Love on Laird Avenue - Excerpt One
“Jen, this house is my worst nightmare,” Tatum said, raging over the phone as she waded knee deep through piles of laundry on the back porch. “How could this tiny little two bedroom bungalow with one tiny little bathroom and less than one-fifth of an acre cost over six hundred thousand dollars?”
“It’s all about location, Tate.”
She tried to pull the door closed, but a pair of designer jeans was caught in the door jam. “Yes, I’ve heard of location, but have they heard of the Lemon Law?”
“It doesn’t apply to houses. I told you we should have taken more time to check the house out, but no…you had to have it. It was your dream home. Remember?”
Tatum sighed. “Don’t remind me. There’s no way I want to admit I made a mistake to my father. He’s like a lion ready to pounce, waiting to prove that I’ve screwed up by moving out on my own and starting my own business at the same time.” She pulled at the t-shirt sticking to her sweaty body and tried to cool herself. Somehow, now that it was her house, even the air conditioning didn’t work.
Most importantly, there weren’t enough outlets in the house and certainly not enough in the den to run the computer equipment for her business. Maybe she should have figured that out when the switches were the old-fashioned little circle buttons, but she hadn’t had time to worry about it. She wanted this house, and someone else would have snapped it up had she let them list it.
“Any luck finding a renovator to start on the place?” Jen questioned.
Tatum headed for the dining room and flopped down in a chair at the table, studying her notebook. “I must have made about thirty calls in the last couple of days. Everyone keeps referring me to a…a Ryan Bulldarren of Bulldarren Renovation Specialists. They say he’s the only one in the city who will touch these old walls unless I want to run all the new wiring on the outside and enclose it in metal casings like they do now. Yuck.” She wiped at the sweat dripping from the nape of her neck.
“Sounds to me like you better call him.”
“I can hear the dollars per hour zinging up just for the word specialist.” Tatum bit at her fingernail.
“Come on, Tate. You at least have to call him and find out.”
“I already have. At least nine times in the last two days. I keep leaving messages.” She sighed. “I’m doomed. I can’t keep using your computer system. I’m independent, remember?”
“Gotta go, Jen. Somebody’s at the door,” Tatum said, screeching off the sticky, wooden chair.
She flipped her phone closed and swung the front door open. The coolest drink of water she had ever seen stood before her. He was right off some hunky handyman calendar.
“Can…can I help you?” Tatum tried to stop her eyes from blinking in disbelief.
“I’m Ryan Bulldarren. Co-owner of Bulldarren Renovation Specialists.”
“But I never reached you. I never talked to you. We never actually spoke…or anything.”
“You left me twenty-one messages, all of them desperate, with your name, phone number and address. This is the soonest I could get here. I’ve even had other construction companies calling me to call you back so you’ll quit calling them.”
“Oh, sorry about that.” She looked down and played with the carpet fibers in the rug with her big toe. She desperately wanted to sneak another peek at his bulging muscles underneath his paint-stained t-shirt and his lean hips beneath his work-worn jeans. He’d obviously done a lot of physical work in his day. His skin had seen the sun; his calloused hands had earned their pay. His sky-blue eyes melted her insides, and she curbed her desire to run her hands through his curly chocolate-brown hair. She kept her vision focused on a single fiber in the rug.
She heard him clear his throat.
“What?” she asked, still studying the floor.
“I…uh…do you think I could come in and take a look at the job?”
“Oh, excuse me. I was distracted by an earlier phone call. Please, come in.” She had to focus on the job. After all, her house was crumbling around her ears. She needed outlets in practically every room, the air-conditioning didn’t work and something was wrong with the plumbing.
“As I said on the phone, I need a bid on putting in outlets in my den, which I’m converting to my office. I just moved here, and I’m trying to start my own computer consulting business.” She pulled her clinging t-shirt away from her chest and flapped it to cool herself. “It’s not part of renovating, but do you think you could look at my cooling system?”
