Big Deck, Big Sexy Series, Book 1
by Remy Rose
He has all the right tools…and the skill to use them.
Need a carpenter who has all the right tools and the skill to use them? Look no further than me, Jackson Decker…otherwise known as Big Deck. I’ll let you guess how I may have inherited that nickname. Spoiler alert: it’s not just because I’m 6’5″.
I take care of my female clients in many ways. I’ve got tools, and I’ve got rules: three seconds, tops, for hugs. No going on dates. No staying overnight. And absolutely no letting anyone mess with my heart.
I’m yours for the duration of the project. And then, it’s over. Most women find it difficult to say goodbye, and sometimes it’s hard for me, too—literally. See what I just did there? But that’s the way it has to be, and I’ve always been able to handle it.
Until Madeline Callaway.
I was only looking to get a big bathroom, not a big man, since I’ve sworn off relationships after being cheated on. But when Jack Decker showed up at my door with his jaw-dropping sex appeal and huge…um, workboots, I found myself wanting his hands on more than just my bathroom fixtures. I wasn’t prepared for how he’d make me laugh, blush, swoon…ache.
Will I be able to follow our agreement of insanely hot, no-strings sex, keep my emotions in check and let Jack go once he’s done the renovation? Or will I need him to return and repair the hole in my heart?
Read Chapters 1 & 2!
Chapter 1~ Jack
Want someone who can screw?
Look no further than me, Jackson Decker, of Decker Renovation. I do all that and more. Some people might call me a handyman, but I’m not much into that title. For me, that label always conjures up a guy with a beer gut and his ass crack peeking over saggy jeans as he’s squatting down fixing leaky faucets. I prefer the term “renovation specialist,” although James Taylor did have a nice angle on the whole handyman thing.
I dig taking care of my clients, leaving things better than they were before. Sometimes, even leaving people better than they were before.
I get to make people happy, and I like that.
Like the song says, they’ll come running to me. I’ve been kicking ass with the business—I’ve even been toying around with the idea of expanding, maybe adding a crew, but I’ve only been at this a couple of years, and I’m not sure it’s what I want to do with the rest of my life. I thought I knew before, but things took a detour. Honestly, I’m okay with detours, because sometimes you find your way when you go off the beaten path, if that makes any sense. It didn’t to my father, but I learned that it’s more important to be happy with my own decisions than to please him.
Shit, I’m getting too philosophical for a beauty of a day like this one. Perfect Maine weather: clear, bright blue sky with just a few cotton-ball clouds here and there, seventy-two degrees, and a hint of a breeze. I’ve got the windows to my truck rolled down, partly because I’m not a fan of AC and partly because I want to smell the salt air. I’m driving to meet a new client in Surry—bathroom remodel. We spoke on the phone a couple of weeks ago. First impression—if phone call first impressions count—was that she’s polite, cool, and high maintenance. I sometimes make a game out of predicting what a client will look like, and for Ms. Madeline Callaway, I’m picturing thirty-ish. Tall, thin, pale skin. Dark hair, probably in a bun most of the time. More angles than curves. We’ll see if I’m right.
I always get a kick out of women’s reactions when they first lay eyes on me. They usually look surprised, almost startled, probably because they were expecting someone who looks like the ass-crack guy I described earlier. Some of them get flustered and have trouble looking me in the eye. They think I don’t see them resting their gaze on my mouth, darting their eyes across my chest, or glancing at my crotch and blushing. Jesus, that always gets to me—when women try to hide that they want me. Like they’re back in high school, glowing with innocence but burning with want. I love that.
Being a renovation specialist has some key fringe benefits.
Back to the making-people-happy thing. That most definitely includes women, and I’m talking beyond oh Jack, I love what you did with the tile in the foyer. If the female client and I are both into the idea of hooking up—and I’m talking single women only, by the way. I’d never park my truck in someone else’s garage—I’m more than willing to take out my special tool.
But even though I want things to be fun for both of us, there have to be rules. Three seconds, tops, for hugs. Any longer than that, it starts to feel too intimate and gives both of us the wrong idea. Also, no going on dates, no staying overnight, and no letting anyone mess with my heart. I make it clear, right from the start, this is how it has to be.
