Part One. DEMO Chapter Eight

Who the hell was that? And why in the hell was she kissing him? Ford stood holding his after-coffee-before-beer Coke and started at the man Cilla was currently attached to-like, like sumac on an oak. at the man Cilla was currently attached to-like, like

What was with the ponytail anyway? And the army boots? And why were the hands-the guy wore a bunch of rings, for Christ's sake- rubbing Cilla's ass?

"Turn around, buddy. Turn around so I can get a better look at your Wayfarer-wearing face."

At Ford's tone, Spock gave a low, supportive growl.

"Jesus, his whole arm's tattooed right up to the sleeve of his black T-shirt. See that? You see that?" he demanded, and Spock muttered darkly.

And that glint? Oh yeah, that was an earring.

"Move the hands, pal. You're going to want to move those hands, otherwise..." Ford looked down at his own, surprised to see he'd crushed the can of Coke, and the contents were foaming over his own fingers.

Interesting, he thought. Jealousy? He wasn't the jealous type. Was he? Okay, maybe he'd had a couple of bouts with it in high school, and that one time in college. But that was just part of growing up. He sure as hell wouldn't get worked up about some over-tattooed earring guy kissing a woman he'd known for a month.

Okay, maybe she'd gotten under his skin. And Spock's, he conceded as his dog stood at full alert, snarling and grumbling. But a good part of that could be attributed to the work, and her starring role in it. If he felt territorial, it was just a by-product of the work, nothing more or less.

Maybe a little more, but a man didn't like to stand around and watch a woman slap her lips to some strange guy's when they'd been slapped to his a couple of days before. The least she could do was stop flaunting it in his face and take it inside where...

"Shit. Shit. They're going inside."


"I told you I'd swing down if I had time."

"I didn't think you'd have time, or remember to swing down." Steve tipped down his Wayfarers and looked at Cilla over them with his deep and dreamy brown eyes. "When have I ever forgotten you?"

"Do you want a list?"

He laughed, gave her a hip bump as they crossed the veranda. "When it counted. Whoa." He stopped just inside the doorway, scanned the living area, its pockets of drying plaster, the patchwork of scarred floors and splattered drop cloths. "Excellent."

"It is, isn't it? And it will be."

"Nice space. Floors'll clean up. Walnut?"

"They are."

"Sweet." He wandered through, passing casual how's-it-goings to the workers still on-site cleaning up for the day.

He walked lightly, and looked slight. Looks, Cilla knew, were deceiving. Under the T-shirt and jeans, he was ripped. Steve Chensky honed his body with the devotion of an evangelist.

Cilla thought if he'd worked half as hard on his music, he'd have made it from struggling artist to serious rock star. Or so she'd told him, countlesstimes. Then again, if he'd listened to her, their lives might have turned out very differently.

He stopped in the kitchen, took his measure of the place with his sunglasses hooked in his T-shirt. "What's the plan here?"

"Take a look." She flipped through the notebook sitting on the one remaining counter, found her best sketch of the concept.

"Nice, Cill. This is nice. Good flow, good work space. Stainless steel?"

"No. I'm having the fifties appliances retrofitted. Jesus, Steve, they rock. I'm looking at faucets. I'm thinking of going copper there. Kind of old-timey."

"Cost ya."

"Yeah, but it's a good investment."

"Granite countertops?"

"I toyed around with doing polished concrete, but for this? You've got to go with granite. I haven't picked it out yet, but the cabinets are in the works. Glass fronts, see, copper leading. I nearly went white there, but I want the warmth, so they're cherry."

"Gonna have something." He gave her an elbow bump this time. "You always had an eye."

"You opened the door so I could use it."

"I opened it. You knocked it down. I drove by the Brentwood house before I headed to New York. Old time's sake. It still looks fine. So, gotta beer?"

She opened the mini fridge, pulled out a beer for each of them. "When do you have to head back to L.A.?"

"I got a couple of weeks. I'll trade labor for digs."

"Seriously? You're hired."

"Like old times," he said, and tapped his beer to hers. "Show me the rest."

Ford bided his time. He waited a full hour after the crews headed out for the day. No harm in wandering over, he told himself. Paying a friendly visit. He scowled at the Harley, and after Spock peed copiously on its front tire, crouched down to exchange a quick high five with his loyal best friend.

It wasn't as if he'd never driven a motorcycle. He'd taken a few spins in his day. Okay, one spin. He just didn't like bugs in his teeth.

