“More!” Reed wheezed, her chest rising and falling, accentuating every breath. “Give me more!” she demanded through clenched teeth while balancing on her toes. Her arms strained high overhead, becoming numb, yet it still wasn’t enough. She needed more. She had to have more. “Args!”
“I’m giving you all I’ve got!” a strained voice, replied.
“I need more!” She was oblivious to everything. Her back pressed up against the wall, sweat running down between her breasts. Reed was focused on one thing and one thing only. “Almost. Almost there. Just a little bit more.”
“I can’t…” He pounded the wall above her, causing plaster to rain down.
“Don’t stop!” she yelled, her breasts heaving from the exertion. This was it. They were almost there. If only he’d give her…a…little…more.
Suddenly, a head popped down through the ceiling above her, and she frowned at the confounded expression in the man’s eyes.
“Sorry, Babe. That’s all there is. We’ll have to rewire from the box and extend the line if you want the chandelier moved.”
Reed sighed, turned loose the dead wires she’d been pulling through the ceiling, and climbed down from the scaffolding. “Fine,” she huffed, dusting fine white plaster from her hair. “Get it done, and stop calling me Babe!”
Grinning, Reed Hamilton left the partially-restored ballroom, her mind already moving on to what grout color to use with the hexagon pattern of the subway tile in the bathroom. The designer said black, but she just had a feeling it wasn’t the best option.
She stopped in the doorway and scowled. “Vinny, where’s the tile? This should have been finished yesterday.”
“I know, Boss, but they sent the wrong size Thermo mat. We’ll start tiling this afternoon. Don’t worry. We can knock this out in no time.”
“See that you do. Also, ditch the black grout and go with the white. That’s the better choice. I’ll take the heat from the designer.”
Reed turned at the summons and headed toward the master bedroom at the back of their current Victorian restoration project, afraid of what she might find. These old girls kept lots of secrets hidden until somebody started opening them up. They were already pushing to stay on budget; she couldn’t handle any more setbacks.
Stepping over the chop-saw her men were using to lay flooring, she ducked into the bedroom. “What is it, Charles?” She didn’t see any gaping holes in the ceilings or floors. That was always a good sign.
“Look what we found.” Charles stepped away from the wall with a look of triumph on his face.
Reed walked closer and pulled away more of the drywall. She smiled as she discovered one of the original fireplaces with a perfectly intact mantel and hand-painted tile surround. From experience, she knew the inside of the chimney would most likely be unsafe, and getting it back to a safe wood burner would put them over budget. “Get James in here and have him measure for a gas insert. If he says an insert won’t fit, then brick up the opening. The inlaid mantel and marble tile will make a fabulous architectural feature for the room. Great find, Charles.”
Leaving the bedroom, she had only one mission on her mind: her second cup of coffee. Her steel-toed boots clomped along the shiplap restored hallway to their improvised kitchen on the all-season porch. Holding the steaming brew in both hands, she closed her eyes and inhaled the dark, rich scent. It wasn’t Starbucks, but it was strong and hot. Just what she needed. After setting her cup down on their makeshift drafting table, which was just a piece of plywood thrown across two sawhorses, she ran her finger over the architect’s plans. One, maybe two more weeks, tops, and she’d be ready to hand the keys over to the new owner.
Reed Hamilton was one of the six owners of Hamilton Renovation. Her dad, Martin, had started the company over thirty years ago. Now she and her brothers were not only partners, but also involved in some aspect of the business. Of course, her dad was still the boss, or at least, they let him think so. She felt her phone vibrate in her pocket and smiled when she saw his name on the display.
“Hey, Pip. How’s it going on the Jamersons’ house?”
She put her hand over her ear, blocking out the hammering going on above her. “We’re on schedule and should wrap up soon.”
“Good. I have a special project I need you to look at. It’s for an old friend, Richard Tate. We went to high school together. His nephew, Mason, wants to surprise his parents by restoring their old cabin in upstate New York. I need you to go check it out and give him a timeline and quote. He says it’s pretty remote, so be sure to figure in the added shipping expense.”
Reed’s shoulders sagged, there went her two-week deadline. “Sure. When do you want me to leave?”
“I told him you’d meet him there tomorrow afternoon. I’ll text you the address and the travel plans. You’ll need to fly out tonight. I’ll send Chase to keep watch over the Jamerson project until you get back.”
She looked back at the plan, trying to calculate how much momentum she would lose by this latest request. “I guess I’ll take off now and pack an overnight bag. Tell Chase I’ll whup his butt if he doesn’t stay on Vinny to finish the tiling tomorrow.”
