Publication date: February 2nd 2018
Genres: Adult, LGBTQ+, Romance
Needing a change of scene, Griffin Burke moves from Brisbane to Coolum Beach to start a new job. The beautiful white sand, aqua-coloured ocean, blue skies, and summer breezes are everything he longs for. What he finds is a mud-covered dog, lost and hungry, with a nametag and a phone number.
Dane Hughes is stuck in Surfers Paradise at a week-long work conference when he gets a phone call from his distraught mother. His dog, his fur baby, Wicket, has run away. Unable to leave and feeling helpless and miserable, he gets a text from a guy. “I think I found your dog…”
Griffin and Dane start talking, and Griffin agrees to look after Wicket until Dane can collect him. With a few days left before his new job starts, Griffin takes Wicket on some coastal adventures and sends Dane photos of their fun, and so the start of something new and kind of wonderful begins.
Griffin might have moved to Coolum in search of a new life, but what he finds is so much more. What he gets to keep just might take some four-legged help.
When Griffin still hadn’t replied when I was back in my hotel room for the night, disappointment fought with regret in my belly. It was stupid, really. That I should be tied up in knots over a guy I barely knew. We’d had no more contact than a few phone calls, a couple of laughs, and a bunch of text messages. And the photos. Let’s not forget the photos.
Sonia had insisted I meet with her and the rest of the gang in the hotel restaurant at seven, and truth be told, I didn’t have much of an appetite. But this work conference was about networking as much as it was educational and about team building, and so I’d agreed.
I changed into jeans and a T-shirt, put on some more deodorant, splashed my face with water, and told my reflection in the bathroom mirror to get his shit together. Everyone was at the bar when I arrived an artful ten minutes late. One beer and a few laughs later, I was feeling much better. I’d managed to not think, or overthink, as tended to my problem, about things I couldn’t control and settled in to have a good night with some work friends.
When we were sitting at our table waiting for our meals, Jamie was telling a funny story about a customer who had brought in their laptop because of internet connectivity issues only to discover, in a very public setting, that it was the illegal downloading of porn that had infected his device with viruses.
We’d all burst into laughter just as my phone beeped with a message. It was from Griffin, and I braced myself for a short, terminating text.
Busy afternoon. Going for walks and taking naps, you know, the important stuff. He added a wink.
Then followed with a photo, and I almost dropped my phone. It was a selfie of a dark-haired guy with a bit of scruff, wearing sunglasses and a breathtaking smile. He was holding Wicket, and I didn’t know which of them was grinning the biggest. The sun was shining, they were outside, trees in the background, so possibly a park or a backyard.
My heart squeezed, uncomfortably tight and wonderful at the same time. Griffin was… well, he was… I stared at the picture. I couldn’t look away. If someone said, design your idea of a perfect guy, I was staring at it. Gorgeous, smiling in the sunshine, and holding Wicket. That was the holy trifecta.
“What is it?” Sonia asked, trying to peek at my phone screen.
“Oh, nothing, sorry,” I said. I hadn’t realised the conversation around the table had stopped and they were looking at me.
“Is that him?” Sonia asked, her smile wide and knowing.
I let out a long breath and handed her my phone. She stared at it, then stared at me. “I can see why you’re reconsidering your single status. He’s cute!”
“I’m not reconsidering anything,” I said, not sounding one bit convinced.
I was saved by the waiter bringing our dinner, thankful for the distraction. Everyone was trying not to look at me and pretended I wasn’t blushing. Sonia slid my phone to me and gave me a kind smile. She leaned in and whispered, “Sorry.”
“It’s fine.” I took a deep breath and shook my head, turning my plate around. “I, um, it’s only kind of new, and he doesn’t know…” God, my face flamed.
Mack, a guy from Townsville, gave me a pointed look. “Did you learn nothing from today’s focus group on risk management having a positive outcome?”
I snorted. “All I learned today was that my dog is having the time of his life with the man of my dreams, and I’m stuck here with you guys.”
Mack laughed. “I’ll give you the short version of what was a three-hour lecture. Take the risk.”
They all smiled, and one by one, they raised their glasses. “Cheers to that.”
N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance.
She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.
She is many things: a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words. She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things… but likes it even more when they fall in love.
She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.
She’s been writing ever since…