HOME SWEET HOME.
Dear God, what had she done? No one pulled out a map, closed their eyes and pointed to a place to start their life. Let alone travel halfway across the country to a place you’d never heard of and knew no one. Only insane people did that. Was it any wonder her family had been concerned for her? She had definitely lost her mind, and she wouldn’t be at all surprised if her mother marked this day on her calendar.
August eighth, two thousand twenty, Cassandra Evans loses her mind.
Yet, she couldn’t be happier.
Standing before the tall two-story house with its white siding, looking a little worn, the brown trim peeling around the window and the lawn in desperate need of maintenance, Cassie couldn’t be happier.
Her first home, and though it was small compared to her parents’ home where she had lived all of the twenty-eight years of her life, it was home. And honestly, what did she need a bigger home for anyway?
Lifting the latch on the hip-high white picket gate, Cassie made her way to her new home. When the front door opened and a tall, goofy-cute gentleman in a dark navy suit stepped out onto the porch, she put on her best smile. And the reaction on his face at seeing her made that smile lift even more.
She knew what he saw, what everyone saw when they looked at her. More than once she’d been compared to Marilyn Monroe. Her natural blonde hair curled in waves around a delicate face and hung past her shoulders. She had the same Marilyn sultry lips and the same dreamy eyes, or so she had been told plenty of times. She was a full-figured girl who proudly liked to display her D-sized breasts in tight shirts, tanks and dresses. She didn’t dress ostentatiously, but if you’ve got it, why hide it? And from the looks of the hang-jawed look of the man before her, he liked what he saw.
“You must be Steven Welsh. Pleased to finally meet you.” Stepping up the three steps to the porch, Cassie held her hand out to the gentleman. His mouth still hung open.
“One and the same, sugar though I prefer Cassie.” She took the hand he held out to her.
“You’re early, not that that’s a bad thing. I just got here myself.”
“I believe in being early. Catch people off guard.” She winked at him and actually saw his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed.
“Yes, well…would you like to see your new home?”
She made him blush. “I would love to.” He stepped aside to allow her through the door, and passing him she could see his cheeks blushed up even more. “Well,” she said simply as she stepped into the small entryway.
She entered the living room, which couldn’t be more than twelve feet by ten feet. She knew from previous discussions with Steven that the brick fireplace had been renovated only a year ago. It certainly took space from the already small room. The walls were white, the floor carpeted in a sandy brown.
To the left of the living room stood a staircase in the same sandy carpet. Moving past the stairs, she walked into the dining room which was only a few inches smaller than the living room. To the left, the kitchen. An island separated the two rooms with counters in white and appliances in stainless steel. Her parents’ cabin was bigger than this place.
But it was home.
“Those appliances are only a year old. The previous owners were remodeling before they left.”
“Hmm,” she replied while taking the stairs up to the second floor. The walls leading up were also white, and the doors and trim all in some sort of wood that resembled faux oak. To the left were two small bedrooms, which were smaller then her closet back home. To her right stood the washroom. Cassie was aghast that it didn’t have a Jacuzzi. That would be remedied.
Entering the master bedroom, it surprised her to see how much larger this room was compared to the other two by a great deal, and also had a walk-in closet. She nearly snickered when she stepped inside and barely had room to turn in a complete circle. Whoever designed this had no idea what a walk-in closet really was.
And again, white adorned every wall, and every trim in faux wood.
“I’ll need a list of designers.”
Cassie shifted, her mouth curving in only the slightest bit of a smile. “Decorators. Who do you recommend?”
“Oh, well, there really is only one guy in town that does…some decorating. Actually, he lives next door. I could get you his number—”
“Or I could go over and see him. I like it,” she said, turning to face him. “I really like it.”
“Well, it needs some work, like paint, new doors, and the carpet needs to be removed downstairs. Aside from that, it’s good. I like it.” A good thing too, because she’d already paid for it in full.
“Wonderful,” he said on a long sigh. “Here you go.”
