Elizabeth Monroe moved from Chicago to a small town in Ohio to live with her grandda, Bingo. He owned the construction company updating Peter’s house. Elizabeth was helping out until she could take her medical boards to transfer her license to Ohio.
Robert Archer was bored with being an attorney and wanted to try his hand at construction. He had an eye for detail and wanted to help his brother, Peter, out. Robert was focusing so hard on the tile job that when Elizabeth suddenly spoke out of seemingly nowhere, he was startled and fell, hitting his head hard on the tub.
Elizabeth went immediately into doctor mode to save Robert. With his head bandaged and his eyes covered, Robert only knew her by the sound of her voice and her surly attitude. Surly or not, Robert was intrigued and falling quickly for the new doctor.
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Merce was a go-getter. She ran a contracting company with her father, and when she saw something that needed to be done, she did it. Archer’s company had a new product that needed to be produced, and Merce knew her company was in a perfect position to fulfill that order. She just didn’t understand why they weren’t on the list for consideration. She’d see about that.
Del was exhausted. The banging on his front door in the middle of the night was beyond infuriating. He didn’t bother getting dressed to answer it. If whoever was at the door didn’t like it, then so be it. That’s what they get for being so rude.
In all his naked glory, Del threw open the front door. Merce didn’t skip a beat in getting right to the point of her visit. The sparks fly as two stubborn souls clash for the first time….
When Heather Grey received the phone call from Merce Archer that her brother was dead, she wasn’t surprised, but when her sister-in-law, Judy Grey, claimed to be pregnant with her brother’s child, Heather knew better than that. There was no way in hell that child was his. Heather decided right then and there that she’d go to the small town and set things straight.
Peter Archer was acting as the Archer family’s attorney. He was looking into the possibility that an employee of theirs, Judy Grey, had embezzled money from one of the business owner’s personal accounts.
When Heather stormed into their lives, bringing her mentally challenged aunt with her, demanding Judy be investigated for her brother’s death, Peter was captivated with her. And when Heather said they came as a package deal, Peter didn’t hesitate because from the moment he kissed her, his life had changed forever.
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Robert watched the men as they worked on the house he knew Heather and Peter were going to live in. He was hoping he could convince them to let him purchase the other house from them when it was finished. The workers were doing all sorts of things he’d never thought of before that were needed to bring a house back to life, like hanging drywall. The way they put a strip of some kind of paper tape over the seams to what he assumed was to hide them. He was just about to move to another part of the house to watch more work going on when Mr. Taylor, the foreman, sat down beside him. “You’re here to make sure we’re doing a good job?”
Robert was shocked by the question. “You’re making my people nervous, Mr. Archer. If you’re going to be spying on us, the least you could do was to inform me that you’re doing that.” “Oh. No. That’s not it at all. I didn’t think that it would— You see, I’m an attorney. Not that it has anything to do with me being here. But I don’t want to do that anymore. Not at all.” Mr. Taylor nodded. “I’ll start from the beginning. I don’t like being an attorney. I don’t know that I ever did. So I’m looking for, I don’t know, something to occupy my mind and body. I was watching your workers because I’ve been thinking I’d like to give something like this a shot. You know, it’s physical. Mentally challenging. I mean, to watch how your people can hang the boards there and not have to second guess if it’s going to stay there or even fit. I was trying to decide if this was something I’d like to try.”
Mr. Taylor took the notebook that he’d offered to him. As he read over the pages he’d been taking notes on from different jobs on the site, he handed it back to him and sat there for several minutes. It was all he could do not to beg him not to turn him away. “Come with me.” As he walked up the stairs to the third floor, he introduced him to the elderly man working there. “This is Bingo. Don’t ask how he got the name. Bingo, this is Robert. He’s going to be working with you today. He’s a greenhorn, so don’t be making him do all your work while you supervise. He’s got it in his head that he wants to work in renovations like this house.” Bingo took his hand when he offered it. “He thinks on account of me being old, that I don’t know a thing or two.
