Authors: Natalie Ann
Text Copyright 2016 Natalie Ann
All Rights Reserved
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without a written consent.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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The Road Series
Lucas and Brooke’s Story-
Road to Recovery
Jack and Cori’s Story –
Road to Redemption
Mac and Beth’s Story-
Road to Reality
Ryan and Kaitlin’s Story-
Road to Reason
The All Series
Ben and Presley’s Story –
All or Nothing
Phil and Sophia’s Story –
All of Me
Alec and Brynn’s Story –
All the Way
Sean and Carly’s Story —
All I Want
Drew and Jordyn’s Story—
All My Love
Finn and Olivia’s Story—
All About You
Finn Abraham strode up the red brick walkway. Not too many homes had brick walkways in the northeast as most went for concrete, but the home he’d grown up in had a brick walkway and he wanted one for his son too.
Rubbing his eyes with his palms, he hoped he could convince his mother to stay a few more hours and watch Trey for him while he got some sleep.
Last night had been long, too long actually. Normally he was able to get some sleep during his twenty-four-hour shift at the fire department. Not last night, though.
Nope, last night there were two fires. One kitchen fire that the homeowners tried to contain but failed miserably, and then waited too long to call the fire department. That resulted in the destruction of their first floor.
The second fire wasn’t so bad, but still had caused plenty of damage to the house. All things considered, he supposed it was a good night. No injuries to the crew he captained or the homeowners. He’d take it as a win.
Opening the front door, he toed his shoes off, put his captain’s hat on the hook, and walked a few steps further in to see his mother rocking his infant son.
“Shh, I just got him to sleep. Why don’t you go to bed now? You look like you could use it. You had a rough night,” his mother said. Becca should be at work by now since it was her first day back.
He nodded his head. “Thanks.”
No need to say anything else. He knew his parents had a scanner at their house and were always listening when he was on duty. They hated the line of work he went into, something he wanted to do since he was a child, but they stood by and supported him even through their fears.
He walked up the stairs to his bedroom, opened the door, pulled his shirt over his head, and tossed it toward the hamper. When it missed, he could have cared less at that point. Then he unbuttoned his pants, slid them down, and sat on the bed to kick them away before he yanked off his socks. He turned to pull the covers back and drop off into oblivion.
Only there was an envelope on his pillow. Frowning, he picked it up, pulled the paper out, and read the few lines. Not believing what he was seeing, he read it again.
It couldn’t be. She wouldn’t have. It had to be a joke.
Rushing to the closet, he shoved the door to the side and walked in, his heart pounding in his chest, squeezing the last breath out. He knew at this point—he didn’t have to look to have it confirmed—he was feeling the dread in the hollow of his stomach. Half of the closet was empty…just hangers where clothes used to be.
He always knew Becca was immature and selfish, but he never expected this. How could she leave her son like that? How she could walk away from a baby without a word, without saying goodbye?
Four years later
Finn reached up over his head and fitted the pipe to the new sprinkler system. He was just picking up another pipe when he heard the click of heels on the subflooring behind him.
Looking over his shoulder, he caught sight of a purposeful stride on some extremely toned legs showcased in tan-colored pants. Pants that seemed to be painted on but weren’t tight, if that was possible. Soft looking, that’s what it was.
And those soft-looking pants showed off the flex of her muscles in each movement. Riding pants, he recalled the name now, at least it looked like it to him.
Quickly his eyes shifted up, lingered on the flowing shirt that just reached her hips, but was clinging slightly as she walked forward all full of confidence and a little out of breath. In a hurry, maybe?
She stopped in front of him, her dirty blonde hair pulled back severely from her face, making her green eyes shine bright as they looked up at him. She was talking, but he didn’t hear a word of it. “I’m sorry. Can I help you?”
She smiled at him, as if she knew he hadn’t been listening to a word she’d said, but was rather assessing her.
“I thought I was the first one here this morning. When I pulled around back, the building was dark.” She stopped and looked at her watch. “I had to make a phone call but guess I was on longer than I realized. That always happens.”
She still hadn’t answered his question, but that was fine. He was enjoying the smoothness of her voice. Even though she was rattling a little, it was a strong voice full of spirit.
