Today's Reading

As she cased the property, she instantly found the spot a hundred yards from the house that would give her a perfect view of the water, almost as if it had been created exactly for her twenty-four-foot 1993 Airstream, affectionately nicknamed Vera by Jess's business partner.

This job was meant to be. She had already bonded with Eleanor Whitaker over their weeks of email and phone correspondence. This view sealed the deal.

When she was done working each day, she could go to sleep to the restful sound of the ocean. She climbed back in her pickup and backed the trailer with the ease of long practice. Some people struggled with trailering but Jess didn't. The seven years she had spent as a driver in the military still served her well.

When the Airstream was in a good spot, she hopped out and was reaching in the back of the pickup for the chocks when an angry male voice drifted across the manicured lawn to her.

"Hey. This is private property. You can't park that here!"

She instinctively wrapped her hand around the chock. Angry male voices always brought out the warrior princess in her. She could blame both her childhood and those years in the army when she had to go toe to toe with people twice her weight and a foot taller.

The chock was heavy and could do real damage in the right hands.

Hers.

"I have permission to be here," she said, her voice cool but polite.

He frowned. "Permission? That's impossible."

"I assure you, it's not."

"This is my mother's property. She would have told me if she had given somebody permission to camp here."

Ah. This must be Nathaniel Whitaker, Eleanor's son. Her client had mentioned that he lived in another house on the property and would probably be in and out as Jess went about her work.

Hadn't Eleanor told him Jess was coming?

She relaxed her grip on the chock but didn't release it. "You must be Nathaniel. Eleanor has told me about you."

Her words didn't have an impact on his expression. If anything, his glower intensified, his frown now edged with confusion that she knew his name.

Despite his sour expression, she couldn't help noticing he was an extraordinarily good-looking man. Eleanor hadn't mentioned that her son had dark hair, stormy blue eyes, a square jawline. Or that his green T-shirt with a logo over the right breast pocket that read Whitaker Construction clung to his muscles.

Jess found it extremely inconvenient that Nathaniel Whitaker happened to hit every single one of her personal yum buttons.

"Who are you?" he demanded. "And how do you know my mother?"

Ah. This was tricky. Eleanor was her client. She must have had her own reasons for not telling her son Jess was showing up. Jess felt compelled to honor those reasons. Until she could talk to the woman, Jess didn't feel right about giving more information to Nate than his own mother had.

"My name is Jess Clayton. Your mother knows I planned to arrive today. I have her permission to set up anywhere. I thought this would work well."

Beautifully, actually. The more time she looked around, the better she liked it. A twisting path down to the ocean started just a few yards away, leading down to what looked like a protected cove.

"Set up for what? Why are you here?"

"You really should ask your mother," she said. It would be so much better if he could hear the explanation from Eleanor.

"I just tried to call her when I saw you pulling in. She's not answering."

"Probably in the middle of the movie. She told me she and Sophie were going to a matinee after the orthodontist."

If she thought this further knowledge about his family would set Nate's mind at ease, she was sadly mistaken. His gaze narrowed further. "How the hell do you know my daughter had an orthodontist appointment?"

"Your mom happened to mention it."

"Funny, the things my mother told you. I talk to her several times a day, every day, and she hasn't said a word to me about a strange woman setting up a trailer in the side yard. Tell me again what you're doing here?"
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