They should have left the sleeping witch lie. Like the roused dog, Sara could be vicious when the one she loved was threatened.
"Yes," she said to herself as she watched him, "he is nice."
Nice referred to the way he was built, shoulders broad and lean everywhere else. Six one or six two, she estimated, dark hair, a little long, wavy and combed back from his face, probably blue eyes. He was garbed in what was generally described as cowboy apparel, denim, Western-cut shirt and real Levis, not jeans. He didn't wear a hat though, neither Western nor the ever-popular ball cap, and sturdy, lace-up work boots covered his feet. He moved nicely as well, though his gait was a little uneven as he came down the irregular surface of the hillside through the scrub oak and cat claw. She suspected a limp, not severe, but noticeable. He definitely favored the right leg when he jumped the six-foot bank from hill to the pad cut out by heavy machinery to form a level area for the house and yard. On the more even ground, the slight limp was more noticeable.
With a sigh, Sara pressed her hand to her forehead, the thumb at one temple and the forefinger at the other. "You knew this was coming," she murmured, dropping her hand down the front of her face, still fluttering the wet shirt with the other one.
"Good morning," he said when he was close enough not to have to yell.
"Not so far," she answered.
He stopped a few feet from her, and she was right about the eye color but hadn't realized that they would be so distinctive. The irises were blue, a pale shade tending toward sapphire, with a black rim making them rather penetrating, especially when he stared, as he was then. His dark brows, drawn down at her comment, nearly masked his long lashes. His expression also turned his rather stern features slightly foreboding.
"Turned the power on and flooded the kitchen," she explained.
"Guess that explains why you're wet," he said. His eyes flickered over the wet shirt, and what was visible beneath, and shot back up to settle on a lock of still-dripping hair. "A pipe must have frozen."
Appreciating his ability not to stare at her too-visible chest, she commented dryly, "That was my second thought."
"What was the first?" he asked, moving by her to the breaker box.
"That a spigot or valve had been left open. There wasn't any."
"Just a plug," he told her while he opened the box, flipped several breakers, closed the box, and turned the power back on.
"Not anymore. You would be?"
"Dem Everett, the contractor Charles hired."
She already knew that but didn't say so. "Yeah, well, Charles could afford to pay you," she said bluntly. "I can't."
"The work's already paid for, just not finished."
"Then consider it a bonus; I can't afford materials, either."
His eyes narrowed again. "They're already bought, in storage at my place."
"Really?" she asked excitedly. She didn't wait for an answer. Her hand dropped, she half-turned, took a step away and one back in an excitement dance. "That's great! I didn't know how I could do it. What kind of materials? I'd be thrilled with anything about now, but what are we talking about?"
"Finishing the inside and building a detached garage."
"All the bathrooms, kitchen, doors-"
"All that stuff is already bought? Sink, shower, all of it?"
"All of it," he repeated and then added stiffly, "but you need to know before I start any work, I'm an insurance liability."
Sara stopped dancing. "Why is that?"
"I'm crippled," he stated tartly.
"Oh, I'm sorry; I thought you just had a limp. I didn't realize that made you a cripple."
Dem blinked and stared at her, blinked again and half-shook his head. "I didn't think so either," he told her, not sure if he was angered or amused by her attitude, "but the insurance companies consider it a liability and might refuse you coverage on me."
"No problem, I don't have any. If you get hurt, I'll help with the medical, but on all that pain and suffering business you'd be on your own. Wouldn't do you any good to sue me either. That's all I own."
Dem looked where she pointed, at a twelve-year-old, medium-sized car in front of the house in what would be a driveway or yard sometime in the future. The back seat was packed higher than the windows, and the rear end squatted to indicate the trunk was packed as well.
"Did you just get here?" he asked, puzzled since he had heard otherwise.
"Couple of days ago."
"Why haven't you
"Wasn't sure I was going to stay," she said bluntly.