But he could drive one if he wanted to.

He jammed his hands in his pockets and resisted giving the Harley a testing kick. He heard the music-ass-kicking rock this time-and instead of going to the front, followed the sound around back.

They sprawled on the steps of the veranda with a couple of bottles of beer and a bag of Doritos. His flavor of Doritos, Ford noted. With her head tipped back against the post, Cilla laughed so the sound of it poured right over the music. And straight into Ford's gut.

Tattoo Guy grinned at her, in a way that spoke of love, intimacy and history.

"You never change. What if you'd... Hey, Ford."


Spock stiff-walked over to Tattoo Guy. "Steve, this is Ford, my neighbor across the road. And that would be Spock. Steve detoured down from New York on his way back to L.A."

"How you doing? Hey, guy, hey, pal." He ruffled Spock's big head with his ringed hand. Ford's lips curled in disgust when his dog-his loyal best friend-dropped his head lovingly on Steve's knee.

"Want a beer?" Steve offered, giving Spock a full-body rub.

"Sure. Are you driving the Harley cross-country?"

"The only way to travel." Steve opened a beer, passed it to Ford. "My girl out there, she's my one true love. Except for Cill here."

Cilla snorted. "I notice you still put the bike first."

"She'll never leave me, like you did." Steve clamped a hand on Cilla's knee. "We used to be married."

"You and the bike?"

The cool remark had Steve tossing back his head and laughing. "We're still married. Cill and I only were."

"Yeah, for about five minutes."

"Come on. It was at least fifteen. Pull up a step," Steve invited.

The polite thing to do, the sensible thing to do would be to back off, back away. But Ford was damned if he'd be polite or sensible. He sat. And the brief sour look he sent Spock had the dog hanging his head. "So you live in L.A."

"That's my town."

"Steve got me into flipping. Houses," Cilla added. "He needed some slave labor on a flip one day, drafted me. I liked it. So he let me go into the next one with him."

"When you were married."

"God no, years after that."

"You were writing a script when we were married."

"No, I was doing voice-overs and recording. I started the script after."

"Right, right. I worked on a session with Cilla, picking up some change and contacts while I was trying to get my band off the ground."

"You're a musician." It just figured.

"Right now I'm a licensed contractor who plays guitar on the side, and does the HGTV thing."

"Rock the House," Cilla supplied. "Home-improvement type show that takes the viewer through stages of a rehab, remodel, a flip. Named after Steve's construction company."

TV guy, Ford thought. That just figured.

"Construction was my day job, back in rock-star-hopeful days," Steve continued. "And I talked Cill into bankrolling my first flip when I saw how the real estate market was heading and when the band flushed away. Hit that mother in the sweet spot. Is that your Victorian across the street?"


"Nice. So do you know where we can get a pizza around here?"

Pizza was a key word for Spock, who lifted his shamed head and did his happy dance. "Eat in or delivery?"

"Delivery, man. I'm buying."

"I've got the pizzeria's number," Cilla told him. "Do you want the usual?"

"Stick with a winner."


"Whatever you want's fine."

"I'll call it in."

When Cilla went in, Steve tipped back his beer. "Did you rehab the place yourself?"

"No, I bought it that way."

"So what's your line? What do you do across the street?"

"I write graphic novels."

"No shit." Steve bumped Ford in the arm with his beer. "Like The Dark Knight and From Hell?"

"More Dark Knight than Campbell. You into graphic novels?"

"Ate comic books for breakfast, lunch and dinner when I was a kid. But I didn't discover the graphics until a few years ago. Maybe I've read some of yours. What... damn, are you Ford Sawyer?" The brown eyes went child-like wide, and full of thrill. "Are you the fucking Seeker?"

So maybe the guy wasn't a complete asshole, Ford decided. "Yeah, that's right."

"This is unreal. It's like surreal. Check this out." Standing, Steve yanked off his T-shirt, turned his back. There, among the other art decorating Steve's back, was a tattoo of the Seeker striding over the left shoulder blade.

"Well... wow." Ford's usually active mind switched off.

"Your dude is completely awesome. I mean, he totally rocks. He suffers, and I feel that." Steve punched a fist into his chest. "But he keeps going. Picks it up and goes, does what he has to do. And the bastard can walk through freaking walls! How do you come up with that shit?"

"Jesus, Steve, are you stripping again?" Cilla demanded as she came back out.