“No problem.” He looked around the empty storefront, barren of even walls at this point, not to mention a ceiling. Old wiring was sticking out everywhere and he was just installing the sprinkler system. “We aren’t open for business.”
She tilted her head to the side, almost as if she was humoring him, only not in a degrading way. “I’m aware of that.” She took a step closer and extended her hand out. “I’m Olivia Hartman. I’m assuming you work for Harper’s. Otherwise I should probably get a little nervous wondering why you’re in here.”
Teasing. He saw it there behind those vivid green eyes. He took a step down on the ladder and reached for her hand, expecting it to be soft and flimsy.
It was soft, all right, but firm and almost powerful, gripping his palm and squeezing it harder than he expected.
“Finn Abraham, and yes, I work for Harper’s.”
“I’ll stay out of your way. I’m just going to work on inventory in the back.” She nodded once, shot him another smile, almost questioning this time, then ducked her head. Shyness now? That seemed out of place. “It’s nice to meet you.”
She walked away, her shoulders squared, her head held high, the swish of her ponytail moving across her back. He couldn’t help it, his eyes roamed over the back of her, which was just as lovely as the front, and then landed on the little brown ankle boots she was sporting. Shaking his head, he grabbed the next pipe, took a step back up on the ladder and continued working.
But he couldn’t stop thinking of her. How could he? Olivia Hartman, the owner. Nothing at all what he envisioned. He didn’t know anything about her and wasn’t a good judge of a woman’s age. Not unless they were young and childish, the kind he always seemed to attract and wanted no part of ever again.
No, she looked closer to his age, maybe a few years younger…early thirties, possibly. Sophisticated for sure. Cultured might be a better word. Definitely put together.
He would have expected her to be covered in jewels, portraying the part of a classy woman, pampered even, but she wore no jewelry other than a large pair of diamond earrings. There was no way to miss them, not with her hair pulled back so tightly.
Still, she looked to be out of his league.
He didn’t need someone else to take care of. If he was looking at all, he was looking for someone who could stand on her own, who was independent enough to not rely on him all the time and definitely not someone who was only out for a good time.
Olivia Hartman looked to be a classy, cultured, sophisticated party girl. Dressed to the nines, even casually. Totally not for him.
Olivia closed the door to the back room behind her, got on her tiptoes and as quietly as she could, danced around in excitement—her hands in the air waving about, twirling in a circle until she was almost out of breath. Then inhaling deeply, she did it again and resisted the urge to squeal.
My own store. It’s coming true. It’s coming together
. The joy was almost bouncing off her.
After she’d ended the call with her mother, she all but ran to the front of the building to unlock the door and see what work had been done. The last thing she expected was to see someone working already.
Then again, whenever she got on the phone with her mother, Victoria, she couldn’t get a word in edgewise and finally had to cut her call short. “Yes, Mom, I’m doing well,” she’d said. “Really, everything is coming together, and I’m so excited. I’m thrilled they finished the back room for me first. Now, can I please hang up and go see what else they’re doing? I haven’t been in the building since I made the offer to buy it.”
Her mother had laughed at her, a happy giddy sound, and Olivia knew Victoria was just as excited as she was over it all. “Yes, dear. Go do your thing. I’ll talk to you later.”
Once she realized someone was in the building working though, she schooled her features, and put her best businessperson look on her face.
, she reminded herself.
Be strong, you’ve got this. You can do this. It’s your business. You’re the owner, so take charge.
So with her best foot forward, she strutted right up to the man on the ladder and started talking.
Only, she could tell he didn’t hear a word she said. Not surprising. She tended to have that effect on men, so she just waited and continued to smile. She wouldn’t take advantage of it, not again. Not ever again.
Time for a change. Time for a new life. She didn’t need a man and she could do this. On her own. By herself.
When he asked her if he could help her again, she pretended as if she hadn’t already explained why she was there and just answered his question a second time. She tried not to laugh when he looked around the room and told her they hadn’t opened yet. But again, she kept her smile in place and proceeded to put on the face of a cool and capable businessperson who knew what she wanted and knew how to get it.
