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The Temptation of Savannah O'Neill Molly O Keefe 2022/8/3 13:52:42

We just can’t get a break, she thought. The O’Neill curse was riding them particularly hard this summer. The vandalism, the break-in.

Again she looked at Matt, wondering somehow if he was here to balance the scales for them. Something sweet for all the bitter they’d been eating.

It seemed unimaginable.

They’d been alone, the three of them, for so long.

There had to be a catch. The universe didn’t send blessings to the O’Neills without payment of some kind.

“I’m going to go get something to eat,” Katie said, scrambling off Savannah’s numb knees.

“Good idea,” she said, clearing her screen of the computer games they’d been playing. Work, she thought, it was time to focus on work. To clear away every other distraction and chase information across the World Wide Web.

Knights Templar, she thought. Warriors and protectors. She’d start there.

But her gaze strayed outside. To Matt.

Her blood was beginning to buzz, the O’Neill curse manifesting itself in her the way it always did. Curiosity. God, it killed her every time. She could bury it, channel it into her job. Research every natural disaster in the southern hemisphere before the 1700s. Find every voodoo use for frog blood.

But right now she wanted to go out there and research their new handyman. Why was he here? Why did he want to stay? To help?

She shook her head, gritted her teeth and fought down her urge to go outside and watch him. Talk to him.

Chaining herself to her work, to her desk and the small oasis that was her life, Savannah, as she always did, suppressed what was O’Neill in her.

But she had to wonder, feeling herself pull against the self-imposed bonds, how long could she hold out?

IT WAS LATE AFTERNOON. Matt could tell by the thickness and heft of the sunlight hitting what remained of the greenhouse—a cement pad. That’s it.

He stripped off his gloves and wiped his dripping forehead with the sleeve of his shirt. Useless, considering the saturation of that sleeve. The whole shirt, actually.

Good God, it was hot. So hot the air was thick in his throat and prickles of heat crawled up and down his legs under sweat-soaked jeans.

His socks were wet. It was disgusting.

He hadn’t done this kind of labor since he’d worked for that civil engineer during college. His shoulders and back weren’t really enjoying it, but the effort felt good. Clean, somehow.

There were worse ways to wait for Vanessa to show up, and it sure as hell beat watching the four walls of his condo close in around him.

Scrap still needed to be carried out to the curb, but now he could get to work on making sure the back wall was safe—the farthest corner had slid apart into a loose heap.

There was a kid living here, for crying out loud. And this courtyard was like a death trap.

He felt eyes on the back of his neck and he sighed. Seriously, that little girl was getting to be a pest. Not that she did anything, or said anything. She simply watched him.

It was creeping him out.

“It’s Savannah.” Oh, man, was it ever. Even the sound of her voice sent blood pounding through his veins. He turned and saw her in the shadows under the cypress. “Has Katie been bothering you?”

He smiled and shook his head. “She’s just curious.”

“Curious.” Savannah actually smiled. “Is that another word for pain in the butt?”

“I was thinking precocious.”

Savannah nodded, calm and cool as if it wasn’t a million degrees outside and suddenly Matt felt every drop of sweat on his body. “Everything okay?” she asked. “You…ah…finding stuff?”

He looked down at the ancient sledgehammer and even older hand tools that he’d found in the shed. An upgrade would be needed if he was going to get this courtyard done with the skin of his hands intact.

“Sure,” he said. “But I think tomorrow I’ll go into town and get some supplies.”

He shook his head, guilt eating away at him. He was lying, and now he was taking their money. “Margot gave me a deposit.” Not that he would ever cash the check.

She paused, standing there as if there was something more she wanted to say. It made him nervous, the way she simply stood, watching him, as though she saw right through his bad smoke screen. As though she knew why he was here.