Authors: Erin Nicholas
Getting Over It
Sapphire Falls book six
Hailey Conner has been driving Ty Bennett crazy for years. And vice versa.
It’s kind of their thing. But Ty is ready to make their thing into something more. And he’s moved in next door to make it happen.
But is he
Ty loves the confident, sassy, sexy mayor’s Ice Queen act…because he loves making her melt. But he soon finds there’s more underneath all that frostiness. And things are about to come to a full boil…
It seems that my list of people to thank continues to grow…what an awesome thing!
To Nikoel and Kim, who talk me off of ledges weekly…even the ones I create in my imagination.
To Crystal, Shannon and Michele who said all the right things at the right time.
To Rhian who is my voice of reason.
To my family, who puts up with much and who shares in every success.
And to the town of Stromsburg, Nebraska, my mental model for Sapphire Falls. No place is perfect—unless you spent your childhood there with your grandparents. Then it gets pretty darned close.
It was a gorgeous summer day in Sapphire Falls.
The sky was a beautiful cloudless blue. There was a light breeze, birds sang sweetly from the trees and multicolored butterflies flitted among the pink, white and purple flowers in Hailey Conner’s backyard flowerbed.
And she was going to kill someone today.
Namely the idiot who was mowing his lawn next door at six freaking a.m. on a Saturday morning.
Blurry eyed, she stomped to the window, shoved it up and leaned out.
He was mowing on this side of the house, but she couldn’t see anything over the top of the tall wooden fence that surrounded her yard.
But he had bought the loudest mower she’d ever heard.
She had yet to catch even a glimpse of this new guy next door. It was so weird. She knew someone had bought the place because the for-sale sign was gone. She knew someone had moved in because she’d seen lights in the windows and heard pounding late at night. But when she’d gone over to introduce herself, no one had come to the door. Twice.
No one in town knew who it was. Not at the diner, the bakery or the bar. And if people there didn’t know,
Except Delaney Callan. She had bought and renovated the house and had then sold it to whoever this was. Hailey only knew it was a man because Delaney’s fiancé, Tucker, had slipped with that information last week. The new owner had
tell anyone who he was. Who did that?
And who kept that secret anyway?
Delaney was new here. She didn’t know that people didn’t keep secrets in Sapphire Falls. Or that they especially didn’t keep secrets from Hailey.
Hailey was the mayor, for God’s sake. She should know what was going on in her town.
Particularly when it was going on right next door.
She leaned out farther, bracing her hands on the windowsill. Was he young, old, tall, short, fat, thin? It was driving her crazy.
But she couldn’t see a thing.
Well, he was home now. Outside. He couldn’t avoid her if she showed up in the yard he was mowing.
Suddenly wide awake, Hailey headed for the shower.
As she stripped out of her pajamas, she noticed the bright-pink sticky note on her bathroom mirror.
Ask Frank about the blue paint.
Dammit. She’d forgotten to do that yesterday. Especially with the sticky note on her
rather than somewhere useful like, oh, maybe her desk.
She kept the sticky notes and a pen in the bathroom though because thoughts and questions would come to her at very random times and her memory was, well, mostly nonexistent.
It was the same reason she kept sticky notes and pens in every room of her house.
She wrapped herself in a towel and headed for her desk in the spare bedroom. Might as well e-mail him now. She sent off a quick message to Frank, the primary maintenance man for the town, asking if there was enough blue paint to repaint the flower pots along the sidewalk on Main Street. She hit send, gave a satisfied sigh, and headed back for the bathroom.
She was stepping into the shower when she thought that maybe they should have the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts help with the painting. They could then decorate the pots with their own artwork as well.
Hailey leaned over, grabbed a sticky note and wrote
on the top sheet and stuck it to her bathroom mirror.
An hour and a half—and six more sticky notes and two more e-mails—later, Hailey was ready to go.
Looking at herself in the mirror, Hailey noted all of her positives the way Lena, her therapist, had instructed. The bodice of the dress accentuated her breasts without showing too much cleavage and the short skirt showed off her legs without making bending over dangerous. Her pedicure looked good, the tan she maintained with help from a tube of the best self-tanner on the market was perfect, and the highlights in her hair made her look as though she’d spent the summer at the beach.
Her positives most often had to do with her looks.
In spite of all of her other quirks—she really did prefer that word to “issues” or “flaws”—she was thankful she’d been blessed with beauty. She’d been the prettiest girl wherever she went, and she’d started putting extra effort behind it when she was about fourteen and realized that hair, makeup and clothes could take pretty to gorgeous…and gorgeous kept people at arm’s length.
Women were often intimidated by her and men often thought she was out of their league. Thank God. Having people avoid getting close was easier than pushing them away.
But if someone decided to try to get closer, her bitchy, I’m-better-than-you attitude usually put them off quickly. There were very few who had stuck around in spite of all of that.
