Leaving a life of luxury for a typical middle-class existence caused Mary to do jobs she had never done before like clean toilets and wash dishes. She loved those jobs. They relieved stress, and being responsible for a clean home encouraged a sense of pride that was never afforded to her before. Being single and solely responsible for a home brought on newer jobs she never imagined doing in any life. Yard work was tough, but in a twisted way she enjoyed the sense of ownership it gave her. The phone rang, and she welcomed the break but groaned when she said who it was. “Mr. Keller…” “I’m still in the doghouse, huh?” She resisted the urge to giggle. Normally he was the one teasing her, but now it was her turn; it was glorious. “It seems so.” “Are you outside?” “I’m raking the leaves, but this wind is not helping my cause.” “You’re raking leaves?” He chuckled. “Mary Jones, you never cease to amaze me!” “Hmph. Amazing or not, it simply must get done. I can’t have my lawn looking like a derelict lot.” He snorted. “You should have a man to do that for you.” Before her insides got all tingly, and her cheeks warmed up, she thought of the perfect response to catch him off guard. Two could play his game! “Why, Reed! Are you volunteering to come clean up my yard? How good of you!” “Uhhh, heh, that’s not exactly what I meant but–” She couldn’t help but laugh at how successful that repartee was. “You’re laughing at me.” “Someone has to.” She was getting pretty good at this! He gasped dramatically. “Mary Jones! What’s happened to you? You’ve been in the wind too long?” She shrugged. “I learned from the best.” Those words weren’t supposed to come out, but they floated in the air waiting for him to capture and re-purpose them. She had to stop slipping up! “Hmm, I see. Well, have dinner with me tonight, and I teach you all sorts of things, heh.” She almost dropped the phone. Ugh! This man always managed to unravel her like a kitten playing with a ball of yarn. “Uhhh…I have a lot of work to do.” “Good. You’ll need a break after.” “Reed! Why can’t you just accept my decline?” “You didn’t decline. And, I know you want to accept.” She couldn’t refute that. “I’ll leave you to your yard work and try you again soon. Have a good night, Mary.” As if she wasn’t already having a hard time, the rain began a bit earlier than the weather report predicted. She hadn’t been pursued that hard since high school! Reed saw through her and was not going to take no for answer. Why did she keep turning him down? The whole situation was so exhausting.