Cooking Up Trouble(3)

By: Judi Lynn

“I’ll be there.”

Damn. He might seem like a nice guy, but he probably wasn’t. She’d invited him, though, and she couldn’t take it back. With a nod, she got in her pickup and motioned for him to follow her. She led him to Garth’s garage, waited for him to explain his problem, and then she drove him to Lakeview Stables.

He inhaled a deep breath when he saw the place. Built of flagstone, the central building stood three stories high with two long wings branching off of it. White trim set off the stonework, and a red tin roof matched the red double doors at its entrance. It was one fine-looking place—outside. Nothing had been done to it inside since Sam’s wife died twelve years ago.

Ian shook his head. “It’s as beautiful as I remember when I came to inspect it.”

Tessa noticed the fallen branches that dotted the yard and the overgrown bushes. “This place could use some love again. I’m glad you bought it.”

“Come with me to see if the key works? I’d hate to be stranded out here.”

City folks. If buildings didn’t bump up against each other, they didn’t feel comfortable. She got out of the pickup and pointed across the tall grass in the paddocks toward the direction of her property. “My place is over there.”

“How far?” He frowned at the vast spaces that surrounded him. The front yard faced the country road, and the back of the property rolled down to meet the lake. The paddocks sprawled on one side, and an overgrown field sprawled on the other. Rumor was he was going to make that property into some kind of fancy golf course and add tennis courts at the back some place. Plus, add horses for riders.

“Sam had to use a golf cart to get to his mailbox and back before he moved. It’s in the barn. Drive that over. This road’s not busy, at least, not yet.”

“Not yet?” He turned to frown at her.

She shook her head. “Everyone here’s expecting a lot more traffic once your place gets popular.”

His frown deepened. “Does that bother you?”

“It’ll take some getting used to, but everything changes, doesn’t it? It’s part of life.”

“I guess so. This has been my dream for a long time, owning a resort.” He opened the front door and took a step inside the house. “It’s not as dusty as I expected it to be.”

“Iris Clinger hired Luther to clean it up a bit.”

Ian sighed and ran a hand through his dark hair. “Luther?”

“The boy who works for me summers and on Saturdays all year. A hard worker. Don’t get any ideas. He’s mine.” She didn’t add that Luther was the moodiest kid she’d ever met and you had to understand grunts to communicate with him.

Ian turned his warm brown eyes on her. They looked almost golden in the center. “Does everyone know everyone else around here?”

She laughed. “It’s a small community. If you fart in your front yard and the wind’s blowing east, your neighbor will be talking about it the next time you see him.”

He blinked. “I’ll try to wait till the wind’s blowing toward the lake.”

She shook her head. “No good, the wind usually blows to shore. You’ll have to wait a long time.”

He stared at her a minute, then threw back his head and laughed. “I get it. Everyone knows your dirty laundry here.”

“Pretty much.”

“Then I’d better learn to be discreet.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Hmm, that much to hide? This should be interesting.”

With a grin, he motioned for her to follow him as he toured the first floor of the house. A small room, near the back, had a double bed made up and ready. He went to the kitchen and opened a few cupboards. A bag of ground coffee sat in the one above the coffee pot. “No food, but I can figure that out later.”

“No problem. When you come to my place for supper, I’ll send you home with some leftovers and a coffee cake for breakfast.”

He turned and reached for her hand. “Thank you. You’ve been really nice. It’s made this easier.”

She felt a blush creep up her neck and stain her cheeks. “We’re neighbors. It’s what country neighbors do.”

“Well, I appreciate it. If you ever need any help, let me know.”

She couldn’t hide her surprise.

He glowered. “I might not be good with tools, but I’m good at finances, business, things like that.”

“So am I, but thanks for the offer.”

He stared. “You’re good at money management, too?”

“I took accounting before I dropped out of college.”

He thought a minute. “If you need a spider killed, a hand held, I’m your man.”

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