Out of Bounds
Jetta Rivers has inherited half a house. Big problem: she has to share it with co-owner Anton Haviland, and her past has left her terrified of men. Gorgeous Anton is a confident sexy architect, and he might be exactly who Jetta needs to put her crippling fear to rest. But can she allow him near enough? And would he even want to try? After a midnight disaster he drags her off to the only bed left in the now-damaged house.
She’s appalled to find she craves the man who plans to smash her inheritance to pieces. Anton is equally shocked when his sharp-tempered housemate attempts to seduce him.
Warning: Contains one ambitious man with a body to die for. And one unlikely temptress with an ancient copy of The Joy of Sex.
'Beautifully done and wonderfully written. Great dialogue and character growth. I highly recommend Out of Bounds for the multi-layered character development, the sexiness of Anton and an old house that was destined to bring two unlikely people together. Bravo Ms. Pearson.
5 Smiles and a recommended read.' (Love, Laughter Friendship Blog.)
Jetta Rivers despised herself for snooping on him over the old fence, but with her face hidden safely in the foliage of Gran’s jasmine vine, her eyes still followed his every move.
He was sex on legs. Sex on very long legs. Maybe thirty—with strong arms, and a smooth tanned back flexing in the bright Kiwi sun as he polished the silver flanks of an impeccable old Porsche.
She imagined running her hands over his taut muscular body as sensuously as his were caressing the car.
Then, quick as a wink, her naughty brain stripped the jeans off his very cute butt.
‘Stop it Jetta!’ she snapped at herself, adding a couple of frustrated curses as hot little ripples of pleasure pulsed between her thighs. Why did she feel like this when she couldn’t do anything about it? Her body might be bursting with lust but her brain always put the brakes on. In twenty-six years, she’d had exactly one night of sex.
And it had been terrible.
Chapter One — Mr Porsche
A week later Jetta swiped at a trickle of tears and drew a deep determined breath. The house she’d just inherited was far from beautiful—Grandma’s loving welcomes had somehow disguised the awful details and softened the scruffiness.
But it was hers now, and chipping up the old kitchen floor with Grandpa’s spade was only the first of dozens of jobs she had planned.
Wincing at her new blisters, she gathered up some of the larger pieces of linoleum, carried them along the hallway, and threw her armful of rubbish onto the growing heap beside the path. Then she took a few gulps of fresh summer air before retreating to the dusty kitchen.
“Hello...?” a man yelled through the open door a few seconds later.
As Jetta turned to investigate, she caught sight of herself in the small mirror on the back of the kitchen door. Under Grandpa’s ancient painting hat, her face was dirty, tear-streaked and bare of make-up. She looked about sixteen, and really didn’t need a visitor.
“Hello?” His voice was softer now and very close.
She whirled further around, heart racing, grabbed for the spade handle, and clutched it tightly. There was only him and her. No one else to save her.
“What the hell are you doing to the house?” he asked.
She stood there trembling as the man she’d nicknamed ‘Mr Porsche’ gazed about with very obvious amusement on his far-too-gorgeous face. She’d never seen him up close before. Never expected his eyes would be so disturbingly blue or that he’d have that little sprinkling of dark hair showing at the open neck of his polo shirt. “It’s my house—I’ll do what I like with it,” she managed.
“It’s our house, and I’ll be demolishing it,” he replied. “Anton,” he said, thrusting out a big hand. “Anton Haviland. And you must be Jetta Rivers.”
Already way on edge, Jetta sagged onto one of the 1950’s chrome and leatherette chairs in case his outrageous suggestion was for real. Demolish her house? Never!
She wouldn’t shake his hand.
She wouldn’t touch him with a bargepole.
“Didn’t you know?” He telescoped down to a squat—no point in making her even more nervous. She was younger than he’d expected. Looked a lot younger than Horrie Winters had said, and in total denial.
“Know what?” Her words came out in an anguished croak. Her knuckles shone white with the death-grip she had around the old spade-handle.
Anton shrugged. “That I even existed, by the look of things. That the house was left to the two of us, fifty-fifty?”
“The house was left to me,” she snapped. “Gran told me again and again it would be mine after she’d gone.”
“Your Gran,” he said, choosing the words with care, “was a long way from her original self. I gather she had dementia and didn’t know what was going on half the time.”
A variety of expressions flitted over the girl’s small dusty face. Disbelief. Outrage. Acceptance for her grandmother’s condition, but not yet for the shared ownership of the old timber bungalow.
“Gran worried about a lot of funny stuff,” she agreed with apparent reluctance. “I didn’t think she was too bad until a couple of months ago.”
“Your Grand-dad arranged for their solicitor, Horrie Winters, to have Power of Attorney,” Anton said. “Way back before he died, because he wanted her looked after. He didn’t want to burden you.”
