Charlie immediately bounded up the stairs, probably looking for Elizabeth, and Trevor headed for his office.
He was tired. He’d worked the entire day, putting in a full eight hours, most of it rounding up a deer wandering the city and returning it to the forest. He’d then talked to reporters about the incident.
After some routine paperwork, he’d taken time to catch the kids doing their spot of illegal fishing, then back to work for the rest of the evening repairing some commercial property for the family company.
All the painting he’d done had made his back sore. But only a few more nights and the building would be ready to lease again and he could relax.
Opening his safe, he locked his gun away, set his belt on the desk and went back to the kitchen to get his dinner.
He opened the fridge.
Had his mom forgotten him? A note on the countertop caught his eye and he kicked the fridge shut and snagged it.
I’ve left a plate of food for you in the fridge. Love, M.
He checked again. The milk, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise weren’t hiding a plate of food. He checked the freezer. Nothing.
Thinking about Elizabeth’s car in the driveway, he opened the cupboard under the sink and pulled out the garbage. Sure enough. A used sheath of tin foil lay on top and had very likely covered his plate of food.
Well, that was nice.
He rubbed a hand over his full beard, blew out a breath, then got out fixings for peanut butter and honey sandwiches. He slathered four slices of bread, and poured himself a large glass of milk.
He took his plate and glass out to the living room, set them on an end table, grabbed the remote control, sat and turned on ESPN.
It was on the wrong channel and--
Jumping up, he quickly scanned the poorly repaired chair, then glared at the stairs and considered waking Elizabeth to have a talk. But she had at least
to fix it and that surprised him, so, disgusted, he changed the channel to ESPN, quickly ate and, with Charlie now back and watching his every move, spent the next thirty minutes re-glueing the chair correctly,
placing the clamps where they’d actually do their job.
He finally turned the chair around carefully set it in the corner so Elizabeth wouldn’t forget and sit in it again.
It was time for bed. In the morning, he was going to have a talk with his sister because this was getting out of hand. She needed to work out her marriage problems on her own time. Or at least in her own house. Or at their parents’ place if she had to go somewhere.
With Charlie following, Trevor climbed the stairs, walked down the hall, opened the door, and absolutely couldn’t believe it.
She was in his bed!
Talk about selfish!
He wouldn’t lose his temper. They could discuss this like the two grown adults they were. How much could a man be expected to take from his big sister? She could stay in his house, she could even eat his food and break his furniture. But danged if she was sleeping in his bed! She could take the spare room. There was a reason that mattress was uncomfortable. He didn’t like guests!
He flipped on the light and his sister sat up, looked to where he stood in the doorway, and sucked in a loud breath.
The only problem was, it wasn’t his sister.Chapter Two
Trevor took a deep breath as he took in the fantasy girl occupying his bed. She had wide blue eyes, a mass of blonde curls springing around her face in a cloud, and a nightgown clinging to a well-endowed chest. Wowsa.
He finally exhaled. “Oh, sorry. I’m sorry.” He stepped out into the hall, shut the door, and stood looking at the wood as his heart pounded and he wondered what to do.
A moment later, he pushed the door open again, stuck his head inside, and tried not to stare. “Um, now who are you, exactly?”
The girl cringed away from Charlie, who sniffed at her legs.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Baron. You startled me. I’m Honey Stevens, the realtor.”
Honey. Like her voice. Her hair. And the smooth silky skin of her arms. Okay, now he was staring. “Oh. Oh, yeah. Okay. Sorry to disturb you. I’ll just turn off the light. Come on, Charlie.”
The dog reluctantly followed and they both slowly walked downstairs. Trevor went into his office, shut the door, and dialed his parents’ place.
“Hello?” His mother’s voice was questioning, anxious.
“Hi, Mom. It’s Trevor.”
“It’s after midnight. Is something wrong?”
Trevor took a breath. “Look. Um.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Nothing’s wrong...exactly...but there’s a gorgeous girl in my bed and I’m not sure what to do about it.”