It’s all about self-preservation.
So far, the keep-Jack-safe plan has worked out well. It’s never boring, that’s for damned sure. Variety’s the spice of life, right? I keep my options—and my eyes—wide open.
I don’t really have a type—I’m attracted to all different kinds of women: sleek brunettes, spiky redheads, curly blondes. Curvy, tiny, bold, shy. I dig both the softness and fierceness of women, the depth of their feeling and the strength of their resolve. I love to flirt and shock them a little with my bluntness. But I’m all about respect along with good fun. I have no tolerance for guys who mistreat women in any way, and I’ve gotten into some nasty scrapes in bars defending women I don’t even know. Those women are somebody’s daughter, wife, mother, sister. I consider women to be goddesses, and they should be treated as such.
I love getting to know their scents, the feel of their skin under my hands, what makes them gasp. I love the moment when I hook my thumbs in the waistband of their panties, just before sliding them down—the intake of breath from both of us, the anticipation of what her pussy will look like, taste like. One of my favorite things to do is go down on a woman, especially when she’s bare and glistening pink so I can see it all, lick every quivering millimeter of her. It sometimes feels like it’s going to kill me, when I’m eating her and listening to the sounds she’s making, wanting to bury myself deep inside her.But getting high from making her squirm… Pleasing a woman like that is the best kind of ecstasy there is. And I don’t care how much a girl might protest my going down there or act like she’s too pure for it—once she feels what my tongue can do, she’s pretty much putty in my hands.
Little renovation humor there with the putty reference.
I can get a sense pretty quickly of who wants to be made love to and who wants to be fucked hard. For most of them, it’s a combination.
I can do that.
Jesus.Things are getting a little uncomfortable below the belt. I take one hand off the wheel and raise myself up a little out of my seat for a quick dick adjustment. Doesn’t help that it’s been a week or so since I’ve been with someone. I’ll have to rectify that soon, or I’ll be taking matters into my own hands, so to speak.
You should know that I’m what you might call perpetually aroused. In other words, horny as fuck. Think sixteen-year-old boy in the back of his daddy’s Benz with his hot little girlfriend. Even though I’m pushing twenty-eight, I have a teenaged cock. Combine that with a pair of very experienced hands and some major oral skills, and the end result is a highly satisfied woman. Like I said—I make people happy.
My good buddy Drew razzes me about basically being a gigolo in a tool belt. He says my female clients are more interested in how I can service them rather than how well I can take care of their home improvement needs. And I’m good with that. Hell, maybe it really ismy bedroom technique that’s paying the bills. I’ve had customers whose homes seem to develop an awful lot of issues. I take care of those issues, and sometimes I take care of women who need me for more than that.
But before you start thinking I also fix broken hearts like Sweet Baby James sings about, let me stop you right there. I don’t. I’m not qualified, and if you want to know the truth, I’ve had a tough enough time dealing with my own shit. I don’t mean to sound like a prick, but I’ve mastered the art of caring without loving, and I try to seek out others who operate the same way: hot chicks who don’t want anything more than a guy with a big cock and a tool belt. Shallow women are fine by me, because there’s little chance of me getting in too deep, and because they’re easier to leave that way when they don’t care any more than I do. We have a good time, I give them everything except my wallet and my heart, and this keeps me out of trouble. Once the job is done, I’m gone. Most times, they try to get me to stay. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I just can’t fucking stay.
I tried staying once. Never again.
You’re probably wondering what happened to mess me up, relationship-wise. I’ve got good reasons, believe me. For now, let’s just say I had a triple-decker serving of betrayal shoved down my throat. And it burned. Bad.
My GPS has brought me to a fork in the road that’s Morgan Bay or Newbury Neck. I turn left onto Newbury. All this deep thinking has resulted in my dick going limp, which I see as a good thing. Wouldn’t want to meet a new client with a huge boner—at least not until I can assess the situation. I do know this, though—I’m going to need to take a woman to bed soon, for my own sake.
I’m about a half mile away from the house when I feel an unexpected little jab of anticipation. I’m not sure what that’s about.
Madeline Callaway, ready or not—here I come.
