To Tame a Cowboy - Page 39

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Ryan came through the doorway from the front of the house. Hands on his hips, brow furrowed, he asked, “You like?”

It had been a day from hell because she’d had to work almost four hours extra when a new hire had decided not to show up. Piper really hated that her emotions were all over the place from stress. Plus, when it came to Ryan, her emotions had not found solid ground and she didn’t know how to feel. Damn female hormones.

“I understand why you finished the roof when I hurt myself,” she started, feeling tears burn her eyes. “I even let the cabinets slide because I’m shallow and I was thrilled I had the upgraded ones. But yesterday you laid the tile for the shower and floor in my bathroom and today I see my front door was installed.”

“So why is this a problem?” he asked. “Because you wanted to do it all? Piper, you’ve done an insane amount of work on this house. I just wanted to help you and I didn’t have anything pressing to do today. The school is ahead of schedule. I worked there this morning and there’s nothing I can do until the inspector comes in a couple of days anyway. Spending my spare time here keeps me busy.”

Piper shoved the wayward curl off her forehead and tucked the strand behind her ear. Damn crazy hair of hers. As if she needed something else to bother her today.

“You look like you had a bad day,” Ryan observed, studying her face. “Why don’t you come into the bathroom and help me with that tile design behind the new vanity. After that little piece is done, that room will be finished. Would that make you feel better?”

Piper smiled, forcing herself to be happy he was so handy and understood her love of hard labor, too. “I suppose, but only if I get to control the tile cutter.”

Ryan extended his hand and guided her toward the bathroom. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Piper stepped through the doorway to her master suite bath. The blue glass tile for the open shower sparkled. He’d just begun the backsplash above the sink and she could already picture the beauty.

“I’m so glad I went with the brighter blue in here,” she told him. “It’s so hard to tell from those itty-bitty samples, but this is gorgeous.”

Ryan’s hand slid around her waist as he tugged her close. “Sometimes you need to see the whole picture, but beauty normally comes from something small and builds over time.”

Piper eased back to look over her shoulder. “Are you getting deep on me, cowboy? I’m just talking about a bathroom.”

“Maybe I’m talking about you.” He kissed her nose, swatted her butt and stepped around her. “Now quit trying to get me out of my clothes and get to work in here.”

Laughing, Piper stepped over the tile saw and moved toward the work area. “I think we both know I wouldn’t have to try to get you out of your clothes. They’d just fall off if I said the word.”

“Oh, what a glorious day that will be,” he said with a wide grin and sigh.

The house shook as thunder boomed and the lights flickered, but came right back on.

“Time for a storm,” Piper told him. “The sky was pretty black and that rain really cut loose as I was walking in the back door.”

“We need the rain, but I hate storms.”

Piper laughed. “I know you do. You’re living in the wrong state, you know.”

Ryan shrugged, picked up a small, patterned piece of uncut tile and measured it next to the wall. “I wouldn’t live anywhere else. I love this town. I knew when I wanted to settle down and make a permanent home, I wouldn’t go anywhere else.”

“Even with all those places you traveled to?”

“Royal is still the best place on earth.” He set the tile down on the counter and looked her in the eye. “Best scenery I’ve ever been exposed to.”

“Ryan, you aren’t playing fair.”

A naughty grin kicked up one corner of his mouth. “I’m not playing and I never claimed to be fair.”

“You’re wanting to settle, you claim, so why are you pursuing me?”

Nerves settled in her belly because she wasn’t sure she was ready for the answer he would give. This was moving too fast, or perhaps they’d been headed this way for years and she was just catching up.

“Maybe I haven’t considered anyone else. Maybe I want to know what a relationship with my best friend would be like.” He moved closer as the lights flickered once again. “Maybe I believe that we could have something special, something beyond what we both expect or imagine.”

Tags: Jules Bennett Romance