Roberts of Silver Springs, Book 1
Opening a bed and breakfast with her cousin in her hometown of Silver Springs, Colorado has been Bri Roberts lifelong ambition, and it’s finally coming true. They are two months, a lot of hard work, and some spit and polish away from making all their dreams come true. Bri is focused and ready to work as hard as it takes to make a success of herself. When a contractor moves into town and messes with her head, she agrees to go out with him just once, knowing it will never lead anywhere.
Anthony Black is new to Silver Springs and more than a bit thrilled by the small-town feel. Everyone knows everyone else, and he has a new job building a couple of bathrooms for a B&B that’s about to open. The first day on the job he meets saucy Bri Roberts and immediately decides he’s going to make her his wife. The problem is she doesn’t necessarily like him at first. Will Anthony be able to convince Bri that she is what he’s been looking for all his life? Or will outside forces manage to keep them apart?
Sabrina Roberts woke just before her alarm went off, as she did every morning. Today was the day the general contractor started his work on the bed and breakfast she was opening with her cousin Bekah. She shut off the alarm, noting that it was four-forty-five on the dot. She had an hour and forty-five minutes before the contractor would be there, which gave her plenty of time for a morning run.
She loved living in Silver Springs, Colorado, the most beautiful town on God’s green earth. She brushed her teeth and changed into her shorts and a sweatshirt, with a tank top and sports bra underneath. When she got too hot, she’d strip off the shirt and tie it around her waist.
Bri briefly considered knocking on her cousin Bekah’s door, but she decided against it. Bekah tended to sleep late, and she wouldn’t disturb her unnecessarily, though it was always tempting. Instead she headed down two flights of stairs and to the kitchen, grabbing a bottle of water before heading out the front door. She liked to run out by the river and wind through town, almost always ended up at her sister, Emma’s coffee shop, Books and Beans.
As soon as she was out the front door, she put her headphones in and turned her music up loud. She listened to the same thing as she ran every morning — show tunes. Her playlist was always in the same order. She was too organized for that scrambling of the songs nonsense. She’d start with “The One That You Want” from Grease, and slowly make her way through The Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Oklahoma, West Side Story, Gypsy, and she’d cool down with My Fair Lady.
Her morning routine had been perfected while she was in college, and it was always the same. She ran along the river, from the B&B, which was situated on the far north end of town on Main Street, first going west and then heading south. She cut back over to Main on Seminary, and then ran to the coffee shop at the corner of 8th and Main. It took her precisely fifty-seven minutes to make it to Books and Beans, and then she’d buy a coffee, chat with her sister, Emma, for a few minutes, and walk back to the B&B as a cool down.
She started out at a slow jog, and then when it was time to head south, she poured on the speed. Before she was on Main, she’d stripped off her sweatshirt and tied it around her waist. A few cars honked at her, but everyone in town knew her, so she just waved and kept going. If they needed to talk to her, they knew where to find her.
She leaned over with her hands on her knees for a moment, resting before she stepped into the coffee shop. Her sister was pouring her regular order into a to-go cup. “I’ll put it on your tab.” Emma handed her a biscuit with egg and cheese, knowing she’d eat it on the way home, and start working as soon as she had showered. Bri was nothing if not predictable.
Bri smiled. “You do that.” She knew that Emma wasn’t really keeping a tab, but she always said she was. Her sister wouldn’t let her pay a dime until the B&B was making them money. “Quiet morning.”
Emma shook her head. “You’re the only person who shows up before six. That’s why it’s quiet.”
“Then why do you open at five-thirty?” Bri asked with a silly grin.
“You know as well as I do we don’t open ’til six. You still insist on showing up early, and I keep giving you coffee. One of these days, I’m going to make you wait outside in the pouring rain.”
Bri rolled her eyes. “Contractor comes today. I’m getting excited. We officially open two months from today.”
“You’re cutting it to the wire! I hope he gets everything done in time.”
“It’s not like he’s doing all the work — just the stuff Bekah and I can’t do ourselves. I’m going to paint one of the bedrooms today while he starts adding in the last two bathrooms we need. We’ll get there!”
“What’s his name? Isn’t he new in town?”
“Yeah. I haven’t met him yet. Bekah dealt with him, while I went and talked to Dad about the loan.” Bri sighed. “When we first decided to turn Grandma’s house into a B&B, I don’t think either of us had any idea of the work involved.”
“You’ll survive,” Emma said, grinning. “I started my own coffee shop and book store, if you’ll remember. I know what kind of work goes into something like that.”
Bri lifted a hand in a wave. “Gotta go meet the contractor and get him to work. Sure hope he likes show tunes!”
