In this passionate and unpredictable story, Halden Dahl is a successful glass artist and total ladies' man. Handsome and talented with an ego as big as all outdoors, has he finally met a woman who will bring him to his knee?
Madison Lassiter is the new girl in town, and as soon as Halden lays eyes on her, he wants her. Halden has always been a thrill-seeker with a strong sense of wanderlust, so Madison has her doubts that he's the man for her despite their obvious chemistry.
From the age of seven, Madison has been laser-focused on establishing a successful millinery business. It's time now for her to branch out from her tiny hometown of Honeybee Hollow to the big city of Louisville, Kentucky.
She's ready for new experiences, but is she ready for Halden?
Suitable for adult readers due to HOT content.
Release date: May 14, 2020
Publisher: Ringmaster Publishing
Print pages: 266
Content advisory: explicit sex
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It was the Fourth of July, and everywhere Halden Dahl looked he saw a kid—young nieces and nephews, toddlers, babies, and potential babies in the beachball bellies of the friends and relations. Halden’s brother Gunnar and sister-in-law Åse lived on an incredible estate, and this year they’d decided to have a huge holiday party. So, exhausted parents lay in lounges around the pool, floated in the pool, dangled tiny feet of laughing toddlers in the water, or supervised playtime in a couple of fenced off areas that were filled with balls, paddle pools, and soft toys.
Surveying the crowd, Halden spotted his brother-in-law Jesse Sherman.
“Hey, Jesse, how about a game of tennis? Maybe we can find a couple more people and play some doubles,” Halden asked. Although rusty, he loved playing. Halden scoped out the guests and spotted Gunnar’s agent Glenn and Åse’s friend David. David cheerfully handed off his armload of baby to his lovely wife Amelia as he kissed both of them on the cheek, and within minutes the four men were equipped with rackets and balls that had been provided by Gunnar for the party. They headed to the court beyond the pool.
“So, David, want to partner up?” Halden asked with a wicked grin.
“Hey, no fair, Halden!” complained Jesse with a laugh. “You both look like lumberjacks, and we’re… uh…” Jesse stopped talking when Glenn pulled him aside and whispered in his ear. Jesse grinned then and said, “Never mind.”
It turned out Jesse didn’t get a lot of exercise during the game other than just running out of the way of the ball. Halden and David yukked it up for a while until they began losing and losing and losing. Glenn, as they finally discovered, had been the star of his college tennis team and still played almost every weekend. He hadn’t lost his skills.
So, they had a friendly game of doubles that Halden and David had no chance of winning, but they enjoyed running around in the sun and chasing after the ball. Once in a while they scored a point and made a big to-do with high fives and fist pumps.
And then something happened.
Halden glanced over at the pool, taking in his friends and family, and suddenly noticed a new arrival. He watched as this glorious vision handed off what looked like a couple of pies to a very happy looking Marta—Gunnar and Åse’s housekeeper/cook—and wandered over to Åse and Amelia. Faen, she had a sexy walk. Her face was partially obscured by the brim of a large sun hat, and he wished fervently he could see her better. She wore a filmy beach cover-up that she slowly unbuttoned and dropped into a large tote bag, revealing a body that… WHAM!
“Ow!” Halden rubbed his arm and saw a big round red welt beginning to form where one of Glenn’s killer backhands had hit him.
David couldn’t stop laughing as he scolded, “Pay attention to the game or you might lose something important, Halden.”
Halden grumbled a bit then laughed, and they promptly lost the set. “Why don’t we go get some cold beer?” Done with losing at tennis, he had a different conquest in mind.
From a standstill, Halden vaulted over the net toward the winners and looked back at David with a questioning look and a slightly evil grin. “Well? We lost. Hop on over!”
“I’m too fond of my body to try that. I’ll leave the fancy shenanigans to you.” David skirted around the net where they all shook hands and thanked each other for the game.
After toweling off, Halden made his way over to where this new vision sat chatting. The ladies seemed to know each other pretty well if the level of animation in their actions was any indication. Halden glanced around until he spotted an empty chair that he dragged over. As he moved in, Amelia excused herself to go change a diaper.
Amelia and Åse ran a popular boutique called Spice with their friend Molly. Amelia designed couture fashion, Åse designed custom jewelry, and Molly imported exquisite lingerie.