Chapter 2 ~ Madeline
I’ve stubbed my toe, tripped over the cat, and just now spilled my iced coffee down the front of my white T-shirt, so now I’m smelling like butter pecan and looking like a two-year-old in need of a bib. My attempts to clean up the beige drips with a wet paper towel results in something resembling nipple leakage, and just as I decide I’ll need to change my shirt, a truck pulls in my driveway. A Ford Super Duty, sleek and black, with a ladder rack and rugged-looking tires just shy of suggesting the driver is compensating for something. Jesus, seriously? An unexpected visitor, which further adds to the shit-show of a morning, and I’m even more pissed off because this is a rare Saturday off after a week from hell. I wanted it to be mine, and mine alone. I don’t have a clue whose Ford Super Duty it is, but I’ll get rid of him. I’ve waited all week just to come down here and relax, after thirteen showings and three closings in a very full calendar—
Calendar. I’m suddenly remembering something.
I hurry to the kitchen table and pick up my cell phone. There’s no need to tap on the calendar icon; the alert is there for me—an alert I didn’t hear: Jackson Decker—bathroom,set for 9 a.m., a half hour before he was to arrive. He’s about fifteen minutes early, which for some reason further pisses me off, because I’m always, always on top of my appointments, and here I am forgetting that I was even supposed to meet with him.
Murphy, my orange tiger, is purring and curling himself around my legs under the guise of actually caring about me. I’m not buying his shit for a second—the cat wants food.
I step carefully over him and hurry to the bathroom to do a quick maintenance check, chiding myself for caring how I look to what will undoubtedly be a fifty-something contractor with a paunch and dirt under his fingernails. I smooth a few stray pieces of hair away from my forehead and give in to the bun that’s asking to be a ponytail, uncoiling my updo and tightening the elastic. I’m only wearing sunscreen moisturizer and a little foundation, but I decide I look presentable enough, even in my coffee-marred shirt and faded denim shorts.
Murphy is arching his back in the bathroom doorway, his tail as straight as an antenna and his eyes squinty with what he wants me to think is love. I bend down to give him a quick scratch behind the ears. His snack will have to wait since the doorbell’s ringing.
My bare feet are silent as I cross the oak floor. This meeting hopefully won’t take long. I can get a quick estimate, send Ford Super Duty on his way, and get back to enjoying my Saturday morning. Alone.
I arrange my face to convey Polite and Pleasant as I flip the dead bolt and pull open the solid maple door. And.
He is speaking, and I’m trying to simultaneously take in the rich timbre of his voice at the same time my eyes are filling with the unexpected sheer gorgeousness of him. As in, magazine cover/L.L. Bean model/hearing doves cry/hotter than Channing Tatum on his best day gorgeousness.
I don’t even know where to begin in describing him. He is, first of all, huge—maybe six five—and this, plus his looks, makes it very difficult to take him in. My eyes seem to have developed a will of their own, flitting from his mouth to his shoulder to his other shoulder to his waist to his crotch to his mouth to his abs to his crotch. It is utterly ridiculous that I’m looking at him like this. Because I’m not looking, I’m gaping, when I am absolutely not the gaping type.
But I can’t help it. He is absolutely the most delectable piece of eye candy I’ve ever seen. Dark, thick, wavy hair that fingers could get lost in. Masculine, just-right brows arching over thickly lashed, startlingly blue eyes, the kind of eyes that you just know change color with his clothing or mood. The kind of eyes that are full of promise and desire, eyes that pin a woman down, render her helpless, make her do things.
His nose is perfect, and by perfect, I mean the slightest bump in the bridge, which indicates he may have broken it. Which indicates he may have gotten in a fight with someone, probably protecting a woman. Or maybe he had a fight with another hockey player, when their helmets came off and they went at each other, swinging, fueled by their own testosterone and the appreciative roar of the crowd. He very likely is, or at least was, an athlete. His mouth is beautiful yet masculine, with a very suckable lower lip. And of course the stubble, like on the faces of all the men in romance novels. Check. He’s got that.
