Chesapeake Blue

Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts

Book: Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nora Roberts
worktable. "Ten minutes. Okay, I lied. Twenty tops."
    "Excuse me?"
    "Just stand there. Damn it, where's my—ah." He scooped up a hunk of charcoal, then dragged his easel around. "No, don't look at me. Look over there. Wait."
    He moved quickly, snatching up the painting of foxgloves, pulling out a nail from his pouch, then pounding it into the wall. "Just look at the painting."
    "I don't have time to—"
    "At the painting." This time his voice snapped, so full of authority and impatience, she obeyed before she thought it through. "I'll pay you for the time."
    "I don't want your money."
    "In trade." He was already stroking the charcoal over the canvas. "You've got that house by the river. You probably need things done off and on."
    "I can take care of—"
    "Uh-huh, uh-huh. Tilt your chin up a little, to the right. Jesus, Jesus, this light. Relax your jaw. Be pissed off later, just let me get this."
    Who the hell was he? she wondered. He stood there, legs apart, body set like a man poised to fight. He had a tool belt slung at his hips and was sketching in charcoal as if his life depended on it.
    His eyes were narrowed, so intense, so focused, that her heart jumped a little each time they whipped up and over her face.
    On the stereo AC/DC was on the highway to hell. Through the open window came the cry of gulls as they swooped over the bay. Not entirely sure why she'd allowed herself to be ordered around, she stood and studied the foxgloves.
    She began to see it gracing her bedroom wall. "How much do you want for it?"
    His eyebrows remained knit. "I'll let you know when I've finished it."
    "No, the painting I'm staring at while I'm trying not to be annoyed with you. I'd like to buy it. You have an agent, I imagine. Should I contact him or her?"
    He only grunted, not the least interested in business at the moment, and continued to work. "Don't move your head, just your eyes. And look at me. That's some face, all right."
    "Yes, and I'm certainly all aflutter by your interest in it, but I have to go down and open for the day."
    "Couple more minutes."
    "Would you like to hear my opinion of people who can't take no for an answer?"
    "Not right now." Keep her occupied, keep her talking, he thought quickly. Oh Jesus, it was perfect—the light, the face, that cool stare out of mossy green eyes. "I hear you've got old Mr. Gimball doing deliveries for you. How's that working out?"
    "Perfectly fine, and as he's going to be pulling up in back very shortly—"
    "He'll wait. Mr. Gimball used to teach history when I was in middle school. He seemed ancient then, as creaky as the dead presidents he lectured about. Once some of us found this big snakeskin. We brought it in and curled it up on Mr. G's desk chair before third period."
    "I'm sure you thought that was hysterically funny."
    "Are you kidding? I was eleven. I nearly cracked a rib laughing. Didn't you ever pull stunts like that on teachers in your private school for girls?"
    "No, and why do you assume I went to a private school for girls?"
    "Oh, sugar, it's all over you." He stepped back, nodded at the canvas. "Yeah, and it looks good on you." He reached forward, softened a line of charcoal with his thumb before he looked over at her. "You want to call this a sitting or our second date?"
    "Neither." It took every ounce of will, but she didn't cross over to look at what he'd drawn.
    "Second date," he decided, as he tossed the charcoal aside, absently picked up a rag to clean it off his hands. "After all, you brought me flowers."
    "A plant," she corrected.
    "Semantics. You really want the painting?"
    "That would depend on how much really wanting it jacks up the price."
    "You're pretty cynical."
    "Cynicism is underrated. Why don't you give me your representative's name? Then we'll see."
    He loved the way that short, sleek hair followed the shape of her head. He wanted to do more than sketch it. He needed to paint it.
    And to touch it. To run his hands over that silky, dense black until he'd

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