I am so excited! My new book is selling well, and I'm going to go celebrate in Reno! Gambling! Drinking! Dancing! Mayhem! My favorite cousin and I are driving up there, just us girls, and we're going to have a fabulous time! Hubby hates gambling, doesn't drink much and I am tired of trying to entertain him in places he doesn't want to be. We finally decided a couple years ago that he shouldn't go to Reno anymore. I went alone a couple times, but that wasn't as much fun. Now my cousin is totally on board and we have a blast together! I got myself a room with a Jacuzzi tub and I can't wait!
Hope you all have a spectacular week! Here's a double portion of story today, just for you!
The phone rang. Teri wrapped a towel around herself and went to answer it.
“Uh, hi. Is this Teresa Bond?”
She didn’t recognize the voice. “Yes.”
“Hi, this is your neighbor, Rafe McKellan.”
She broke into a coughing fit and nearly dropped the phone. After much effort, she calmed herself. “Uh… sorry. Yes, this is Teresa, but you can call me Teri.”
“Teri then. Did you hear that crash?”
“Look in your backyard. A limb came off your oak and smashed part of the fence and landed in my yard.”
She quickly whipped up some alarm. “Oh, my God,” she exclaimed. “Was anyone hurt?”
“No, no. Well, maybe. I think someone was climbing in your tree, fell into my yard and then ran out my side yard. Because my antique windows are busted, looks like someone ran right over them, trying to get out of my yard. You got any teenagers over there?”
“No,” she said, her voice cracking. She cleared her throat. “No,” she replied in a strong tone. “I’m single, have no teenagers.” Quick, lie! “But there is a kid who lives around here that likes to climb trees. Maybe it was him.”
“Who is he?”
“Billy Goody, lives down the block, but he’s in school. Man, I hope there wasn’t a burglar or something around. Did you call the police?” Please don’t have!
“No, no. Cops won’t care about a few broken windows. Think I spooked the kid when I ran outside after he fell. Must have been hiding there when I checked the damage. Then when I went over to your place, he must have taken off, ran through my side yard and crashed through my windows before he could stop himself. Bummed about those windows. Cost me a bundle and now they’re worthless.”
“That’s terrible. And all this happened when I was taking a shower?”
“Guess so. Sorry I went through your yard without permission, I just wanted to make sure no one was hurt.”
“No problem. Thanks so much for making sure I was all right. That’s very thoughtful of you.”
“Well, I’m glad you don’t think I’m some Peeping Tom in your yard…”
There was a weird note to his voice. Or was it the guilty voices screaming in her head?
She laughed nervously. “No, no, wouldn’t think that about you. You’re a good guy. I mean, from what I hear. I mean, you seem like a nice guy. I mean, what I’ve seen of you. Even though, technically we’ve never met.” She was such an idiot!
“Have to remedy that. And right now. Could you meet me out in the back so we can evaluate the damage? You should call your insurance company.”
“Oh, I will. Actually, I can fix that, if it’s not too bad.”
“You a carpenter?” He sounded surprised.
“Added two rooms onto this place by myself.”
“Good for you. Come on out and we’ll check it out and see.”
“Okay. Give me ten.”
“See ya in ten.”
Her heart beat so hard, she thought she’d keel over. She was going to meet him! In person and everything! She practically danced to her room. What should she wear? Something feminine and pretty. She chose a white tank top which would show off her pumped arms and a plain pair of jeans. The tight ones. Didn’t want to appear like she’d gone out of her way to look good. She needed to look casually hot. Heh-heh-heh.
But when she turned to face the mirror with the outfit on, she gasped. Her face looked like she’d had a fight with her cat and lost.
Hey! Perfect excuse! Her cat had attacked her!
Of course, anyone who met Theodore—and Rafe had—wouldn’t believe it. She’d tried to pill him, that was it. Yes. She’d tried to stuff a pill down his throat and he’d fought her. It would have to work!
“Hello,” she called out over the fence. Suddenly, she was staring into Mr. Beautiful’s stunning blue gaze. He must be standing on a ladder.
