Sofia should have stayed in the hay loft, dragging the chore of rearranging bales into an all-day affair. Because now, as if the arrival of a newly hired hand on the farm wasn’t bad enough, she was having to work with him, as per Charlie’s orders. In close quarters, no less. Didn’t her boss remember she preferred working alone? Then again, maybe Charlie was testing to see what the new guy was made of. Throw him to the wolves on the first day, sort of thing. Sink or swim? Who knew.
What she did know was this stranger was not going to drive her away from the farm. She liked the solitary work, the ache in her muscles at the end of the day. It was a nice place with acres and acres of wire fenced pastures and abundant vegetable gardens. Plenty to eat, and ample elbow room. Of course, she liked it. So did Sol. Not surprising then, that as she scanned the dirt trail snaking from the main barn to the chicken house where she was waiting, her booted feet twisted into the grass. As if they, too, intended to stay and were doing their part in making sure that happened. It was a physical declaration of her determination to stay put, especially since her new co-worker was now aiming straight toward her, the cedar shingled barn behind him playing dramatic backdrop, setting his physique off like a photo shoot for Country Playgirl.
Dear God, he was not hard on the eyes. Just her luck, he had the body to match the penetrating voice. The man’s broad shoulders capped a wide, springy chest. Costumed, of course, in brown checkered flannel, the front unbuttoned juuust enough to flash a suggestion of roped muscle. No wonder that deep growl of his sounded like it rumbled from a barrel. And those legs striding strong beneath those narrow hips? Oh, yes, life was cruel. For Sofia, at least. She dropped her gaze so she wouldn’t visually devour six feet of centerfold.
Because, frankly, she’d learned ages ago to repel anyone who might mean something to her. It hurt less when they later shunned her.
Yeah, she was so not careening down that icy road. Diverting her attention to the big wolfhound-cross was a safer bet, so she focused on the one exception to her rule. Sol. Who went everywhere with her, to the extent that when he wasn’t around, she felt the silence of his absence. Like his not being near her left a gaping hole in her personal space. Plus, he was her extra set of eyes and ears. Which meant she could avoid ogling the newcomer by concentrating on the dog lying at her feet. Sol was staring off at the stranger, emitting subtle clues as to how close the guy was getting without her having to look for herself.
The dog was her barbed wire fence with a brain. More than once his bared teeth deterred anyone from getting too close to her, had prevented thefts from homeless thieves. He was also the reason she could still lay claim to her virginity. That last vestige of her innocence would have been stolen from her long ago if it hadn’t been for Sol. That gigantic mutt’s fierce vigilance was the main reason Sofia had survived on the streets.
So she trained her attention on her loyal partner as the man approached, with good reason. It didn’t matter if she thought the guy movable eye candy. Sol would fathom out the stranger’s true measure in the short time it would take him to approach, then rumble his warning for the man to keep a safe distance. At the same time, he was going to stiffen up and lift a ridge of hair along his back, just in case he had to get physical.
Instead, her guardian stretched up onto his long legs and waved his tail, offering the doggie equivalent of a friendly handshake. Seriously? Her true-blue protector was going AWOL? Without her canine force field shielding her, the new guy’s purred greeting caressed every square inch of Sofia’s skin, teasing that strangeness inside her she’d been spending a lifetime screwing a very tight lid on.
“Traitor,” she grumbled to her dog’s backside. Although she’d be damned if she was going to let this guy get close, even if her dog was a turncoat. Sofia lifted her chin so she’d stop gaping at Sol’s wagging butt, and narrowed her lids into a concrete stare, ignoring everything about the new guy from the bridge of his nose on down. Without a word, she thrust a pitchfork at him like a stiff sentry, turned on her heels and made tracks for the chicken coop. Charlie might have given the orders that they work together, but she didn’t have to like it or make nice. She’d shovel the shit, and if Mr. Gorgeous couldn’t figure out how to do it by watching? Well, it sure as hell wasn’t rocket surgery, so if he couldn’t grasp the concept he could leave. Any idiot could do the job; which of course tickled her dark side. Because by default she was that idiot.
Puckering her lips to squash a mutinous grin, Sofia continued marching toward the shit-caked chicken coop.
Remember, next Saturday, November 23rd, I’ll post another installment. I might even sneak one in sooner, so keep checking. Better yet, feel free to sign up as a member of my blog to receive automatic updates.