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Authors: Sable Hunter

Pretty Face (5 page)

BOOK: Pretty Face
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Hunter couldn’t help but be aware of Cody Napier as she deftly took control of the situation. Her hands were delicate and soft as she held his. She smelled like wild flowers and her hair was silky, framing a very pretty face despite the scar. “I appreciate this.”

“No problem. I’ll be glad to pay your doctor bill, if you think you need to go.”

“Heck, no. This isn’t the first time I’ve done something like this. I let my concentration wander. I’ve had a lot on my mind. The accident was my fault.”

His words didn’t make Cody feel any better. She knew Sage Donovan was on his mind. Her lies were what had hurt him as surely as if she’d taken a knife and ripped his flesh. “There.” She finished affixing a small, neat bandage to the cut. “If you don’t feel like continuing, please feel free to take off early.”

Hunter looked at her handiwork. “Very professional. Thank you.” He smiled. “You’re very kind. I don’t think I’ll have a problem continuing.” Her touch had been soothing. He had enjoyed it and for some reason that revelation bothered him. “If you’ll excuse me.”

“Of course.” Feeling effectively dismissed, Cody put away the first-aid supplies and turned to go. When she entered the safety of her office, she sank to the floor. Clasping her hands around her knees, she bowed her head. This was torture, pure torture. Squeezing her eyes shut, she relived the wonder of cradling his hand in hers, of touching his skin. How could she endure? Could she act halfway normal and not arouse his suspicions? A hiccupped sob slipped from her lips. The risk wasn’t that Hunter would become suspicious that she was Sage, the more likely probability would be that he would presume her to be a daft sex-starved old maid.

He would be right.

In the kitchen, Hunter finished tearing out the bar. As soon as he found out the location of the neighborhood dump, he’d haul the debris off for her. For a moment, he stopped to study Cody’s drawing. She wanted an island constructed between the pantry and the wall that contained the refrigerator, and he wasn’t certain it would work. Before he could proceed, Hunter needed more information. Walking to the doorway, he gazed down the hall. He wasn’t sure which room she was working in. “Ms. Napier?”

Cody jumped a bit when her name was called. She’d been paying a few bills online. Rising to her feet, she went to the door, pushing her hair nervously over her shoulder. “Yes? And please call me Cody.”

“All right, Cody.” He nodded his head, giving her a slight smile. “I’d like to show you something if you have time.” Hugging the wall, he gave her room to pass, then he explained. “I think you need to consider moving the island about half a foot toward the window. If you don’t, I’m afraid the refrigerator door will bump it every time you open it.”

Cody studied her drawing. “You’re right. Please make whatever changes you deem necessary. My crude sketch is merely a suggestion.”

“No,” Hunter responded quickly, kneeling to measure and draw a chalk line on the floor where he thought the edge of the island should go. “Believe me, I appreciate your efforts. This will help things go smoothly, I promise.”

Cody smiled at the faint praise. While she was there, she admired his progress. “You got a lot done today. This should go fast.”

“I think so. I’ll do my best.”

Seeing he was concentrating on his work, she left, not wanting to bother him further. “Thank you, Hunter.”

When she said his name, he jerked around to watch her walk softly down the wall. The oddest sense of déjà vu took Hunter’s breath away.

 

*  *  *

 

When it was time for Hunter to leave, he came to her office to let her know. “I’ll be back in the morning.”

“Okay, have a good night.” She had the door open about six inches. The scarred part of her face was hidden.

Hunter pivoted to walk away, then paused. “Look, you’ve got a big project here. It’s going to take some time. Would you be averse to my working past five a few days a week?”

Cody shook her head. “No, whatever would be easier for you.”

“Great.” He smiled a beautiful smile that made Cody go weak in the knees, then he was gone.

“Whew!” She leaned against the wall. This was nuts. “I ought to write a book about this, it would be a best seller,” she mumbled, then sadly laughed. “I’d have to make up the happy ending, but the rest could be real-life.”

