According To Plan Part 17
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Maybe because her eyes had been closed or maybe because he'd come around from the other side of the bread rack, but Lindsay didn't see the man until they both reached for the last loaf of fresh bread.
Their fingers touched and a jolt ran from her finger tips straight to her midsection. She followed the length of a muscled forearm up to his body. Her eyes did a slow blink and she lost all coherent thought.
Before her stood six feet plus of muscle and pure testosterone. Broad shoulders filled out a grey T-shirt, the soft cotton material snug across his chest and loose around his abs. Abs that most likely had the perfect ridges women went crazy over and posted pictures of on every social media page. She dragged her gaze up to a stubble dusted chin. Her knees weakened. There was something incredibly sexy about a man with a scruffy face. She moved past a firm, sexy mouth and stopped when she reached a pair of steel grey eyes.
For a moment she thought interest flared in those unusual eyes, but he gave her a lopsided grin, released the loaf of bread and turned away. Thank goodness. A millisecond more and she'd have melted into a gooey puddle. Right in the middle of baked goods. She could imagine the loudspeaker announcement.
Clean up in Bakery. Bring the wet vac.
As he continued down the aisle, pushing a grocery cart piled high with Hungry Guy Meals, she stared. Dark jeans, soft and worn, rode low on his hips, looking like old friends the way they moulded to his backside. At that exact moment, he glanced over his shoulder and she froze.
This unbelievably hot guy caught her checking out his backside. She knew she'd turned bright red when warmth slid up her neck faster than mercury in a thermometer. He grinned and turned back to study the cereal box in his hand. Why couldn't she have met him when she looked like a member of the human race and not a walking sweat stain?
Mortified at being caught ogling, she hugged the loaf of bread to her chest and hurried to the check-out. As she rounded the corner, she came to a full stop. Although the store had been quiet when she first came in, now every cashier was busy. Except...Carla. Would it be too much to ask for one small break today?
"I can help you over here." Carla gave her a curt little nod.
Lindsay placed the meat and bread on the conveyor belt.
"Is that everything?" Carla slid the items over the scanner.
"That'll be four dollars and fifty-six cents."
Lindsay reached into her back pocket and pulled out a twenty dollar bill.
Carla took the money and held it up to the light, squinting. She then passed it under a counterfeit detector. She knew the bad bill Lindsay used for groceries over a year ago had come direct from the bank, but she still scanned her money.
Every. Single. Time.
Come on, Carla. Get the lead out.
"Are you going to the lake?" Carla finally opened the register.
"No." Lindsay shook her head and glanced around. The way her luck was going, he'd come around the corner, see her bills being triple checked and think she was a con artist as well as a mute fool.
"Must be nice, owning your own company, not having to worry how you look."
For the second time that day Lindsay stared, not sure of what to say. Carla had made her life miserable in high school, but they were grown women, too old for this kind of cattiness. She caught Carla's gaze sliding up and down her body, with a smirk she didn't bother to hide.
Right then, Lindsay decided she wasn't too old.
"Bless your heart, worrying about me when you're stuck inside. And on such a beautiful day, too." Lindsay smiled with cherub-like innocence.
Carla's eyes narrowed to tiny slits while she made change and handed it to Lindsay, along with her groceries. "Thanks for shopping at Food Mart," was ground out between clenched teeth.
Aware of the woman's angry look following her, Lindsay strolled through the sliding doors toward her truck. With one last glance through the window she was surprised to see Carla surreptitiously wipe a tear from her cheek.
Because of her comment? Lindsay couldn't be sure, but vowed the next time she ran into Carla she'd apologize. Just because she was having a bad day didn't mean she had to drag someone else down with her.
Jared Kane held the cereal box and mentally kicked himself. The first time in ages a woman showed attention and he turned away. At this rate they'd make him hand back his man card. Any other place, any other time, he'd at least nod a hello, but he hadn't been prepared for a little bit of heaven at the Food Mart. Granted she was on the wrong side of clean, with drywall mud spattered on her clothing, and he had no idea what color her hair was, stuffed into a dusty Ravenwood Hooligans ball cap, but clear hazel eyes had stared up at him, her full lips slightly parted.
He'd noticed those too. Lips that looked like they could use a good long kiss.
He glanced back over his shoulder. She stood by the bread rack, her gaze riveted on his butt. When she realized he'd semi-turned, her eyes widened. He grinned and turned back to his shopping cart. Oh yeah. She'd totally checked him out. He tapped the cereal box and tried to think of something nonchalant and witty to say.
Don't be a moron. How hard is it to say hello?
He turned around and the 'Hi' died on his lips. Like a silent shadow she'd disappeared. "Smooth move, Kane," he muttered and turned toward the checkout. He might never find out who she was. There was still no sign of her while he unloaded his groceries on the conveyor belt.
"Are you the guy who bought old man Wilkinson's house on Fourth Street?"
He paused with a jar of peanut butter in his hand. Why did he always get chatty Cathy for a cashier? He placed the jar on the belt and gave the clerk a polite smile. Grandma Kane said most people would be curious about him and to always treat others as you would like to be treated.
"I am. It's a great old house, but needs a lot work." That was an understatement. He'd spent the better part of last week cutting back overgrown rose bushes and had gashes from the thorns to prove it.
The checkout clerk, whose name tag read Carla, slid his frozen chicken over the scanner. "Not surprised. Old Man Wilkinson didn't do a whole lot to that piece of... uhh, his house."
Jared studied the clerk. Odds were high she'd know the mystery woman. Ravenwood wasn't that big of a town. He watched her scan a few more items before saying, "There was a girl here earlier. Looked like she worked in construction."
"You must mean Lindsay Swanson." Carla grabbed his box of instant potatoes. "Don'cha know she's your neighbor?"
