Build a Love by Suzy Shearer

Build a Love by Suzy Shearer

Build a Love

by Suzy Shearer

Siren-Bookstrand

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-63258-600-1
Print ISBN: 1632590565

[ Contemporary Romance, MMF ]

Harriet Kempton is shocked when she meets two handsome builders and feels an instant attraction to them both. But can she get over her past and move on? Even more important – can she accept a relationship with not one but two men?

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Chapter One


“Yes, I’m certainly able to get it finished by the end of the week, Mr. Black. I’ll give you a call when it is ready to be collected.

“Of course. Yes, she was a beautiful subject to paint. I’ll have a good day, you have a nice day also. Thank you. Goodbye.”

Much as I enjoy my work, some of my clients drive me crazy!

I had taken on the task of painting the very rich and eccentric Mr. Black’s Chihuahua, Muffy, and after the first sitting I was regretting it. Mr. Black hovered over the dog and me, driving us both crazy. In the end, I took a few dozen photographs and after reassuring him that I would get all the dog’s facial nuances correct, they left.

Since then I have had a phone call from him every other day, asking how progress was, telling me how much the dog was looking forward to seeing it and wondering if he and Muffy should come over to check on things. I actually only had a few more hours’ work on the piece and it would be finished.

Each time the phone rang, I would grit my teeth and hope it wasn’t him. I kept telling myself “remember the commission”—it would be the final amount I needed to pay for my renovation of the studio without getting into debt.

I work as an artist and take commissions as well as doing book covers and illustrations. I have a steady good income from the book work, so any commissions I take on give me extra money. My studio needed enlarging, I needed more storage space and wanted a separate area where I could setup my commission work without interfering with any other work. I had two easels but it was crowded when they were both in use. If I had commission work, I was known for my portraits and nudes. I wanted the separate area arranged for that.

I had finally settled on a design with B.A.C. Constructions. I spent time getting a number of quotes from different builders, theirs wasn’t the cheapest but it was the most professional. They had branches interstate and had a good reputation when I did some online sleuthing.

My design had been approved by the local Council and now I just needed to iron out the little details before I gave the company permission to proceed. The best thing was Mr. Black’s portrait of Muffy would give me a little extra just in case I wanted anything added along the way.

This afternoon I had an appointment scheduled with the person who would be overseeing the project, so hopefully they would be able to start immediately. I was a little disappointed. The company secretary had rung to say the overseer I had been working with was suddenly sent to a different project and now I had to deal with someone new. I just hope he, or she, was not the pushy type who figured they knew more than the client did and refuse to compromise.

A little more work on Muffy, then I cleaned up my brushes before the person arrived. B.A.C. had just told me that the new person would be here around one this afternoon for a “walk-through” and to finalise any small details before they set a date to start work.

I brushed my hair. It was down to my waist and in a messy pony tail, so I quickly braided it into a single plait down my back. I made sure I had no paint on my face and checked I looked reasonably tidy. Although, if whoever it was didn’t like paint stained jeans and T-shirt, that was their bad luck. I was ready just before the doorbell rang a few minutes after one.

I was a little surprised when I opened the door. The man in front of me was rather cute and I could vaguely remember seeing him a few times in the offices when I had dropped off some information with the company.

Mr. Cutie held out his hand.

“Hi. Harriet Kempton? I’m Bryan Garrett, call me Bryan.”

His handshake was firm and I felt a tingle of electricity, or at least chemical attraction. He was all muscle, very tall, broad and maybe 6’8” to my 5’9”. He had gray hair, well more salt and pepper, I guess. He looked to be around forty-five and he had gorgeous blue eyes: you know, the ones that seem ice blue and oh-so sexy.

“Hello Bryan, come in please.”

I stood aside and then shut the door behind him. He stood against the wall and let me lead the way down to the studio. I had a door that linked it to my house through the large kitchen-family room now, but would have a doorway in the studio itself in the renovations so I would no longer have to have clients walk through the house.

He looked around the room and out through the windows.

“You have plenty of room for the extension. I understand you want a separate entrance, another large room, a storage area, bathroom, and a small kitchen area?”

“Yes, that’s correct. I don’t want to drag people through the house any longer. I also want the windows here on the northern side increased in size to match the ones in the extension.”

He looked at the windows, then me. “Do you need them that large? I mean that’ll take up almost the entire wall.”

I got the impression he thought it was a silly idea.

“I’m aware of that but it lets in natural light and I prefer to work that way.”

He nodded. “That makes sense.” Then he continued to prowl.

“The brief said you wanted to be able to open the window wall in the extension all the way.”

“Yes”

“And you want a kitchen? Isn’t it just as easy to use the one you have? I mean it is just behind the main wall.”

For some reason I got the idea he was trying to egg me on. I tried to remain professional.