He sent her a blinding white smile that made her heart stop. “Hey there, what happened to you?”
She couldn’t respond, he was too amazing-looking.
His smile faded into a frown. “Are you okay? You’re lookin’ at me like I’m a ghost. I’m real,” he said, flashing that white-toothed smile at her once more.
She shook her head quickly. “Sorry. I just… No. I’m fine.”
“What happened to your face? You’re bleeding.”
“Lost a fight with my cat. He doesn’t like being pilled.”
“Holy Cow, I guess not. Jeez. You should get a new cat. Wait, is that him?”
Theodore stood docilely at her feet.
She gave a quick nod. “Don’t mistake that innocent look. He’s a menace.”
“You don’t say.”
She cleared her throat and straightened her shoulders. Forcing herself to stop staring at the gorgeous god, she turned her attention to the broken fence. She walked up and gave it a close examination. “So, this looks fixable. Chainsaw off the branch, buy a couple new boards. I’ll take care of it.” She glanced up at him, then had to avert her gaze. He was too much. Too cute, too handsome and she could smell his marvelous cologne from where she stood. Her knees threatened to give way. “I’ll… uh… need permission to come onto your property.”
“Sure, sure. Why not now? I mean, you ought to see what the damage is on this side.”
She looked up at him, he was checking out her breasts. Score! Looked like he was working hard to maintain eye contact. Perfect! The tank top worked!
“I hope it’s not worse than over here,” she said.
“No. No. Branch mainly fell into a hedge here. But I figured you might want to check this side.”
Her pulse pounded in her ears. “Yeah. Sure, that’d be good. Um, shall I come to your front door, then?” Then ravage you in your bedroom?
“Yeah. Wow, those scratches are deep. Kinda wide, too. Your cat did that?”
“Uh… yeah. Cat. Forgot to use the kitchen mitts, you know, oven mitts, those usually protect me…” So lame! “I’ll meet you at your front door.”
Rafe watched Teri walk back into her house. Nice ass. Nice legs. Nice everything. He’d noticed her the first day he moved in. He’d wanted her from the moment he’d laid eyes on her. She’d been cleaning off her roof. What a body! He wondered if she was seeing someone. Cute little thing. Sultry mouth, dark eyes, short dark hair, long lashes, around his age, mid-thirties. Hadn’t seen any men hanging around her place. He knew she was a mystery writer, he’d been a big fan of hers since her first book came out. He hadn’t wanted to mention that, didn’t want to make her uncomfortable. And while the picture on the jacket cover of her book was hot, it didn’t do the woman justice. She was beautiful.
He was so happy that stupid branch had given him a reason to talk to her. And now she was coming to his house. He’d offer her a glass of wine, loosen her up and see if he could find out if she was dating.
There was only one thing bothering him. That story of hers about the cat made no sense. How did the cat scratch her back? And the scratches didn’t look like a cat made them. At all. And they were so fresh. But why would she lie to him?
The answer smacked him square between the eyes. The broken branch. Somehow she was responsible. But why wouldn’t she come clean about it? So she’d been fooling around in the tree and a branch broke? Why would she lie about that? Why would she freak out and run out through his yard, busting his windows in the process? Why would she want to cover that up?
No, had to be a teenager, she seemed too mature for that kind of crap.
He walked over to the hedge where the branch had fallen. Pushing through the brush, he saw something yellow. Reaching in, he grabbed it. A piece of cloth with a bit of fresh blood on it. Didn’t look like it came from a boy’s shirt. As he was pulling away, a glint of metal caught his eye. Peering deep into the hedge, he saw what looked like a necklace of some sort. He pushed in and grabbed it. A gold heart necklace engraved with a T.
What the hell? If this wasn’t the most incriminating evidence, he didn’t know what was. His blood boiled. She broke his damned windows, then stood there with that innocent look on her face and lied about her cat attacking her. Why would she do that?
He didn’t know, but he was going to find out. His doorbell rang. If she’d busted his windows and lied to him, she’d pay a price for that. Over his lap. Her pants around her ankles, that fine ass of hers spanked into a nice shade of beet red.
©2011, Michelle Carlyle