He’s got it all: the fitted T-shirt pulling across his broad chest and flat stomach, the bulging biceps, the sinewy muscles of his forearms, the clean, strong-looking hands holding his iPad, the snug, dark blue jeans, the leather belt accentuating his trim waist, the big work boots and consequently big feet. Which is often indicative of something…
I’m raking my gaze over him again.
A man like this needs to be seen to be appreciated. Seen. Heard. Smelled. Touched.
My God, what. The fuck. Is wrong. With me?
“Ms. Callaway.” A hint of amusement honeys his voice, and mischief lightens his eyes. Fuckme till Tuesday, those eyes—they’re like the stones in mood rings, changing. I was right. God damnit.
He’s aware that he’s gotten to me. And I’m aware—painfully aware—that I’m in a stained T-shirt and no makeup and bare feet in need of a pedi.
My hand self-consciously stabs at the pieces of hair that seem to be conspiring against me. I tuck them as neatly as I can behind my ear, willing my fingers not to tremble.
“Yes—I am. I am she.” I am she?Could I sound any more ridiculous?
His eyebrows lift slightly, and a slow, excruciatingly sexy half smile crosses his face, revealing perfect teeth. White, white teeth. Add toothpaste-commercial actor to his credentials.
“Hello. I’m Jackson Decker of Decker Renovation. We spoke on the phone a couple of weeks ago.” He extends his hand, and even though it’s just a handshake, I realize I get to go skin-to-skin with him.
His fingers close around mine. They’re cool, and I cringe as I realize how clammy mine must feel to him.
I clear my throat, raise my chin, and decide to look at his nose rather than directly into his eyes. “It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. Decker.”
“Please—call me Jack. That’s what my friends call me.” He’s grinning broadly now, his teeth virtually sparkling.
So he wants us to be friends. “All right. Jack. I’m Madeline.” I have a shortened version of my name too, but I’m going to try like hell to keep this as formal and businesslike as I can. “Please—come in.”
I have to consciously un-scrunch my shoulders as he follows me into the house. It feels as though his eyes are burning into the back of me. It occurs to me that I care what he thinks of my ass.
I turn around just before we reach the kitchen. “Can I get you a bottled water, or maybe a cup of coffee?”
He’s looking at my breasts. Typical male. My cheeks begin to burn as I fold my arms across my chest.
“Water would be great, thanks.” He leans against the counter, gripping the granite behind him. His arm muscles flex. Is he doing this on purpose? Do I care? No.
He gives me a slight nod. “I see you’ve already had your coffee this morning.”
Oh. The stain. So maybe he wasn’t looking at my boobs. I don’t know whether I’m more relieved or disappointed. “Yes.”
“Let me guess…one of Dunkin’s ice cream flavors. Iced, regular cream, one sugar.”
Whaaat? He knows this? How could he know this? Pulling open the refrigerator door, I take out a bottle of Poland Spring, wishing I could press it against my face to cool the flames in my cheeks, but instead handing it to him. Again, I feel his fingers wrapping around mine, and hesitating. He didn’t need to hesitate. He could have just taken the bottle, skipped the lingering-fingers thing—
“You left some evidence.” He nods at the kitchen table and my plastic Dunkin cup, ice cubes melting in the bottom. “I guessed on the rest—although I do pride myself on knowing what women like.”
Jeee-sus. I realize my mouth is open, and I close it. I’m completely, totally flustered. And I never get flustered. Not by men, not by anything, really. This is absolutely ludicrous.
“You have a really nice home, Madeline.” His gaze sweeps around the kitchen. “I’m assuming you live here year-round?”
“Good. A place like this, you should—unlike some of the out-of-state folks around here, who only see the beauty in a summer ocean.”
I watch as he tips the water bottle toward his mouth. His Adam’s apple moves as he swallows, and for some insane reason, I find this tremendously sexy. While he drinks, I scan him head to toe. He’s incredibly attractive in his work clothes, and I can only imagine what he would look like dressed up. Or undressed.
I need to get ahold of myself. Jackson Decker is here for one reason, and that’s to remodel my bathroom.
As though reading my mind, this man in my kitchen sets the bottle down on the counter and flashes me a dazzling smile. “So…your bathroom. Want to lead the way?”
“Yes, of course. Follow me.”