You’re an Archer. I noticed he didn’t give a last name, but I’ve been around the block a time or two, so I know what’s what more than he does. You’re a lawyer, ain’t you?” “Yes. I was, I guess you could say. I’ll still work if I’m needed, but I’m bored with it. At least for now. I need something to keep me out of trouble.” Bingo laughed. “My mom said that if I didn’t find something to do soon, she was going to murder me. I doubt it would come to that, but she doesn’t have anything around the house for me to move or to help her clean.” Bingo laughed again. It was like listening to a braying jackass, as his grandda would say. But it was also a good sound like he really meant the humor of it. When he told him to come with him, he once again found himself following someone. But this time, he was handed a diagram of what the floor was to look like when it was finished.
“That there is called tile rejuvenation. Not thinking you’re stupid or nothing, but that’s what I call it. The design there, it’s what was on the floor before some fool covered it with carpet, it looked like. What I’ve been doing, and you’re going to do now, is take that there scraper thing and peel back all that stuck crap over it and bring out the tile. Not hard, not if you’re a young man such as yourself, but it’s hard on an old man like me. Just be careful, because some of them tiles is broken, and it’ll cut you faster than a sharp blade will. And it’s nasty. Being in a bathroom all this time, it’s bound to have some nasty turd stuff on it.” Robert started to laugh but could see the man was serious. “Now the tricky part of this is going to be when you get there by the terlit. We’ll take it out of here if you’d not mind helping me.
We’re going to be real careful like with it on account of it being old, and it’s a good flusher.” It took Robert a second or two to realize he was talking about the toilet. Terlit? It was a word he’d never heard before, but he got it. Watching Bingo as he showed him around the other things he was going to be working on, Robert realized how excited he was to be doing this. He also had a feeling that tomorrow he was going to be sore. He’d not done real physical work in a long time. And going to the gym three times a week wasn’t going to even be close to the work he was going to be doing today. Removing the toilet, or terlit as Bingo kept calling it, wasn’t as difficult as he thought it would be. It was heavy as hell, weighing about a hundred pounds. But it was slippery and awkward to maneuver out of the room.
Robert was proud of himself when he got it into the bedroom that this room was attached to. After removing the pedestal sink and the leg of it, the entire bathroom looked a good deal larger. However, he wasn’t sure what they were going to do with the claw-footed bathtub. He wondered how they were going to get it out because it was cast iron, Bingo said. “Waiting on word about that from your brother. Don’t suppose you could call him or his missus for me? Sure would be nice to know if we gotta bust out a wall or two to get that sucker out of here. The thing must weigh upwards to four hundred pounds or so.” He said he’d call him now.
“Tell him it can be redone with new enamel coating for about what it’ll cost for a new tub.” He was asked to call Heather, as Peter hadn’t any idea what she wanted to do. Robert did know that Peter and Heather were going to be living in this house and was a little jealous that they were having so much fun. Robert wondered briefly if he had someone out there that he could love. When Heather answered the phone, he told her what he was doing and why he was calling her. “Is this the bathroom on the third floor?
The one with the wraparound shower curtain that’s blue?” He told her it was. “Mr. Taylor told me it had tile under the carpet. Please tell me that’s what you’re— Wait, what are you doing there?” “I’ve decided I need something to do. While I don’t need to work for financial gain, I do need to work to keep me from being arrested for sitting outside the different shops around town to browse around more. I’ve seen about everything there is to see in the shops, just so you’re aware.”
She asked him if he was the go-between. “No. I’m working on the job site if they allow it. Bingo is showing me how to clean the tile under the carpet in there, but the tub is the issue. If it were me, I’d save the tub and the tile. From what I can see of it now, it’s beautiful. And the design that was laid here is magnificent. The tile is hexagon-shaped and about an inch and a half across. They alternate between white and blue, with the blue making a kind of hexagon circle around the white. Bingo said there might be a few broken tiles, but I’m betting they can be replaced if necessary.” “You convinced me. Keep them both. I do love the claw-footed tub, so that was going to stay regardless. So I’ll find someone to go in and fix it up so it will be all right for us to use.
