Love by Design (Crystal Falls Book 1)

BOOK: Love by Design (Crystal Falls Book 1)
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Love by Design

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

About Lynette Lee

Love by Design

A Crystal Falls Novel


Lynette Lee


Love by Design

Copyright 2015 by Lynette Lee

Amazon Edition


This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.


This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales are purely coincidental.





Love by Design

A Crystal Falls Novel

Chapter One


Although she wouldn’t admit to being flustered, Lily Daly was definitely feeling the pressure of the clock. She glanced at it for the third time in as many minutes as she finished pulling a straightening iron through her light brown hair.

She turned right and then left in the dim light of her little bathroom, checking for any missed spots, not realizing that she’d put her hand down too close to the hot metal plates until she felt the sizzle. She let out a hiss as the iron brushed against her skin and pulled it out of the plug angrily before sucking the side of her palm into her mouth.

Get it together, Lily. You’ve got plenty of time. Steady. Calm.

Looking herself over one more time, she breathed in and out slowly, trying to remember the latest technique she’d learned in yoga. It was supposed to help calm her but she felt only the same old tug of anxiety she’d felt all morning. The first day of her very first paid job was just not the time for anything approaching a zen state of mind.

She grabbed her mug and took a deep swig of her coffee. Not that she needed any more of a buzz - she’d been awake and jittery with nervous excitement since before dawn.

Lily had started her own interior design business, Daly Designs, three months before and until her first client called her last week, her only client had been her mother. As heartwarming as being paid in cookies for remodeling her parents’ master bedroom was, she could have wept tears of joy after that first real client phone call. Especially when she’d heard what the client, Mrs. Christina Upton, was willing to pay. What Lily needed more than anything was a paying job. One that she could proudly put into her portfolio. One that would pay for the extremely expensive pants she’d just bought.

The pants, a soft butter colored linen that had made her butt look fantastic in the dressing room the day before, slid on just as easily now and she turned in the closet mirror, admiring the cut as she zipped them up. She couldn’t really afford them, but Lily believed strongly in the idea that one had to dress for the role one wanted. And for Lily, that meant a much higher quality wardrobe than the yoga pants and t-shirts she’d been living in since quitting her job at Blackwood Interiors, the only other interior design firm in Crystal Falls to start her own gig.

This new job was a remodel of an old cabin located halfway up the mountain between Crystal Falls, where Lily had lived for the past four years, and the nearby ski resort of Breckenridge. She’d only talked to the client’s assistant who hadn’t given her the details of the job over the phone, but Lily assumed it would be like much of the remodel work she’d done when she’d worked for Blackwood. The mountains around Crystal Falls were dotted with the cabins and ski chalets of the wealthy, creating plenty of work for the architects, builders and designers that lived in Crystal Falls year round.

Lily checked the clock again and felt her heart thud in her chest as she pulled a deep purple shirt on, the fabric gliding smoothly over her skin. She couldn’t help but smile as she ran her hands over the silky fabric. It was the small luxuries, the details, Lily knew, that made life really enjoyable. She believed it so strongly that she made it her guiding principle in her design work as well as her personal life. It was easy to wow someone with a flashy carpet or expensive couch, but finding just the right vase for an alcove or throw for a bed made all the difference. It was just this philosophy that had made her work stand out from the other designers at Blackwood, and the one she hoped to capitalize on with her new business.

Her cell phone rang in the other room and she pulled a pair of cream heels from the closet quickly, stumbling into them on her way to the phone. The screen blinked “MOM” and 7:46AM. She let out a frustrated squeal of a breath before dropping the phone back in her purse and grabbing her coffee. Her mother would just have to wait. The only thing worse than showing up poorly dressed was showing up late. She was supposed to be up the mountain and at her client’s house in less than fifteen minutes - a feat she knew would be next to impossible.

Kicking into higher gear, Lily scrambled around her tiny apartment grabbing her coffee, her work bag with all her samples and portfolio, her keys and her purse. She fought the urge for one last look at herself in the mirror and headed out the door as her phone rang again. She didn’t even have to look to see who it was. She knew her mother too well.

She threw everything into the passenger seat of her bright red Mini Cooper and headed through the small main street of town toward the highway that would take her up the mountain.

With any luck she would only be a few minutes late. At least the roads heading toward the ski areas were clean and easy in July. If it were only a couple of months later she might have to stop and put on snow tires. Just thinking about that gave her chills.

She punched a button on her console and dialed her mother. Lily knew it was best to talk to Barbara Daly when she only had a few minutes to spare - otherwise her mom could go on for ages, ignoring all attempts Lily might make to cut her off.

“Why didn’t you answer when I called?” her mother’s voice blared out of the car’s speakers. She turned the volume down. Way down.

“I was busy. I have my appointment today, remember?”

“With that rich client? The one you told me about?”

“Yep. I start work on the place today.” Lily drummed her fingers on the steering wheel as she navigated the curves of Highway Nine.