So he’s in back of me again, and I realize that my shorts are actually quite short and we’ll be going upstairs, but I can’t do anything about that now. Thank God I’ve shaved my legs and have a tan, but still. Never has climbing stairs posed such difficulty. I feel like I need to either ascend quickly and hope he stays a few steps behind, or slow my pace and keep him just a stair away, so there’s no danger of his face being directly behind my ass.
Christ, I’m pathetic.
And just after I survive the stair dilemma, another cringe-worthy crisis presents itself: I remember the box of tampons I left on the counter. I’m just about to turn around and tell him I need to clean up a few things when it’s too late. He’s already scanning the ceiling, the walls, the floor, in a very carpenter-like way, while the bright pink box is practically screaming from beside the sink. He tactfully pretends he doesn’t see it, and I don’t make a scene by grabbing the box.
“What are you thinking that you want?”
I’m thinking I want you to pull off that T-shirt. Let me run my hands over your chest, trace the outlines of your pecs. I want to feel your mouth on mine, taste your tongue, put my hands in your hair and press my body against you so I can feel your—
“I want an en suite,if you’re familiar with that term.”
“I’m familiar with it. But we could just dispense with the aristocratic label and call it a master bathroom.” His eyes are dancing, like he’s enjoying himself.
“Um, all right. Master bathroom, so you can get to it directly from my bedroom. I’d like a complete remodel…get rid of this old fiberglass thing and put in a tile shower.”
He’s nodding, holding up his iPad and snapping pictures. “So you’re basically talking about gutting this out, taking it down to the studs, and starting over.”
“Yes, I believe so.”
“How big of a shower are you thinking?”
“What size would you recommend?”
“I’d do forty-two by sixty. Do you want a bench in it, or are you thinking corner seats?”
I excuse myself to go into my office for the folder of printed bathroom pictures I’ve been saving. I’m sweating, and this annoys me because I’ll soon be adding pit stains to complement my coffee splotch.
“Here’s some examples.” I hand him the folder, and he looks through the printed pages. I take the opportunity to stare at him and decide he’s growing more attractive by the second.
He nods. “These are all very nice. I see that you like soaker tubs.”
“Yes. I was thinking maybe under the window? I’d like it to be big, if possible.”
“I’m sure you would.”
The mischief is back in his eyes again, lightening them and creating a flurry of sparks in my belly.
It takes two to flirt, I tell myself firmly. If you don’t, he can’t.
“Most women do,” he continues, his voice smooth as melted butter. “Want it big.” He’s looking at me with amusement and wide-eyed innocence, and just when I feel like I’m no longer able to breathe, he takes a step toward the door. “Let me have a look at your bedroom.”
I swallow hard. This time, I follow and am able to take in the flip side of Jackson Decker, free from the distraction of his penetrating blue orbs. Broad shoulders, strong back, tapered waist—and a firm, muscular ass that fills out his Carhartt jeans in such a way that it’s impossible to look and not want to grope.
And oh look, here we are in my bedroom. With a bed. That I neglected to make this morning. Sunlight pours in through the double windows, throwing golden bars of light across the rumpled silk sheets. This further unsettles me, because I’m so not the rumpled type. I am a smooth, reserved, in-control, make-your-bed-and-tuck-in-the-corners type of woman. And yet this morning, with the arrival of Jackson Decker, I’ve been none of those things.
He’s looking at my sleigh bed and nodding. “Gorgeous piece. I love antiques.”
“Thank you—I do, too. Sorry about the unmade bed.” I move over to it, flipping the sheet and the sage-green comforter over the pillows.
“I am totally fine about seeing your unmade bed, Madeline.”
Just his voice alone makes me shiver, but hearing him say my name in his warm caramel voice…it’s like he’s caressing the syllables. It feels meaningful, personal—and that he used the word bed in the same sentence…
Madeline. My inner voice, abrupt and harsh. STOP. You are not a fifteen-year-old girl with stars in her eyes. You are a twenty-seven-year-old woman with a backbone and a brain and a scarred heart.
Remembering that last part gives me strength, and Jesus, I need it, because he’s looking at me as though he can see straight through me, as though he knows what I’m feeling for him.