When she entered the kitchen to get a snack, it occurred to Cody that she would need to make other arrangements for her meals. Oh well, she always had her grill and the slow-cooker. Opening the refrigerator, she was disturbed to find a brown bag with Hunter’s name on it inside. “You didn’t eat,” she groaned. “What am I going to do with you, Hunter Reed?”

When her cell phone rang, she stood up so abruptly, Cody cracked her head on the bottom of the overhead freezer door. “Ouch!” Holding the soon-to-be bump, she went to grab it. “Hello-ow-ow-ow,” she moaned.

“What’s wrong, Sage?”

Hunter’s voice was filled with so much concern, Cody almost melted. “I hit my head on the refrigerator door.”

He chuckled. “You must be hungry.”

“Starving,” she admitted. “I didn’t eat much today.” She’d been too busy mooning over him from a distance.

“Invite me over and I’ll sate your appetite.” His seductive teasing tone sent shivers over Cody’s skin.

“I wish,” she said with a sigh.

“This is one wish I could fulfill—now—tonight. Tell me where you are, baby. I need you so much.”

Suddenly the whole thing was just too much for her. Cody began to cry. “I’m so sorry.”

“Hey, hey…” Hunter’s heart swelled with love. “Don’t be sad. I’m right here. So close. Just say the word and I’ll kiss those tears away.”

Cody’s mind whirled, desperately seeking a way—any way. If only she could meet with him in the dark, where he couldn’t see her. But that was just stupid. “Tell me about your day.” She tried to change the subject. There was silence for a moment.

“Okay, we’ll play it your way for a while, baby. I’m committed to be here for a few weeks. I took a job renovating this woman’s kitchen, but you’ve got to give me something…some hope that I haven’t come on a fool’s journey.”

Her heart ached, but she couldn’t blame him. Offering hope might be cruel, but she could always pray for a miracle. “I’ll do my best. Just give me a little time.”

Hunter let out a long, hard breath. “I love you and I trust you. Your best is more than good enough for me.”

Cody hung her head. How was she going to survive this?

 

*  *  *

 

The next day, Hunter arrived in a jubilant mood, and Cody couldn’t help but react positively to it. He laughed, he joked, and he even petted the animals. “Something smells good,” he declared as he came in from the back where he’d carried another load of old wood for the dumpster. Today was a work-from-home day for Cody. She’d forced herself to remain scarce but the coffee pot had drawn her like a siren. Being around Hunter was a heady temptation also. Just being able to study him face to face was amazing. Cody memorized his expressions, the way he moved his hands and the inflections in his voice.

“I have a pot of gumbo in the slow cooker.” She’d prepared it early and moved the appliance to the dining room so it wouldn’t be in his way. “You’re welcome to have some. I noticed you didn’t eat your lunch yesterday.”

“Thanks, I appreciate that. I love gumbo.” He nodded with a grin. “I got busy yesterday, talking to my girl.”

His girl. Her heart palpitated.

Cody wanted to ask him questions but it seemed wrong, like she was spying on him or something. Still, she couldn’t be rude. “May I pour you a cup of coffee?”

“Sure, I’d like that.” When he began to whistle, Cody’s heart swelled. She knew it was Sage’s promise to see him that had put Hunter in such a good mood. The same couldn’t be said for her, she was wracking her brain to come up with an answer to their problem. An answer they could both live with.

As he worked, she poured his coffee, added cream and sugar, and walked it over to him. “Here you go.”

Hunter stopped and took the mug from Cody’s hands. He took a sip. “Perfect. How did you guess?”

Uh-oh. From their many exchanges, she’d automatically put in one cream and two sugars. “Lucky, I just fixed it like mine.”

Hunter thought it a little strange, but he let it go. “Since we’re relocating the sink, I need to turn off the water for a while and pull out the pipe.”

“Of course, let me go to the little girl’s room and fill up the animals’ water bowl before you do. It won’t take but a second.”

When she’d yelled to tell him to go ahead, he went outside and found the cut-off valve. Upon returning, he took a hack saw and began to cut the pipe.

