Authors: Melody Snow Monroe
“So are you.” That wasn’t a come-on but the truth. Some might say he was a bit too well groomed, but men who sold million-dollar homes had to appeal to the wealthy.
“Do you have a moment?”
“Sure.” For him, she had a lot of moments.
He led her closer to the dining room, where there were fewer people. “I wanted to talk to you about commissioning a piece for the model home I’m designing.”
Her pulse raced. Getting that kind of exposure would be huge. She’d done a few small pieces for him, like wall sconces and a mailbox stand, but nothing this grand. “Sure.”
“I stopped by your store the other day to ask about a staircase I heard you’d created. You weren’t there, but Dakota was nice enough to show me the one you’d built for your home.”
Why hadn’t her friend told her? Maybe Dakota thought she’d stepped over the line by allowing a client into her home, which sat above the store in a three-story converted factory. Usually Jade’s place was neat, but she couldn’t vouch that it had been pristine the day he’d stopped in. When she’d done the renovations, she had to repair the staircase that went from the second to the third floor, and she’d installed an intricately designed metal railing. “That is my pride and joy. It took me close to three months, working around the clock to make that.”
“I can believe it. I wouldn’t need anything that feminine, but I loved how you wove the metal through each other.”
He thought it feminine? That thrilled her.
Dustin came over and slapped Logan on the back. “Got a minute? There’s someone who’d like to meet you.”
. He’d already had his time with Logan. Couldn’t Dustin see this was her big chance to impress her dream man? Her makeup was perfect, complete with false eyelashes, sculpted eyebrows, and glitter eye shadow. The last time Logan had come into the shop, she was in blacksmith mode. Her long hair was pulled into a ponytail, sweat coated her body, and her steel-toed black boots were anything but feminine.
She kept her gaze on them as Dustin pulled his boss away. Her cousin had no idea how he’d messed up her dream moment.
Dakota rushed up to her. “How did it go?”
She jerked at the intrusion.
It was way too brief.
“I guess okay. He wants me to make a staircase for a model home.”
“Oh, my God, that’s freaking fantastic. I thought he might ask. That was why I didn’t tell you about his visit. I wanted it to be a surprise.” She inhaled and squeezed her eyes shut for a moment. “That means lots of late-night meetings to discuss exactly what he wants. You’ll have to do some samples and bring them over to his mansion. Wow, girl, you hit the jackpot.”
She hadn’t thought of all the possibilities. “Maybe.”
Dakota glanced behind her, winked, and made some dumb excuse why she had to leave. Jade couldn’t understand why her friend had to rush off until she got another tap on her shoulder. She spun around praying it wasn’t Clint or Morgan complaining about Dakota. It was Logan again!
He shifted his weight. “Sorry about that. Dustin wanted me to meet the solar-panel installer.”
A worker had come to a party? What was up with that? “I totally get it. When you work for yourself, it’s a twenty-four-seven job.”
He grinned, and she had to work hard to keep from swooning.
“I wanted to ask you something else.”
No way he’d be asking her out on a date. They’d known each other for about three years, and except for the few jobs she’d done for him and Parker, he’d not acted interested. “Sure.”
“Parker has a new play coming out.”
Parker always had a new play coming out. It’s what he did. “That’s great.” Parker owned the town’s community theater and directed the plays there. The best part was that Logan often starred as the leading man and she could sit for two hours and admire him.
“It’s set in New Orleans, and Parker wanted me to ask you if you might be willing to do another set design for him?”
She loved giving back to the community, but the last time she helped design and build the set, it took her three weeks. During that time, she wasn’t able to make or sell any of her work. The words tumbled out. “I’d be happy to.”
She’d saved enough money to live three months without an income. If it meant she could be closer to her two hunky men, she’d do it.
Reality sunk in. “I do have a few commissioned pieces that I have to get out, but I should be able to make it work. The play won’t be for a while, will it?”
“I’m afraid casting starts tomorrow.”
She’d have to give up sleep, but the sacrifice would hopefully be worth it.
An outside bell rang, signifying the food was ready. She wove her fingers together, thankful for the interruption. “I guess that means we need to head outside.”
Logan probably dated women who’d traveled, could speak several languages, rode a horse like a pro, or could dance with the stars.
Not so much.
Used to standing in front of a furnace all day heating and bending iron, she didn’t do well with the cold. She grabbed the coat she’d tossed on one of the dining room chairs and followed the group out to the eating area. Already there was quite a long line to get the food.
. Between the three Callen brothers, and their entire family and friends, there had to be more than sixty people who’d accepted the invitation.
Logan leaned in close behind her. “The spread looks amazing.”
The hairs on her neck stood up from the closeness. She forced herself to concentrate on the meal. There were bowls of mashed potatoes, several large vegetable dishes, three different kinds of meats, and an array of desserts that boggled the mind. Her mom, with the help of her younger sisters, had really gone all out. Had Jade not had a client deadline, she would have helped. Her mom said the fact that she made the new sign was a big enough contribution.
As she filled up her plate, she glanced at what kinds of foods interested Logan. Like her, he avoided all the fried stuff and the cream sauces. Given his well-defined body, she wasn’t surprised he watched what he ate.
Once she finished piling the food onto her plate, she purposefully didn’t sit with Dustin, because then she’d be uncertain if Logan wanted to be with her or with her cousin. Dakota waved to her, but Jade infinitesimally shook her head. There was no way Logan would want to be involved with the two of them. Dakota was a bit on the outgoing side, and as such, turned off a few people with her chatter.
