Home > Come Together (Butler, Vermont #7)(4)

Come Together (Butler, Vermont #7)(4)
Author: Marie Force

Brianna was always so cold, she could barely think when she was on the job. The only thing that got her blood running hot was the predictable arguments with Noah. That was the one benefit to their frequent disagreements. They warmed her up for a few blessed minutes when her heart rate soared, and the blood pumped faster through her veins.

Inside the construction warzone, the sound of hammers on the roof competed with the roar of a table saw. The noise was enough to jar her teeth loose.

She found Noah in the kitchen, which had been framed the week before. He had squatted to measure something.

“Can we please talk about the fireplace in the reception lounge?” she asked in the calmest tone she owned.

“Sure.”

“It needs to be redone.”

He looked up at her over his shoulder, eyebrow crooked. “Why?”

“It’s off by six inches.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“Yes, it is.”

“No. It isn’t.”

Brianna summoned the massive amount of fortitude it took to stand her ground and not blink in the glare of the sexiest gray eyes she’d ever seen. “Are we going to do this all day, or will you listen to me?”

“I’m not going to listen to you telling me that fireplace is six inches off, because it isn’t.”

“Then you’ll have to come with me so I can show you.”

He took his own sweet time standing to his full six-foot-something height. Since his back was turned, Brianna got a good look at how he filled out his Levi’s. And he filled them out well. Very, very well. Not that she was looking.

Much.

He spun around suddenly and caught her staring at his ass.

Awesome.

When she looked up at him, a smug smile stretched across his face. “See something you like, darlin’?”

“Yeah, the most attractive part of you.” Brianna was rather pleased with that comeback if she did say so herself. Usually, she thought of good responses hours after she’d gone ten rounds with him.

“I’ve always been told I have an exceptional ass. I’m glad you agree.”

She pretended like she hadn’t heard him. “What’s that you said? People say you’re an exceptional ass? I couldn’t agree more.”

His laughter followed her from the room as she headed for the reception area. Hopefully, he would get there eventually so they could fight about the fireplace that was six inches too far to the left. They were completely rebuilding the chimney, so that wasn’t the issue. If they left the fireplace where it was, it would interfere with the fire escape on that side of the building. It had to be moved.

They’d ventured straight into the realm of unprofessional and inappropriate, which gave her pause. Dear God, did she have to discuss that with him, too?

Ugh, probably.

She found it interesting that he never raised his voice with the men who worked for him. They took their orders from him and seemed to respect him as a boss and friend. No, he argued only with her, or so it seemed.

By the time he made his way to the reception lobby, Brianna had plans rolled out on a makeshift table constructed of sawhorses and plywood and was ready to do battle.

Noah stopped in what would eventually be the doorway from the first-floor hall and eyed the work his men had done the day before.

“If you’ll come look at the plans, I’ll show you how the chimney will interfere with the fire escape. I need those six inches.”

“So much I could say to that.”

Was he flirting with her? No way. He couldn’t stand her. And she couldn’t stand him. He was not flirting. She ignored his suggestive comment and focused on the plans. A now-predictable wave of warmth overtook her when he came closer so he could see what she was pointing to. The bastard had to smell good, too. Life wasn’t fair.

“You’re right,” he said. “It’s off. We’ll redo it.”

Brianna was so shocked that she found herself momentarily speechless. And anyone who knew her well would say that was a rare, rare thing. “Would you mind repeating that? I’m afraid I didn’t hear you properly the first time.”

“I said you’re right. It’s off. And we will redo it.”

“Wow, I need a minute to enjoy this victory.”

Again, he flashed the grin that did such incredible things to his usually austere face. “Knock yourself out.”

“You ought to do that more often.”

“What’s that? Tell you you’re right?”

“Definitely—and smile. It looks good on you.”

“I didn’t smile.”

“Yes, you did. Twice so far today, actually.”

“That’s not true. Don’t be making shit up.”

It was no wonder she wanted to smack him ninety percent of the time. “Oh my God, are we really going to fight about whether or not you smiled?”

“Yes, we are, because I don’t smile as a rule.”

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Who makes a rule about not smiling?”

“I do.”

“No wonder you’re so cranky. Anyone who has a rule against smiling is a good time had by all.”

“Are you having a good time? Because you seem wound sort of tight.”

“I’m wound tight because I have to deal with you!”

“Oh Lord,” a third voice said from the doorway.

Brianna and Noah spun around to find Mrs. Hendricks standing in the future doorway, watching them with dismay. On top of the hood to her full-length parka, she’d placed the red hard hat Noah had given her so she could visit the site and see the progress.

“I can’t bear to hear the two of you fighting,” she said, looking almost tearful and resembling a giant mushroom with the hard hat teetering precariously on top of her hood.

“We’re not fighting,” Noah said. “We’re communicating.”

“Now, don’t you sass me, Noah Coleman. I know fighting when I hear it, and that was fighting.”

“We occasionally disagree about things, but we’re working it out,” he said. “Isn’t that right, Brianna?”

She knew she ought to agree with him so they could send their customer away happy, but Brianna couldn’t bring herself to lie to the woman’s sweet face. “We fight nonstop, actually.”

Noah sent her a look of complete disbelief.

“That just won’t do,” Mrs. Hendricks said. “I want the two of you to go to dinner tonight and work this out.”

Brianna was shaking her head before the woman finished her sentence. No way was she going to dinner with him.

“In fact,” Mrs. Hendricks said, rifling through her massive purse, “I just got this coupon for the Pig’s Belly Tavern in the mail.” She pressed it into Noah’s hand.

“Thank you,” he said, “but—”

As if he hadn’t spoken, she said, “Go have a nice dinner and talk it out. You young people need to learn how to communicate properly. You’re all so tied to those silly phones that you’ve forgotten how to talk to each other.”

Brianna wanted to remind her that no one was tied to a silly phone in the cellular nowhere land known as Butler, Vermont. Their motto ought to be “The place where cell phones go to die.”

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