I’m so excited. You go ahead and figure out what it will cost to replace tiles if I need to. Thank you, Robert. I think having you there will help me in being able to settle things like that. Mr. Taylor would give me details but not tell me how lovely it’d look or give me the design you described so well. Thank you bunches.” He asked her about the other house. “You want it? I would love to see it go to someone else in the family. It’s a big house. Are you looking to fill it anytime soon?”
“Someday.” He looked at Bingo and told him she wanted the tub. He laughed when the man did a little gig. It was the perfect word for the dance the man did around the room. “I have to go, Heather. I’ll talk to you when I get off work.” Robert had the floor done before lunch. Well, not finished, but he had all the sticky carpet material taken off. While it had been enjoyable work—being entertained by Bingo fun—it was hard, and the muscles across his shoulders and neck were about as strained as he’d ever felt before. However, he was satisfied about the work he’d done and couldn’t wait to get more of the work finished up. Setting to work to clean the tile with a scrub brush and detergent, he reached as far beneath the tub as he could reach. Bingo was going to help him move it a little when he got done with this part of the floor so it would be evenly matched in cleanliness.
Robert was so engrossed in what he was doing that he jerked away from someone touching his back and slammed his head against the tub. When he woke up, he thought he’d fallen asleep on his couch. Trying to sit up, he was shoved back to something hard beneath him and realized he was still in the bathroom, on the floor. It occurred to him that someone was talking about him. “How the hell am I supposed to know, Grandda? All I did was try and get his attention like you told me to. Christ, you should have seen all that blood.” A mumbling sound, then laughter, made him realize that Bingo was who the woman was talking to. He reached up to pull whatever she had on his face down. The woman turned to him. “Look.
You take this cloth off your face again, and I’m going to make you hurt worse than you are now. Do I make myself clear? I’m waiting on one of the drywall jockeys to bring me my bag. How would you rate your pain on a scale of one to ten?” “It’s building up to about a fifty right now. Who are you? And for that matter, what sort of bag are you looking for? You planning on staying the night here?” He was addled, he knew that, but the look she gave him made him think she wasn’t amused by him. “I don’t know who you are or why you were to get in touch with me. I’ve got a headache to end all— Is that my blood?”
“Gee, is it? I don’t know. Let me wipe at your forehead that is going to more than likely need about thirty stitches from you slamming your fool head up against a tub that more than likely weighs more than the two of us together. You moron. Why didn’t you just turn like a normal person?” He told her she’d startled him. “Next time I go into a bathroom that someone is working in with twenty other people around, I’ll try my best to make a great deal of noise so as not to startle you. Leave. The. Fucking. Rag. On. Your. Face.” If he wasn’t in so much pain at the moment, he would have laughed. However, he might have been in worse shape if he had. The woman wasn’t in the best of humor, so he laid there, thinking of all the things he could be doing right now instead of being— “My brother, Darrel, is a doctor. Not that you have to call him or anything, but…we might want to call my brother Peter.
This is his house.” He started to reach for the cloth but decided he didn’t want to rile her again. “If you could please call my brother, his name is Peter, and it’s in my phone.” He felt his phone being taken from his pocket. Telling her the passcode to open it up, he waited while she made the call. The pain was making him sick right now, and he wasn’t sure how close he was to begging, literally begging, for something for pain. “Hey. My name is Doctor Elizabeth Monroe. I’d like to speak to Peter. I didn’t catch his last name, so I hope—” He told her what his last name was. “Peter Archer. I’m here with his brother Robert.” Robert wanted to peek at her. She most certainly was nicer than she’d been to him. And he was hurt. He heard her also say thanks to someone else in the room with them. Then the sound of a zipper being used.
“You allergic to anything?” He took a second to realize she was talking to him, and that earned him a poke in the ribs. “Are you allergic to anything?” “No. And if that is something for pain, I will gladly take as much as you can give me. I’m cross-eyed with pain right now.” His T-shirt was pulled up over his arm, and he felt the coolness of something wiping over his skin. As soon as she told him he was going to feel a pinch, the needle entered him, along with some nice drugs. “Thank goodness.” The next time he was aware, Robert could hear people talking around him—his mom, then his sister-in-law. He didn’t know which one it was right now, but he knew it was one of them. Reaching up slowly to pull away whatever was on his face this time, someone touched their hand to his.
