About By the Numbers
by Chris Owen and Tory Temple
188 pages / 55000 words
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The last thing Nathaniel, aka Deuce, expects to see when he gets home
from work is his street jammed with fire engines and police cars. When he
realizes that it’s his apartment building that’s on fire, Nathaniel can only
think of one thing: his pregnant dog, trapped inside.
When firefighter Trey Donovan delivers Nathaniel’s unharmed dog to him,
Nathaniel is exceedingly grateful. After all, it isn’t every day that he
meets muscular, attractive rescue workers. Nathaniel manages to find out
where Trey’s station is with the idea of saying thank you and offering him a
puppy, but discovers that he and Trey have something else between them that
Trey, however, has responsibilities that could prove to make that
exploration difficult. He has shift work to contend with. His seven year old
daughter is a priority, plus he shares custody with his less than friendly
ex-wife. Since Nathaniel is the new owner of one dog and six puppies, and
doesn’t even have a place to live, he isn’t exactly in an ideal situation to
explore a new relationship. Even if it is with a hot, handsome fireman.
Can Trey and Nathaniel find some common ground amid the yapping of puppies
and Trey’s complicated family life?
Kiernan Kelly, author of Cornfed, writes: There’s nothing much hotter
than a fireman or anything sweeter than an armful of puppies, and readers
are gifted with both hot and sweet in this wonderful collaboration from
Chris Owen and Tory Temple.
Trey is a fireman with a bitter ex-wife and charming young daughter. When
Trey saves Nathaniel’s pregnant dog from an apartment fire, his bravery
brings him more than mere bragging rights at the station – he gets an
opportunity to not only adopt a puppy, but gain a lover in the bargain.
Nate (aka “Deuce”) needs to find homes for his dog’s pups and one for
himself as well to replace the one lost in the fire. What he doesn’t count
on is falling for a hot fireman with a big heart and a spare bedroom.
Falling in love with Trey and Deuce, their passel of pups, and the rest
of the characters in By the Numbers is as easy as one, two, three. Don’t
Smoke was pouring out of windows, through doors, and
Deuce's vision narrowed until all he could see was his apartment. "Let me
The cop was yelling at him, and then there were two holding onto him,
demanding to know who was inside, what apartment. They wouldn't let him go,
and Deuce couldn't make the words come out. He swore he could hear her
barking. "Q! My dog. She's locked in the bedroom. She's pregnant!"
"What number?" He didn't know who asked, didn't care.
"Six. Second floor, on the right." He made himself stop pulling at the cops,
mostly because someone was going toward the building, someone in fire gear
who could actually help, but also because the police weren't going to be
patient with him for very long.
"Stay here," one of the cops, the second one, ordered. "You don't move,
understood? If you head to that building I'll put you in cuffs and throw you
in a patrol car."
Deuce nodded, not even looking at him. He was pretty sure the cop couldn't
do that, but he wasn't about to find out. He just watched the apartment, his
big front window that looked like it had maybe blown out or been smashed in.
"Q," he whispered. Then he made himself shut up and wait.
...and wait, and wait. It felt like a year had passed before he finally saw
the firefighter emerge again, and by that time the building had become
almost totally obscured by the thick, dirty smoke. Too many people were
still in his way and he couldn't tell if the fireman had found his poor Q,
her belly swollen with pups.
He craned his neck and stood on tiptoe, trying to peer past the police
officer that was keeping him from dashing to his building. Had the
firefighter gotten to her? And had it been in time? Deuce was just on the
verge of saying fuck it and risking arrest, but suddenly the flock of people
in front of him melted away and he was face to face with a pair of strong
arms that cradled his pregnant dog.
"Q!" He reached out his arms to take the squirming, panting mutt. "Is she
okay? Are you?"
Q's tongue lolled and she whined and wiggled until he put her down. Holding
onto her collar, Deuce crouched down next to her and looked up at the
firefighter. "Thank you. God, I can't even tell you." He pet Q with one
hand, made her sit and held on tight. "Thank you," he repeated.
The firefighter had already taken off his mask, and now he did the same to
his helmet and wiped at his forehead. He nodded at Deuce and leaned down to
give her a pat. "She's a nice girl. Came right to me and let me pick her
"She wasn't real scared?" Deuce noticed his own hand was shaking and he
reached up to push it through his hair to make it stop. His knuckles hit his
bike helmet though, and he let out a shaky breath before undoing the snap
and taking the helmet off. "I'm a mess. Thank you so much, again."
"She was a little scared." The man shrugged and pet Q's head again, his
gloves still on. "But not like some pets I've tried to grab. Got bit right
through my turnouts once by some little yappy dog."
"What's your name?"
"Trey Donovan. And she is...?"
"Q. Well, her vet papers still say Cutie, but that's a stupid name. I got
her about two years ago after a break up and took the liberty of cooling her
up." Deuce gently stroked her belly. "She got loose on me, though."
The corner of Trey's mouth lifted as he gazed at the dog's stomach. "She
wasn't spayed, obviously. Don't you listen to what Bob Barker tells you?"
Deuce didn't blush, but he did nod contritely. "Lesson learned, for sure.
It'll be taken care of as soon as she's ready. I'm not sure how long we have
to wait after the puppies come, but the vet will tell me. I hope they're
Q whined again and looked at them both, her tail thumping on the ground. She
was still panting, and Deuce decided he'd have to find some water for her
Someone was yelling for Trey, who glanced over his shoulder and nodded. He
gave one last pat to Q and shifted his helmet to under his other arm. "Good
luck getting rid of the puppies," he laughed. "My kid would love one." Then
he turned and headed back in the direction from which he'd come, presumably
to do something else heroic.