“I know how close it is, however I hate dragging palettes in there to wash them. I also would prefer to be able to offer my clients a coffee or a cool drink from here and not leave them in here alone.”

“Okay, I didn’t think of that.”

I felt like saying “thank you” in a sarcastic voice but I refrained. This guy, cute as he was, was starting to rub me the wrong way.

“You mention that you’d like a covered deck on the side and a covered verandah at the front.”

“Yes.”

He looked at me as if expecting me to explain why but I refused to.

“And you want double French doors that open onto the side deck?”

“Yes.”

“So the verandah at the front will match what is already on your house.”

“Yes”

“Plus you want something erected to screen that side deck from the front verandah?”

“Yes.” I was getting exasperated.

He looked at me, there was a tiny smirk on his face. At that point I knew he was annoying me on purpose and was doing it just to see what I would do.

“You’d like to start this as soon as possible, I imagine.”

“Yes, please.”

The smirk got a little bigger.

“I read you wanted a powder room put in as well, big enough to be a change room and have a toilet and hand basin.”

“Yes.” He was really irking me now.

“Okay. I think I have the idea.”

“Good. When can you start?”

“It is Wednesday today, so how about next Monday? We have approval so we can start the foundations. I just needed to get a feel for the build now that I am taking over the site management.”

It sounded like his needling me was over. He moved back to where I had been standing. I could smell his cologne, very musky and masculine.

“How long will it take?”

“Providing the weather is kind, about six to eight weeks.”

That would work out well. I had cleared my commission work for the next ten weeks. Only had a first sitting for a portrait then and a week later a sitting for a nude, which I was hoping could happen in my new extension. My other work as an illustrator would continue, actually, it would give me a chance to get up-to-date with that.

He spread out the plans, pulled on a pair of reading glasses and asked me to check they were correct. I pulled on my glasses, leant over the desk and could feel him close beside me as I read them.

Pointing to the back deck I asked, “Can you go down on here?”

I looked at him and I think that smirk was back.

“You want me to go down on there?”

I think I blushed when I realised how he had taken my words. I tried to set him right.

“I just wondered if you could take the decking down along the side of the house. It could link up with the old deck I have in the back of my house.”

“Oh, I see.” He was definitely smirking. “Yes, we can do that.”

He moved to where I wanted the storage area.

“There’s a cabinet to be placed in here. To replace this old one. Very deep with drawers. You want the bottom two drawers to be deeper. Wouldn’t it be easier for you if they were all similar in size or if you had the deeper ones at the top? Easy to reach for you.”

There was an old set of map drawers I used, so I got down on my haunches in front of them. He followed me over. I looked up at him, my hand on the bottom drawer.

“When I go down, sometimes it gets hard and I have to pull a lot.”

His face contorted as if he was holding back a laugh. I was puzzled until I realised what I had said and how he had taken it. I blushed, especially when I realised my face was at crotch height and, unless I was very mistaken, there was an interesting bulge that was growing somewhat.

“The drawers, they get hard to pull. I thought if they were deeper, I would be able to pull them easy, plus I could fit more in. I prefer to store things in the bottom ones that I don’t use as often.”

Still grinning he replied, “Oh yes, I see.”

Great! This was not going well. I went to stand and he held his hand out for me. I did not want to appear rude so I took it. He pulled me up close to him and held onto my hand a little longer than necessary.

“Okay. I’ll just write all this up so it’s clear.”

He looked around for somewhere to sit. The two office chairs were covered in piles of papers, I was trying to move things before the work started. There was a chaise longue that I used, often with my nudes, that was clear except for a cushion so he sat there. Bryan pushed the cushion closer to the end and I gave a start when I saw something purple sticking out.

I groaned softly.

I remembered I had come in here with my friendly rabbit last night. I love lying on the chaise, I was intending to relax and play when the phone had rung and I had tossed it on the chaise. I sent a silent prayer up “please don’t move the cushion again” and tried to look relaxed.

Bryan was writing and had not heard, or took no notice of, my groan. He finished writing and looked up at me.

“Can you check this, please?”

I watched in dismay as he reached for and picked up the cushion, throwing it on the floor. There in all its glory was my purple rabbit.

Please floor, please open and swallow me up!

He looked at the rabbit, then me. Picking it up, he handed it to me.

“You may need this.”

I grabbed it off him and tried to shove it in the drawer of my work desk. Instead, it caught on something and as I tried to jiggle it in the damn thing switched on. The more I tried the worse things got. In the end, I ripped it out of the drawer, turned it off, dashed into the main house and threw it on the counter.

Taking a deep breath to compose myself, I walked back into the studio. He was almost bent double with laughter. I have never been so embarrassed in my life. Bryan looked up at me and tried hard to look professional. I gritted my teeth and asked him if there was anything else he needed from me.

