“Are my requirements just too crazy?” I ask after I’ve told her what I’m looking for.

Evie gives me a reassuring look and pats my hand. “No. You don’t have requirements that are too hard to meet. What’s too hard is to find a man like that online. But that’s why you came to me.” Her smile is radiant and full of confidence. “I have a few men in mind. Just give me a couple of days, and I promise I will do everything I can to find you the man of your dreams.”

It sounds impossible to me.

2

Herb

“Hey there, little Cletus. You’re doing great, and you look swell,” I tell the teacup chihuahua with the burnished brown coat. He whimpers as I stroke a hand down his soft back. Cletus is resting in a cage after the five-month-old had a very important surgery today. “Don’t worry,” I whisper. “You won’t miss them.”

My vet tech snickers behind me. “Bet he will.”

I roll my eyes at David as I turn around. “I see you’re suffering from neutering sympathy. Shall I get him a pair of neuticles to make you feel better?”

“That would help me a lot, come to think of it.”

“You do know he doesn’t miss them?”

David grabs his crotch. “I’d miss mine.”

“Then it’s a good thing I’m not neutering you, isn’t it?”

At twenty-three, David is still young, and his age might be why he still feels that associative pain that men often experience when a dog is neutered. At age thirty-four, and after thousands of spays and neuters, I’m well beyond that. I don’t get emotional over removing that particular part of a dog’s anatomy. And I don’t get weirded out.

It’s all in a day’s work.

David gives me a salute. “Yes, boss. Also, Cletus’s foster mom is here.”

“Great. I’ll go chat with Evie.” She’s a regular foster for one of the city’s nearby rescues, bringing in little dogs for their nip and tucks as they’re getting ready to be adopted.

Gently, I scoop up the pup and carry the coneheaded boy to the lobby of my practice on the Upper East Side.

Evie waves brightly at me. “And how is the sweet little boy?”

“He did great.”

Evie laughs. “Now, I always thought it was kind of funny to say that an animal did great during a surgery. Because, really, isn’t it you who did great during a surgery?” She taps my shoulder affectionately.

She has a point.

And I concede to it, blowing on my fingernails for effect. “When you’ve got it, you’ve got it. No one snips dog balls better than this guy.”

“Put that on your business card, Herb.”

“It’ll be my new tagline.” I shift gears. “All right, you know the drill. Give him plenty of rest, make sure he takes it easy. He might not want to eat right away. And whatever you do, keep that lampshade on him.”

Evie drops her face into the dog’s tiny cone and gives him a kiss. “I won’t let you get out of your cone, I promise, Coney Boy.”

“Give me a call if anything comes up, okay? Day or night. Doesn’t matter.”

“That sounds perfect.” But before she turns to leave, she gives me a look. It’s a look that says she has something on her mind. “Dr. Smith, I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”

“I can see the wheels turning in your head.”

She smiles, acknowledging that I’m right. “Have you started dating again? It’s been more than a year or so since Sandy left.”

“Yes, I’ve dated,” I say, a little defensively. “I just haven’t met the right person.”

“It’s hard to meet the right person. I hear you on that front.” Her tone is sympathetic.

“I thought I had met the right person.”

The thing is Sandy was a fantastic woman, and I can’t fault her for leaving. She was offered a fantastic job in Beijing. She accepted and boarded a flight two weeks later without any fanfare or discussions about us continuing.

We’d been together for a year. We’d started making plans. And then her plan was to move halfway around the world, so that’s what she did, ending us in one clean slice.

“But you can’t let it get you down,” Evie adds. “You are a prize.”

I straighten my shoulders and flash an over-the-top smile. “Thank you. I always thought I’d look really nice paraded around onstage, perhaps given away at the end of a blue ribbon ceremony.”

“We’ll enter you in a dating contest.” She sighs thoughtfully, her eyes narrowing a bit as she taps her chin with her free hand. “But I have other ideas for you.”

“Fess up. Are you trying to enlist me into your stable again?”

She swats my arm affectionately. “Of course. I’ve only been trying to get you in my stable for ages. You know that. Smart, single, sweet as anything, clever, hot vet who does free spay and neuter clinics for the city’s rescues? You are going to be in demand.”


Tags: Lauren Blakely Romance
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