Alexander “Zan” Gillard didn’t expect to be partnered with gorgeous Daisy at the idyllic singles retreat. A challenge that has them cuffed together ignites an explosive chemistry, and soon Zan wants more than four days with this bewitching woman who is nothing like he expected her to be.
But their families are at odds and reality awaits them at home, along with a betrayal that threatens to blow their newfound trust apart…
Thirty-Seven Foster Dogs, Kids and a Suicidal Fish.
Daisy in Taming the CEO has a cat, Virgil who is a serial stealer and I based Virgil on our cat Bob who has hauled a mousetrap still with the cheese in, a cooked pork chop, a man’s shoe, banana, and underwear – he has no preference, male and female.
We here in Casa Manning love animals, and we’ve had our share.
Clueless Wonder One came home proudly clutching a zip lock bag and the goldfish he’d won at his middle school fair. He promised to look after Fang, clean his tank, feed him, all fishy things would be done. Credit where credit’s due. He did for a week then things became murky. We found Fang rather crispy under the bed, ten feet from the tank. We like to think he was making a desperate reach for freedom, not the alternative. Clueless was distraught and changed his affection to wanting a dog. We decided to foster, but we all had to be onboard. Both boys and The Fake Gordon Ramsay and I were in. All for paws and paws for all.
Scarlet was our first. Three pounds of puppy dachshund who’d had acid thrown over her as a probable gang initiation. She was so patient and kind and would lick my hand when I had to rub cream into her damaged skin. I quietly said to Scarlet as she curled onto my lap, “It’s okay if you hate us, baby girl, I’m sorry, but we’re not all bad.” I seethed at Scarlet’s mistreatment, but Scarlet hated no one. She made friends with the cat to the point I’d find her curled up with Philbert who’d be cleaning her. I’m sure she would have forgiven the people who damaged and hurt her. She taught us that love triumphs hate. I wept like she was mine (she was) when she was adopted six weeks later.
Pixel, the three-legged wonder dog, was with us for nine months. She’d lost her leg in a car accident, and usually, the shelter euthanized dogs with such injuries, but the veterinarian saw something special in Pixel. She had such determination. We’d start out walking five steps before she had to stop, I’d gather her up and walk home. Five steps became ten which became one hour walks. I hid in Target wearing sunglasses, weeping when she was adopted. She taught us that you can’t ever give up. Life throws spitballs. Spitballs suck. Pixel made her own circumstances work for her. Good, old Pixel, I miss her running around the yard chasing leaves.
The hardest dog I never cracked was Tucker. Beautiful and broken he wouldn’t come inside. Lord knows I tried, but every dog treat in Petco’s repertoire and hugs couldn’t move him. If he got close to the door, he’d start to shake and a couple of times wet himself.
We had a particularly bad weather front move through (rare in Southern California where we eat El Nino sandwiches for lunch). Tucker refused to go into the doghouse we’d built. He preferred hanging out on the open back deck. Gordon was out of town and worried about Tucker, I sat outside with him, both of us huddled under an umbrella, my arm slung around him, he’d cuddled in deep until the storm passed.
I tried so hard to fix him, but I couldn’t. Sometimes I think we have to accept that we can’t fix problems, but all we can do is love and accept the person/animal (insert your choice here) unconditionally.
When people caught a glance of Izzy, Busy, Lizzie they’d widen their eyes and turn away. The ruder people would say “Ugliest dog I’ve ever seen.” Really? They’d get the full Manning treatment, which would be an arctic stare and “Why would you say that?” then demand an answer. Iz, Biz, Liz wasn’t your conventional beauty, but I’m not walking down the road being mistaken for Miss Venezuela. The Iz was sweet, gentle and had the most fun personality. She’d sing when a phone rang and would have gone to the death fighting for boys who adored her. The boys were strong advocates for Iz, Liz, Biz. They looked past the mask to what lies beneath. I hope they still do.
I like to think the foster dogs made us the people we are today.
About Hayson Manning: I love The Princess Bride, The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives—the drama is deliciously addictive. Big Bang Theory, but will take Wolowitz over Cooper. Star Trek not Star Wars. Undercover Boss, Secret Millionaire—any story that shows the little guy making it. I follow the Buffalo Bills like a religion. I am spellbound by showjumping and equestrian eventing. I love curling up and reading all books—no genre is off-topic. I like ironing, hate peas, love donkeys. I think I play a killer game of Scrabble, but never win. I will often be heading towards the fridge for another Diet Coke. I eat nothing with legs and believe wine goes with everything, oh and I’m an expert at finding new and inventive ways to avoid exercise.
I live in the sparkly beachside suburb of Redondo Beach in California with my fake Gordon Ramsay and two boys who speak in mystifying grunts.