Smitten by Janet Evanovich

Smitten

By Janet Evanovich

234 pages

This edition was published by HarperTorch (2006)

Lizabeth Kane was a single mother with two sons aged eight and ten respectively. After settling her divorce with Paul Kane, she moved to a (dilapidated) old Victorian house at a quaint neighbourhood.

When she was married, Lizabeth had been a stay-at-home mother. But now, without a husband, she really needed to find a job in order to support herself and pay the rent and bills. Unfortunately, she had no relevant skills needed in many jobs, and thus, was considered quite unemployable. Until she found Matt Hallahan’s establishment.

Matt was a contractor for several house-building projects in the neighbourhood, and had advertised a vacancy for the position carpenter. He was taken by surprise when Lizabeth came to apply for the job – she, in fact, had no related experience to work as a carpenter. In the first place, Lizabeth was only interested to apply for the job because it was very near her home and the working hours will not interfere with her domestic schedule. She was also hoping that the position was an entry-level job, and thus, did not require specific skills or experiences.

Matt accepted Lizabeth’s application, but the decision was done out of pure lust: he was totally smitten with Lizabeth from the first moment he saw her.

On the first few days of Lizabeth’s employment, Matt assigned her to do only simple tasks – and he was there almost all the time, hovering around Lizabeth to monitor her work (and to be near her). Lizabeth was quite contented with her job, and she liked having Matt as her employer, too.

But soon enough, Matt began to advance on Lizabeth, and his moves had come out too strong. Lizabeth did like Matt, but to commit to a serious relationship so soon was too overwhelming for her. It had been only six months ago that Lizabeth came out of her loveless marriage of ten years, and she was determined to focus on rebuilding her life with her two sons Billy and Jason. Lizabeth wanted to ‘find herself’ first before embarking on another romantic relationship.

Matt visited Lizabeth’s home from time to time to help her renovate and repair the old residence for free. Lizabeth’s Aunt Elsie, who lived with her for the summer, as well as Billy and Jason, all liked Matt very much. Elsie always invited Matt to have meals with the family. Billy and Jason thought Matt was so cool and they liked to play with him. In fact, Billy and Jason liked Matt more than they do their own father. But still Lizabeth refused to open her heart towards a new relationship.

Not long after she moved into the neighbourhood, Lizabeth began to receive the unwanted attention of a flasher. Almost every night, a man who wore nothing but a tie, shoes, and covered his head in a paper bag, would stand in her garden and flashed a light over his naked body for Lizabeth to see. If Lizabeth did not notice his arrival, he would pelt her bedroom window with small stones in order to get her attention. Even on rainy nights, the flasher would still be there.

Lizabeth had called the police every time the flasher came to her house, but the police never succeeded in catching him. Matt, overly protective of the woman he loved, insisted that he moved in to Lizabeth’s house to protect her from the flasher. Lizabeth and Matt became closer since, but even then, she still had reservations about being committed in a serious relationship.

One night, the flasher appeared again and Matt had raced out of the house to catch him without realizing that he, too, was stark naked at the moment. Unfortunately, the flasher managed to escape yet again, and Lizabeth’s neighbours had come out in droves when they heard the commotion. As a result, the naked Matt was the one discovered in Lizabeth’s garden. Some began to think that Matt was the flasher.

Embarrassed for being discovered having a man lived with her, Lizabeth quickly created a cover-up story by claiming that Matt was her new husband trying to help catch the real flasher. Everyone in the neighbourhood believed the story and Lizabeth and Matt had no choice but to play husband-and-wife – much to Matt’s enjoyment.

The flasher did not appear at Lizabeth’s window again after words got out about her being newly-married to Matt.

One day Lizabeth and Matt organized a barbecue and invited everyone in the neighbourhood. Their initial reason for the barbecue was to get to know everyone and maybe to uncover the identity of the flasher. The neighbours, of course, thought it was a special occasion to celebrate Lizabeth and Matt’s wedding.

During the barbecue, Lizabeth identified a man who had the same built and carriage as the flasher. The man had also stared at Lizabeth during the barbecue, raising suspicions about him really being the flasher. Elsie managed to get to talk with the man – whose name was Richard – and discovered that he actually knew Lizabeth’s ex, Paul Kane!

The fact had angered Lizabeth and she confronted Richard soon after the event. It turned out that Richard had met Paul at an event some time ago, and Paul had told him that Lizabeth was looking for a new husband and that she had a preference for exhibitionists. So Richard gave a try to get Lizabeth’s attention, but he soon found it too bothersome. Richard felt like an idiot for standing naked in the night, and the deed was also risky. Richard was sincerely relieved when he learnt that Lizabeth and Matt were now an item.

Matt assumed that Paul had wanted Lizabeth married off as soon as possible so he could get out of his divorce settlement, and so he used poor Richard as bait. Lizabeth decided to let Richard off the hook and not hold a grudge against him.

After the case of the flasher was solved, Lizabeth had suddenly felt enlightened about really accepting Matt as her husband. Finally, Lizabeth and Matt got married for real not long after.


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