There was a short silence on the other end of the line and then his mother laughed for a long moment before she finally said, “Sweetie, you’re thirty-two. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you’d better talk to your father.”
Trevor groaned. “Very funny, Mom.”
His mom laughed again. “I thought so. So who is she?”
Trevor sank down onto his leather office chair. “A realtor named Honey Stevens.”
“Oh. Right. So that’s where she’s got to. We’ve been expecting her,” she said. “Your dad’s doing some business with her. So you think she’s gorgeous? How old is she? Is she nice? Is she married?”
“Strangely enough, I didn’t ask,” he said sarcastically.
“You know, I don’t think she is married. If I remember right, her boss mentioned her being single.” She paused. “You know, maybe this isn’t such a bad thing. I’ve been worried about how lonely you are rattling around in that big house by yourself, missing your wife.”
“I’m not lonely. And I don’t miss my
-wife.” The idea was ludicrous.
“You know, I have an idea. Maybe--”
“Hold it. I don’t think I like where you’re going with this.”
She chuckled. “No, wait, hear me out. This actually could work out for the best. If Miss Stevens stays at your place, we’ll have room for the unexpected company arriving in the morning.”
“What unexpected company?”
Trevor narrowed his eyes. “When was this planned?”
“Oh, ages ago.”
Trevor didn’t believe her. “You have three guest rooms.”
“Elizabeth is staying and her kids are here, as well.”
“Uh, huh. Well, we can send the girl to a hotel.”
“No, we can’t do that.” His mom sounded shocked. “We invited her to stay.”
Trevor threw his free hand up in the air. “Look, I’ll pay for the hotel.”
“No, it’s not that. What will she think of us if we go back on our word like that?”
“Mom, she doesn’t even know any of us. What do we care what she thinks?”
His mother’s sigh was pure martyr. “I’ll know. If we go back on our word to her, I’ll think about it for the rest of my life.”
Trevor ground his teeth. “Make whatever plans you need to make, but I don’t want to be involved in this.” He was getting loud. He glanced up at the ceiling, then took a breath. “Bottom line is she is absolutely not staying here,” he said, quieter this time.
“Don’t worry about groceries, I’ll have Elizabeth pick some up. Maybe we could plan a couple of get-togethers, too. I’m sure your aunts would love to meet her and--”
She wasn’t listening to him. He rubbed his forehead. He scared grown men armed with rifles on a regular basis. Hunters and fishers regularly flinched in fear at his approach. His mother? Not even a tremor. He decided to try a different tact.
She stopped mid-sentence.
“What about appearances?” he said. “Do you want your friends and family talking about the fact that I have a girl living here with me?”
“Oh. You are absolutely right.”
Trevor let out a sigh. Finally he was getting somewhere.
“I’ll send Elizabeth to stay with you, too.”
He sat up straight. “I don’t want Elizabeth here! Do not send Elizabeth. The last thing I need is to get sucked into her problems.”
“I insist. You can’t stay there alone with the girl. We’ll keep the grandkids here. Anyway, It’ll be good for both of you. You haven’t spent much time together lately. And Elizabeth won’t talk to us about her problems. Maybe she’ll open up to you.”
How could a madwoman sound so reasonable? “Mom. Stop.”
He rubbed his neck. “Why are you doing this to me? Just come get the girl in the morning. I don’t even want her here for a couple of nights. I don’t care how you do it, or where you put her. I want her gone.”
“Oh, it’s not just a couple of nights. Didn’t I tell you? I understand she’ll be in town for two or three weeks.”
Trevor’s mouth gaped open. He clamped it shut again and slammed his palm down on the desk. “Absolutely not. You’ve got to listen to me. I just want to be left alone! Get her out. I mean it.”
“Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll arrange it all. Have a good night, dear. Love you.” A click sounded on the other end of the
Trevor looked at the phone. Charlie whimpered and Trevor glanced at him, set the phone back in its cradle, and leaned forward to pet the dog’s head. At least Charlie was sympathetic.
