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Love Redesigned: Chapter 32

Julian

“Iknew it was only a matter of time before Dahlia and you began pulling pranks again.” Rafa checks out the tree beside my office door.

“What do you think?”

He glances around the suite. “The whole place is an eyesore.”

“Most definitely.”

“Do you plan on taking it all down anytime soon?”

“Probably after New Year’s.” My lips curl.

His brows rise. “You want to keep the decorations up for another six weeks? Why?”

“They’ve grown on me.”

“Oh no,” he mutters up to the ceiling.

“What?”

“You’re falling for her. Again.”

“So what if I am?”

“The fact that you’re not denying it is proof enough.”

I sigh.

He follows with one of his own. “Should I go ahead and warn the rest of town?”

“We won’t involve civilians this time.”

He glares.

“Or animals,” I add.

His lips press into a thin line.

“And I made sure no one will get hurt.” Especially Dahlia. God forbid she has some crazy reaction and breaks her other arm in the process.

Rafa cocks his head. “What do you have planned?”

“Depends on whether you’re willing to help me or not.”

He shakes his head. “Hell no. You can both keep me out of whatever is going on.”

“You haven’t heard me out.”

“Anything that makes you smile like that is a bad idea.”

I wipe the stupid grin off my face. “But I’m going to need your help if I plan on pulling this one off.”

“Helping you start another prank war is a recipe for jail time.” His arms cross against his chest.

“That only happened one time.”

“Do you know that I’m still not allowed to park within a hundred feet of a fire hydrant?”

I laugh. “Must make parking in town a total pain in the ass.”

“Which is exactly why I am steering clear of you two.”

I clasp his shoulder and give it a squeeze. “Come on. It’ll be like old times.”

He grunts something unintelligible. Pranking Dahlia again wouldn’t only be good for her but also for Rafa, who could use a little fun in his life.

“I can’t do this one without you, man.”

He glimpses at the ceiling decorated with flickering icicle lights. “Don’t you pay Sam to help you?”

“His loyalties are split.”

Rafa rubs at his stubble. “Fair enough.”

“Does that mean you’ll help me?”

“I don’t remember you being this pathetic when we were younger.”

“Only because you were willing to prank first, ask questions later.”

His eyes narrow. “What do you have in mind?”

“Something that will have her sleeping with a light on for the next four to six months.”

“I do enjoy scaring people.”

“Doubt you have to try too hard lately with your attitude problem.”

“Fuck off.” He shoves me aside before taking the empty seat across from my desk.

I drop into the rolling chair on the other side. “I never thought I’d see the day you came to your senses.”

“Only because you’ve never been able to pull one of these off without me.”

I better enjoy Rafa’s playfulness while it lasts and make this prank worthy of his efforts.

With a quick pass over my keyboard, I unlock my computer screen and turn it toward him. “So, here’s the plan…”


After spending the last few days rescheduling my meetings and finalizing my new schedule with Sam, I can finally start working part-time at the Founder’s house.

The makeshift tent in the backyard is set up with all the tools I need for a project of this magnitude, which makes the process of returning to carpentry easier. I’m not sure I would have been able to follow through with the task if I had to work in my father’s old woodshop.

One step at a time.

I fight the ache in my bones as I cover my eyes, nose, and mouth with protective gear. The smell of fresh wood chips and the sound of my tool scraping across the wooden post fill the air as I start working on the first baluster.

It takes me longer than it should, with me being out of practice, but the skills I acquired over the years come back to me.

Remember why you’re doing this in the first place, I chide myself when I get frustrated at making a mistake. I toss the wooden post into a pile and grab a fresh one.

This is for you, I tell myself as I start all over again.

It takes me two more tries to perfect the design. “One down, a few hundred more to go.” I blow on the post and twirl it in a circle, cataloging every single detail.

My good mood is quickly destroyed when my phone buzzes with new text messages from Sam.

SAM

Issues with Lake Aurora project. Call Mario ASAP.

SAM

Also, design team wants to meet about the townhouses tomorrow. Something came up that they need to run by you.

SAM

Flooring for the cul-de-sac is delayed.
Should get here in a few weeks.

Balancing my office schedule with the carpentry tasks Dahlia planned is going to be difficult. I haven’t been at the Founder’s house for more than an hour and Sam is already blowing up my phone.

I rip my protective mask off, place my phone on the worktable, and grab a hammer.

So freaking tempting.

“Whoa. Put down the weapon and step away from the phone.” The tent flaps slap shut behind Dahlia.

I drop the hammer on the table. “It’s not what it looks like.”

“So you weren’t about to destroy your phone?”

I glance at her left arm. “You finally got your cast removed.”

“Smooth change of subject.”

I stay quiet.

She reaches for one of the wooden posts and assesses it from every angle. “This is…beautiful.”

“You think so?” I stumble over the words, sounding pathetic to my own ears.

“Your dad would be so incredibly proud of you.”

I choke on the ball of emotion building in my throat. “It’s nowhere near perfect.”

“You’re right. It’s far above.”

A surge of pride floods my system as she places the post back on the table.

My phone buzzes again, and my head drops back with a sigh.

“So, what’s going on?” She drags a stool out from underneath the worktable and takes a seat.

My eye twitches. “Having a few issues with scheduling.”

“Anything I can help you with?”

“Not really.”

Her gaze narrows. “Are you saying that because you don’t want to ask for help?”

“I’m saying that because no one can do what I do.”

“And what’s that?”

“Meet with teams, realtors, and committees each week. Discuss plans and permits and all that boring stuff.”

“No offense, but that’s not exactly rocket science or anything.”

I tuck my hands into the front pockets of my jeans. “No, but it is time-consuming.”

“Have you considered hiring someone to split your responsibilities?”

So many times I’ve lost count. “Yes.”

“And?”

“I haven’t found the right person for the job.”

“Have you searched hard enough?”

I go completely still.

She glances up from the wood piece she was focused on. “You have a good team. I’m sure one of them would be more than happy to help take the load off.”

“I know.” I’m lucky to have people I can trust working for me, and I pay them accordingly, but that doesn’t mean any of them are ready for the responsibilities my job entails.

I place the baluster on top of the table and grab another unfinished piece of wood.

Dahlia leans against the worktable. “You know, if you needed a little break, I’d be happy to help you with some of the meetings.”

“You would?”

Her shoulders hike. “Sure. I’ve worked with plenty of design teams and general contractors throughout the years.”

“I don’t know…”

“Think about it. While the Founder’s house has been a welcome creative challenge, I’m used to juggling eight different houses and a hectic filming schedule.”

“Don’t tell me you’re bored.”

“Well, that and underutilized.” She grabs a two-by-two from my pile and fidgets with it. “Your design style isn’t my favorite, but I can put my personal views aside if it means having your full and undivided attention with the Founder’s house.”

“I’d much rather have your full and undivided attention on other pressing matters.” My devious smile makes her scowl.

“I’m being serious, but if you don’t want my help, then that’s fine.”

Her comment sobers me. “You want to help me? Really?”

“Sure. At least until the New Year.”

The knot in my stomach tightens. “You still plan on leaving so soon?”

“Without a busy filming schedule, I can finally tackle Design by Dahlia’s mile-long waitlist. Some of those clients have been waiting over two years for my services.”

“You can’t design their houses from here?” The question slips out.

“Uhh…I don’t know. I haven’t given it much thought.”

That’s not a no, so I’ll take it. Dahlia needs a special kind of challenge, and it’s up to me to figure out what.


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