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Authors: Katy Regnery

The Vixen and the Vet

BOOK: The Vixen and the Vet
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THE VIXEN & THE VET

By
Katy Regnery

 

 

 

THE VIXEN & THE VET

 

 

Burned by an unreliable source, Savannah Carmichael, returns to her hometown of Danvers, Virginia, with her once-promising journalism career in ruins. Given the opportunity to get her skin back in the game by writing a patriotic human interest piece, Savannah turns her attention to the town hermit, Asher Lee, a wounded veteran who returned to Danvers eight years ago, and hasn’t been seen since.

 

After an IED explosion in Afghanistan took Asher’s hand and disfigured half of his face, he's lived a quiet life on the outskirts of Danvers where the locals respect his privacy … that is, until Savannah Carmichael comes calling in a borrowed sundress and a plate of homemade brownies. When Asher agrees to be interviewed by Savannah, he starts feeling things for the beautiful reporter that he hasn’t felt in years.

 

Misfits in small-town Danvers, Savannah and Asher create a bond right away, touching each other’s hearts in ways neither thought possible. When a terrible mistake threatens to drive them apart, they’ll have to decide if the love they found in one another’s arms is strong enough to fight for their hard-won happily ever after

 

 

 

 

THE VIXEN & THE VET

Copyrigh
t
© 2014
by Katharine Gilliam Regnery

 

Sale of the electronic edition of this book is wholly unauthorized. Except for use in review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part, by any means, is forbidden without written permission from the author/publisher.

 

Katharine Gilliam Regnery, publisher

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

 

Please visit my website at www.katyregnery.com

First Edition: June 2014

Katy Regnery

The Vixen & the Vet : a novel / by Katy Regnery – 1st ed.

ISBN: 978-
0-9912045-1-9

 

 

 

 

With grateful thanks
to all of the men and women who protect and serve The United States of America, and to Operation Mend, who serve the returning wounded among them.

 

And for my father, who insisted that my brother and I

stand up at parades whenever veterans walked by.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

“Savannah Calhoun Carmichael, are you even
listenin’ to me?”

Savannah’s sister Scarlet sat in the porch swing on the veranda of their parent’s Victorian house giving her older sister
an exasperated look. With her lips pursed, they were a perfect match to the bright red geraniums that hung cheerfully over her head. Savannah may have gotten more of the brains, but Scarlet had certainly gotten more of the beauty.

“Yes,” Savannah sighed, adjusting her perch on the porch railing and glancing at the thick, glossy bridal magazine that Scarlet anchored in both hands. She dutifully repeated the information that Scarlet had just shared with her. “‘The twelve most important milestones in any relationship: one, the first time you sit in comfortable silence; two, the first time you realize you enjoy his company more than anyone else’s, three …’”

Scarlet raised her eyebrows in challenge
, and Savannah chuckled. “Okay. I admit it. You lost me at three.”

“Savannah, you’re impossible. This is important information. Doesn’t it bother you that your little sister’s walking down the aisle before you?”

Savannah, who was an ancient twenty-six to her sister’s adorable twenty-two, cocked her head to the side, searching Scarlet’s face for meanness, but found only worry. Scarlet had never really understood Savannah’s decision to leave Danvers, Virginia, and move to New York City, to become a reporter. The one time Scarlet had visited, she spent the entire weekend ensconced in the relative safety of her hotel room, despite Savannah’s efforts to get her out and about.

“Marriage
has never really been on my radar, Scarlet. That’s your territory.”

“Don’t you want to be one of those career women who has it all?
Exciting job, hot husband waiting in bed for you at night?”

Savannah rolled her eyes.
Reporting the news wasn’t exactly a nine-to-five gig, not that Scarlet had ever understood that. After graduating from high school, Katie Scarlet Carmichael had upped her hours at Fleurish Flower Shop from part-time to full-time and plastered a can-do smile on her face when Trent Hamilton returned home from the University of West Virginia every weekend. Sure enough, through four years of college temptation, nothing turned Trent’s head as much as Scarlet, and by the time he graduated, her patience had paid off; he proposed the very same day. And now here was Scarlet, a year later, thumbing through bridal magazines in preparation for her July wedding. Savannah didn’t generally envy her sister—they’d chosen extremely different paths for their lives—but sometimes she envied Scarlet’s single-mindedness. All she’d ever wanted was to become Mrs. Trent Hamilton, loving wife, mother, and pillar of the community, and,
voilà
!, that’s exactly what she was getting.

Savannah softened her expression. “I guess I wouldn’t mind the hot man part.”

