He had it all… The day Ian “Tag” Taggart’s world comes crashing down around him, he’s sitting in a fast food drive-thru, waiting for an order of fries. Golden boy of the MLB and shortstop for the Washington Rampage, Tag quickly finds himself losing grip on his superstar life with the use of two awful words: sexual assault. The only problem? He’s innocent. Tag’s willing to do anything to prove to the world he’d never commit the crime he’s been accused of. So when his agent suggests taking a break from the spotlight, he listens. The quiet town on Maple Lake is everything Seattle isn’t. And Lexi Barnes is everything he wasn’t expecting to find. Running from a past she can never escape, Lexi wants nothing to do with her new neighbor. But fixing up an old house takes more work than anticipated, and the new guy in town happens to have quite the set of carpentry skills. She won’t let herself fall for him though. She has no room in her life for love. If only someone would tell her heart that. He’s funny and charming. She’s closed off and rude. Together, they’re like fire and ice. Prepare to get burned this Off-Season.
“Can I give you a hand with that?”
Lexi screams as she drops the hammer, her feet jumping back before it has the chance to crush her toe.
Smooth, Tag. Real smooth. Way to give the poor girl a heart attack.
When I saw her outside from my kitchen window—well, B’s kitchen window—trying like hell to reach up and hold a board in place with one hand while she maneuvered the hammer with the other, I couldn’t help but smile. I’d only seen her on a few occasions, but this tiny blonde sure was different than anyone I’d met before.
Most women I knew wouldn’t even know how to hold a hammer, let alone try to fix a broken shutter on her own. Yet here was Lexi, thin sweater rising up to expose her tiny waist as she reached, her round ass on full display for anyone to gawk at, trying her damnedest to do it all on her own.
Okay, maybe that gawking part was just me since I seem to be the only perv within gawking distance.
After watching her for a few moments, I decided to stop being a creeper and go over to offer my assistance. And, instead of charming the pants right off her—which, let’s be honest, was totally my intention—I almost caused spontaneous amputation.
Strike two when it comes to this girl. First, I showed up like an idiot on her back porch. And, now, on her front one, I almost cost her a toe.
Moral of the story—me, this girl, and porches do not mix.
She retrieves the hammer, allowing me a close-up view of that perfect ass as she bends over to pick it up, and then she blows her hair out of her face and gives me a pointed look. “Can I help you?”
Her irritation with me radiates off her in waves. Not exactly the usual response I elicit from the ladies, but then again, I normally don’t come across as such a freaking idiot.
What is it about this girl that turns me into a fool the second she’s near?
I shrug off the thought. It doesn’t matter. I remind myself yet again that I’m not here for random hook-ups. I’m not here for anything other than reconnecting with myself and regrouping. And getting my game face back because, Lord knows, it was missing this last season. Screwing the neighbor is certainly not on the to-do list, no matter how hot she might be.
But that doesn’t mean I need to be a dick and leave her here to fix this shit on her own.
I take a step forward. Her eyes narrow further as my hand extends toward hers, but rather than closing my fingers around her skin, I pull the hammer from her grip.
“I came over to see if you needed a hand. From over there, it looked like you might be having a hard time.”
Lexi reaches for the hammer, but I lift my arm, holding it out of her grasp.
“I’m fine. Now, if you’ll return my tool…”
I step past her, sure to keep the hammer elevated so that she’s unable to snatch it out of my hand. I take a look at the shutter hanging precariously from a single nail. “Haven’t you ever heard the expression, Two heads are better than one? Well, four hands are better than two. Let me help. You’ll be done in half the time.”
I don’t wait for her to answer or protest. Instead, I twist the shutter around until it’s upright, holding it in place as I look at her over my shoulder. “Hand me a nail, would ya?”
Lexi gives me another irritated look, her jaw setting a hard edge as she turns to the porch railing. Grabbing a handful of nails, she whirls around and stomps over to my side.
She really is cute when she’s mad.
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