“No, but I’m available if you need anything from me.”

My blush got deeper as I realised what he was offering. He stood and my eyes were drawn to the bulge in his pants. I pulled my eyes upward and saw he was watching me.

I was so flustered, I wanted him out—now! Turning, I led the way through the door. I could feel him behind me. We reached the kitchen, the rabbit sitting there in all its glory. I rushed passed and went to the front door.

“It’s been very interesting meeting you, Ms. Kempton. I’m really looking forward to working with you. I’ll um…I’ll see you on Monday morning about seven-thirty or eight o’clock.”

I cleared my throat and shook his hand. “Thank you, Mr. Garrett.”

The smile on his face was so wicked, I just knew exactly what he was thinking and what his words had meant.

He nodded his head and walked away. I slammed the door and leant against it. Oh hell, that was so embarrassing and, if I was honest, a turn-on.

I walked back to the kitchen. The rabbit looked so innocent lying there. Well I would show it!

I recalled that delightful bulge in the front of Mr. Bryan Garret’s jeans and the sexy glint in his eye. There was no doubt I was attracted to him and unless I was very wrong, he was attracted to me. However, I had no intention of acting on it, there was no way was I getting involved with any man. A quick fuck was all I was interested in and certainly not with someone I would be seeing on a daily basis over the next month or so. But that didn’t stop me from thinking about him. He was so cute and the sort of man that I could learn to quickly love, if I ever allowed myself.

I was leaning against the kitchen counter thinking about him and imagining that bulge. If I closed my eyes, I could still hear his sexy voice asking me if I wanted him to go down. I was rubbing my hands across my boobs, and even through the T-shirt and my bra I could feel my nipples getting hard. With my other hand, I undid and unzipped my jeans.

I would make that rabbit pay for what it did!

I pushed my hand in between my panties and my skin and was just running my fingers between my wet slit when the doorbell rang.

Fuck!

Fumbling, I quickly did the button up on my jeans. I tried to smooth down my T-shirt, my damn nipples were sticking out like headlamps. Moving down the hall, I opened the door to see Bryan Garret.

“Sorry I left my reading glasses in your studio. I wonder…” He stopped and looked down at my nipples, his eyes then dropping lower, and he looked up grinning

I quickly looked down and saw not only were my nipples all but shouting, I had forgotten to zip up the fly on my jeans and it was gaping open. Mr. Sexy Garrett got a good eyeful of my lacy red knickers and bare skin.

I ran my hand across my forehead, tried to act natural as I turned and zipped up my jeans. Leading the way back, I stood in the kitchen as he walked into the studio and picked up his glasses from the chaise longue.

Bryan returned and stood in front of me, his eyes smouldering as he whispered huskily, “I can do a much better job than a piece of plastic.”

I know I licked my lips. He put one hand on either side of me on the counter. He was so close, I would only have to stand on my toes to kiss him. I tried to ignore him, tried to pretend I was not attracted as I put my hands on his chest to push him away. It felt rock solid, so wide and hard.

Instead of moving away, he bent his head down and kissed me softly.

Damn. I was doing so well in resisting up until then.

He pressed the advantage and deepened the kiss, trying to force his tongue between my teeth. For a moment I kept my teeth clamped shut, but my body had its own idea and I opened up. His tongue dove in before I could change my mind. That kiss was heavenly. It had been so many years since I had let a man kiss me.

He could certainly kiss—my tongue and his were in a wrestling match. I had his shirt bunched up in my fists on his chest. I felt his arms go around me. I was fighting a losing battle and gave up. Returning his kiss, my tongue pushed passed his into his mouth. I could feel my panties were drenched.

Finally, we broke apart, both breathing heavily.

He reached down to my jeans.

Shit!

What was I doing?

I would be seeing him every day, so I couldn’t let him get to me. What was I doing letting him kiss me?

I pushed his hands away, then pushed him.

“Stop! Please stop.”

He looked quizzically at me, my mouth may be saying no but it was obviously to anyone that my body was saying yes.

“Are you sure?”

I groaned breathlessly, “Yes.” Whispering, I said, “Yes, please stop.”

He stepped back, his eyes on my face.

“Sorry.” He cocked his head and continued, “I don’t think you really want to and I know I don’t. But I respect the word ‘stop.’” He gave a grin. “I really want to get to know you. I’d love to take you out, learn all about you.”

I shook my head. “No. That will never happen.” I was getting agitated, I could feel myself starting to panic. “Just go, get out now!”

“Are you sure?”

Yes!” I screamed at him. Any minute I would be out of control completely. “Get out!”

Bryan looked at me in surprise, taken aback by my over-the-top reaction. He nodded, then walked away down the hall. I heard the front door open and closed as I sank down to the floor, my eyes filling with unshed tears as I went into full meltdown.

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