Here's a little something to sweeten the start of the work week.
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"How long have you been renting from my mother?” Rachel asked as soon as they were out of earshot of the kitchen.
“Not long,” Sean said easily.
She jingled her keys, hurrying to keep pace with his long stride. “I t’s going to be awkward, negotiating two cars in the driveway.”
“I can live with it.”
“And there’s the problem of space. Bedrooms...”
“Hey, I’m willing to share.”
She dipped her head, letting her hair swing forward to hide her smile. “Very generous of you,” she said dryly. “But it may be...” She swallowed. Go on. Say it. “Maybe now that we’re here, it just won’t work out.”
He stopped, giving her a long, slow once-over from surprisingly shrewd brown eyes. “Maybe. You might want to take that up with your mom. She doesn’t like living alone.”
“She won’t be alone. She has her grandchildren now. She has me.”
“Like I said, you should take that up with her.” Plucking the keys from her hand, he opened the rental truck’s door. His gentlemanly gesture confused her. Put her at a disadvantage. But short of wrestling for the keys, there was nothing she could do.
He handed them back. “Look, I’m not getting in the middle of some family thing. I’ve got family enough of my own. As far as I’m concerned, your mom is just a nice lady with an empty garage.”
“And a cozy house.”
That long-boned, laid-back body tensed. “The garage isn’t livable yet. I only agreed to stay in the house because your mother said it made her feel safe. But I’m not dogging for anybody to feed me or mother me or keep track of my comings and goings, and I’m sure not looking for hassles.” He took a quick, annoyed breath. “Clear?”
“Yes,” said Rachel, a bit breathless herself at his unexpected vehemence. Could she believe him? “Thank you, that’s very clear.”
“Good.” He waited until she climbed up into the cab and then closed the driver’s side door. “You two talk it over. I’m taking delivery on a new table saw, and I’d kind of like to know where to put it.” His wicked grin glimmered. “Don’t go jumping in with suggestions, now, beautiful.”
Her laugh sputtered, surprising them both. His smile broadened. Softened. Got personal.
“That’s right,” he said, though what he was agreeing to or approving of Rachel couldn’t have said.
Ambling forward a few steps, he stooped to grasp the steel T-handle of the garage door. Rachel watched the muscles flex beneath his shirt, and then the old door screeched and lifted, revealing his truck. His bright, new, shiny truck. Red, with Massachusetts plates and a bumper sticker that read, Women Love Me, Fish Fear Me.
She shot him a look, trying not to smile.
He grinned. “A present from my sister-in-law. She has a weird sense of humor.”
The words popped out before she could censor them. “She must, if your brother’s anything like you.”
He laughed. “Nah. My brothers are both respectable now.”
He climbed into his candy-apple-red truck. Rachel concentrated on negotiating her rental vehicle backward along the gravel, as cautious and awkward as a pregnant woman on roller skates. She felt the soft bump as her rear tire ran on grass and then the firm, flat road.
Sean MacNeill gunned his motor. His galvanized, oversize toolbox gleamed as he reversed toward her at twice her speed and cut smoothly onto the road.
Rachel sighed. She had too much at stake here to risk an attraction to some twenty-something carpenter in tight jeans and a kick-ass truck.
Whatever his motives, Sean MacNeill was a complication she didn’t need and a distraction she couldn’t afford.
Whatever her mother said, he would have to go.
From THE TEMPTATION OF SEAN MACNEILL
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