“You sound flustered, dear. I hope you aren’t driving too fast.” Her mother’s nagging brought her attention back to the road. It was gorgeous on the mountain, the early morning sun filtering through the dense line of pine trees that hugged every turn. She braked quickly when she saw two deer in the grass beside the guardrail but they bounded off into the trees as she made another turn.

“I’m fine, mom. I’m going the speed limit.”
Close enough, at least
. Her mother exasperated her constantly but there was no one else she turned to first with news big or small.

“I know you’ll do great today. Just remember that you can’t control what other people think of you, only what you think of yourself.”

“Okay, thanks a lot.” She knew enough not to respond to the bizarre comment, one of her mother’s fortes. “Listen, I should probably go…”

“Did I tell you what your sister did last week? She got drunk and got her belly button pierced. Can you believe she’d do such a thing? At her age?”

Lily mumbled back, not wanting to continue the conversation. Especially not since she’d been the one to talk her sister Rachel into it.

“Wow, that’s crazy, mom. Look I really need to go,” she tried to interrupt. She’d just pulled onto the long winding drive that led to the house. She wasn’t beyond hanging up on her mother if necessary. She’d done it many times before.

“Damn it all to hell!” she cried, turning around the last curve to find not only a quaint, if dated cabin with a slick silver BMW parked outside, but a dark blue extended cab pickup truck. A truck that she knew too well.

“Honey, your language,” her mother replied. “What is it? Are you okay?”

“Nothing, mom. Everything’s fine but I’ve gotta go. I’ll call you later.”

She hung up the phone and fought the urge to ram into the big dusty truck. She would know that tacky “Gut Fish” bumper sticker anywhere. Only someone as ridiculous as her ex-boyfriend Noah would have something so ugly stuck to the back of his truck.


“If we could maybe take these walls out,” Mrs. Christina Upton gestured toward a long log wall that spanned the length of the cabin’s main living area, her many diamond rings catching the light, “and put in floor to ceiling windows instead, this room could really be fantastic. You can make that happen, right?”

Noah Caldwell frowned as he watched her walking the length of the wall in question. Christina Upton was exactly what Noah had expected when he’d agreed to take her cabin remodel job - ultra-rich and ultra-bored. She dripped money, from the floor-length ermine coat she wore to the perfect smoothness of her face and the platinum blond of her hair. She never mentioned a Mr. Upton although Noah was sure he existed somewhere, funding the woman’s every whim.

She leaned into him and he nearly gagged as her spicy perfume surrounded him.

“Of course,” he responded and moved quickly away from her and to the wall she’d pointed to. It was made up entirely of interlocking logs and had three small single-pane windows, each with yellowed eyelet curtains covering the dirty panes. He ran his hand along the knotted wood. What a shame it would be to have to cut into it, but he had to agree with Upton, the vast living room with vaulted log ceilings would really be spectacular with windows that looked out over the tree lined ridges of the mountain.

He pulled his tape measure out and did some quick calculations, jotting himself notes that he could use when he settled back into his office to draw up the final plans for the remodel.

Noah had a reputation among the rich ski-buffs in the Breckenridge and Aspen areas as being the architect who could make anything happen. He knew that even if it meant tearing a house down to the studs to make the client happy, he could never use that hateful word “no.”

He had a sneaking suspicion that she hadn’t just hired him for his architectural skills or his agreeable reputation either. In the five minutes they’d been together she’d already had her hands on him several times. And it wasn’t exactly a new experience for him. Ever since he’d been featured on the cover of Design Today two months before, there’d been a significant uptick in female clients who seemed to be more interested in his body than what he could do to their homes.

“Now, let me show you what I had in mind for the bedroom.” Just as she grabbed his hand to pull him down the hallway there was a knock at the door.

“Odd. I don’t think I was expecting anyone,” she said with a frown and moved to answer.

Noah leaned his elbows back against the nearest window frame and waited for his client. He hoped whoever it was wouldn’t be too much of a distraction - the walk-through was already taking longer than he’d expected and he had an important meeting about a condo development project back in town in just a couple of hours.

Christina opened the door and he straightened up suddenly, his back and shoulders bunching in tight knots. His ex-girlfriend Lily, the last person in the world he expected to see, walked into the room with a dazzling smile.

Christina raised one eyebrow at her. “Can I help you?” she asked, her voice clipped, making it obvious that he interruption was anything but welcome.

“I’m Lily Daly, of Daly Design,” Lily began but Christina waved a hand, cutting her off before she could say more.

“And I suppose my assistant Lydia told you to show up today.” Christina crossed her arms as Lily came fully into the room. “I swear that woman is deliberately trying to ruin me,” Christina murmured as Lily placed her bag on the kitchen counter.

Noah tried to calm the beat of his heart. He hadn’t seen Lily since their terrible breakup three months before and watching her walk into the room now, he couldn’t help but check her out, curious about how the months had treated her. Part of him wanted to see her beat down, affected in some way by their split, maybe a little added weight or bags under the eyes. It was childish of him, he knew, but their breakup had been rougher on him than he’d like to admit and he hoped she’d felt at least something from it too.

BOOK: Love by Design (Crystal Falls Book 1)
4.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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