Austen turned at the sound of a vehicle coming up her driveway. A white pickup came barreling down the long, tree-bordered drive, its tires kicking up a cloud of dust behind it. A jolt of alarm shot through her when the driver screeched to a stop beside her truck, sending up more dust.
The door flew open and a man jumped out, slamming his door and storming toward her. He was big and around her age, with short dark hair and a beard. What she could see of the right side of his face was scarred pretty badly, and she recognized the swirling pattern mixed with pockmarks as the hallmarks of a blast injury.
She’d never laid eyes on the man before but it was clear he was pissed. Austen almost backed up a step at the look on his face as he stalked toward her, a twinge of fear twisting up her spine. Except she wasn’t the backing down sort.
She stepped to the front of the porch and crossed her arms over her chest, effectively barring his way to the front door as he reached the bottom of the stairs. “Can I help you?” she asked evenly.
He paused there, his jaw working for a moment. A shaft of sunlight bathed the scarred half of his face, illuminating his thick espresso-colored hair and hazel-brown eyes. “You the real estate agent?”
“No. The owner.”
Shock flickered over his face for a moment. “You’re Austen Sloan?”
“That’s right. Is there a problem?” Because he sure as hell looked like he had one.
He crossed his arms over his chest—his very broad chest—mimicking her pose, his feet braced apart. “Yeah, there is.”
She raised her eyebrows and waited, not about to be intimidated by some local asshole. Nine years as a firefighter had taught her many things, one of the most important being not to take men’s shit just because she was a woman. This guy was big and built, but she wasn’t exactly petite and had long ago stopped letting men use their size and attitudes to intimidate her. “And what’s that?”
“There’s been some kind of mistake. I’ve been waiting to buy this place since the former owner passed away. I was supposed to be informed by the estate’s lawyers the moment this house was listed for sale, and I wasn’t.”
She’d been prepared for this, for someone to want to battle her for the house, because according to her agent, people had been asking the estate to sell the house for years. She just hadn’t expected a confrontation so soon. “I don’t know anything about that, but I assure you I bought it fair and square.”
His jaw flexed and she could see the resentment burning in his eyes. “What did you pay for it?”
“None of your business.”
A pause. “I’ll pay you ten percent over the purchase price to sell it to me.”
More jaw flexing. “Fifteen.”
“No.” She’d fallen in love with this house, with its charm and character and this wasn’t about money. It was about restoring and building a place for her to love and make a home in. “Listen, Mr…”
“Colebrook,” he answered, an impatient edge to his voice. Tension rolled off his big frame, burned in his eyes. He would have been attractive without that scowl, even with the scars.
“Colebrook,” she acknowledged. “I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to bid on the house, but it’s mine now. I bought it legally and I’m not interested in selling to you or anyone else. Now have a nice day.” With that she spun around and headed for the front door.