Trevor blew out a breath. He wasn’t putting up with this. He’d get up early and be gone before Ms. Stevens woke in the morning. He’d call his mom from work, hope she was sane in the daylight hours, and talk her into removing the girl. He wouldn’t even have to see her again.
Now if he could only erase her image from his memory.
Those eyes. That hair. That body.
All in his bed.
It suddenly felt like a very long time until morning.
The noise, irritating, grating,
, wouldn’t stop. Slowly Honey woke enough to realize her phone was ringing. Dragging herself out of bed, she found her purse, retrieved the phone, and checked caller ID. It was her boss. What a way to wake up. “Hello?”
“It’s Nick. So what’s happening? It’s eight o’clock, but you sound like you just got out of bed.”
Honey completed a yawn, then looked at the clock on the nightstand. It really was eight and her class started at nine. “I did. I’m glad you woke me.” She headed to the window overlooking the backyard and opened the blinds. The view was gorgeous. A large, fenced, and neatly trimmed backyard, pine trees, and blue skies dominated the view. She felt great. A good night’s sleep had done wonders.
“So I haven’t officially met the Barons yet. They got home late, so they’re probably still asleep.”
“Well, get up and get ready. You need to be at your best when you do meet them. And remember. Be sweet, act nice, and do that sincere thing you do that makes people like you so much.”
Honey rolled her eyes and tried to remember why she worked for Nick. Oh, yes, because he let her find really good homes for really nice people and she loved her job.
“Try and nail down the deal, but take all the time you need. These people are cagey. I couldn’t pin them down. But I want that piece of property tied up as quickly as possible.”
“So take all the time I need, but do it really fast?”
“Smart ass. You know what I mean. Just do your job.”
Honey ran a hand through her hair. “I have a few questions about the property. I’m still not clear who the client is or why they want it so much.”
“Michelle wants to talk to you.”
“No! Wait, you didn’t answer my question and it’s too early to deal with Michelle.”
“Hello, Honey,” Michelle’s voice was smooth, self-satisfied. Instant irritation had Honey plopping on the edge of the bed. “Hi, Michelle.”
“I’ll just ignore your rude comment because I’m in such a great mood.”
“You do that.”
“Don’t you want to know why I’m in such a great mood?”
“You know how you passed on that house off Jefferson street?” Michelle sounded too pleased with herself. “The one by the Food Mart?”
“The one with termite damage?”
“Yes, that’s the one. Well, Miss Goody-Two-Shoes, as it happens, I’m not as particular as you are and I sold the place yesterday. They paid too much so I got a really nice commission off the deal.”
Honey stood and paced to the window again. “Who are the clients?”
“No one you know.”
“What are you going to do when they aren’t happy with their new home?”
Honey sighed and leaned against the bedroom wall. “Never mind.”
“And that’s not all the news I have. Guess who I saw last night having dinner at Tuscany? Your fiancé!”
Honey straightened. “Oh?”
“And he wasn’t alone.”
Honey wasn’t even worried. Well, not much, anyway. Michelle liked to stir trouble where none existed. And Honey completely trusted Christian. “No?”
“He was with a couple of colleagues. Can you imagine? Pharmacists having a dinner meeting?” She laughed. “What would they talk about? Anyway, one of the ladies was young and really quite attractive. She seemed to like Christian well enough. I just thought you should know.”
Michelle paused for a moment. “Anyway, gotta go.”
Honey hung up and immediately dialed Christian’s cell number. No answer. His voicemail picked up. Sometimes he could be a real jerk. “Just calling to say hi, but I see you’re not answering to me. A little immature, don’t you think? But what do you do?”
She hung up and immediately regretted the message. She shouldn’t let Michelle get to her. She sighed, gathered up her clothes and headed to the bathroom.
She didn’t hear anyone in the house, but there was a damp towel hanging haphazardly on the rack and another on the floor by the shower.
She wasn’t the first one up. The Barons were probably downstairs waiting for her. She should have set her alarm.