It’s release day! Toss the confetti, pop the champagne. We’re celebrating! The Contractor’s Baby is now available for your reading pleasure.
Here’s a snippet:
They sat in a back booth with the baby in the corner next to Dexter. From the moment they sat down, Molly had managed to keep Dexter talking about his life, and he’d managed to keep her laughing.
“I can’t believe how much we have in common.” She dabbed at her eyes with her napkin. “It’s like we’re soul mates.”
He grudgingly had to agree with her. “You are so down-to-earth.”
Reaching over, she snagged a tortilla chip and scooped up a generous portion of the homemade spicy salsa. “You expected me to be more prissy?”
He’d gone this far, might as well finish eating his shoe. “Yeah, actually. Be careful, that salsa’s really hot.”
She coughed and sputtered. Tears streamed down her cheeks while she fanned her mouth. “Hot is not the word for it.”
“Try this.” He offered her a section of lime, then pushed her glass of water toward her. “I tried to warn you.”
She sipped her water. After a moment she sat back, a wide grin on her face. “I like spicy.” She reached for another chip.
Amusement curved his lips when she went through the same antics again, this time without the coughing. As long as the heat made her happy. On impulse, he placed his hand over hers, again surprised at the softness of her skin. With his thumb he drew lazy circles on the back of her hand. “I like you, Molly. I really do.”
Studying him, she asked softly, “Why does that scare you?”
He hesitated, telling her would give her proof that he was a failure as a husband and even as a man, but she needed to know before things went too far. He sucked in a breath and slowly exhaled. “I found my wife in bed with another man.”
A flicker of something he couldn’t define flashed through her eyes as he waited for her to speak. He braced for judgment, condemnation. It wasn’t too late to forget about the kiss they’d shared or the way she made his heart flutter. Although seeing her every day until they finished the job would take a toll on his sanity, if that was the price of falling for a client, then he’d just have to suffer. She squeezed his fingers, drawing attention to how right her smaller digits felt next to his. A heartbeat later he lifted his gaze to meet hers.
“Did you ever think maybe it wasn’t your fault at all? That you appreciated her far more than she deserved and she took advantage of what you two had?”
Stunned, the breath left his lungs. That was the first time anyone had said that to him. No one had actually blamed him, but he’d taken the responsibility of the break-up on his shoulders. What if Molly was right? Once the thought took root, it was hard to dislodge her logic. Their waiter chose that moment to serve their dinners, so Molly released his hand and sat back. Without the physical connection, he felt bereft.
He’d told her too much, revealed too much about himself. He needed…he glanced at her as she spooned salsa over her chimichanga, and another chunk of brick fell from the wall around his heart. He would give them a chance.
* * * *
The baby slept through the entire dinner, and for that Molly was grateful. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d dined out and really enjoyed the food or the company. She linked her arm through Dexter’s as they strolled to his truck, and expelled a contented sigh.
He glanced at her and smiled. “Does that mean you had a good time?”
“I had a wonderful time,” she said. “Thank you so much. Usually when I go out, I get taken to those stuffy fancy restaurants.”
“You don’t like white tablecloths and napkins?”
“Every now and then, but I prefer dates like tonight. Casual. At ease.” Just thinking about the confines of a fancy dress and high heels caused her to shudder.
“Are you saying you want to go out with me again?”
She flashed him a cryptic smile, grabbed the keys dangling from his fingers and unlocked the doors. “I like getting to know you, Dexter.” She held the door while he strapped Hannah in the vehicle. For the first time, she realized this wasn’t the vehicle he drove every day. “Where’s your pickup?”
He closed the door. “That’s my work truck and not appropriate for taking a beautiful woman and her adorable daughter on a date.” He pressed her against the SUV. The coolness of the metal bled through her clothes while the heat of his body warmed her front.
Her pulse quickened as she read the intent in his gaze. Desire simmered through her veins and he wound a lock of her hair around his finger. At his gentle tug, she tipped her head back and parted her lips in invitation.
“I’m not working tonight.” He slanted his mouth over hers.
He tasted of spice and man, of dreams and desires, of promises whispered on a warm summer’s night. A part of her wished she’d met him before his heart had been broken, but she relished the opportunity to show him she could be the woman, the only woman he would ever need.
He pulled away as suddenly as he had begun. “I should get you home.”
She slid into the vehicle’s passenger seat and couldn’t resist tracing the outline of his lips with her index finger. “This is the best time I’ve had in a very long time. Thank you.”
He kissed her fingertip and closed the door.
Until next time, Indulge Your Inner Desires.