Danielle’s got three months to make her Grandmother’s rundown Craftsman house livable. Her game plan is to get in, get grubby, and get back home to L.A. She needs a carpenter, and her best friend’s younger brother is a good one. It’s hard to ignore the buffed body under Ryan’s paint-splattered sweatshirts, but her friend declares he’s off-limits so Danielle reluctantly agrees.
Ryan doesn’t have the cleanest record, anyway. His recently ex-ed girlfriend wants him back, and he has a reputation for brawling. He’s also had a crush on Danielle since he was a kid. Despite their nine-year age difference, he knows she’s worth pursuing.
The weather finally caught up with the calendar, and Tuesday afternoon Ryan drove across town in a steady downpour. It was almost dark when he pulled his truck into Danielle’s driveway. Under the glow of his headlights, her little car all but waggled its fingers at him. Sporty and flirty and fun, a Mini Cooper’s driver would never be accused of taking themselves too seriously.
He slammed the truck’s door. Chasing after Cherry hadn’t given Dani much reason to take him seriously either. At least she still wanted him to work on the house. The light was on so Ryan knocked once, then let himself in.
The house smelled smoky and the hearth was all wet, ringed with a rolled up log of soggy towels. Dani sat at the big cherry wood dining table, wearing her parka and a pair of gloves, arms crossed, chin down, gaze directed at a diagram on her laptop screen. File folders and paper, pens, and an oversized calculator surrounded her.
“We just got the paging operators on board with the new language. We can’t change it.” A woman’s voice came from the computer in a very cultured version of pissed off.
“But if the pediatricians can’t figure out what you want them to do,” a man said with a subtle Southern drawl, “they’ll keep on missing deliveries.”
The combination of a sharp exhale and a tiny shake of Dani’s head pretty much defined frustration. Ryan rounded the other side of the table, catching her eye as he passed behind the laptop.
“Conference call,” she mouthed.
Ryan jerked a thumb at the living room. "What the hell happened here?" he said, barely above a whisper.
"Don’t ask.” She murmured in response.
“Did you have something to add, Danielle?”
Whoever the woman was, she sure had her bitch voice on, and Danielle straightened up like she’d been caught napping. “No, Sharon, I’m sorry, my … uh … contractor just came in.”
“Oh good. Are you making progress, then?” Like flipping a switch, the woman came across as friendly and warm.
“So far so good. The electrician started this morning and the plumber comes next week.”
Ryan traced the laptop’s cord to a power strip, and from there to a ground adaptor connecting the power strip to the wall socket. Not a perfect set-up, but with a bit of luck, his buddy Dan would keep the electrical panel from catching fire.
“I’ll be in the kitchen,” he said.
She gave him a half-hearted wave and started writing on the clipboard in her lap.
In the kitchen, Ryan dumped his toolbox on the floor, pausing to watch Dani through the door. The floor lamp sent streaks of red-gold down her thick braid. The disembodied voices continued arguing about pediatricians and pagers, then moved on to an arcane discussion about a problem drawing blood from babies, a problem that was Dani’s to fix.
She hunched over the laptop, jaw tight, tapping the pencil on the clipboard and scrawling notes. The discussion turned into a complicated negotiation around how much she was willing to do from Seattle. She had an obvious commitment to her job, and made it plain her stay in Seattle would be limited. Ryan inhaled deeply and rocked his shoulders back and forth to loosen them. Her calm, professional tone did more than anything else to highlight their differences. Why would a woman who argued with doctors date a guy who hammered nails for a living? More importantly, why would a woman who was in town for a limited time get involved with someone who was too stupid to untwist himself from his ex-girlfriend?
No reason in the world.
If ever a man needed to kick his own ass... He pulled a small spiral notebook out of his jacket pocket, along with a stubby, flat, carpenter’s pencil and headed upstairs to look for leaks in the roof. It was better than bellyaching about what he couldn’t have.
I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire … or sometimes demon … I lean more towards funny than angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog’s cuteness is legendary, and we share the homestead with three ferrets. Who steal things. Because they’re brats.
Come find me. We’ll have fun!
Please visit all the stops on this tour so you don't miss a single peek into this book or what the author has to say!
All Book Finds
The Book Pub
Nics Book Nook