(sample is unedited, and subject to change. enjoy!)
I’d been making it a point to spend the early parts of the day at the Pot Liquor site, so I could “check in” at Fallon’s in the evening, when she was usually home. It was a short window between the end of her workday and when we stopped for the day, so I had to be strategic about it, but I was good at finding reasons to send the guys home, and stay at her house a little longer.
And she never seemed to mind.
Especially on the days when her eyes were pink and glossy, like the breakup had been on her mind. One of those days, I just joked with her until those tears were ones of laughter. The other, I took her into her garage and showed her how to use the miter saw, then made her help cut the crown molding for her ceiling. It’s hard to think about your bitch-ass ex when you’re focused on not cutting your fingers off.
“Do you think this is doable?” she asked, turning to me with her eyes wide, full of excitement about her ideas for the kitchen. “And if we take out this wall right here, it would open everything up, and bring in a lot more light.”
I pulled my hardhat up to scratch my head. “If we do all of this, it’s going to add quite a bit of time, probably weeks to this project. I was under the impression you wanted this over with as soon as possible.”
“I did, at first.” She turned to fully face me, tucking the tablet into her arms. “But now I want it to be perfect, not just done. You know?”
I nodded. “Yeah. What made you change your mind?”
“I…” – she pushed out a heavy breath, then lifted and dropped her shoulders. “I realized that I was depriving myself of the original reason I even bought this house. I like watching the transformation happen, watching the beauty come back into these older homes. This was supposed to be this big DIY thing for me and my ex, but he’s not part of it now. I may not be able to do it by myself, but I shouldn’t let him steal the joy of the process from me.”
“Good.” I kept my response simple, so I wouldn’t end up ranting about bums who left huge responsibilities on their girl’s shoulders. He didn’t want to do his part? Fine. I had her back.
“So we can make those changes?” she asked, her voice hopeful.
“Of course. Anything you want, I’ll make it happen. Send me a list of your plans, Ms. Last-Minute changes. I’ll see what you have, call the plumber back out here about moving water lines, get the cabinet guys and the granite company back out. From there, I can give you a new budget and timeline.”
“Ah!” She let out a little shriek of excitement, and a second later, she was hugging me. Over her shoulder, I caught some of the guys giving us curious looks, so I gave her a squeeze back, then reluctantly pulled away.
“Let me get back to these floors,” I said, reaching for my shovel. “I’m glad you brought this up while we were in demolition mode, instead of once we started putting stuff in.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Yeah, I figured I should catch you before. Did I add a bunch of work?”
“Hell yeah,” I laughed. “But it’s nothing we can’t handle.”
“It looks like you were almost done except the floors,” she said, then stepped past me into the kitchen.
“Hold up!” I grabbed her around the waist, pulling her backwards out of the kitchen. “Can’t be in the work zone without protective gear.”
She sucked her teeth. “Sean, are you serious? Work zone? It’s just my kitchen!”
“I’m dead serious. It can get dangerous, so we make safety a habit. All times, even the small jobs. And we tore out part of the ceiling remember, because of the water damage. You don’t know what might fall out of there.”
She rolled her eyes, but I gently grabbed her arm, tugging to get her to meet my gaze.
“I’m serious, Fallon. You said you’d eat out or order in, you’ve got your mini-fridge and stuff… you don’t need to be in this kitchen while it’s being torn down or rebuilt. It’s potentially dangerous, and I don’t want you getting hurt.”
Her expression softened, but then took on a mischievous edge. “But what if I want to help?”
She smiled. “Tear the kitchen out. I’m strong, and I’ve got some aggression that probably needs to be worked out. I wanna do it.”
“Then you need protective gear,” I said, shaking my head.
I groaned, then chuckled. “Okay. Follow me to my work truck.”
Outside, I found a clean pair of goggles and a hard hat in my truck. I put both on her, and she turned to look at her reflection in the window.
“How do I look?” she asked, wearing a huge, excited grin that made me laugh. Fallon gave off a natural air of sophistication, and yet… she wanted to do something dirty and physical like demolishing her kitchen.
Fucking sexy, is what I wanted to say, because it was true.
“You look adorable,” is what I settled on, since that was also true. How the hell did this woman make everything look good?
I led her back into the kitchen, where I handed her a drill, and showed her how to unscrew the hinges from the cabinets while I continued scraping up the old, cracked porcelain tile.
“This is boring,” she whined. “On TV they just snatch this shit down.”
Shaking my head, I looked over to where she was standing, with her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face. “Because it’s TV. This is real life, and in real life, your ass will end up in the hospital.”
Truthfully, when I finished with the tile and could pull one of the guys from what he was doing, we would just rip the cabinets down. The wood was old, and the kitchen had a bit of water damage that had softened it over time, so it wouldn’t be that hard. That didn’t mean I wanted her trying it.
Two seconds after that thought left my mind, Fallon screamed, and I looked up just in time to see her falling, and a cabinet door came falling shortly behind her. She landed flat on her ass, and the door – hinges still attached since she’d ripped it down – landed on her head.
I threw my head back and laughed as she shoved the cabinet to the side, and a moment later, she started laughing too.
“And that,” I told her. “Is why we wear hard hats in work zones.”
She gave me a playful roll of her eyes. “Got it. Safety first.”