Construction tip #1: Never anger a hot-tempered woman who knows how to wield a sledgehammer. And right now, Jill Sadler is spitting mad. Her company is competing on the wildly popular show Texas Dream Home, and she intends to give it her all. The opposition: We Nail It Contractors, helmed by the man who once married her…and walked out twenty-four hours later. Jill can’t let Cal Reynolds take this round. Not when she has her foster sisters and years of righteous resentment spurring her on.
Winning the contest would do wonders for Cal’s firm. Getting under Jill’s skin is just a bonus. She paints him as a villain, though Cal had no choice but to leave. Yet being around Jill again—fiery on the outside, vulnerable and warm underneath—is setting off sparks that can’t be blamed on faulty wiring. And the only way to fix the Jill-size hole in his heart is to risk everything and see if this love is built to last…
“I just came over to see if we could call a truce.”
“I don’t do truces.”
“Come on, Jill.” He tilted his head. “It’s been almost twelve years. I’ll admit that I handled things poorly back then. Very poorly. In fact, I’ve wanted to say that to you for a long time. I’m sorry about the way things went down.”
“But you’re not sorry that they went down to begin with?” she asked. Not that she expected him to be.
Or that she cared one way or the other.
“I’m sorry I didn’t handle things in a more grown-up fashion,” he clarified, and if she hadn’t known better, she’d have thought he actually meant the words. “I know my actions hurt you, and for that I do apologize. Sincerely.”
She didn’t want his apology.
The man had ripped her apart by doing the only thing she’d ever asked that he not do. That he’d sworn he would never do. So no, she didn’t want his apology. Not now. Not ever.
Not so long as she was drawing breath.
Yet as she stood there looking at him, for some reason, it felt as if a tiny portion of the anger she’d been so proudly hauling around for the last twelve years was trying its hardest to leak out. But not in a bad way. It was as if a pin had pricked her outer shell, and she could either plug it to keep her anger securely bottled tight . . . or she could allow the hole to be an escape hatch. Slowly releasing steam until there was nothing left. She wanted to ask if he’d told Heather the truth. Had he really not been the one to tell Texas Dream Home about them?
If not, he’d still jumped at the chance.
He didn’t need this opportunity the way she did, and he knew it. He was doing this purely to hurt her. Because knowing she’d failed in Hollywood clearly wasn’t enough.
She shook her head as if he’d asked her a question. The decisions he made were his alone. She neither wanted nor needed to know the reasons behind them. But she also found herself unable to immediately repeat her demand that he go. Instead, she dropped the sledgehammer to the floor and grabbed a bottle of water from where it had rolled across the room.
Unscrewing the cap, she drank the entire bottle, and when she finished she decided to say one thing to him before she kicked him out. Because it was important to her.
“You didn’t have to make that offer.”
When he only shot her a questioning look, she added, “In the truck Monday. To get them to delay filming.”
She couldn’t have him thinking his gesture had mattered.
“Oh.” He gave a casual nod. “I guess not.” Then some of his smugness returned. “Should have known you wouldn’t need any help from me.”
“I don’t. But I also have more sense than to lose my shit on camera.”
“Is that so?”
She braced herself, thinking he’d bring up the two chairs she’d sent flying across the linoleum as she’d left the café, but he surprised her by looking around at the damage she’d done tonight instead. At the dust particles floating through the air. The room looked like a war zone.
Then he brought his gaze back to hers. “Yet wouldn’t you call what you’ve just done a hefty dose of that very thing?”
“And do you see any cameras following me around at this very moment?”
When his gaze lifted to the far corner of the room, Jill had the violent urge to throw up. She’d completely forgotten about the cameras that had been installed “for those moments when the crew wasn’t around.”
Son of a—
“What do you think, Jilly-Bean?” Cal taunted. He brought his dark gaze back to hers, laughter dancing in it. “Think they’re recording right now?”
“It doesn’t matter if they are.”
He laughed out loud at her lie, and he laughed so loud and so long that his voice boomed right over the guitars shredding in the other room. As it continued, Jill found herself once again having the desire to pound the sledgehammer into his face. So much for that escape hatch.
“Tell me another one,” Cal said when he finally got himself under control. “No need to stop now. You’ve been entertaining me all week with your ‘acting’ skills.”
He air quoted the one word that he knew would get under her skin the most, and that was the final straw. Dammit, even after all this time, the man could slice her to the core. She marched across the room, stopping only when she got within two feet of him.
“My shit is fully intact, Calhoun Reynolds. Now and always. No need for you to worry.” She motioned to the mess around her. “What you see here is simply Bluebonnet Construction getting a jump on the competition. A competitor they’re going to grind into the ground. So you run along now.” She waggled her fingers at him. “Go find someone else to play your games with, because sweetheart, it is not going to be me.”
She slammed the glass-paneled door in his face, and when he didn’t immediately turn away, she shot him the bird.
He only smiled. And danged if her pulse didn’t try to flutter at that. The stupid man and his stupid charm.
“Go away,” she mouthed, and in return he winked.
Then he blew her a kiss.
She gaped. But before she could pick her jaw up off the floor and figure out how to retaliate, he’d disappeared into the night.
About the Author
As a child, award-winning author Kim Law cultivated a love for chocolate, anything purple, and creative writing. She penned her debut work, “The Gigantic Talking Raisin,” in the sixth grade and got hooked on the delights of creating stories. Before settling into the writing life, however, she earned a college degree in mathematics and worked for years as a computer programmer. Now she’s living out her lifelong dream of writing romance novels. She’s won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award, been a finalist for the prestigious RWA RITA Award, and served in varied positions for her local RWA chapter. A native of Kentucky, Kim lives with her husband and an assortment of animals in Middle Tennessee.