Healing Hutch's Heart: A Small Town Fireman Sweet Romance (E-Book)
Healing Hutch's Heart: A Small Town Fireman Sweet Romance (E-Book)
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Stella's got no job. No home. No one to turn to.
Until a stranger promises to help her get back on her feet again.
- Small Town
- Contemporary Sweet Romance
- Romantic Suspense
- Abusive Ex
- Surprise Baby
At her husband's urging, Stella quit her job, put her entire life on hold. and moved to Walla Walla, Washington to flip her deceased father's house. But when her husband dropped a bombshell and told her he wanted a divorce, it left her with no job, no home, and bills to be paid.
Hutch was a fireman doing construction jobs on the side. When he accepted the job to help Stella flip her home, he had no idea he was walking into a home with an emotional client, mysterious break-ins, and more than its share of problems. After the home they're flipping is set on fire by an arsonist, Hutch has mercy on Stella and lets her stay at his place until the insurance kicks in.
But when the mysterious incidents follow him to his place, Hutch's protective side hits high alert, and he's bound to protect the woman he's grown an attachment to. Will he and Stella survive this entanglement, and will saving Stella Heal his Broken Heart?
This is a stand-alone contemporary small-town fireman sweet romance in the Walla Walla Sweet Romance Universe. If you like sassy characters, witty banter, suspense, and strong protectors wrapped in to a sweet romance, this book is for you!
Intro Into Chapter 1
Intro Into Chapter 1
Mad Enough to Spit Bricks
Stella stood on top of the stepladder in her late father’s living room wondering how she ever got to this point. Keeping her father’s house when he died, and flipping it for a profit was Tyler’s idea—quitting her job, getting a freelance gig, and moving to Walla Walla? Also Tyler’s idea. So why was she in the middle of the living room scraping popcorn off the ceiling by herself?
She should be decorating the Christmas tree, and wrapping presents for Christmas only a few weeks away.
She re-adjusted her long red braid, pulling it through the hole of her baseball cap to keep it off her neck. Then she put the breathing mask and goggles over her mouth and eyes, ignoring the trickle of sweat trailing down her spine, making her back itch. She pumped the weed sprayer several times to build up pressure, then sprayed a section of the ceiling until water saturated the hideous popcorn-like substance above her. Before the water could start dripping on her head, she reached up and scraped away the offending spackle with a metal paint scraper, grunting with each swipe of her tool.
A wisp of red, curly hair fell over her goggles, obscuring her view. She swiped it away, only to have it land on her goggles again. Why had she decided to grow out her bangs? They were in that awkward phase where they were too long to be down but too short to be up in any meaningful way.
Behind her, the front door opened, and she turned. “Tyler. Where have you been? You were supposed to be here two hours ago. And why are you in slacks and a button-up? You should be in your work clothes.”
She jumped off the ladder and turned to face him, planting her hands on her hips, then she pulled her goggles off her face and onto the crown of her head, glaring at him. “You said you wanted to do this together.”
“Yeah. About that.” Tyler looked away, showing his profile. Perfect nose, strong jaw, muscled arms, and torso. All of these things drew her to him in high school, but after six years together, and married for three of them, she knew the truth. He was a flake in nice clothing. Full of grand ideas she wound up implementing herself.
Stella gestured with her arms to the living room, covered in tarps and dust. “Are you going to sit there, or are you going to help? We have a deadline for the bank, remember? This house isn’t going to flip itself.”
Tyler shook his head and stared at the front door like salvation was on the other side of it. “I’m sorry. I can’t do this anymore.”
“What are you talking about?”
Tyler finally looked at her, and his angry, dead eyes made her step back. “Tyler?”
“I’m divorcing you.”
“Wh-What do you mean you’re leaving me?” Stella shook her head as if somehow her hearing mysteriously quit working correctly. She was almost instantaneously lightheaded and her hands shook. Things took on an out-of-body feel as if she was witnessing this conversation rather than participating in it. She stared at her husband, her mouth gaping. She’d imagined saying those words to him a hundred times. But to have it a reality? And from him? This was entirely unexpected.
