The Obsession Page 92

By the time she got home, the crew was knocking off, again proving the advantage of men in the house. The tile team carried her groceries in while Kevin grabbed her gift shop finds.

“I guess you saw Jenny.”

“And it cost me. But I also now have art displayed by her hands—and a contract for more.” She stopped in the living room, felt the satisfaction of a day well spent kick up another notch. “You finished the crown molding! It just makes the room.”

“It’s a busy day. Why don’t we go up, and you can see what else we finished?”

“If you’re talking about my bathroom, I may break down in tears.”

With a grin, he tapped her arm. “Grab some tissues.”

She nearly needed them.

“You can’t walk on it until tomorrow,” he warned.

“It’s okay. Actually going in might bring me to my knees. It’s beautiful, Kevin. It’s beautiful work. Everything.”

She’d wanted muted and restful, heading toward Zen, and had it with the stone gray tiles, the soft pearly gray of the walls, the gray veining in the white granite counter. She’d added rustic with the big claw-foot tub, gone indulgent with the oversized glass-walled steam shower.

“The brushed nickel was the right choice,” he said. “Chrome would’ve been too shiny. And the open shelving’s going to work, too, because you’re a tidy soul from what I’ve seen.”

“I’m going to bring some blue in—with towels, some bottles. I saw some old blue bottles at Cecil’s. And some green with a plant. Maybe one of those bamboo deals.”

“You oughta put some of your pictures on the wall. Some of the ones of the channel.”

“Brushed nickel frames, dark gray matting. Good thought. I just love it.”

“Glad to hear it. I didn’t know if you wanted your desk back in here, and didn’t want to move it until you said.”

“Maybe tomorrow, when the room’s fully functional.”

“We made some progress on your studio, if you want to see that.”

She wanted to see everything. They spent the next ten minutes going over her choices, discussing timelines. And she began to buy a clue.

“Kevin, are you keeping an eye on me?”

“Maybe. I figured Xander might be coming by shortly.”

“And I imagine your wife and kids are home, wondering where you are.”

“I’ve got time. You know, I wanted to ask you about—”

“You’re making time,” she interrupted. “And I appreciate the thought, but I’m fine. I have a fierce dog.”

Kevin glanced back to where Tag lay, studying his own thumping tail as if fascinated, while Molly snoozed beside him.

“Yeah, I see that.”

“And I have a brown belt.”

“I’ve got a couple of them.”

“In karate. I could’ve gone for the black, but brown was enough. And that’s on top of the self-defense courses I’ve taken. Single woman, traveling alone,” she added, though that hadn’t been the primary motivator.

“I’ll be careful not to get in a fight with you, but I’d feel better if I hung around until Xander gets here. And I did have a couple of questions about the bathroom off the green room.”

He distracted her with talk of tile borders and showerheads, with plans on demo—the black-and-blue bath—until Tag’s head reared up, and he raced off barking. Molly yawned, rolled over, and went back to snooze.

“Must be Xander.”

“Then you’re welcome to stay, have a beer with him, or get out.”

“I wouldn’t mind a beer.”

They walked down while Tag danced and barked at the front door. She wondered if the thing she was in with Xander had progressed to the point of giving him a key and the alarm code.

It seemed a very big aspect of the thing, one to think about carefully.

But when she opened the door, Tag raced out and rushed lovingly to Lelo.

“There’s that boy. There he is!”

They adored each other for a moment before Lelo straightened. “Hey, Kev. Hi, Naomi. I got those drawings and figures for you.”

The Naomi who’d bought the house would have said thanks, taken the packet, and said good-bye. The Naomi she was trying to find took a breath. “Why don’t you bring them in? Kevin’s going to have a beer. You can have one with him.”

“I don’t say no to beer after the workday. Want a beer?” he asked the dog.

“He’s underage,” Naomi said, and had Lelo laughing like a loon.

She went back to the kitchen, opened two beers, then the accordion doors. “I’m going for wine. Those spring chairs out there don’t look like much yet, but they’re comfortable.”

She could hear their voices, muted, quiet, as she poured wine. Curious, she opened the packet out on the counter, began to study the drawings.

When she stepped out, Lelo and Kevin sat in the rusted spring chairs like a couple of guys on the deck of a boat, studying the horizon.

Both dogs sat at the rail, doing the same.

“Lelo, you’re an artist.”

He snickered, flushed lightly pink. “Aw, well. I can draw a little.”

“You can draw a lot. And you’ve turned the grounds into a garden oasis without compromising the space or the open feel. And the raised beds on the deck, that’s inspired.”

“Can I have a look?” Kevin took the drawings, paged through, studied. “This is nice, Lelo. It’s real nice.”

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