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by Jennah Sharpe
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: When a woman hires a much younger, sexy handyman, can she keep the sparks from flying? When she hires a much younger man to help out with the chores at her remote cabin, Stephanie Potter wasn't expecting the strong, extremely sensual man who showed up at her door. But it's not going to be easy to not think of him in a lustful manner. In fact, she's sure it's just plain wrong. But Cullen McKay isn't going to let Stephanie's insecurities keep him from getting what he wants, but can he convince her he's not too young and keep her out of the small town gossip circles?
eBook Publisher: Total-e-bound, 2007 2007
eBookwise Release Date: July 2007
15 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [54 KB]
Reading time: 30-42 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
"This is a sexy little quick-paced book with some interesting tidbits... I would not have tired of reading and hearing more about their story; however, it is not diminished by being shorter, it is one of those rare manuscripts that could be presented either way and be great!"--Brenda TalleyThe Romance Studio
The funeral was simple and efficient. Not only did she prefer it that way, but she had neither the resources nor the energy to make it the grand occasion the town of Bottomhill expected. Stephanie Potter had set a bouquet of wildflowers behind her husbands' casket, but refused the meddling offers of muffins and casseroles brought to the house. Inevitably, they were left on her porch. She'd wanted it all over with. She knew Justin would understand. She'd done what she needed to do to get through.
Now, two years had passed. The comforting phone calls stopped long ago. Justin was not forgotten in town as was evident in the stares and polite nods from people walking by, but she was generally left alone now. She enjoyed being on her own and had no intentions of ever taking a man under her roof again. She was too old to deal with all the crap they entailed. Rumours abounded that called her a recluse, a hermit. There were some in town who thought her rude simply because she preferred her own company, but they were wrong. She did miss that arm around her as she sat in front of the fire at night. She missed the teasing splash of water from the lake and the rhythmic breath beside her in bed at night. There were so many little things to constantly remind her she was alone. It's not that it bothered her or she thought about it that often. She was content. If only the residents of Bottomhill could see that.
The town, situated near Penrith and the Lake District National Park in the north of England where Justin had worked, was small and that's precisely what kept her away. As is the case in most small towns, everyone knew Stephanie Potter. For the most part, the residents of Bottomhill kept their thoughts to themselves. Even so, Stephanie constantly felt judged whenever she was in the public eye. She knew this was a fault, however, it was innate and she had no intention of working to change it. Hell, she was forty-five. She wasn't going to work on changing now.
Stephanie hurried through the traffic of tourist season as if on a life and death mission. Her guest was due to arrive soon. She needed to ensure she had suitable foods, perhaps a new set of sheets for the bunkie and a couple of novels by authors a male would enjoy reading in his down time, Ken Follet, Wilbur Smith. She was nervous enough without all the damn noise of town.
The main street was jammed this time of year so she arrogantly pushed ahead. The summer season had only just begun and already Stephanie longed for the week after school started up again. It was amazing how the town cleared out from then until late October. It wasn't that she wished away the sun and warmth of summer, just the tourists. Yes, local businesses relied on them, and she did too. She didn't have to like it.
Bottomhill was a beautiful town when not packed with cars and people. It developed right on the shore of a small lake, providing the perfect setting for a park and playground. Not many swam there but during the autumn the leaves on the hills across the lake were indescribable. Some days, when the sun reflected off them just right, Stephanie would swear in the letters to her sister back in Toronto, that she needed sunglasses to look at them.
In the winter, it was just as appealing, the snow covering the rise and fall of each hill like a down duvet.
Stephanie loved the small town as much as she complained. She knew her nerves would never allow her to live in the city. She only wished people wouldn't think of her as Justin's poor foreign widow. She'd always been an outsider, having moved from Canada to marry, and it was more evident now that Justin was dead.
Surrounded as she was by lovely birches and pines, she visited town only when necessary. She added a small vegetable garden to the yard in front of the small log cabin she called home, planting only what she knew she would eat.
Photography was what kept Stephanie going. She made a meagre living from it but it was enough to feed herself and pay the bills. She developed the pictures herself and often had them converted into stationary or postcards. The odd time, she enlarged one to poster size and framed it. She made the most profit from these.
What bothered her was her need for someone to help out at the cabin. The repairs were beyond her expertise. Justin was a handy man but now--too many repairs had been let go. Finally, Stephanie was forced to think about hiring help. She dreaded the thought of sharing her paradise with anyone else.
When her advertisement was printed in the local paper, she held her breath every time the phone rang. It needed doing but actually seeing it written and out in the world was another matter. Before she knew it the day of his arrival was upon her.
The young man, who went by the name Cullen McKay, did not telephone but wrote a very polite letter explaining that he was visiting his aunt in town and was thinking about staying for the season. He was a qualified carpenter with many other industrious abilities. Stef answered right away. There would not be another applicant more qualified and the tone of his letter showed both respect and professionalism.
She'd found herself trying to interpret his handwriting late a night under her reading lamp. He wrote in black pen, enhanced by his even scrawl. In reality, she knew nothing of handwriting analysis but she made a go of trying to picture him.
She pictured a teenaged boy who would appreciate her cooking, could cut firewood all day and would fall asleep in bed much later than her own light would fade. * * * *
Later that evening as the fog began to roll off the lake, she sat on her porch steps, waiting for the arrival of her new handyman.
A black four-by-four truck rumbled up her laneway at 9PM. It was late but she hadn't expected him any earlier. He was driving a long distance from his home and wanted to check in on his aunt before arriving at the cabin for an orientation.
The late summer sun lit the tops of the trees and reflected off the windshield of the truck, blocking Stephanie's view of the driver.
Wearing clean jeans and a light pink, cotton blouse, she stood as the truck came to a halt. She shielded her eyes from the glare with one hand, her other resting lightly on her hip.
Her tabby cat, McClary, jumped to the railing beside her, letting out a mournful plea for milk. Stephanie picked her up and gently tossed her back to the ground.
"Not now, Mac," she whispered.
When she turned back around, her handyman had exited his truck and was making his way to the steps where she stood. Stephanie's breath caught in her throat. He wasn't at all what she'd pictured. She wasn't ready for reality if this was what it entailed.
Before her stood a man long past being called a boy. A man of over six feet, dark brown hair falling over one eye as he strode confidently toward her, and a lean, muscular physique that took Stephanie's thoughts straight to the gutter.