Good with His Hands

By: Tanya Michaels
1

AS A REAL-ESTATE AGENT, Danica Yates couldn’t live without her cell phone. Clients and potential clients called at all hours to ask questions, make counteroffers and set up meeting times. But, so help her, if one more person texted another pitying variation of “How are you holding up?” Dani was going to run over the damn phone with her car.

For her smartphone’s sake, she hurried through the parking lot, away from looming vehicular phonicide and toward the relative safety of her office building. More well-meaning texts and calls were inevitable. She’d already fielded a few in the weeks since her broken engagement, but just as the people in her life were beginning to drop the subject, Tate had made his big social-media announcement last night, spurring more unwanted sympathy.

Grimly hoping that Tate Malcom’s hairline would recede and his man parts wither, she dropped her phone into the pocket of her lightweight trench coat. Spring in Atlanta was fickle. This particular Wednesday morning, it was only ten degrees above freezing, but by afternoon, she’d probably be coatless and running the air-conditioning in her car.

As she passed a row of blooming Bradford pear trees, the heels of her boots clicked decisively against the pavement. She loved the black leather boots and their defiant three-inch heels. After Tate’s self-deprecating jokes about her “towering” over him—she was five-ten to his five-nine—she’d mostly worn flats during their relationship.

Well, screw that. She hadn’t straightened her hair since their breakup, either, abandoning the sleeker look for dark brown corkscrew curls that fell halfway down her back, adding extra volume and height. Reaching for the front door, she took a moment to reassure herself that the woman reflected in the glass didn’t look jilted and pathetic. You are determined and successful and you will be far too busy today to spare that worm Tate another thought.

First, she was going to stop by the coffee place on the first floor for a much-needed chai latte. Then, with her mind sharpened by caffeine, she would resume negotiations on the Hanlon house and score her client as many concessions as possible. She would schedule more house showings for next week. She would not think about how she should have been in Maui next week. On her honeymoon. As Mrs. Danica Malcom.

When Tate had called her last month to worm out of the wedding that had been scheduled for this Saturday, she’d canceled the week of vacation allotted for her honeymoon. But she’d left this weekend free. In retrospect, perhaps that had been a mistake. What was she planning to do on Saturday? Mope? Stare at the useless bridal gown in the back of her closet? Definitely not. Sulking wasn’t her style.

So what if she was single? Dani kicked ass at her job. Focusing on that could help get her through the next few weeks, as well as boost her bank account. Some of the homes for sale in affluent Fulton county neighborhoods would bring very generous commissions.

As she entered the posh office building, the scent of coffee wafted down the corridor to meet her. She was still early enough that there wasn’t yet a line stretching into the hall. The small coffee shop was wildly popular with those who worked in the twelve-story building. There was also a food court on the atrium level, but only one of the vendors opened for breakfast and the hot beverage options were limited.

She was just passing the elevator banks when her phone chirped, signaling a text. Had the owners of the two-story colonial in Dunwoody made a decision on her clients’ offer? Without breaking stride, she pulled out the phone. The text was from Katie Whitman, Dani’s passive-aggressive cousin who’d been furious that Dani hadn’t asked her to be a bridesmaid.

I just heard!!! Like it wasn’t bad enough he dumped u 3 wks before the wedding, now he’s eloped? U poor thing. Ur better off w/out him. Total d-bag.

Dani growled involuntarily at the “poor thing.” The d-bag assessment was accurate enough, but—

A muffled curse in a deep male voice cut through her preoccupation, followed by a pointed “excuse me.”

Jerking her head up, Dani realized she’d nearly collided with a man exiting the coffee shop. And not just any man. She’d almost caused Hot Architect to dump his drink down the front of his expensive suit jacket. The dark-haired, broad-shouldered man—who was taller than her in spite of her heeled boots—worked for the design firm that took up the other half of the fifth floor, down the hall from the real-estate brokerage.

“I am so sorry.” Shuffling back a step, she jammed the offending phone into her pocket. “I—”

“No harm done.” His lips curved in an expression too fleeting to be deemed a true smile.

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