Desire by Design - By Paula Altenburg

Chapter One

Evangeline Doucette tipped back in her office chair, closed her eyes, and plotted the mayor’s assassination.

While she’d never actually act on it—she felt certain—plotting it was her personal form of therapy. Mayor Bob Anderson was one of the few people she’d ever worked with who completely ignored the fact that once a bid for the work was accepted and the contract signed, there was a budget that needed to be followed. It was a little frightening to think of him running a city, although it certainly explained a few things to Eve. Did City Council even know how many changes to the new City Hall design he’d already authorized?

As a project manager for Sullivan Construction, the company that won the tender for the new building, it was her job to keep the stakeholders informed of any risks and budget concerns. She’d tried, but it didn’t help that her boss, Connor Sullivan, was good friends with the mayor—he didn’t seem to want to listen to her concerns, either.

“It will all work out, Eve,” Connor had said when she’d brought it up at their last meeting.

But it will all work out wasn’t a good risk-management strategy, and Eve had a lot riding on this upcoming project. She was one of the few project managers in the region who was also a qualified draftsman, and since the City Hall project was a design/build contract, Connor had placed her in charge of the design. In fact, she’d even drawn up the preliminary blueprints they’d sent in with the response to the tender.

The same ones the mayor kept changing.

A shrill wolf-whistle from outside jarred her concentration and brought her back to Sullivan Construction’s current project, a new federal government office tower. Eve’s eyes popped open, and her chair’s front legs thudded to the floor. Leaning over, she peered beneath mini-blinds that were keeping the hot afternoon sun from beating into the stuffy, portable trailer that served as the on-site headquarters.

A few of the crew had gathered around a low stone wall overlooking the quiet Halifax side street. An attractive young woman in a short Lycra skirt and skin-tight halter-top was scurrying down the opposite sidewalk from the construction site, pretending to ignore her appreciative audience.

Eve muttered under her breath. Leaping from her chair, she yanked open the trailer door, stepped out into bright afternoon sunshine, and marched toward her crew.

“Hey,” she called to the gathered men.

The young woman on the street was forgotten as they turned, en masse, and Eve had to work hard not to smile at the sea of repentant expressions before her. She’d seen those same looks before, yet it never made a bit of difference.

She folded her arms across her chest and tried to add a few extra inches to her overall height—which would still leave her by far the shortest person in the group. They might not mean any harm, but they had no idea how it felt to be a woman on the receiving end of their enthusiastic attention. This had to stop.

“Guys, I’m tired of fielding complaints because you harass every woman who goes by,” she said. “What if that were your wife or daughter? How would you like it then? Would you find it as amusing if I whistled at all the men who went by on the street? Or at you?”

As luck would have it, Eve spied a good-looking and attractive example approaching. There was a chin-up, eyes-forward purposefulness to him that spoke of someone comfortable with his own masculinity. He had the whole tall, dark, and handsome thing working for him in a way that caught her eye and made her look twice. While she couldn’t see the finer details from this distance, he had short black hair, cropped close on the sides with a bit of curl to it on top, and an angular, even-featured face that no doubt photographed well.

Definitely worth that second glance. He didn’t look like the type who’d need to whistle at a woman to get her attention. Not in that expensive, probably Italian, suit. No, more likely he’d have most women wanting to whistle at him.

Well, why not?

She elbowed her way through the crew, pushed up her checked-flannel shirtsleeves, and leaned over the short stone barrier.

“Hey, baby!” She punctuated her words with a wolf-whistle of her own that would have made her brothers proud. “Bring some of that over here!” She didn’t bother taking note of the stranger’s reaction but whirled back to face the speechless crew so she