From the Book
I opened my condo door to a runway model in stiletto heels and a short little scrap of a dress that fit her like the peel on a banana.
"Hi, the name's Treasure," she said, holding out a hand to me, her pristine, fire-red nails tipped down. "Are you Deva Dunne?"
Mouth agape, I wrapped my fingers around hers then instantly let go and stuffed my hands in my pockets.
"Yes, I am." I eyed her skirt. I like mine short, too, but this one barely covered the essentials. Barely being the operative word. "What can I do for you?"
She flashed a megawatt smile. "Dick sent me. I just bought Unit 301 on the top floor."
Now everything fell into place, and I nodded. It was a miracle Dick Parker, the owner of the building, hadn't given her a condo free. He loved women, though he'd lived a married man's life for years.
"Dick told me you're an interior designer," she continued, "and, boy, do I need one."
I cleared my throat, doing my best to blink out her dramatic appearance and concentrate on what she was saying. "Well, I am a designer, but I haven't been working at it lately."
"Oh?" Her star-quality smile dimmed. "Dick said you were redoing the Surfside condos he has up for sale."
I shrugged and ran my tongue along my straight teeth. Four teenage years in braces had given me a smile like hers, right? "Just as a favor, to help him out."
"He's not paying you?" Her eyes swept wide open. "How terrible."
Dick was up against it financially, but I didn't think I should mention that. Or that shortly after moving in, I found out he planned to put pink flamingoes on the lawn. I told myself good taste was nothing more than educated timidity... Still, plastic birds. My God. The possibility that a flock of them might roost outside my windows had forced me to plunge back into my design role, which might have been a good thing. Until I healed from Jack's death, I wouldn't be fit to tackle a paying job. Though when the healing would begin, I had no idea. Maybe never. So for now at least, redoing Surfside Condominiums was keeping me sane.
Treasure peered over my shoulder, taking peeks at my foyer. I opened the door a bit more to make it easier for her.
"Would you like to come in?" I hadn't had a single visitor since I'd moved to Naples three months earlier, and the silence was getting deafening.
"Jeez. I thought you'd never ask."
I smiled and stepped aside. She strutted in, sank onto my couch and crossed her legs. The miniskirt rode up to the top of her thighs.
I pressed my lips together, sat on a club chair and kept my eyes north of her skirt hem. She pointed a finger at my Irish hunt board. "Old stuff like this is so cool, but it doesn't add up to guy space." She twirled a strand of long black hair around the same finger and eyed me inquisitively. "Any men in your life?"
I gulped and shook my head, sorry I'd invited her in. Questions about my love life were like drive-by bullets. I had no defense against them. Moisture welled under my lids. I clenched my jaw and jutted out my chin. No way would I let the tears flow. "Not anymore."
"Oh, dear. Was it the Big D?"
Unable to speak, I nodded. Who was this woman, anyway? Asking me hurtful questions five minutes after we met.
"Divorce is hell," she went on. "When I broke up with my significant other, I thought he'd commit suicide. But a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do."
I cleared my throat. "I haven't been divorced."
"But you broke up—"
"My husband died. Eight months and five days ago."
"Oh, I'm so sorry." She sounded as if she really meant it.