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Architect Francesca Moretti has always been taught to aim high, work hard and finish what you start. So when it falls to her—the baby of the family and only daughter—to head up the family construction business and see a high-profile project through to completion, there is no question of bailing out.
Still, it won't be easy. Construction is a guys' game—Franci will have to prove she's just as comfortable in steel-toed work boots as in peep-toe heels. To make matters worse, the financing company has sent a glorified babysitter to oversee the project: nitpicking workaholic Kyle Jagger. The human watchdog is constantly looking over Franci's shoulder—and not always at the blueprints. And Franci's getting the distinct impression that Kyle is interested in a little more than just the bottom line.
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Stef Ann Holm lives in Meridian Idaho, a small suburb of Boise. She has two beautiful daughters, and one space cadet dog who will stare for hours at any food substance. She loves hot summers, sunshine and floating in water--even if it's a plastic pool in her backyard. Visit her website at http://www.stefannholm.com to read more about her fascinating (hah hah) life. Or you can write her the old-fashioned way at P.O. Box 1206, Meridian, ID 83680-1206Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The high heels of Francesca Moretti's black leather pumps clicked as she walked down the sidewalk. She spoke into her cell phone, the conversation with her brother Mark carried out on autopilot because she'd had this exchange before. The generic responses she gave could have been uttered in her sleep.
Momentarily, Francesca grew distracted by a sleek summer-white suit displayed in the window of Solara, a high-end-fashion store. The neckline was plunging and required a sophisticated blouse beneath, while the cut of the skirt was fitted at the hips.
"Umm," she murmured, as Mark went on about how Dad was wanting everything done yesterday on the job. The crane had just arrived from Seattle by rail car, and the first section was assembled. They had only so much time, and the track hoes had broken ground and—
"Do you think I look better in white or black?" she asked with a smile, knowing it would irk Mark to change the subject when he was building up a head of steam on a venting spree. She didn't mean to be facetious, but they'd worked on countless construction jobs together and it was par for the course that something would go wrong, or not be ready when promised, or one of the trades would get red tagged for faulty sub-contracting and not pass inspection. This was all part of the business.
But if Francesca thought she'd put a spoke in her brother's wheel, she should have thought twice. They'd bantered too many times and given each other too much affectionate grief.
"Black gives you that don't-mess-with-me-look for when you're moody."
She was about to say she was rarely moody, and that that observation was a figment of his warped male imagination, but she let his comment go since, after all, she had egged him on.
He mentioned in a casual tone, "So I heard that Legacy got another bid for a seventeen story off of Idaho Street."
That gave Francesca pause, and she no longer cared about a white suit in a shop window. "No." The word came out a mix of envy and awe.
Legacy Constructors was headquartered in Seattle and owned and operated by Kyle Jagger—a man who'd reinvented his father's multimillion dollar company into something fresh and innovative. It had become a firm to be reckoned with since Parr Jagger's death nine years ago. Kyle was the type of man who took little for granted, was ambitious and gave the impression that he deserved to be at the top. Francesca had never met him; her opinion had been formed from what she'd heard her father say about Kyle, and plain old industry gossip.
Conversations in construction trailers provided more hearsay than a beauty salon, so she really shouldn't take what she heard as fact. Even so, one did form preconceived notions about certain successful people, and Kyle Jagger was as successful as you could get in their industry.
Legacy was Moretti's biggest competitor in the region. Her family's company stuck close to home, venturing only as far as an occasional job in Utah or Oregon. Most of their business remained in Idaho where they had the pick of smaller projects in the area. Legacy, in contrast, had sites throughout the Pacific Northwest—big ones.
But one project Kyle Jagger hadn't gotten was the Grove Marketplace. That belonged to Moretti.
Francesca remembered the day her dad had gathered the family together at Robert's restaurant. Her brother had opened a neotraditional Italian ristorante eleven years ago, replicating the time-honored family recipes that Francesca had grown up on. A critic for the Idaho Statesman had written, "If you want Italian food that sings like Pavarotti, Pomodoro is the only place to eat—presto!"
In grand fashion, Dad had ordered a bottle of the best Chianti, then raised his glass to toast everyone at the table. The assembled company had included her oldest brother, Giovanni, Jr., or "John," who was the family lawyer. He was a rock, the one everyone could go to to settle a dispute, whether the quarrel was simple or complex. The hearts of everyone in the family had broken for him when his wife, Connie, was killed in a car accident, leaving him to raise their son and daughter on his own.
Francesca's second oldest brother and his wife were foodies. Their mission in life was to load your plate with more food than you could possibly consume in a week, much less in one meal. Robert and Marie had opened Pomodoro, then started having babies. They were up to four—all girls with inky-black hair and doelike brown eyes.
