LOVE—UNLEASHED. . .
First in a wickedly funny new series brimming with mystery and romance!
Piper Summers works like a dog juggling three jobs to put herself through veterinary school—driving taxis, delivering pizzas, and singing telegrams. Thankfully, Piper has her devoted dachshund Colin to help her keep things in line. That is, until she gets fired...and someone throws her a bone that is too good to resist.
Aiden Caldwell is an Armani ad come to life—a billionaire CEO who’s just adopted a dachshund from the rescue center where Piper volunteers. He’s hot on Piper’s tail to be his personal dog walker...but he may be after more than a walker for his wiener. The gorgeous, spirited Piper is everything he’s ever wanted from a woman—and more. But can Piper ever love, and trust, a man who has never learned to open his heart—or has she bitten off more than she can chew?
Must Love Wieners is the first book in Casey Griffin's Rescue Dog Romance series!
About the Author
A true geek at heart, Casey Griffin can often be found at Star Trek expos and comic conventions on her days off from her day job, driving 400 ton dump trucks in Northern Alberta, Canada. As a jack of all trades with a resume boasting registered nurse, English teacher and photographer, books are her true passion. Casey is a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel finalist and is currently busy writing every moment she can.
Read an Excerpt
Must Love Wieners
By Casey Griffin
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Casey Griffin
All rights reserved.
A yellow cab skidded to a stop in front of an old Victorian house facing the park, and the driver's side door flew open to reveal a pair of long, bare legs ending in red stiletto cowboy boots. Piper stepped out, tugging her baggy top down over her jean skirt, and circled around to the passenger side. As she reached in for the pizza boxes, her hand fell on the empty breadstick bag.
She glared at her passenger, Colin, and by the look on his face it was obvious he knew what came next; he was in crap. Piper continued to scowl at him, at that pitiful, remorseful expression, and the anger fizzled out of her.
Each time she gazed into those big brown eyes, she felt nothing but love for him, as strong as the day they'd first met. And when he leaned forward to kiss her cheek, she knew he loved her too, even if he couldn't say it.
"Bad dog." She wiped the Parmesan slobber off her face. "Those breadsticks were for the customer."
Confused by the reprimand paired with a smile, the black dachshund tilted his head, ears flopping.
Piper tried a moment longer to keep up the pretense, but she relented with a sigh. "Oh, I can't stay mad at you." She gave him a scratch behind the ears.
He responded by licking her hand, as if to say, Yeah, I know I'm pretty amazing.
"Now go hide." She pointed to the floor. "My boss would kill me if he knew you were in here."
Colin jumped down from the seat and parked his butt on the floor mat, his tail slapping the plastic as it wagged.
Grabbing the two medium pizzas, sans breadsticks, she headed for the door, overly aware of how cool and soggy the boxes felt in her hands. She shouldn't have picked up that extra customer in the cab. They only wanted to go eight miles, but it took her completely out of the way to pick up Colin from home and then deliver the pizzas. Plus they didn't even tip.
She climbed the cement stairs to the bright red door. It was fixed up in the classic San Francisco Painted Ladies style. It wasn't as nice as some she'd seen while delivering pizzas around the city — and she'd seen a lot. The paint was peeling from the siding and the windowpanes had cracked, but hell, it was better than anything she could dream of affording.
She considered what it would take to save the down payment to buy a house like that before she turned sixty. A fourth job, that's for sure. And on top of graduating from USF, studying for her big exam, and volunteering at the Dachshund Rescue Center? Yup, no problem! Who needed a life? Or sleep for that matter? She could do it. She'd be fine. Fine, fine, fine. But for now, the apartment she shared with Colin and her unwelcome six-legged roommates would have to do.
Pushing the doorbell set in the orange trim, she prayed for college kids. College kids never complained; they'd eat anything.
But the middle-aged man who opened the door looked like he'd enjoyed a few pizzas in his lifetime.
She slapped on a giant grin. "Hello," she said tooth-achingly sweet.
"I know. I'm so sorry. Traffic was crazy."
He peeked over her shoulder at the taxi parked near the bottom of his steps, then glanced both ways down the street. Seeing no other cars, he squinted an eye at her. "You a pizza delivery girl, or a cabbie?"
"Right now, I'm a delivery girl." As proof, she tapped the Tony's Pizza logo embroidered on her shirt.
