“How is Petra?” Dev slid into the chair beside her in the dim morning light.
“Still groggy.” Charlie shifted away from Dev’s warm scent. The man was gorgeous, educated and he’d apologized. An apology was not something people offered Charlie. Her mother refused to admit when she was wrong. Her former rescue partner had lied about so many things that she wasn’t even sure what was real. Maybe nothing. The people who toured her rescue looked at her as an oddity, a model turned vet who chastised them for wanting exotic pets.
And if they messed up, they never said sorry.
“Before I leave, care to show me the facilities?” Dev’s sultry low tone felt like a caress.
The man was hot, but so were a lot of the celebrities and businessmen who toured her facility. None of their voices made her insides churn. None of them cared about big cat rescue either. She was probably just responding to someone sharing her interest.
Dev McCaw was finally in her rescue, not the way she’d planned, but Charlie Anderson did not squander opportunities.
As they walked the grounds, Dev asked about each of the exercise runs, the cats currently rehabbing and the protocols for release. Each question brought her more excitement. Most visitors only wanted to know if they could pet a puma.
No one bothered to hide their frowns when she said no.
“And this—” Charlie knew she was nearly dancing, but her body refused to act proper when someone was finally asking all the right questions “—is the command post.”
She’d saved this for last. His animal-tracking work and the talks he’d given about wildlife maintenance were the foundation for this room. Most rescues didn’t have a tech room, but this room—it was what saved Petra. What had saved many of the cats they were tracking.
And it was what Jared used to track the ones he’d then sold.
That bitter pill was not what she was going to focus on now. Lesson learned. From this point forward, anyone with access to this room would have a background check and she’d find a way to keep accurate logs.
“This is how you’re tracking them.” Dev’s brown eyes widened as he looked at the screen, pin lights moving across it. Each a cat in the wild living its life.
“I set it up three years ago. I don’t get to all the ones trapped by poachers, hit by cars or wounded in other ways, but I get to more than I lose.” Charlie couldn’t keep her eyes from Dev’s face. The upturn of his lips, the scruff of his beard, the happiness radiating from his body as he stared at the thing of which she was most proud. It was intoxicating.
“This is impressive.”
“I know.” She looked at the board, watching the light of cougar 723, Oliver, move toward the spot he liked to spend the day resting in, before turning her attention back to the man at her side. “Want to stay a while? I’m down a vet, and you more than fit the qualifications.”
She didn’t know where the offer came from, but hey, everyone always said to shoot your shot.
Dev’s gaze hovered on the tracking system before landing on her. Again her body lit up, heat traveling to places she hadn’t thought about in forever. Say yes.
“I can stay for a little while.”
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