Crossed wires, p.1
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       Crossed Wires, p.1

           Fran Shaff
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Crossed Wires

  By Fran Shaff

  Classic Contemporary Romantic Comedy

  Crossed Wires by Fran Shaff

  All rights reserved

  Coypright 2010 by Fran Shaff

  Characters, names and incidents used in this story are products of the imagination of the author and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.

  August, 2010

  Discover Fran Shaff books and short stories available in e-format, paperback and hardcover by visiting her website at:

  E-mail Fran Shaff at:


  Hank Garcia left his tools in the van. The work order the office had given him didn’t specify what kind of wiring problem his next customer had, and he really didn’t care. After the way his secretary Lizzie Lancelot had been mixing up his calls since she’d become engaged two weeks ago, he was ready to quit.

  He shut the door of his van a little more forcefully than he’d intended.

  Unfortunately, he couldn’t quit his job. He was the owner of Garcia’s Electric.

  He’d love to fire Lizzie, but she was his niece. And he’d promised his sister…never mind what he’d promised Louise. He couldn’t fire Lizzie.

  It’d be nice if he could close the business until after Lizzie’s wedding. Maybe then his secretary would be operating at her normal, efficient capacity. Maybe, but he wouldn’t count on it.

  Hank walked up the steps leading to the porch and wished he didn’t posses such a strong work ethic. If he had the ability to simply forget this call, he’d have the guts to play hooky. He badly needed a little r and r.

  He tucked his gray tee shirt into his jeans and rang the bell next to the front door of the white two-story house. While he waited for a response he admired the black shutters. The owner was doing a nice job maintaining the house, he mused. He appreciated owners who took pride in their homes.

  He rang the bell again. A few seconds passed before a young woman answered his call.

  “Hello,” she said smiling up at him. “You’re a little early, but that’s okay. I’m ready.”

  Hank’s breath caught, and he could feel his eyes doubling their size as he looked down at the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. “I beg your pardon?” he said when he regained his ability to speak.

  She flicked her slender fingers through her short, dark hair. “I said I’m ready.” He watched her full, red lips as she spoke. She was absolutely stunning.

  “Ready?” he stammered. Blast! Why was he acting like such an idiot? He’d met tons of beautiful women in his life. Not one of them had ever thrown him off balance like this one had.

  Her eyes started to sparkle, and a smile lit her face. She held out a delicate hand. “I’m Melanie Baker.”

  As Hank grasped her warm, silky fingers, he felt his insides turning to jelly. “Hank Garcia.”

  “Very nice to meet you, Hank. I am so pleased you could come by today,” she said, drawing back her hand. She straightened the collar on her turquoise sleeveless shirt.

  “No problem, Miss Baker.” He cleared his throat in an attempt to restore the composure Miss Baker’s aura of beauty had stolen from him. “I’m afraid I’m not sure what you have in mind. Would you please explain?”

  She picked up a small duffle bag which had been sitting on a chair near the door and slung it over her shoulder. “I have a nice surprise for you,” she said as she joined him on the porch. She closed the front door and locked it before she faced him again. “I hope you like hiking.”

  “Hiking?” What was she talking about?

  “Yes. When Cynthia told me you’re an outdoorsman, I figured you might enjoy the guided hike at Bear Lake State Park.”

  “Bear Lake State Park? The park north of town?” The job she wanted him to do was in a park? He could work in a park, but why were they hiking to the job, and who the heck was Cynthia?

  “Yes, I’m sure you’ve been there.”

  He shrugged. “Of course.” He just hadn’t remembered the name of the park. He wasn’t remembering much of anything since he’d looked into Miss Baker’s emerald green eyes.

  As she stood looking up at him, she raised her hand to his shoulder. “You seem a bit nervous. Please, don’t be anxious, Hank. I know blind dates are difficult, but I think we’ll have a great time.” She placed the hand she’d had on his shoulder into the pocket of her white shorts. “Like you, I love the outdoors. In fact, I’ve hiked in the state park dozens of times. I go fishing and scuba diving there as well.”

  Date? She thought he was her blind date? “Miss Baker, I think we have a misunderstanding.”

  She withdrew her hand from her pocket and gave it a casual wave. “Oh, of course. I should have asked if you’d rather do something besides hiking. It’s just that I hadn’t taken the guided hike, and I’ve really wanted to take it. I am sort of a botany enthusiast, and I haven’t identified all the plants on the trails yet.” She gave him a sweet smile. “Would you rather go scuba diving?”

  “Miss Baker,” he said, only half listening to what she said, “I don’t think we--wait a minute. Did you say scuba diving?” Her words finally began to register.

  “Yes, and, please, call me Melanie. A dive shop opened last spring near the park. We can rent gear and a boat there.”

  He’d been saving up for scuba gear ever since Lizzie and Louise had talked him into getting his certification earlier in the year. “I love scuba diving.”

  “You do?”

  “Absolutely!” What was he saying? What was he doing? If he pretended to be this woman’s blind date, he’d be the jerk of the year.

  But he loved scuba diving, and he needed an afternoon off. He had the time, too, thanks to the mess Lizzie had made of his schedule again.

  “It’s settled then. We’ll go diving instead of hiking,” she said, giving him another of her man-melting smiles.

  “Why not?” He placed his hand on her back and urged her to cross the porch.

  She stopped half way between the front door and the steps and turned round to look up at him. She quirked a brow and gave him a puzzled look. “I thought Cynthia told me you had black hair and blue eyes.”


  He swallowed hard and nervously drove his fingers through his curly brown hair. But before he could begin his explanation, she went on.

  “Don’t get me wrong,” she said, laying her hand on his forearm, “I love brown eyes.”

  Hank knew her hand should not be on his arm. He knew he should straighten out this mix up. But his sense of fair play seemed to be out to lunch. His work facade had blown away, and his date persona was taking over. “Emerald green eyes like yours are true gems,” he said, giving her one of his most charming smiles. Okay, sometimes he got a little corny on dates.

  “Oh, Hank,” she said, playfully tapping his forearm. “You’re going to make me blush.” She linked her arm with his and tugged him to the steps. “We’d better get going before all the scuba gear is rented.” She took a few steps before she turned toward him again, dropping his arm. “You know, I must be really scatter brained today. I thought Cynthia said your name was Bill or Bruce or Brad, something with a ‘B.’”

  Her comment hit him like a sledgehammer to the gut. He had to put an end to this charade. “Melanie, there is something I need to tell you.”

  “Yes, Hank?”

  It would be a lot easier to tell
her the truth if she wasn’t the most perfect woman he’d ever met. She wasn’t only beautiful she was full of life, so free and happy. And she liked to scuba dive. “It isn’t easy to say, Melanie.”

  She bit her lip as an awful look of apprehension settled on her lovely features. “You don’t like me.” She held her hands up in front of her and took a step back. “It’s all right, Hank. Believe me I’ve been on a few blind dates I would rather forget. It’s no fun going out with someone who is just not your type. I’m glad you feel uninhibited enough to speak up at the beginning of our date. I certainly wouldn’t want to put you through the agony of trying to look like you’re having a good time, when all you really want to do is get the date over with.”

  Hank would have been less surprised if he’d seen her sprout wings and fly away than he was hearing her jumping to such an unbelievable conclusion. “Melanie, you couldn’t be more wrong. If I had a choice of being anywhere else or of
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