Emma laughed. “No one likes show tunes the way you do.”
“Can I help it that I have spectacular taste in music?” Bri pushed the door open and walked north along Main Street, watching the small town come to life. She couldn’t believe there were people who slept until six. It was crazy! They didn’t know what they were missing! She sipped at her coffee and ate her breakfast as she walked. In another couple of months, she’d be cooking breakfast for a group every morning. She couldn’t wait!
When Bri got back to the B&B she found a man waiting on the front steps. “Can I help you?”
“I’m Anthony Black, the contractor. I was supposed to be here at six.”
“No, you were supposed to be here at six-thirty. I always get back from my run at ten after.”
“Well, aren’t you punctual?” he muttered. “Show me where to start.”
Bri made a face behind his back. If he was going to be this difficult to work with, maybe they should find someone else. Of course there were no other contractors in town, so she’d have to deal with him. “We have a small bedroom that we want converted into two bathrooms on the second floor.” She led the way into the house and up the stairs. “There’s other small stuff to be done, but this is the most important thing that we need you for.”
He looked around as he walked through. “Nice house. Must have cost you a fortune.”
She shook her head. “My grandmother died when I was in college, and she left this house to me and my cousin. We’d always dreamed of turning it into a place where we’d take paying guests. We thought about a quaint little inn, but decided the space was more suited for a B&B. Don’t you think?”
He shrugged, not willing to answer. He was still annoyed over being kept waiting.
She led him into a bedroom, with a smaller room off of it. “We want this room chopped into two bathrooms, with doors leading to both sides, so both beds have a private bath. Okay?”
“I can do it. I think the baths will be tiny, but I can do it.”
“Thank you. We’d appreciate that. Do you have the blueprints we had drawn up?” Bekah had met with him the previous week, and she didn’t know exactly what had transpired, other than he’d agreed to do the work.
He nodded. “Yup. Get out of my way, and I’ll get to work.” He made a shooing motion with his hand, and she rolled her eyes. She hoped he wouldn’t be like this every morning.
“Aren’t you just a ray of sunshine?”
“You were late, lady. Move it, and I’ll get started.”
Bri glared at him as she left, climbing the stairs to the attic. She and Bekah had taken the attic and had it divided into two bedrooms and a bath, while they worked on renovations of the first floor. They didn’t want to take up prime guest space.
She showered and changed into old jeans and a T-shirt, knowing her cousin would sleep a couple of more hours. After going to the kitchen and starting the pot of coffee her cousin would need when she finally crawled out of bed, she went down to the second floor, where she’d draped sheets in one of the bedrooms the night before to get it ready to paint.
She set her phone up with speakers and started her work playlist, which encompassed songs from Wicked, Singin’ in the Rain, The Music Man, and Mame. She’d play the songs on a loop all day as she painted. She cranked it up high, so she could sing as loudly as she wanted and still hear the music over her dreadful voice.
With the window open, she picked up her roller brush and began the long process of painting the room. This one would be the Wicked room. She was painting it the exact same color as Elphaba’s skin, and she would accent it with black. There would be a witch’s hat, like the one Galinda gave Elphaba hanging on one wall. Oh, she was most excited about this room!
The Singing in the Rain room would be fun, with umbrellas and outlines of the stars, but the Wicked room? It was sure to be her favorite.
She’d been working for about fifteen minutes when she glanced over at the door to see Anthony glaring at her. “What is that crap you’re listening to?”
She leaned down to pause her music. “Crap? This is ‘Defying Gravity’ from Wicked! Have you never seen it?”
He folded his arms over his chest, and after checking the wall behind him, leaned back against it. “That’s the world’s ugliest shade of green. You trying to kill your business?”
“This is going to be our Wicked room. So I’m painting it the same color as Elphaba’s skin,” Bri explained patiently.
“She’s the Wicked Witch of the West, the main character of Wicked.”
He frowned at her. “You mean like from The Wizard of Oz? Are you kidding me?”
“Of course not! She and Glinda the Good Witch are best friends in the musical. It’s fabulous. The next time it comes to Denver, you should go see it.”
“Are you asking me out on a date while you’re painting this room ugly?” Anthony raised an eyebrow at her. He knew better, but he could already see she was going to be fun to annoy.
Bri blushed, embarrassed that he’d think that of her. “No, of course I’m not asking you out! I don’t even know you!”
“And now you’re telling me you want to get to know me better. Well, I guess we could go out. I don’t really know anyone in town yet. What are you doing for dinner this evening?”
