Considering Kate Page 11

"Are you the dancing lady?"

She laughed as she started back with him toward the kitchen. "Yes, I am." With that sultry smile on her lips, she glanced back over her shoulder at Brody. Gotcha, she thought. "Kitchen's this way."

"I know where the damn kitchen is."

"Dad said damn," Jack announced.

"So I hear. Maybe he shouldn't get any cookies."

"It's okay for grown-ups to say damn. But they're not supposed to say sh—"


"But sometimes he says that, too," Jack finished in a conspirator's whisper. "And once when he banged his hand, he saidall the curse words."

"Really?" Absolutely charmed, she pulled a chair out for the boy. "In a row, or all mixed up?"

"All mixed up. He said some of them lots of times." He gave her a bright smile. "Can I have three marshmallows?"

"Absolutely. You can hang those coats on the pegs there, Brody." She sent him a sunny smile, then got out the makings for the hot chocolate.

And not a little paper pack, Brody noted. But a big hunk of chocolate, milk. "We don't want to take up your time," he began.

"I have time. I put in a few hours at the store this morning. My mother's swamped. But Brandon's taking the afternoon shift. That's my brother's ball mitt," she told Jack, who instantly snatched his hand away from it.

"I was only looking."

"It's okay. You can touch, he doesn't mind. Do you like baseball?"

"I played T-ball last year, and I'm going to play Little League when I'm old enough."

"Brand played T-ball, too, and Little League. And now he plays for a real major league team. He plays third base for the L.A. Kings."

Jack's eyes rounded—little green gems. "For real?"

"For real." She crossed over, slipped the glove onto the delighted Jack's hand. "Maybe when your hand's big enough to fit, you'll play, too."

"Holy cow, Dad. It's a real baseball guy's mitt."

"Yeah." He gave up. He couldn't block anyone who gave his son such a thrill. "Very cool." He ruffled Jack's hair, smiled over at Kate. "Can I have three marshmallows, too?"


The boy was a jewel, Kate thought as she prepared the hot chocolate, set out cookies. She had a weakness for kids, and this one was, as her father had said, a pistol.

Even more interesting, she noted, was the obvious link between father and son. Strong as steel and sweet as candy. It made her want to cuddle both of them.


"Kate," she said and put his mug of chocolate in front of him. "Careful now, it's hot."

"Okay. Kate, how come you wear funny clothes when you dance? Dad has no idea." Brody made a small sound—it might have been a groan—then took an avid interest in the selection of cookies.

Kate arched her eyebrows, set the other mugs on the table, then sat. "We like to call them costumes. They help us tell whatever story we want through the dance."

"How can you tell stories with dancing? I like stories with talking."

"It's like talking, but with movement and music. What do you think of when you hear 'Jingle Bells,'

without the words?"

"Christmas. It's only five days till Christmas."

"That's right, and if you were going to dance to

Jingle Bells, the movements would be happy and fast and fun. They'd make you think of sleigh rides and snow. But if it was 'Silent Night,' it would be slow and reverent."

"Like in church."

Oh, aren't you quick, she thought. "Exactly. You come by my school some time, and I'll show you how to tell a story with dancing."

"Dad's maybe going to build your school."

"Yes, maybe he is."

She opened the folder. Interesting, Brody thought, how she set the bid aside and went straight to the drawings. Possibilities rather than the bottom line.

Jack got down to business with the hot chocolate, his eyes huge with anticipation as he blew on the frothy surface to cool it. Kate ignored hers, and the cookies. When she began to ask questions, Brody scooted his chair over so they bent over the drawings together.

She smelled better than the cookies, and that was saying something.

"What is this?"

"A pocket door—it slides instead of swings. Saves space. That corridor's narrow. I put one here, too, on your office. You need privacy, but you don't have to sacrifice space."

"I like it." She turned her head. Faces close, eyes locked. "I like it very much."

"I drew some of the lines," Jack announced.

"You did a fine job," Kate told him, then went back to studying the drawings while Brody dealt with the tangle of knots in his belly.

She looked at each one carefully, considering changes, rejecting them, or putting them aside for future possibilities. She could see it all quite clearly—the lines, the angles, the flow. And noted the details Brody had added or altered. She couldn't find fault with them. At the moment. More, she was impressed with his thoroughness. The drawings were clean and professional. She doubted she'd have gotten better with an architect.

When she was done, she picked up the bid—meticulously clear—ran down the figures. And swallowed the lump of it.

"Well, Handsome Jack." She set the paperwork down again. "You and your dad are hired." Jack let out a cheer, and since nobody told him not to, took another cookie. Brody didn't realize he'd been holding his breath, not until it wanted to expel in one great whoosh. He controlled it, eased back. It was the biggest job he'd taken on since moving back to West Virginia. The work would keep him and his crew busy all through the winter—when building work was often slow. There'd be no need to cut back on his men, or their hours.

And the income would give him a whole lot of breathing room.

Over and above the vital practicalities, he'd wanted to get his hands on that building. The trick would be to keep them there, and off Kate.

"I appreciate the business."

"Remember that when I drive you crazy."

"You started out doing that. Got a pen?"

She smiled, rose to get one out of the drawer. Leaning over the table, she signed her name to the contract, dated it. "Your turn," she said, handing him the pen. When he was done, she took the pen back, looked over at Jack. "Jack?"

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