"You've got Ford Freaking Sawyer living across the street. Man, he's the Seeker."

Cilla studied the tattoo Steve tapped as he looked over his shoulder. "When are you going to stop that?"

"When my whole body tells a story. Still got you on my ass, doll."

"Do not pull down your pants," she said, knowing him. "Pizza will be here, thirty minutes or less."

"I'm going to grab a shower." Steve punched Ford's shoulder, gave the delighted Spock a quick scratch. "This is way, over-the-top cool."

As the screen door slammed behind Steve, Ford studied his beer. "That was just weird."

"That was just Steve."

"To whom you were married for five minutes."

"Technically, five months." She sat again, stretched out long legs. "You're looking for the story."

"I'd be a fool not to."

"There isn't that much of one. We met, we clicked. He wanted to be a rock star, and I was, at seventeen, an actor already trying for a come-back. Except, even then, I didn't really want one. And Steve was exactly the opposite image of what everyone expected from me. So he was perfect."

"Good girl meets bad boy."

"You could say. Still, I wasn't so good, and he wasn't so bad. We loved each other, made each other laugh and had really good sex. What else could you ask for? So the minute I turned eighteen, we ran off and got married. It took us about that five minutes to wonder, what the hell did we do this for?"

She tipped back her head and laughed. "We didn't want to be married, to each other or anyone else. We wanted to be friends, to hang out, and maybe have good sex now and then. So we fixed it, way before there was any ugliness or damage, and we still love each other. He's the best friend I ever had. And, tattoos aside, the most stable and solid."

"He didn't let you down."

Cilla looked over, nodded. "Not once. Not ever. I couldn't do what I'm doing here if it wasn't for Steve. He taught me. He's a fifth-generation contractor. Part of the rock star bit was a rebellion against that, you could say. Man, I'm banging a guitar, not a hammer. But he eventually figured out he was better, and let me say a hell of a lot better, with the hammer.

I lent him some money for his first flip, this sad little dump in South L.A. He made it sweet, and paid me back, bought another. He asked me if I wanted in, and, well, one thing led to another. Now he owns his own company and has the TV gig. He still turns sad little dumps, and he turns million-dollar properties. He's launching a branch in New York, and there's talk about a spin-off for the show for the East Coast. He was up there, doing the business, so he swung by before he heads back to L.A."

"And he has you tattooed on his ass."

"For old time's sake. Got any?"

"Tattoos?" Oddly, he felt foolish. "No. You?"

She smiled, sipped her beer. "A lot happens in five minutes of marriage. "

Ford ended up eating pizza, and wondering what sort of tattoo Cilla had chosen, and where she'd had it inked.

Because the idea wouldn't leave him alone, he decided Brid should probably have one. Researching symbols gave him something to do once he returned home other than obsess as to whether or not Cilla and Steve were talking rehab plans or having good sex.

By two A.M. both his eyes and his energy gave out. Still, curiosity had him wandering to one of his front windows to take a last look at the house across the road. A slow smile curved his lips when he spotted the beam of a flashlight cutting through the dark toward the barn.

If Steve was bunking in the barn, good sex wasn't on the night's agenda.

"Let's keep it that way," Ford muttered, stripped off his clothes and fell facedown on the bed.

"YOU HEAR THAT?" Steve poked Cilla awake, an easy job as they were sharing her sleeping bag.

"What? No. Shut up." Rolling over, Cilla vowed Steve would find other sleeping arrangements the next night.

"I heard something. Like a moan, like the way a door sounds when it opens in an abandoned house in a creepy movie. We ought to go check it out."

"Do you remember what I said when you proposed we have sex?"

"That was a no."

"Same answer for this. Go to sleep."

"I don't know how you can sleep with all this quiet." He rolled, rolled again until she snarled at him. "You need a white-noise machine."

"I need to get you your own sleeping bag."

"Harsh." He kissed the top of her head. "You'll be sorry when some wild-eyed mountain dude runs in here with a meat cleaver."

"When that happens, I promise to apologize. Now shut up or go away. Crew's coming at seven."

THE ELABORATE BRASS headboard banged rhythmically against the red wall, the sound punctuated by her cries of pleasure. A shaft of moonlight illuminated those blue crystal eyes, glazed now as he plunged into her. She called out his name, nearly sang it while her body surged under his.

Ford. Ford.

Yo, Ford.