She stared at him in shock. “I just met you this morning! I can’t go out with you!”
“I didn’t ask you to sleep with me. What would a date hurt? I’m lonely. You’re lonely.”
“I’m not lonely!”
“Then why are you asking me out?” He shook his head. “I’ve never met a woman quite as contrary as you are, and you haven’t even told me your name yet. Don’t you think you should tell a man your name before asking him out?”
“I didn’t ask you out!”
He looked at her as if she’d lost her mind. “Sure you did, and I’m saying yes! I’ll pick you up at six. Make sure you get all that green off of you. I don’t want to feel like I’m dating the Wicked Witch of the West.” He walked off, strolling lazily.
She glared at his back. How are we ever going to get this house done on time with a lazy contractor? No, I’m going to talk to Bekah, and we’ll find someone else. That man is going to drive me bonkers.
She reached down and flipped her music back on, turning it up a notch. If she was going to annoy him, she was going to do it right!
At eleven, she snapped the lid onto the can of paint, and went to the kitchen, washing her hands carefully. She turned on her kitchen music as soon as she was there, playing songs from lesser known musicals that she loved.
She was a true kitchen magician, one of the reasons they’d decided on a bed and breakfast. She loved the idea of making breakfast every morning for a small crowd of people.
She whipped up a quick casserole, knowing that Bekah would be down and hungry soon. Bri almost always cooked every meal, because Bekah simply didn’t enjoy cooking the way she did. They had moved into the house together when they’d inherited during college, both of them going to the small satellite university there in Silver Springs.
She popped the baking dish with the casserole into the oven and picked up her Kindle off the counter. She loved to read, and she was excited to read the latest by Jolene Gold, her favorite writer. She turned the Kindle on and immersed herself in the author’s latest book, waiting for lunch to be finished.
* * * * *
Anthony was on his knees, prying up the flooring in the room that would soon be two bathrooms when something heavenly hit his nose. He hadn’t had a good home-cooked meal in a while, tending to eat more fast food than he should. He’d planned to go to the Golden Arches for lunch, but that smell. He got up, following his nose without realizing what he was doing. He had to talk whichever of the Roberts women was cooking into feeding him. It was a moral imperative. He’d drop to one knee and propose if that’s what it took. He’d be more than willing to marry a woman who could cook like that.
When he got to the kitchen, he saw the pretty little girl he’d been dealing with all morning sitting at the table, her eyes glued to the device in her hands. “Whatcha readin’?”
She looked up at him with a frown. “A book by my favorite writer.”
“Romance.” She looked back down at the book, refusing to give him the time of day.
“Romance? I should have known a girl who wants to open a bed and breakfast and is obsessed with The Wizard of Oz would read romance novels.” He sat down at the table across from her, plucking a grape from the bowl in front of her. Maybe she wouldn’t realize she was being bamboozled into feeding him. “What’s your first name anyway?”
She sighed. “It’s Bri.”
“Bri? What kind of name is Bri?” He grabbed an apple from the basket at the center of the table and crunched into it.
“It’s short for Sabrina, but no one calls me that. My sister starting calling me Bri when I was a baby, because she couldn’t say Sabrina.”
“That works. I like it. Can I call you Brina if I feel like it?”
Bri glared at him. “You can, but I won’t answer to it.”
He reached out and took her hand in his. “Aw…is that any way to treat the man you’re dating?”
“Dating? We are not dating! You have lost your mind!”
“Hey, you asked me out, not the other way around. I wouldn’t mind coming here for supper though.”
She shook her head. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“I guess a restaurant is better then.”
“What is wrong with you? Are you always this pushy?”
Anthony gave her his best offended look. “Pushy? You’re the one who asked me out, not the other way around!”
She snatched her hand from his. “You are being ridiculous.”
He shrugged. “You think what you want. How many places should I set for lunch?” He got up and wandered to the cabinets, opening one after the other, trying to find the plates.
“Sit down. I’ll set the table.” She hadn’t planned to feed him, but she couldn’t very well tell him no. She’d been raised with better manners than that. “My cousin, Bekah, will be joining us for lunch, I’m sure.”
“I haven’t seen her all day. Where is she?”
“She’s more of a night owl than me. That’s why we do well together. I’m sure she’s just now making herself presentable for the day.”
“I resent that,” Bekah said from the doorway, walking into the kitchen and helping herself to a cup of coffee from the pot Bri had started after her shower. “I’m always presentable. Even first thing in the morning.”
Bri set the table. “I’ve been painting the Wicked room all morning.”
