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Renovated Heart (FF)

JMS Books LLC

Heat Rating: SWEET
Word Count: 18,596
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Real estate agent Joanne McConnell has had her fair share of bad relationships. Her last girlfriend complained she spent too many long hours working and didn’t focus enough on them. Now single again, Joanne still keeps too busy a schedule to meet someone new.

That all changes when she’s babysitting for her brother and meets Edie, the contractor he’s hired to fix up his home. There’s no denying the instant attraction between the two women, and Joanne is more than ready to take a chance on someone new.

But Edie Davis, sole proprietor of Davis Contractors, was so badly burned by her last girlfriend that she’s sworn off dating altogether. Edie won’t let anything -- or anyone -- distract her from growing her business. She isn’t lonely, she isn’t, so she’s more than surprised when she finds herself falling for Joanne.

Joanne’s offer of a business lunch turns into a date on Friday night, the first in months for either of them. Things seem to be going so well for both ladies. Can Edie let herself trust another again? Or will her past relationships screw up any chance of a future with Joanne?

Excerpt

Joanne swiped her finger across the screen to read the message, then scowled. Under her breath, she muttered, “Goddamn it. You have a stack of junk mail, nothing important. Get over it already.”

She didn’t reply to the text. When she looked up and saw Edie watching her, she gave a disarming grin. “Sorry, my ex. Never bothered to get her mail forwarded, and now she’s pissed she can’t stop by and pick it up whenever she wants. If I had known she was a crazy bitch before we started dating, I could’ve saved myself all the headaches she gives me now.”

Joanne’s explanation was straightforward and unapologetic -- only the pronoun hinted that the relationship was non-traditional. In that moment, something in the way Edie saw her shifted; she’d been attractive and cute before, but no one Edie was particularly interested in. But at the thought that Joanne might reciprocate Edie’s feelings, suddenly she took on added depth and dimensions, no longer merely female but a woman, with kissable lips and plump breasts, and a lingering scent like fading perfume. Edie found herself wondering what Joanne’s short hair would feel like against the palms of her hands -- coarse and cottony, as it looked, or soft and silky? What might her eyes look like first thing in the morning, so dark and depthless, like pools of ink in her pale face? How might her voice sound, throaty and low, whispered between the sheets while they stayed in bed?

Stop it, Edie told herself. She knew all about crazy ex-girlfriends, didn’t she? And she didn’t need to get involved with anyone else again, not so soon. Besides, just because Joanne had an ex didn’t mean she wasn’t currently dating anyone.

What happened to keeping busy with work? Not needing a girlfriend at the moment? Being happy being alone?

To distract herself, Edie stacked her paperwork into a neat pile. “Well, I should probably get going ...”

“Question,” Joanne said.

Edie stopped shuffling papers and looked at her. “Yes?”

From over the top of her coffee mug, Joanne asked, “What’s Davis Contractors do actually?”

With a shrug, Edie said, “Well, general contracting work, of course. Repairs, remodeling, stuff like that, for commercial or personal properties. I don’t know really what you’d like to know --”

“I’m in real estate,” Joanne admitted. “Just getting started, but so far, I like it a lot. And sometimes my clients ask me if I know anyone who might be handy around the house, or maybe can give them a quote on fixing up a few things. If I can give them your name --”

“That’d be great.” Edie dug out a business card from her pocket and handed it over. “We have a website that details pretty much all our services, but if there’s anything specific you’re looking for, you can always give me a call.”

Joanne palmed the card. A slow smile spread across her face, and she gave Edie a coy look. “What if I only wanted to call to chat? Or, I don’t know, see if you wanted to meet up for a bite to eat? Same number?”

Absently, Edie’s hand strayed to her ponytail again. “Well, it is my cell ...”

It wasn’t exactly encouraging, but Joanne didn’t seem dissuaded. “How about lunch, then? Today? If you don’t already have plans --”

“I don’t,” Edie assured her.

Joanne’s smile brightened. “Great. Let me get these kids off to school and run back home to freshen up, and I’ll give you a call sometime before noon. Just let me know where you want to meet.”

Suddenly Edie’s palms felt sweaty and her pulse quickened. Wait, was this turning into a date? “I ... I don’t know. What do you like?”

“Oh, I’m easy to please,” Joanne said with a wink.