Still standing, Halden boomed, “So, Åse, happy Fourth of July!” Not smooth, jerkface. You already wished her that when you first got here. “How’s Ollie doing? Any teeth yet?” Leaning over, he eyed his newborn nephew Olav who was way too little for teeth. When Åse laughed at him knowingly, he turned to the newcomer and stuck out his hand, getting a good look at her face finally. “Hi, I’m Halden Dahl. Åse’s brother-in-law. And you are?” God—she’s even more beautiful up close. Just look at that body. I’d love nothing more than to lick her from top to bottom. He could imagine savoring the taste of that smooth, golden skin.
The newcomer straightened up and stopped rubbing sunscreen on her legs, answering with a bright smile, “Pardon the slippery hand, I’m Madison Lassiter, a new neighbor of Åse, Molly, and Amelia’s.” She shook Halden’s hand firmly, speaking in a voice that sounded like warm honey to his ears. Soft and low, her voice dripped with southern charm.
Halden stifled a groan.
“Do you have a business near Spice?” Halden asked, thinking how he wouldn’t mind getting even more slippery with this woman.
Straightening slightly in her seat, she answered, “I do, yes. They were kind enough to welcome me to the neighborhood when I moved in a couple of weeks ago. I have a small business that sells hats.”
Halden blinked at this declaration. He had visions of baseball caps with silly sayings on them. “Uh, is there a big market for hats in Louisville?”
Åse and Madison laughed at his confused look, and Åse stepped in to explain. “Madison designs and sells fancy hats, Halden. You know, like the ones they wear to the Kentucky Derby and royal weddings?”
“Oh, yeah. Sure.” He couldn’t imagine a sustainable business doing that. The Derby was one day a year, and how many royal weddings can one person go to in a lifetime? Besides… where was the royalty in Kentucky, for heaven’s sake?
“Well, men’s hats are also becoming big business lately, so I also sell those, and I have a line of vacation wear hats for ladies who want to keep the sun off their faces when they go to the beach,” Madison added with a gesture to her own hat.
Halden thought that made sense. He wished she’d take the hat off though. She had glorious, long wavy hair the color of sparkling amber and enormous eyes that appeared blue at first, but he could see in them flecks of green and gold. Fantastic eyes. Her mouth was wide and smiling with lips that needed to be kissed—soon, and by him. And that body, good lord. Fine bryster. Halden had always enjoyed the sight of lovely tits.
Åse brought Halden out of his reverie by asking, “What happened to your arm? Did you walk into something?” She appeared to be holding back a snort.
“Oh, um, no. I didn’t get out of the way of Glenn’s backhand quick enough. Who knew the old codger could play like that?” Halden rubbed his bicep that was beginning to turn purple.
Laughing, Åse answered, “He and Gunnar play now and then, but I think he only humors Gunnar with it. And he’s not that much older.”
Halden gave a tiny shrug and turned his attention back to Madison. “So, do you live near the store?”
“Upstairs, actually. It’s like Spice—one of the old houses that has an apartment upstairs and retail space on the bottom floor. I’ll have a workshop and a showroom, but I’m not open yet except for the online sales I’ve been doing for a few years already. I’m still getting set up with the brick and mortar business. What do you do, Halden?”
Halden regarded Madison and tried to weigh her level of interest. She acted perfectly polite, and the question about his work was appropriate, but she also seemed to regard him with an air of casual aloofness. He wondered immediately if she had a boyfriend. But… there was no ring on her finger, and she’s shown up alone, so he maintained a sense of hope. After a short pause, he answered, “I’m a glass artist.”
“And what precisely does that mean?” she wondered aloud with her head cocked a little to the side.
“It means that I make sculpture and sometimes fixtures like lights from blown glass, and I make stained glass windows.” Halden was extremely sought-after for his talents and often flew to other countries to install his work in fabulous homes and commercial buildings. His clients all had either historic structures or were well-heeled private art lovers. His work didn’t come cheap.
“How interesting,” Madison said politely.
“It’s awfully hot out here,” Halden announced, and he pulled off his damp shirt—pretty sure he could hear a tiny snort from Åse. “I’m heading over to get a drink. Can I get anyone anything? Beer, coke?” He stood and tried to see whether Madison reacted to his body, but she’d looked down again to apply more sunscreen.
“I’d love a water, if you wouldn’t mind,” answered Åse. “Madison?”