“I’m just going to get my coffee,” Cody said as she came back into the kitchen. “I left it on the counter.”

No sooner had she walked right behind him that a whoosh of water began to spray out of the pipe toward her, hitting her with such volume that it almost knocked her down. “Yikes!” She squealed.

“Damn, I guess I didn’t find the right cut-off valve. Shit.” He ran back outside while Cody vainly grabbed some dishtowels to hold over the pipe to stem the gush of water. It was a good thing all the wood would be torn out of the kitchen, she thought wryly with a smile. Hunter’s face when the water sprayed out had been priceless.

Abruptly, the spray stopped. He’d found it.

“I’m so sorry,” Hunter said. He had a mop in his hand that he’d found near the back door. “I’ll…” What he saw before him left him speechless. Cody had been dressed in a simple thin white dress, something she wore when at home, he supposed. It was perfectly presentable and modest.

Unless it was soaking wet…and then it was see-through.

Hunter’s eyes almost bugged out of his sockets. His unassuming little client had been hiding one spectacular body.

“Don’t worry about it.” She laughed. “It was quite refreshing.” Cody dabbed at her face, realizing her hair was wet and the scar would be more prevalent.

“I don’t know how I made such a mistake,” he croaked, unable to take his eyes off of her. She wasn’t wearing a bra and the damp material perfectly molded two full round breasts crowned with dark red suckable nipples. Her waist was narrow and the way the dress was clinging to her thighs, he could see the outline of her mound clearly. Shit, he’d been too long without sex! His cock filled and Hunter was hard and throbbing in a matter of seconds.

Wheeling around, he looked away from her before he embarrassed them both. He pointed to the side, toward her. “You probably need to change, I’ll mop up.”

It was a moment or two before it dawned on Cody what Hunter was talking about. She’d been about to help him clean the water from the floor. When he pointed at her, she glanced down and nearly died. “Oh, my God, I’m so sorry.” Wrapping her arms around her body, she fled like the devil himself was after her.

Hunter watched her go with a great deal of regret—because what he could see of her backside looked just as delectable as the front.

When Cody reached her room, she was mortified. Well, she didn’t have to wonder what Hunter thought of her looks. His reaction wasn’t one of a typical male who saw a pretty girl with all her best parts showing, it was of one who’d seen something he’d rather not have to look at twice. Feeling heartsick and humiliated, she changed clothes.

Hunter dried up the floor, removed the pipe and got another one hooked into the water line. All the while, he couldn’t get the way Cody Napier had looked out of his mind. Who would have thought she was hiding such a delectable little body beneath those professional type outfits she favored. And she’d been such a good sport about it. Truthfully, he knew that Sage had his typical focus shot-to-hell or he would have paid more attention to what he was doing. Oh well, he needed to take care of business.

Cody hid in her office until nearly noon, then she walked quietly to the dining room and plugged in the rice cooker. In about twenty minutes, lunch was ready. Easing to the door, she saw that Hunter was capping the pipe so he could turn the water back on. She couldn’t help it, she bit her lips to keep from laughing. Even if she’d shocked his sensibilities with her wet T-shirt type display, the whole incident was sorta funny. “The gumbo is ready, if you’d like some lunch,” she offered.

At her invitation, Hunter’s stomach growled. “Thanks, I’d love some. The canned chili I ate last night didn’t go very far.”

Cody felt guilty. He was here in a strange city, staying at a motel, eating canned food because of her selfishness. “Come eat, I’ve been told I make good gumbo.”

“Let me turn the water back on and rinse off my hands.” He headed outside and was back by the time she had it dished up and iced tea poured.

“Here you go. Would you like to sit with me or would you rather I take mine to the back?” She wasn’t about to force her company on him if he’d rather be alone.

“I’d rather have someone to talk to, if that’s okay.” He sat down at the long cherry dining table, taking a moment to look around at his surroundings. When he went on a job, he was always so intent on what needed to be done, sometimes he really didn’t notice a lot of detail. “This is a nice place.”

“It belonged to my nana,” Cody answered without thinking.

BOOK: Pretty Face
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