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.”Daniel tossed the ball to his father.Jeremiah caught it with one hand and dribbled for a moment before rifling it back to his son.Dropping his briefcase on the driveway, he shrugged out of his suit coat, rolled up the sleeves of his starched white shirt, loosened his tie and headed for the basketball hoop.Still wearing his tasseled loafers, he would probably fall and crack his tailbone, but so what?“This way, Daniel,” he called.The older boy threw him the ball, and the three of them went at it, just as they always had.Father and sons, orange hoop on the side of the garage, air echoing with the sound of the ball hitting the pavement and the players grunting.Despite the November chill, they were sweating in no time flat.Daniel spotted an opening and put up a shot.“Nothin’ but net!” he crowed, pumping a fist.“Look out, Dad.” Benjamin scooped up the loose ball and dribbled away from the hoop.Jeremiah went for a steal.With a quick move, he swatted Benjamin’s dribble and turned it into his own.Then, in two long strides, Jeremiah slam-dunked the ball through the hoop just as a blue compact turned into the driveway.Lara stared in amazement as the man in business clothes went airborne, stuffed a basketball into the net and landed hard on the pavement.Ballpoint pens flew from his shirt pocket.A cell phone leaped out of its holster on his belt and skidded across the court.His leather-soled shoes came down with a crack, and he nearly lost his footing.But he stayed upright, high-fiving one teenager and swatting another on the back.This boyish, handsome man could not be Jeremiah Maddox.After his son had left her office, Lara ran an Internet search on the architect.Divorced, wealthy, a talented designer, he had drawn the ire of every historical preservationist in the region by tearing down old buildings and erecting new structures in their place.She pictured Maddox as elderly, rigid and as sour as an old lemon, and she had fully expected to dislike him.But this man’s broad grin and playfulness—despite the ridiculous business getup—softened her heart.Bringing her car to a stop in front of the massive stone home, Lara studied the gray facade, soaring slate roof, bank of multipaned windows and heavy oak door.With instinct born of experience, she instantly translated the cost of building such a structure into cauldrons of bubbling maize meal—enough to feed countless starving babies.Or fund vaccinations.Print AIDS education pamphlets.Build orphanages.Lara had spent only two years in the Third World, but the experience had forever changed her.The man in the white shirt stooped to pick up his cell phone as she stepped out of her car.As she walked down the driveway toward the three ballplayers, she focused on the one face she recognized.“Daniel?”“Hey, Dr.Crane!” Spotting her, he grinned.“This is my brother, Benjamin.And here’s my dad, Jeremiah Maddox.”A little stunned at the disclosure that she had been so off the mark about him, Lara turned her attention to the father.“Mr.Maddox, pleased to meet you.I’m Lara Crane, director of the International Student program at Reynolds University.” She held out her hand.Dark brown hair scattered like blown hay across his forehead, sweat dripping from his chin, breath coming in heavy puffs, Jeremiah Maddox stared at their visitor.Blue eyes glittered like ice as he looked her quickly up and down, zeroed in on her lips for a moment, and then jerked his focus back to her eyes.He glanced over his shoulder at his son, and the skin between his brows furrowed.“Daniel didn’t tell me we were having company,” he said.He gave Lara’s hand a perfunctory shake, squeezing a little too hard, she thought.“You told me to talk to Dr.Crane,” the younger man said.“So I did.She’s here to look at the guest cottage.”“Yeah, Dad.” Benjamin gave the basketball in his hands a bounce.“We asked you the other day, remember? You said it would be okay.”“I said I would consider it.”A muscle flickered in Jeremiah’s jaw, and Lara realized this whole event had caught him by surprise.Clearly his sons wanted a student to move into the extra house on the property [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]