His eyes drifted down to her bare legs. With the oversized shirt, it almost looked like she was wearing nothing underneath. Well, she practically wasn't, but he didn't need to know that.
Piper's face warmed despite the lack of clothing. "Sure hot out today," she said by way of an explanation. He didn't reply, so she held out a palm. "That will be twenty-six eighty, please."
He counted the money out to the penny and exchanged it for the pizza. "Where are the breadsticks? There are supposed to be breadsticks."
"Yeah, they must have forgotten them at the restaurant." She didn't think he'd appreciate the real story. "Don't worry. I took the cost off your bill already."
She started to back away from the door and down the front steps, conscious that she was running late for her next gig. There would be some speeding involved to make it in time. But she could handle it. It was fine.
"Hey, this pizza's cold!" he yelled after her.
Biting her lip, she waved. "Don't worry about the tip."
She leapt behind the wheel of the cab and shut the door, which cut the rest of his feedback off. Throwing her seat belt on, she turned to Colin. "Hold on."
She dropped her foot and gunned it all the way to the end of the street. Letting her cabbie skills take over, she raced across San Francisco, taking a shortcut through Chinatown to Montgomery Street.
Once Piper reached the Financial District, she glanced at her GPS for the address. A block later, the building came into view and she swerved into the taxi lane to park. Pulling out her phone, she glanced at the text message from the telegram agency. Colin hopped onto the center console, planting his front paws on her thigh while she read the details of the job.
"Looks like I'm headed to the top floor." Even when she leaned forward to glance up through the windshield, she still couldn't see the top of the building. She whistled. "Must be one important guy."
Colin licked her ear to remind her that he was the only important guy around.
Snapping her fingers, she pointed to the floor. He resumed his hiding spot but whined to let her know he wasn't happy about it.
"Good boy. I'll only be five minutes, and then we'll head over to the center to play with your friend, okay?"
He woofed, Hurry up.
Leaving the engine in idle, she detached the spare key and cranked the AC. She gripped Tony's oversized shirt and peeled it off to reveal a tight plaid top, red tassels dangling oh, so tastefully from the plunging neckline. Gathering what little dignity she could, she took a deep breath and climbed out of the taxi.
Piper adjusted the scraps of cloth her boss called a costume and popped the trunk. Bright balloons unfolded from the cramped space, floating up in front of her. She grabbed the strings before they could sail away. Each balloon had a different saying. "Be mine." "Love." Some had a picture of a heart.
Picking up a red cowboy hat, she slipped it over the chestnut waves of hair curling down her back and grabbed the box of Swiss chocolates. For the final touch, in case it wasn't demeaning enough, she pulled out a toy horse head glued to the end of a wooden pole. With one more glance up at the sky-rise, she headed for the doors.
"Hey!" someone shouted behind her. "You can't park here."
Recognizing the voice, she rolled her eyes before turning around.
The short, balding taxi driver wore a black leather jacket despite the humidity. He always gave her a hard time — probably because she'd scooped one too many customers from him over the years. But today she didn't have the patience.
"What do you want?"
"Piper. I should have guessed." He leered at her outfit, eyes pausing on the red tassels. "Finally gave in to your urges and took up prostitution, I see. How much you charging?" he asked, playing with the gold chain around his neck.
"More than you could ever afford." She tipped her cowboy hat in farewell and turned to leave.
"Hey, I'm serious; this is a taxi lane. Not your personal parking spot."
"It'll only be a minute. I'm grabbing the customer from inside. The meter's running; I swear."
"Yeah, I bet."
Ignoring him, she spun on her stiletto heel and strolled through the circulating doors. Her boots clicked on the marble floors as she walked up to the reception desk. The female security guard's eyes slid over Piper's cowgirl costume, pausing on her midriff — which wasn't so mid as it was high, from hip all the way up to where her plaid shirt knotted under her boobs.
Piper pretended not to notice. "Hi. I'm here with Sam's Old World Singing Telegrams."
"You don't say?" The woman raised an eyebrow. "Flaunt it if you've got it, I suppose. I used to have a figure like that. Now I got four kids." She shook her head wistfully. "And who's the lucky person?"
"Name is Aiden Caldwell. Some investment firm on the top floor."
Slapping a book on the counter in front of Piper, she handed her a pen. "Sign here. And here. And I'll need a government-issued ID." She peered over the desk at the cutoff skirt that barely covered Piper's butt. "If you have any pockets to put it in, that is."
