“That’s a great idea,” Christina enthused.
Jake and Aiden were nodding along with her. “Definitely,” Aiden said. “Zach fits both those criteria and as head of security could keep us informed about your project, too. Would that be a problem?”
“Not for me,” she assured him.
Only after speaking did she glance at her former lover, whose hard-won mask barely covered the resentment pushing to get out. Sadie wondered if anyone else could see it. Probably not, because they went on talking as if this were a done deal.
Only Zach kept quiet. Good thing he didn’t know the whole story. Otherwise, she might have to worry about her safety.
But at least he would learn. She would get what she wanted...no matter what.
“Just what the hell did you think you were doing?”
Sadie quickly suppressed her smile before turning to face Zach’s rage. She and she alone knew the depths of despair she’d experienced since the last time she’d walked away from him. But she couldn’t have realized she’d be thrilled to see him under any circumstances...including when he looked like he would choke her if he could.
Her innocent question only served to incense him even more. The show was quite spectacular, in fact. Zach’s skin took on a ruddy color underneath, showcasing the extent of his anger. But a lifetime as help to people who only wanted things to go their way had taught Sadie to take her kicks where she could get them, even if she could only feel her amusement on the inside.
“You knew I didn’t want to spend time with you. So why would you set this whole thing up?” he growled.
Ouch. That hurt, but she had known the way he felt before he even said it. “Look,” she said, not afraid to push back. “You started this with your high and mighty attitude, not me.”
“So this is all a game to you?” He waved a hand at the damaged building behind him. “This is not a game to these people. This place was their life.”
“Yes, and I think it will mean a lot to them to have someone document its resurrection, don’t you?”
She wasn’t wrong in this. Knowing how much people got attached to places—like she had to Sheldon Hall, even though it would never be hers—gave her a glimpse of exactly how these townspeople felt. “Building positive memories will help shore up the community and keep people here. Isn’t that what you want?”
She could see on his face that there wasn’t a right answer. He did want that, but it meant spending time with her. Though the reality made her chest ache, she had a job to do just as much as he did. With just as much at stake.
Through clenched teeth Zach brushed her off. “I don’t have time to mess with you right now. The fire marshal is here. Just go back to the B and B.”
As he stalked across the parking lot, she couldn’t help needling him a little more. “I can get some exteriors, though, right?” she called.
He might as well have flipped her the bird, considering the glare on his face. But he held his temper in a gentlemanly way, at least in the midst of the crowd of people he now walked through.
Sadie chuckled, simply because crying in front of everyone wasn’t an option, either. She’d suspected that coming back here would be tough, but she could never have imagined the roller coaster of dealing with her own emotions while matching wits with Zach.
Ever comforted by her camera, Sadie set off around the perimeter, once more trying to capture the compound from angles that showcased both the tragedy but also the potential for rebuilding, because that was exactly what people needed to see.
Just a few minutes in, a bell sounded. Glancing around, Sadie saw numerous soot-covered men exit the site and make their way across the parking lot to a couple of huge tents that had been erected along the far edge near the fencing. Must be lunchtime.
After taking a few shots of the men, she edged away from the crowd. Her focus here was pictures, not food.
“Hey, there,” a voice said from behind her a few minutes later.
Sadie sighed but finished up her shot before easing her camera down from her face. Had Zach sent another security guard to escort her away today? If so, he was going to have a hell of a fight on his hands.