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Hardheaded (Deep in the Heart #1)
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Construction tip #1: Never anger a hot-tempered woman who knows how to wield a sledgehammer. And right now, Jill Sadler is spitting mad. Her company is competing on the wildly popular show Texas Dream Home, and she intends to give it her all. The opposition: We Nail It Contractors, helmed by the man who once married her…and walked out twenty-four hours later. Jill can’t let Cal Reynolds take this round. Not when she has her foster sisters and years of righteous resentment spurring her on.
Winning the contest would do wonders for Cal’s firm. Getting under Jill’s skin is just a bonus. She paints him as a villain, though Cal had no choice but to leave. Yet being around Jill again—fiery on the outside, vulnerable and warm underneath—is setting off sparks that can’t be blamed on faulty wiring. And the only way to fix the Jill-size hole in his heart is to risk everything and see if this love is built to last…
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“A drill does not belong in a tool belt.”
—Blu Johnson, life lesson #11
Jill Sadler smiled for the camera as she stood posed beside the backyard garden shed, one hand splayed on the rough-hewn cedar planks of the outer walls, the other wrapped around the handle of her heavy-duty cordless drill, and she wondered how she’d ever come to this. How had any of them?
“A half step to your left, Jill.”
She shuffled closer to the building until the photographer quit motioning with her hand. As she moved, she made sure not to glance at either Heather or Trenton. Otherwise, she’d likely catch her foster sisters silently laughing at her. This was the third time she’d had to be repositioned for this shot alone, and every time, she’d have sworn she was in the exact spot she’d been told.
“And don’t forget to smile!” The white of the photographer’s teeth flashed bright.
Jill gripped her drill tighter and decided that she hated the woman. But still, she smiled. Free publicity and all.
At least, that was the company line she’d been feeding herself.
But the thing was, this wasn’t the kind of publicity any of them wanted. Not entirely. They’d take the positive light it would shine on their business—that was always good. And they were more than happy to give back to the community. But what they hadn’t fully thought through when Trenton came to them with the idea for the fund-raiser was how this would also generate the exact opposite outcome from what they’d been working hard to accomplish. Which was to kill their current reputation.
Four and a half years ago, Jill and her two foster sisters had started what they’d thought of as any other construction company in the small town of Red Oak Falls, Texas. They’d planned to take on general maintenance and renovations to start, growing the business by flipping houses as income allowed, and had hoped to scale into new construction before any of them turned thirty—which would be Jill in two short months. Their construction skills had begun to develop when they were teens, thanks to their helping with an addition to their foster mother’s home, and they’d thought the uniqueness of being an all-female crew would intrigue people enough to give them a chance.
Yet business hadn’t exactly gone as planned.
Eighteen months after hanging out their shingle, they’d tossed a Hail Mary by building the shed they were currently being photographed with. Sitting thirty feet outside Blu Johnson’s back door, it had been constructed as a test idea for side projects until the “real work” picked up. A last-ditch effort to keep the company afloat. Only, they never could have predicted the results from raising the walls on this quaint little garden shed. Women now called from all over central Texas wanting their own backyard retreat, and they were willing to pay a pretty penny to get one. Seemed Bluebonnet Construction had developed a reputation for producing one-of-a-kind designs.
All the accolades, however, hadn’t scored them the more substantial renovation projects they’d been hoping for. Instead, it had set them up as being known for doing nothing more than she-sheds. Queens of the She-Sheds, in fact. The local paper had even run an article proclaiming them as such.
But they didn’t want to be women building projects for women. They wanted to compete.
They wanted to prove that they were just as good as their male competition. Or better.
Yet here they were: Jill with a drill held at an angle across her chest, Heather on her haunches, wearing a hard hat and wielding a hammer, and Trenton standing at the opposite corner of the building, circular saw held aloft. As if anyone would willy-nilly slice a board in two in the middle of the air.
Aunt Blu was also in the picture, but she’d been positioned in a rocker inside the open door. The four of them were doing their best to showcase how it had all begun—all the while knowing that the calendar being created to raise money for the elementary school would only garner them more calls. For more she-sheds.
“Got it.” The photographer lowered her camera. Her voice was way too perky for that early on a Sunday morning. “Now let’s do one last shot. Something a little different this time.”
Jill stood quietly, awaiting her next directive and wishing any other photographer could have been chosen for the project. She’d never met the other woman in person before today, but Jill had been aware of her. And she’d certainly seen her around town.
Marci Hammery. The daughter of the senior partner of the town’s largest law firm.
The woman currently dating Jill’s ex.
Jill narrowed her eyes as the other woman puckered her mouth—seeming to contemplate how she wanted to pose them next—and had the thought that lips like Marci’s couldn’t possibly be that naturally full. Though the brunette was several years younger than Jill, surely she’d had work done to get that mouth.