The July Guy (Men of Lakeside)(9)

By: Natasha Moore

Anita silently agreed it was a nice piece of land, great lake frontage. Money in the bank. She hoped. The offer Carter told her about had been so low it was insulting. Just because the house needed some work didn’t mean it wasn’t worth a whole lot more.

“But the house is so old.” The dark-haired woman again.

She hated to think of all that should be done before she could sell it. Would the money to renovate it be worth it in the end? Should she save herself the time and money and accept a lower asking price from a buyer who would want to do all that work themselves?

Maybe, but not that low.

“Old isn’t a bad thing,” the blond employee said.

It was a beautiful old house. Gorgeous moldings and intricate gingerbread and a mantel… Well, it must have been beautiful once. Anita stopped to admire an intricately carved wooden picture frame propped up against a long table, the finish gleaming.

“As long as she doesn’t tear it down, I’ll be happy.”

Tear it down? Who said that? Anita slowly approached the group, eavesdropping without remorse.

“Did Noah tell her not to tear it down?” That was the third customer, whose fuzzy snow-white hair danced around her head.

Why did they think she’d want to tear it down?

“Did Carter tell her to stay away from Ethan?” Fuzzy hair again.

Ethan? Who is Ethan?

“What did Noah and Carter say about her?” Salt and pepper this time.

“My boys had nothing but good things to say about her,” said the other woman behind the counter. She’d been quiet up until now. She was pleasantly plump, with a simple silver bob and an easy smile. She must be Noah and Carter’s mother. “I don’t know anything more than that.”

“What did they say about her?” fuzzy hair asked eagerly. “What does she look like?”

Anita stepped up to the counter. “About five foot seven. Mid-forties. Long dark hair. A tattoo of a phoenix on her back. Oh, but neither Noah nor Carter has seen that.” Yet, she resisted adding. She was beginning to hope Noah would see that and much more before long. After all, it was the second of July already.

All five women turned to her with wide eyes. She wanted to laugh, but she didn’t. She was going to be living here for the next thirty days, and they all knew Noah. If she was going to convince him that a one-month fling was a good idea, she wouldn’t want the town to be against her. After all, she had never visited her grandmother, and that, evidently, was a big strike against her.

“Ms. Delgado, isn’t it?” Noah’s mother asked. The three customers blushed and fled the building. Mrs. Colburn rounded the end of the counter and came out onto the floor to meet her. “I’m Donna Colburn. I’m so embarrassed to be caught talking about you. No, not that we got caught, but that we were gossiping in the first place. I want you to know that Carter didn’t divulge any information about you. He’s always proud of his professional ethics. He said you seemed very nice, and Noah mentioned he ran into you and said the same thing.”

Noah said I’m nice?

Nice didn’t come close to how he seemed to her. But then he wouldn’t have mentioned the awareness, the attraction, the tingles to his mother, would he?

“Anita.” She held out her hand. “Pleased to meet you. I’ve never lived in a small town, but I imagine that a new person is always going to cause some curiosity and speculation.”

“Unfortunately. Again, I apologize for gossiping. Is there something I can help you with today?”

“Just looking around. Noah told me about your operation and mentioned you had a showroom. What an interesting business. You have a wonderful selection of items.” She picked up a gorgeous carved wooden picture frame and studied it. “Is Noah in, by the way?” Smooth, Delgado, real smooth.

Donna Colburn’s brows pinched into a frown. “I’m sorry, he’s out right now. Do you want to leave a message?”

“No, that’s all right.” Anita had his number on the card in her pocket. “I’ll browse a little more.” In case he comes in. “Then I have to pick up some groceries.”

“Donna!” Someone shouted from the back.