She plopped onto the top step of her stool, and her shoulders slumped. The big D. Wow.
He dropped his gaze. “I’ve found someone else.”
“What about the house?” She threw her hands into the air. “Why didn’t you tell me this before we signed the freaking papers, Tyler?”
He looked up and his lips bent into a snarl. “Because I didn’t know she was pregnant then.”
Tears sprang to Stella’s narrowed eyes. Her nostrils flared, and she said through gritted teeth, “But you were already seeing her, weren’t you?”
He didn’t answer. He never answered when she was right. It seemed impossible for him to allow even the slightest concession to her when they argued. Apologies were unheard of.
Stella curled into herself. She stared at the scraper in her hand. It almost looked foreign now. “A baby.”
They’d been trying for two years now with no success. It had been all he talked about for the first several months, but then his demeanor changed and he talked less and less about a baby, and any other future plans until they almost never spoke. The house was the first thing he’d shown any interest in for months.
He scrubbed a hand down his face and edged toward the door. “Keep the house. It’s yours. I’ll go to the bank tomorrow and take my name off the paperwork.” He glanced in her direction one more time, then strode out of the empty living room, leaving her all alone.
She stared after him, her mouth gaping. A wave of nausea attacked her from out of nowhere. She lunged from her stool toward the bathroom, barely making it to the toilet before the contents of her breakfast spewed all over the inside of the bowl in an acidic mess. The smell, though, sent her back to the toilet over and over until there was nothing left in her gut and her face was covered in a cold, clammy sweat.
She hated crying.
It was almost as bad as puking.
She rolled her shoulders a few times and already felt an ache in her back. Whenever she puked, she pulled every muscle from her neck to her butt. By morning, she’d barely be able to move.
Just what she needed now that she had to flip this whole stinking house on her own.
She surveyed her late father’s house. The house she’d grown up in. It was an old Victorian on a quiet little street on the outskirts of Walla Walla, Washington. She’d learned how to ride her bike in front of this house. Drawings of her family were hidden on the walls in the coat closet. She'd dreamed of marrying John down the street. Now, all she saw was old, ravaged wallpaper, stained carpet, popcorn ceilings, and outdated appliances. The to-do list was manageable an hour ago. Now, it felt like climbing Mount Everest.
New tears sprang to her eyes, and she pulled out her phone, searching for local contractors. She made appointments with three to bid on the projects she couldn’t do alone. But most of them couldn't come for a week or two. On the fourth phone call, the guy said, “I just had a cancellation. I can come over tonight and we can discuss what you need to be done.”
Stella’s brows lifted, and she blinked away tears. “Really?” Maybe tonight wouldn't be a total loss after all.
“Sure. Why not? I need to get a bite to eat and then I can meet you any time.”
“Perfect.” She gave him the address and hung up the phone. Finally, something was going her way.
The idea of eating made her stomach roil, so she decided to attack the project she and Tyler had planned on finishing today: scraping the popcorn off the ceilings. After rinsing out her mouth a few times, she put her goggles and mask back on. Then she grabbed the weed sprayer, cranked up her music, and got to work.
Removing popcorn from the ceiling was backbreaking, but it felt good to be doing something right now. If she quit, she’d obsess over Tyler, his stupid mistress, and everything wrong in her marriage. And her life.
There would be plenty of time for that tonight when she was too tired to move.
Right now, she had a deadline to meet. Crying wasn’t going to pay her bills. More than anything, she needed to flip this house and get some extra cash flow. At Tyler's prompting, she'd quit her job to focus on flipping the house. He'd promised to take care of the bills and work on the weekends. What a joke. Everything about this situation was a joke.
Stella seethed. She didn’t want to be married to Tyler, anyway. Their marriage had been bad for more than a year now, and she was better off without him. It didn’t take long before she was mad enough to spit bricks. Good riddance, Tyler!
She was so caught up in replaying her break-up with Tyler and everything she wished she’d had the presence of mind to say earlier, that she nearly fell off her step ladder when the doorbell rang.