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“Yeah?”

“Two things. First, don’t give my sister back the outfit you borrowed. I don’t think I could take seeing Zoe wear it after today.” Melanie struggled not to laugh at the seriousness in his voice. “Second, how about wearing something more you tomorrow?”

“Yes to the first, and maybe to the second.” She rolled to her side and traced a figure eight on the covers. “I tend to go a little overboard with my themes.”

“I think your themes are perfect,” he said. “Don’t go changing on my account.”

She melted inside, got all nice and gooey at the center. This was the Carter of her dreams. “Maybe a little theme then.”

He laughed, then the line went silent. “Did you want to keep talking or say good night?”

She froze, her finger stuck at the upper curve of the eight. “Um…keeping talking?”

“Remember that time you went to John Hampton’s place and blew up his barn?”

Her mouth dropped and she sat up. “I did not blow up his barn! It just caught on fire a little bit after the propane tank quit doing its job of holding everything inside.”

“A little bit.” Carter snorted. “It took the fire department all day to put it out.”

“Worried I’m going to do that to your garage?”

“Maybe.” She could hear the smile in his voice.

“Carter!”

“Hey, I can’t help what I know about my employee’s past misdeeds.”

Laughing, she brought her knees up and wrapped one arm around them. “You know what?”

“What?”

“This, what we’re doing right now, is on my Do List.”

“I know,” he said, right before his voice dropped lower and made her heart speed up. “Want to know what’s on my Do List when it comes to you?”

She shivered in excitement. “Yes.”

Low laughter came over the line. “What are you wearing right now, Melanie?”

Unwrapping her arm from around her knees, she settled against her pillows and smiled. “I was hoping you’d ask me that.” It was going to be a very long and naughty phone conversation with him—she hoped.

Chapter Eight

Melanie had tried. She really had, but there wasn’t enough will-power in her for her stop.

She glanced down at her outfit and grinned. Today she wore a bright red t-shirt with Carter’s racing number on it, black and white checkered shorts, and since it was the middle of January, black leggings tucked into knee high black boots.

Every time she caught Carter staring, she over-exaggerated her movements. Bent over just a little bit more, throw her shoulder back a little bit further, put a little more hip action in her walk. But true to Carter’s word and her Don’t List, he treated her like an employee during work hours. He talked to her, ate lunch with her in the office and even asked her opinion on things she didn’t have a clue about. Like website colors.

Sure she knew what colors she liked, but what made a user come back again and again—not so much.

But after hours…Oh God.

He’d call and talk so dirty to her that she was surprised her sheets hadn’t caught on fire. Just last night he asked her to touch herself. Well, make that, he ordered her to touch herself. To make herself come while he told her in explicit detail all things he wanted to do with and to her. So she had, and today…somehow she’d managed to not turn eighty-five shades of red when he’d said good morning to her.

The garage door opened and Carter drove in a cherry red classic Mustang convertible, parking it beside a green Jeep Cherokee. She smiled and started to walk in his direction when a slender dark-haired girl appeared out of nowhere. Rose Holland. She wore a long skirt, a faded purple and a cream colored sweater that was thin at the elbows.

Their eyes met, the girl’s a startling shade of blue and so weary that Melanie wanted to hug her. Automatically Melanie waved. Rose nodded, hand clenched tight by her side.

Carter jumped out the Mustang and walked over to Rose, his gait slow. Almost careful, like he didn’t want to spook her. He smiled at Rose, friendly and open. A smile that Melanie knew she wouldn’t have been able to resist, especially at seventeen. Forget seventeen, she couldn’t resist Carter at twenty-four.

However, Rose didn’t smile back. She held out her hand. “Three hundred for the Jeep, like we agreed on.” Then she swung a basket up. “I brought some eggs and strawberry jelly, too.”

Melanie blinked. Three hundred dollars for a Jeep?

Carter took both. “You drive a hard bargain, Rose. I can’t wait to get this jelly on some of my momma’s biscuits.”

A small smile graced the girl’s lips, then she listened as Carter went over the details of the Jeep. He showed Rose everything, treating her like a new car owner. Treating her like an equal.

“It’s going to be tempting to really let her go on the straight-away near your house, but unless you like getting pulled over by Sheriff Nelson, I wouldn’t recommend it.”

“I’ll wait until tomorrow.”

“Why?”

“Sheriff Nelson’s wife is going to go into labor tonight and he’ll spend all day at the hospital tomorrow. They’re having a girl,” Rose said and this time Melanie looked at her in amazement. No one knew what the Sheriff and his wife was having, and Layla wasn’t due for another three weeks. The hair on Melanie’s arm stood up.

Carter sliced his gaze to Melanie, his green eyes full of the amazement she felt. He cleared his throat and re-focused on Rose, handing her a set of keys. “Really could have used you on the racetrack with all that foresight.”

“Thank you, Carter.” Rose got into the Jeep, leaving as quickly as she came.

When Melanie could find her voice again, she asked, “Three hundred for the Jeep?”

“Yeah, couldn’t talk her into giving me less,” he said, a guilty tone to his voice. But for what? That Jeep had to have cost at least a couple grand. Her heart tumbled from her chest to her toes. Her knees went all shaky and she sighed.

No one else in the world was like Carter.

She glanced at the clock, then ran across the garage. Carter’s newest employee, Beau Montgomery, wasn’t due until three-thirty. Yet another positive sign that the man of her dreams was leaning toward staying in Holland Springs. Why go to all that trouble?

Stopping in front of Carter, she let her gaze travel up his body. His heart was good, sweet and kind, and when combined with the total package—heart-stopping. Or heart-stomping, if she wasn’t careful.

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