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She opened her chair, facing the water, and sat down. “Oh, here, I almost forgot. Goodies from Aunt Elizabeth.”

She took containers of cookies and homemade candies out of her bag and handed them to Maggie.

“Thank you. I’ll call my aunt later to thank her. What branch of the service are you in again?”

“She’s at Camp Pendleton,” Katrina said. “That’s the Marines, right?”

“Oh, right. I don’t know what Camp Pendleton is. I’ve never been west of the Mississippi.”

Bridget laughed out loud. “Me too, until I got stationed out there. My uncle was like a kid going to see Papa Noel when he was gettin’ ready to come here to your place this morning.”

“I’m sure Justin appreciates the help,” Maggie said.

“What’s the barn for?” Bridget asked.

“You know Justin is a veterinarian,” Maggie explained. “We want to open a clinic here, but we needed the barn first.”

“Can you take me to see it?”

“Sure,” Maggie said. “Follow me.”

Bridget slipped a demure sundress over her head. “I had this on before, but I’d gone into the water to grab a fender that had come untied.”

“I’m sure Val enjoyed the view from the rear,” Katrina replied, and they all laughed.

They walked down the dock and beyond the cottage to the construction site.

“Yikes,” Bridget said when she saw the working men, flaring her nostrils. “Do you have to be hot to work on this thing?”

“Pretty much,” Maggie said. “You know who your cousins are. Anyone else, go for it.”

“Who’s the blond?”

“Luke Esprit. Single and available. I’ll introduce you.”

Katrina saw the electricity between Luke and Bridget right away; they had grinned at each other and grabbed hands to shake, laughing at how corny it might have seemed.

“I think it’s because they could be brother and sister,” Maggie said. “I just realized it. Look at them!”

“Barbie and Ken,” Katrina whispered.

“My work here is done,” Maggie said, laughing and brushing her hands off.

At the end of the work day, Bridget wasn’t finished with Luke. She’d been watching him while he worked, talking to him when he took a break to drink iced tea and sample the cookies she’d brought from Aunt Elizabeth.

Luke washed up at a spigot at the side of the cottage. Bridget approached him again, hopeful they’d talk more now that his focus wasn’t on power tools.

“I wanted to see you again before you leave,” she said.

“So, you’re Val’s niece?”

“I am. You know Val?”

“Sure. When he was renovating his house, I helped with some of the work that required two men. I was just a helper, though. Make that clear. Val doesn’t want anyone thinkin’ he needed more than just an extra pair of hands.”

“Is that right? I didn’t realize he was so proud,” she said, laughing. “I’ll be sure and avoid that topic.”

“Thank you. I appreciate it.”

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