“Please tell me that hideous green looks better on the walls than I think it does.” Bekah looked over at Anthony. “She’s determined to have a Wicked room. I was okay with the Old West theme for the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers room. I dealt with the New York City theme for the West Side Story room. But that ugly green for the Wicked room? No one is going to want to stay there!”
“I told her it was ugly. She wouldn’t listen to me.” Anthony sighed. “No one ever listens to the contractor. They do whatever they want anyway.”
“Don’t you two gang up on me!” Bri exclaimed, a frown on her face. “You agreed to a Wicked room when we discussed it, Bek.”
“I know I did, but I didn’t know you were going to match the walls to Elphaba’s skin color.” Bekah shuddered delicately. “It’s going to be hideous!”
“It will be lovely! Stop complaining! I know it’s going to be the most popular room.” Bri pulled the casserole out of the oven and plopped some on each of the plates, serving them all. “If you want drinks, get them. We’re not open for business, and I’m not serving anyone who’s complaining about my Wicked room.”
Bekah looked at Anthony. “Do you want water, milk or coffee?”
“No soda?” he asked, frowning. “I want a Pepsi.”
Bri looked up from her plate, glaring at him. “Then bring your own.”
Bekah was obviously shocked. “Bri, what has gotten into you? You’re never rude to people.”
“He’s on my last nerve,” Bri said as she took another bite. She chewed slowly before continuing. “I have never met anyone quite so presumptuous in my entire life!”
“Wow.” Bekah looked at Anthony, obviously impressed. “No one gets under her skin that fast. It took her brother years to make her that prickly.”
Anthony sighed. “She hurt my feelings. I’m wounded and may never be able to drink Pepsi again.”
Bri refused to respond to that. He obviously wanted attention, and she wasn’t about to give it to him!
“You’d think she’d be nicer to me since we’re practically engaged!” he said, drawing Bekah’s attention again.
Bekah giggled. “I have to hear this.” She put a glass of water in front of Anthony, since he hadn’t asked for anything else. “Practically engaged?”
“She asked me out while I was talking to her about the shade she was painting that god-awful room.”
Bekah looked at Bri in shock. “You asked him out? Did you ask him to marry you too?”
Bri kicked Anthony under the table, feeling quite satisfied with herself when he yelped with pain. “I did not ask him out!” She knew her cousin was just playing along with him, but it still annoyed her. Why wouldn’t he let it go?
“We’re going to a restaurant tonight. I tried to talk her into cooking for me again, but I think she’s worried we’re moving too quickly. The whole thing about the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach? I’m already more than halfway in love with her after this meal.” Anthony calmly took another bite of his lunch, enjoying it immensely. Bri really could cook.
Bri thought for a moment about turning his words on him and telling him she was in love with him too, but she had a feeling it would backfire terribly. She’d never been good at teasing, because her nature was too serious. “Go away, Anthony.”
He raised an eyebrow. “I thought you needed those bathrooms done quickly.”
She sighed. “I do need them done. I just don’t want to have to deal with you to get them!”
Bekah started chuckling softly, and after a moment it turned into a full-blown laugh. “You two are going to keep me very entertained for the next month, aren’t you?”
Bri ignored her cousin and just kept eating. Why do I have to put up with idiots? Bekah’s normally my best friend, but put her with Anthony, and I want to strangle them both!
“Oh, Bekah, I can’t believe you’re laughing at my pain! I’ll perish without Brina’s love!”
“Brina?” Bekah asked. “You already have a special nickname for her? It is true love, isn’t it?”
“I don’t ever want to talk to either of you again,” Bri responded calmly, getting up from the table and rinsing her plate before putting it in the dishwasher. “You two just keep laughing. I’m going to go listen to messages and see if we have any reservations, and then I’m going to finish painting the Wicked room. It’s going to be beautiful.” She left the room with her head held high, stalking off to listen to the messages in the office.
Bekah looked at Anthony with wide eyes. “Bri gets along with everyone! What did you do to her?”
Anthony shrugged. “I have no idea, but I think I’m in love. What’s her favorite flower?”
Bekah started laughing again. “She’s a fan of lilacs.”
“Lilacs? There’s a florist in town, isn’t there?”
“There is! Are you going to bring flowers when you pick her up for your date tonight?”
“Of course, I am. What kind of cad do you think I am? I’m going to woo your cousin like she’s never been wooed before! By the time the week is over, she’ll be as in love with me as I am with her!”
“You’ve lost your ever-loving mind. I’m glad though, because I haven’t seen a firework show this good since I was a little girl.” She stood and washed off her plate, putting it into the dishwasher.
Anthony watched her leave and grinned. This was going to be a fun job!