A wave of heat crashed over me as my eyes automatically drifted lower to his ass. If the parka hadn’t been hiding my very sudden and very inconvenient arousal, I would have shucked the damn thing off to get some fresh air.

“Can you hold this?” I heard him ask as his arm came out behind him, a strip of fire-engine red fabric bunched up between his long fingers.

“What?” I asked dumbly as my mouth went dry. How would those gorgeous fingers look on my skin? Better yet, how would they feel?

“Can you hold this?” he repeated sharply right before he began softly speaking to the other occupant of the vehicle again.

I stepped forward to take the fabric from him. It was some kind of wide scarf. At least he was finally getting some common sense and realizing how underdressed he was for the weather.

I forced myself to avert my eyes from his glorious backside as he leaned across the driver’s seat to release what had to be a screaming eagle from its bird carrier. “There’s my baby girl. Sweet girl. S’okay honey, that’s why Daddy made you wear that sweater, remember? Because it’s cold in our new place.”

New place? What the hell?

“Who are you?” I blurted.

He whipped around, holding a tiny ball of fur to his chest. Even his pet was white. He snagged the scarf from my hand and began working it over his shoulder. “Can you hold her for a second?” he asked before he pushed the bundle of fur into my hands. Since I still couldn’t tell exactly what kind of animal it was, I held it gingerly and as far away from my body as I could. The thing wasn’t much bigger than one of my hands, and I could have sworn its body fur was fake. Was this thing wearing a fur coat? And what were the sounds it was making? Was it trying to growl at me?

“You don’t recognize me?” he asked in surprise as he worked the soft red fabric over his body.

I tilted my head to study him. “Ah, no. Should I? Have we met before?” Not that it was possible because I’d have remembered a creature as lovely, and odd, as this one. I was about to point out that he’d messed up the scarf by slinging it over his head and resting it across his shoulder when he suddenly grabbed his pet from me and carefully tucked the little animal into the folds of the fabric.

“No,” he said absently.

No, what? What the hell were we talking about? Right, the fact that he thought I should recognize him.

“Well, then… maybe that’s why I don’t recognize you?” I murmured as he got his pet settled in his…

“What the hell kind of scarf is that?” I asked.

“Scarf?” he asked, his eyes widening. “It’s not a scarf. It’s BooBear’s happy place. It’s so she can be close to my heart… it helps calm her to know her daddy’s near. She was upset when the car…” he waved his hand at the car. “When that happened.”

Maybe he was a little off-kilter. “Sir, did you hit your head when you crashed your car?”

“No, I didn’t crash it. Exactly. Well, I mean, clearly, it’s in the snowbank there, but… well. I pulled over, or at least, I tried to pull over to look at my phone’s map, when this pile of snow just sort of… appeared. And stopped the car.”

I blew out a laugh. “Did it jump out and block your way?”

His chin came out, and his bottom lip looked pouty all of a sudden. Oh shit. No. The last thing I needed was for this gorgeous young man to look even more sexy on top of everything.

I felt my own nostrils flare in response. Jake, you fucking put your libido back in cold storage and don’t think for a minute that…

The man sighed, and the sound went straight to my cock.

“I was just in the process of looking for the snow tires option,” he said. “I’m sure that’ll fix me right up.”

“The snow tires option?” I asked, completely incredulous.

“Yeah, the guy at the dealer said snow tires were an option with this car when I bought it. But I forgot to ask him where the button was.”

I looked around us, certain I was being punked. It had to be Xander playing some fucked-up joke. He’d been complaining about the “funk” I’d been in almost nonstop since his move back to Colorado this past summer. I returned my gaze to the young man and shook my head. “You’re kidding me, right?”

“No, we’re fine,” he said as he cuddled his dog. “I think there’s enough room to get around me.”

As he began walking back to his car, I gently grabbed his arm. “What’s your name?”

“It’s Lair–ah, Oz.”

“Laroz?” I asked. That was the weirdest name I’d ever heard. But then again, it was one of a kind, like the man who owned it.


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