She took the keys he held out to her, curling her fingers around them, and smiled. “You’ve been such a doll, Steven. Taking care of all the business here for me, finding the house and a space for my shop. I don’t know what I would have done without you.” She leaned in, simply because she couldn’t resist making him blush even more, and kissed his cheek.
“If there’s anything you need, I’m but a phone call away.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“What time are your things arriving?” he asked while walking back to the front door.
“Great. Well, welcome to Passion, Cassie.”
“Thank you, Steven.” Escorting him to the door, she decided to take a walk around her property and see what the outside had to offer. She waved to him as he walked away.
It was a warm sunny day. Stripping off her coral blazer, Cassie tossed it over the porch railing, kicked off her heels and walked along the sidewalk examining her yard. Dear God, she’d need to mow the lawn, wouldn’t she? Why hadn’t she thought of that before? And didn’t flower beds need maintaining? Oh, wow, she hadn’t thought of any of that. Maybe there she could pay a neighbourhood kid to take care of it for her.
“No,” she told herself. “You wanted this, you will take care of it.” She mentally added a lawn mower to her list of things to pick up when she went shopping and hoped she could figure out how to work one.
The sidewalk led to the back of the house, which seemed quite large and boasted a two-car garage. She had her work cut out for her if she planned on mowing all that grass.
Movement next door caught her attention, and walking towards the fence that separated her lawn from her only neighbour, her jaw nearly dropped to the ground. Standing on a ladder that leaned against the house was a man in tight cut-off jean shorts and nothing more. His body was bronze and rippling with muscles. Lord, he had muscles. His arms, his back and even his legs. He had long, sandy blonde hair, tied at the back of his head. She felt the drool slide down her chin and did nothing to wipe it away.
Sweet heavenly God, that man is magnificent.
“Ex—” She cleared the lump in her throat. “Excuse me.” Oh, baby, look at those muscles bunch as he moves.“Hi.” She swallowed the drool about to dribble down her chin.
“I’m your new neighbour.” And hadn’t she hit the jackpot with him. Who could ask for a better neighbour than a god like that? “Cassie Evans.”
“Welcome to the neighborhood, Miss Evans.”
Those muscles rippled when he climbed down the ladder, and she actually felt herself moisten watching them. “Thank you. My stuff will be arriving this afternoon. The realtor told me you do some decorating.”
“Depends on what you mean by decorating.”
Even his face was magnificent. It was long, sharp and damn sexy in those dark glasses that unfortunately hid his eyes. And the closer he got, the more she saw. He had a firm muscular chest which glistened with a light film of sweat. She was about to start drooling again. “I’m looking at having carpet removed and replaced with hardwood, doors replaced, maybe even windows and the entire house painted inside and out.”
“Well,” he swept a hand across his brow. “I do floors, I do doors, but I don’t paint, and I know someone who does windows.”
He even had a sexy voice. Deep, low and a little scratchy. “Okay. Do you know who I could contact to paint my house?”
“I know a guy who does interior and exterior. I can get his number for you.”
“I would appreciate that.” She shifted, suddenly feeling a great deal warmer than she had earlier. “I didn’t catch your name.”
“Because I never gave it. Thomas Healy, but everyone calls me Tom.”
She held her hand out to him “Pleasure to meet you, Thomas.” She winked, taking his hand and giving it a good squeeze before releasing it regretfully. Thomas suited him better. “Have you lived here long?”
Thomas hooked his thumbs through his belt loops, and she nearly sighed as they dipped just a bit lower revealing a thin line of hair from his navel down. If he looked like a god, she could only imagine what the parts that were hidden looked like. And if she didn’t stop imagining it, she’d end up embarrassing herself.
“About five years now.”
“Oh, you didn’t grow up here?”
“I came from Calgary, so this is a big change for me.” From big city life to small town living.
“I imagine so. Well, I need to get back to my gutters.”
“Oh, is that what you were doing up on the ladder? Okay, I guess I’ll see you around, neighbour.” She cast him a flirty smile before walking back to her house.