“Husband,” said Scarlet. “
Husband
. Flesh and blood. Not just the characters on your HBO shows. Now, listen up. ‘Number three, the first time you look like hell and he couldn’t care less.’”

“What man on the face of the earth doesn’t care when you look like hell?” Certainly not the couple of guys Savannah had dated in New York. She winced as Patrick’s face flitted through her mind. Damn Patrick
Monroe anyway. He had sure done a number on her.

“One who’s head over heels in love with you.
‘Number four’ … oh,” murmured Scarlet with a sigh. “‘The first time you talk until dawn.’ That’s a good one.”

Yeah, thought Savannah. That’s a good one unless everything he’s telling you until dawn is lies and you don’t realize it because you’re blinded by lust
—she refused to admit to the
other
“l” word—and you believe everything he says because how could he be lying and still worship your body like he’s been schooled in the erotic arts?


‘Number five, the first time you bring him home to meet the family.’”

Savannah looked at the fresh white paint of the porch clapboard
siding and the cheerful sky-blue paint of the ceiling. The bright red geraniums that her mother had placed at intervals swung lightly in the late afternoon May breeze. At the bottom of the porch steps a brick walkway divided a well-kept patch of grass and ended at an azalea-flanked white picket gate that opened onto the sidewalk of a tree-lined street. It was the quintessential all-American home, and yet she’d never had the guts to bring Patrick home to meet her parents. He’d grown up on the Upper West Side, attending private schools and summering in Nantucket. Danvers, Virginia, wouldn’t have been sophisticated enough for his tastes, and she couldn’t have borne the amusement in his eyes when he surveyed the home she loved. She’d decided not to risk it.


‘Number six …’” Savannah looked up at her sister and watched her fan herself as her cheeks flushed a pretty pink. “Oh my. ‘The first time you’re naked together and you don’t feel a shred of insecurity.’ Well, my stars …”

Savannah grinned. “Please tell me that you and Trent have done the deed in broad daylight
.”

“That’s my private business.” Scarlet’s flush increased. “H-have you? Done that?”

“Had sex in broad daylight? Of course.”

“With that Patrick?”

Scarlet had not been a fan of Patrick’s when they’d had dinner together during her disastrous visit to New York. She told Savannah she felt he was politely laughing at her, and honestly, Scarlet was right. Later, when he and Savannah were alone, he’d called her sister’s accent “powerful” and added that it was “lucky she’s cute so she can get away with it.” When he asked why Savannah didn’t speak with the same accent, she explained she’d worked hard to lose it during her four years at NYU. By the time she’d taken the job at the
Sentinel
, it was all but gone except for when she drank too much.

“I didn’t like him,
Vanna. I know you did, so I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but I just know there’s someone better out there for you. Someone right.”

“It’s okay. He turned out to be a rat.”

Scarlet nodded. “You can say that again.”

“It was my own fault for not seeing what you saw over one dinner. What’s number
seven?”

“Oh!”

Scarlet turned her attention back to the magazine while Savannah leaned forward to pick up her glass of iced tea. The glass was sweaty with cool droplets that dripped into the space between her breasts as she sipped.

“‘Number seven, the first time you realize that you don’t want anyone else but him.’”

Well, Savannah had certainly reached that point with Patrick, unable to see anyone but him, all other men paling in comparison to his tony pedigree, patrician looks, and far-reaching contacts. Too bad Patrick had never subscribed to the same devotion. Finding out he’d been dating someone else while they
were sleeping together had just been salt in the wound after she discovered that he’d single-handedly destroyed her professional credibility, reputation, and career.

“Next,” demanded Savannah.

“I love this one. ‘The first time you see a future with him.’” Scarlet sighed. “First grade. Playground. Trent pushed me on the swings even though the other little boys were makin’ fun of him.”

Savannah loved her sister, but she couldn’t imagine plotting out her future with someone who’d pushed her on the swings in first grade. She’d never understood how Scarlet could be so content to be born, grow up, get married
, and die in one small town when there was a whole wide world out there just waiting.

“How about number nine?”

Scarlet’s dreamy expression turned to a grin. “‘The first time you take a trip together.’”

“That’s a mixed bag.”

“How do you mean?”

“Hard to look perfect when you first wake up in the
morning. Not to mention, travel breeds stress.”

“I though you loved travel!” exclaimed Scarlet. “My globe-trotting sister.”

“Oh, I do. Alone. To chase a story. Why in the world would I want to go away with someone else?”

“Because you love them? Because Hawaii is more fun with
…” Scarlet’s cheeks pinked delicately, and she averted her eyes.