She looked up and met Halden’s questioning gaze, locking eyes with him. “A cold drink would be lovely, thank you. I’m not ready for a beer just yet though.”
Enjoying her attention, Halden asked, “So, Madison, are you a Louisville native?”
With bright eyes and a friendly smile, she answered, “No. I’m new in town, actually. I’m from a tiny town in southeastern Kentucky, about twenty-five miles from the Virginia border called Honeybee Hollow.” With a fond expression, she continued, “My mama is the librarian and my daddy’s a veterinarian. My older brother Tanner is the mayor.”
“Let me guess,” Halden chuckled, “Honeybee Hollow High School’s colors are yellow and black.”
“Absolutely true,” she laughed.
Halden couldn’t help think that he’d love to hear more of that beautiful sound. “How much older is your brother?” he asked.
“So, what is he, like the youngest mayor in the country at twenty-one?”
Madison gave him a look and smiled, “He’s twenty-eight. I’m sure you can do your math, but I’m twenty-six.”
At this announcement, Halden looked relieved. He’d wondered. Twenty-six was a respectable age since he had just turned thirty-three.
She continued proudly, “He is one of the youngest to be elected mayor, though. He’s been in that position since he graduated.”
“High school or college?”
Cocking her head to the side, she answered, “Well, college, of course. Halden, didn’t you say something about getting some cold drinks?”
Halden shook his head slightly and chuckled. “I’m on my way.”
When Halden returned a couple of minutes later, he discovered Madison sitting by herself. Apparently, Åse also had to run in for a bit of diaper duty, so he set Åse’s water down and scooted his chair even closer to Madison, handing her a drink. She gave him a bit of amused side-eye and then said politely, “Thank you.”
Trying—and failing—to look at anything except her luscious boobs, Halden asked, “So, tell me more about your business, Madison. Pretty name, by the way. How did you get started selling hats?”
“Thank you. Well, I think horses are about the loveliest animals there are, and as a little girl, I was obsessed with them. My daddy used to tell me about the ones he treated on the horse farms around us, and he spoke of them so fondly. He still does, actually. Anyway, one day when I was seven, he said there was a special event on TV I might enjoy. We didn’t watch a lot of television, especially on the weekend, so I found it funny he would call me indoors for a TV show. Our parents usually wanted us to play outside as much as possible.” She paused, opened her soda, and took a drink while Halden watched.
“He wanted to watch the Kentucky Derby, as it turned out. He’d been working with one of the trainers on rehabbing a horse with a minor injury and wanted to see how it did. Well, I can’t begin to tell you the impact that event had on me. The horses were beautiful, and the race was very exciting, but the ladies in the hats!” Madison trilled a beautiful laugh and fanned her face. “They were the most exquisite things I’d ever seen! I knew right then and there I needed to be a hat designer. My mama right away taught me the word ‘milliner’ and I would go around telling people that’s what I was. People probably found it pretty funny coming from a seven-year-old. A few people thought I couldn’t pronounce ‘millionaire’ and was telling tall tales.”
Halden didn’t know what to say, so he laughed and blinked at her. A hat designer? Who does that? He guessed someone had to.
“What about you? How did you know you were going to work with glass?” Madison cocked her head at him again with a quizzical look.
“Hmm. Well, for me it happened a lot later than the age of seven. I saw a magazine article about Dale Chihuly’s glasswork and thought it was great, but I thought I could do better. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant.” He pulled his eyes away from her body and got a faraway look on his face. “The textures he created with glass intrigued me, and I loved the vibrant colors, but there was still something about it that I found too repetitious. He has his own style, that’s for sure, but I wanted to do more. I’d taken a bunch of art classes already throughout high school and during my freshman year at college, and I was really good at it. So, I finished up with an art major and then apprenticed at some glass studios. I tried a few of them so I could learn a variety of techniques in a short period of time. Then I decided I didn’t want to only focus on one thing. Sometimes, I feel compelled to make stained glass, and other times I’m in more of a 3D mood, and I have to say that I think working with molten glass is a blast. I’ve always been a little scattered, so being able to switch around within the medium is good for me, but the concentration it takes to produce a final piece is also great for my head.” Halden paused and took a long pull on his bottle of beer, and went on, “I was very lucky to be given some great breaks at first, and things kind of snowballed for me pretty quickly. Now I love traveling all over the world to install my work.” He looked at Madison and saw with satisfaction that she seemed to be paying close attention to his story.
