Book Four in the David Family Saga: Bayou Rogues
She’s rich and polished.
He’s a construction worker.
What do they have in common?
Courtney David is intrigued by the handsome stranger that works in the shop next door. He’s rugged, mysterious, and unpretentious. And most importantly, he doesn’t know who she is, or the money she’s connected to.
Sawyer is a busy man, sometimes working three jobs just to keep his finances afloat. He has no time to waste on anything but work and family. When he meets Courtney he must decide if he’ll make time for her in his hectic schedule, or if he will ignore the feelings that bubble up whenever she’s around.
Will they let the spark between them fizzle or develop into a raging fire that will lead them to their final destiny?
Enjoy an Excerpt
Courtney shook out the umbrella that had been given to her by her ex-fiancé. She really should get a new one, for surely there was some kind of bad karma dogging her as she carried around this remnant of her failed engagement.
She stabbed the abomination of an umbrella into the urn with force. “Rot in hell Travis Miller,” she mumbled and proceeded into the office.
“Whew, it’s a gully washer out there!” She giggled, the phrase she’d used to describe the downpour bringing to mind her late grandfather whom she missed terribly.
“Inch of rain’s fallen since six they say,” Perla Richardson answered from her desk that was positioned in the center of the office circle. Her official title was office clerk, but she took care of everything from lunch runs to ordering paperclips, though her coworkers were actually pretty good at taking turns with lunch. And Perla was a master at conjuring up dire emergencies requiring her immediate attention, a skill she employed frequently with clingy clients. Her wiry, orange curls seemed tighter today and Courtney guessed it was the humidity.
A loud crack of energy exploded somewhere high overhead, startling Courtney. Suddenly the office was awash in light from the sky as it filtered in through the floor-to- ceiling windows. “It’s as black as the dead of night out there.”
“You should have let me cancel your morning showings like I wanted to.” Perla shook her head, pushing the frame of her red glasses up her nose.
“I’m glad you didn’t! The Wheeler family has made an offer on the Reid place.”
“Let’s just hope they don’t shy away when Mrs. Wheeler finds out about the murder-suicide between now and closing.”
Perla shuddered. The cringe-worthy story had left everyone in town shaking their heads. Doctor Renaud had been a local physician for over ten years. With his wife, son, and cocker spaniel named Pepper their little crew of four was the very definition of the traditional family . . . until it wasn’t. Doctor Renaud had shot his family and then piled into the family Saab with Pepper. Cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning. There was evidence that the good doctor had become addicted to painkillers and his wife had been entertaining his medical practice partner with much more than a home cooked meal. After his medical license had been revoked, Renaud had been caught writing prescriptions on his suspended license—prescriptions for scheduled narcotics that he himself was using.
“You mean you didn’t tell them?”
“I told the husband,” Courtney answered as she walked toward her desk. “He said the price was too good to pass up, but asked if we could keep the murderous background as our little secret.” Courtney agreed, but told him she’d have to disclose the information at the closing.
“Do you think you should sit at your desk?” Perla pointed at the windows.
“This is my desk. Where else would I sit?”
“But the weather and all that glass—I don’t know if it’s a good idea.”
Courtney leaned over to look out at the blackness. “Hmm, it’s not like we’re surrounded by trees. It’s just a little lightning.” Perla also liked playing the part of mother hen to all of the real estate agents—a trait they all joked about, but appreciated, on occasion. Now was not one of those occasions. Courtney had work to do.
The cold steel of the scissors like ice in her hand, Courtney trimmed the blossoming gardenia bonsai tree that sat atop her desk while humming Sweet Caroline—the song that had been stuck in her head all morning.
Humming ceased as she watched Samantha Boyd take the chair across from her desk. Dammit! Samantha sold commercial real estate, occasionally showing a private residence, and she had a long list of loyal business clients. She also had a lot of personal problems and could bring a good mood down to the gutter in two seconds flat.
“What’s on your mind, Sam?”
Wringing her hands she asked, “Would you mind showing a house for me? I’ve got to pick Jonathan up from school. He’s throwing up.”
Courtney told herself her colleague was doing the best she could, but she really didn’t want to show another house today. It had been over a year since Samantha’s husband had passed away, leaving her to raise their son alone. That’s why Courtney replied with a smile, “Not at all, just get me the status sheet.”
