His eyebrows lifted, and then he laughed. “That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time.”

“I would think you’d love telling people what not to wear,” she muttered as they descended.

“Oh I do, but in this case, I’ll be telling people what to wear for a job interview,” he said.

“Job interviews?”

“It might come as a shock, but I plan to help out the people of Holland Springs. I want to open a store where women and men can come for appropriate business attire and get interview pointers.”

Flabbergasted, all she could do was ask, “Why?”

He gave her a flippant smile. “I’ve nothing better to do.”

So this was a hobby for him. Was she one of his charity cases? It didn’t matter; she needed the damn money.

Silently they walked to the kitchen. He followed her to the back porch. On the way out, she grabbed Ivy’s baby monitor and clipped it to her pocket. After scooping up the basket she always kept by the back door, she walked to the chicken coop to gather eggs.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

Turning to look at him, she swung the basket from side to side. “Getting eggs for the last time.”

He nodded at the chickens pecking at the ground. “Tonight’s dinner?”

She opened the chicken coop and began to gather the eggs. “No, I sold them.”

“Do you usually sell your chickens?”

No, she loved all the animals that lived at Strawberry Grove. Even the stinking chickens. She could see his very nice, very expensive boots as he paced. Her own Wal-Mart specials were faded and scuffed.“The Johnsons made it worthwhile,” she said, sidestepping his question.

“They have a farm?” he asked, unwilling it seemed to just let it go.

“Yes. It was their field I found you in that time.” The euphoria from having a well-deserved nap was wearing away. The reality that she was selling everything she owned just in case she couldn’t keep her home and land replacing it faster than she liked.

“One more question.”

Couldn’t he leave her the hell alone? “What?” she snapped, then immediately regretted it. She needed to be cool Rose. Reasonable Rose.

Silence greeted her and she stood up, searching for him. Maybe he’d left. Her shoe brushed against something soft and one of the chickens began to squawk. “Sorry, Colonel Sanders,” she said.

“Behind you.”

She spun around and found him leaning with one hip against the door.

“I need to go into town. Can I borrow your Jeep since Ivy’s asleep?”

Taking the Jeep would leave her stranded. The only other vehicle on the property was an old Chevy truck parked in the barn. It had quit working ten years ago when Skye had poured grease in the gas tank in an attempt to make it environmentally friendly.

“I’m not sure...”

“I promise to return it.”

Something in his tone made her reconsider saying no. “Just replace the gas you use.”

He regarded her thoughtfully. The wind brushed at his hair, lifting the burnished gold strands.

“Please,” she added, slipping past him and making her way back to the house.

A hand on her arm almost made her drop the basket, but then his hand moved to cover hers and kept the basket from falling.

“Is there any way I can help you, Rosebud?”

She couldn’t take her eyes off of his mouth. Or the small freckle at one corner that she wanted to lick. He also had some on his nose, light in color, but if one was close enough…If a woman was able to get past his very kissable mouth, she could find them. Count them. Tease him about them, before kissing each one.

Heat pooled in places she’d prayed were dormant when it came to him. Her body vibrated, throbbed. The woman that she’d buried deep inside of her wanted a man’s touch, a man’s kiss and demanded to be let out. No, not a man’s touch. Sasha’s. And that woman could think of a dozen ways he could help her. Although none of them were sane and some of them probably weren’t legal in North Carolina.

She licked her dry lips. “Paying me rent in advance is enough.” But it wasn’t. And she couldn’t ask him to loan her a hundred thousand dollars, could she?

“Have it your way, but if you need something, all you have to do is ask. I won’t think less of you.”

He sounded so sincere that she couldn’t stop herself from blurting, “Cheesecake.”

His brows drew together and his chin dropped. “Cheesecake?”

She almost told him to forget it, but the woman who wanted him also wanted a decadent dessert that she hadn’t been able to eat in what seemed like forever. “I would like some cheesecake.” She dug the keys out of her pocket and placed them in his free hand.

“Then cheesecake you shall have.”

They stood there, hand in hand, not moving, and yet Rose could feel gravity slipping away.

He leaned closer and she couldn’t stop staring at his sensual lips as they moved. “Anything else?”

Her heart pounded in her throat. “For you to be careful.” With her Jeep she wanted to add, but for some reason her teeth and tongue refused to cooperate. She made her focus widen to encompass his entire face.

Sasha blinked, as if he couldn’t quite discern the meaning of her words, and let her go.

Rose fled to the house.

Chapter Five

Sasha drove back to Strawberry Grove in his newly purchased Mercedes CLS63. For the life of him, he couldn’t figure out why he’d opted for a family car when a two-seater roadster was more to his liking. More to his lifestyle.

Actually, he could explain it all. He was out of his bleedin’ mind.

On the passenger side sat three different styles of cheesecake. He wasn’t sure if she wanted light and fluffy, dense and rich, or whatever the hell else the bakery shop owner, Daisy Barnes, had in her store. And what was it with these women and their flora and fauna names? Lily, Daisy, Iris…Petunia. Okay, so there hadn’t been a Petunia, but he had distinctly heard a mother shout, “Stop, Birch!” at a boy teasing his little sister.

Or perhaps that was the name of the tree she wanted to get a switch from to “paint his back porch red.” At least Sasha was able to indulge his sweet tooth and eat a cupcake topped with sprinkles while he was there.

He adjusted his mirrors and glimpsed a flash of blue lights in the reflection.

“Bloody great.” He pulled over and reached for the required documents. Taking another look in his side mirror, he muttered a second curse. Sheriff Turner was headed his way with a rather disgruntled look on his face.

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