He woke with a spectacular morning hard-on, the sun beaming into his eyes and a vague sense of embarrassment that it was Steve calling his name. But at least the realization was already doing the job of deflating the hard-on.

Ford stuck his head out the window, yelled, "Hold on." He dragged on the jeans he'd stripped off the night before, then stumbled his way downstairs.

"Got doughnuts," Steve said when Ford pulled open the door.


"Hey, man, were you still in the sack?"

Ford stared at Steve's affable smile, at the box of Krispy Kremes. "Coffee."

"I hear that." When Ford turned and groped his way to the kitchen, Steve followed. "Great house, man. Seriously. Use of space, choice of materials. Figured you were up since Cilla'd been over to use your gym. Thought I'd try trading doughnuts for some gym time."

"Okay." Ford set a mug in place, punched on the coffeemaker, then opened the box Steve set on the counter. The smell hit him like a lightning bolt.

"Caffeine and sugar." Steve grinned as Ford grabbed a jelly-filled. "Best way to start the day, after nooky anyway."

Ford grunted, got down a second mug.

"Things are hopping at Cill's this morning, so I cut out for the doughnuts. Guys in construction dig on the doughnuts. Hey, man, look at your dog."

Ford glanced toward the window, saw Spock running, leaping, nosing down to stalk. "Yeah, it's cats."

"What is?"

"He's hunting cats. Magic cats only he can see."

"Son of a bitch, that's just what he's doing." Steve grinned out the window, a ringed thumb hooked in his belt loop. "So it's cool if I catch a workout with Cill in the A.M., or hit it late in the day? Not cramping your style?"

"It's fine." The sugar rush got Ford's eyes open, and the first hit of coffee did the rest. "I figured you'd sleep in later today. Long day for you yesterday, and you probably didn't get the best night sleeping in the barn."

"I like long days." Steve took the coffee Ford gave him, then dumped in the milk Ford sat on the counter."What barn? Cill's barn? Cill wouldn't make me bunk in the barn. I got a corner of her sleeping bag."

"Oh." Damn. "I was working late, saw you head out there. I just figured-"

"I didn't go out there. Man, it's dark out there. In-the-sticks dark. I'm a city boy." He cocked his head. "You saw somebody out there?"

"I saw a flashlight, the beam. I think. It was late, maybe I-"

"No freaking way!" He slammed a hand to Ford's arm hard enough to make Ford stumble back. "I told her I heard something, but she's all shut up and go to sleep. What time was this?"

"I don't know. Ah... little after two."

"That's it. Going for the barn? We gotta go check this out."

"Crap." Ford downed more coffee. "I guess we do. I need to get a shirt, shoes."

"Can I come up? I'm digging on the house."

"Whatever." It was annoying to feel himself tugged into friendship with the guy who was having sex with the woman he wanted to have sex with. But there didn't seem to be a way to dig in his heels and hold it off. "So... you didn't bring your own sleeping bag, I guess."

"Shit, man, I stay in hotels. Room service, bars, pillow-top mattresses. Cill's the one for roughing it. You don't have a spare, do you?"


"Whoa! Holy shit! That's Cilla."

Before Ford could respond, Steve strode into his office and to the sketches pinned and hanging.

"Super Cilla. Dude." Steve tapped a finger to a corner of a sketch. "These are awesome. You're a genius. This isn't Seeker stuff."

"No. New character, new series. I'm just getting started."

"With Cill as the... what, like, model? Does she know?"

"Yeah. We worked it out."

Nodding, Steve continued to grin at the sketches. "I got the vibe when you came over there yesterday. But seeing this? I totally get why she turned down the on-site booty call last night."

"She-" Mentally, Ford pumped his fist. "So... the two of you aren't..."

"Road's clear there, man. I'm going to say, straight out, doing her's one thing-if she's down with that. Messing with her? That's another. Do that, I'll rip your still-beating heart out. Otherwise? We're cool."

Ford studied Steve's face and decided every word spoken was the silver truth. "Got it. I'm going to get my shoes."

Steve poked his head in the bathroom, then into Ford's bedroom. "You've got good light in here. How come you're not tapping that yet?"

"What? Tapping the light?"

"Come on." Steve shook his head as Ford pulled on a T-shirt. "Cilla. How come you're not tapping that yet? I'd know if you were. And she's been over there about a month now."

"Listen, I don't see how that's your business. No offense."

