Brenda shoved open the car door and stepped out into the rain. "This day just keeps getting better and better." On the verge of a temper tantrum, she fought back tears.
"It's going to be okay." David joined her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
"Well, it can't get much worse."
"Let's hope not."
She turned toward the car. "We have to get back."
"You can't drive across the bridge."
"I should be able to. There's only a couple of inches of water."
He clasped her arm and shook his head. "The current could have weakened the pilings. If the loss of support caused a collapse, your car would take a nosedive into Running Creek. That would make for a much worse day."
She yelled over her shoulder to be heard above the wind. "Then we'll walk across." She stared at him. If he objected, she'd have to decide whether to go it alone or not.
"That should be okay. The road hasn't been flooded that long."
She opened the back door and lifted out the sump pump.
David took the box from her and tucked it under his arm. "Ready?"
She nodded. When she stepped on bridge, the current swirled around her ankles. She grabbed for the railing. "I'm hanging on."
"Good idea. No sense falling and getting even wetter."
"To say nothing about being swept over the edge." She gripped the rail even tighter.
He caught up and walked beside her. "Right. I'm definitely not in the mood for a swim."
They slogged through the water, leaning into the gusty wind. It seemed to take hours rather than minutes before they reached the other side. Now to face a muddy road. A short time later they entered her camp, soaked and filthy.
She touched David on the arm. "Thank goodness you stopped by." Self-reliance was all well and good, but sometimes a helping hand was even better. Especially from a really good-looking man.
* * *
In the basement, David muscled the old pump out of it's gravel bed, disconnected the hose, replaced the new one and plugged it in.
Watching from the basement steps, Brenda heaved a sigh when the pump turned on and began sucking out the water.
David high-stepped through the inches of water to the steps. "I'm going to my place to get my shop vac. Once most of the water is pumped out, we'll clean up with the vacuum. Quicker that way."
"That would be great." She looked at him and their glances tangled. "I was dreading a massive mop-up operation."
David grinned as he jogged to his camp through the drizzle. The downpour had finally let up. He'd forgotten the great feeling that came from helping someone, especially an attractive woman.
Working together, the cleanup didn't take long.
Hands on her hips, Brenda looked around the small basement. "I'm glad now that we never finished this off."
"Wouldn't make much sense. There's not room for much more than the mechanicals. Maybe a couch and chair at the most."
"Besides, who'd want to sit down here when there's such a nice view upstairs?"
Finished, they climbed the stairs. In the bathroom, David changed into the dry clothes he'd brought from his camp, Hide-A-Way, while Brenda changed in her bedroom.
"I don't know about you, but I'm starving." Her rosy lips widened into a smile. "I've been too busy--and too panicked--to eat."
"I wouldn't refuse food." He grinned.
"I think we need more than the plain old pasta I planned. How about a kitchen sink pasta?"
"Uh, what's that?"
"You know, throw in everything but the kitchen sink."
He rubbed his stomach. "Sounds good to me. I have some groceries in my car that I never unloaded."
"I'd hate to have you walk back again."
"Not a problem," he said, pleased he could contribute. "I drove my car here with the vac."
"Great. I'll raid my fridge. It will be an awesome meal."
* * *
Brenda opened the sauce she'd canned, her favorite recipe from Mom's friend. She'd always called it Sally's Sauce. She opened the jar, releasing the delicious aromas of summer, poured the sauce into a pan and turned the heat low.
The screen door banged as David made his way into the kitchen, his arms full of groceries. "Mmmm, that smells good." David pulled some veggies from the bags and set them on the counter. "What can I do?"
His question startled Brenda. Johnny had never set foot in the kitchen, either to cook or clean up. "You don't need to do anything."
"Of course I do. I can cut stuff up while you cook."
David sliced zucchini mushrooms while Brenda sautéed hamburger and put the pasta in the boiling water. As they moved around the kitchen, David brushed against her. Frequently. Each time, her awareness of him inched up a notch.
Was he doing it on purpose or was it accidental? Maybe she'd take a chance and find out.
The third time he rested his hands on her shoulders to move past her, she turned. In his arms, nearly touching, she tipped her head and their gazes locked. His brown eyes darkened to ebony.
He bent his head, paused, then his mouth brushed hers. Her pulse raced, sending tingles from her lips to her fingertips to her toes. Without hesitating, she returned the kiss.
He lifted his head. "Thought I'd start with dessert first."
She giggled. Like a schoolgirl. Her cheeks warmed. Like a schoolgirl. And it felt nice. "I like the way you think." She kissed him on the cheek and turned back to her task. Even though her nerves jumped, she couldn't stop grinning.
Cooking continued with occasional interruptions to share tasting.
And more kisses.
They carried their plates to the table in front of the bay window where the sun barely peeked out from under waning clouds. Sitting opposite each other, he reached across the table and filled their wine glasses, then raised his toward the sun in a toast. "This April shower should bring plenty of May flowers."
Brenda smiled at David across their impromptu feast. "The love-in-bloom kind."
Here's a taste treat for all my Campfire Circle fans.
½ C. best quality olive oil
2 C. finely chopped yellow onions (or shallots from your garden work, too)
4 lbs. plum tomatoes, skinned and seeded
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 Tbs. minced fresh basil
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper
4 C. water
5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced (garlic chives from your garden work, too)
½ C. finely chopped Italian parsley
In a deep pot, sauté onions in oil until lightly colored
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
Add water and simmer on low heat, uncovered, about 3 hours.
Stir in garlic, parsley and simmer another five minutes.
Taste and correct seasonings.
Makes approximately 3 quarts.
If canning, while hot, pour into glass jars and seal.
To freeze, cool uncovered to room temperature before filling freezer bags.