Double Duty

Double Duty

by Alison Roberts

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Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.24(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.63(d)

Read an Excerpt

Double Duty

By Alison Roberts

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-51258-9

Chapter One

7:30 a.m.

Far too early to be starting work. A job like this might be okay in summer but below zero temperatures weren't much fun. Not when the first rays of sunshine only made up for their lack of warmth by the uncomfortably blinding glare they could produce. Jeff Simms shaded his eyes from the glare with his hand. He could see the group of men congregating around the prefabricated shed that served as headquarters for the building site. He could also see his mate, Lou, climbing out of Tommo's truck just ahead of him.

At least they'd made it to work on time today. The boss should be looking a lot happier than he appeared to be. Maybe he hadn't had his coffee yet. The thought of coffee was enticing. Jeff and Lou had downed quite a few beers during their session at the pub last night.


"How's it going, mate?" Jeff grinned at Lou. "Have you spoken to the boss yet?"

"No. I just got here. Bloody cold, eh?" Jeff blew on his knuckles and rubbed his hands together vigorously.

"Tommo reckons you're in trouble, mate."

"What for?" Jeff caught Lou's eye. Maybe they shouldn't have taken off to the pub yesterday with such alacrity.

"Boss couldn't find his skill saw last night," Tommo reported gloomily. "He reckons you'd been using it."

"I was," Jeff admitted. "I had to go up and tidy that framing on the second floor."

"Where'd you put the saw, then?"

Jeff's gaze roamed the scaffolding on the apartment block. He traced the route on the corner that he'd used to climb down from the wooden planks, trying to remember just what he had been carrying. The oath that escaped his lips was enough to impress even Tommo.

"It's still up there."

Tommo unleashed an even better oath. "It'll be frozen solid. Man, are you in trouble!"

"It'll still be dry. I put it under a tarpaulin. That's why I forgot about it. I'll go and get it now."

"You can't." Lou shook his head. "Scaffolding's out of bounds until it thaws. The boss'll go mental if he sees you."

"He won't see me. It's on the road side. I'll be quick."

"You'd better be careful, mate." Lou sounded doubtful. "It's solid ice up there."

7:35 a.m.

It was just as well he'd set off this early. Joe Petersen drummed his fingers on the steering-wheel as he waited in the line of traffic for the lights to change. He needed to get right across town and it was going to take a long time at this rate. He'd promised to be there at 8 a.m. to help get the kids off to school and then take Samantha to kindergarten for the morning. Dayna wouldn't be very impressed if he arrived late, and he wasn't about to give her any new ammunition regarding his lack of elementary parenting skills.

Joe glanced sideways to give his eyes a rest from the glare of the rising sun. The building site to his left was impressively large. This part of Christchurch city had changed beyond recognition since he'd last driven past but that was hardly surprising. It had been nearly five years since he'd had a visit lasting more than a few days. The trend seemed to be towards building these large inner-city apartment blocks now and this one looked fairly up-market. Joe's idle gaze roamed the side of the well-formed building. He could see the ice coating the scaffolding. Cold job, being a builder at this time of year. He wondered idly what the young chap was doing, scrambling up the side of the steel skeleton. He seemed to be in rather a hurry.

The toot from behind indicated that Joe's attention should be back on the traffic. He slid the car back into gear but the movement he caught in his peripheral vision jerked his gaze back to the left. Had the lad's foot slipped on that wooden platform? He'd managed to catch hold of one of the steel pipes but the grip held only momentarily. Joe watched the fall with horror. He could almost feel the impact as the victim's back contacted the next steel bar several feet below before the graceful arc that completed the fall.

The sensation of horror was dismissed instantly and replaced with a clinical detachment. The impact mid-fall had been enough to cause a lumbar spinal injury. The distraction to the cervical vertebrae which the impact of landing on his head might have caused was even more serious. Joe pulled his steering-wheel decisively and put his foot down on the accelerator to gain just enough momentum for the wheels to mount the curb. He pushed the hazard light control on the dashboard.


Excerpted from Double Duty by Alison Roberts Copyright ©2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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