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From Temptation to Twins(9)

By:Barbara Dunlop

Jules expression immediately neutralized, erasing their kiss, their argument and everything else. Noah Glover had walked in, and she’d given him a brilliant smile that made Caleb jealous.

Noah was tall and brawny, with an unshaven face and a shaggy haircut. He looked like the kind of guy who worked all day out in the weather.

Jules smoothly closed the space between them. “Nice to meet you, Noah.”

They shook, and Caleb felt another shot of jealousy. He gave himself a ruthless shake. It was one thing to want to kiss her, even hold her, even strip her naked and make love to her—which he did. But it was something else altogether to be jealous of a man shaking her hand. He wasn’t about to let that happen.

“I hope Melissa warned you we’re on a tight budget,” Jules said to Noah. “We want to do as much of the work as we can ourselves.”

“I can work with a budget,” Noah said. “And as much work as you’re willing to do is fine with me.”

“That sounds perfect.” She was still shaking his hand.

That was it? The entire interview? They were going to hire the guy right here and now? What about reference checks?

Caleb stepped up and stuck out his own hand. “Caleb Watford. I’m a neighbor.” He wanted this Noah guy to know he couldn’t simply stride in and take advantage of Jules and Melissa.

“Nice to meet you,” Noah said.

His grip was firm. Of course his grip was firm. He was a carpenter. But Caleb was no slouch. From what he could see, they were about the same height. Caleb could bench press one-eighty, but Noah had a lot more calluses.

“And our sworn enemy,” Jules said.

Caleb slid her a look of annoyance. Did she have no idea that he was trying to help?

“What happened while I was gone?” Melissa asked, glancing from one to the other.

“Nothing,” Jules said quickly. “Well, more of the same.”

“I’m happy to get started tomorrow,” Noah said to the women. “If you pull together your budget, I’ll get going on some estimates, and we can see what we have for options.”

His voice was deep. Caleb wasn’t crazy to learn that. He’d heard women liked men with deep voices. It was supposed to instill a sense of confidence. He didn’t want Jules feeling overconfident with this stranger.

Caleb had never heard of Noah Glover. Was he local to the Whiskey Bay area? Was he passing through? His truck outside was old and battered, and he wasn’t exactly a poster child for professionalism. Caleb was definitely going to check him out.

“I’m up for that,” Melissa said. “I’m excited to get started.”

Noah gave her a nod. “Until tomorrow, then.” He gave a parting smile to Jules before he left the building.

“He really seems to know what he’s doing,” Melissa said as she watched him leave.

“You just met him,” Caleb said.

Both women looked at him in surprise.

“How can you judge his competency?” Caleb doubted either Jules or Melissa had any expertise in construction.

“He seemed open and straightforward,” Melissa said. “Talked in plain language. He came highly recommended.”

“Did you check his reviews?” Caleb asked.

“Melissa has a business degree,” Jules said.

That was news to Caleb. He didn’t know why it surprised him.

“Of course I checked his reviews,” Melissa said. “I am aware of the internet.”

Caleb wasn’t sure whether to backpedal or press forward. “I only meant...”

Jules’s voice turned to a sarcastic purr. “That sweet li’l young things like us might not know how to manage in the big bad world?”

He frowned at her. “I wondered why you’d trust him in a heartbeat and be so suspicious of me.”

“Experience and good judgment,” she said.

“That’s not fair.”

“I told you before, Caleb. You’re a Watford. There isn’t a reason in the world for me to be fair to you.”

* * *

“He really is hot,” Melissa said two days later.

Jules looked up from where she was stripping varnish from the wooden bar, expecting to see Caleb walk through the door. But he wasn’t there. At least, she couldn’t see him.

Melissa was pulling down the window trim, while Noah was outside setting up a survey level on a tripod.

Jules was momentarily confused and, she hated to admit, a little disappointed. Caleb might be annoying, but he was also interesting. He energized a room.

“You mean Noah?” she asked her sister.

“Who else would I mean? Look at those shoulders and those biceps.”

“He does seem to be in good shape,” Jules agreed.