Peek into: Made for Us
Series: The Shaughnessy Brothers, Book 1
Author: Samantha Chase
Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/P955rn
Can't make time for love?
The Shaughnessy brothers have spent the years since their mother's untimely death taking care of each other and trying to make their father proud. Oldest son Aidan is hard-working, handsome, successful-and still single. Sure, he'd like to have his own family someday, but who has the time?
She'll show him how to find it
Zoe Dalton, a stunning designer Aidan meets on one of his construction jobs, has the beauty and heart to make Aidan realize how much he could be missing. But it's not easy to break down walls you've spent years building up. Now there's a major storm bearing down on the North Carolina coast, and it could be catalyst enough to force Aidan and Zoe into some major decisions of the heart.
Aidan had been watching this woman since her arrival. It hadn’t been intentional, but he had been in one of the upstairs bedrooms when he saw her car pull up, and had watched in fascination as she inspected the yard. While he felt mildly guilty for causing the other decorator to lose her job, he couldn’t help but be intrigued by her replacement. From what he’d observed so far, this woman was somebody who took notice of details. It wasn’t hard to see the appreciation in her eyes as she looked at the house.
And he couldn’t help but look at her with appreciation. The woman before him had fiery red curly hair and a body with the kind of curves that made a man want to…scratch an itch. Damn it. This was so not the time for that thought to come to mind. As she straightened before him, he had to admit she was even more stunning up close. Tall. In heels, she was maybe only four inches shorter than he and that was saying something. Most women didn’t come close to his six-foot-two-inch height.
Aidan’s mouth went dry when she took off her sunglasses and he caught sight of the greenest eyes he had ever seen. She smiled and held out her hand in greeting. “Mr. Shaughnessy, hello,” she said, her voice was just a bit husky. “I’m Zoe Dalton.”
For a moment, Aidan couldn’t speak. He reached out and took her hand in his, fully intending to give her a business-like handshake, but as soon as he felt her soft skin, he pretty much forgot his own name.
You really have been without a woman for too long, he admonished himself. “Miss Dalton,” he murmured, forcing himself to focus. He shook her hand a little too roughly and released it as if she’d burned him.
Zoe was equally speechless. Why did no one mention that this man was the sexiest thing on two legs? His rock star brother may have been nominated one of the sexiest men alive, but Riley had nothing on his older brother. Dark hair, blue eyes, and hands rough enough that Zoe wanted to feel them all over her. It was rare for a man to make Zoe feel small and delicate, but Aidan was built like a linebacker and managed to make her feel it now.
Zoe fanned herself briefly as Aidan turned and walked away.
And the view was just as spectacular from behind.
She almost groaned.
Her gaze was lingering on how fine he looked in those faded jeans when he cleared his throat. “I want you to look around this house, Miss Dalton, and tell me everything you see that’s wrong.”
She swallowed hard and stepped forward. “Everything?”
Aidan turned to face her, crossing his large arms across his chest. “I want you to start at the front door and walk through the entire house.”
There was the potential here for things to go south very quickly. Beyond what she’d read in Sarah’s files, Zoe wasn’t familiar with his work, so she didn’t want to risk offending him, but Martha did tell her to do whatever Mr. Shaughnessy wanted done without argument. With a brief nod of her head, Zoe placed her soft leather briefcase on the granite countertop, pulled out her tablet and began to type furiously, creating her own document on the house.
Walking to the front door, she stepped out onto the porch and swung the door closed before opening it again. “The door sticks a little,” she began as she walked back inside. “There’s some paint on the hardware on both the interior and exterior sides.” She closed the door and looked around the entryway. Stepping to the right, she opened a closet door and looked inside. “There should be electrical in here. It’s a deep closet so I’m pretty sure people would appreciate having a light inside.” She closed that door and noticed that Aidan hadn’t moved from his spot in the living area.
