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"I don't know, Cam. There are so many other things you could do to help that don't involve working with those high windows. Seems like we're asking for trouble." Seth put his hands on his hips and surveyed the ladder in question. "Yep, this looks like a job for the big boys." His voice held a hint of amusement as he teased herand he underscored his comment with a winkbut Cam knew that ultimately, he meant what he said.
It annoyed her. She understood that Seth was used to taking charge and watching out for his elderly aunt, but Cameron was neither elderly nor was she his charge. He knew good and well that Cameron was every bit as capable as a man when it came to climbing up the ladder and doing the job set before her, but he was the knight-in-shining-armor type who apparently felt the need to protect the females around him.
Cam folded her arms across her chest and dug in.
"Seth. I'm painting the trim on an upper window. It's not like we want the kids up there doing that. I hardly think my painting from a ladder should be an issue."
"I didn't call it an issue. I just said there are othersaferavenues for you to pursue if you're determined to help."
"Why wouldn't I help?" Cameron asked, perplexed. "Didn't we all come here as a youth group to fix up the houses and yards?"
Cameron glanced around for an ally. Her friend Josie shrugged and with an upturned hand waved her away. She wasn't getting in the middle of things.
Cameron turned back to Seth with raised eyebrows and waited for his answer.
"Yes, Cameron. We did come to fix up houses and yards." He sounded like he was talking to one of the teensone of the very young teens. "There's way more yard than house. You have plenty of options to choose from. Find somewhere elsesomewhere saferto work." Seth placed both hands on his hips and glared at the window, as if it were responsible for placing the irritating woman in front of him. "Find something safe to do, somewhere else. How about you go pull some weeds over there with Josie? She looks like she's having fun."
They both looked over at Josie.
"Time of my life." Josie rolled her eyes. "And stop trying to drag me into your squabbles."
"We aren't squabbling." Seth snorted. "We're discussing."
Cameron put her hands on her hips. "Actuallywe are squabbling."
"No. We aren't."
They stood facing each other, both with hands on hips now, mirroring each other's actions.
"Then why are you taking issue with my helping out? I'm one of the youth leaders. I volunteered to work, and I intend to work."
"Look, why don't you sit over there with Mandy and visit with the owner?" Seth stepped closer to Cameron. He pointed at the two women but didn't give her a chance to respond. "Mandy looks perfectly happy entertaining our elderly host."
"Right, so that job position is covered." Cameron momentarily lost focus as she glanced at his lips and noticed that they were far too close to her own. She and Seth were almost nose to nose. If she tipped the slightest bit forward, she'd feel his lips touch hers. Were they really as soft as they looked? One thing was for sure, he was every bit as good-looking when yelling at her from two inches away as he was when he was yelling at her from four feet away.
Josie snickered, breaking the moment. Busted! Drats! Her friend had caught her staring at Seth and apparently read her thoughts. Were her emotions that obvious? Could Seth read them, too? She pushed aside the distracting questions and squared her shoulders.
Yelling was most definitely the safer way of expressing her feelings at the moment. Cameron tried to remember what they'd been yelling about. Oh yeah, he'd suggested she sit primly with the pregnant girl and the elderly lady while everyone else did the hard stuff. "Do I really need to point out that Mandy is almost eight months pregnant? She has no choice in the matter. She can't exactly climb ladders to paint or nail shingles in her condition."
"My point exactly." Seth backed off and paced the area, apparently ready to move on to other projects. "If you join her, we'll be sure she remains safe and out of the way."
"She's already safe and out of the way. Or do you think I'm the one in the way?"
"I didn't say you were in the way." Exasperation laced his words. "I love having you here."
Her heart skipped a beat. "You do?" The traitorous words came out on a breathless note.
"Hey Seth," Matt called from the roof, interrupting the moment, "why don't you accept defeat and give the girl a shot?"
Catcalls came from various places around the house. One voice yelled over the others. "Yeah Seth, give the girl a shot."
Cameron cringed. "I think they misunderstood Matt's wording."
"Oh no they didn't." Seth grinned at her. "They know exactly what he meant, and they know exactly what they're doing."
"Then why did theyoh." She blushed. "They're trying to embarrass us."
"And they're apparently succeeding when it comes to you."
"I'm not embarrassed."
"Then why are you blushing?"
Cameron's hand involuntarily went to her face. "I've been out in the sun for hours, Seth. Don't read anything into it "
"And you didn't use sunscreen? I'd think a nurse would know better. Not healthy, Cam."
"I used sunscreen! I'm flushed from the heat. It's hot out here. I justoh, never mind."
Josie's soft laugh carried from the flower bed where she worked a few feet away. She squatted in front of the flowers, an amused expression on her face.
"Don't you have weeds to pull or something, Josie?"
Josie turned away. "Pulling them now." She held up a handful of plants to prove her point.
Seth crossed his arms. His feet were spread shoulder width apart. With the sun behind him, putting him in silhouette, he looked like a warrior ready to do battle. "If I let you climb up the ladder, will you promise not to fall off?"
"If you let me?" Cameron scowled up at him. "Last I checked I was an adultfully capable of making my own decisions."
"Ohh, she got you there, boss."
Seth stared down the senior who'd made the comment and motioned with his thumb for him to move on. The boy smirked and continued toward the back of the house with the armload of firewood he'd just chopped.