“Thank you Court, I owe you big time.”
Courtney clicked on the website link for her webpage, intent on updating her portfolio of homes. Glancing up from her desk chair, Courtney saw the Greystone Realty sign glowing silver and blue amidst the storm. Greystone Realty was a small locally-owned company that prided itself on its expert knowledge of southeast Louisiana real estate. The Greystones were family friends, but since their retirement last year Courtney had only seen the smiling couple a few times.
She watched absently as water collected on the street below and rolled in a stream to the gutter. She’d picked the wrong day to break in her new suede Louboutin pumps. She sighed and glanced at a note she’d posted about an estimate that needed to be faxed to the title company first thing Monday morning. Spying Perla eating a large bagel and sucking cream cheese from her fingers, Courtney decided to take care of the item herself.
Standing at the fax machine, she pressed the send button with a French-sculpted nail. “Samantha, what time am I doing your showing?” Courtney spoke with increased volume so that her words would carry across the small office.
Samantha approached with umbrella and bag in hand. “He said he’d meet you here at eleven o’clock. His name’s Eric Houseman.” She passed the info sheet to Courtney.
“I’ve shown him a few places. He has to be settled here by April for work so he’s a definite. I’ll split the comish with you. Thank you so much, Courtney. I hope you’ll let me take you to dinner next week.” Samantha leaned in and hugged her. Courtney wasn’t a hugger and it had startled her, but she quickly recovered, reciprocating by patting the small of Samantha’s back.
The feel of her sweater dress was soft like cashmere, maybe even angora wool. Samantha was full figured and filled out the dress like a pinup girl from the forties, her full head of glossy black waves rounding out the look. And that’s exactly why Courtney didn’t like to hug, it revealed too much.
Courtney smiled. “I’ll call you later to let you know how it went.”
At her desk, Courtney completed a market analysis of the neighborhood surrounding her eleven o’clock showing. She was arming herself with information regarding taxes and local schools when she heard the electric ding-dong announcing that the front door had been opened. Looking up from her desk Courtney’s eyes landed on a tall, dark, and handsome man wearing a tailored suit. She cleared her throat and stood, walking toward him.
His eyes roved from the top of her head all the way to her Louboutin clad toes. “Please, call me Eric. And you are Courtney David, I presume.”
His voice was deep and, if she wasn’t mistaken, laced with something edgy—desire. But for what? When they shook hands his shake was firm, lingering. Courtney thought him extremely handsome, but also overly intense—dominating. That wasn’t a quality she appreciated in a man. “I’ll get my file and we can get started.”
Eric nodded once in reply.
Reaching for her soon to be ex-umbrella on the way out, Eric’s reach exceeded hers. “Allow me.” He escorted her out into the rain, holding the golf umbrella over them.
Using a key fob to unlock his Jaguar, he opened the passenger side door and looked at her, waiting.
“I uh . . . I usually take clients in my vehicle to look at homes.”
“I think you’ll agree, as I’m parked near the door, practicality dictates we take mine.”
Only because she remembered Samantha’s admission of ‘showing him a few houses’ did she acquiesce.
The seats in the Jag were low and angled so that in order to sit, Courtney had to hike her fitted pencil skirt up to mid thigh. “I really don’t think this is appropriate,” she huffed as Mr. Houseman folded himself into the driver’s seat. Courtney didn’t miss his gaze as he took in her stocking-clad thigh.
“The address is”—
“I know the address.”
Courtney listened to the sound of the rain hitting the windshield and the tires on the slick road. Tension laced the air and she couldn’t figure out why. After all, she was doing him a favor. “Is everything all right?” She tentatively asked.
Fine. Their definitions of fine seemed to differ greatly.
When at last he pulled into the driveway, Courtney was only too happy to pile out. She also wanted to take advantage of her alone time, before he rounded the car, to extract herself in a most unladylike fashion from the low riding car.
Throughout the showing he crowded her, towering over her and intensely scowling until finally she asked, “Do you not like the house?”
“The house is fine.”
“The en suite bathroom is equipped with a steam shower and the closet is outfitted with an organization system.” Showing him the closet in the master bedroom had his warmth at her back. She wanted to exit the small space, but he blocked the only exit. His head lowered and she heard his breath when he inhaled heavily near her neck. Surely she was imagining his intent, for it would be completely wrong of him to perform an action like that while pressed up against her in a small space.