Mark, her youngest brother, had come solo. He was by far the most handsome of the three boys, yet he never acknowledged how good looking he was. It was comical to be out with him and watch women practically walk into streetlights while gawking at his thick dark hair, brooding brown eyes and firmly set mouth. Mark was the rugged type, a guy who looked great in a torn flannel shirt and a tool belt. He worked on-site in the family business, not wanting any part of paperwork or contracts, although his contributions were invaluable in things like the bidding process.
The night her father had announced Moretti would be doing the Grove Marketplace, Francesca couldn't have been happier. She'd prayed for this for her dad. He wasn't getting any younger and she knew how much he wanted the project.
"So when does Legacy break ground?" Francesca asked into her cell phone, dragging her attention back to the present and continuing toward Pomodoro, which was on Ninth and Bannock. Wednesday nights after work were reserved for meeting her three closest girlfriends at the ristorante for dinner. If she hadn't been in the mood for her brother's killer manicotti, she might have canceled, because she did not want to hear about the latest bachelor of the day. Her friends, all of whom were actively dating, had made it their mission in life to hook her up.
"The next few weeks. Kyle's going to be on the job overseeing everything," Mark replied.
Kyle Jagger rarely ran projects outside of Seattle because he had a great crew who made sure everything got done. The fact that he was going to be personally involved with this latest project secretly impressed Francesca, although she'd never admit to that. She always tried to maintain a professional demeanor, giving compliments when they were due and keeping unnecessary criticism to herself.
She tended to be hard on herself in terms of expectations. Being a perfectionist, she'd worked hard to maintain a straight 4.0 grade average at Oregon State University, graduating with a degree in architecture. She expected nothing less than the best from herself, and admired good work turned out by others, too. Even Moretti's competition.
"I had a thought, Franci." Mark broke into her thoughts, his tone humorous. "If you ask Kyle out for coffee and find out all his trade secrets, I'll buy you whatever you just saw in Solara's window."
"How'd you know I stopped at Solara?"
"Because I heard you breathing like a sprinter, all hyper and excited about something, and that means one thing—clothes."
Francesca frowned. She wasn't a clotheshorse, but she did like to dress nicely. She rarely wore slacks to work. She kept a half-dozen pairs of heeled shoes beneath her desk in the corner office she had in the brownstone building above Idaho Street. Just because she was an architect didn't mean she had to be frumpy. She enjoyed style and flare, had a figure that could fit into almost anything...so why not?
She gave a sour smile. "I will not ask Kyle Jagger on a date to pry trade secrets out of him. You do it."
"I don't date."
"Neither do I."
"Tell that to the date squad."
Francesca cringed. The "date squad" was comprised of Erin, a CPA; Jordan, a marketing analyst; and Lily, a mortgage broker. When they couldn't set Franci up, they often combined their efforts and tried to find single women for her brother Mark.
"Do you want to join us? We're eating at Pomodoro's and I'm not sure I'm up to another matchmaking session."
"How can it be a matchmaking session when you never go out with any of the guys they come up with?"
"I don't have time."
"Me, either. I can't remember the last time I went out."
"Well, you should make time, Mark. You've got a lot to offer the right woman."
"'A lot to offer...' Isn't that crap reserved for guys named Marvin?"
Franci caught her lip with her teeth to keep from laughing. "Well, I'm here at the restaurant. Wish me luck."
"You don't need it."
Francesca shut off her phone and pulled open the door to Pomodoro. The decor was classic Italian: red-checked tablecloths, straw-covered Chianti bottles on every table, a faux grape arbor, with minilights hung from the ceiling. The rich smells of garlic and tomatoes assaulted her, causing her stomach to growl.
Striding inside, she made her way to her friends' table, aware of three pairs of eyes fastening on her, their smiles bright and broad. And they each had a frustratingly knowing look on her face.
Oh, great. They had a prospect in mind for her. Why did she suddenly feel as if she were entering a slaughterhouse?
Kyle Jagger landed his Piper Malibu at the Boise Airport. Though he was dead tired from a 7:00 a.m. meeting, bumper-to-bumper traffic to Sea-Tac on the I-5, then a one-hour wait for weather clearance, Kyle had to concede he'd had a gorgeous flight over the Cascade Mountains at 18,000 feet. He always packed a cooler and the stainless steel thermos his father had given him when he'd been in college. Depending on his mood, Kyle drank either hot coffee or icy cold diet cola while in the cockpit.
After picking up the truck he kept at the airport's long-term parking lot, he rubbed the grit from his eyes, then felt the bristle of beard on his jaw. He was sure he looked like hell, but whatever. He wasn't here to impress anyone. He would make a quick pit stop at his new downtown condo, then head for city hall at Main and Capitol. He needed to file something today. The high-rise Legacy was doing was pretty straightforward, but paperwork still had to be filed on time.
As soon as he took care of the paperwork, he was going to Moz's Firehouse Café for a home-cooked meal, and then he'd take a look at ...
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Book Description Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Brand New!. Seller Inventory # VIB037377186X
Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # Q-037377186X