Pretending not to be bothered by him watching her like that, she stopped and made some notes on her tablet. There was a fabulous cubby unit across from the closet. It had coat hooks and plenty of compartments to house baskets and all kinds of decorative items. She ran her hand over the built-in bench and frowned. “This needs to be sanded down more and another coat of paint added.” Turning to face him, she said, “Chances are, a homeowner would cover this area with a cushion, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be smooth.”
If she wasn’t mistaken, he actually smirked.
Next to the entryway closet, she found a half bathroom and turned on the light inside. Unimpressive. “The paint is sloppy in there. It’s not plumb, either. The dark paint on the walls against the white ceiling accentuates that. There’s a wave going on in there that almost makes me seasick.”
Zoe crossed the entryway and opened the door to the two-car garage. She peeked her head in to look around quickly and shut the door before turning back to Aidan. “There’s a crack in the concrete floor by the electrical box. Sometimes concrete does that but if you’re going to patch it, make sure that it doesn’t look like a patch.”
The smirk broadened slightly.
Zoe typed a couple more notes and walked into the living area until she was standing about three feet away from Aidan. She met his eyes briefly before turning around and facing the entryway from this angle. With a tilt of her head she stopped and frowned. “It’s out of plumb on the garage side of the entryway. If you stand here you can see the curve in the wall.” She didn’t wait to see if he’d look; she had a feeling he was already well aware of all of the problems.
Doing a slow three-sixty turn, she stopped and typed, then faced the living area. “The color is wrong in here.” Lifting her head, she looked directly at him. “Granted, I don’t know what color you were going for but this is too yellow. You can see those beautiful, dark chocolate-colored cabinets in the kitchen from here. Between those and the dark floors, the walls are all wrong.”
“Tell me why,” he said deeply.
“You’ve got some amazing colors going between the floors, the cabinets and the stone in the fireplace. This color on the walls doesn’t do any of it justice. It’s a yellowish beige, and it’s boring. You want something that is going to complement everything that you’ve done. You want a color that people are going to walk in here and go ‘wow’.” Looking around again, Zoe shrugged. “This doesn’t inspire. This is the weekend-warrior-handyman special.”
As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Zoe regretted them. Maybe he liked that yellow. Maybe he’d chosen it and it was the one color Sarah hadn’t substituted. Why couldn’t she just keep it professional? She’d never had trouble focusing with any of her other clients.
She turned and looked at him and noticed that the smirk was gone. He looked pissed. Okay, there were two ways she could play this. She could immediately apologize and grovel a bit or she could move on and hope she was just blowing it out of proportion.
“I think we can do something better with the furniture.” And option two it is!
“The sectional is fine but we can jazz it up once we change the colors in here.” Moving to the kitchen she went on for about five minutes about the things she saw that weren’t quite right—brush strokes in the paint, crooked glass tile in the backsplash—and decided to stop there. His silence was killing her. She typed a few last notes on her tablet before putting it down and leaning against the countertop.
“Do I pass?” she asked.
“I take it that this is a test to determine if I can see that the problem is in the details. Let me assure you, Mr. Shaughnessy, that I do. I have a real problem with craftsmen who rush through a job and put out shoddy work. I think the homeowner deserves a house that has been put together perfectly. And as for the finishes and decorating,” she said as she stood a bit taller, “we want potential buyers to come in here and not only want to buy this house, but to want their own to look as perfect as the model. If not better.” She paused and shrugged. “Not that it will be possible because the model will be perfect on steroids.” There, Zoe thought, he can’t be pissed at me if he knows that I’m a perfectionist too.
He quirked a dark brow at her. As much as Aidan hated to admit it, he was impressed. And he wasn’t impressed easily. Zoe Dalton had not only seen everything that he wanted her to see, but she had even picked up on an issue or two that had escaped him.
Not an easy thing to do.
Aidan continued to stand there and look at her, so Zoe figured she’d better nudge him along. “Are we ready to hit the upstairs? I have a list of problems with that staircase.”
And in that moment Aidan Shaughnessy thought that he just may have met his match.