“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Lisa,” I said with a hundred-megawatt smile.

“Same here,” Lisa replied with a smile just as fake as mine. “Drop by often. It gets lonely sometimes being the only girl in the office.”

“Of course. Thank you for having me.”

I was curious about Jamie’s relationship with Lisa as we walked onto the model units, but I didn’t ask the question. It wasn’t my business, and I had no right to ask it. Still, the curiosity lingered. Nate had dubbed Jamie the Bellwood heartbreaker. Just how many hearts had Jamie broken?

Jamie chirped happily about his project. I could tell this apartment complex was his baby. He wasn’t just after the profit, he wanted to provide people on low incomes with quality products that lasted. In the age of greed, it was refreshing to see someone who wasn’t corrupted by money. I was proud he’d turned out to be a good man with integrity. To see such a quality in a twenty-seven-year-old man was heartwarming.

He gave me the tour of the site as if I were a prospective buyer. We did a walk through of the finished units and visited the back area where they were going to build a playground for the children in the complex. The foundation had been dug and filled with sand and gravel. Next, they’d bring in swings, sliders, climbers, and even a mini zip-line. I could already imagine the laughter of the children going to brighten up this new community.

Before we wrapped it up, Jamie made a stop at the back where they were digging the drainage pond. Jamie introduced me to his partner and the foreman, and we exchanged pleasantries. While Jamie and his partner discussed something about work, I moseyed around to kill time.

Last night’s rain had hampered progress, and the big excavator had stopped working a while ago. The huge crater was filled with dark water that kept rising. I could see the drainage pipes that came from the direction of the complex, but I didn’t see any water coming from the pipes. My curiosity was piqued. Had the crew accidentally hit a spring-water source? That would be fabulous since spring water beat municipality water any time, right?

I edged closer to take a look, careful of the slippery grass. Movement on the ground caught my eye. From the tall weeds a few feet away, a huge rat darted toward me, running past my feet. I panicked, stomping my loafers, and before I knew it, I slid straight into the water with an epic splash.

Luckily, the drainage pond wasn’t too deep, and it only came up to my hips. But the shock of it made me splutter and cough like crazy.

Oh my God, this is silly. Falling into a ditch at my age? And I’m not even drunk.

A second splash burst out before my eyes.

As I struggled to wipe the water from my face, someone grabbed me.

 “Jamie!” I yelped. My maternal instinct kicked in. “My goodness. Why did you jump in like that? Did you hurt yourself? Let me see.”

“Hey, that’s my line.” Jamie glared at me.


Jamie was a mischievous kid; he got into trouble at least once a week. The day I wasn’t pulling my hair when I babysat him was as rare as two-dollar bill.

He grabbed my arm. “Did you get hurt?”

“No. Just wet. And look at you.”

Jamie eyed me critically then unbuttoned his denim shirt.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

He yanked his shirt off and draped it over me. “You’re wearing a white blouse. I don’t want them to see you like this.”

They? See me like this? I examined myself. My silk blouse had stuck to my skin and the crepe pants molded to the shape of my underwear I was wearing. Yeah. Big deal. I wasn’t a wet T-shirt model or anything. Who was going to ogle an overweight thirty-something gal?

“Are you all right?” called someone from the bank. Greg, Jamie’s partner shielded his eyes from the sun. “Do you need help?”

Jamie cut in front of me, covering me from their view. “We’re fine. I’m handling this.”

I rolled my eyes. Jamie was overreacting. Clutching his shirt on me as jacket, I started wading my way toward the edge.


“Yes?” I asked.

He grabbed me and lifted me in his arms. “Jamie, what the hell. You’ll throw out your back. Put me down.” He didn’t comply until we reached the bank. He put me on my feet and steered me toward his truck. He didn’t say a word: I took it as he was angry. His face showed that he was deeply irritated. Good lord, I must have embarrassed him in front of his partner and employees.

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