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Messing With Mac
By Jill Shalvis
Harlequin Enterprises LimitedCopyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.
Chapter OneOne of these days, Taylor Wellington figured she'd be old, maybe even wrinkled, and then, finally then, her best friends would stop trying to convince her she needed love.
No one needed love.
Having been both with it and without it - mostly without it - she knew this for a cold, hard fact. Still, Taylor held the cell phone to her ear and let Nicole and Suzanne, via three-way conferencing, ramble on about how amazing the L-word was.
"You've got to try it." This from Nicole, who'd been swept off her feet a few months back by Ty Patrick O'Grady, Taylor's rebel Irish architect.
"It's even better than ice cream," Suzanne promised, and coming from Suzanne, this was quite the promise, but she'd recently fallen in love, too, and had even gone one step further and gotten married.
"Come on, Taylor, give up on singlehood and try a man on for size. It'll change your life."
Taylor wasn't buying it. Not one little bit. In her opinion - and she had very strong opinions, thank you very much - love sucked. Always had, always would.
She was speaking from firsthand experience and hard-earned knowledge, not that her friends would understand. They wouldn't because she hadn't explained, she hadn't known how to in the short time they'd been together, which had begun when, in order to keep up with life's little luxuries like eating, Taylor had rented out two apartments in the building she'd just inherited. Suzanne had come first, then later Nicole, and both had happily joined her in a solemn vow of singlehood.
Only they'd each caved like cheap suitcases in the face of true love, and had both recently moved out again, having found their soul mates.
"Just because you two willingly gave up your freedom doesn't mean I have to -" Taylor stopped at an odd noise and cocked an ear. "Hang on a sec."
The building, her building, shuddered. Not surprising really, as she considered it an amazing feat the entire thing hadn't fallen down long ago, but in Taylor's world, things didn't happen off schedule. Her building crashing to the ground definitely wasn't on her schedule for today.
And yet there it went again. Another shudder. And then again. Something was systematically banging, in tune with her growing headache. "Guys, much as I'd love to listen to you tell me what's wrong with my life in singular excruciating detail, I have to run."
"Hold up. Is that more construction I hear?" Suzanne asked casually. Too casually.
The question didn't fool Taylor. Both Suzanne and Nicole had found their happiness due to construction. Her construction.
Now they had equally high hopes for her.
They were going to be disappointed, as Taylor didn't intend to fall for anyone. Feeling like a heel, she pulled the cell phone away from her ear and simulated a static sound with her mouth. It wasn't a kind thing to do to the only two people in the world who truly cared about her, but all this talk of love, no matter how well-meaning, was making her perspire.
And a Wellington never perspired, especially in silk. That was one thing she'd learned from her mother. "Gotta go, bad connection!" she yelled into the phone and disconnected.
Damn it. She loved Suzanne and Nicole, loved them like the sisters she'd always wished for instead of the two she had, but any more talk of love as it pertained to her and she risked losing her wits, something she couldn't afford at the moment, as she needed each and every available wit to keep her sane.
Oh, and in the black. Her every thought these days seemed to focus on finding enough money to pay for the work that needed to be done. That alone was enough to give her insomnia. This was a real kicker of an inheritance from her grandfather - this falling-off-its-foundation building she stood in, and not a single penny to go with it. No trust fund, no cushy little savings account, nothing.
After a lifetime of paying for all her fancy education and everything else, the distant, cruel bastard had cut her off cold turkey, giving all of his substantial wealth to her mother, who hadn't seen fit to share.
The woman wouldn't, not when all her life she'd been so cheap, so tight with money, she squeaked when she walked.
Well, tough. Taylor wouldn't wallow over that, or the fact that her family - called such only because they shared the same bloodlines - probably wouldn't notice if she succeeded, but would most definitely notice if she failed. And she wouldn't think about the fact that she only had to sell this place and walk away if she chose, because sheer stubborn pride refused to allow her to walk away from the first real challenge in her life.
She would do this. She would take this place and make something of it. And of herself. She'd started months ago, one room at a time, but had decided to sell several of her precious antiques - which had been worth more than she'd imagined - using the opportunity to renovate all of it in one fell swoop.
Hard as it would be to maintain her notorious cool, maintain it she would. With a nod of determination, she slipped the phone into her pocket and narrowed her eyes at the walls, which were still quivering from the rhythmic blows.
Oh, yes, she was quite certain she'd agreed with her new contractor that he could start tomorrow.
And if there was one thing Taylor didn't appreciate, it was someone messing with her carefully laid plans. She needed today, her last day alone, her last day to buck up, thrust out her chin, and get ready to show the world what she was made of.
Excerpted from Messing With Mac by Jill Shalvis Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.