Happy Book Birthday Love Rebuilt by Delancey Stewart. Check out this exclusive Excerpt and one-click now.
I stared at the mallet in his hand, and realized that he’d been pounding a sign into the ground in front of the half-framed house that stood next to my trailer. We were actually talking to one another through the non-existent walls of the front room. The front room of my dream house. My ex-dream house. The one I had been building with my ex-husband. Jack.
“What’s the deal with the sign?”
“What do think the deal with the sign is?” Jack grinned and my blood bubbled hot beneath my skin.
“It’s eight a.m. I don’t want to play guessing games.”
Jack turned away from me as a car motored slowly up the narrow road and came to a stop behind where he stood. “I think you’re about to find out.” As he said it, he turned back around and winked at me.
The wink threw me over the edge.
“Don’t wink at me, you ass!” I practically screamed it, and as I did, the owner of the car emerged, his head turning my way as he ran a hand through shiny auburn locks.
Wow. I suppressed an involuntary shiver and pulled my robe a little closer around me.
The car was one of those practical luxury types. A Land Rover or a Land Cruiser or some kind of four-wheel-drive Land thing. I wasn’t an expert in slow, hulking cars. Actually, given that I now found myself living in a shack next to a half-built reminder of my failed marriage and was working in a diner, it turned out that I was not an expert at anything. Not marriage. And certainly not men.
The man who approached the threshold of my trailer, taking in all my terrycloth-robed glory, had an air of practical luxury about him, too. He was tall and broad, his hair glinting with hints of copper in the sunlight. It was a little long, a little messy, but clearly some attention was paid to it, since it looked thick and healthy. He wore aviator sunglasses and they hid most of his face. But not his lips. And his lips…his lips were like a sculpture. The kind of lips that would make nuns blush and giggle. They were a little too perfect, maybe. But the guy wore flannel, like most people in this mountain town. And the short stubble covering his jaw gave him a rugged look that inspired a wild urge to rub my hand over it. Or better yet, photograph it. I longed to dart back inside for my camera, but I already looked like a loon. A robe-wearing loon with a camera would definitely not be better. The man stepped around the car, gazing up at the half-built house, and I chastised myself for staring. My fascination, beyond his movie-hunk looks, was that this man was clearly different from the other people I’d seen up here, but he still managed to fit in. Something I hadn’t mastered.
“How much?” the man asked, speaking to Jack.
“How much what?” I asked, my voice bordering on a high-pitched scream. What was going on here?
Jack ignored me. “I guess given the state, and the fact that winter’s not far out, the better question is what’s it worth to you?”
The man walked around the house, stepping into rooms, and testing structural beams with his hands and his body weight.
While he wandered around inside my house, I stepped down the front step and stomped through the dust in my pink slippers to where Jack stood with his arms crossed.
“What is going on?” I hissed.
Jack raised an eyebrow as he looked at me. “Is that the teddy from our wedding night?”
I glanced down, horrified to see a flash of leopard-print silk exposed in the deep V-neck of the robe. “No.” It was. He was right. My humiliation was practically complete.
“You can take the girl out of the city…” Jack grinned, shaking his head.
I pulled the robe tighter. So what if I still wore my expensive lingerie to bed? I deserved nice things. Even if Jack had taken most of them from me. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Selling the house for you.”
“Thought you’d appreciate the help.”
“I don’t want your help, you cheating ass!”
The man had stopped examining the house and was looking toward me now, a tilt to his head and a half-smile on those sculpted lips. I wished he’d take off those damned shades so I could see what he thought of this whole exchange, which he had surely overheard. I don’t know why I cared.
Award-winning author Delancey Stewart writes contemporary romance.
Stewart has lived on both coasts, in big cities and small towns. She’s been a pharmaceutical rep, a personal trainer and a direct sales representative for a French wine importer. But she has always been a writer first.
A wife and the mother of two small boys, her current job titles include pirate captain, monster hunter, Lego assembler and story reader. She tackles all these efforts at her current home outside Washington D.C.