She didn’t imagine his hands on her shoulders, his body inching closer to hers. Her spine stiffened, but his hold didn’t lessen. Offensive maneuver. She was an expert kick boxer and was about to give him a lesson he’d never forget when suddenly his phone rang, dissolving his hold on her.
He walked from the master and out onto the patio access.
“I want maximum control, fifty-one percent, or his company can rot in ruin.”
Courtney listened, curious, thinking how cheerful he must be to work for.
Turning toward her, he slid his phone into his jacket pocket. “I need to leave.”
So do I, you fucking creep! It didn’t matter how handsome he was or how good he smelled, cornering her in the closet was ultra creepy. In a singsong voice she said, “But I haven’t shown you the backyard.” She at least wanted her half commission for dealing with the asshole.
“I’ve seen enough.”
“There’s a swimming pool. The home is located on the eighteenth hole.”
Ignoring her, he walked away. She went through the home, turning off lights and locking doors. She heard the front door slam as she made her way to the kitchen.
Sighing, she exited the home intent on locking up when she was aware of the car’s motor roaring to life. Turning, she shuffled in her heels to the retreating vehicle.
He slowed and she was able to board. “What the hell is your problem?”
Ignoring her he spoke into the phone. “I’m not interested. Dump it.”
He hung up, and then drove too fast and too recklessly back toward town.
Mr. Houseman didn’t even drop her at the door of Greystone Realty but at the corner of Main and Fourth Streets, forcing her to walk the few wet blocks to First Street. What an ass! At least the rain had slowed to a drizzle.
Finally inside her office, she marched to her desk. She dialed Samantha’s cell from the landline. While she waited for the connection, she inhaled a gardenia from the bonsai tree and smiled at the scent.
“Sam, it’s Court. I’ve just returned from showing the home to Mr. Houseman, who is the biggest dick on the planet, I might add.”
“He was too preoccupied with his cell phone to look at the house and then he dropped me at First Street. I had to trudge down to Fourth. That’s not a problem, but he insisted on taking his car.” She decided against mentioning the sniff in the closet. “I just get a weird vibe from him.”
“I’m sorry. I should have warned you that he can be intense.”
“That’s okay. How’s Jonathan?”
“He’s definitely sick. I’m hoping it’s just a twenty-four hour bug.”
“I’ll let you go so that you can take care of him. I just wanted to give you the update.”
Her stomach panged as the clock approached one, and that was when she realized she hadn’t had breakfast or lunch. She retrieved her wallet, intent on grabbing a snack at the cheese shop next door.
Walking the few steps next door her heel caught on a raised spot in the concrete, propelling her forward and almost to the ground. “Crap!” She usually bypassed the jagged bump, but her faculties had been busy ruminating over the strangeness of the morning’s events. Whatever, she had an eight-hundred-calorie lunch coming her way and she couldn’t be happier. “Mmm,” the smell of cheese nutty, rich, and ripe hit her nostrils with delight. How lucky to be working next door to the only artisan cheese shop in the city. Not so lucky for her waistline, however.
“Hey Court, is this weather finding you hungry?”
Clara was the extremely young owner of her own cheese shop. “I’ve got a really good French comte with just a hint of hazelnut.” Surprising was her knowledge of all things cheese.
“I want you to taste this”—she passed Courtney a sheet of waxed paper topped with thinly sliced cheese—“it’s Dubliner from Ireland. The taste is sweet and mild.” She had a sample herself. “I’ve already eaten a quarter rind myself.”
“Thank goodness for a young metabolism.” Courtney mumbled and then popped the little square into her mouth. Her tongue slid over the smooth surface of the cheese and an explosion of flavor and texture had her humming in delight. “Mmm, that’s decadent.”
“It’s on the trays I’ve made up today. Along with the comte I mentioned.”
“I’ll take one. And I need a glass of wine.”
“Perfect, we just got our license, you know.”
