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Page 19


“Can I get a little help here?” she asked her landlord, who seemed to be enjoying the show.

Taking a big bite out of a chocolate cupcake, he shook his head and gestured for her to get on with it.

Bastard!

Making a mental note to tattletale on the bastard later to his wife, she shifted her gaze to the playroom’s barricaded double doors where the pounding and threats of spankings were louder than ever, and sighed. It looked like she was on her own.

Resting her head against his chest, she tightened her grip around him and said, “I can’t.”

“I understand,” Danny said, taking her by surprise as he walked back to the checkout desk and carefully placed her on the edge of the counter. As he pulled away, he gave her a boyish smile that had her biting her lower lip, wondering if maybe-

“Aliens can only be defeated with Elmer’s glue, kids, not paste,” he explained with a wink as he stepped back and away and-

“Get her!”

“Wait! No, wait!” she yelled, rushing to pull her legs up so that she could jump over the desk and make a run for it. She’d barely managed to pull her right leg up when they grabbed her and with one surprisingly hard pull, yanked her off the counter. She squeezed her eyes shut, biting back a scream as she waited for her back and bottom to make contact with the old cracked marble floor beneath her only to release a startled gasp when a pair of strong arms caught her, saving her from a bruised bottom.

Gasping, she opened her eyes to find herself staring into a set of intense emerald green eyes. She opened her mouth to thank him, but never got the chance. Before she knew what was happening, he was leaning down and kissing her. Warm firm lips moved over hers, enticingly sweet and incredibly sexy, making her lose her mind and forget where she was, and that she was surrounded by a bevy of demonic children determined to destroy her. Lost in sensation, a soft moan escaped her as she parted her lips and-

Blinked her eyes open with a soft grunt as she suddenly found herself sitting on the marble floor, staring as Danny stood up, trying to make sense of what had just happened when Danny said, “She’s all yours,” and stepped back.

It took a few seconds for those three words to register in her mind and when they did, it was too late.

The children had found the Elmer’s glue.

*-*-*-*

“Why did you feel it was necessary to sic those kids on her?” Trevor asked as they paused in front of a set of bookshelves built into the wall.

“I was bored,” Matthew said with a shrug as he stepped back so that his father could measure the shelves while Danny inspected them.

More dry rot, he noted with a snort of disgust. The entire library was going to have to be gutted at this rate.

Trevor sighed heavily as he moved his fingers aside so that his son could read the measurements and write it down. “What did we talk about?” he asked Matthew, sounding patient for a man who not twenty minutes ago was forced to sweet talk two dozen angry mothers out of calling his wife…….and the National Guard.

“That there are more constructive ways to deal with boredom than terrifying others for my own enjoyment,” Matthew spouted off, sounding completely bored and making Danny wonder just how many times Trevor had been forced to drill it into the kid’s head. It was actually kind of frightening, and if he wasn’t still thinking about those soft lips giving beneath his, he’d probably be a little concerned for his cousin.

“Then why did you do it?” he found himself asking the kid, deciding that now probably wasn’t the best time to be fantasizing about Tinkerbelle.

Matthew shrugged as he wrote down the measurements. “She wouldn’t tell me why she was pink.”

“And?” he asked with a frown, positive that he’d missed something.

“And I took exception to that,” Matthew said with another shrug that had Danny look up just in time to catch Trevor shooting a look heavenward. “Plus, I was hungry.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” he asked, glancing back down at the little boy that would probably one day rule the world along with his siblings.

“Because he made the rest of the children give him their snacks in exchange for the glue and glitter,” Trevor said, sounding bored as he gestured for Danny to check the molding running along the floor.

“Rotted,” Danny said with a sigh.

“Do you think the frame can be salvaged?” Trevor asked with an expression that probably matched his own at the moment.

This was not a simple renovation like the City Council had led their uncle to believe. Everything from the outside walls and masonry work to the walls and shelves inside were rotted from age, too much moisture and termites. They’d be lucky if they didn’t have to demolish the entire building and start over.

“Let’s see,” he said, placing his hand against the wall and pushed.

The horsehair plaster crumbled beneath his touch, revealing an empty space, dried mold, long abandoned wasps nests and a surprisingly sturdy frame covered in water stains and holes.

“We can save it,” Trevor said, voicing his thoughts. “But it won’t be cheap.”

“No,” Danny said, pulling his hand away and wiping it clean on his pant leg, “it won’t.”

“Your future wife isn’t going to be happy about this,” Trevor pointed out with a taunting smile.

“I’m not going to marry her,” Danny said in a bored tone, surprised that his cousin had waited this long to start the bullshit back up.

Instead of arguing with him, Trevor simply chuckled, which wasn’t exactly comforting, especially not when Matthew chose that moment to look up at him with a knowing smile and shot him a wink.

Dear God, was he the only one that found Trevor’s kids terrifying?

Chapter 12

“The exciting life of a town librarian,” she muttered absently to herself as she pulled her damp hair back into a ponytail and took inventory of the folders covering the coffee table and half her couch with a sigh that bordered on a whimper.

It was going to be a long night.

Not that she had much of a choice, not since Bradford Construction made a call to the City Council and shared the good news that the library was not only rotting from the inside out, but that it also had a mold problem. That of course had triggered a series of events that ended with the Board of Health condemning the library during her lunch break. Thirty minutes later she’d found herself covered in a crusty mixture of paste, glue and glitter and sitting outside the City Council’s offices, accepting the fact that she was going to have to update her résumé.

After all the objections, demands, and limitations they’d placed on her for the library renovations she’d expected them to condemn the building and cut their losses. What she hadn’t expected was a group of giddy councilmen demanding that she help design a new state of the art library. Well, maybe demanded was too harsh of a word since what they’d really done was ask her if she’d be interested in creating another proposal. She wasn’t and she would have had no problem with telling them that if she hadn’t been so distracted to discover that she still had a job and other things…….

Other things being Danny Bradford and that incredibly sweet, sexy kiss that had left her stunned, confused and imagining a dozen more ways to get rid of the bastard by the time the second bottle of glue was poured over her head. Truly afraid that she would put one of those ideas into action, she’d stopped on the way home, bought a half dozen pints of Ben and Jerry’s for fortification and after devouring one in the parking lot, decided that it was safe to go home.

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