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.“Hey, don’t put that there.That’s glove leather; easily damaged.”I may have imagined the look of loathing when his eyes met mine, but as his gaze dropped to the picture beside me, relief was the emotion my overtired mind registered in his face.“My frame,” he said, the hint of a smile on his lips.“Your frame?” I raised my brows and tightened my grip.“What are you talking about?”Sean Parker set the ladder up in front of the fireplace before answering, his back to me.“I made it for Jack’s thirtieth birthday.It was a gift.”“Then that makes it my frame.”He turned around and glared, and this time I knew I wasn’t imagining the animosity he felt toward me.“If you say so.”I slid the picture forward and he lifted it in both hands, carefully examining the frame as though reunited with an old friend after many years.Without another word he stepped up the ladder, braced his knees against the top rung, and lifted the picture in place.I couldn’t help remembering the day his son helped me lift it down.Sometimes I’d catch a glimpse of Handel in this man, but more often than not they seemed worlds apart.He pushed the bottom left corner up a quarter inch and tilted his head to look down at me.“Is that straight?” he asked in his raspy voice.I nodded.“It’s fine.” I hated the attitude he was displaying.I was his employer, after all.The man was a bum and out of the kindness of my heart I gave him a job.He could at least appear grateful.“Is there some reason you dislike me, Mr.Parker?” I asked as he stepped down from the ladder.He took his time folding the ladder, a surly slant to his lips.“Ms.Fredrickson, my family owned this winery once and by all rights still should.Instead, my son and I work for you, a woman who has no idea what’s she’s doing.Damn straight, I have reason to dislike you.” He looked up at the painting once more, satisfaction showing in the set of his shoulders.“Does everyone have to like you, or can I just get paid for a job well done?”His sarcasm left me tongue-tied, which wasn’t the impression I liked my employees to have of me.Taking my silence for acquiescence he picked up the ladder and started walking away.I stared up at the pretty landscape, and wondered why I’d ever thought Jack’s abstract too severe.Right now I could definitely use a dose of anger art to validate my rising feelings.“I’ll hook up that garage opener now if you don’t have anything more pressing,” he mumbled snidely over his shoulder as he headed out.Shocked immobile, I stood and stared after him.The bang of the front door made me jump an inch or two.I drew a deep cleansing breath and slowly released it.“Love stinks,” I said, to the empty room.Handel really owed me on this one.*****After retreating to the kitchen, I sat down at the table for a moment and rested my head on my arms.The next thing I knew Mother was shaking me awake.“Honey, are you all right? What are you doing home from the winery already? Don’t you feel well?”I rubbed my hands over my face and blinked sleep away as I straightened up, frustrated that the only time I slept was by accident and never for long.“What time is it?” I asked, ignoring her barrage of questions.She set a grocery sack down and looked at her watch.“Almost three.Did you come over for lunch?” She pulled a carton of milk and a small bag of apples from the sack and stowed them in the refrigerator, then faced me with a frown of disapproval, her hands on her hips.“I see you have that man mowing the lawn.I wish you wouldn’t have let Handel talk you into hiring him.I don’t trust him.And neither should you.”I removed the remaining items from the sack, pleasantly surprised by the purchase of a large bar of dark chocolate.The distant hum of the mower indicated that Sean Parker had finished with the installation of the garage door opener and started in on the grounds.Good.At least I wasn’t paying him just to like me.“I never said I trusted him.Handel and Margaret wanted me to give him a chance, and I am.”“A Christian hand can only go so far with men like that,” she said as she folded the sack and slipped it in the cupboard under the sink.“I can’t believe you said that.What ever happened to forgiveness?” Mother always insisted the world would be a much better place if folks would just learn to forgive.She shook her head.“I’m sure that man has had more than his share of forgiveness from family and friends over the years.Look at his kids offering it to him once again.Like lambs to the shearer.He’ll leave them bloodied and bruised and their coats stolen.”“That sounds awfully cynical coming from you, Mother.Didn’t Jesus say we should forgive up to seventy times seven? You insisted on it.I’m pretty sure I was forced to forgive Adam more times than that.He was always doing something rotten.” I stood up and stifled a yawn.Mother reached out and brushed my hair behind my ear.“I didn’t force you to forgive your brother, honey.And Adam wasn’t that bad.Mr.Parker, on the other hand…” She stopped as though losing her train of thought, then shook her head.“Don’t listen to me.You’re right.Forgiveness is the high road.”I narrowed my eyes.Mother was a forgiving person under normal circumstances.But when it came to people who hurt children, she wasn’t nearly so willing to forgive and forget [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]