“Five years ago?” Her eyes accused Anton of crimes he’d never committed. “So why didn’t this lawyer give Gran more money? Her clothes were in rags. I was shocked when I went through her wardrobe.”
Anton shrugged again, wanting to stand. “She should have been fine. She had her pension for food and clothing. Horrie had all the household bills direct-debited from a bank account. I know that much.”
Her eyes narrowed in accusation. “How do you know? She was my grandmother!”
He sighed. He was in no mood to be cross-examined by a girl he’d never met about an old lady he knew only the barest details of.
“Didn’t you keep in touch with Horrie?” He hoped his exasperation wasn’t too obvious.
“I’ve never heard of him. I thought now Gran was dead I’d get a letter from someone confirming the details of my inheritance. My inheritance,” she insisted. “My house I’m going to renovate and live in.”
“Our inheritance,” Anton corrected, trying not to sound too sharp. “Old Lucy had the house for her lifetime. Now it comes to us jointly.”
“Hah! According to you. Who are you, anyway?”
He adjusted his balance; squatting on his heels wasn’t easy. “Anton Piers Scott Haviland if you want the whole mouthful. Some sort of relation? A distant cousin I suppose? Sounds like you’ve never heard of me.”
Her pretty mouth fell open and her eyes expanded to huge black pools of disbelief. Her spare hand grasped at the air as though she was clutching for sanity.
She lurched up from the old chair and stared down at him in horror. “I don’t have any cousins,” she insisted. “There was my mother Margaret, and that was all. She had no brothers or sisters, so I’ve no cousins. Dad had one brother, but he left New Zealand and he’s been in Canada a long time now. Since...um ...”
She started to tremble again, and Anton rose to his feet, too, seeing her tiny silver tassel earrings shaking and catching the light. Was she going into shock? What the hell should he do?
“And you don’t sound Canadian,” she added, aiming a savage kick at the half-stripped floor.
He assumed she’d rather be kicking his head in. Annoyance more than shock, he thought with relief. “Definitely not Canadian,” he assured her. “Total Kiwi. Born in Auckland, grew up here in Wellington. Spare me the family tree though—second cousins twice removed and all that sort of thing.”
“So how do you think you fit in?”
“Not the foggiest. My mother is Isobel Scott if that means anything to you? My father was never...interested.” Her expression softened very slightly. “Your grandfather was David Haviland?” he asked.
She nodded, dark eyes still fiercely dilated.
“And I carry his unusual surname. Isn’t that enough proof I’m somehow part of the family?”
“You could have changed it by deed-poll.”
Anton breathed out slowly, trying to avoid the sharp reply that sprang to his lips. “I didn’t. I didn’t need to. It’s the name on my birth certificate.” He tried for a more conciliatory tone. “This seems to have come as a total surprise to you; we’ll have to go and see Horrie together.”
She continued to stare at him, eyes ablaze, and then dropped onto the chair again as if wanting to keep some physical distance between them. He couldn’t blame her. In one savage blow, she’d lost half her home and gained a part-uncle or a half-cousin or whatever the hell he was.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
On the cover -
Two wonderful old timber buildings in Naper - only a hundred yards or so from where I started my first job. Old heritage buildings like these are Jetta's area of expertise.
Writing this book
'Out of Bounds' is a contemporary romance about a young woman who inherits her grandmother's house, and then finds she has to share it. Not just share the proceeds of the house sale, but share the actual house with the mysterious architect who has become the co-owner. And then, because of a night-time disaster, share the only bed. I did have fun setting this up.
However, there are a couple of issues involved. My heroine, Jetta, is terrified of men because of something that happened in her past. This makes sharing a house (and a bed) intolerable for her. And my hero, Anton, has big things to prove - to his mother, his unknown father, and to Jetta as he starts to fall for her.
Why do they jointly own the house? That's a mystery I don't solve for you until quite late in the story. Of course the possibility they might be closely related leads to problems - and the 'Out of Bounds' title of the book.
Is Jetta really out of bounds to Anton? As their attraction for each other grows, can they ignore this possibility? Just when things start to go well I fling a huge construction problem into the plot. I enjoyed doing some research for this - a friend's architect son came up with some very useable suggestions.
Where did Gran's old suitcase come from? My mother had one just like it, and when we were children she used to retrieve all the birthday and Christmas wrapping paper and ribbons and hide them away in the suitcase until the next special occasion came around. Life was harder in those days. I just wish I'd found what Jetta found in her version! It's funny how little bits of real life end up in fiction. I hope you enjoy the story.
This is a corner of Oriental Bay in Wellington - very nice real estate! Some of the grand old houses have disappeared to make room for new apartment blocks.
From a timber bungalow in the suburbs of Wellington to the skyscrapers of New York - it's all here. I find it's a real help having images to set the scene. The new apartment block...the fire...dear old Gran...Hallie and Bren...and of course hunky Anton and talented Jetta.