Moving a Little Heart

By: Breanna Hayse

Chapter One




Baylor paused to wipe the sweat off her brow. She glanced up at the blazing sun, cursing the insidious perfection of the day. Even in the middle of October, the desert temperature reached in the miserable high nineties. She had spent the entire night packing the ten foot cargo truck, and still saw no end of her move in sight. "Why can't I be rich and pay someone to do this?" she grumbled aloud. On the other hand, if she were rich, she wouldn't be worried about the ex-landlord kicking her out of her house so that he and his 'financial troubles' could move back in. Greedy bastard. She wondered how much her ex-husband, or his family, had to do with it. The property owner attended the same religious services as her ex in-laws and was a client of her ex father-in-law's prestigious bank, which served the wealthy clientele of Los Angeles.

"Let me help you with that," a man with a soft English accent said from behind her.

Baylor turned to watch him place a cooler filled with ice-cold water bottles on the ground, wipe his hands off on his jeans, and extend it to her to shake.

"Hayden Paterson, ma'am. Welcome to our little neighborhood."

"Baylor Parish. Oh, thank you." She looked at the tall man with surprise as he handed her a bottle of water and proceeded to pull the large box from the truck bed. Baylor forced a smile. The last thing she wanted was a nosey neighbor; it did not matter how cute he was! She had sworn off men for good this time. "You don't need to do that. I'm fine."

"Pleasure is mine, Miss Baylor. Drink up. It's still too hot in the day to be doing this kind of work. Why don't you take a break and wait a couple of hours for that sun to disappear?" Hayden asked, glancing around.

"No time. Gotta turn the damn truck back in and then go back for the rest. I hate moving."

"Don't you have anyone helping you?" the man asked with a frown.

"Nope, just me." She sighed, watching as he lifted a heavy box out of the truck with ease and placed it neatly on top of another.

"That is going to change right now," he said with a grin. "Let me get out of my jeans and I'll be right back."

"No, that's okay. I can—"

He was gone. Damn! Baylor slapped the hot metal of the cargo bay wall while blowing a big, pink bubble with her gum. Why can't I just live in peace without people interfering?

Her eyes widened as Hayden returned, dressed in shorts and a tank top. She chugged her water in an attempt to study him without being obvious. Nicely tanned and clearly either a workout fiend or genetically blessed, Hayden had a smile oozing with boyish charm that melted Baylor's heart quicker that the sweltering heat. She had to admit that it was nice to have some eye candy for once instead of the beer-bellied, lecherous old busybodies from her old neighborhood.

He chatted casually as he resumed unloading the truck into the garage, his arm muscles bulging as he lifted the contents and stacked them neatly against the wall. "You really shouldn't be doing this kind of work on your own. It's too heavy and you could hurt yourself. Don't you have any friends to call on?"

Not missing the subtlety of his question, Baylor popped another bubble and noticed his wince. So, Mr. Cutiepie doesn't like gum chewers? "I just got divorced, and people become scarce when they feel they have to choose between the couple, or the family. No biggie."

"I hate when that happens. It leaves a person feeling quite isolated."

"After being involved with my ex's family, I like being isolated," she commented. "You really don't have to be doing this."

"Of course I do! My job is to rescue damsels in distress," Hayden said and chuckled.

"Are you a fireman or something?"

"Close. I work with the Barstow Desert Team SAR unit. I got transferred out here about a year ago from Washington State."

"SAR?"

"Search and Rescue. We're a specialty division that employs all environment survival experts. We specialize in saving people from themselves," he said, chuckling again. "Our primary victims in these parts are the hikers and off-roaders who tend to disregard the rules, ignore posted signs, and try to defy nature. I'm an instructor on base and deal with the psychology of survival."

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