Home > Hosed (Happy Cat #1)(14)

Hosed (Happy Cat #1)(14)
Author: Pippa Grant, Lili Valente

She’s stuck in the toilet, the poor thing. The room is so large, she can’t touch her hands or her legs to the walls except maybe the wall behind her, and the toilet is one of those insanely tall models.

“My ass is trapped,” she says without taking her hands off her face. One eye is completely blocked by her cell phone, which has a cover featuring a cartoon Viking sticking a flag in a planet. “I’ve fallen into the bowl and I can’t get out.”

I fight a laugh. “Hazard of having such a petite backside, I suppose.”

She groans beneath her breath. “Can you not look at me while you pull me out? And then go home and pretend this never happened? I need one of those flashy memory-wiping thingies from Men in Black. Where’s the app for that?”

I cock my head, studying the situation, figuring I should be able to lift her out by her armpits. “Consider my memory wiped,” I assure her. “I’m going to grab you around the ribs and pull, okay?”

“With your eyes closed and no cameras and no judging my grossness?”

My chest aches. “Cassie,” I say gently. “Hey. Look at me.”

She parts her fingers and peers through the cracks at me with one eye. Her cell phone is still covering the other. I don’t ask how she managed to hold onto her phone while falling into the toilet—it’s both irrelevant and understandable.

Who among us has not played Candy Crush while using the facilities?

“No one’s taking any pictures you don’t want taken,” I promise. “Not on my watch. And I won’t breathe a word about this to anyone. Promise. You’re safe with me.”

She stares at me without blinking for three long heartbeats, long enough for me to feel the weight of the realization that I can’t always keep her safe, or protect her every minute of the day.

But I can shield her from Mortification By Toilet.

“Thank you,” she whispers.

I take that as permission, close my eyes, wrap my arms around her warm tee shirt, and tug.

She makes a glerg noise, and I realize her legs are stuck pretty good.

“I have a defective bottom,” she grumbles. “I should change my name to Cassie Weirdbottom.”

I smile, but keep my eyes closed. “It’s not you. It’s the toilet. Where did Savannah get this thing?”

“Torture Toilets R-Us?” she guesses.

I stop myself from laughing, only because I don’t want her to think I’m laughing at her instead of with her. “Didn’t realize there was a market for those.”

She lets out a soft laugh, and that organ in my chest melts. I want to make her laugh like that every day. All the time.

But first I have to get her out of this toilet. I tug again, she yips and squeezes me tight, but she’s still not budging.

Her arms are twined around my neck, though, that fresh scent of salty flowers tickles my nose, and her breath is hot on my shoulder as she whispers, “Ryan?”

“Yeah?”

“While I’m already mortified, I have to tell you something.”

Thirteen

Cassie

* * *

Ryan starts to pull back, but I grip him tighter. I’m already embarrassed, and I don’t want to see his reaction.

I also don’t want to chicken out.

“I’m a virgin,” I blurt out.

His whole body goes as stiff as—well, as stiff as that part of him that was between my legs last night. Which I wouldn’t mind feeling again, because wow—how electric was that? And intense? And so all-over-buzzy-and-tingly that I finally get it.

I get why people like sex so much.

They like it because it feels so incredible, so close, intimate in a way nothing else ever has. It felt like I was touching something deeper than Ryan’s warm skin or rock hard muscles. Like my heartbeat and his were pounding in time, playing a song only the two of us could hear.

A beautiful song, so much sweeter than I imagined something sexual could ever be.

But sadly, this is not the time for romance.

He’s attempting to pull me out of a toilet. And going completely silent. And whatever sexy points I might have racked up yesterday, I have probably now ruined.

He disentangles himself and pulls back to look at me, his brows pinched while he squats to my level. I can’t tell if he’s disappointed or appalled or shocked or all of the above.

Also, my legs are going numb.

“Cassie.” He touches gentle fingers to my cheek. “You don’t have to be embarrassed.”

“Mortified is the word of the day,” I whisper.

He doesn’t blink.

I clear my throat. “Right. Maybe not if you’re a normal, everyday, socially inept geek who isn’t running a sex toy company. But…”

He doesn’t laugh.

Nope. His eyes go dark and his Adam’s apple bobs and he glances down quickly before meeting my gaze again. “So you really…never?”

His voice is husky too, and even though I’m being eaten alive by a toilet, the sparks radiating between us are heating my skin, making it hard to breathe.

