Suddenly Engaged (A Lake Haven Novel Book 3)(7)

By: Julia London


“What? Oh, ah . . . yeah. I’m Dax.”

“Hi, Dax. I’m Kyra,” she’d said. That smile of hers, all sparkly and bright, had made him feel funny inside. Like he’d eaten one of those powdered candies that crackled when it hit your mouth.

“I wondered about my neighbors. It’s pretty quiet around here. I saw a car in front of one of the cottages down there,” she said, pointing.

“Five,” he said.

“What?”

He’d suddenly felt weirdly conspicuous, seeing as how he was standing around with nothing to do. “That’s Five,” he said, to clarify.

“Ah.”

“You’re in Three. I’m in Two.”

He’d been instantly alarmed by what he was doing, explaining the numbering system on a series of six cottages. She’d looked as if she’d expected him to say more. When he hadn’t said anything, but sort of nodded like a mute, she’d said, “Okay, well . . . nice to meet you,” and had hurried on to her car much like a woman would hurry down a dark street with some stranger walking briskly behind her. She opened the door, leaned in . . . nice view . . . then emerged holding a book. She locked the door, then ran past him with a weird wave before disappearing inside.

Dax had told himself to get a grip. There was nothing to panic over.

He hadn’t panicked until much later that afternoon, when he’d happened to glance outside and had seen a respectable pile of empty moving boxes on the front porch and the little monster trying to build a house out of them.

That was definitely a long-term stay. And he didn’t like that, not one bit.

He’d managed to keep busy and avoid his new neighbors for a few days, but then, yesterday, the truck had shown up, treating him to the sound of a large HEMI engine idling near his bedroom window.

He’d let it pass, figuring that it was someone visiting.

But it happened again. Just now.

Dax was in the middle of a good dream when that damn truck pulled in. He groggily opened his eyes, noticed the time. It was a good hour before he liked to get up. Was this going to be a regular thing, then? He groaned and looked to his right; Otto was sitting next to the bed, staring at Dax, his tail thumping. “Use the damn dog door, Otto,” he tried, but that only excited the dog. He jumped up and put his big mutt paws on Dax.

With a grunt, Dax pushed the dog aside, then staggered into the kitchen. He heaped some dog food into a metal bowl and put it on the ground. In the time it took him to fire up the coffeepot, Otto had eaten his food and was standing at the back door, patiently waiting.

Dax opened the door. He glanced over to Three. The Subaru was gone, and he couldn’t help wonder who was driving that massive red truck. A husband? A dad? Jesus, he hoped the guy wasn’t the chatty type. Hey neighbor, whatcha working on over there?

Yeah, Dax was in no mood for more neighbors or barbecue invitations or neighborly favors. But it was becoming clear to him that little Miss Ruby Coconuts was going to make his policy of isolationism really difficult.

Dax got dressed and went out to the shed to work. A few hours later he walked into the kitchen to grab some rags he’d washed in the sink and happened to look out his kitchen window.

The redheaded devil was hanging upside down off the porch railing of her house, her arms reaching for the ground. She was about three inches short, however, and for a minute Dax was certain she would crash headlong into that flower bed and hurt herself. But she didn’t. She managed to haul herself up and hopped off the railing. And then she looked across the neat little lawn to Dax’s cottage.

“Don’t even think about it,” he muttered.

Ruby hesitated. She slid her foot off the porch and onto the next step down. Then the other foot. She leapt to the ground from there, looking down, admiring the lights in her shoes. Then she looked up at his cottage again.

“Don’t do it, you little monster. Don’t you dare do it.”

Ruby was off like a shot, headed for the fence.





Chapter Two

Kyra went in silently, like a shark, quietly circling around the two women bent over their wineglasses, sliding in to collect the check so she could get the hell out of here. The women had been at the Lakeside Bistro since two o’clock, giggling and whispering across the table, ordering glass after glass of wine, showing no signs of going anywhere, which meant Kyra had to wait it out until the night shift showed up.

This was not how her day was supposed to go. But when did it ever go as she’d planned? Had anything gone as planned since Brandi met Kyra at Planned Parenthood and Kyra had realized she couldn’t end her pregnancy? As much as she hadn’t wanted to be pregnant, as much as she’d hated that unexpected and catastrophic complication in her life, she just couldn’t go through with it. She’d had a breakdown in the lobby instead, and Brandi had gently steered her in through another door—the intended pregnancy door—where they verified Kyra was indeed pregnant, loaded her up with prenatal vitamins, and advised her to visit her OB-GYN.

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