Special Forces veteran Roman Gallardo is a ghost. With the nightmares of his past weighing him down, the best thing he can do is keep to himself. So when a heroic act forces him out of solitude, he's not expecting a connection to a woman as vibrant and alive as Jenna MacAllister. Or as determined to help other people, no matter how hopeless, no matter the cost to herself.
He can't explain it, but he's drawn to Jenna and the rebuilding project she's started. And the more he works with her, the more he wants to leave his past behind and act on the intense attraction between them. The temptation is so strong, this could be his second chance at life...at love.
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"We're behind schedule," Teo Hernandez said.
"I'm not worried," Jenna MacAllister replied to her construction foreman, smiling into the phone as she walked to her car.
"Of course you're not," he grumbled. "You're the eternal optimist."
"With the two of us working together to make the Marin family's dream come true, how could anything possibly go wrong? You have to think positively."
"Trying to build a home with volunteer labor in a neighborhood, that's...challenging, to say the least--then you go and promise we'll be done by Halloween?"
"This is not the toughest job we've done, and look at the bright side--it's our fourth house in that area, and the residents are getting excited about how their neighborhood is improving. I can't wait to see what got finished today."
"Now? It's already eight o'clock and you're just leaving work? Don't you ever keep regular office hours? Pretty girl like you ought to be out on a date."
Well, at least she'd distracted him from the litany of woes, even if she'd turned the spotlight squarely on herself. "I was brainstorming a fundraiser."
"With myself, if you must know."
"You need more help. College kid interns aren't enough. You go on home. You can check out the house tomorrow."
"I've been stuck in the office since seven this morning. Plus I don't live that far away-- Oh! I almost forgot! I might have a line on a new volunteer, a plumber--awesome, right?"
"A licensed one?"
"Okay, okay. You produce a plumber so I can stop getting down on these old knees, and I promise that I'll be so sunny you'll need dark glasses."
She laughed as she got in her car. "Admit it. I'm good."
"No one in their right mind would try to say you're anything but hardworking. Okay, and hardheaded." she heard the chuckle in his voice. "Thanks a lot, Mr. Grumpy." Despite tonight's list of complaints, Jenna couldn't be fonder of Teo and she knew how fortunate Foundations for Families was to have someone so devoted to the cause. He'd retired several years ago as a plumbing subcontractor, intending to kick back and do nothing after a lifetime of hard manual labor, but that had worn thin very soon and, as he'd put it, his wife had told him--not completely in jest--to find something useful to do or one of them had to go.
Jenna thanked her lucky stars daily that Teo was a failure at idleness. He'd originally come to volunteer part-time and now supervised each job from start to finish.
"I just call it like I see it, Sunshine. You know it's true. Sure you won't go on home?"
She grinned, hearing Teo use her father's pet name for her. "A quick drive-by first, then I'll be in bed and snoozing. It's just. .this family is special to me."
"everyone is special to you, girl. You take on every sad case that crosses your path."
Her family said the same and despaired of the fact, though she thought they were proud of her, too--even if her four overprotective big brothers tended to treat her like she was still a little girl. "I love my work. Neighborhoods invest when we locate a project there, you know that. Everyone draws hope from it."
"They do." He sighed. "Okay, good night, Sunshine."
"Good night, Teo." She disconnected and started her car.
In a few minutes she was approaching the newest project of Foundations for Families, a fifteen-hundred-square-foot home being built for the Marin...
A Life Rebuilt
By: Jean Brashear