Ryan backed his way to the door. “Uh…I’ll…I’ll have an estimate to you about the outlets as soon as I can.”
“But you didn’t even go in the den.”
“How many outlets did you need?”
“At least four,” she yelled as he was slamming the door.
That was strange.
Love on Laird Avenue - Excerpt Two
Tatum rolled off the sofa and landed hard on the floor. What was she doing here? Oh, yeah, Mr. Late Night Construction Worker. She yawned and headed for the den, ready to start the new day. Hopefully he wouldn’t be lying on the floor dead, electrocuted or something. She had a busy day today. She had a presentation for a new client.
She gasped as she flipped on the lights. Wires were strung everywhere; holes were cut into her precious walls and dust was layered on every surface. Her computer was sitting on the desk, which had been pulled down to the wrong end of the room. This was totally against her carefully laid out plans. However, the computer was hooked up and running. She dashed over and quickly logged on. It worked. She had access. How did he…? Well, he did own his own business. Nevertheless, she couldn’t tolerate these scattered wires and disorganized furniture. She’d just have to call him and explain.
She moved through the house turning on lights, making cappuccino, turning on the TV downstairs, the radio upstairs, throwing in a load of wash and making and putting German pancakes in the oven. She showered with a little drizzle of water, reminding herself she needed to get that fixed next, and then quickly wrapped a towel around herself and stepped out. She had to hurry. She didn’t want to be late. Meeting with the heads of Brighton Furniture, who were starting up a new furniture store here in Salt Lake City, was an incredible opportunity for her.
She pulled out her blow dryer and flipped the switch. The lights flickered; her blow dryer whirred and then stopped. Nothing. She waited breathlessly for the good old sounds of machinery to come back to life. Nothing happened. She looked out her bathroom window. Just first light, but what a beautiful, clear day. No rain. Had someone hit a power pole? Hmmm. It appeared everyone else had power. Wonderful, just wonderful.
She ran a comb through her hair, dressed and dashed downstairs. Her German pancakes were flat and wet. She yanked them out of the oven with a hot pad and threw them into the sink. She was off to a fantastic start.
She tried Bulldarren Construction. No answer. What did she expect this time of the morning? She tried Ryan’s cell. No answer, but she left a message, anyway. Next, she tried the power company. After ten whole minutes of automation, she finally reached a person, but with disastrous results and negative consequences to her time.
She grabbed her briefcase. She threw open the door to face Ryan Bulldarren eating a banana. “Wonderful. I’ve got to go,” she called, racing past him.
“Wait, I got your message.” He turned and followed. “What happened?”
“The power went off. Not just the den, but the whole house. And, I’m late.”
“Didn’t you read the note I…holey moley!”
“The note you what, Mr. Bulldarren?” She snatched open the door to her car.
“I was so tired, I must have forgotten to write it. Wait. It’ll only take me a minute. All I have to do is replace a fuse.”
“Not according to the power company. They told me I need to call an electrician to get the power back on in this death trap.” She turned the key in the ignition and fired up her car.
Ryan took a deep breath and placed his hands on his thin hips. “Don’t get upset. I’ll take care of it. Don’t worry.”
“Look at me. I’m a mess,” she said, pulling at her hair. “I’ve got a very important meeting this morning.”
“What happened to your hair?”
She grimaced in the rearview mirror.
“I’m sure you’ll do fine,” he said, trying to reassure her. “Did you have your computer system on with any other appliances?”
“The washer and dryer, the TV, the radio, oh, and the cappuccino machine. I was cooking breakfast and… Why?” She threw the gear shift into reverse and started backing down the driveway.
“I’ll make sure you have power by the time you get home,” he yelled as she pulled out onto the street.
Tatum waved acknowledgement. Just wonderful. Ryan Bulldarren stood there looking all handsomely fresh with his cocoa curly hair while she looked like a bedraggled drowned rat. Maybe if she left her car window down, it would help.