Read Designated Hitter (Reedsville Roosters Book 4) Online

Authors: Holley Trent

Tags: #workplace romance, #enemies to lovers, #male submissive, #athlete, #sports hero, #baseball

Designated Hitter (Reedsville Roosters Book 4) (3 page)

BOOK: Designated Hitter (Reedsville Roosters Book 4)
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CHAPTER THREE

The next morning, Quinn showed up at Marina’s flip house at six forty-five carrying a bag of donuts and two cups of coffee. Getting up early had never been a problem for him. He was a born and bred cowboy, and sleeping in just wasn’t something that had been done in his household growing up. Though he might have been able to get up with no difficulties, getting to anyplace on time was
always
a problem. He liked pretty shiny things and sometimes got distracted. He made damn sure he’d be on time for Marina, though. He needed the pay badly, and plus he needed to prove he wasn’t what folks made him out to be. He
wasn’t
lazy.

He worked hard for every damn thing he had, and he
could
get along with people. The problem was that he had a habit of rubbing elbows with folks who wanted more than he was able to give them. And when they got tired of him, they’d tell him he hadn’t been worth the effort in the first place. He was tired of having people rescind their grace because he’d had to utter the word “No” to something he knew was outside his abilities or personal ethics. He fully expected it to happen again with Marina, but when she fired him, he wanted it to be on
her
—not on him. He was going to do his job in spite of what she expected.

Marina tugged the front door open before he could knock, and was already halfway across the living room before he crossed the threshold. “Come on in,” she called over her shoulder. “I’ve got to get across town for an appointment, so I’m bouncing out of here as soon as I figure out this paint color.”

He closed the door with his foot and carried the coffee and bagels to the kitchen. “I would have thought you’d chosen that already.”

“I thought I
had
,” she called from somewhere deep in the house—perhaps upstairs. “But colors always look different in the morning’s natural light than they do at night when you’re using electric light to see. I want to make sure the color looks great either way.”

He sipped his coffee and went from room to room in search of her, appreciating that she’d taken the time to explain her logic to him and not just dismissing the question as petty or inane. He felt a little silly being gratified by such a thing, but he’d gotten used to people not wanting real discourse out of him. He did, on occasion, want to talk about things other than baseball and sex.

He found her in the upstairs corridor, which was open and airy thanks to a skylight overhead and the balcony that opened to the foyer downstairs. He handed her the other coffee cup.

She stared down at it as if she worried it contained poison and not just the product of weak coffee grounds and a barista’s half-hearted efforts. “You got me coffee?”

He shifted his weight. “I was there, and…” He shrugged. “Well, you would have said I was rude if I didn’t.”

She took the cup and offered him the barest smile. For the way it made his lungs seize up, it may as well have been a full-out grin. It was restrained, but still pretty. That was Marina in a nutshell.

“Thank you, Quinn. But, hey, I’m actually not that petty. It’s nice to be asked, but I’m not going to bitch at you for forgetting to cover every base. I know it’s early and not everyone has their crap together this early in the morning.”

He bowed slightly. “You’re welcome anyway.”

She sipped and pressed a couple of paint color cards against the wall. Ten shades of taupe. “In morning light, the one I thought I was going to use looks too cool. I’m going to go with this one.” She tapped a color, that to him, looked more beige than white. He had to admit that it did seem to “go” with the trim a little better than the other she held up.

“Nice and neutral,” he said.

“Yeah. I get less whining from the potential homeowners that way. I like to remove any possible
reasonable
excuses they might have to not make an offer.”

“I think people are petty as hell if they’re going to complain about paint, but what do I know? You gonna tell the crew, or should I?”

She crossed her eyes and let her lips sputter.

He couldn’t help but to chuckle.

Dammit, she’s cute.

He didn’t want her to be cute. He’d try even harder to be nice even when there was no way in hell she was going to reciprocate for very long. Rich women like her usually found the limits of their endurance with him at around four hours into their arrangements. At that point, he either needed to put out or leave. Quinn liked putting out, but not on the clock. So, he always left.

“People complain about anything, if they have the chance,” she mused quietly.

“Yeah, they do.”

Glancing at the face of her delicate gold watch, she groaned. “Do you mind telling them?”