Åse and Amelia showed up then, and Åse grabbed the water Halden had brought her. Instead of sitting down, Amelia suggested, “Åse, why don’t we go cool these babies down in the water? Excuse us, Madison. You seem to be in good hands, but if you get too hot, come join us, okay?”
Åse gave Halden a wink and sashayed off with Amelia to wander around in the shallow end of the pool.
“You have an interesting name, Halden. It makes me think of Holden Caulfield, but maybe that’s just a result of being the daughter of a librarian who made sure her kids read everything she deemed important for our developing minds.”
Halden chuckled, “I’ve heard that several times actually. That and Hayden. I had a teacher once who could never remember to call me Halden instead of Holden. It drove me nuts as a kid. But my parents named me Halden because it’s so appropriate. They’re Scandinavian, and my name literally means ‘half-Danish.’ My mom is Danish, and my dad is from Norway, so I guess they thought they were being clever. Anyway, we grew up speaking English, Danish, and Norwegian, but the Norwegian seemed to take over the most at home.”
“Interesting,” Madison mused. “I speak Southern, and that’s about it, I’m afraid. I took two years of Spanish in high school, but I was awful at it,” she laughed.
The way her eyes sparkled when she laughed captivated Halden. “Has anyone ever told you that you have incredibly beautiful eyes?” he asked.
“Oh, well, I suppose I’ve had a compliment or two. Thank you,” she answered. That voice of hers made his insides warm.
“How would you like to see one of my favorite pieces? It’s right here at the house. I made it for Goo several years ago.”
Halden smiled and laughed, “Sorry, my big brother Gunnar. Our parents pronounce his name Goo-nahr, and so I naturally had to shorten it to Goo to piss him off. Little brothers are good at that kind of thing.”
Laughing, Madison eyed him and offered, “It’s hard to think of you as ‘little’ anything.”
Now we’re getting somewhere! Halden laughed back and said, “Come on, let’s get out of the sun for a while and I’ll show you the window. It’s in what they used to use for their master bedroom, but they moved downstairs to a different room to be closer to the boys’ rooms. This place is so huge, and the bedrooms are way on the other end of the house from each other, not to mention on a different level. Åse didn’t want to have to run through the house and downstairs at night when she heard a baby cry through the monitor. My guess is they’ll move back upstairs again when the kids are older and everyone wants more privacy.”
“Lead the way then. I’d love to see your work.” Smiling brightly, Madison stood and pulled her cover-up out of her bag. She was taller than he’d expected, probably around five-foot-seven. Halden stifled a groan to see all of the glorious body go back under wraps. At least she removed her hat, so he could enjoy her face and hair better.
“So, Halden, how did you get to be so interested in art in the first place?” she asked as they headed in through a door she hadn’t noticed. It led them straight into the former master suite.
“I originally thought I might like to be an architect. But I’d always loved art. When we were little, my very creative and somewhat bossy big sister Ingrid used to show me how to draw things. She’d tried it out on Goo, but he ignored her and was much more inclined to make up stories about the pictures she drew and painted. I guess the handwriting was on the wall since they now collaborate on a children’s book once a year for charity. Anyway, as I got older, I looked more closely into architecture and finally decided it was too restrictive for me. I need freedom.”
Madison cocked her head and eyed him quizzically.
“Freedom to explore. Both artistically and geographically, I suppose. I travel quite often for work.” Halden eyed Madison closely and wondered if it were wishful thinking that he detected a bit of melancholy in her eyes when he made that statement.
She nodded slightly, and then he watched her face transform as she approached the window he’d installed behind Gunnar’s large whirlpool tub. Her jaw dropped and her eyes grew round.
Madison gasped, “Halden, you made this? It’s incredible!” The window was an abstract design with deeply textured glass in rich, brilliant colors. The sun came through just right for lighting it up. The entire back of the house was walled by one-way glass and, inside the room, Halden had superimposed the stained glass over it in a frame of approximately ten feet by ten feet. From the outside, the house windows appeared black and opaque. But from this side, the colors gleamed and the pattern looked bold and spectacular. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” The texture seemed so interesting and the colors so vivid, it made her want to run her fingers over the sections of glass.
