Chapter 1 - Hunter
Hunter stared at his lawn from his workshop window in the back of his property and frowned. The grass was getting ridiculously long, and he needed to get off his ass and cut it. He sighed in frustration and put his woodworking tools down, figuring he could probably use a break. He had been holed up in his shop most of the morning, and it was now late in the day. It was extremely hot, and his body was coated in a fine layer of sweat. He knew if he didn’t cut it now, he’d have to wait until the sun set.
Hunter loved his workshop, and it was the reason he’d bought this particular piece of property. It was outside of town, but it was quieter out here and it had the space he needed. The shed had originally been a massive garage, but Hunter had added a shit ton of windows, more power outlets, and several sturdy work benches. It now housed everything he needed to build custom furniture.
Hunter had started out working for his dad in his construction business, and it hadn’t taken him long to fall in love with the tools. But he didn’t want to remodel bathrooms and kitchens for the rest of his life. He wanted to do more than that, he just had to figure out what that more was. One day, while they were building a deck, the homeowner came out and complained that she couldn’t find anywhere to purchase a picnic table to fit her new deck. Hunter could see the frustration rolling off her as she continued to complain about it.
His interest was piqued, and he was more than curious about the table. He eventually approached her. And when he did, he asked a million questions. She answered every one with enthusiasm until he had a clear picture in his head of what she had in mind. It was something he knew with confidence he could build for her. When Hunter asked if he could try his hand at building her one, she readily agreed. It took him over a week, as he used his evenings to complete it. The table turned out better than he ever could have imagined, and word had quickly spread. The client was overwhelmed, and grateful for the time and detail he had put into it. She gushed to friends and family about his talent.
Hunter continued to build furniture on the side for years, until he was so busy he had to tell his dad he was leaving the family business, and building his furniture full time. His dad was extremely disappointed, he had plans to give the business to him one day, but he finally relented. There was a cousin that worked for them, and even though he wasn’t a son, he was a blood relative. When Hunter’s father retired, they gifted the business to him.
With Hunter free from to do as he pleased, he moved six hours away to a small town by the ocean. He wanted to be close to the water, and he wanted to work at his own pace. Hunter always dreamed of living in a small seaside town, and he had finally been given the chance to make it a reality. He bought a small house and garage, set up his workshop, and built a huge clientele. He was unbelievably happy, and life couldn’t get any better.
As Hunter was lugging his lawnmower out of the full shed in the back, he noticed a car pull up to the empty house next door. The house was owned by an older woman. She was selling to move in with her kids. It had been on the market for quite a while, but Hunter figured it was only because it looked more like a cottage than an actual house. It was smaller, had a white picket fence around it, and gingerbread trim. It wasn’t a house made for a large family, but he knew someone could easily fall in love with it.
He kept his eyes on the car, and finally two woman got out. The driver was clearly a real estate agent. She had on a pencil skirt and stylish blouse and was carrying a large folder. He dismissed her immediately and turned his attention to the passenger. Hunter’s heartbeat sped up the moment he laid eyes on her, and he found he couldn’t tear his eyes away.
The girl looked to be about twenty. Her hair was long and looked silky soft. It was wavy and wild and was a stunning copper colour at the top. The rest was dyed a brilliant blue colour, and surprisingly it suited her. It hung nearly to her waist and was pulled back with a piece of pretty blue lace almost the same shade as her hair. The lace ends and her long hair flew all around her in the breeze, and she laughed as she raised her hand and brushed it back. The girl was wearing flip flops and bell bottoms, paired with a cut off top he was pretty sure had a picture of a mermaid on it. She had another piece of blue lace threaded loosely through the belt loops and tied at the side. Hunter shook his head at the ridiculous shirt and jeans, but was immediately distracted by the small glittering blue jewel she had in her belly button. As she turned and moved, the light hit it, and he found the tiny trinket mesmerized him.
Hunter continued to watch as the real estate agent stood on the walk with her and pointed out different features of the house. The girl hadn’t even gone inside yet, but already she was bouncing on her feet in obvious enthusiasm. Hunter dragged his attention back to the agent and frowned at the smug smile on the she devils face. He knew immediately the agent would drive the price up and take the poor girl for everything she could get.
Making a split second decision, and probably a stupid one, he shoved the mower back in the shed. It took Hunter a minute to get it back where it went, and then he was stomping across the lawn, and headed in their direction. He did not understand why the pretty girl getting ripped off bothered him, but he knew without a doubt he couldn’t let it happen. When he reached them he forced a smile on his face and placed his large palm on the tiny girl’s shoulder. A terrified shriek came from her pretty lips, before she turned around to face him.