Home > Bounty (Colorado Mountain #7)(15)

Bounty (Colorado Mountain #7)(15)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Before I found my forest oasis, I had no furniture because I was me.

I was a Lonesome.

I was a gypsy.

Until now.

I moved out of the finished space into the skeleton of the house, a hall that led to what would be a powder room, the utility room and the garage.

I exited this and hit the main room, thinking how strange it was that I was beginning to long for walls.

It would never have occurred to me that I’d find myself in a place in my life where I’d yearn to be closed in.

Yet I was.

My step in my crocheted flat sandals (you didn’t go barefoot in my house, except if you were going to remain in the bedroom) faltered when I looked to the door.

The door had been an early sign this space was going to be mine, it was that magnificent.

The house was made of stone, wood and windows, but mostly windows and stone. The front door was recessed from a graceful stone arch set in another stone arch in which was set a kickass wooded arch and even the door was arched. The wood of the door was painted a distressed, fired-earth green.

The entryway gave an impression you were about to arrive someplace cozy, snug and mountainy. Not over three thousand square feet of house but somewhere you’d sit fireside with a glass of wine or eventually be handed a stick on which to put a marshmallow so you could make a s’more.

The door also had an arched window with what looked like antique glass, the waves distorting what lay beyond, even as you could see it.

And what I saw was not Holden Maxwell.

It was a wall of chest in a white T-shirt that at a glance, without having clairvoyance ever in my life (except when I was six, met Luna, saw through her fawning over me and knew she was going to be a bitch), I still somehow knew was Deke.

I kept moving, thinking my God or no god could be so mischievous as to play with me like this, making Deke the “travelin’ man” temp that Max would make a foreman at his company if he just stuck around.

Bubba was a big guy too. Tate was no slouch, same with Max.

Maybe in the mountains they made them huge.

So maybe it was another guy.

But as I opened the door and looked up, I saw that my God was feeling just that frisky.

It was Deke.


He looked at me and his head twitched slightly.

I looked at him wondering if I should have found a forest oasis in Oregon.

“Yo,” he greeted.

“Hey,” I pushed out.

“Max not here yet?” he asked.

“No,” I answered.

He looked beyond me, his head twitched again, then he looked again to me.

“You’re the woman who came into Bubba’s.”

I was also the woman he’d stood up at a dude ranch.

I didn’t remind him of this fact.

“Yeah, uh…Jus,” I introduced myself. Juggling phone and mug, I stuck out a hand.

He stared at it like he’d never been offered a handshake before he finally took my hand in his, gave a firm squeeze and let it go.

“You’re Max’s guy,” I stated.

“Deke,” he replied.

I nodded, my mind in a jumble.

I lived there but I knew no one.

Sure, days ago at Bubba’s, after Deke had left his position at the end of the bar to make a successful approach to the biker babe (I knew it was successful because they left together fifteen minutes later, not something that put an added shine on my celebration, like, at all), Bubba had introduced me to Jim-Billy. He’d also introduced me to Nadine, another regular at the bar. And last, a woman named Lauren came in and I’d found she was Tate’s wife when I was introduced to her as well.

All nice people, but in our time, even if this time was hours and included alcohol consumption, they had not become BFFs.

Deke, fortunately by that time, was gone.

But at that moment in my life, I had that shell of a house and not much else. I didn’t have friends to hang with, things to go out and do. I’d bought my house but I hadn’t really started my new life.

And now it would seem that Deke would be in that house, day in, day out, for weeks, working on it.

With me there.

Yeah, God was feeling frisky and the blank way Deke was staring at me, I knew this was very frisky.

I stared back, thinking, in Wyoming, he only gave me a minimal spark. The drink, our brief discussion and him asking me out for a ride were the only ways I knew he was into me.

Now there was nothing. Not even words.

Finally, he gave me words.

“Max is gonna show me around but could take a look before he gets here, you let me in.”

God, I was staring up at him mute and barring the door. And he’d been staring back, mute, waiting for me to get out of the way.


“Right, of course,” I murmured, stepping back and to the side.

He moved in, ducking his head slightly to do so.

The door wasn’t small, it was normal height.

Deke just wasn’t.

He moved in to about the place I’d stopped dead to look at the space when I’d first entered it and he did just that.

Stopped dead.

Then he muttered, “Jesus.”

I left the door open and headed his way, coming to a stop not very close, and agreed, “I know.”

He didn’t look at me but approached the stack of drywall, inspected it, glanced around and finally gave me his attention.

“Gonna need at least ten times this for this job,” he stated.

“There’s more in the garage.”

Though, that being so, I didn’t think there was ten times more. As far as I could see, there was another stack about that height.

He didn’t nod or anything, just moved to the pile of wood flooring. He studied it briefly before heading to a blanketed cabinet.

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