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“Who the devil are you?”
When Gavin was sad and pleading, like Elijah when he begs to go out and play baseball instead of doing his homework, I sorta felt sorry for him. But now, he’s looking at me like I’m a diseased rat that somehow, incomprehensibly ended up in his pristine world, and all my feeling sorry evaporates.
I stiffen, because honestly, I do have some pride.
“You have two seconds to answer me, or I’m calling the police.”
Not for nothing, but “the police” is Daryl Jones, my second cousin. That’s not going to help Gavin. All it’ll do is embarrass me. Daryl will get a good laugh out of this.
Gavin pulls a phone out of his pocket and holds it up threateningly.
“Tell me your name and what you’re doing lurking in my home.”
Slowly, I stand. I don’t want to startle him after all. When I do, he gets a good look at my dirty overalls, my roughed up boots, and my frizzy hair. His eyes widen and his nostrils flare. I get the impression he just got his first whiff of ol’ Billy.
I really should’ve taken a shower.
I would’ve if I’d known this was going to happen.
“My word, she’s a squatter. I’ve got a squatter in my home.” His jaw hardens and he thrusts his hand toward the open door. “Out. Get out.” He motions at me like I’m some mangy stray.
“Hey!” I put my hand on my hips. “I’m not a squatter. I’m Jamie Sutton.”
He stares at me, his expression uncomprehending. “What did you say?”
I blow out a long breath, the hot air stirring the hair sticking out from my braid.
“I said,” I annunciate and talk real slow for him, “I’m not a squatter. I’m Jamie Sutton.”
He shakes his head like he still doesn’t understand and then he takes slow, careful steps toward me, like he expects some loony behavior on my part. When he’s only a few feet away, he wrinkles his nose and looks at me with utter distaste.
“I don’t know what jammy sudden is, but I want you to remove your person from my home.”
Oh lordy. He can’t understand plain English.
“Jamie Sutton,” I say slowly pointing at myself.
He stares at me, uncomprehending. No wonder the fairy princess left him. He’s gorgeous, but his head is full of rocks. And he has a temper. I know it, because he steps forward and grabs my arm, his fingers hot and calloused.
“That’s it. If you won’t get out, I’ll take you out.”
He drags me toward the front door. It’s funny, a second ago, I would’ve loved to go out a door, now I don’t want anywhere near one. I dig in my heels and tug in the opposite direction. But he’s strong. Real strong.
“Hang on!” I shout, starting to put up a fight like ol’ Billy. “What’s wrong with you? You gave me the code to your place. I’m dropping off my work. Hello. I’m Jamie Sutton. The glassblower. Jeez Louise, you’re yanking me like Granny pulling up a radish on a Sunday. Let go!”
He’s having none of it.
“Unbelievable. I can’t understand a word she utters,” Gavin says in a completely dumbfounded voice.
I step on his foot. Hard.
“Let go! Understand that!”
He stops tugging me. We’re a few feet from the door. I’m panting hard, and I bet anything, that my face is redder than molten glass. Worse, even though I’m infuriated, him holding onto me is sending an SOS through my insides. The message travels up my arm, down my chest, and all over my body, telling me that all that heat I’m feeling means it’s time to strip down naked and cool off the old-fashioned way.
For crying out loud.
Gavin leans forward, towering over me, and brings his face close to mine. I can feel the warmth of him and I can smell the cologne he wears. It’s like fresh air, strength and vitality. Or maybe that’s just him.
My breath comes in short, painful pants, and my heart drums in my ears. In all this mess, I’ve nearly forgotten what I’m here for.
To get paid.
To start a new life where I can stop working three jobs and start giving the kids all the things I’ve always wanted to.
“Why’d you do that?” Gavin asks between clenched teeth. He jerks his head toward his foot. Apparently, it hurt when I slammed my boot down on his toes.
I try to jerk my arm free, but he keeps ahold of me. I glare at him. Now I know exactly how Billy feels when I trap his wings.
“Because. You won’t let go.” I say it real slow so the words can get through his thick skull.
He frowns and then releases my arm. My brain likes that, but my body doesn’t. It wants that SOS, and my skin still tingles where he was touching me.
Gavin clears his throat and rubs at his nose. Yeah, yeah, I smell bad. Deal with it.
It’s time to take charge. I stand as tall as I can, which isn’t much compared to Gavin, who’s more than six foot. I stick out my jaw and try to look as professional as I can, then I hold out my hand.
“Jamie Sutton. You’re Gavin Williams?”
Apparently, this is too much for him to handle. “How do you know my name?”
I roll my eyes. “You hired me.”
“I hard you?”
Oh my word.
This is probably the worst pseudo-conversation I’ve ever had in my life.
“You hired me to create glass art. The wave you commissioned. I dropped it off, like you instructed in your email.” I point to the wave, sitting in its place of honor on the art table.
Gavin looks from me to the wave then back to me again.
I lick my dry lips and wait for him to connect the dots.
Before, I thought this cabin was expansive, but now it feels claustrophobic. Gavin’s standing entirely too close. Studying me too carefully.
A slow, trickling flame licks over me, and I try to turn it off.
“No.” He shakes his head. “I don’t want it.”
Well, that does it. The flame is off. It’s completely off.
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