Jade sat at the end of an empty picnic table next to the heater. The beginning of April was too cold for her, even though no one else seemed to mind.
“May I join you?”
Her heart skipped a beat. “Absolutely.”
If you hadn’t asked I’d have been terribly disappointed.
She loved how polite he was. He didn’t swagger like other men or act super tough. No, Logan Smithfield was cool personified.
He slid across from her and smiled. Only now did she realize how hard it would be to eat with him watching her.
He waved a fork. “I have to tell you that I was amazed at what you’d done with the factory. It had been sitting idle for as long as I can remember.”
She’d purchased the factory about eighteen months ago. It took her the next twelve months to get it inhabitable. “I did put a lot of sweat equity into making it livable.”
“The floors and walls are fantastic.”
She couldn’t help but smile. “They took about a month to sand down the wood floors, stain, and then seal them. I thought they came out beautiful.” Talking about the renovation was dear to her heart. Given he was a green developer, she figured he’d appreciated what went into her design. “I think my favorite part might have been the skylights and solar tubes in the top floor.”
His brows rose. “You’ll have to give me a tour.”
Her throat turned dry and her hand shook. Her imagination ran wild thinking about having Logan in her home, seeing her feminine bedroom and her unusual bathroom where she’d lined the shower walls with steel then glazed them with porcelain. “I’d love to.”
“If I recall, your place used to be an ice-cream factory. Was there anything you could salvage?”
“Not much. About the only things left behind were the vats. Most were too big, but one of the smaller ones I was able to use as a bathroom sink. I also repurposed the industrial-size sink to use in my kitchen.”
“That’s so creative. I’m hoping I might get some ideas for something I’ve been dreaming about.”
She leaned closer. “Are you thinking of getting into the renovation business?” They would have more in common if he did. She’d learned a lot of what to look for in a used building. The first few she’d contemplated buying were pure money pits.
“Perhaps. I kind of got the itch watching what Parker did with the old theater.”
“He did do an amazing job, especially in restoring the ornate sculptures.” Now the city could enjoy plays all year long. Hopefully, he was making a go of it.
Since Logan had dug into his meal, she didn’t want to be rude and not eat. She cut her steak and took a bite. Juices dripped down her chin, and she immediately wiped them off. Logan’s eyes twinkled.
. Why couldn’t she have aimed better?
The small lift to his lips disappeared. “Tell me where you get your inspiration for your ironwork.”
She paused, unsure how to answer. There was no question who she imagined seeing the finished product—Logan Smithfield. “Actually, your home designs gave me a lot of inspiration.” Her pulse raced wondering if she’d been too honest.
He grinned. “I’m flattered.”
* * * *
Last night’s cookout had netted a lot more than Logan had hoped, yet he couldn’t get Jade out of his mind. She was a beautiful and independent woman who, he bet, could succeed at anything she set her mind to. That was refreshing. In his line of business, many of the women he interacted with either felt that they needed to act like a man to succeed in the male-dominated business or were gold diggers. Jade was neither. Her love of her job intrigued him. Like him, working hard seemed to be built into her DNA.
He pulled in front of the theater and was lucky enough to get a space. After periodically interacting with her for a few years, she’d piqued his interest more than ever yesterday. Since he and Parker loved to share, he wanted to get his best friend’s take on possibly pursuing her.
When Logan entered the theater, Parker was on stage directing two actors. He slipped into one of the stadium seats to watch the rehearsal. Parker had to be one of the most passionate men he’d ever met. Not only could he get into a character’s head and help the actor understand what to do, but his artwork belonged somewhere other than on a backdrop. Logan had a few of Parker’s pieces scattered in some of the model homes, but his friend claimed he didn’t want to spend time painting commissioned pieces when there were plays to write and direct.
The current show,
My Heart’s Desire
, was about to open, and Parker was giving final directions to the lead actors. Logan would have auditioned, but with the development about to open, he didn’t have the time. Now that Jade had agreed to build the set for the next show, he might have to rearrange his priorities.
“That’s a wrap, gang. See you tomorrow for the show.” Parker patted both actors on the back.
Logan got up and ambled toward the stage. Had he heard more of the dialogue, he would have clapped.
Parker looked up and smiled. “Hey, what brings you here?”
“Thought that since the show opens tomorrow your immediate job is mostly done. I was hoping we could grab a beer. I know you’ll be busy working on the next show by tomorrow.”
Parker laughed. “Understand my workload, do you?”
He guessed that meant Parker would be willing to spend some time going out. “How about the Raging Bull? It’s Thursday, so it shouldn’t be too crowded.”
“Perfect. Let me grab my jacket.”
While Logan waited, he looked around the theater. Parker had done a remarkable job on a shoestring. He’d restored the ceiling that lit up with the night sky and had redone the gold-leaf molding to its original grandeur. Just this year the theater broke even. Logan’s way of supporting the arts was to let Parker live free in his guesthouse.
Parker returned. “Let’s go.”
He hoped Parker shared the same infatuation with Jade he did. Sharing a woman was not a decision either took lightly.
Parker thought it a bit odd that Logan would show up at the theater, but he was willing to go out for the night, in part because he knew Logan had gone to Spencer’s anniversary party as Dustin’s guest. He was a bit jealous that his best friend had the opportunity to mingle with the alluring Jade Callen for the night.
They found two stools at the rather empty bar. Canned music played in the background, and the locals were behaving themselves for a change.
“How was the Callen anniversary party?” Jade had been on his mind ever since Logan mentioned the invitation.