Love Under Construction
Billionaire land developer, Hunter Davis, returns to Harmony with one agenda in mind. Right the wrongs of the past, because until he does they’re like a black smudge on his soul. But Hunter has never been able to forget what he once shared with Mackenzie Berg, the woman he secretly married eleven years ago. And now something in his heart refuses to die, something that makes him want to woo her back into his arms…for the rest of his life.
Local contractor, Mackenzie Berg, may be secretly married to Hunter Davis—she might even have a small mountain of newspaper and magazine clippings about the hunky land developer tucked into the bottom of her dresser drawer—but that doesn’t mean she still has feelings for him, does it? She intends to avoid the man she once loved, until town officials blackmail her into escorting him to the events planned during his short stay.
With the whole town watching their every move, can these two lonely people rediscover the love of a lifetime?
LOVE UNDER CONSTRUCTION is now available for purchase at:
Complete Character List:
- Mackenzie Berg: Local contractor who harbors a secret that could kill her grandfather.
- Hunter Davis: Billionaire land developer who is determined to right the wrongs of the past.
- John Berg: Mac’s grandfather, retired but still wants to be in control.
- Paul Davis: Hunter’s dad (deceased) who embezzled from nearly everyone in town.
- Gloria Davis: Hunter’s mom (deceased).
- Sylvie Melnyk: Still pissed at Hunter’s dad.
- Andy Uretzlaff: Angry and maybe a little bit crazy.
- Madeline Arbuckle: Long time hotel resident.
- Walter Arbuckle: The hotel’s resident ghost.
- Roberta Smythe: Thurston Hotel front desk clerk who’d like to catch a billionaire of her own.
- Gill: Thurston Hotel’s bell hop who looks to Mrs. Arbuckle’s every need.
- Riley Hamilton: Harmony’s frazzled bride-to-be.
- Edward Hamilton: Harmony’s mayor and Riley’s dad.
- Lilith Hamilton: Riley’s mom who is determined her daughter’s wedding will be the event of the century.
Extras & Tidbits: Want to get the inside scoop on this story? Then check out the blog posts below.
Welcome to book four of the Thurston Hotel romance series. There’s always a lot to do before a book is released. There’s blog posts to write (waving at you all while you’re reading this one!), a newsletter to prepare, updates to the website, Goodreads, and Facebook,...read more
My SSP manuscript is back from the continuity editors and I’m doing final revisions on it right now. I hope to have it off to the line editor by the end of the week, so please, send me some “no distractions” vibes! And I finally have permission to share a few details...read more
LOVE UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Posted to The Harmony Chronicle Facebook Page
by Aaron Bridges
RUMOR HAS IT…
…that billionaire land developer, Hunter Davis, is about to descend on Harmony. The Thurston Hotel staff have been sprucing up the interior of the hotel in anticipation of his arrival, although they claim the overhaul is in preparation for the hotel’s one hundred year anniversary party which is scheduled to take place this August.
Long time residents of Harmony no doubt remember the scandal that sent the popular billionaire (before he made his billions!) fleeing the town. With his dad still serving time at an undisclosed penitentiary, and the recent passing of his mother, this reporter is curious as to what the single billionaire’s future plans entail…and if those plans involve the gorgeous local contractor who used to be his high school sweetheart.
Let me know what you think in the comments. You know I love to hear from you!
Mackenzie Berg glanced out the window that overlooked the parking lot of the Thurston Hotel, and braced herself for the arrival of her past.
For the last hour, she’d pretended to measure the second floor ballroom so she could install huge beige panels on the walls. Except now she’d run out of places near the window, and there was no way she would leave her vantage point.
Behind her, voices rose and fell—Riley Hamilton and her mother, Lilith, arguing about the layout of the tables for Riley’s end-of-the-year wedding reception. With a quick peek over her shoulder to confirm they were faced the other way, she discreetly pulled out her hammer and punched a hole through the wall, thereby ensuring she’d have to stay put for at least the next hour.
Lilith’s voice screeched across the ballroom. “Mac? What did you break?”
Mackenzie stuck the claw of her hammer into the hole and applied pressure to loosen the wallboard. “Nothing, Mrs. Hamilton. I found some damage that needs to be repaired.”
“Well, take care of it, girl. Riley’s wedding must be perfect. We’re inviting important people.”
“Yes, ma’am, of course you are,” she muttered as she tuned out the women’s voices and put more muscle into prying off the stubborn piece.
She experienced a twinge of guilt for deliberately ruining the wallboard, but there was no use worrying about it now. As general manager of Harmony Construction, she’d ensure the hotel wouldn’t be billed for the repair.
With another mighty yank, she finally succeeded in ripping off a piece of the wallboard. She tossed it onto the floor, made a mental note to pick up a four-by-twelve piece of drywall from the local lumber store, and wiped at a bead of sweat that ran from her hairline to her temple.
She peered out the window again, her stomach clenched into a ball of anticipation and fear, then jumped when someone touched her elbow.
