22, 585 words
Cover by AngstyG
Dreamspinner / All Romance / Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Ex-business owner and soon to be ex-husband Jake has had some rotten luck of late. His world is tumbling down around him, but it’s time to dust himself off and move on. Buying and fixing up the most dilapidated home he can find might be just the thing to get him back on track. But Jake gets more than he bargained for when he meets former lawyer turned landscaper Dakota. Dakota is smart and ridiculously sexy—and Jake doesn’t have a clue how to act around him. After several gardening mishaps, Jake is sure Dakota thinks he’s completely inept. Turns out Dakota is thinking something else entirely. And as Dakota gives Jake advice, an ear to listen, and helps him work through his issues, Jake realizes flowers aren’t the only thing blooming between them.
There was a truck already parked out front when he got there, the back of it loaded down with equipment. He parked, and as he stepped from the car, a short blond man rounded the corner.
“Hello,” called the man, striding quickly over. “I’m Jasper, your landscaper. I’ve just been checking the place out.” He shook Jake’s hand. He had a steady grip. “Quite the fixer-upper you’ve got here. My partner and I will really have some fun with this.”
“Your partner?” asked Jake, looking behind Jasper.
“He should be getting here any minute now. He’s bringing the trailer.”
“Oh,” said Jake, and then, remembering his manners, said, “I’m Jake. Nice to meet you.”
Jasper smiled at him, revealing a crooked incisor. “Nice to meet you too.”
A truck pulled up, and another after that, and still another. Jasper walked off, and Jake turned to greet the construction crew as they piled out of their trucks. There were so many of them, and Jake knew he’d have a time of keeping their names down.
The head of the crew was a tall man named Lincoln, who had a thick beard and not one strand of hair on the top of his head. Lincoln had Jake walk him through the house and explain in detail what he wanted done. He looked at him like he was a bit insane, but he didn’t say anything, just nodded and asked questions when he had them.
“Who’s your carpenter?” Lincoln asked at the end of the tour.
Jake blinked. “I haven’t got one yet. I was going to wait till you were done.”
Lincoln shook his head, pulling out a pad and pen from his back pocket and starting to scribble. “Get someone now. Walk them through and explain what you want. It’ll take time to build the stuff, but most of it will be ready by the time we’re done. More efficient that way.” He ripped the first page off the pad and handed it over. “Here’s a number for a guy I know. God’s gift to man when it comes to woodworking. Give him a call.”
The handwriting on the paper was almost illegible, but Jake nodded. “I will.” He’d look him up when he went home.
“I’d get the roofers in right away as well, if you haven’t already got them.”
Jake pocketed the number. “The roofers are starting tomorrow.” They’d had to finish up another job first.
“You really picked a wreck,” noted Lincoln as they walked out into the front yard.
“I know.” A wreck it may have been, but the inspectors hadn’t said it needed to be torn down. Jake had been unable to contain the small surge of pride when they’d declared it to be of sound build.
The painters came over, and Lincoln walked off. Jake took them over the outside of the house and briefly talked about some of his ideas for the inside—which would have to be done once everything else was finished.
“I’ve got someone coming to fix the eaves and whatnot later this week. Will you be good to start with them like this?” he asked.
“Yeah, it’ll be fine,” answered Josh, the head painter.
“Perfect,” said Jake. “If you need an extra hand, I’d be more than happy to help with the painting.”
Josh side-eyed him. “Sure,” he said. “I’ll let you know.”
Jake watched him walk away with the feeling he wasn’t going to be asked to aid in the painting at any point in time. Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he surveyed the crumbling house and the overgrown yard, all the people milling about preparing themselves for work.
He needed to be doing something. It was an ache in his bones, an itching in his skin. His gaze drifted, searching… searching…. There. Two riding mowers sat side by side on the sidewalk. He could do that. He was perfectly capable of mowing the lawn. With a quick stride, he made his way over to the mowers. He didn’t know where Jasper had gotten to, but he figured he’d be back eventually.
He’d never actually mown a lawn before, but he didn’t think it could be that hard. Circling the mowers, he examined them with a close eye.
“Can I help you?” asked a deep, husky voice.
Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF, and is completing a masters program for Publishing in the UK. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.