Hailey shook her head. No, she wasn’t supposed to think about the negatives. She was supposed to catalog the things she liked about herself rather than listing the things that irritated her. Like her addiction to sticky notes, or the fact that she couldn’t get ready and out of the house in less than an hour and a half because of all the distractions, or that she was only comfortable with
of personal space around her.
She applied lip gloss, ignored the sticky note hanging on the lamp on her bedside table, and went down to the kitchen. Where she had to ignore six more sticky notes.
Avoiding looking at the stack of colored folders and her planner on the table next to the cute plate of brownies, she picked up the treats and turned to leave the room. And hesitated.
She didn’t want him to think she was inviting a friendship or regular coffee breaks together or anything. She’d lived next door to Betty Griffin for only a year before the woman passed away and the house had been empty since. Betty had been a very nice woman, but Hailey liked having an empty house next door. She didn’t want a neighbor who was in her business and inviting himself over all the time. She had no intention of borrowing tools or loaning cups of sugar back and forth.
The brownies were probably the wrong signal to send.
The only reason she had the stupid things in the first place was because Ty Bennett had said something a few days ago about Hailey not being the type to bring brownies to a neighbor. And that was true. But it had irritated her that he knew it, so she’d picked the dumb things up from the bakery.
What any of this had to do with Ty, she couldn’t explain. But he had this way of getting into her head and making her do things, say things, think things that she never would have otherwise.
And he knew it. Which made it all worse. He knew he got to her—and she didn’t let
get to her. So somehow taking brownies to her neighbor had turned into a way to show Ty that he
know her that well.
As if he would ever find out.
That was how crazy he made her.
Hailey consciously banished additional thoughts of Ty from her mind and headed out the front door. She’d get this over with and then she could stop thinking about her neighbor, and Ty, and get back to her regularly scheduled Saturday.
She paused on her front porch to determine which side of the house her neighbor was mowing on at the moment.
But she heard nothing.
She frowned. No. He couldn’t be done already.
But with a sigh, she acknowledged that it had been almost two hours since she’d first awakened.
Damn it. Damn her morning routine. Damn those sticky notes. Damn Ty for his idea about brownies.
Irked that she might have to wait even longer to meet the mystery man, she stomped down her front porch steps, over to his house and up the steps to his front door. She balanced the plate of brownies in one hand, rang the doorbell and pasted on a bright smile.
That faded second by second as no one came to the door.
She’d missed him again.
She kicked the door in frustration and turned to leave.
Her foot hit the top step when she heard the door behind her open.
She pivoted quickly, fake smile firmly in place, with one foot on the porch and one on the top step.
The move wobbled her in her high wedges and she felt herself tipping and the brownies sliding. She was about to end up on her butt on his porch with chocolate down the front of her when a strong, warm hand grasped her elbow and another grabbed the plate.
“I love making your knees weak, but let’s not hurt anyone, okay?”
That voice. That deep, sexy, teasing voice…
She’d know it anywhere.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” She glared up at Tyler Bennett as he helped her stand, get steady on her feet and up on the porch before letting go of her.
Except, he didn’t let go of her.
He continued to hold her elbow. And stand way too close.
doing here?” she demanded.
Well, she’d meant to demand it. Her voice actually sounded a little breathless to her ears.
Probably from the near fall.
“Saving your…brownies,” he said with a smile.
smile. The one that made her stomach flip.
The one he wasn’t supposed to ever give her in Sapphire Falls.
She pulled her arm from his grip and stepped back. She smoothed her skirt, ran a hand over her hair and wet her lips. She’d known he was in town. She’d seen him just last week out at his brother’s house. Where he’d mentioned the brownies. He’d been visiting a lot this summer, but she had stubbornly refused to ask him why.
Now she knew why he was in town this time. “You know the guy who bought this house.” It wasn’t a question.
Of course he did. In spite of living in Denver, Ty had an unreal amount of knowledge about Sapphire Falls and what went on here.
Ty nodded slowly. “I do.”
She put her free hand on her hip. “And you didn’t think to mention that to me any of the times I’ve talked about not knowing who was moving in next door to me?”
Dammit. They’d been together three weeks ago. They’d been
together three weeks ago. And he hadn’t thought about telling her he was friends with her new neighbor?
“I couldn’t mention it,” he said.
God, he looked good. Hailey tried not to be distracted by his lean, muscular body that swam, biked and ran for a living. But it was impossible. There was no way she couldn’t think about how great he looked when her entire body felt as if it was straining toward him.
She distinctly remembered the day she’d admitted she was sexually attracted to him. He’d been wooing her with his sense of humor and his sweetness and the fact that he was, or at least had seemed to be, over the moon for
for two years in high school. But that night at the senior class party, she’d suddenly truly seen him physically. He’d climbed out of the river looking like a freaking god, in only a pair of swimming trunks. She’d watched the water trickle over every bump and ridge of hard muscle on his body as he’d come to stand right in front of her. When he’d reached past her for his towel, she’d been overwhelmed by the heat and by how big he suddenly seemed and how obviously comfortable he was nearly naked.