Aaron Bridges, owner of The Harmony Chronicle, stood directly behind her, crowding her space. “Mac, have you heard?”
Mackenzie shouldered him back, stuck the hammer claw between the stud and drywall, ripped away another chunk of board, and dropped it on the floor beside her. “Heard what?”
Kicking the wallboard aside, the reporter stepped up to the window, where he scanned the parking lot. “People Magazine named our guest of honor Sexiest Man of the Year.”
An image popped into Mackenzie’s head.
Dark charcoal eyes. A grin that looked somewhere between the boy next door and a fallen angel. And a body that made half the women in the world swoon with desire.
She mentally gave her head a shake, slipped the hammer into her tool pouch, grabbed the wallboard with her gloved hands, and gave a vicious yank. A bigger chunk tore off. “I don’t have time for that silliness.”
His beady eyes fixed on her face. “No, of course you don’t. Then why are you here today?”
She wiped at the trail of sweat making its way from her temple to her chin. “I’m surprised you don’t already know. The Thurston family is celebrating the hotel’s one-hundred-year anniversary this August, and the work has to be completed by the middle of May.”
He scrutinized her with the intensity of one long used to people hiding the truth. “It has nothing to do with our guest of honor?”
The lie rolled off her tongue easily. “Of course not.”
Beside her, Aaron fell silent, an unusual state for the nosy reporter, but she could feel his gaze on her, sharp and inquisitive.
Sweat trickled down her sides as she wrestled with a particularly stubborn piece, and it wasn’t all to do with the failed air conditioning unit.
Maybe she should have stayed home today, she thought while she pried and yanked and finally sat on her butt and stomped her heavy work boots on either side of the board for added leverage.
The board came off with a screech of old screws, spewing fine white dust into the air, leaving behind remnants of the board that had been glued to the wall.
Yeah, she definitely should have stayed home today. Saved Harmony Construction the cost of her time and a sheet of wallboard. Saved herself the hassle of cutting, installing, mudding, sanding, and painting it.
She should have played hooky and stayed in bed all day with the blankets pulled over her head. In the dark. Like a mushroom. At least until the man about to walk back into her life strolled back out again.
But she’d wanted to see him. Not see him face to face, but see him while she was safely hidden out of sight. And here in the ballroom, at the window overlooking the paved parking lot and grand front entrance of the Thurston Hotel, she had the perfect vantage point.
Until, that is, Aaron stepped into her spot and hogged the entire window view.
She glared at his back. “Why are you up here? Shouldn’t you be down there waiting like the vulture you are?”
He didn’t reply to her question. Instead, he said, “They say he can make gold out of pennies.”
She lumbered to her feet, her steel-toed work boots sinking into the blanket-covered carpet, and reached down to grab her hard hat off the floor. “Who says?”
“Forbes Magazine.” The reporter flipped open a pad of paper and read from it. “Thirty-one-year-old billionaire land developer, Hunter Davis, makes gold out of pennies. Wish I could coin a title like that.”
She couldn’t help it. She found herself craning her neck to see the article. “New issue?”
He flipped back to the cover and showed her the picture of Hunter, dressed in his usual suit and tie as he posed casually for the camera. “Just hit the shelves today.”
Mackenzie made a mental note to swing past the grocery store to pick up a jug of milk…and maybe a magazine or two.
With a shake of her head at her own silliness, she nudged the reporter aside and refocused on the repair job. Crouching down, she pulled out her utility knife and trimmed the rough edges of the board.
Aaron Bridges was possibly the most annoying person in all of Harmony—although when Lilith’s sharp voice rang through the ballroom, Mackenzie acknowledged that the prize for most annoying might have to go to the older woman. But Aaron was always sticking his nose into places that tempted people to cut it off.
Outside, a car door slammed. She peered over the edge of the sill, but it was just Ben Thurston, general manager of the hotel, returning from lunch.
Aaron’s voice drifted into her thoughts. “So are you excited about seeing your old boyfriend again? Is he the reason why you never hooked up and married some poor sucker in town?”
And there it was, the window into the past, a window she’d firmly closed, then just for good measure, nailed shut with spikes so long, it would take an excavator to dig them out.
She huffed out a sigh and pushed to her feet, closing the utility knife so she wouldn’t accidentally—or maybe on purpose—stab Aaron with it. “I have no desire to see Hunter ever again. And no, I’m not pining for him either. You know I’ve been busy running John’s construction company. I have absolutely no energy left for dating.”
And no desire to do so either.
Not that she could date, what with the secret tie between her and the sexy billionaire.
The sick knot in her stomach expanded into her chest.
Maybe she had been pining…which was why her recent decision merited immediate action.
There was only one way to get Hunter Davis permanently and irrevocably out of her head. She needed to suck up her pride and visit Reginald Anderson, the lawyer who handled all of Harmony Construction’s legal matters, and have him draw up the necessary papers.
She could always trust Reginald to be discreet, and the last thing Mackenzie needed was for this blowback to her youth to reach her grandfather’s ears. His weak heart might not be able to withstand the shock.