Neighbor? He'd have come home early from his book tour if he'd known his neighbor was drop dead sexy. "The red and brown bungalow?"
"No. Her house is yellow. Will that be cash or charge?" Carla's slightly red-rimmed eyes never left his face. Jared knew she'd catalogued everything he bought and also knew, without a shred of doubt half the town would have full knowledge of his buying preference by tomorrow.
"Cash." He pulled out four twenties and handed them over. "Do you think her husband would mind if I asked where she got some of her plants?"
Carla entered the amount of cash received and waited for the register to open. "Who?"
"Husband," Carla snorted and began to paw through the money. "Lindsay's not married. She's too busy with Best Laid Plans."
"Best Laid Plans?"
"Her renovation business. She wants to rebuild Ravenwood one recycled plank board at a time."
"Renovations. Good to know."
Carla shut the till with a loud bang and held out his change. "Thank you for shopping at Food Mart."
Jared took his money and pushed the cart out to his truck. On the drive home he tried to figure out a way to meet the sexy neighbor. He could always borrow a cup of sugar.
"Hi. I'm your neighbor, Jared Kane. Can I borrow some sugar, Sugar?"
Nope. That was just plain creepy. She'd slam the door in his face faster than he could spit.
"Hi. I'm Jared. Do you know any good places to eat?"
Lame. Lame. Lame.
What was wrong with him? He created scenes and wrote dialogue for a living. Surely he could think of some witticism to break the ice and not come across as a sleazy lounge lizard.
He pulled into his drive and studied the front of her house. If this was a scene from one of his books, she'd come out onto the front porch, looking exceptionally hot and he'd introduce himself. But everything remained silent, so he entered his house and dropped the pizza box on the old Formica countertop in the kitchen. His cell phone vibrated and he glanced at the call display.
"My favorite author." Daran's crisp British accent whipped through the phone's speaker.
Jared waited for Daran to cut to the chase. Never one to mince words, it didn't take long.
"How far are you in the manuscript?"
The manuscript in question, Double Crossed, sat neglected in the laptop upstairs. He took the stairs two at a time and entered a small bedroom he'd converted into an office. While speaking with Daran he glanced out the window into the backyard. "Daran, I moved to Ravenwood to escape all the pressure and find peace and quiet. I don't-"
A flash of color in his neighbor's yard caught his interest. Lindsay, in a bright pink tank top and denim shorts, set up a lounge chair, sauntered back inside and returned with a book and a sandwich.
Most likely made with my loaf of bread.
Golden curls, slightly damp, skimmed her shoulders until she secured them into a loose ponytail. When she reached for her sandwich, Jared leaned into the window and- The phone vibrating in his hand jerked him back to his office. So engrossed with watching Lindsay, he'd terminated the call with Daran. What was wrong with him? It's not like he hadn't seen beautiful women sun tan before. With one last glance at the vision in pink, he answered his agent and paced back to the desk hoping she hadn't seen him through the window.
"Sorry, Daran. I must have hit the end key."
"No problem." A tight chuckle came from the other end. "Thought for a minute you'd cut me off on purpose. I have been riding you pretty hard, but if you don't produce, you'll lose your fan base and the publisher's good will."
"I know." Jared sat and faced the blank screen of his laptop. "I've got some chapters written and a rough outline of the rest. How 'bout I send you those and we'll go from there?"
After ending the call, Jared stretched back and stared at the ceiling. Five chapters into 'Double Crossed, he knew where the story was going, but words weren't flowing. This time there was nothing. It was like Homicide Detective Aiden Beaumont, his main character, had retired with no notice.
Frustrated, Jared shoved away from the desk and headed downstairs. What he needed was a fresh perspective. The past six years, ever since making the New York Times Bestseller list with his debut novel, At the Crossroads, his life had become a constant stream of conferences, speaking engagements and publicity appearances. Everybody wanted to know how he came up with his ideas. How could he explain the process when he no longer knew the answer himself?
So he'd moved to Ravenwood, a speck on the map west of Chicago, to recharge his batteries and take stock of his life. His grandmother had been born and raised here, and he always loved hearing her stories of community and how neighbors looked after each other.
He returned to the kitchen and grabbed a piece of pizza. Leaning against the counter, he studied the run down room. Peeling paint on walls and cupboards complemented curling linoleum and outdated countertops. A large five-burner Moffatt stove dominated one short wall, and a green Admiral fridge struggled to keep his milk cold.
Much like his dried up brain, this kitchen needed a complete overhaul. Luckily, he knew the perfect person for both jobs, and she happened to live next door.
About the Author:.
Sue Barr was born in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan, population 1300 + one or two. Her love of reading began at the tender ager of four and by the time she turned ten, she'd read almost every book in the tiny library tucked away in the back of the local carpet shop. Her father once stated that she'd better marry someone who could afford to keep her in books. After raising her family she decided it was time to put fingers to keyboard and write her own stories.
Her dreams came true in 2010 when she sold her first book to Turquoise Morning Press and quickly followed up with several successful sexy novellas under a pen name. In 2014, Sue made a personal decision to follow Christ and focus on writing Sweet Contemporary Romance. She regained the rights to all her works and the first thing she did was go through the story you just enjoyed, reformatting and editing the story line to meet the personal criteria she'd set for herself.
Sue is a PRO member of the Romance Writers of America and its satellite chapter Toronto Romance Writers. When not busy writing, she loves to spend time with family and friends, amazing them with her recall of completely trivial, nonsensical facts. She is also completely fluent in Starbucks Spanish. Grande Latte anyone?
To find out more about Sue, please visit her website:.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.
According To Plan Part 17
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According To Plan Part 17 summary
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