“Never,” I confirm, my lips continuing to flap, spilling all my secrets. “I’ve never even had a close encounter with a dildo. Van keeps suggesting I help myself, but I just…I’m not…” I exhale with a sharp huff. “And now I need to get out of this toilet and get downtown to help clean up the mess someone’s made, which means I’ll have to juggle dildos like I’m a pro. But I’m just not, and—”

He puts his fingers to my lips. “I’ll get you some gloves. And I’ll get my brothers. We’ll all help.”

“No! With your brothers and half the town watching, I’ll be even more embarrassed.”

His smile is growing. “I just realized, we missed part of our tour yesterday.”

“The part where there are sex toys everywhere and someone’s clearly using dildo graffiti to get more people on board with shutting down Sunshine Toys?”

“The part where, no matter how strange the circumstances, everyone pitches in to help during a crisis.”

“Everyone is not pitching in.”

“They are. C’mon. Let’s get you out of here, I’ll grab reinforcements, and we’ll meet you downtown for Operation Toy Clean-up.”

He leans down, looping his arms around me again. “We’re just gonna wiggle until we get it, okay?”

“That’s not how I hear it works,” I grumble.

He laughs, and I can’t help smiling back.

Because even though this is embarrassing, having Ryan here is all the reassurance I need that everything is going to be okay.

Fourteen

Ryan

* * *

Turning off the highway onto the gravel drive to Jace’s place, I force myself to keep my speed to a respectable thirty miles per hour. It hasn’t rained in over a week and I don’t want to coat Blake’s grape crop with dust.

My second to youngest brother is serious about starting a small vineyard in the next four years and has given each of us the “respect the fruit, assholes” lecture more times than I can count. He’s usually the most laid back of the four of us, but mess with his latest Big Plan and you’ll see a side of Blake that isn’t sunshine and rainbows.

But it’s hard to go slow, and not just because I’m past ready to be back with Cassie, helping her make downtown a sex toy-free zone while acquiring further information about how this whole “still a virgin” situation came to pass.

She’s a gorgeous, funny, sexy, intelligent woman who’s a blast to spend time with.

And sexy.

Have I mentioned sexy? Or that she kisses like a house on fire, which is something I know about from firsthand experience. It’s intense, awe-inspiring, scary and magnificent all at once.

Like Cassie Sunderwell, though it’s clear she has no idea how irresistible she is.

But even though she’s pretty much the only thing running through my head, I can’t fight the gut feeling that something’s wrong with Jace.

My brothers all joke about my “Big Bro-Dar,” but in all the years I’ve been keeping them out of trouble, it’s never steered me wrong. First, my shoulders get restless, then my stomach starts to ache, and before long I can’t stop pacing until I get whatever sibling is plaguing my thoughts on the phone.

Or, better yet, corner the kid in question in person.

Though, of course, they aren’t kids anymore. Hell, they haven’t been for a long time. I haven’t been a kid since I was ten, the day we almost lost my youngest brother, Clint, when he ran outside to play in the rain and ended up getting struck by lightning. I was supposed to be watching him.

He almost died because I hadn’t kept him inside.

From that day forward, I’d made it my mission to keep my brothers safe and to never, ever do anything to hurt them again.

Clint now credits his near-death experience for his dauntless, rise-to-the-challenge attitude that’s made him the most decorated young marine in his unit.

Which is fine and all—I’m proud of Clint, I really am—but I would rather keep the people I care about out of harm’s way.

As if summoned by my danger-avoiding thoughts, a red Jetta appears at the end of the road in front of me. Long before the car gets close enough to get a good look at the driver, I know who it is.

There’s only one red Jetta in Jace’s life, and it’s driven by his heart-breaker of an on-again-off-again girlfriend, Ginger.

I slow down even more, forcing myself to nod civilly to the redhead behind the wheel as our vehicles pass each other on the road. For her part, Ginger is smirking as she wiggles scarlet-tipped nails behind her closed window. She looks pretty satisfied with herself, which can only mean one thing—she and Jace are back together.

“Shit,” I curse, my heart sinking. For a moment, I consider heading back to town without collecting Jace or Blake for help with clean-up—I’m clearly too late to pull my brother out of harm’s way —but I keep going. Cassie really could use the help and my Big-Bro-Dar is still blaring out a code red.

   
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