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He reached out and caught her wrist, grasping it gently. She turned to him, her face becoming pink. He had no idea why he’d just done that. He knew why he wanted to; he just didn’t know why he’d given in. This could go either way. He could drop her wrist, pretend like nothing happened, and walk out of there. Or he could be the man he used to be, the one who didn’t hide from life, from emotion, from love.
She stared at him expectantly, like there had to be a reason he’d reached out and touched her. He saw all those moments since he’d met her flash before him, reminding him that he couldn’t keep hiding. He saw her that first day at the Sleepless Goat, and he remembered that feeling in
his gut, the one that told him there was something special about this woman. He saw all her expressions of wonder as they walked through the house, he saw her bravado the night she and his sister decided to take on Moose. He saw her embarrassment when he taught her how to throw a ball, the day she’d struck out at the game, her vulnerability and strength at the town hall, and then her dejection on the pier later. He saw all of it and knew it wasn’t enough.
He knew he wanted more. He wanted to step back into the land of the living. He wanted back in on life. He had tried to tell himself it was just because she was sweet and beautiful, but he knew deep down it was more.
“I don’t need a beer. I’ll just head home.”
Her face fell, and he knew that wasn’t the answer she wanted. He hadn’t moved away, and he hadn’t dropped her wrist. It was as if, now that he’d touched her, he couldn’t make himself go back to that place without her. “Do you have plans next Saturday night?”
Her mouth dropped open. “Uh, um. Besides hiding from mice in my room? No.”
He smiled—despite these crazy life revelations, she made him smile. “Maybe I can give you a break from the mice. There’s a steakhouse restaurant in a town not too far from here. It overlooks a gorge. I think you’d like it.”
He didn’t dwell on the fact that it was the first time he’d asked a woman on a date in over a decade, or what that meant. But he knew he couldn’t keep living on the sidelines, not now that Emily had come into his life. The tension between them grew, more intense than it had ever been, because he was finally doing something about it. But what he really wanted to do was tug her over to him, to hold her body against his, and to bury his hands in her hair and kiss her until she couldn’t stand on her own.
It took him a minute to realize she didn’t exactly look… thrilled. She actually took a step back, and her neck was turning red. “I don’t think that would be a good idea. I mean it would be bad, really. Awful, most likely. You and me? Nope.” She even shook her head at the end, to add more insult to injury.
He straightened his shoulders. “Why?”
She waved a hand in his direction. “You work for me. How awful will it be if we’re a disaster couple? Then you’ll get all offended and walk off the job—”
“I’m not like that. Also, I’ll try not to be offended that you’ve already decided you’ll be writing me off.”
She gave him a sheepish smile. “Fine. Then we need ground rules. Some kind of agreement. A contract.”
He stilled. “A contract?”
She crossed her arms. “Yes.”
He rolled his shoulders, determined not to get thrown off track by her odd request. There was no denying his feelings for her anymore. How bad could this contract be?
“Fine, I’m good with contracts.”
Her mouth dropped open. “Oh.”
He grinned and pulled out the notepad and small pencil he always kept in the back pocket of his jeans. He had no idea who the hell he was anymore, but apparently he was the guy about to sign a contract with a woman for a date. Not just any woman. Emily, the only woman in five years to interest him in a relationship. “All right, go.”
When Emily’s parent’s pass away rather than inheriting the family business she helped build she finds it was left to her emotionally abusive brother and she inherited her grandmother’s home. With no one to depend on except herself she decides to move into the home and renovate into an inn.
Cooper and his brother’s own the only construction company in town and their latest contract is Emily’s renovation. He is a man with a painful past who isn’t looking for love or a relationship but there is no denying the attraction he feels for her.
As they spend time together it is only a matter of time before the chemistry between them ignites but will Cooper allow the pain from his past to destroy the happiness he can find in the future?
I really enjoyed these two characters together. Cooper helps Emily regain her self-confidence and shows her how strong she really is while Emily helps Cooper to live again.