Since the death of her family, Alice rarely leaves her house. Plagued by a secret that she doesn't want to share with anyone, she's resigned herself to a lifetime of loneliness. When her sexy new landscaper rouses her passion, she wonders if she should finally take a risk.
After returning from war, Austin's life had nearly fallen apart. Now he has a new career, a new home and is looking for a woman to share it with. He loves Alice from the moment he sees her. The passion between them is hotter than the summer sun, until she abruptly breaks up with him.
Austin wants to help Alice overcome her fears, but will she let him?
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Gascon Victors and the Hunky Handyman
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2013 Kate Hill
Austin glanced around the impeccable front yard of the brick Georgian style house.
His crew had already started unloading equipment so they could get to work mowing the lawn and trimming the hedges. Austin would join them once he spoke to the lady of the house -- if she ever opened the door. He had already rang the bell and knocked, but no one answered. Piano music wafted from an open upstairs window, mingling with the sound of barking dogs.
Gascon had told Austin that Alice Brown was a music teacher. New to the area, Austin had been glad when Gascon had recommended him to several customers. It seemed Gascon would soon be leaving town and had already cut down his work hours. Miss Brown had been among the first to hire Austin to continue the upkeep on her home. She had also expressed interest in a discussing a new project for her yard.
Clearly by looking at the place the woman was well off. A few clients like Alice would be exactly what Austin needed to establish his new landscaping and gardening business.
The piano music stopped and Austin was about to knock again when the door opened.
A lovely woman with brown eyes and dark, silky hair glanced up at him. A floral print dress in pastel shades draped her curvy figure. Strangely, just looking at her made Austin's heart skip a beat.
Finding his voice, he shouted above the two howling dogs -- a basset and a beagle -- standing beside her, "Hi. I'm Austin Johnson. My crew and I are ready to start work. I wanted to let you know we're here."
"Thank you," she said and was about to shut the door, but he stopped her, placing his hand on it.
"Gascon said you wanted to talk about a new project."
"Yes, but right now I'm in the middle of a lesson." She glanced at the dogs and snapped, "Quiet!"
"Of course. When you're free just let me know." He turned and headed toward the truck, but couldn't resist glancing at her over his shoulder.
To his surprise, she was staring after him as well. When their gazes locked, she quickly shut the door.
* * *
Leaning against the closed door, Alice released a pent-up breath.
The new landscaper was the sexiest man she'd ever seen. Tall and lean with sable hair and gorgeous blue eyes, he'd taken her completely by surprise.
Alice wasn't accustomed to instant attraction to a man, or any attraction at all, for that matter. Knowing that her strange lifestyle didn't invite friendship, let alone romance, she did her best to avoid both -- not that it was difficult considering she rarely left home.
At just thirty-five she'd condemned herself to a loveless life and up until this moment she'd been perfectly content with her decision. She had her work, which she loved. Even before the accident, few things made her happier than teaching children. She loved seeing them learn and helping them progress in their studies, both academic and musical.
Other than her students, she had her pets and her hobbies. She enjoyed riding her horses and reading spicy books. The last thing she'd ever expected was to open her door and find a man standing there who looked every bit as delicious as the heroes in those naughty novels. Not only was he handsome, but his voice was as deep and delicious as dark, melted chocolate.
Of course a man as gorgeous as Austin was probably a jerk. His good looks had most likely gone straight to his head.
Alice stepped into the living room and glanced out the window, wanting another look at Austin to be sure he wasn't a figment of her imagination.
He was helping his workers unload their equipment from his truck. Beneath his long-sleeved T-shirt, muscles rippled in his shoulders, back and arms. He was the tallest man among them with a rangy build that emanated sinewy strength.
He had an angular face with a hawkish nose and high cheekbones. Tendrils of black hair tumbled across his forehead as he lifted several shovels and rakes from the back of the truck. Glancing in her direction, he paused for a moment and smiled.
Disgusted with herself for ogling him, she lifted her chin, turned abruptly and walked up to her music room to finish her lesson. She didn't want to think about the impending conversation with Austin.
Her previous landscaper, Gascon, had arranged for Austin to take over the work around her house, since he would soon be moving out of the town. Of course he hadn't mentioned that his replacement was a hunk, so meeting Austin had been a complete surprise. It should have been a welcome one, but the last thing Alice needed was romantic complications, even if they were only one sided.
There was no way Austin would be interested in her.