The Last Boyfriend(4)

By: Nora Roberts

“The place is full of them.” Ryder gulped more coffee as they stepped inside.

“It looks good.” Owen nodded as he toured through, into and out of the little kitchen, the bath, circling the two bedrooms. “It’s a nice, comfortable space. Pretty and efficient, like our innkeeper.”

“She’s damn near as pain-in-the-ass fussy as you are.”

“Remember who keeps you in donuts, bro.”

At the word donuts, D.A. wagged his entire body. “You’re done, pal,” Ryder told him, and with a doggie sigh, D.A. sprawled on the floor.

Owen glanced over as Beckett came up the steps.

He’d shaved, Owen noted, and looked bright-eyed. Maybe a little wild-eyed, as he imagined most men did with three kids under the age of ten and the school-morning chaos that created.

He remembered his own school mornings well enough, and wondered how his parents had resisted doing major drugs.

“One of the dogs puked in Murphy’s bed,” Beckett announced. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Works for me. Owen’s talking about window treatments and loading in.”

Beckett paused as he gave Dumbass a quick head rub. “We’ve still got trim to run, painting, punch-out.”

“Not up here.” Owen crossed to the first of their two suites, The Penthouse. “We could outfit this suite. Hope could move her stuff in across the hall. How about Westley and Buttercup?”

“It’s done. We hung the bathroom mirror and lights yesterday.”

“Then I’ll tell Hope to break out the mop, get this level shined up.” Though he trusted Ryder, he’d check the room himself. “She’s got the list of what goes where, so she can run down to Bast, tell them what to deliver up here.”

He made notes on his clipboard—shipment of towels and linens, purchase of lightbulbs and so on. Behind his back Beckett and Ryder exchanged looks.

“I guess we’re loading in.”

“I don’t know who ‘we’ is,” Ryder corrected. “It’s not me or the crew. We’ve got to finish the damn place.”

“Don’t bitch at me.” Beckett held up his hands. “I’ve got to make the changes to the bakery project next door if we’re going to shift the crew from here to there without much of a lag.”

“I could use a lag,” Ryder muttered but headed down behind Owen.

Owen paused at Elizabeth and Darcy, gave the propped-open door a study. “Beckett, you might want to talk to your pal, Lizzy. Make sure she keeps this door open, and the terrace doors shut.”

“It is open. They are shut.”

“Now they are. She got a little peeved last night.”

Intrigued, Beckett lifted his brows. “Is that so?”

“I guess I had my personal close encounter. I did a walk-through last night, heard somebody up here. I figured it for one of you, messing with me. She thought I called her an asshole, and let me know she didn’t care for it.”

Beckett’s grin spread wide and quick. “She’s got a temper.”

“Tell me. We made up, I think. But in case she holds a grudge.”

“We’re done in here, too,” Ryder told him. “And in T&O. We’ve got to run the crown molding and baseboard in N&N, and there’s some touch-up in E&R, and the bathroom ceiling light in there. It came in, finally, yesterday. J&R in the back’s full of boxes. Lamps, lamps, more lamps, shelves, and God knows. But it’s punched out.

“I’ve got a list, too.” Ryder tapped his head while the dog walked over to sit at his side. “I just don’t have to write every freaking thing down in ten places.”

“Robe hooks, towel racks, TP dispensers,” Owen began.

“On the slate for today.”

“Mirrors, flat screens, switch plates and outlet covers, door bumpers.”

“On the slate, Owen.”

“You’ve got the list of what goes where?”

“Nobody likes a nag, Sally.”

“Exit signs need to go up.” Owen continued working down his list as he walked to The Dining Room. “Wall sconces in here. The boxes we built for the fire extinguishers need to be painted and installed.”