Hey gang, want a peek at a new story? This one's from my most recent book, Summer's Song. Here's the moment Summer Thompson meets Damian Knight:
Summer followed the sidewalk through the hedges and scraped both bare arms on her way through. A trickle of blood appeared on her elbow and she wiped it away. Mental note: at least have them trim these suckers. As she pushed her way into the front yard, the walk ended and she tripped over rough ground. And fix the sidewalk too. Wouldn’t do to have potential buyers lining up at the emergency room after taking a tour of the place.
“Hello?” Despite the scaffolding propped against the front of the house and the tools scattered everywhere, the grounds seemed vacated. I just heard them… “Mac?”
“I thought I said—”
She looked up. There, along the roofline, stood two men. The head on the right bobbed up and down. A thick arm jabbed skyward for emphasis. She smiled as she recognized the bushy-haired, no-necked running back from Pine Point High’s football team. She shaded her eyes. Next to Mac, another head with lighter hair caught gold from the sun. She didn’t recognize it.
“I’ll take care of it.”
“Well…” Mac’s voice faded, and Summer couldn’t hear the rest of his reprimand.
She cupped her hands around her mouth and sent up another greeting. For a moment no one responded. Then both men leaned over the edge of the roof and stared down at her.
The man wiped his brow. “You’re earlier than we—hang on. We’ll be down in a minute.”
Summer nodded, but they had vanished. As she waited, she took a few more steps toward the house. The double front doors hung loose on their hinges, the glass inside them scarred and cracked. Ancient graffiti scratched illegible names in the wood. The porch was scuffed and scarred, and dusty cobwebs decorated every corner. What a mess.
She ran one finger along the splintered banister. Even run-down and raggedy, though, the house stood with a sort of grandeur. If she closed her eyes, she could almost picture a woman in hoop skirts sweeping her way down the wide stairs while a man in a top hat and tails waited for her at the bottom. Maybe I could do some research on the place, find out its history. People liked buying a house with a story.
“Hey, you can’t go up there.” A strong hand grabbed her elbow.
“What?” Summer shook her arm free. This is my house now, she wanted to say. I can go wherever I want. “Why not?”
“Not safe yet.” He motioned to the steps, and when she looked closer, she saw the space left by a missing riser gaping like a placid crocodile and ready to snatch up her unsuspecting foot.
“Oh.” She smiled an apology at Mac’s helper.
He was tall with light brown hair and deep blue eyes, and his broad, shirtless chest shone with sweat. Muscular biceps, no doubt made strong from summer labor, twitched as he reached for an itch between his shoulder blades. Summer swallowed and tried to chase away a crazy urge to scratch the spot for him.
She cleared her throat and shook the hand he offered. “I’m Summer Thompson. The—ah—the owner of this place.”
He studied her with a serious expression. “So I guessed. Damian Knight.”
The one who’s renting the farmhouse. “Listen, I—” She meant to talk to him about it, but a heavy hand landed on her shoulder, and she turned.
“Summer!” Mac Herbert stood beside her, half an inch shorter and a good deal wider than she. All muscle. “Can’t believe you’re here.” He shook his head and grinned, and Summer glimpsed the chipped front teeth she remembered from high school.
“Well, I wanted to see the house. I just…” She faltered. “I just found out about it.”
His expression sobered. “I know. Your father wanted it to be a surprise for you. Sorry about your loss, by the way.” He looked over his shoulder. “He did a great thing, buying this place. Wish he could have seen it finished.”
She didn’t think it was a great thing at all but she kept her mouth shut. Maybe someone else would find beauty in it. Maybe someone else would want the story that came with owning such an estate.
Mac gestured around the yard. “We’re finishing up the roof today. And the top floor needs reinforcing. Don’t use the front steps, ’kay? Gotta replace a few.”
“It looks…” Like nothing I would ever want to live in? Like the biggest mistake my father could have made? She wasn’t sure what to say.
“It’s a helluva lotta work,” Mac interrupted her thoughts. “But your father paid us through Labor Day, and we’ll probably finish most of the major work by then. I got a few guys who’ll help out with the interior when we get there. Course, I don’t know what your plans are. If you’re gonna sell it, or…” He stopped and waited for her to finish the sentence. She didn’t.
“Can I see the inside?” Summer asked instead. She wanted an idea of the mess she was dealing with. Her doubt grew as she looked around. Forget the plans her father had made for repairs. She couldn’t see dumping a lot of money into the place.
Mac shrugged. “Sure. I can show you the main floor, anyway. Second and third floors too, though there’s not much up there.” He glanced at his watch and turned to Damian. “You’re leaving early today, right?”
“Yeah.” But Damian didn’t move. Instead he ran one hand through his hair and sent a cloud of sawdust flying. A grin touched his eyes and, for a brief second, Summer saw her own reflection in his gaze. She looked small and dark, a little girl floating on the blue of his iris. He smiled, and in the sunlight, the blue deepened until she felt like she was falling inside it, floating, forgetting who and where she was. Something jumped in her stomach, and her palms tingled. Knights in Pine Point? There hadn’t been any for as long as she could remember.
Don’t fall for the guy whose heart you have to break tomorrow.
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