Reaching into her bra, Piper pulled out her driver's license. "Mother Nature's pocket."
The guard exchanged it for a temporary pass. "You can pick it up again on the way out."
Scanning though the security gates, Piper slipped into an elevator. The suits shuffled to let her in, ducking to avoid the helium balloons. She tried to ignore the fact that she looked like a stripper at a funeral, but when the doors shut that was impossible; they were mirrored. It was hard to deny the humiliation when it was staring her in the face.
She tipped her hat low to block the sight and imagined that she was a real professional, dressed in a blazer and pencil skirt. Dressed in something meant for luncheons and quarterly meetings, not for swinging around a pole, stuffing dollar bills into her bra. But she reminded herself why she was doing this. All the shitty jobs would be worth it in the end. Everything would be fine. And she would have accomplished it all on her own.
Leaning over, she pressed the button for the fortieth floor, choking on the cloud of Old Spice cologne from the man next to her. His eyes followed the bounce of her cleavage as she stood back up. She wanted to tell him to take a picture, but instead she gave him a wink with her honey brown eye.
He grunted in disapproval. Frowning, he turned away, studiously ignoring the reflection in the doors. She bit her lip to hide a smirk.
Floor by floor, the elevator thinned out. Old Spice continued the ride with her to the top, fixing his sad comb-over in the reflection. When the doors opened for the last time, he waved the balloons away and stepped out. Piper followed him into a modern foyer. She often delivered telegrams to offices, but never one this nice.
Wrangling her balloons, she crossed the high-gloss tile to the glass desk in the middle of the reception room. A girl a few years younger than Piper's twenty-six sat behind it, poised like a model for spray tan products.
"Hi there," Piper said.
The receptionist's eyes scraped over Piper's costume. She held up a finger while speaking into her Bluetooth. "I'm sorry. He's not available at the moment. He's in a meeting. Uh-huh."
Piper's gaze flitted around the room, taking in the expensive paintings and the bouquet of hydrangeas bulging from a giant crystal vase that probably weighed a ton — and cost as much.
"Okay. I'll tell him. Thank you." She ended the call and smiled; well, maybe it was supposed to be a smile, but it looked more like a sneer. "Hello," she said to Piper, although she was staring at the horse. "Can I help you with something?" "I'm here with Sam's Old World Singing Telegrams."
"A singing telegram? For who?"
"It's for an Aiden. Aiden Caldwell?"
"Aiden?" She practically choked. As though with new eyes, she took in the sight of Piper again and smiled. But Piper didn't get the impression she wanted to be friends. "This should be interesting."
"Go on through." She flicked her orange hand toward the glass doors to the side of the desk, bracelets jangling. "Third room on your left. Just head right in."
The girl pushed a button behind the desk and the doors unlocked, allowing Piper access to the offices. She followed the directions, balloons trailing behind her, until she stood in front of a sign that said: Boardroom One. She reached out and gripped the door handle, but then she hesitated.
"Come on, Pipe," she whispered to herself. A few more weeks of tuition fees to pay off and she could quit the damn job.
The bigger the act, the better the tips always were, so she reached into her bra again and pulled out her phone. Cuing up the cheesy Western-themed music, she hit play and burst through the door. A single guitar, a warbling harmonica, and the rhythmic clip-pity-clop of horse hooves blasted through her phone speakers.
Shoving the horse's wooden pole between her legs, she yelled, "Yee-haw!" and skipped into the room, tassels swaying, heels clicking.
The lights were dimmed, the curtains closed. Unable to see where she was going, her foot caught on something. It sent her stumbling forward. She reached out to catch her fall. The horse clattered to the floor. Her knees took the landing hard, but her hand fell on something soft. When the lights flicked on, she saw it lay nestled in a man's lap.
Gasping, Piper fell back and stared up at the man. He held a dripping coffee cup, a brown stain spreading across his expensive white shirt and tie. And then she saw his face.
Of course he was gorgeous. He had to be gorgeous. That was so damned typical.
"I–I'm so sorry," she said.
"What the hell is this?" She turned to the angry voice. Old Spice.
Oh God. She hoped he wasn't the one she was supposed to sing to — if they didn't call Security to kick her out first. Delivering a telegram to a crotchety old guy like him? There was nothing worse.