They both knew her brother Chase was worse than she was about staying on top of their crew. “I’ll make your return flight for the day after tomorrow. There’s a big snow storm headed that way, so you’ll be home ahead of the storm.”
“Got it. Love ya, Dad.”
“Love you too, Pip. Your mother says to pack something pretty to wear.” There was a bit of muffled noise on the other end of the phone before her father said, “What? Evelyn, the girl is going to be crawling all over that cabin. She doesn’t need to wear heels.”
Reed held her hand over the phone and snickered before her dad disconnected the call, still ranting to her mother about appropriate dress for construction work. It never failed. Her poor mom had always wanted a dainty little girl to dress up and play tea party with. But really, what had her mom expected with four sons who were determined to turn their sister into a fifth. She felt much more at home on the roof of a four-story building than she did at an elegant restaurant, dining with a suit.
She shivered at the memory of the last man her mom had set her up with. Leonard Booker. A forty-two-year-old dentist from Charlotte. He spent the entire evening recounting the extractions he’d done that day. When he got to the part about dry sockets, she’d had to excuse herself and had stayed in the bathroom for fifteen minutes. But it had turned out to be a fun evening when she’d returned to the table and told him the overpriced fish eggs he’d insisted she try gave her the runs, and she needed to go home and change her underwear. She laughed, remembering the uncomfortable, shocked look on his face. He’d put her in a cab outside the restaurant, and she’d never heard from him again.
Her track record with men wasn’t the best. She’d had boyfriends. Well, two serious ones, so it wasn’t that she couldn’t attract men. She could. She just didn’t keep them, but that wasn’t a problem to her. Her job was too demanding to deal with male drama. And frankly, she got more satisfaction out of her job.
The next day, the plane ride was short and uneventful, and thankfully, her rental car was waiting for her. She would have preferred a truck, but those were hard to get at the last minute, so she suffered with an economy four-door. White. So unoriginal. At least the heater worked. She zipped up her Carhartt jacket and threw her suitcase in the trunk. It had to be at least twenty degrees colder than when she’d left North Carolina.
The traffic out of the city was horrendous, but she’d expected nothing less. They’d restored a Painted Lady in New York a few years back, and Reed had lived there for almost a year to oversee the massive Victorian house renovation. Living in the city made her skin crawl. There were too many people. She had no idea how anyone could enjoy living there. Maybe that’s why they were so pushy and rude all the time; they had no elbow room.
Just over halfway to the cabin, the sky turned dark and snow started to fall. The outside temperature on her car’s display showed two degrees below freezing, and the GPS indicated she had another hour to her destination. She’d be fine; it was probably just a little flurry. She wished her dad had mentioned the cabin was on a mountain.
After slipping and sliding on the curvy roads for what seemed like forever, Reed was sure she’d missed the turnoff to the cabin. The snow that had started as a flurry had now turned into a blizzard. She’d been white-knuckling the steering wheel and creeping along for the past half hour, unable to see more than a few inches in front of her. The GPS indicated she had arrived, but in the pelting snow, she couldn’t see anything remotely resembling a driveway–everything was blanketed in a coat of white. She would have stopped, but she hadn’t seen another car or house, and pulling off the road would be too dangerous–without knowing the terrain she could easily slide down the mountain.
Going on was her only option. The arctic wind blew the little car, and she fought the wheel to stay in what she hoped to be the middle of the road. The beautiful snow she’d enjoyed watching fall earlier now hit the windshield with blustery force.
Her rear tire caught on something and jerked the wheel from her grip. Reed felt the car begin to slide. She took her foot off the gas and gently turned the wheel into the slide while thanking her brothers for teaching her how to powerslide a car. That thought only lasted a moment before her car jolted, knocking her head against the window, and began to pick up speed. Reed shook her head to try and clear the fuzziness. She squinted through the windshield, her wipers doing little to improve her visibility. A dark object came rushing into view only a moment before Reed lost consciousness.
Snow Kissed by the Billionaire
About the Book
Reed Hamilton, a home restoration expert, is more comfortable in her steel-toed boots than teetering on heels at a shopping mall. Relationships she usually kills from neglect so she’s taken herself off the market. An unexpected assignment to evaluate a potential project in upstate New York has Reed leaving the Victorian she’s working on to meet with the client. A client she discovers spooning her from behind when she wakes up in his bed! Reed finds Mason charming, tempting and hot!
An early snowstorm dumps an irresistible woman at the Mason Tate’s door. As beautiful and enticing as he finds her, career focused Mason doesn’t do entanglements of any type. So he proposed that while snow falls outside, they make their own heat inside and then go their separate ways with only pleasant memories of their time together. No emotions, just a good time.
They both agreed. They’d be like two snowplows meeting in the night.
At least that was the plan. Until that kiss.