“What are you building?” Cab asked.
She noticed the glances the others shot her way. She didn’t want to answer the question. In fact, she was beginning to think coming here at all was a huge mistake. “A kind of shed,” she said finally, shooting a frown toward Autumn.
Autumn’s brows went up at the lie, but she didn’t say anything. Instead, she went behind the kitchen counter and got to work on the cocoa.
“What kind of shed?” Cab asked.
“A shed shed.”
“Ah.” Cab didn’t press her further, but she could tell he was thinking hard. In fact, a second later, he drew a pencil and small pad of paper out of his shirt pocket and started sketching. “What size were you thinking?” he asked. “Eight by ten?”
Her fingers spasmed but she stopped herself before they formed fists. Was he going to draw her a blueprint?
“Not quite so big,” she said. “But I’ve already got plans.”
He didn’t even glance up. “I’d put a window here,” he said, sketching rapidly. “South facing, to get a lot of light. You’ll lose some storage space, but it’ll make the building far more usable.”
“I already have plans,” she repeated.
Rob bent over Cab’s drawing. “You’ll want some shelves there for your smaller tools. Maybe a pegboard, too,” he said, pointing. “Are you going to run water to the place, Rosie? Like for a potting shed?”
A familiar paralysis stole over Rose. This was just the way she felt when Emory barged in and started cleaning the carriage house. This was her cabin they were talking about—her getaway place—so why were Cab and Rob designing it? And why couldn’t she stop them?
Because she couldn’t do so without being rude—without hurting their feelings. And she always put men’s feelings ahead of hers. She couldn’t stop Emory, couldn’t break the lease on the carriage house, couldn’t tell Jason she wanted to go to art school… couldn’t split up with him.
The truth of the matter hit her like a two-by-four to her forehead; she lived her whole life in fear of stepping on anyone’s toes. But the more she pulled herself back and tried to make everyone happy, the closer they all crowded in and until she had no space for herself.
Hence the need for a cabin in the first place.
The cabin now being overtaken by the men.
“I’ve got to go get started,” she squeaked and fled the room. As she shrugged on her jacket and boots she was aware of the silence she’d left behind her. She bolted out the front door and over to her truck where she briefly considered hopping in and driving away.
No. She needed that cabin and once it was built everyone would leave her alone. She only had to put up with a little more interference while she cut the boards. As long as she stuck to her guns, she’d get what she wanted.
By the time the door opened behind her, she’d hauled her circular saw out of the truck bed, along with some lumber. She had a sheet of paper that listed all the lengths she needed to cut. She’d planned everything down to the last board. Hopefully once she was finished here she wouldn’t have to come back.
“Are you okay?” Cab asked, coming up behind her as she set up her newly-purchased sawhorses near the Big House’s outside plug.
“Sure,” she said.
“You left a little abruptly.”
He wasn’t going to let it go, was he? She turned around. “Look, it’s nice that you guys want to help, but I want to do this alone. That’s the whole point.” Cab was silent, but his gaze was on the sawhorses. “What?”
“The cord of that saw isn’t going to reach the outlet. Ethan’s got an extension cord. Want me to get it? He’s got a table saw, too. It’ll do a better job for you than that one.”
Rose counted to five. He’s only trying to help, she told herself. “Why?”
“With a table saw you can line up the cut and you have something to guide the wood against. That circular saw requires you to cut freehand. You probably won’t make the cuts as straight as you’d like.”
Really? She hadn’t known that.
“It’ll only take me a minute to get them,” Cab said.
“Okay,” she said and knew she’d been beaten again.
Cab walked to Ethan’s workshop with a light step. He’d worried for a minute there he’d gotten on Rose’s nerves with his attempt to design the shed, but now that he’d prevented her from using the wrong saw things were back on track. He’d show her his design a little later, when she realized how much he knew about woodworking. He was glad he had the afternoon off. He couldn’t think of a better way to spend it than doing a project with Rose.
Building a shed together. It wasn’t quite the same as building a house, but it was similar. Maybe she’d come to see he was a better partner for her than Jason…
Whoa, time to pull back on that train of thought. He wasn’t trying to undermine Jason. He was only being a good friend. A friend who was somewhat concerned about the idea Rose was building a shed at all. He wondered exactly where she planned to put it. If she was building on Emory’s lot, that meant she expected to stay there a long time. Which meant she had no plans to leave Jason.
Ten minutes later, he set up the table saw, plugged it into the extension cord and turned to Rose. “Okay, what’s first?”
She frowned. “I’ve got it from here, thanks.”
“Just hand me a board and tell me the dimensions you need. I’ll make the cuts for you.” He held out his hand.
“No,” she said, sounding annoyed. “I’ll do it.” She pulled a piece of notepaper out of her pocket, consulted it, put it back and grabbed a two-by-four out of the pile. Cab stepped back as she approached the saw.
“Do you know how it works?” he said, coming up behind her once he’d avoided getting clipped by the board.
“I can figure it out.”
“You’d better mark your cut first. Here’s a tape measure.” He pulled it out of his coat pocket. Lucky he’d thought to grab it from Ethan’s workroom.
“I’ve got one.” She produced a much smaller tape measure from her own pocket. She put the board on the ground, knelt down beside it and made the measurement.
“Remember the saw blade actually takes off a little of the wood as it cuts. You want to set the blade to the side of the mark,” he said.