Amazed at how far she'd come in a few months, Cassidy Outlaw jogged along the path beside Austin's Lady Bird Lake without even breaking a sweat. When she'd first started her exercise regimen, she couldn't make half a block without being winded and dying from the burn in her legs. Now she could actually enjoy these early morning jogs.
Especially with the current view to hold her interest.
She trotted behind a very tight set of male buns attached to a terrific torso with a lovely expanse of shoulders. The shorts were black, the T-shirt gray and the hair short, a damp brown, and probably less curly when it was dry. A white towel was draped around his neck.
She liked his legs, too. Well-muscled thighs and calves. Was his front as good as his back? Some good-looking guys ran this trail--and some real dogs. Which was he?
Suddenly, Tight Buns stopped. Cass, being in midstride, didn't, and she couldn't get her footing quickly enough to keep from tripping over him and going down onto the decomposed granite path.
"Ouch! Dammit! Dammit!" She grabbed her knee.
"Oh, God, I'm sorry," Tight Buns said.
"Idiot! What were you thinking, to stop like--" The words died on her lips when she looked up and saw the klutz was no putz. He was an Adonis.
"Are you hurt?" he asked.
Maybe he was a putz, after all. "I figure if there's blood, I'm hurt for sure."
He grabbed the towel from around his neck and dabbed the blood from the scrape on her knee.
"Is that sanitary?" she asked, glaring at him and trying to keep from being mesmerized by a pair of the bluest eyes she'd ever seen. Real baby blues, so pale they seemed to cut into her like lasers.
"Oh, hell! I didn't even think of germs. Let's get some proper first aid." He flagged down a cab, which was a miracle in itself, since Austin didn't have cabs cruising the streets like New York.
Before she could sputter more than, "What the hell do you--" he'd scooped her into his arms and slid her into the backseat.
"To the nearest E.R.," he said to the driver.
"You're nuts! I don't need to go to an emergency room for a skinned knee. I just need some peroxide and a Band-Aid."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure."
"Make that the nearest drugstore," he told the driver.
The cab drove a couple of blocks and stopped. "Here we are."
Tight Buns pulled out a twenty from a small zippered pocket and handed it to the driver. "Keep the change," he said, flinging open the door. He reached inside and made to pick her up again, but Cass slapped his hands.
"Have you got any more money in your pocket?" she asked.
He felt inside. "Nope. That was it."
"Keep a couple of bucks for yourself," she told the driver, "and give us the change."
The man didn't look too thrilled, but he handed her a ten. She started to hold out for more, but gave it up and got out.
"Why did you do that?" Tight Buns asked.
"Because the only things in my fanny pack are my car keys and pepper spray." She waved the bill. "This is for first aid supplies."
"Good point. Can you walk?"
"Of course I can walk," Cass said. With blood dribbling down her leg, she marched into the drugstore, Blue Eyes close behind.
Inside, he walked her to the pharmacy...
Jan Hudson (Author)
Except for a brief sojourn in Fort Knox, Kentucky, when her husband was in the army, Jan has lived her entire life in Texas. Like most Texans, she adores tall tales. One of her earliest memories is wearing her footed flannel pajamas and snuggling on someone's lap as patrons sat around the pot-bellied stove in her grandparents' country store—the same store where her mother once filled Bonnie and Clyde's gas tank. She remembers listening, engrossed, as the local characters that gathered there each evening swapped tales.People and their stories have always fascinated her. All kinds of people. All kinds of stories. And she loves books. All kinds of books. Her house is filled with scads of bookshelves, and books are stacked in odd places here and there. As a five-year-old, her great sorrow was the loss of her big fairy-tale volume to a hurricane. She didn't care about clothes or furniture—or even dolls. She wept buckets over that book.Jan has always had a vivid imagination and an active fantasy life, perhaps as a result of being an only child. Her curiosity is boundless and her interest range is extremely broad. In college she majored in both English and elementary education and minored in biology and history.Later she earned a master's degree and a doctorate in counseling, was a licensed psychologist and a crackerjack hypnotist, and taught college psychology (including statistics) for twelve years. Along the way she became a blue ribbon flower arranger, an expert on dreams, and a pretty decent bridge player.Yet, she had a creative itch she had to scratch. The need to write had always been there, nagging. Her mother always swore that her labor with Jan was so long and difficult because her daughter was holding a tablet in one hand and a pencil in the other and wouldn't let go. After years of daydreaming and secretly plotting novels, she took a few brush-up courses, joined Romance Writers of America, and plunged in. Now she writes full time, sees a few hypnotherapy client