Brought together by hardship, and heartache they’ve bonded without blood ties, and seek to help others.
Four brothers who’ve walked both sides of the line, and come out stronger for it, but will they survive love, loss, and the law?
Payton Storm served her country with honor and loyalty, until an IED ended her career and scarred her for life. Struggling to overcome PTSD and find her purpose in life again, she agrees to a long-term stay at Crawley Creek Ranch under the care of a PTSD specialist. She’s surrounded by happy people who have no comprehension of the nightmares she battles, and a four legged furry friend who’s supposed to be her lifeline to recovery. What could possibly go wrong?
Single father, Luke Gillian, has been the Montford veterinarian for most of his adult life. In fact, he’s barely left the town he grew up in. Arguments with his belligerent teenage son, and the pressure of a down economy have left Luke in a dark place. Until a ray of sunshine appears in his life with her injured service dog. Could Payton be the change his life needs?
Two people with too many problems to open their hearts, but fate won’t take no for an answer.
Payton has always been strong, a Marine serving her country was all she had thought of being. Now injured and scarred, suffering from PTSD flashbacks, she can’t see what her future holds. On the suggestion of her doctors and pretty much given a ultimatum she heads to Crawley Creek Ranch, Here she will be under the care of a PTSD specialist who will guide her to the tools she needs to build a future. On of these tools is not a tool at all but a beautiful service dog. One problem Payton has never owned a pet of any kind, so while agreeing she needs this animal she is anxious over having one.
This is a favorite scene when she goes to pick up her dog.
Payton took the leash and stared at her new companion for several minutes, unsure what to do from here. Was there a command she should use? Did the dog just know what she was thinking or did she need to tell it? Did it understand English? It was an Australian Shepherd, so surely it understood English. Oh, good lord, what if she needed to fake an Australian accent?
Panic filled her chest again, and she began to tremble. There was no way she could handle this. She had no idea what she was doing, and no interest in learning.
Next to her, the dog rose to all fours and cocked its head giving her a curious look. Just the dog’s interest in her made her slightly queasy. Was he looking at her like that because he liked her, or was he planning an attack?
The more she let her fears about her new pet get into her head the more physically ill she became, and her body took over. Her mind going completely blank as she collapsed in a heap on the floor of the veterinarian’s office.
Voices echoed around her, and she could feel something wet on her hand. Had she managed to hurt herself? Maybe the leash had cut her skin when she fell?
“Payton? Can you open your eyes?”
She knew that voice. Dr. Sexy.
Her eyes opened slightly and focused on the smiling face of Luke Gillian.
“That’s a good girl. A little wider now and I can check your pupils. Did you hit your head?”
His question only caused more confusion. She didn’t recall falling, how would she know if she hit her head? When she tried to lift her hand to check, it caught on something, and an animal whined. Jerking her head in the direction of the dog, she inhaled sharply when the whole world spun for a second.
“Easy there. Looks like you hit your head pretty hard. I’m going to take you into the back and check you over, okay?” Luke’s arms slid underneath her, and before Payton could agree or disagree he was lifting her off the floor in his strong grip.
Her arm tugged hard, and she realized the leash was still attached to her wrist. Twisting her hand, she tried to release it, and Luke chuckled.
“Don’t worry, he’ll follow along.”
To her surprise the dog didn’t balk once. He followed Luke as he carried her through the door into the back of the clinic and set her up on a high counter top. She couldn’t shake off the physical interest in him, especially with his biceps flexing like that around her and in front of her. The man was gorgeous.
“I’m just going to do a few simple checks, nothing invasive. I just want to know if we need to call an ambulance. Do you know where you are?”
“Good, and do you remember what brought you here?” Her eyes shot to the colorful dog who sat nearby watching their interaction.
“Right, your new dog. And why did you get a new dog?”
“Dr. Hall made me.” Her response seemed to catch Luke off guard and he hesitated before answering. “Okay. Can you tell me if you hurt anywhere?”
“No, I’m perfect.”
“Yeah, you are…”
This time it was her giving him a surprised look. What did he mean by that? Before she could question him, he was shining a small light in her eyes, and running his large hand over the back of her head. She winced when he pressed on a tender spot.
“I think you got lucky. If you do have a concussion, it’s mild. I’m not sure you should be alone though. Do you have someone who can stay with you?”
“Uh, there are dozens of people living at Crawley Creek. I’m never really alone.” She grumbled.
“So, you’re living in the big house?” he asked.
“No, I have a cabin.”
“And a roommate? Boyfriend?”
She shook her head. Luke sighed heavily. “The way I see it you have three options. One, I can call Drannon and request someone stay with you tonight in your cabin—”
She shook her head, fighting the automatic urge to vomit.
“Option two, I call an ambulance and you spend the night at the hospital for observation.”
Wrinkling her nose in disgust she glared at him, “What’s option three?”
“Come home with me.”
Lori King. Paw Prints on Her Heart: Crawley Creek 7 (Kindle Locations 384-420)
While option 3 wasn’t the choice she would have made on her own, it was the best of the ones Luke was offering.While the relationship between Luke and his son Ricky is strained at times, Payton’s presence seems to ease some of it.
I loved the way Payton gradually adjusts to having Chinook. The slow but intense relationship with Luke, Ricky’s issues with school and the rules laid down by his father all combine to help Payton realize what she can have. Add in a manhunt for the serial killer that is plaguing the area and you have an exciting and suspenseful read.
I can’t wait for the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Lori!
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Best-selling author, Lori King, is also a full-time wife and mother of three boys. Although she rarely has time to just enjoy feminine pursuits; at heart she is a hopeless romantic. She spends her days dreaming up Alpha men, and her nights telling their stories. An admitted TV and book junkie, she can be found relaxing with a steamy story, or binging in an entire season of some show online. She gives her parents all the credit for her unique sense of humor and acceptance of all forms of love. There are no two loves alike, but you can love more than one with your whole heart.
With the motto: Live, Laugh, and Love like today is your only chance, she will continue to write as long as you continue to read. Thank you for taking the time to indulge in a good Happily Ever After with her.