Suddenly Engaged (A Lake Haven Novel Book 3)(7)

By: Julia London


Of course he’d also noticed the little monster, who’d spent most of the afternoon doing a clomp clomp clomp around the wooden porch in those damn pink cowboy boots.

Kids. If anything could make Dax grumpier, it was a cute kid.

He’d turned away from the window in a bit of a snit. Of course he was used to people renting any one of the six East Beach Lake Cottages around him for a week or two, and usually they had kids. He much preferred the olds who took up weekly residence from time to time, couples with puffs of white hair, sensible shoes, and early bedtimes. Families on vacation were loud, their arguments drifting in through the windows Dax liked to keep open.

The cottages were at the wrong end of Lake Haven, which made them affordable. But they were at the right end of beauty—each of them faced the lake, and a private, sandy beach was only a hundred feet or so from their front porches. He’d been lucky to find this place, with its unused shed out back, which he’d negotiated to use. He had to remind himself that his setup was perfect when new people showed up and banged their doors open and shut all damn day.

Dax had realized that afternoon, as the banging had undone him, that the woman and kid were moving in—no one hauled that much crap into a cottage for a vacation. He’d peered out the kitchen window, trying to assess exactly how much stuff was going into that cottage. But by the time he did, the Subaru was closed up, and he didn’t see any signs of the woman and the kid.

He’d wandered outside for a surreptitious inspection of what the hell was happening next door when the door suddenly banged open and the mom came hurrying outside. She’d paused on the bottom step of the porch when she saw him. Her dark hair had spilled around her shoulders and her legs had taunted him, all smooth and shapely and long in those short shorts. Don’t look, those legs shouted at him. Don’t look, you pervert, don’t look! Dax hadn’t looked. He’d studied the keys in her hand.

“Hi,” she’d said uncertainly.

“Hi.”

She kept smiling. Dax kept standing there like an imbecile. She leaned a little and looked around him, to Number Two. “Are you my neighbor?”

“What? Oh, ah . . . yeah. I’m Dax.”

“Hi, Dax. I’m Kyra,” she’d said. That smile of hers, all sparkly and bright, had made him feel funny inside. Like he’d eaten one of those powdered candies that crackled when it hit your mouth.

“I wondered about my neighbors. It’s pretty quiet around here. I saw a car in front of one of the cottages down there,” she said, pointing.

“Five,” he said.

“What?”

He’d suddenly felt weirdly conspicuous, seeing as how he was standing around with nothing to do. “That’s Five,” he said, to clarify.

“Ah.”

“You’re in Three. I’m in Two.”

He’d been instantly alarmed by what he was doing, explaining the numbering system on a series of six cottages. She’d looked as if she’d expected him to say more. When he hadn’t said anything, but sort of nodded like a mute, she’d said, “Okay, well . . . nice to meet you,” and had hurried on to her car much like a woman would hurry down a dark street with some stranger walking briskly behind her. She opened the door, leaned in . . . nice view . . . then emerged holding a book. She locked the door, then ran past him with a weird wave before disappearing inside.

Dax had told himself to get a grip. There was nothing to panic over.

He hadn’t panicked until much later that afternoon, when he’d happened to glance outside and had seen a respectable pile of empty moving boxes on the front porch and the little monster trying to build a house out of them.

That was definitely a long-term stay. And he didn’t like that, not one bit.

He’d managed to keep busy and avoid his new neighbors for a few days, but then, yesterday, the truck had shown up, treating him to the sound of a large HEMI engine idling near his bedroom window.

He’d let it pass, figuring that it was someone visiting.

But it happened again. Just now.

Dax was in the middle of a good dream when that damn truck pulled in. He groggily opened his eyes, noticed the time. It was a good hour before he liked to get up. Was this going to be a regular thing, then? He groaned and looked to his right; Otto was sitting next to the bed, staring at Dax, his tail thumping. “Use the damn dog door, Otto,” he tried, but that only excited the dog. He jumped up and put his big mutt paws on Dax.

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