I promised you guys an excerpt, so here it is! Please enjoy the first chapter of Darby’s debut romance novella. Also, check out my goodreads review of the book. Also, be sure to check out her rafflecopter giveaway to get a chance to win an awesome prize pack:
Read the First Chapter of Walk Away with Me by Darby Davenport
The scrawny Rottweiler’s eyes connected with Charlie’s through the TV screen, begging her to save him.
What if nobody else calls in? What if I’m his last chance at finding a home? Well, crap. I can’t just let him die. She grabbed her cell phone, called the local news station hosting the adoptable pets segment, and signed on the dotted line. Not once did she think she might be making a mistake. Not once did she consider the fact she’d been unable to commit to a man—or even a roommate—longer than two measly months.
And now she planned to commit to a one-year-old canine coming straight from a neglected past?
Well, adventure had certainly found her, whether she’d asked for it or not.
The rescue volunteers didn’t ask many questions before inviting her to visit the kennel and come pick him up. If they had, maybe she’d have changed her mind.
She might have seen this as a move with the potential of becoming the biggest mistake of her entire life. Worse than the time she’d left mid-semester her junior year to travel to India in search of the answer to life. Worse than the time she’d got so caught up in the cinematic excitement of V for Vendetta she’d shaved her head in homage. Even worse than the time she’d practically eloped with a guy she’d only dated three weeks, because it seemed like a good and wildly romantic idea at the time.
At least she’d talked herself out of that one.
But what good did escaping one bad decision do her, if she’d just replaced it with another by committing herself to a strange dog for, at minimum, the next ten years?
Charlie took a deep breath and gripped the steering wheel until her knuckles turned white. No going back now. She may have been impulsive, but she had a heart, damn it, and she wouldn’t abandon a dog no one else wanted in the first place. Definitely too late to change her mind at this point. “Now or never,” she said to the hula dancer figurine on her dashboard before grabbing her purse and slamming the car door behind her.
“Oh, you must be Charlotte Rockwell.” A volunteer with a sloppy button-up shirt and a way-too-large smile greeted her the second she entered the shelter.
She nodded, pretending her feet were one million pound weights gluing her to the linoleum floor below—the only way she’d be able to avoid making a break for it.
“I’m Angela. Come on and follow me to the back.” Her oversized smile grew even larger as she turned and trotted toward the back of the building.
Charlie’s eyes darted to the floor to check if Angela’s shoes sported actual springs.
“I’m sure Ruby told you everything you need to know when she stopped by for the home check, right?”
She nodded, even though she didn’t have the slightest idea who Ruby was. The woman certainly hadn’t been by her house for a visit.
“Perfect! Rugby’s such a sweet boy once you get to know him. I’m so glad he’s finally found a good home. You must be thrilled.”
‘Once you get to know him?’ What does that mean? She was this close to changing her mind and dashing straight out of there, but when they pushed through the large metal door to the kennel, Rugby glanced up at her with those same sad eyes that had melted her heart in the first place.
She was screwed.
“Hi, Rugby,” Angela cooed in a goochy-goo voice. “Look who it is. Your new mommy’s come to take you home. Who’s a good boy? Yes, you are.”
Charlie sank to a squatting position and stuck her index finger through the metal fencing.
Rugby stretched and raised himself into a sitting position. He sniffed her hand delicately and gave her a huge sloppy lick.
“Oh, see. You two are perfect! Best buds already,” Angela squealed. She rattled off a litany of instructions, shoved the folder of paperwork into one hand, and the leash to Charlie’s new 115-pound baby in the other, and together dog and woman headed home.
Ethan stifled a laugh as he watched the petite blonde tear into the dog park at the end of her Rottweiler’s leash. Hardly three seconds passed as they sprinted from the parking lot to the first entry gate.
When the girl unhitched the second entry gate, her dog ran away at lightning speed, not even allowing her to remove his leash. Her eyes darted from side to side as if to make sure nobody had witnessed the mishap.
Luckily, Ethan looked away before she could catch him staring. He allowed his gaze to settle on her again as she ran after her squatting dog with a plastic baggie cupped over her hand.
Despite the circumstances, she was beautiful. Blonde hair escaped from her pony tail and clung to her cheeks in tendrils. Her delicate lips and nose were balanced by huge brown eyes and thick lashes. She almost reminded him of….
He snapped his attention away. Couldn’t be thinking like that. Not today. He needed a distraction, and fast.
His golden retriever jogged over and nuzzled Ethan’s thigh.
“Good boy.” As he scratched the dog’s head, he sensed her eyes on him, but he refused to look—refused to give her any reason to come over and attempt to start a conversation. When had he become such a bitter old man?
He was hardly thirty—way too young to write off the opposite sex altogether. He should still be in his party phase, flirting with any pretty girl who happened to look his way, taking as many of them to bed as possible. But, no, he wasn’t like that—even though he often wished he was. Would have saved him the heartache of….
He grabbed the ball Tuck had dropped at his feet and hurled it toward the horizon as hard as he could. The dog raced after it in a blur of golden fur and pounding feet.