"None taken. Except I see how it is, because there's nobody who matters more to me. I don't want to say she's like my sister, because that would just be sick, considering."

Ford sat on the side of the bed to pull on his shoes. "The lady seems to want to take it slow. So I'm taking it slow. That's it."

"That's solid. I like you, so I'm going to give you a tip. She's tough, and what you'd call resilient. She handles herself and what comes at her. But she's got depths, and in some of those deep places she hurts. So you've got to be careful there."

"She wouldn't be doing what she's doing over there if she didn't have depths, and if some of them didn't hurt."

"Okay. Let's go be men and check out the barn."

IN WHAT WOULD be her laundry/mudroom, Cilla straightened to stretch out her back. As she'd suspected, the old and yellowing linoleum covered a scarred but salvageable hardwood floor. She'd rather be upstairs having fun with power tools, but it made more sense for her to focus her sweat equity into ripping up the linoleum. Her carpenter didn't need her up there, especially with Steve on site, so...

Through the window she spotted Steve, who obviously wasn't upstairs, walking toward her barn with Ford. Setting aside her tools, she headed out to find out why Steve was out for a morning stroll instead of supervising the master suite rebuild.

The barn door stood open, and the two men were inside by the time she got there. They appeared to be debating which one of them should climb the ladder into the hayloft.

"What the hell are you doing?" she demanded.

"Checking it out," Steve told her. "Can you tell if anything's missing?"

"No, and why should it be?"

"Ford saw somebody skulking around out here last night."

"I didn't say 'skulking.' I said I saw someone out here with a flashlight last night."

"You're out on somebody else's property in the middle of the night, with a flashlight, that's skulking." Steve pointed at Cilla. "I told you I heard something."

Cilla shook her head at Steve, turned to Ford. "From all the way across the road, in the dead of night, you saw someone skulking around my barn?"

"While I have to agree with the definition of 'skulking,' what I said was I saw a light, the beam of it. The beam of a flashlight, moving toward the barn."

"It was probably a reflection. Moonlight or something."

"I know what a flashlight beam looks like."

"Plus," Steve interrupted, "when we opened the door, it groaned. That's the sound I heard last night. Somebody came in here. You've got a lot of shit in here, Cill."

"And it's pretty clear the lot of shit is still here."

"Maybe something, or some things, aren't," Ford pointed out. "There's a lot of inventory here, and I'd say a valiant attempt to organize it, but I doubt you know everything that's here, or exactly where you put it the last time you worked in here."

"Okay, no, I don't." She set her hands on her hips to study the piles and stacks, the arrangement. Had she stacked those boxes that way? Had she turned that broken rocker to the left?

How the hell did she know?

"I've got a lot to go through, but I haven't found anything especially valuable yet. And okay," she continued before Steve could speak, "a teaspoon Janet Hardy dipped into a sugar bowl would be worth a spot of breaking and entering for a lot of people."

"Who knows you've got stuff in here?"

"Everyone." Ford answered Steve's question. "There's a bunch of people working in the house, and that bunch of people saw Cilla hauling this stuff out here-even helped. So anyone any of them talked to knows, and anyone the anyones talked to and so on."

"I'll get a padlock."

"Good idea. How about the letters?"

"What letters?" Steve wanted to know.

"Did you tell anyone besides me about the letters you found in the attic?"

"My father, but I hardly think-"

"You found letters in the attic?" Steve interrupted. "Like secret letters? Man, this is like one of those BBC mystery shows."

"You never watch BBC mysteries."

"I do if they have hot Brit chicks in them. What letters?"

"Letters written to my grandmother by the man she had an affair with in the year before she died. And yeah, secret letters. She had them hidden. I've only told Ford and my father-who probably told my stepmother. But it wouldn't go further than that." She hoped. "Except..." She blew out a breath. "I realized when I was telling my father we were standing right beside an open window so I pulled him away to finish. But if one of the men was anywhere near the window, they would have heard enough."

She rubbed her eyes. "Stupid. Plus, I pushed my mother yesterday morning about whether Janet had a lover-and one from out here- before she died. She'd blab, if the mood struck. Added to that, she's pissed at me."

Reaching over, Steve patted her shoulder. "Nothing new there, doll."

"I know. But in her current mood, she might have sent someone out here to poke around, looking for something of value."

"Give me the letters, and anything else you're worried about. No one's going to look at my place for them," Ford added when she frowned at him.