“Don’t do that. If you do, that doctor is going to come back in here and rip you a new ass. Again.” He asked Peter where he was. “Emergency room. You’ve been here about an hour. Darrel is talking to Elizabeth now on what happened and how they’re going to treat you. When you hit your head on that tub, you did some serious damage to your pretty face. Like you have an eruption on your forehead that is going to need some serious stitches in it. Let me describe it for you. It’s like you hit the hard surface in the middle. But then the wound split off in about four or five directions from there. Also, you have a concussion, which anyone would figure out. You can have something more for pain should you want it.”
“Seriously? Just, I don’t know. Don’t describe things to me so graphically. I’m all right with the pain right now, but I can feel it building up again. Peter, I’m so sorry about this.” He asked him why he was sorry. “I think I might have gotten blood all over your tile. I don’t know enough about it to tell you if there is a lot or not, but I’m reasonably sure it’s going to stain it.” “I’m just happy you’re awake and seem to know what’s going on, little brother. And that you’re going to heal. You could have really hurt yourself.” He thought he had but let it go. “The doctor is coming in again. Just behave and don’t piss her off again. She is delightful to watch trying to deal with her anger, but I don’t want her to kill you. She’s intense.” That was an understatement if he’d ever heard one. While he tried not to sob like a little baby with the pain, he realized he was going into surgery.
After asking a couple of questions about it, he asked for pain meds. “You’ll be out in about ten minutes. Will you be able to wait that long?” He told Elizabeth he wasn’t sure he could. “I can give you a little of what I’m going to have you put under with, and that won’t hurt you during surgery. Just hang on a moment while I get it for you. Robert, I’m really sorry I hurt you.” He said her name to tell her it hadn’t been her fault when Peter told him she’d gone. Then seconds later, he felt the pain being dulled, and he let himself ride on that. Christ, he was going to be a mess when he woke up. He knew it. ~*~ Elizabeth was used to stitching people up. She’d been an ER doctor for the last five years. However, she’d caused this wound to this man, and his family had been nothing but nice to her. She, however, felt like shit about it. Darrel, who was assisting her so that he could vouch for her abilities to work in the hospital, asked her if she was all right to begin. “I’m responsible for this. He was working, and I startled him to the point where he jumped. I feel just horrible.”
Darrel told her Robert wouldn’t feel that way. “No. Then after he woke up, I was nasty to him again. I’m not sure I can see him again after this.” “You mean after the surgery or just in general?” She wasn’t sure what he meant, so she asked him. “I mean, would you like to see him on a personal level, or just as follow up after this? He’s a great man, if you mean personally. As for the follow-up? Well, I can do that, but I think you’re going to regret it. Robert will as well. I mean, it could go nowhere, but if you were to ask me, I think you’ll miss someone great in your life as a friend if you forgo seeing him in either capacity.” “He’ll make me feel bad about hurting him.” Darrel just laughed. “I don’t think this is the least bit funny. Even if there was to be something romantic—I’m not saying that’s what I want—but even if there was, I’m sure he’d hold what I did to him over my head for decades to come.”
“Nor do I think this is funny. As for him holding it over your head, you’d never allow that. You’d be all over his ass, or you’d leave. You strike me as a woman who doesn’t take shit from anyone. However, I can almost bet that not only will Robert never blame you for anything that happened to him at work, but you can bet he’ll take you to task if you were to tell him you hurt him.” She asked him how he could be so sure. “He’s my brother, for one thing. I’m as sure about his reaction to you and your ideas as I am about you being a good doctor.
Secondly, my mom would beat his ass if he even thought about hurting you. Now, how about we get this show on the road and get him fixed up?” The surgery went well. The reason they had opted to go into the surgical room was so they could make sure nothing had gotten into the wound. The tub, while hard as stone, was old and hadn’t been cleaned in some time. After cleaning the wound several times, finding a small piece of enamel in the wound, Elizabeth put tape over it to help with the probable scarring. They’d have to wait a couple of more days to stitch him up, as the swelling was more than it had been before they’d brought him in here. Checking on him in recovery, Elizabeth was shocked to hear him call out to anyone that was in the room with him.
