Oh. Um—wait. Did you just ask me what brand of dildo I prefer?”

“First, yes. Second, nice to see you’re paying attention. That last answer had me worried.”

“What answer?” What did she ask? Oh, crapola. What did I say?

“Would you consider moving for love?”

That wasn’t the question, but I’m not sure I care. “Yes.”

“Yes?”

“Yes. I always wanted to live on a farm. With goats and chickens and cows, but instead, all I do is get emergency phone calls from hockey players who need all my dream animals vacated out of their living spaces. You know what? Bonus points if you can find me a guy who doesn’t know anything at all about sports and owns a baby giraffe.”

It’s possible I shouldn’t make dating decisions while I’m mad.

But it’s also completely undeniable that being mad is the only thing that could lead to me signing up for a dating service at all.

Especially Muffy’s dating service.

“Age preference?” Muffy asks.

“Legal?”

She snorts. “Oh, you’re in a mood. This is fun. I highly recommend being in a mood more often. It’s good for cleansing your aura.”

“My aura? What do you know about auras?”

“Nothing, really, but I was reading the article that came in my toy of the month subscription box…”

I tune her out, both because I already read that article and didn’t quite get it, and because Sugarbear’s nuzzling my arm. “Mooo?”

“He’s an ass, Sugarbear.” The words are sour and foreign, because I’ve always thought Nick Murphy was more than the world gave him credit for, but he called me first thing in the morning, on my birthday, to cuss about a cow and completely ignored my hints about what today is.

I can’t deny it any longer.

He’s a self-centered ass. He’s always been an ass, and he’ll always be an ass.

Just not my ass.

Sugarbear’s sweet eyes watch me while I look around at the marble sink and the porcelain and glass tile lining the built-in shower with the rain spout and the wall nozzles.

Nick Murphy might be an ass, but he’s an ass who knows how to give good shower sex.

I shiver.

“Are you done talking to the cow?” Muffy asks.

“Probably not. Do you have stats on penis size? I want a big penis.”

“Wow, you’re really pissed. Note to self: don’t write off the men with weird fetishes. Okay, last question. If you were going to get caught doing something illegal, would it be smoking pot, stealing underwear, or grand theft auto?”

“That is not a real question.”

“Maybe it is. Maybe I’m not just looking for a new partner in crime on a Saturday night. But you still have to answer if you want me to match your muff.”

“You seriously need a new tagline.”

“This one makes me money, baby.”

I was pretty sure that was a lie, but I let her have it. “Stealing underwear.”

“Great, and now I’ve got everything I need,” she says. “I’m gonna run you through the muff matcher and I’ll have you a date for Friday before you can say my vibrator ran out of batteries.”

This is where I’m probably supposed to say thank you.

“You’re right to move on, Kami,” she adds quietly. “You deserve to be more than somebody’s secret piece on the side. And you deserve a guy who’ll remember—”

   
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