Just then, Gunnar stuck his head in through the door and spoke over his squalling toddler Erik, “I thought I saw you duck in here. Hi, Madison.” He looked at her expression and said, “It’s some window, isn’t it? Halden’s an incredible artist.” He patted Erik’s back and tried to soothe the little guy. “Anyway, Halden, can you come help with the barbecue now? We’re ready to start the burgers and hotdogs. All of the kids are apparently starving at the same time.” He looked at Erik sympathetically in his arms and went on, “Don’t worry, buddy, we’ll get you fed right away. Let’s go see if there’s some nice fresh fruit you could have, okay?” Gunnar didn’t even wait for Halden’s answer before he wandered away distractedly.
“Sure, Goo,” Halden called to his retreating brother. He could never say no to Gunnar when he asked for help since it was such a rare occasion, even though he wasn’t done with his attempt to wow the beautiful Madison. Looking at her, he asked, “How do you like your burger?” He gently slipped his hand behind her back to lead her back outside.
Madison gave him a little side-eye and answered, “I’m sure however you make it will be lovely.”
Unfortunately for Halden, he wasn’t able to monopolize Madison for the rest of the party the way he’d hoped. She flitted gracefully from guest to guest, making acquaintances and greeting new friends. She happily held babies and played games with toddlers. When one tiny punk put his hand on her breast and then smacked her a few times with his baby fist, Halden had to suppress a mild fit of jealousy. She hadn’t seemed to mind and laughed it off, kissing the little guy’s hand and passing the baby back to his mama. Halden chastised himself for his ridiculous thoughts.
Åse and her best friend Sibley had a whispered conversation when they saw how Halden couldn’t stop following Madison around with his eyes, no matter where she was. A couple of times, Halden caught their eye and noticed one or the other smirking at him a little. At one point, he tried to ask them about Madison and whether she was dating anyone, but Åse answered, “Not that I know of, but she’s right over there, Halden. Go talk to her.”
But each time he tried to mosey up to Madison, she seemed to drift away like a butterfly. The confounding woman never stayed in one place.
It frustrated the hell out of him. He knew in his gut she was interested. Was she playing some kind of game?
Finally, it began to grow dark. Some of the people with the newest babies had left, but the excitement level of the older children was palpable. Gunnar had hired a company to come in and set up a silent firework display for the night. Being mindful of the dogs and their sensitive hearing as well as to children who might be frightened by the loud noises of traditional fireworks, he had researched until he found what he wanted for the party.
Halden was not going to let this opportunity go to waste, so he once again sought out Madison, under the pretense of complimenting her on the delicious pies she’d brought.
“So, did you use a family recipe for your pecan pie? It was incredibly good,” he asked with a blinding smile.
Madison blinked at him a second and then asked, “How did you know the pies were mine?”
“I saw you hand them over to Marta when you got here. I couldn’t miss you. Do you like to cook?” Halden’s appetite was a constant source of amusement for anyone who knew him well. Had he not had a raging metabolism that kept him either working, running, or exercising constantly, he’d have been the size of a house. Halden loved his food.
Smiling sweetly, Madison answered, “My mama loves to cook, and I think she’s taught me well enough. I don’t cook anything fancy, but I get the job done. Thank you for the compliment, Halden. Do you cook? Other than grilling meat, I mean?”
Halden considered how to answer. For years, he’d been routinely taking home leftovers from Marta’s incredible meals. “Um, well, I can grill and reheat things really well. That’s about it, but I do love to eat.” Changing the topic, he abruptly asked, “So, would you like to find somewhere comfortable and watch the fireworks with me? I think they’re getting ready to start any minute.”
Madison looked at him a couple of seconds before responding, “Alright. That sounds nice.” She wasn’t overly enthusiastic, as far as he could tell, but she did finish with a lovely smile at him.
This perplexed Halden, as he usually had women falling all over him. “Chairs or lawn?” he asked. He’d personally helped set up the lawn chairs for the designated viewing area, and as they looked around in the dark, they could only see only one or two random empty ones. The fireworks company had strict restrictions on where the guests had to sit. Giving himself a mental fist-pump for not arranging too many seats, he amended his question and said, “How about a blanket on the lawn? The chairs all seem filled. There’s a stack of blankets right over there.” He indicated a nearby table that he headed to and grabbed one of the smaller ones.
With a somewhat silly though gallant flip, he unfurled the blanket and gestured to Madison to take a seat. He sat beside her, not quite touching her, but close.
