Title The Casserole Dish
Author Amey Zeigler
Genre Women’s Fiction with Romance
One broken woman. One broken house. One broken neighborhood. And one casserole dish to fix them all.
After a bitter divorce, house rehabber Lisa Bennigan needs a fresh start with her three kids. When she inherits a house in St. Louis, she soon discovers she's out of her depth. Will she be able to rehab the house on her own?
Country boy, Jackson Tydell, needs something to shake him from his rut. Living alone with his dog, Marshall, he's working from home, wearing the same sweatpants and t-shirt everyday. When an interesting woman moves into the house behind him. He's intrigued and offers to contribute his skills. Will their friendship blossom into something more?
When the neighborhood erupts into gossip about her, Lisa is thrown into despair. Can she ever out-live her husband's shameful past? Can a slightly magical casserole dish heal their neighborhood? Or will Lisa need to move again?
This book discusses issues facing women: depression, pregnancy loss, divorce, infidelity, and transitions to retirement.
At the injured section of the fence, she measured the length of pipe needed. With the hacksaw, she cut the right length from the new pipe, then cut the bent portion out of the fence. All by herself. Not too bad. Who needed Keith? Sweat dripped down her face. And her hair clung to her in the humidity.
A noise drew her attention to the yard. The back neighbor held back the curtain on his sliding glass window, watching her. What was his name? Jackson? She continued without greeting him, focusing solely on the task at hand.
On the grass, she crimped the edges of the new length of pipe with pliers, then stuck it into the end of the freshly cut pipe on the fence line and hammered it for good measure. Then she stuck in the other side.
Perfect fit. She nodded in satisfaction. Now to attach the chain-link. This required strength. With the claw of the hammer, she coaxed the interwoven metal upward, close to the new pipe. With so much sweat on her hands, her grip kept slipping off the rubber-handled hammer. She held the top of the chain-link and, using the talons of the claws, drew the links toward her.
When it continued to slip from her hands, either from sweat or from humidity, she swore. Why had she sent Ethan inside? A teenage boy with some muscle would be really handy about now.
She set the hammer on the top rail as leverage to ease up the chain-link. The hammer slipped, and she pinched her fingers between the hammer and the rail. She yelped in pain, and dropping the hammer, brought her hand to her mouth, biting back pain.
“You all right?” a voice said from the other side of the fence.
Without even glancing up, Lisa knew who spoke. Her face flushed before she nodded, avoiding eye contact.
Jackson crossed the yard wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt—maybe even the same shirt as yesterday. In the middle of the day. Didn’t the man work? Or he off today?
After bending to retrieve the hammer which had fallen on his side, he passed it over the fence.
At last, Lisa met his gaze as she received her hammer. His eyebrows peaked with concern. And admiration? In the sunshine, his amber eyes weren’t as fierce as before. And quite attractive.
“I’m impressed you’re doing this yourself. Don’t you have help?”
Huffing, Lisa hooked the top of the fencing again. “Thank you. But I’ve got it,” she said through grunts.
Without a word, he braced his hands against the chain-link from his side, bolstering it into shape, holding it into place. With his help, she tied the first wire around the top rail.
“Thank you.” She twisted wire around both the fence and the rail in several places with the pliers. “If the fence wasn’t so bent, it would’ve been easier to do.”
The top rail still sagged, but at least it hung mostly true again.
He nodded and stood back a pace.
She stepped back to admire her work. And the neighbor. He helped, even if she didn’t need it. “Thank you.”
“You’ve bought Maybelle’s place?” He leaned his elbows on the newly fixed fence.
Bought was a dicey term. No one searching the comps or tax records would find a transfer of sale. “I inherited it. Did you know her?” Lisa changed the subject, but wondered about the older woman who collected so much stuff. Keith rarely spoke of his grandma. All she knew about her she discovered about her in the house: she was a hoarder and bought pretty things.
He picked at his beard absentmindedly. Something about his relaxed manner calmed her.
“She was a sweet old lady. We used to chat across this fence a while back before she got ill. Your grandma, I assume?”
“Yes.” She told a half lie. Maybelle was her grandma by marriage, but she didn’t want to mention Keith or the divorce.
“My name’s Jackson Tydell, by the way.” He thrust a hand across the fence and brushed his bangs back with the other.
Jackson warmed to her. And it wasn’t just his kind eyes. “Lisa Bennigan.” They shook hands over the fence they quarreled over yesterday. Today’s encounter improved all around—straight fence instead of a leaning one, a friend instead of an enemy. Warmth spread through her. She wondered if she should offer him something for his help—a drink, maybe. Was that appropriate?
Lisa glanced at his hands. He wasn’t wearing a ring, but many men didn’t wear one. He could be an electrician or machinist. She opened her mouth to ask what he did for work, or if he had a family.
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Amey Zeigler is an award-winning author of romantic comedies and myst