Too late, he noticed the massive black blur moving in on the ball from the opposite side of the park.
“Rugby, no!” the blonde girl screamed, but her reprimand fell on deaf ears.
The two dogs reached the single ball at the exact same time. The Rottweiler bared his teeth, a low growl emanating from his throat, but Tuck wouldn’t back down. The poor dog didn’t even realize what was about to happen. Why would he? He’d never run into such an aggressive, undertrained beast before.
Tuck barked an invitation for the other dog to play, and Ethan took off running to save his poor, over-trusting pet from the inevitable fight.
The hairs on the back of the Rottweiler’s back bristled. His growl grew louder, more defined. And he lunged at the unsuspecting Retriever.
“Rugby, no!” the girl screamed again as she, too, raced toward the scene.
Tuck whimpered and ran back to Ethan, but the other dog slinked after him with a predatory gait.
“Hey, lady. How about controlling your dog?” he spat.
The blonde grabbed the end of the leash that was still attached to her dog and pulled him back. “I’m so sorry. I….” A sudden onslaught of tears overwhelmed her attempt to speak.
Great. Now Ethan felt like a bigger monster than her damned dog. “Hey, it’s okay. Tuck’s just fine. No harm done.” He patted the dog’s head and turned toward the other side of the park, but before he could gain much distance, she spoke again.
“Really, I’m sorry. I’ve only had Rugby for a few days, and I don’t really have any experience with dogs. I thought if I brought him here, I’d see how more experienced people act with their dogs. Maybe learn a thing two.” She sniffed back a tear and stared up at him with large, brown eyes—far too familiar for his liking.
Why did she get such a difficult breed if she knows nothing about taking care of a dog? Ethan wondered. Still, he felt like he should offer something helpful before parting ways. “Good luck with your training. Try watching The Dog Whisperer if you have time.”
His hold on her eyes broke when Rugby stood on his hind legs to lick the tears from his owner’s face.
She chuckled and gently pushed the Rottweiler back on all fours, then wiped the slobber from her cheeks with the backs of her hands. Turning serious again, she said, “Thanks, I will, but… I just don’t know what to do. I’m his last chance. The shelter had him for weeks. He even appeared on the adoptable pet segment of the news three separate times. Nobody wanted him except me. If I can’t make it work, I’m practically signing his death warrant.”
Ethan frowned. What could he say to that?
“Hey, your dog is really well-behaved. Maybe you can help us?”
Crap. He didn’t want to spend time with a girl who reminded him way too much of the woman who’d turned him off love altogether, but at the same time, he couldn’t refuse if it meant saving the dog’s life.
“I—I’ll pay. I’ll pay whatever it takes. Only, please help us.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and offered a weak smile.
“Okay, sure,” he gave in. “And don’t worry, you don’t have to pay me anything.” He didn’t return her smile. He couldn’t let her think he was doing this for any other reason than to save the dog.
“Oh, thank you. Thank you so much!” She wrapped her arms around him in a tight hug. “You have no idea how much you’re helping me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Warmth spread through Ethan’s body. He took a deep breath and let his arms go slack. She’s just a girl, he reminded himself. Just a girl.
“I’m Charlotte by the way. Friends call me Charlie.” She released him from the hug and tucked a strand of hair behind her other ear.
“Ethan.” He drew a business card from his wallet. “Call me, and we’ll set something up.”
As soon as she accepted the card, he retreated to the other side of the park and tried not to think about how her touch had stirred something deep within him. A girl. Just a girl.
About Walk Away with Me
A man with a painful past, a woman who fears commitment, and a dog with only one more chance at life–together, can they find love?
What is Charlie Rockwell supposed to do when the sad Rottweiler’s eyes connect with hers through the TV screen and work their way straight into her heart? She adopts him without a second thought or the slightest knowledge how to take care of the large, needy dog with the traumatic past.
Ethan Porter is not happy when a savage Rottweiler picks a fight with his mild-mannered Golden Retriever at the dog park. But his anger quickly dissipates when tears begin to form behind the eyes of the dog’s beautiful owner–eyes that are far too familiar for his liking. Disregarding his instincts, Ethan can’t deny her plea when she asks him to teach her the basics of dog ownership.
Can he ignore the fact that she bears a strong resemblance to his ex and finally learn to trust again? Will she find committing to both man and dog more exciting than the freedom of a single, unrestrained life?
“Lovable characters, compelling plot, and an exciting twist that will leave you on the edge of your seat as Charlie and Ethan find their happily-ever-after.” ~ Lucy Kevin, New York Times bestselling author of THE WEDDING KISS
About Darby Davenport
Darby Davenport never believed in love–that is, until it happened to her. Now she’s a firm believer that every story is a love story, and has taken to writing out her favorite romantic fantasies and sharing them with the world.
Darby, who also writes young adult and children’s fiction under the pen name Emlyn Chand, lives in suburban Detroit with her own personal soul mate–fellow writer, Falcon Storm–and private zoo, which includes a music-loving Sun Conure, hyper-active Golden Retriever, and two scrappy little rescue mutts.
You can connect with her at www.DarbyDavenport.com.