The thing is, they start way too early. If you ask me, the day shouldn’t start until after eight. But I made the mistake of falling in love with a doctor, and that’s what I get for it. Pre-dawn wake-up calls.

Not that Derek’s a doctor anymore. He quit practicing medicine long before we met. If he hadn’t, we never would have become an item. He would still be married to Melissa, for one thing, and I couldn’t have hired him to renovate my Aunt Inga’s house, for another.

But I digress. All those years of working crazy hours, of pulling 24 hour shifts on little to no sleep and getting up the next morning to do it again, has left my boyfriend with the ability to wake up at the crack of dawn no matter when he went to bed the night before. And he expects me to keep up with him. Even though I’ve always preferred to spend most of my mornings in bed, snuggled under the covers, greeting the day from under a mound of blankets.

And not only does he wake up early, he’s tireless. The man’s a slave driver. He keeps me jumping from early morning to late at night, and he’s usually so preoccupied that he forgets all about lunch. I usually have to remind him, and by then he’s so hungry and cranky he’s a regular bear to deal with until I get some food into him. He’s not much of a conversationalist, either; many are the times I’ve sat across the table from Derek, watching him eat and waiting for him to say something to me, in vain.

We usually work into the evenings, as well. That’s the way it is when you’re in business for yourself. When I first inherited Aunt Inga’s house and Derek and I started dating, we also started working together, and instead of going back to Manhattan and my textile design career, I joined Derek in his home renovation business, Waterfield R&R – renovation and restoration. In the year and a little more that we’ve been together, we’ve renovated five houses, and are just about to get started on number six.

When you’re working for yourself, time becomes of the essence, and we don’t make money until we sell a house. As Derek told me the very first time we met, renovating always takes longer and costs more than you think it will, and so we work all the time. Or at least Derek does. I run off to do a little bit of investigative work sometimes. But we won’t talk about that, because it worries Derek when I put myself in danger by chasing murderers. He’d much prefer to keep me next to him, where he can make sure that nothing happens to me.

I like to be next to him, too. When we’re done working for the day, and we head home to dinner and a movie in front of Aunt Inga’s crackling fireplace, while the Maine winds howl outside the walls and the fall rain lashes against the windows, it’s awfully nice to be able to snuggle up against his side and breathe in the scent of Ivory soap and shampoo, paint thinner and sawdust. And at that point I don’t even care that morning will come all too soon and that he’ll soon be yanking the covers off me and tell me it’s time to get up; we gotta go back to work.

I’m a lucky girl. In fact, I think I might just be the luckiest girl in the world!
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You can read more about Avery Baker in FLIPPED OUT, the fifth book in the “Do-It-Yourself Home Renovation” mystery series. The first book in the series is FATAL FIXER-UPPER.

Bente Gallagher writes the “Do-It-Yourself Home Renovation” mysteries as Jennie Bentley and the Cutthroat Business mysteries as Jenna Bennett. A former Realtor and home renovator, she makes her home in Nashville with a husband and two boys, a hyperactive dog, a killer parakeet, two African dwarf frogs and two goldfish. Originally from Norway, she has spent more than twenty years on US soil and still hasn’t managed to lose her native accent. Visit Jennie at www.jenniebentley.com

** To celebrate the release of FLIPPED OUT, I’m giving away one copy of the book, thanks to the publisher. To enter, you must leave a valid e-mail address in the comment box with your comment. Please break it up by using (at) and (dot), like domain(at)host(dot)com. This is open only to US addresses at the publisher’s request. Contest ends on October 10th at 6pm EST. Winner will be notified by e-mail and has 2 days to respond. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. **

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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