All the while, though, she couldn’t help but notice him. He was tall, that was obvious. He didn’t need to be standing a few steps up on a ladder for her to realize it either. He had long legs, too. Since she had them herself, she noticed and appreciated it on others.
The rest of him wasn’t too bad either, not overly muscular, which was nice, but toned arms stood out against his plain blue T-shirt. His hand was rough and calloused and oh so nice when he held hers. She’d never been around men with rough and calloused hands before. Not until she came to Saratoga.
And if his hands were rough, his face was even more so. He wasn’t smooth, polished, and gorgeous like the men she was typically drawn to. No three-piece suit or designer labels on him. They’d look ridiculous on him anyway.
The scruff of his beard, not long, and not trimmed to his face, but rather that of someone who woke up late and forgot to shave…for several days. The color of his facial hair matched the brown of his hair, cropped short on the sides and back and just slightly longer on the top. Easy. That’s what his style showed.
Her eyes dropped to his left hand, no wedding band. Though she wasn’t looking to get involved with anyone, it was a hard habit to break. Not that all married men wore wedding bands, but married men were off limits. She didn’t even talk to most married men, not if they showed any signs of being attracted to her.
One rule in her life: stay away from a married man. She’d seen enough cheating, starting with her father, and it was the one thing that could turn her cold in a heartbeat.
Taking a deep breath, she wiped those thoughts from her mind. She wasn’t here to find a man. She didn’t even want to look or think about one, regardless of her assessment of the manly Finn Abraham she’d just encountered.
She walked to the vault door, punched in the code, and pulled it open. Taking a few steps in, she looked around. The shelves were mainly bare, but that was fine. She wasn’t ready for more inventory anyway. This was the time she could use to create her own pieces.
Grabbing what she needed, she closed the vault door with her hip and got to work.
Three hours later, she could no longer push the sounds of construction out of her head. She’d heard the men coming and going, the sound of a few tools on and off, but it was nonstop now. Saw, drills, nail guns, voices and music. Time for a break. Looking at her watch, she noticed it was close to lunch. It was as good a time as any.
Picking up her purse, she walked out, locked the room, and headed toward the front entrance. She took note of three more men, smiled at them briefly, then walked over to Finn again.
On impulse she said, “I’ll be back. I’m just going to take a quick lunch. Can I bring you guys back a pizza?” She hadn’t missed how most of the tools stopped when she walked over to Finn.
“We’re good, but thanks.”
“Maybe the rest of us want a pizza, did you think of that?” one of the men shouted over to Finn, laughter in his voice.
“Well, then. I guess the crew would like a pizza,” Finn amended, lifting his eyes to whoever shouted that. “But please, don’t go out of your way.”
“It’s not out of my way. Besides, maybe if I feed you guys, you’ll work faster.”
His lips quirked up at that. “We work pretty fast, but pizza might slow the crew down.”
“Oh.” Her smiled dropped. She hadn’t thought of that. “Stopping too long for lunch?”
“No. Working slower to stay here longer and get a glimpse of you,” the man who said he wanted pizza shouted, causing everyone else to laugh, and Finn to frown.
She put her smile back in place. She should have figured that, and she was touched to see Finn stare the man down who made the joke. “Well then, maybe it can work the other way. I guess I’ll have to try, right?”
Finn nodded. “Your choice, but the crew would appreciate the pizza just the same.”
“The crew. Does that include you?”
The frown was gone, humor in his eyes. “I’m part of the crew.”
“Well then, I guess I’ll get that pizza. Anything in particular on the pizza?”
“Meat,” another man shouted, then laughed. “We’re men, and we like meat.”
She lifted her eyes to Finn and saw his grin this time. “You heard them.”
“Meat it is. I can handle meat just fine.”
One eyebrow lifted and she fought the heat from creeping up her neck. Where did the confident businessperson go? She didn’t just tell him and three other men she could handle meat just fine. Ugh. However, she kept her smile in place and pretended they didn’t take it any other way than she meant it, innocently.
“Thanks again,” Finn said, sensing her discomfort, but not really letting on in front of everyone.
With nothing else left to say, she turned on her heel and walked to the front door, aware of four pairs of eyes on her every move.