While she ate, Courtney caught up on BR Unplugged, Baton Rouge’s social goings on rag mag. Several pictures of her with Travis graced the pages. They were happy, but given the magazine’s lowbrow nature, Courtney stiffened her spine as she turned the pages. “Aha!” She’d landed on a page with an insert box wrapped with the boarder ‘update’ entitled Where Are They Now, escorted by recent pictures. “They shot me after my run!”
Heiress to the David Seafood fortune appears heartbroken and seems to have been crying over the loss of her fiancée to the now engaged Miss Willa Devereaux.
“You’re a whore.” Courtney whispered at the woman’s picture. She closed the magazine and tossed it on the bar in front of her.
“Here’s your wine.” Clara swapped the magazine for a nice chardonnay.
Sipping the crispy wine, Courtney sighed. “Why can’t I find a decent man? How did you meet Jackson?”
Clara was busy weighing cheeses and writing in a logbook. At Courtney’s question she pondered, a look of adoration on her face. “Our story began when I was seven. I don’t think it’s very traditional.” Clara’s cheeks turned rosy at the thought of her beloved Jackson.
“God, you’re so in love. Ugh! Sorry.”
“It’s okay.” Clara smiled. “Have you dated anyone since the um . . .” Clara’s eyes darted to the abandoned magazine.
“No.” Courtney huffed. “And just this morning I got to show a house to this ass of a man. He was dashingly handsome and it was clear he had means and was responsible, but none of that even matters since he was such a pencil dick.”
Both ladies turned at the sound of rustling plastic. Clara cleared her throat while Courtney watched with hung jaw as an extremely muscular, masculine man in a white T-shirt made rounds on the waste bins in the small restaurant. When he stopped at the one nearest Courtney she could smell him. She imagined pulling one of his white T-shirts out of the dryer after the buzzer alerted they were ready—for that’s how he smelled to her. The muscles in his shoulders and thighs rippled as he tended the trash. He walked out into the rainy day and Courtney’s heart quivered.
“Clara! I’m sitting here whining about where to meet men and you don’t think to tell me you’ve got the hottest man I’ve ever seen in your kitchen?”
“Well . . . he’s . . . kind of troubled.” Clara frowned.
“Troubled? Well, maybe he needs to be unburdened.”
“I don’t know.” Her little mouth twisted in thought.
“I know!” Courtney sipped her wine to cool the fire he’d awakened within her. “What’s his name?”
“Sawyer Murphy.” Clara went to check on her other customer. Normally standing room only, the shop was sparsely populated due to the rain.
“Sawyer Murphy,” Courtney echoed in delight—a masculine name too. It’s like his parents knew he was destined for hotness.
Sawyer returned a while later and ducked behind the bar to wash his hands. His hair was chestnut, long and thick, and almost reached his collar. Courtney imagined running her fingers through it during sex. She watched as his hands massaged the towel during the drying process. She’d love to have those hands on her. He turned, now facing her, and took a glass from the rack. He poured water from the tap.
As he lowered the glass their eyes met, only briefly. He nodded, “How do you do?”
“Fine, thank you. It’s quite wet out there, isn’t it?”
He nodded and drank from the glass, his Adam’s apple bobbing on each swallow. A bead of water trailed from the corner of his mouth, down to his chin and neck. Courtney gasped quickly at the sight of his thick lips rimming the glass. Pulling the empty glass away from his mouth, he used his free hand to wipe his mouth and chin.
“Have you worked here long?” Courtney’s voice was breathy. She was so interested in the answer she had to focus on her knee to keep it from bouncing in anticipation.
No? That’s it? “Know a lot about cheese?” She smiled.
“Excuse me.” He set the glass down and walked away.
Courtney was stunned. Men usually fell all over themselves to get to her. In fact, she couldn’t remember a time one hadn’t. She cocked her head in thought as she watched his fine derrière walk away. Courtney David was intrigued.
Clara appeared, offering more wine.
“Hit me.” Courtney demanded.
“I’d like to invite you to a game night party.”
“You bring your favorite board game and a bottle of wine. Next Friday. One of Jackson’s colleagues will be there.”
Clara nodded, but Courtney shook her head. “I’ve not had much luck with doctors.”
“You should come anyway. It would be a fun way to meet him without having to date him.”
That was true and unlike his bride, Jackson was almost thirty and so were the Olivier’s friends. “Count me in.”
Clara smiled. “Good, I think you’ll have fun.”