“You have any tools?”
She chewed on her lower lip.
He smiled. “You have all this stuff, and you don’t have any tools?”
“I collect only pretty stuff,” she said, and gave him a reluctant smile. “And I’ve never found a pretty tool, or I’d undoubtedly have some here for sale.”
“It’s okay,” he said, unperturbed. “I’m packing.”
This didn’t surprise her. He was known as the local MacGyver, able to fix things in the blink of an eye with whatever he had on him…“Not necessary,” she said, annoyingly breathless for no reason. It absolutely wasn’t just the sight of him in one of his pairs of sexy cargo pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt that fit his rugged physique so well. She stood and dusted herself off. “Like I said, I was just closing, so…”
He flipped the OPEN sign to CLOSED.
“Yes,” she said, “but you’re on the wrong side of the door.”
He just smiled. “You’re good with kids, you know.”
For some reason, that caught her completely off guard. Maybe it was because no one had said such a thing to her before, ever.
“Personal experience?” he asked.
“Are you feeling out if I have kids?”
“Or a husband,” he said, unabashedly. “Kids I wouldn’t mind at all. A husband…that’s probably an obstacle I can’t get around.”
She laughed. “I have neither, not that it matters.” She pointed to the sling. “Have you been to a doctor?”
“Yes, ma’am. It’s just an old shoulder injury that I retweaked, that’s all.”
“Hauling me out of the water the other day.”
“Hauling myself out of the water,” he corrected.
She didn’t buy that, not for a second, but looking into his stubborn expression, complete with squared jaw and that little bit of scruff she was determined not to find attractive in the slightest, she knew she’d get nowhere arguing the point. “Why are you here?”
“I don’t tend to question the universe,” he said blandly.
She had to laugh. “You know what I mean. Why are you here in my shop?”
“Maybe I’m here to buy something.”
“You need a Halloween costume?” she asked.
“I just got some new ones in,” she said.
“Yeah, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and Miley Cyrus.”
Not scared off, he grinned. “I could rock either.”
That tore yet another laugh out of her, and his gaze slid to her mouth. “That’s a really good look on you,” he murmured. “More of that.”
“You’re pretty demanding for such a laid-back guy,” she said. “Anyone ever tell you that?”
“I’ve had no complaints.”
Of course not. Looking like he did, with that long, leanly muscled bod— Not going there…
Not even a little.
Too late! the devil on her shoulder cried gleefully, the slut. “I’ve really got to clean up,” Olivia said.
“No, thank you.” She paused to wonder why it was that his voice, with its deep, low timbre, never failed to give her a shiver. The really good kind of shiver. “I’ve got it. I’m going out the back to lock up my car. Feel free to let yourself out.”
For some reason this made him smile as he rocked back on his heels.
“What?” she asked.
“Nothing,” he said, looking even more amused.
“You’re a strange man,” she said, and headed into the back. “You know the way out. Use it.”
Assuming he’d do just that, she strode through her storage room to the back corner, which also served as her office. Her desk was as neat and organized as her storage room wasn’t. She kept it so because the business side of things didn’t come easily to her. She had to work hard at keeping herself on track with the bookkeeping.
The answering machine was blinking, reminding her that she hadn’t answered the phone during Drama Day with the kids. Damn. She hit PLAY and sighed at the sound of her mother’s voice.
“What’s it going to be on that happy reunion?” Tamilyn asked.
The next message shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise. It was the producer from TV Land. He was smart enough to get to the point. “Call me.”
Next to her desk was an antique armoire that had come from the movie set of a remake of A Christmas Carol. She’d played one of the orphans. It’d been one of her favorite jobs, and the piece meant a lot to her, which was why it was back here in use and not out in the shop for sale.
She opened the armoire to pull out her coat.
The footsteps behind her shouldn’t have been a surprise. Her back to Cole, she went utterly still for a beat because he smelled…delicious, like he’d recently showered. She inhaled deeply, then pretended she wasn’t trying to catch a bigger whiff of him as she turned, buttoning up her coat. “Thought you left,” she said.
“You thought wrong. Family reunion?”
“Your first phone message.”
Of course he’d heard the word “reunion” and assumed it’d be a family reunion. This was because he was normal. He could have no possible idea that this particular reunion had nothing to do with reality.