Keely McKay's lucky cowgirl boots kicked up clouds of dust as she paced across the wooden plank floor.
A mouse skittered in front of her and she jumped like a scalded cat.
So much for maintaining nerves of steel.
Well, at least she hadn't shrieked like a scream queen from some cheesy slasher flick.
In the last twenty-three minutes and forty-two seconds she'd chewed her bottom lip to the point she tasted blood beneath the cherry-flavored lip gloss. Not only that, her fingers hurt from continually cracking her knuckles. Frogs jumped in her stomach and were stuck in her throat. She'd clenched her jaw hard enough to make her earlobes sting. Given her erratic physical reactions, one would believe she was facing the hangman's noose. An executioner's blade. Or a blind date.
She was meeting a man. A man she didn't know. A man she'd never spoken to. A man who held her entire future in his hands.
And that absolutely chapped her ass, sucked balls and blew donkey dick.
No man ever had that much power over Keely McKay. She'd made sure of it. Even with five older brothers, and a dozen older male cousins, she'd always been the queen bee. Using her stubbornness to get her way, not her feminine wiles.
Not that she was opposed to flashing her cleavage to get a leg up in this situation.
No need. You are a professional, qualified woman. Not a Nervous Nellie. Not a Wild Child. Buck up. Chin up. This is your time to shine.
There were a hundred reasons why good fortune should finally smile on her. She'd done everything right on the business front: secured the funding and found the building to further the cause she believed in. On the personal side: she was a loving daughter, a dedicated sister, a loyal friend, an involved aunt. A proud member of the Wyoming community she'd grown up in and hoped to grow old in. She took pride in her ability to connect with people from all walks of life. She derived great joy from helping people. Heck, she'd chosen her career because she was good at those things.
She wasn't looking for kudos or glory, just a place where she could do what she loved, help people heal close to home--close to their families.
Now that her dream of giving back to the community--filling a need for rural healthcare--was within her grasp, would this mysterious man help smooth a path to success? Or would he trip her up?
Maybe all this worry was for nothing. Maybe she'd get lucky. God knew if the decision were based on hard work, dedication, knowledge and drive, she'd be golden.
Restless, she wandered through the main floor of the century-old building, originally Moorcroft's first general store. During the course of its existence, it'd housed the post office and an attorney's office. For the last thirty years it'd sat empty.
She'd always wondered why no one had renovated the stalwart stone building--an answer she was now learning firsthand. New construction of steel frame structures was easier, cheaper, faster and more efficient. Hence, many historic buildings were lost to the blade of a bulldozer or tumbled by a wrecking ball. A sad situation for a western state with precious few architectural treasures in the first place.
So the State of Wyoming had wisened up and toughened regulations, forming the Wyoming Historical Western Preservation Committee to deal with the lax construction policies and administration of fines. The committee also gauged a structure's historical merit, determining those to be listed on the official register, as well as overseeing any structural and architectural changes of registered buildings, both on the state level and with recommendation to the National Historic Register.
Talk about a taste of bureaucracy.
After dealing with committees and subcommittees, and tracking down funding sources, Keely discovered the entire house of cards depended upon whether she could convince the certified architectural restoration specialist to oversee the project. The company representative insisted on making a personal appearance to gauge the validity of the proposed project before rendering a decision.
As if the situation wasn't convoluted enough, she'd inadvertently discovered the restoration company she'd contacted and the company that owned the Sandstone Building she lived in...were one in the same. Western Property Management Services and Full Circle Consulting shared the same PO box in Denver.
If she believed in fate, she'd take that as a good sign.
The door creaked and a shaft of sunlight seared her retinas. Keely blocked the bright ray with her hand, willing her heart to stop racing as fast as a spooked antelope. This was it. Her future. Her destiny.
Please. Just this one time. Let things go my way.
She plastered on a charming smile.
As the form sauntered closer, Keely blinked several times. No way. Had to be a trick of the light. Or a trick of the swirling dust motes. Her eyes--shit, maybe she needed glasses. The male figure with a laconic walk looked like...nah. It couldn't be him.
All six foot four inches, two hundred odd pounds of muscle and grace pulled into sharp focus.
Keely gasped like a Victorian maiden.
Or maybe she had stumbled onto the set of a low budget horror movie.
The man was a stunning example of masculine flawlessness.
And the dead last man in the world Keely ever wanted to deal with.
Her brother's best friend.
The older brother of the guy who'd dumped her.
The jerk who'd left her high and dry at her brother's wedding reception three years ago.
That bitch fate had a nasty sense of humor.