Answering his question about who she was and why she was there, he grabbed her hand like a lifeline. Holding him too, she told him what had happened in the operating room. “Thank you for taking such good care of me. I know Darrel would have done the same, but he might well have left some kind of carving in my head. Just to make fun of me later.” She told him then that she was sorry. “For what? I haven’t any idea why you’d think what I did to myself is in any way connected to you, but get that thought out of your head right now. I did this by being so engrossed in cleaning tile that I simply shut out the world around me.” “But if I’d not—” He told her that no one was at fault.
“I did startle you. If I’d not, then you wouldn’t be here now.” “Elizabeth—can I call you that?” She nodded, then told him he could. His head was bandaged up, so his eyes were covered up as well. “You want to make this up to me? Then you can have dinner with me. I’ve not had a date in a long time, so I’m not even sure if it’s all right for a man to ask a woman. I’ve been leading a very sheltered life up until now.” “You’re a good-looking attorney working with a construction company that my grandda owns, and you’ve been sheltered? Tug on the other leg, why don’t you? That one is long enough.” They both laughed, then he moaned in pain. “Don’t let the pain get ahead of you, Robert. If you need something for pain, then ask for it.”
“I’m enjoying talking to you. But the pain is getting bad again. Will you stay with me until the meds kick in? You more than likely have a lot of things to do, but just for a little while. Please?” She said she would and used the call light to order his medication. As soon as the nurse brought it in, he released her hand. It was the most bereft feeling she’d ever had. “Yes. That’s it. I can feel it working.” She stayed with him until she had to go to the bathroom, long after he’d fallen into a deep sleep. Even then, she didn’t want to leave. Elizabeth came back in the room for a few more minutes and did something she hadn’t ever done to a patient in her life. Kissing him on the mouth, she left the room before someone could tell her she was a fool.
Going back to her grandda’s house, she was surprised to see he’d been prepared for her coming in late. Sitting at the kitchen table with him, he handed her a plate of cold sandwiches and carrots. She didn’t care for chips, and Elizabeth loved that he had remembered that about her. “You get him all fixed up?” That was all it took for her to burst into tears. She was so upset her grandda came around the table to hold her. “Honey, I don’t know what’s upset you about him, but I will have him fired tomorrow morn—” “No. No, it’s not that at all. Grandda, he was super nice to me even though I caused him to be hurt.
He was a gentleman and so kind to me about it not being my fault. Robert told me it was entirely his fault for being so— Grandda, I really like this man. I know I’ve known him for less than a day, and most of that was him being unconscious, but he was nice to me and kind. It’s been a long time since anyone has been kind to me that wasn’t related to me.” Grandda said he liked him as well. “I don’t know what I’m to do about this.” “About what? You mean liking him? What’s the problem with liking a nice man? Nothing. Are you wondering if he’d like you? He’d be a darn fool not to like you. Even perhaps fall in love with you someday. As for anything else going on in that pretty little head of yours, you can forget that right now. All those Archers are good people, from the elderly man to the youngest one.
Why, I’d be as happy as a lark in the summer if you were to attach yourself to someone like that. I’m not saying you have to, but you couldn’t do any worse.” She said he was putting the cart before the horse. “Perhaps. But I’ve known you all your life, little bit. And there hasn’t ever been a time when you’d been this upset about— You remember that boy in third grade that you put on the straight and narrow? What was his name?” “Danny Thomas. He pulled on my braids one too many times. When I had enough, I punched him in the face and knocked him on his ass.” Grandda laughed and asked her if she remembered getting into trouble.
“I was supposed to be suspended for a week, but Grandma went up there with a willow stick and met up with the principal with it in her hand. He started to tell her it was school policy, but she wasn’t having it. If I was never afraid of Grandma, that would have been the day I changed my mind. She smacked that stick down on his hands and told him to think about his next words. My goodness, Grandda, I have never in all my life had more respect for her than I did at that moment. She will always be my hero, even though she’s been gone for a while.” “I miss that woman every minute of every day.
