Alexa swiped a hand over her face. “I’m not crying, though I am sorry I broke that.”
“Your eyes are pretty watery. Must be allergies.” He sat her on the end of his bed and picked up one foot to assess for any cuts. Satisfied there were none, he checked her other foot. “You’re not cut anywhere. Let me see your hands.”
Like the hardheaded woman he’d come to know, she put her hands behind her back and tipped her chin. “My hands are fine. I’m going to get dressed and ride Jumper back to the main house.”
Hayes shook his head. “Not a good idea, darlin’. That low area on the property is swimming in water. Remember the spot I showed you when we rode through?”
Her chin quivered, but he had to hand it to her, she didn’t give in to the emotion. “I want to get back to my son.”
“How long were you staying at the B and B?”
“Two more days.” She narrowed her eyes. “I can’t be here that long.”
Hayes crouched down in front of her. “Listen, I don’t know what’s got you so spooked since last night, but there’s no pressure from me. If you’re worried about my expectations, I have none. Do I want you in my bed while you’re here? Hell yes, but I won’t push you.”
“That’s not…” She shook her head and looked away.
Whatever she was dealing with was none of his concern. He didn’t want to take on any more baggage from anyone. He could barely carry his own mess.
Hayes came to his feet and backed up. “Why don’t you get your clothes on, or stay in mine, I don’t care. Then meet me in the kitchen.”
She brought her focus back to him, drawing her brows in and narrowing her eyes. “Why?”
“I’ve got something planned for both of us to take our minds off everything else going on.”
When her eyes trailed over his body, he had to laugh. “As much as I’m tempted to give in to that silent invitation, I have something else in mind.”
“I wasn’t inviting,” she stated.
“You said the same thing last night after you paraded naked in front of me. We know how that ended.” He sauntered from the room and called over his shoulder, “You’ll want pants and shoes on for this. Meet me downstairs in five.”
* * *
Well, ten minutes later and she was in the kitchen, where Hayes was absent. What on earth was he doing?
Alexa went to the French press and figured she’d fire it up and have a good cup of coffee. It was so rare she managed to grab a cup at home. Mornings were usually rushed getting Mason ready for the sitter and her trying to get to school on time to be the smiling teacher ready to go when her students arrived.
“Taking your coffee break already?”
As the drip started, Alexa turned her attention from the much needed morning fuel to the man behind her clutching a sledgehammer.
“Um, what are you doing?”
“We’re going to take down the cabinets.”
Stunned at his bold statement, she leaned against the counter and crossed her arms. “Why are we busting them out? I didn’t think you’d decided what to do in here, yet.”
With a shrug, Hayes eased the sledgehammer on the floor and propped the handle against the door frame. “I know these need to come out before I can do anything else. So the first thing I’ll do is empty them. Considering nearly every room in this house is bare, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a home for the few dishes and pans I have. And my microwave can go anywhere for the time being.”
Alexa figured she had two options: she could drink her coffee and get going on this demolition or she could drink her coffee and spend the rest of the day worried about things she had no control over.
Either way, she was getting her liquid jump-start.
“Let’s get these cleaned out then,” she told him.
An hour later they had everything out of the kitchen and eating area. The counters were cleared off and Alexa was caffeinated and ready to go.
“Do you want to hit them first or should I?” he asked.
“I’ll do it.”
Hayes crossed the room and grabbed the sledgehammer. Before he handed it over, he pulled a pair of work gloves from his back pocket.
“Put these on.”
She eyed the well-worn leather. “Where are yours?”
“I have one pair and you’re wearing them. Not up for discussion.”
She wondered if he ever wore gloves. Those strong hands of his were rough, but they slid over her skin easily and sent shock waves all through her.
If she didn’t focus on the sledgehammer instead of those masterful hands, she’d knock herself out while doing this demo work. Without arguing, she slid the gloves on and adjusted the wrist strap. When she picked up the sledgehammer, she was a little surprised how heavy it was. She didn’t do too many teardowns. While she had lived alone for some time now and did most repairs herself, she’d had no reason to own such a tool.
Though she did re-screen her back door and change out the leaky pipe in her bathroom faucet. She was rather proud of herself when she managed things on her own. Considering everything was on the Internet, she would at least try once before calling in reinforcements. She didn’t always have the funds to pay someone to ride to her rescue when things went wrong.