When I decided to renovate my Victorian home, I was excited. Ever since I first saw this house, I was drawn to the attic. It would be the perfect place to write. Oh yeah, I’m a writer. Maybe you’ve heard of me, Anna Hughes? No? Oh well, that’s okay. Back to my story
My fiancé, Ben had noticed a stained glass window on the outside of the house that didn’t show inside. I knew there had to be more space behind the wall, otherwise the window would show. I hired a contractor to renovate the room for me. When the contractor, Chad Edwards confirmed my suspicions there was more space behind the wall, Ben agreed to help me knock down the wall and save me money. Needless to say, I wasn’t about to refuse. For starters, Ben never offered to do anything that involved getting dirty.
What we found was amazing. Not only was there more space, it was a fully furnished room. That’s when I first saw the shadows. They hovered over a trunk in the corner of the room. Ben didn’t see them and, of course, he thought they were a figment of my over active imagination. Any time Ben didn’t agree with me, he used that as an excuse. He didn’t like that I wrote books. He didn’t consider it a real career. The fact that my books were on the best seller list and earned my living as a writer didn’t matter. According to him, anyone could sit down and write a book. He didn’t have a clue how involved writing was and he didn’t care. Too bad Ben wasn’t interested in my writing or my imagination. What happened next wouldn’t have been such a surprise to him.
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I hurried to my room, freshened my lipstick and ran a comb through my hair. I loved
my new short hairstyle, even if Ben didn't like it. It didn't take hours to blow dry and style
even after a shower. Chad Edwards, the contractor Connie recommended, would be here any
minute. I liked the sound of his voice over the phone, all deep and masculine. Besides, he
sounded as excited about the restoration as I was.
I hurried downstairs when the doorbell rang, opened the door, and my mouth darn near
dropped open. The sexiest, hunk of a man I ever saw stood in front of me. His dark hair,
mussed from the wind, fell over his forehead. Bushy eyebrows topped the bluest eyes I'd ever
seen, and he towered over my five foot six height. A complete contrast to Ben's dark,
Something jolted inside me, and I swear electricity seared the air between us. Even my
arms tingled. Never had a man affected me this way. What was wrong with me? I'm engaged
for heaven sake. But I couldn't help it. This man stirred something inside of me. Something
Ben never stirred.
"Hi, I'm Chad Edwards. Are you Anna Hughes?"
Heat burned my cheeks at my thoughts, and I held out my hand toward him, hoping
my face wasn't too red. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Edwards."
"Chad, please. Nice to meet you too, Anna. You don't mind if I call you Anna do
He took my hand, and my heart did a strange flip. A trembling all the way down to my
toes scared me. I liked the feel of his rough hand, calloused from hard work, and was
disappointed when he let mine go.
"Hi, Chad. No, I don't mind." His name flowed easily from my lips, like I'd been
saying it forever. And I especially liked the way he said my name, placing the emphasis on
the first syllable—Ann-a, unlike the quick way Ben said it, more like On-na, with the
emphasis on the last syllable. Kind of hoity-toity.
Chad's smile reached his eyes. Something about it made me think he was fun-loving,
spontaneous and adventurous, unlike serious minded Ben. Not that there was anything wrong
with Ben being serious. I just wished sometimes he'd let go a little. Darn it, why was I
comparing Chad to Ben?
"Please, come in." I swung the door to let him in, and closed it behind him. He stood
in the foyer and looked around, letting out a low whistle as he stared up the curved oak
staircase. A picture of him, standing there years ago, waiting for the daughter of the house to
join him, flitted through my mind. He seemed to fit.
I smiled at the image. "I've heard good things about you, Chad. I'm glad you agreed to
look at this job."
"I couldn't resist. When I heard it was a Queen Anne style Vicky, well let's just say
that's my weakness."
"Mine too. When this house came on the market I had to see it. Once I saw it, I was
sold." I led the way to the attic. "Come on, I can't wait to get your opinion."
I turned the corner to the landing and looked back at him. Darn, he was good looking.
"This is the first room I want done. We'll look at the rest of the house later."
As we rounded the corner of the attic, Ben joined us. "We want this wall knocked
down for starters,” he said. “Anna thinks there's a room behind it. At least, there's a leaded
glass window that shows from the outside of the house."
Ben's tone irritated me. Okay, so he didn't agree with me about the renovations, that
didn't give him the right to intrude on my conversation.
Chad knocked on the wall in several different places and looked at the floor space
between the walls and took some measurements. "She could well be right," he said. "This
room should be much larger." He turned his attention to me. "What exactly do you want?"
"I want to make a home office up here for my writing."
"You're a writer?"
Ben didn't give me a chance to answer. He came and stood next to me and put his arm
around me possessively. I tried to shrug him off. This wasn't like Ben. He never touched me
in public. Never even held my hand.
"So, what will you charge to knock the wall down and finish this space? I mean is it
even worth it?" Ben pulled me tighter against him and almost knocked me over.
"Just to knock the wall down and haul the material away, fifteen hundred dollars. It
depends what else Ms Hughes wants as to the rest of it." Chad turned his attention back to me
"I can't give you a price on that until the wall is gone, and we see what's behind it. I'll
need to know exactly what you want, wiring, lights, that kind of thing. You can knock the
wall down yourself and save the money. There's no wiring or heating ducts to worry about."
"Okay, we'll be in touch," Ben said. "Thank you for coming. He guided me to the top
of the stairway and waited for Chad to go ahead of us. I tried to pull away, but Ben held me
tight against him.
"Anything else?" Chad turned toward me again.
"We'll talk about it and get back to you," Ben said, not giving me a chance to answer.
I bit my tongue. Oh, we were going to talk about it. No doubt about that. I'd say
something now, but didn't want to start anything in front of Chad. What made Ben think he
could take over like that? Like I was a moron who couldn't think or talk for myself.
"Okay, then." Chad turned and went downstairs ahead of us.
Ben finally dropped his arm from around me and followed Chad to the door before I
made it to the bottom step. "We'll be in touch," he said and almost pushed Chad out the door
and looked at me. "I think we should knock the wall down ourselves. Then you can see what's
behind it and not waste the money."
"You're willing to help knock down the wall?" Would wonders never cease? I couldn't
believe my ears. I let the matter of Ben's rudeness drop. If Ben was willing to work on the
attic, I wasn't about to start an argument. Not yet, anyway. But you can bet I wouldn't forget
it, either. He'd hear about it eventually. I'd have my say. Oh, no, he wasn't getting off that
"Sure, we can start tomorrow. Once you see there's no room up there, you can forget
this nonsense of renovation."
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