A commotion at the entrance of the ballroom snagged her attention, and she turned to see Mayor Edward Hamilton walk in. He nodded to his wife and daughter, then tugged at his tie and strolled toward Mackenzie.
“Why is it so hot in here?”
She swiped the back of her hand across her forehead. “Air conditioning unit’s on the fritz. My guys are working on it right now.”
His gaze flitted over her appearance and a frown tugged at his bushy brows. “Is that what you’re wearing?”
She glanced down at her torn jeans, scuffed work boots, dusty t-shirt, and the Carhartt work vest, all soaked with sweat and covered with a layer of fine drywall dust. “It’s what I always wear when I work.”
Concern restructured his broad brow. “Didn’t anyone tell you?”
Nerves started tingling somewhere around the base of her spine. “Tell me what?”
He pushed up his jacket sleeve and peered at the expensive gold watch on his wrist. “There’s no time to run home and change. I’ll try to come up with an excuse, but just in case, you should comb your hair and dust yourself off.”
Mackenzie tucked a stray strand of dust-coated blonde hair behind her ear, suddenly self-conscious about her appearance. “Just in case of what?”
“Hunter wishes to meet privately with you to discuss the conditions of Harmony Construction’s bid on building the new community center.”
“Bid?” She gritted her teeth. “I thought we had a deal, Mayor. I give the town a break on the construction costs and you give Harmony Construction the building contract.”
The mayor shifted, clearly uncomfortable. “It’s not up to me anymore. If you want the contract, then I suggest you be extra nice to our guest of honor during his stay in Harmony.”
“Extra nice?” she squeaked, and before she could clear the squeak from her voice and growl at the mayor, he continued.
“That’s right. You can start by escorting him to the ground turning ceremony for the new Community Center. Then to the dance to raise money for the build. And whatever else he wants an escort for.”
Mackenzie backed up a step. “No way.”
Aaron shoulder bumped the mayor, and with a smirk, the reporter said, “I think she’s still in love with her old boyfriend.”
Her face grew hot. “I am not.”
Ed placed one hand on her shoulder, compassion etched into his features. “I’m sorry, Mac. I forgot you used to date Hunter. I know the boy broke your heart—”
“He didn’t break my heart,” she spit out. Knocking his hand away, she grabbed the handle of her white tool bucket and started to shove the tools scattered on the floor inside—utility knife, crowbar, chisel. “I’m giving you a break on the contractor fees, Ed. You won’t find another construction company willing to do that.”
“I know, sweetheart.” With a glance toward the reporter who was busy scribbling notes in a notebook, Ed grabbed her by the elbow, tugged her away from the prying ears of the other man, and onto the dance floor where he lowered his voice to a whisper. “Please be nice to him. I shouldn’t be telling you this, but the council members are concerned that if he’s not completely satisfied with his stay, he’ll withdraw his generous donation of the land and money for the project.”
“Why would he do that? You already have the deed to his land and the five million he donated to the project in the bank.” At the pained expression on his face, she tugged free of his hold and set down the bucket with a bang against the hardwood floor. “You do have the deed signed and the money in the bank, don’t you?”
The mayor grimaced and squirmed. “He promised to sign the papers upon his arrival, so until they’re signed and the check is in the town’s coffers, he has the power to walk.”
Shocked, Mackenzie stared at him.
“So as I was saying, Mac, be extra nice to him.” He patted her on the shoulder, all fatherly and kind-faced. “He never married either. Maybe he’s still pining for you too.”
She gritted her teeth and refused to let loose the kaleidoscope of memories poking to get out. “I’m not pining for him.”
Behind her, Aaron cleared his throat. “Our guest of honor is here.”
While the mayor did an about-face and retraced his steps out of the ballroom, ignoring the call of his demanding wife, Mackenzie sucked up her pride and dragged herself to the window to stand shoulder to shoulder with the reporter.
The driver’s door of the large black Hummer swung open, and the man who’d broken her heart eleven years ago stepped out, all cool and casual in his expensive two piece suit.
Mackenzie glanced down at her dirty, sweat-stained clothes, and tried to brush the dust off.
Aaron cleared his throat. “You—uh—have a little smudge on your face.”
She leaned toward the glass to peer at her reflection, and saw more than a smudge. Staring back at her was the total opposite of the beautiful, sexy women usually photographed clinging to Hunter’s arm. In comparison, she was frumpy and plain and so unappealing, no doubt he’d take one look at her and let her off the hook.
As a heavy lump settled in her stomach, she gazed down at the parking lot and knew exactly why People Magazine had named him Sexiest Man of the Year.
Be still my beating heart.
But a broken heart wasn’t her biggest concern.
If Hunter withdrew the land and his financial donation, it would cost the people of Harmony a fortune to build the much needed community hall.
She snuck a look at the reporter.
And if the truth about her relationship with Hunter ever came out, it would destroy her grandfather, John Berg, and everything he believed in…including his trust in her.