She was the best part of me.” Elizabeth said she was for her too. “She could boil you with a look and hug you like you’ve been gone for years instead of just the day before. I loved her so much. Had it not been for you, honey, I would have gone on with her. She made me a man that I could be proud of.” “When she asked me what I wanted to do with my life, the first thing that popped into my head was nothing. I just wanted to do charity work like she did. But then I thought of her helping that little boy across the street when he fell from the tree.
She was so calm and barking orders to his parents. I swear to you, that is the reason I became a doctor. I wanted to be able to help other people when they were at their worst.” Grandda used a napkin to blow his nose. “Grandda, we need to do this more often, I think. Talk about Grandma and the things that made her so special to us both. I know I’d love some of the memories you have of her before I came along and messed up your retirement years.”
“We were sitting around and being old before you came along. All the money in the world can’t do crap for you if you’ve no one to enjoy it with. And that is exactly what you did when you were brought to us after your parents died. I believe this with all my heart, had you not come along when you did, we’d have been found a month or so after we’d died from boredom, and no one would have given two fiddles about it. No, don’t you ever think you messed up our lives, Elizabeth. You gave us a life. Always believe that.”
She wiped at her own tears then. Reaching across the table to his hand, she took it into her own. His hands were callused and strong. Nothing like some of the elderly she had taken care of at the hospital that she’d worked at until recently. “I love you so much, Grandda. Thank you for being just the man you are and making me feel like I was someone very special.” He said she’d made that easy. “Well, I love you. And I’m exhausted. I’m going to head up to bed and get going early in the morning. I need to find me a job before I get into any more trouble.” “You’ll make trouble, Elizabeth. You’re good at that.” She laughed with him, not sure what he meant by that. But he loved her, and she couldn’t have asked for anyone better in her life.
Then she thought of Robert. He was a nice man. Also, he was smart, savvy, and just the sort of person she thought could shake up her life. Getting into bed, she scolded herself for acting like a lovesick puppy and willed herself to sleep. Of course, it didn’t work, and she tossed and turned for what felt like hours before she finally gave up and went to her computer to try and read the latest medical journal magazine. Even that didn’t work “Now, what am I supposed to do when a man I barely know is keeping me up at nights, wondering if he is a good kisser or not? Also, what was I thinking in kissing him like that?
I wasn’t. That was it.” Finally giving up on everything she’d planned for herself, Elizabeth got into the shower and decided to start her day. “Stupid man. What the hell was I thinking when I went and kissed him? My life is really screwed up if I’m resorting to kissing strangers when they’re sleeping.” Going to the kitchen again, she opened her laptop and began looking for job postings. When her grandda showed up, Elizabeth realized she’d not applied for a single job and couldn’t have told anyone what she’d been looking at either. Even her computer got tired of waiting on her and had gone to sleep. Everything was sleeping better than she was. ~*~
Peter pulled out his cell phone when it vibrated. Having a message from Robert was always a good thing. I went to the doctor today. Christ, she’s beautiful, isn’t she? This was the first time I saw her clearly. Anyway, they took the bandages off, and the wounds are healing nicely. He messaged him back, asking him if he’d asked Elizabeth out yet. I did. We’re working up to that. Peter told him good. Then he saw that he was typing again. Dinner tonight? With my new girl? Sure. Steaks on the grill all right with you? I’ll have a nice pork chop for my meal, so it’ll be a nice meal for me as well. Robert sent back an emoji of happy faces dancing all over the screen. Good.
Pick up dessert and well have a nice evening. Putting his phone on the floor beside him, he held Heather in his arms. Nothing could be better than this, he thought. They were all safe, and he was going to be a father. It was then that it hit him. He was going to be a father. Peter had always dreamed of having a couple of kids. The right woman hadn’t come along until he met Heather. Now not only was he getting his life in order, thankfully, but he was going to have a little one running around. He thought his grandda would be the happiest. He’d been having a good time playing with the kids at Delmar’s home. “He’s never treated them any different than he did if they’d been born of his blood.” He was startled when Heather spoke.
