Suddenly Engaged (A Lake Haven Novel Book 3)(6)

By: Julia London


Ruby laughed with delight. “Do that again!”

“No. This is where our acquaintance comes to an end, kid. I don’t have time to babysit you, get it?”

“Yes,” she said.

She didn’t get it. She wasn’t even listening. She had already climbed onto the bottom rail, as if she meant to come back over.

“I mean it,” he said, pointing at her. “If I find you on my side of the fence, I’m going to call the police.” He figured that ought to put the fear of God into her.

“The policemans are our friends,” she said sunnily. “A policeman and a police woman came to my kindergarten. But they never shot any peoples.”

Dax had a brief but potent urge to correct her understanding of how plurals worked, but he didn’t. He turned around and marched back to his cottage.

He didn’t even want to look out the kitchen window when he went inside, because if she’d come back over the fence, he would lose it.

He’d known that family was going to be trouble the moment they’d arrived a few days ago. They’d cost him a table leg he’d been working on, because they’d slammed a door so loudly and unexpectedly that Dax had started, and the permanent marker he was using to outline a very intricate pattern on said table leg had gone dashing off in a thick, black, indelible line down the leg. He’d had to sand the leg down and start again.

Naturally, he’d gone to investigate the source of the banging, and he’d seen a woman with a backpack strapped to her leaning into the open hatch area of a banged-up Subaru. She’d pulled out a box, hoisted it into her arms with the help of her knee, then lugged it up the path and porch steps to Number Three. She’d been wearing short shorts, a T-shirt, and a ball cap. Dax hadn’t seen her face, but he’d seen her legs, which were nice and long and shapely, and a mess of dark hair about the same color as wrought iron, tangled up in the back of the cap. She’d managed to open the door, and then had gone in, letting the door bang behind her.

Neighbors. Dax was not a fan.

The door of Number Three had continued to bang away most of the afternoon, and Dax had been unable to work. He’d stood at the kitchen sink, eating from a can of peanuts, watching the woman jog down the front porch steps, then lug something else inside. He’d noticed other things about her. Like how her ass was bouncy and her figure had curves in all the right places, and how her T-shirt hugged her. He’d noticed that she looked really pretty from a distance, with wide eyes and dark brows and full lips.

Of course he’d also noticed the little monster, who’d spent most of the afternoon doing a clomp clomp clomp around the wooden porch in those damn pink cowboy boots.

Kids. If anything could make Dax grumpier, it was a cute kid.

He’d turned away from the window in a bit of a snit. Of course he was used to people renting any one of the six East Beach Lake Cottages around him for a week or two, and usually they had kids. He much preferred the olds who took up weekly residence from time to time, couples with puffs of white hair, sensible shoes, and early bedtimes. Families on vacation were loud, their arguments drifting in through the windows Dax liked to keep open.

The cottages were at the wrong end of Lake Haven, which made them affordable. But they were at the right end of beauty—each of them faced the lake, and a private, sandy beach was only a hundred feet or so from their front porches. He’d been lucky to find this place, with its unused shed out back, which he’d negotiated to use. He had to remind himself that his setup was perfect when new people showed up and banged their doors open and shut all damn day.

Dax had realized that afternoon, as the banging had undone him, that the woman and kid were moving in—no one hauled that much crap into a cottage for a vacation. He’d peered out the kitchen window, trying to assess exactly how much stuff was going into that cottage. But by the time he did, the Subaru was closed up, and he didn’t see any signs of the woman and the kid.

He’d wandered outside for a surreptitious inspection of what the hell was happening next door when the door suddenly banged open and the mom came hurrying outside. She’d paused on the bottom step of the porch when she saw him. Her dark hair had spilled around her shoulders and her legs had taunted him, all smooth and shapely and long in those short shorts. Don’t look, those legs shouted at him. Don’t look, you pervert, don’t look! Dax hadn’t looked. He’d studied the keys in her hand.

“Hi,” she’d said uncertainly.

“Hi.”

She kept smiling. Dax kept standing there like an imbecile. She leaned a little and looked around him, to Number Two. “Are you my neighbor?”

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