Can't Stand the Heat

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Authors: Shelly Ellis
prayer, the partygoers slowly began to disperse.
    Overall, it had been a good evening for Stephanie. She had handed out about half a dozen business cards and got at least one credible sales lead. As the party finally began to wind down, she made sure to say good-bye to Tisha and Derrick and to avoid running into James again when she noticed him talking to another couple. She had just stepped through the door and was walking down the brick pathway that led to the driveway when she felt someone lightly tap her on the shoulder. She turned to find Mr. Goatee/Deacon Montgomery smiling at her.
    Yes, he was one handsome man—and a nicely dressed one at that. Stephanie had to admit that about the men of the church: Their hearts might lie with the Lord, but they certainly didn’t skimp on themselves when it came to their clothing budgets! This guy was decked out with what looked like a custom-tailored suit, gold cuff links, and a pale blue silk tie. She glanced at his shoes.
    I don’t believe my eyes! Are those Hermès?
    Oh, yes, Deacon Montgomery was most definitely a baller! She was going to have to work her magic on this one.
    â€œSo you’re a real-estate agent?” he asked.
    â€œI most certainly am . . . and one of the best in town. Why? Are you looking to buy or sell a home, Deacon Montgomery?”
    â€œPlease. Please . . .” The smile on his pecan-colored face broadened and he extended his hand to her. “Call me Hank.”
    She shook his large, warm hand and grinned. “Pleased to meet you, Hank.”
    â€œCan I walk you to your car, Miss Gibbons?”
    â€œYou can call me Stephanie. And yes, you can walk me to my car. Thank you.”
    They strolled down the brick pathway that was bordered by white calla lilies and irises on one side and the Baylor family’s pristine lawn on the other. When they reached the driveway, he loudly cleared his throat.
    â€œYou know, I am interested in buying a home . . . maybe even a house that wouldn’t be too far from here. You see, we moved to Chesterton about a year ago—”
    â€œWe?” Stephanie asked with a frown. Was the deacon married?
    â€œYes.” He cleared his throat again. “Me and my . . . my two Jack Russell terriers. They’re like children to me.”
    â€œOh,” she said, nodding again. She breathed a sigh of relief.
    Stephanie had dated married men in the past, but she preferred not to. Husbands came with a lot more drama, and angry wives could be psychotic. He would have to be one special man for her to put up with a crazy housewife.
    â€œI’ve been renting a home for a while, but I think I’m finally ready to purchase something. Lay down some roots.”
    â€œWell,” she said as they approached her BMW, “whenever you’re ready to start your search, please keep me in mind.” She dug into her purse, pulled out one of her business cards, and handed it to him.
    â€œI’d like to start soon.”
    She unlocked her car door and cocked an eyebrow. “How soon are we talking about?”
    Hank licked his lips and drew closer to her. He languidly let his eyes travel over her, lingering meaningfully on her breasts. Finally, he brought his gaze back level with her eyes.
    â€œAs soon as humanly possible,” he whispered. “I’m a man who hates to wait.”
    Stephanie tilted her head. So this was how they were going to play it? Well, she could do a few double entendres, too.
    â€œIf that’s the case, then I think we need to get started right away. Let’s schedule a meeting to discuss the details. I’m interested in finding out what you like . . . what you’re craving.” She smirked up at him. “You should draw up a list.”
    â€œOh, you don’t want that.” He shook his head and laughed. “You’d be surprised at what I’d write down.”
    â€œBelieve me, honey . . .” She opened her car door and

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