“That’s what you hired me for, isn’t it?”

“I seem to have forgotten that.”

“You make a habit of hiring people who don’t do what you pay them to?”

“No, I seem to make a habit of hiring people who do what I pay them to on their own timeline in spite of any agreements that they do it sooner. Like with my ex.” Her lips twitched at one corner and nostrils flared.

What’s that about?
Admittedly, he hadn’t done such a great job at following the exploits of Marina Cassevetes when he’d been contracted by the Roosters, but he should have known if there’d been a guy. Marina went to a
lot
of games, and she was too beautiful to ignore.

“I’ve had to become increasingly hard-ass about negotiating,” she said. “Honestly, I’m tired of it.”

“So, obvious question—why do you do this?”

“Because the money’s good, transforming these properties is fun, and I like having a flexible schedule so I can jump on last-minute travel deals.”

“Oh, yeah? Where ya goin’?” He didn’t really expect her to answer, but he really was curious. He’d assumed for years that she was one of those ladies of leisure who had more money than motivation, but he’d perhaps misjudged her. At least on
that
.

She shrugged and started toward the stairway. “I don’t have anything planned at the moment. My travel agent sends me listings every few days trying to entice me into a booking, but fortunately, I’m pretty disciplined. I don’t book anything unless a house is done. I’m supposed to be on vacation right now, actually.” At the bottom of the stairs, she added, “So, I don’t put that much stock in guarantees. I never let myself think a trip is going to happen until I actually get my ass to the airport. Then I believe it’s real.”

“You’re practical. That’s good.” Practical was respectable to a cowboy like him.

“Yeah, my father accuses me of that enough for me to believe it’s true. Sometimes, though, I’m practical at the expense of pleasure. I miss having fun.”

Me, too.

She paused at the front door and held up the coffee. “Thanks for this. Really.”

Her grin was soft. Genuine.
So pretty.
It made him grin back.

She looked away, down at her coffee lid. “Uh…call me if you need anything, but I should be back by lunch.”

“Gone that long?” For some reason he’d let himself believe that she’d be a little more present, but that didn’t make sense. She’d said she needed a stand-in, so of course she wouldn’t have been there. “I’ll be okay, I guess, but what if the guy has questions before you get back?”

“Have you painted a house before?”

“Well, yeah, I’ve painted, but nothing the size of this.”

“Paint’s paint, Quinn. Use common sense and don’t make him think you don’t have the authority to answer. Freakin’ contractors are like hawks, circling around and waiting for you to show some sign of weakness so they can swoop in for the kill.” She rolled her eyes and shuddered.

He stifled a laugh. He was starting to wonder if she were really as staid as she usually let on. “And what should I do while they’re painting? I can’t just sit around twiddling my thumbs.”

She pushed up one perfectly arched eyebrow and opened the door. “Most folks would love to sit around, do nothing, and be paid for it.”

“I’m a cowboy. I gotta be moving.”

“Okay, cowboy,” she said in a low, sultry tone that made his face hot and his nuts throb.

Jesus.

She put her free hand on her hip and stared daringly at him as she sipped coffee.

Whatever the dare was, he wanted to take it. He didn’t know how any man could tell her no when she sounded like that and
looked
like that.

“Really want to get your hands dirty?” she asked.

“Can’t just stand around looking pretty.”

“Apparently, some manservants are hired to do exactly that.”

“True.” Quinn’s roommate, Gary, was one of them. “But give me something to do.”
Let me show you I can do something.

“Okay. I know. You could save me some time and money by pulling up the linoleum in the laundry room. Gotta get the appliances out first, though.” She raised her eyebrows slowly as if expecting him to let her down already.

He wouldn’t.

“I’ll figure it out. What else?”

Brow now furrowed, she sipped her coffee, fixing her chocolate brown gaze on him. She smoothed some errant hairs back behind her ears, and he noticed then her flushed cheeks and nervously flitting hands. It seemed she’d changed her mind just that fast about asking him.

She’s afraid of me? For fuck’s sake!

He let out a breath and tried to soften his expression make his stance less aggressive and confrontational. “Come on, Marina. If you’re gonna pay me to do a job, then give me something to do.”

She let out a ragged exhalation and rolled her gaze up to him. “Okay. Well, there’s shoddy shelving in the closets of two of the smaller bedrooms upstairs.”