She swallowed hard and struggled to untangle her boot from a cord that snaked across the boardroom floor. "I'm looking for Aiden Caldwell?" When she glanced up, the hottie with the coffee-stained shirt was holding out his hand to help her up. A shadow of a smirk danced across his perfect lips. "I'm Aiden."
Correction: that was worse.
He wasn't the wrinkly, old businessman Piper had imagined. But he wasn't simply cookie-cutter young and attractive, either. He was the kind of hot you would join a gym class for just to work out in the row behind him. Five days a week! And Piper hated the gym. But by the fit of his suit she could tell he was a devoted member of one.
She hesitated. "You're Aiden Caldwell?"
He ran a hand through his ruffled bedhead hair that looked due to genetics rather than styling. His ears blazed a flaming pink, and he held a finger in front of his lips to try to hide an embarrassed grin. Suddenly, she wished it had been Old Spice she was sent there for.
"Yes," he said. "That would be me, unfortunately."
The music still clip-pity-clopped, and all the constipated-looking business types were staring at her from around a massive table. The presenter stood at the head of the room in front of pie charts and graphs, laser pointer frozen in his hand.
"I, uh, I've got a telegram for you." Piper tried to act peppy, like Sam paid her to be, but it was hard to rally after her most epic failure. The room filled with titters and chuckles. She kept her eyes on Aiden, waiting for some cue.
Old Spice huffed through his nose and gave Aiden an arched eyebrow. This seemed to sober Aiden up. Taking a seat, he gestured.
"Well. We might as well get this over with."
"Right," she said.
After a deep breath, Piper cleared her throat. With a country-western twang, she began to sing, looking at everyone in the room except for the intended subject.
"This ditty's for Aiden;
It comes from a fair maiden,
Who sent me to tell this to you:
Yer funny and sweet,
You swept me off my feet,
This I am tellin' you true.
Yer eyes they do glimmer,
Makes my heart start to simmer,
Every time that I see yer face.
My smile grows big as the ocean,
Sets my heart into motion.
It takes me to a higher place.
So you've got me down kneelin',
Beggin' that you're feelin'
What I know is true in my soul.
So if we're meant to be together,
Like cowgirls and leather,
You'll give a call to Nicole."
By the time Piper finished, the blood had drained from Aiden's face and he was no longer trying to hide a smile — although everyone around him certainly was. He didn't appear impressed with receiving the love note, any more than Piper liked giving it.
His clean-shaven jaw clenched. She had a fleeting moment of pity for poor Nicole, who would probably never hear from him again. But then, it was Nicole's fault Piper was there embarrassing herself. So really, she didn't feel too bad.
"That was very entertaining. Thank you ...," Aiden trailed off, glancing at her left boob where a gold star badge held a false name, "Amber."
Old Spice snorted next to him. "'Entertaining' is not the word I would use. This"— he waved a derisive hand at Piper —"is not appropriate for the workplace."
Piper's own lip curled in response to Old Spice's sneer.
"No. You're right," Aiden said. "I'll have a talk with the admin assistant. This is an animal-free environment, after all. It's not appropriate to have horses in the building."
The tension in the room evaporated, and everyone relaxed in their ergonomic seats, laughing.
Piper was used to the laughing. People got a kick out of this sort of thing. But this time, it felt different. This time, it felt like it was at her expense. Like she had any choice. This was her job, after all. Not everyone could work for a Fortune 500 company.
Excerpted from Must Love Wieners by Casey Griffin. Copyright © 2016 Casey Griffin. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Dog Day,
2. The Fur Flies,
3. Head over Heel,
4. Pooch Proposal,
5. Barked into a Corner,
6. Seeing a Man About a Dog,
7. Never Mix Business with Wieners,
10. Sick Pup,
11. Talk to the Paw,
12. Teach an Old Dog New Tricks,
13. Dog Dilemma,
14. Bark and Enter,
15. Doggy Delegate,
16. Puppy Love,
18. The Dog and Bone,
19. Who Let the Dogs Out?,
20. Piece of Tail,
21. Hound Horror,
22. Hot Dogs,
23. Smoky Wieners,
25. Dog Tired,
27. Barking Mad,
28. Dog's Breakfast,
29. Throw a Dog a Bone,
30. In the Doghouse,
31. Hot on the Scent,
32. Snoop Dog,
33. Doxie Detective,
34. Wonder Wiener,
35. Lie with Dogs, Wake Up with Fleas,
36. Call Off the Dogs,
About the Author,