“Fair warning,” I said as I lit the fire, “there is a damn woodpecker that has made its home in that tree right outside your window. You may hear him in the early morning. Hell, you may hear him all the time.”

“Nature’s alarm clock,” she replied cheerily. It seemed nothing could wipe away the huge smile on her face.

I wasn’t one to surround myself with Pollyanna, Snow White type of people. Moody, dark, and just being an overall asshole did not attract me to that energy or the other way around. But there was something refreshing about Tessa and the way she looked at things. So pure and unsoiled. Though I got the feeling her life had been far from a bed of roses, she still seemed very much a delicate flower.

“I’ll go get our stuff out of the Jeep, and I’ll start up the generator,” I said. “Then I want to get to work for a while.”

She smiled. “I’ll go down in the cellar and figure out what to make for our first dinner.” She took one last look of the room with her entire face lit up. “I can’t believe this is where I will be living and working.” She looked at me and her face grew serious. “Thank you, Price. I promise you that I will be the best assistant you have ever had.”

I nodded and left the room without saying another word. I didn’t want to tell her that it wouldn’t be that hard to be the best assistant since I typically scared them away or they bugged the shit out of me so badly that I fired them for no particular reason other than they annoyed me. I could already tell Tessa wouldn’t annoy me. But it was too soon to tell if the beast of this story would scare away the beauty.

Chapter Five


It had been two days, and Price and I had barely said more than a few words to each other. He worked all the time. He was in his office when I woke up in the morning, and he was in his office when I went to bed. The only time he had left was for dinnertime, but even then he sat at the table jotting down notes in a leather journal, or he stared off into space so deep in thought that I was pretty sure he didn’t even realize I was sitting across from him. I had no idea what he liked to eat or what he disliked, but he ate everything I put in front of him. Almost in a trance-like state. I seriously doubted he even knew what he was shoveling into his mouth. I had learned that he liked coffee black, and he liked it often. So often, that I was going in and out of his office for most of the day. The house was easy to clean because Price never used any part of it. He slept in his room and that was it. The job was easy. Too easy. I actually found myself with nothing to really keep me occupied, and I wondered if I was doing enough to please him all the time. I tried to stay near him in case he needed anything. I hadn’t had a chance to explore the land yet. In fact, I hadn’t even stepped outside other than to take out the garbage.

So, I was thrilled when after I was done with the morning dishes, I heard Price calling for me from his office saying he needed some assistance and wanted me to read what he had written so far for his book. Walking into his office with trepidation skipping through my veins, I stiffened my spine, raised my chin, and tried to muster as much courage as I could.

“Go ahead and sit at that desk by the window,” Price ordered without even looking up from his computer. “I have my printed manuscript sitting there waiting for you. It’s the first three chapters. Feel free to make notes in the margins, and I’ll go over them soon.” He still didn’t look up at me. Price seemed scattered on the surface, but beneath his rich brown eyes, I saw complete focus. He was clearly still lost in his own thoughts.

I quickly got to reading, and had no idea how long I had been sitting there, but I was completely mesmerized.


That was the only word I could come up with to describe what I had just read. I had never read a book and enjoyed it. The bare minimum that I was forced to endure in my life had been for school and just so I could graduate. I couldn’t really tell you about any of the stories, or even the titles of most. They truly had been that unmemorable. But not with Price’s book. His words hooked me, and I didn’t want them to stop. It was almost as if I could actually hear him reading the words to me. His writing gave me a sense of coziness and warmth as if he were reading me a bedtime story tucked beneath my covers. But at the same time, his story was haunting, thrilling, and I waited on anxious breath as I turned the pages.

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