Hard Justice(134)

By: Lori Foster

The smile cracked, and from that came a laugh. “You do seem to pick and choose what you hear and don’t hear.”

She looked at his mouth, and sighed. “I heard all of it. I’ll consider the dog once I have the yard ready. I don’t know enough about guns to get one.”

“I imagine Nathan could teach you.”

“Three guys right next door, and a sheriff next door to them. How much safer could it get?”

She was cute when she teased. Maybe he should tell her about Sullivan across the street. Talk about a badass...but no. He wasn’t going to do Sullivan’s work for him.

“The other side of your property butts up to woods. No lights. Wild animals.”

She scoffed. “Wild animals, huh?”

“Middle of the night, when you hear noises you don’t recognize, or maybe even gunfire nearby, no one is going to seem close enough.”

“Now you’re just trying to scare me.”

True. She needed to stay alert. Because he watched her, he could almost see her thinking as she put the business card on the refrigerator with a flower-shaped magnet. She turned pensive, too quiet.

“I mean it,” he said, drawing her out again. “If you need anything—”

“No.” All too serious, she laced her fingers together and looked up at him. “You’re really nice. I mean...really nice. All of you are. And I appreciate it. What we got done today would have taken me at least a week on my own. I’d been hopeful of just getting unloaded and getting my bed together so I’d have a place to sleep tonight.”

His thoughts veered in directions that they shouldn’t, thoughts that included her and a bed. Fewer clothes. Less talk.

“Before buying the house, I lived with roommates. Four of us in a small apartment. And before that I lived with a relative.”

Relative—not parents? He wondered about that, but then she continued explaining.

“I’m happy to be on my own. You don’t have to worry that I’ll impose on you, not for any reason.” She rocked to her heels a little, her fingers laced tightly, looking uncertain, self-conscious. “I’m grateful for the offer of a helping hand, and as reassuring as it is to know there’s backup so close by, I want to do this, the rest of it, on my own. It’s important to me.”

Yeah, it had been important to him, too, so he understood. But understanding and believing she could do it were two different things. She lacked muscles, yet much of what needed to be done would be labor intensive, work that included heavy lifting, pulling and endurance. Given her clumsiness with the dolly, he doubted she knew her way around the toolshed. What her house needed would require more than a hammer or a screwdriver.

To be sure, he asked, “You have experience with remodeling?”

“No. But I’m not dumb. I can read instructions.”

Instructions wouldn’t really cut it, but rather than belabor the point, he merely nodded. “Let’s go eat.” He’d be glad to get that part of it over with. Whether his brother or nephew realized it, Honor Brown was going to be trouble. With her next door, their peaceful bachelor existence would soon be shot to hell.

Honor bit her lip. Her gaze dipped down to his chest, then shot back to his face. Her eyes were big and innocent when she said, “Only if you put on a shirt. Because otherwise, I just can’t do it.”

Jason sighed. And so it began.

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