“I don’t remember you and Trent ever
goin’ to Hawaii,” teased Savannah.

“Honeymoon,” said Scarlet in a dramatic whisper.

“Aha. So you’ve decided. Well, I’ve heard it’s
very
romantic.”

Scarlet’s delicate blush spread to her neck as she turned redder.

Savannah laughed at her prim little sister. “Scarlet, you’d think you’d never kissed a boy, for heaven’s sake. What’s next?”

“‘Number ten, the first big blowup fight,’” Scarlet sniffed. “Well, I just hope I never have to experience
that
.” She rapped her fingers lightly on the arm of the swing, her pink lacquered nails catching the warm light of the low sun.

“Do you mean to tell me that you and Trent have never had a big fight?”

“Vanna, honey, why in the world would I want to have a spat with the man I love? The odd quarrel’s one thing, but more than anything, I want to make him feel loved and comfortable and happy. Besides, he’s so smart and so good to me, he’s almost always right.”

“And when he’s not?”

“You get more bees with honey.”

Savannah
laughed lightly. “So you use your wiles to get your way?”

“It beats fighting.”

“I’m guessing you’ve never had makeup sex, though, Scarlet. You’re missing out.”

Scarlet shrugged
, expertly avoiding the implied question. “Nothing’s worth bein’ at odds with Trent. Nothin’.”

“Fine. Have it your way. What’s next?”

“‘Number eleven, the first time you realize he’s your home.’” Scarlet sighed. “Doesn’t that sound lovely?”

For all of Savannah’s world-weary cynicism, she had to admit
that it
did
sound lovely. As she’d fallen in love with Patrick, she started to realize how wonderful it would be to give her heart to someone, how amazing it would be to know he had her back and was on her side, how, yes,
lovely
it would be to know that her life was safe with his: entwined, inextricably bound together.

She forced herself to remember the cruel glee in his eyes when he confessed that
, yes, he had fed her bucketfuls of misinformation in an effort to subvert the true story behind the embezzlement of his father’s financial firm. And Savannah—stupid Savannah, who thought she was falling in love with him—had been nothing more than a cheap mark, a cheap lay, and in the end, totally expendable.

“Sorry, kid,” he
’d said, with what must have passed for regret in his world. “You were fun, though. And the story was a miracle. You made a great case for my father’s partners shouldering the blame.”

“When it was your father all along? He cheated all those people?”

“What matters is the court of public opinion. And you’ve done a great job for our … cause.”

“But he deceived all those people
…” Her voice trailed off as she realized the further ramifications of her story. “And the
Sentinel
printed it. And it was all garbage. It was libel. Oh my God … my career.”

“You’re tough. Hell, you made it to New York City from
some backwater town in Virginia, kid. You’ll land on your feet.”

But she hadn
’t landed on her feet. Once the hate mail started pouring in, she was fired. A retraction was printed, but Patrick’s father’s partners sued for libel, assessing over three million dollars’ worth of damage.

With nowhere else to go, Savannah broke her lease, packed up her belongings
, and headed home in shame under the guise of taking the summer off from work to help with her sister’s wedding. Her parents and sister knew the truth, of course, but the rest of Danvers was a sleepy little town, and the reaction from most of the townsfolk had been: “How lovely that you’re back, dear. And just in time for Scarlet’s big do!”


Katie Scarlet, I’m about to go diabetic from so much sweetness. Finish up and put me out of my misery. What’s number twelve?”


‘Number twelve, the first time you realize that he loves you as much as you love him.’”

“What happens after twelve?” asked Savannah, half kidding.

“After twelve, you’re ready for forever,” said Scarlet, not kidding one bit.

Savannah smirked humorlessly a
s her little sister closed the mammoth magazine with a flourish.

“And now I am going to go get ready for tonight’s dinner-dance at the club. Sure you won’t come,
Vanna? Trent could get you a date.”

“With one of his frat brothers? Five years younger than me?
Or, worse, with his brother, Lance? No thanks, Scarlet. But you have fun.”

As her sister headed inside, Savannah let the words roll around in her head
:
loves you as much as you love him
. Her heart clenched with a weakness, a longing, that she tried to ignore. She’d given love a chance, and she’d been blindsided, duped, and destroyed. Lost her home and her job and everything else that she’d worked for. She looked up as two blond-haired kids rode by on bicycles decorated for the Memorial Day parade tomorrow and tried to find the silver lining. But she couldn’t. She’d worked her whole life to get out of Danvers, Virginia. And yet, here she was, right back where she started.

BOOK: The Vixen and the Vet
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