And within seconds, the backyard floodlights were extinguished and the fireworks display began. Gunnar had arranged to have his sound system play Fourth of July-appropriate music, and the sparking explosions were timed beautifully. The bursts of color and patterns caused the guests to ooh, aah, and gasp. Madison seemed spellbound by the glittering bursts above them.
Halden felt torn between the fireworks and the beautiful woman beside him. A couple of times he scooched a little closer, and then a little closer still, until finally their arms were lightly touching. Madison stole a glance at Halden and discovered him watching her. Seeming embarrassed, her face turned back to the sky. She kept a blindingly brilliant smile on her face the entire time, however.
After several minutes of watching, Halden quietly suggested, “Why don’t we lie back on the blanket so we don’t have to crane our necks to look up?”
Madison turned to face him and saw that his expression was one of total innocence—not exactly what she expected. But there were lots of people around them, including several children, so she figured he wouldn’t possibly try anything. As she lay back, she felt his arm go behind her head. “I thought you’d like a pillow,” he reasoned as she turned to look at him. “I’m just being polite.” He couldn’t help grinning and wiggling his eyebrows at her, however, as he crooked his other arm, putting his hand behind his own head.
Madison nodded and lay back, enjoying the feel of his arm. Immediately, a massive display of red, white, and blue spinning swirls burst in the sky, and she smiled at their beauty.
Several minutes went by, and the fireworks became more and more elaborate. The music switched to the “1812 Overture,” and Halden knew things would soon be over. He loved lying on the ground beside Madison and wished it could last and last. For once, the booms of the cannons in the music were not punctuated by gunpowder blasts—only by happy noises from the party guests. The lights in the sky were reflected in Madison’s beautiful eyes, and again, Halden had a hard time looking anywhere but at her. All too soon, the grand finale came to a sparkling close, and amidst the cheers and applause of the crowd, Halden removed his hand from behind his head and reached over to grasp Madison’s hand. He brought it to his lips and placed a gentle kiss on the back of her hand. “Happy Fourth of July, Madison.” She smiled brightly at him, so he continued, “I’d really love to take you out on a date. Would you like to go out with me?” He tried for the most gentlemanly smile he could muster, with a look of hopefulness.
Madison sat up instead of answering him right away. That somehow didn’t seem like a good sign to him, so he blundered ahead as he too sat up, “That is, if you don’t have a boyfriend somewhere. I don’t want to step on any toes.”
“Oh, no. I don’t have a boyfriend.” She regarded him for a moment as his heart fell. He wondered if he’d lost his mojo or had bad breath or something. He’d skipped the onions on his burgers, for heaven’s sake. Then finally she smiled at him. “We could go out. I’m just horribly busy with the new shop, and I have so little time. It was fun today to get away from it for a few hours, but I’ll need to make up the time. I have a grand opening planned soon, and I have to be ready for it.”
Without even waiting a beat, Halden declared, “I’ll help you. I’m great with tools and building things, and…” He stopped when he saw that she was laughing good-naturedly at him.
“I must say, it’s flattering that you’re so insistent, but I’ve been warned about you.”
Oh, so that’s it! I wonder who’s been telling tales about me. “If I promise to be on my best behavior?” Halden looked imploringly into her eyes. He’d never had to work so hard with any woman. Either this one was skittish, or some of the ladies had told some crazy stories about him.
She regarded him with a steady gaze that seemed to penetrate into his soul. Those eyes of hers seemed to see every naughty thought he had running through his corrupted mind. He tried so hard to stifle the ideas that poured through him, but it was pointless. She had him in her thrall. He was transparent. Exposed. He was waving his “I Have a Dirty Mind” flag, and there was nothing to be done for it. But then her steely gaze softened, and she miraculously said, “I could really use some muscle because there’s a lot that needs to be done.” She raised her eyebrows a teensy bit when she said ‘muscle.’ “If you don’t mind moving heavy stuff around, why don’t you come by my shop tomorrow morning. It’s right next to Spice, so I assume you know where that is.” Her eyes flicked over him for a second. “Bring your… toolbox.” With a sweet smile, she cocked her head to the side a bit and said, “See you then. It’s been fun.” She turned to leave a slack-jawed Halden as she made her way to thank her hosts and leave.
“Well, I’ll be,” he whispered to no one. Then he let out a snort. “My toolbox?”
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