Belle took twenty
minutes to convince herself she was overstressed and imagining things.
The shed was in the Back Yard, the same back yard where her little
brother Danny had disappeared. Maybe its roof was wet and the light
from the house’s windows created the impression that it was
Avoiding looking at it again, she ate two Oreos to calm her nerves,
a practice she disapproved of but indulged in occasionally anyway.
Steadier but in need of diversion, she returned to the upstairs bedroom
she’d decided to sleep in. Even after being cleaned, staying
in Uncle Lucky’s was out of the question. In her chosen room
for the night, she wriggled into the antique dress she’d rescued
from the attic. She was in front of the free-standing mirror, adjusting
the feathered straps, when the downstairs doorknocker rapped out a
The fact that she jumped a foot said she wasn’t so calm really.
Chances were, her visitor was Susi. When they’d been kids, Belle's
best friend hadn’t been good at hearing no. Belle rolled
her eyes at her reflection in the clingy plunge-cut dress. If she’d
had an inch more up top, her cleavage would have been outrageous.
Because she was relatively flat, she only looked overdressed. She
wondered if she could convince Susi she always primped for pie eating.
In case Susi wasn’t her caller, she grabbed the Louiseville
Slugger her uncle kept in the hall closet. Thankfully, Mr. Tickner’s
staff hadn’t cleared out the bat.
“Coming!” she said as the knocker dropped again.
Holding her weapon slightly behind her, Belle opened the front door.
Every thought she’d ever had flew out of her head.
The stranger who stood on her porch was well over six foot tall. His
hair and eyes were dark, his shoulders as broad as a quarterback’s.
He'd tucked the well washed cotton of a plaid flannel shirt into dark
green work pants. Though the trousers weren't snug, she could tell
the legs that filled them were muscular. A battered leather tool belt
hung low on narrow hips. His large feet were clad in work boots with
different colors of paint on them. A sheer but noticeable stubble
darkened his jaw.
All these observations, though they sprang from within Belle’s
own head, might as well have been worded in Latin.
Oh. My. God, said a deeper and less rational part of her.
This man was too gorgeous to be real. Her mouth was literally watering
at the sight of him. She wanted to plant a kiss on his shapely lips
- or maybe lick him all over. The zipper that curved gently around
his package seemed a good place to start. Lower portions of her body
grew wet at that idea. He was perfect without being perfect at all.
His nose was a little long, and some might have objected to the ungroomed
shagginess of his brows. His beard shadowmade him look rough and masculine.
He had weary circles under his eyes.
Belle wanted to kiss them too.
“Uh,” was all her brain or her instincts agreed
to let her say.
“I believe you’re expecting a handy man,” said her
visitor, hooking long thumbs into his tool belt. He looked oddly like
he was posing, but Belle wasn’t inclined to complain. His slightly
bitten fingers framed his crotch perfectly.
“Oh,” she said, scarcely an improvement on uh.
She shook herself and swallowed. “You must be John Feeney. You
came tonight after all.”
“I did. Do you have things for me to fix?”
He was looking straight in her eyes. Most men wouldn’t have,
given how she was dressed. Then again, considering his killer looks,
women in skimpy outfits might greet him every day. For all she knew,
John Feeney was Kingaken’s most popular lonely housewife fantasy.
He lifted the metal box he carried by the handle, no doubt showing
off more handy man credentials.
Belle realized she’d failed to answer him for too long.
“Uh, yes,” she said, stepping backward into the entryway.
“Please come in. There’s -” He’d moved past
her, and her gaze zeroed in on the tight movement of his ass in the
dark green pants. Jesus, she swore to herself. “There
are a couple upstairs windows that need unsticking and a showerhead
that won’t spurt water.”
Spurt was a stupid word, wasn’t it? Probably she shouldn’t
have used it, if only because it made her think about erections and
wrapping them in her hand. Did John Feeney have a long cock? His feet
and his thumbs were big. That was supposed to mean something.
“I’m Belle Hobart,” she blurted.
John Feeney paused with his paint-spattered boot on the first stair
tread. Her cheeks blazed fire when he raised his dramatic eyebrows
“I know,” he answered. “You said your name on the
His manners were as sucky as when they’d spoken earlier. Annoyance
helped clear her head. She propped the baseball bat against the closet
door, then followed John to the second floor.
As she did, her heart barely stumbled around in her chest at all.
ME is novella set in the HIDDEN world.