“So what do you think?” I hear myself saying.Good girl, Mads! You can do this! “Can you get me some more bathroom space out of this room?”
“Absolutely.” Setting his iPad on the top of my bureau, he turns to look at the wall behind him, plucking his tape measure off his pants pocket and extending the blade on the floor. “This wall right here isn’t load-bearing. We can move it three or four feet this way and free up some space for the bathroom. I can frame in a door here and block off the door from the hallway. We can rearrange your fixtures. With this size bedroom, you won’t even notice the wall’s been moved. And you’ll have your palatial en suite.” He swings his gaze toward me again, one eyebrow raised, and takes some more measurements.
I’m quite sure he’s mocking me. “Palatial?”
“That’s what you’re going for, isn’t it?”
“I don’t know if a bigger bathroom constitutes palatial, Mr. Decker.”
“Why do I feel like you’re insulting me?”
“I assure you, I’m not. I just know women like you, and I know that one of the things women like you want is a palatial bathroom. Or spa. Or en suite.”
“Wait—women like me? What do you mean by that?”
“Women who like the finer things in life—stone tile, earth tones, granite vanities, towel warmers.”
“Do you assess all your clients this way?”
“Primarily the female ones.”
“It’s obvious, isn’t it? They always know what they want.” He winks, a grin spreading across his face.
“So, when you’re working for a woman you’re interested in, you’re also judging her.”
“I wouldn’t call it judging. It’s more like seeing if she fits where I think she does. Categorizing.”
“And after meeting me and talking with me for just a few minutes, you believe you know where I ‘fit,’ what I want, what I like. That’s quite presumptuous of you, don’t you think, Mr. Decker?”
His eyes are a soft, soft blue, his smile almost tender. He folds his arms in front of him, and I refuse to notice that this movement accentuates his muscles. “Let’s just say I’ve arrived at a place in my life, Ms. Callaway,where I’m able to read women very well.”
I’m trembling. Trying like hell to stop, but I can’t, because I’m standing in my bedroom with an infuriatingly gorgeous man who’s making me feel things I don’t understand. My voice is shaky when I speak. “If you know me so well, tell me what I’m thinking right now.”
Jackson Decker takes three steps forward until we are toe to toe, work boot to bare foot. So close I can smell his peppermint breath and the heady aroma of deodorant mingled with clean male. I have to tip my head way back to look him in the eye.
“You’re thinking that you’ve never been so conflicted in your life. You think I’m an egocentric prick, but that I’m the sexiest egocentric prick you’ve ever laid eyes on. You don’t know if you want to slap me across the face or grab me by the hair and pull me toward you for the longest, deepest, most toe-curling kiss you’ve ever had. You’re wondering how the hell you’re going to have me work in your house for the next few weeks and keep your hands off me. You’re imagining how I’d take you—over your couch, or on your bed, or up against a wall. The answer is all of the above. And you’re shocked not only that I’m talking to you this way—but that you like it.”
I cannot breathe. I cannot speak or move or think. My whole body is pulsing, throbbing, burning with want for this man I don’t even know. His eyes are blue flames, his nostrils flaring slightly and his T-shirt stretching across his chest with his breathing. I raise my chin, simultaneously yearning for and fearing that he will kiss me, but just then, Murphy jumps up on the bed with a loud meow, startling both of us and breaking the almost unbearable tension. Never have I been so grateful for that cat. Or so disappointed.
Conflicted. Just like Jackson Decker said.
His face softens, and he chuckles as he runs his hand along the cat’s back. Murphy is purring and oblivious. Jackson’s still grinning as he takes his iPad off my bedside table.
“I’ll email you my estimate tonight. It was very nice meeting you, Madeline. And your cat. After I hear back from you, I’ll be here Monday morning, seven a.m.”
I watch as he walks out of my bedroom and listen to the stairs creaking with the weight of his steps. I’ll be here Monday morning?Like he’s so sure I’ll be okay with his estimate, that I’ll want him to come back after what just happened?
As I sit shakily on the edge of my bed, Murphy rubbing his head on my arm, I know two things: one, Jackson Decker is right. And two:
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