“Yeah?”
Lay it on me, honey. Not gonna tell you no yet.

“Think you can get it out without damaging the drywall?”

“If I ding, I can patch. I’ll do that first before the painting crew makes it to those rooms.”

“The last time I asked someone to be careful,” she said softly, “he threw a tantrum. I lost a day from my schedule and two years of my life to a relationship that was going nowhere fast.”

He whistled low, having no better response to that.
Shit.

“I don’t…want to
deal
with that, Quinn.”

“I get it.” Whoever the asshole was who’d screwed her over deserved a punch to the nose. It drove him fucking nuts when people didn’t pull their weight. “Don’t worry about a thing. If you remember anything else, just let me know.”

“Thank you, Quinn,” she said.

Then she was gone—her dress’s bouncy skirt swishing behind her as she ran gracefully down the path toward her Beamer.

She looked like a runner—toned and lithe in her sundress. Lovely and tanned. Some of that shimmering bronze hue had been a gift from her father—the Greek asshole. The rest had been imparted by the sun, and he wondered where her tan lines would be.
Top on or off at the beach? Tempting brown nipples or golden ones?

He scoffed at himself, and pushed off the doorframe.

One donut, maybe two, and then he had shit to do.

He wasn’t going to stand around pondering what was beneath Marina Cassavetes’s clothes. As it was, what was visible to the naked eye was far too tantalizing, and he didn’t want her to come back and find that he hadn’t gotten done what he’d promised.

He could prove he wasn’t a disappointment. He needed someone to believe that, even if he didn’t always believe it himself.

___

Marina found Quinn on all fours facing a corner of the laundry room when she returned to the paint-smelling house, and damned if she didn’t like the sight.

“That’s a good position for you,” wagged her loose tongue.

Fuck
. She would have thunked her forehead with her palm if she had been able to do it with any semblance of grace.

Quinn glanced over his shoulder, brow furrowed.

“Sorry,” she said. “Forgot where I was for a moment.”

“You’re so used to seeing men down on hands and knees? Where do you hang out besides houses with outdated decor filled with day laborers?”

She smiled to suppress a cringe. “Nowhere interesting.”
Nowhere you need to know about
. The last thing she needed was to think about Quinn bound and gagged and utterly submissive.

Her pussy gave an entreating clench anyway. Quinn, silent and waiting? The thought would have elicited wet dreams from even the most staunchly celibate of women, and at the moment, Marina probably qualified pretty well for that category. She hadn’t wanted to play lately.

He bobbed his eyebrows and faced the corner again. “I saw some mold down in this corner.”

“Don’t cuss at me, Quinn.”

He chuckled, and sat back on his heels. “Mold’s one of those bad four-letter words, huh? Yeah, I reckon you wouldn’t want to have to deal with it in a fast flip like this, but it’s there.”

“How much?”

He grunted and stood. “Not much. Washer hose got loose or something and water puddled because of it. The water was probably left down there long enough that it seeped beneath the trim. The humidity here keeps water from evaporating fast enough that it won’t do any damage.”

“Just that corner, then?”

“Yeah, it’s not extensive. Looks like it’s just the two edges of the trim and the particleboard of the subfloor. In a room this small, that’s an easy fix.”

“That’s what everyone says when there’s a problem.” And that fixing it was easy…with the right amount of money.

She gnawed on the inside of her cheek and visualized the project calendar.

They can probably do this room last. If push comes to shove, I’ll lay down the tiles and paint in here myself.

She looked at Quinn, who seemed to be waiting expectantly. She could get used to that, and mentally scolded herself for even thinking it. There was no way in hell she was keeping Quinn, even if he did appear to be pretty handy to have around. That didn’t negate the fact that he was still walking, talking trouble.

“You’re thinking too hard,” he said with another chuckle. “Really. It’s got to be fixed, but it’s not that bad. Anyone could do it.”

“Do
you
know how to fix it?”

“Yeah. Ranch hands pick up all sorts of useful skills when they’re not tending the herds. Done more than enough construction work off ranches, too. Whatever was paying the best at the time was what I did.”

BOOK: Designated Hitter (Reedsville Roosters Book 4)
13.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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