"Maybe. Let me think about it."

"Anyway," Steve said, "we can cross off the wild-eyed mountain man with a meat cleaver. Right? Or we can as soon as Ford climbs up there and makes sure there aren't any dead bodies or severed body parts."

"Oh, for Christ sake." Cilla turned toward the ladder.

Ford blocked her, nudged her back. "I'll do it."

He tested his weight on each rung on the climb, as he pictured himselfcrashing through and breaking any variety of bones on the concrete floor. As he reached the top, he cursed roundly.

"What is it?" Cilla called up.

"Nothing. Splinter. There's nothing up here. Not even the lonely severed head of an itinerant field-worker."

When he'd climbed down again, Cilla took his hand, winced at the chunk of ladder in the meat of his palm. "That's in there. Come on inside and I'll dig it out for you."

"I can just-"

"While you guys play doctor, I'll go strap on my tool belt and do a man's work."

Cilla glanced back at Steve. "About damn time."

"Had to make the doughnut run. Later," he said to Ford and strolled out.

"Did he bring you doughnuts?" Cilla asked.

"Yeah. A bribe for use of the gym."

"Mmm. Come on in, and bring the chunk of my ladder. I assume he also woke you up."

"You assume correctly." Ford shoved the barn door closed behind them. "And from a very interesting dream involving you, a red room and a brass headboard. But the jelly doughnuts almost made up for it."

"Steve believes in the power of the doughnut. So, just what was I doing in a red room with a brass headboard?"

"Hard to describe. But I think I could demonstrate."

She looked into his eyes, bold green against gold rims. "I don't have a red room. Neither do you."

"I'll go buy the paint."

Laughing, she reached for the mudroom door, and quickly found herself with her back to the wall of the house. It came as a constant surprise just how potent, how dangerous that mouth could be. The same mouth, she thought dimly as it assaulted hers, that smiled so charmingly, that spoke in such an easy drawl about everyday things. Then it closed over hers and spiked through her system like a fever.

He gave her bottom lip a light nip before he stepped back. "I thought it was Steve headed to the barn last night. To bunk down."

"Why would Steve sleep in the barn?" It took another minute for her brain to fire on all circuits again. "Oh. We're all grown-ups, Ford. I'm not asking Steve to sleep in the barn."

"Yeah, I got that. But he's going to borrow my old sleeping bag. I haven't used it for about fifteen years, or since sleeping in a bag on the ground lost its thrill for me. He'll like it. It's Spider-Man."

"You have a Spider-Man sleeping bag?"

"I got it for my eighth birthday. It was a highlight, and has never lost its luster." He leaned down, brushed her lips with his and opened the door behind her. "I'm more than happy to get it out of storage so Steve can use it while he's here."

"Neighborly of you."

"Not especially."

She opened the first aid kit, checked the contents. "I've got what I need here. Let's do this outside. In the light." When they stepped out onto the veranda, she gestured for him to sit. She doused a cotton ball with peroxide and cleaned the wound.

"It's not neighborly," Ford continued, "because the motives are entirely self-serving. I don't want him sleeping with you."

She shifted her gaze up to his even as she began to clean a needle and tweezers with alcohol. "Is that so?"

"If you wanted to sleep with him, then I'd be out of luck."

"How do you know I don't? That I didn't?"

"Because you want to sleep with me. Ow!" He looked down at his hand and the hole she'd made at the top of the splinter with the needle. "Jesus."

"It's too deep to milk out, and needs a route. Suck it up. If I want to sleep with you, why haven't I?"

He eyed the needle in her hand warily. "Because you're not ready. I can wait until you are. But-and don't jab me with that again-I'm god-damned if I want you sleeping with someone else, old time's sake or not, while I'm waiting. I want my hands on you, all over you. And I want you thinking about that."

"So you'll lend Steve your treasured Spider-Man sleeping bag so I can think about it without caving in to my needs and sleeping with him because he's handy."

"Close enough."

"Look at that."

He turned his head to look in the direction she indicated. The sharp, quick sting had him jolting. When he cursed, Cilla held the hefty splinter in the teeth of her tweezers. "Souvenir?"

"No, thanks."

"You're done." She packed up the kit, then grabbed him by the hair, crushed her mouth greedily to his. Just as quickly, she broke the kiss, rose. "And you can think about that while you're waiting."

With a cool smile, she walked back into the house, let the screen door slap shut behind her.

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