Undeniable Demands(3)

By: Andrea Laurence

 His boots crunched through the snow until he reached the  rounded doorway. It had a small window in it that he watched for movement when  he knocked. Nothing. No sound of people inside, either.

 Just great. He’d come all the way out here for nothing.

 Wade was about to turn and head back home when he heard the  telltale click of a shotgun safety. His head spun to the left, following the  sound, and he found himself in the sights. The woman was standing about twenty  feet away, bundled just as heavily as he was in a winter coat with a knit cap  and sunglasses hiding most of her features. Long strands of fiery red hair  peeked out from her hat and blew in the chilly wind. The distinctive color  immediately caught his eye. He’d known a woman with hair that color a long time  ago. It had been beautiful, like liquid flames. Appropriate, since he was  playing with fire now.

 On reflex, his hands went up. Getting shot by some  overprotective, rural militia type was not on his agenda for the day. “Hey,  there,” he called out, trying to sound as friendly and nonthreatening as he  could.

 The woman hesitated, and then the shotgun dropped slightly.  “Can I help you?”

 “Are you Mrs. Sullivan?” Hopefully Mr. Sullivan wasn’t out in  the woods with a shotgun of his own.

 “Miss Sullivan,” she corrected.  “What’s it to you?”

 A single female. Even better. Wade had a certain charm about  him that served him well with the fairer sex. He smiled widely. “My name is Wade  Mitchell. I wanted to talk to you about possibly—”

 “Arrogant, pigheaded real-estate developer Wade Mitchell?” The  woman took a few steps forward.

 Wade frowned. She didn’t seem to care for him at all. He wished  to God the woman wasn’t so bundled up so he could see who she was. Maybe then he  could figure out why the mention of his name seemed to agitate her. Of course,  he was wearing just as much winter gear as she was. “Yes, ma’am, although I  wouldn’t go so far as to use those adjectives. I wanted to see if you would be  interested in…”

 His words dropped off as the shotgun rose again. “Aw, hell,”  she lamented. “I thought it looked kinda like you under all those layers, but I  thought, why would Wade Mitchell be in Cornwall making my life hell again after  all this time?”

 Wade’s eyes widened behind his dark sunglasses. “I have no  intention of making your life hell, Miss Sullivan.”

 “Get off my land.”

 “I’m sorry, have I done something to you?” He scanned his  brain. Had he dated a Sullivan? Beaten up her brother? He had no memory of what  he could’ve done to piss this woman off so badly.

 The woman stomped across the snow, closing the gap between them  with the gun still pointed directly at him. She pulled off her sunglasses to  study him more closely, revealing a lovely heart-shaped face and pale eyes. Her  skin was creamy, the perfect backdrop to the fiery strands of hair framing her  face. When her blue eyes met his, he noticed a challenge there, as though she  was daring him not to remember her.

 Fortunately, Wade had an excellent memory. One good enough to  know that he was in trouble. The fiery redhead glaring at him was a hard woman  to forget. He’d certainly tried over the years, but from time to time, she’d  slipped into his subconscious and haunted his dreams with her piercing, ice-blue  gaze. A gaze that reflected the hurt of betrayal that he couldn’t  understand.

 Property owner V. A. Sullivan was none other than Victoria  Sullivan: green architect, eco-warrior and the employee he’d fired from his  company seven years ago.

 His stomach instantly sank. Of all the people who could’ve  bought this property, it had to be her. Victoria Sullivan. The first person he’d  ever fired from his company. It had pained him at the time, but he’d really had  no choice. He had a strict policy on ethics violations. She hadn’t taken the  news well. And judging by her stiff posture and tightly gripped firearm, she was  still upset about it.

 “Victoria!” he said with a wide smile, trying to sound  pleasantly surprised to see her after all this time. “I had no idea you were  living out here now.”

 “Miss Sullivan,” she corrected.

 Wade nodded. “Of course. Could you please drop the gun? I’m  unarmed.”

 “You won’t be when the cops come.” Her words were as icy cold  as the snow, but eventually the gun disengaged and dropped to her side.

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