“You talk when you’re thinking hard. Did you know that?” “I used to do it as a kid, but I thought I’d outgrown that. Robert and Elizabeth are coming over for dinner tonight. They’re bringing dessert. Are steaks all right with you?” Heather kissed him on the mouth before getting up. Then she helped him up from the floor. “Christ, but that isn’t as painful as it was the first time. I think I’m on the mend. What do you think?” “I think I miss you in the bed with me. I miss having you hold me around your naked body.” He kissed her again. “And that. Quick kisses aren’t as satisfying as one might think.” Peter was still laughing as he made his way to the kitchen. The cane was helping him not go too fast, but it was also annoying to remember he needed it. As soon as he entered the kitchen, he felt like he had always felt at his mom’s home.
The place of gathering. That was what he thought the definition of a kitchen should be. ~*~ Elizabeth didn’t mind going to Peter’s home. Since she’d been hanging around with Robert, she’d met and come to like all the family. Grandda was enjoying it as well, as he was getting around town more. “Did you know he didn’t file for worker’s comp? I expected him to. He was hurt on the job. But he told me that since he’d been foolish enough to get himself hurt, he should pay for it.” She said she’d talk to him. “Don’t, honey. Let him do this. He’s a right proud man, and don’t embarrass him for a couple of hundred dollars.”
Elizabeth was sure it was a good deal more than that, but she let it go. Darrel had told her just that morning that she was approved to work at the hospital. She’d only need to take her boards in Ohio, and that would be it. In the meantime, he was going to shadow her, so she didn’t do anything upsetting to the hospital. Today had been a good day for her. “Do you think they’d mind if I was to invite myself to this dinner thing?” She told her grandda she didn’t think anyone would mind. “You ask them. I won’t if it’s a family thing, but I’d like to talk to Peter a bit. He’s a good man, that one. So is Robert.”
“Grandda, I’m not family.” She didn’t like that he waved her off as if it were a done deal that she was a family member. “I’m not. I’m just going there with Robert to have steaks with his family. There isn’t anything going on between the two of us.” “If you say so. However, let me ask you something. When was the last time you lit up when you talked about a man? Never that I can remember. Also, he’s a good-looking man. A good head on his shoulders and money of his own. Couldn’t do any worse than that, I’d not think.” She told her grandda not to get the wrong idea. “I don’t know that I have the wrong idea, child.
Even with his eyes covered, that man follows your voice like you’re a nice shiny penny, and he’s needing it. My goodness, the heat just about comes off him when the two of you are together.” “He’s only just seen me today for the first time.” He asked her how that had gone. “I had to beg him to stop talking about how beautiful I was so I could have a look at his wounds. You’d think he’d never seen a woman before.” “I’d say he’d not seen a woman as beautiful as you.” She felt her cheeks heat up. “Now then, you ask them if I can join their little get-together, and I’ll go get gussied up.” Grandda was still laughing when she pulled out her cell phone. The damned man was driving her insane with his speculations. Just last night, he’d been going on about leaving the company he’d owned forever to Robert.
Like he’d just take it because of her. It was Heather that answered the phone. Before she could ask about her grandda coming, she told her what was going on at the house. She was still smiling as Heather went on about the list of things that were driving her crazy at the moment at their new home. “Living here isn’t so bad. I mean, Robert has asked for it, and I don’t mind him taking it. Are you going to be all right living here?” She asked her what it would have to do with her. “I don’t know, Elizabeth, maybe because you love him? He certainly does look like he’s in love with you.” “I don’t know how to remark on that. We’re just good friends right now.” Heather snorted.
“Before we get into a heated debate about this, I was talking to my grandda, and he wants to know if it’d be all right for him to join us tonight. He wants to talk to Peter about something. I don’t know if this has anything to do with his attorney passing away a few months ago, but it might.” “Sure, the more, the merrier. We’re having steaks and baked potatoes. Also, some kind of salad that Peter loves. And Robert is going to be picking up dessert. I
haven’t any idea what that might entail for him, but I know he is a huge pie lover. I like it too, but Peter told me that Robert will rate a restaurant poorly if they don’t have at least one pie choice on their menu.” She told her she’d have to remember that. “All right then, we’ll be eating around five, I guess. You guys can show up whenever you want. Robert is going to tour the house a little and then make a decision on whether or not he’ll take it off our hands.” “Grandda told me a few days ago that he and my dad had done some of the original work on that house. You’ll have to talk to him about that too.” She said she would. “The house you and Peter are moving into, he said he thought it was built by the first owners.
