“Why are you pretending that you find me so interesting?”
He leaned in close and she felt his lips brush against her cheek as he spoke. “I’m not pretending.”
She thought about putting her arms around his neck and pulling him into her bedroom. But then she pictured the morning after. The awkwardness because she’d hope it was a beginning not an ending. She’d done that god-awful dance once before…. Nate worked for her. Was supposed to be at White Caps for the whole summer. The last thing she wanted was to be reminded daily of another bad decision when it came to men.
She stared up into his eyes and tried to read the future in the flecks of green and gold.
Pulling back, she thought there was a damn fine line between self-preservation and cowardice. “I think it’s best that we not take things any further.”
He smiled slowly. “What’s life without a little excitement?”
Beauty and the Black Sheep
To my mother, with love.
And thanks for moving around all those boxes of books!
graduated from college with a double major in history and art history, concentrating in the medieval period. This meant she was great at discussing anything that happened before the sixteenth century, but not all that employable in the real world. In order to support herself, she went to law school and worked in Boston in healthcare administration for many years.
She now lives in the South with her husband and many pictures of golden retrievers that she hopes to replace with the real thing sometime very soon. As a writer, her commute is a heck of a lot better than it was as a lawyer and she’s thrilled that her professional wardrobe includes slippers and sweatpants. She likes to write love stories that feature strong, independent heroines and complex, alpha male heroes. Visit her Web site at www.jessicabird.com and e-mail her at [email protected]
The only warning Frankie Moorehouse had that twenty gallons of water were going to fall on her and her desk was a single drop.
It hit the financial statement she was reviewing, right in the middle of the page that suggested the White Caps Bed & Breakfast was dangerously close to going under.
She groaned, figuring the roof must be leaking again. The sprawling mansion had all kinds of nooks and crannies, which made for an elegant and interesting floor plan. Unfortunately, the roof covering all of these architectural treasures was a complicated warren of angles that trapped old leaves and moisture, creating little pockets of rot.
Squinting her eyes, she glanced out the window, searching the dimming light for a rainstorm that wasn’t there.
She looked up with a frown, saw a darkened spot on the ceiling, and had just enough time to get out the words “What the hell—” before the torrent hit her.
The water carried with it chunks of horse-hair plaster from the ceiling and an evil tide of filth that had collected in the rafters. It hit her in a stinky mess, splashing all over the desk and the floor in a great whoosh of noise. When the torrent ceased, she took her glasses off and lifted her arms, watching brown rivulets drip off her skin.
It smelled, she thought, like bat guano.
The sound of pounding footsteps heading her way was neither reassuring nor welcome. She shot up from the desk and shut the door to the office.
“Hey, Frankie, what happened?” George’s booming voice sounded characteristically confused. He’d worked for her for about six weeks and sometimes the only difference she could find between him and an inanimate object was that occasionally he blinked.
In the kitchen that serviced the White Caps dining room, George was supposed to be the fry-guy, the sous-chef, the pâtissier and the busboy. What he did do was take up space. At six feet seven inches, and tilting the scale at well over three hundred pounds, he was a big oaf of a man. And she’d have fired him on day two except he had a good heart, he needed a job and a place to stay, and he was nice to Frankie’s grandmother.
“Frankie, you okay?”
“I’m fine, George.” Which was her standard reply to the question she despised. “You better go make sure the bread’s cut for the baskets, okay?”
“Yeah, sure. Okay, Frankie.”
She closed her eyes. The sound of dripping, dirty water reminded her that not only did she have to pull off yet another magic trick to balance the account for the month, she had to clean up her office.
At least she had the Shop-Vac to use for the latter.
Much to her dismay, White Caps had financial problems she couldn’t seem to solve no matter how hard she worked. Housed in the old Moorehouse mansion, on the shores of Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains, the ten-bedroom B & B had been struggling for the past five years. People weren’t traveling as much as they used to, so overnight guests were fewer and fewer and there wasn’t enough local traffic in the dining room to cover the costs of the operation.
It wasn’t just a general reduction in tourist trade that was the problem. The house itself was part of the reason the reservations were drying up. Once a gracious summer home from the Federal Period, it needed a major overhaul. Band-Aid fixes such as a fresh coat of paint or some pretty window boxes could no longer hide the fact that dry rot was eating up the porches, the eaves were rotting and the floors were beginning to bow.
And every year it was something else. Another part of the roof to fix. A boiler to be replaced.
She glared at the exposed pipes over her desk.
Plumbing that needed СКАЧАТЬ