I’m guessing that would be Peter’s great-grandparents or something.” “Yes. That would be…this is awesome. I do hope you’re going to be coming around a great deal. I’d love to talk to you about all kinds of things.” She said she would on the condition that she was allowed to see the things in the barn. “Oh yes. Oh, my goodness, it is the most spectacular place to be when the sun is shining, or not. I was out there yesterday when it started to rain, and the soft breeze made all the smaller pieces chime with the wind. I’m excited to see all the pieces out in the light. We’re going to see if any of the rest of the family wants a couple of the pieces to put into their homes. Katie has already asked for a few of them.” “How generous of you and Peter. I don’t know what Robert will want, but I’d like to see them. She was quite famous, his grandmother.” They talked a bit more about the things in the barn and then decided they’d see if Merce wanted to join them for lunch sometime soon.
“I’m working at the hospital until I get to take my tests for Ohio. They’re letting me work some to take the pressure off the doctors, so I’ll be covering for vacations and such. I love the ER to work in. I think I’d never leave that area if I didn’t have to. But covering for doctors means I have to have rounds too. But I’m happy so long as I can stay around here with my grandda. He’s all I have left of family.” “Even if you and Robert don’t go any further than you are now, we’ll still be here for you. And your grandda. However, like I said, he looks at you, and even before he had his bandages removed, he would listen for you to come near him. I’m not pushing, but I don’t think you could do any better than having an Archer in your life.”
Elizabeth admitted to her that she did like him. “Good. That’s all I need for now. If you want more, then I’d say go for it.” When they disconnected the call, she felt better for talking to her. Not that she’d been in a bad place, but to talk to someone, another woman, was refreshing. Merce and Heather were a great deal alike in that they’d tell you how it was before you had to ask. Even if you didn’t want to know or hear about whatever it was, they’d tell you. She loved that about all the family. When Robert showed up to get them, he gave her a bouquet of flowers.
She couldn’t ever in her life remember anyone giving her flowers before that hadn’t been related to her. Having them put into a vase that had been her grandma’s made them seem more special. Elizabeth handed him a small box as well. “It’s the book we were talking about. I dug out my grandma’s copy. It’s signed too.” He opened it up to the first page and read the inscription. “There are a lot of first editions around here.
Some of them aren’t of famous people, but Grandma loved to read. She would write reviews for the books too.” “May I kiss you?” Nodding before she knew what kind of kissing he was going to be giving her, she felt herself being drawn to his body like she’d been begging for it all day. When he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her flush with his body, Elizabeth looked up at him. “You’re beautiful. I know you must get tired of me saying that to you, but I can’t help myself. You are far and away the most lovely creature I’ve ever laid my eyes on.” The kiss was more than she had expected.
So much more. His tongue moved along her lips until she allowed him entrance. While his tongue dueled with hers, she felt him press his cock into her soft flesh and moaned. It was as if the nudge of his cock set all kinds of things in motion for them both. Pulling away from her, Robert held her while they both were breathing hard. It was all she could do not to grab him up and take him right there on the living room floor. “If you touch me right now, I’m going to be in trouble with my family. There won’t be any way I can tear myself from you long enough to allow you to undress, much less make it to my family’s home. Christ, I was so wrong about you. You’re more than any man could have ever dreamed for when he fell in love with a woman.”
She asked him if he loved her. “I think I have since the first time I woke up in the hospital, and you held my hand. My brothers would have, but I would never have lived it down. You being there was perfect. Like you are. The most magnificently perfect being that has ever been born to this earth.” “You two ready?” Grandda’s timing was either a godsend or terrible timing. However, she was glad he’d called them both back to earth. When taking her hand into his, Robert kissed her again, and they were out the door. Grandda talked nonstop on the way over, and she wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone a single thing he’d said. This must be love, she told herself. Nothing else could feel this good. Nothing.