Chapter 18

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Barlow sat at a wobbly table at The Eight Ball with his boss, Irv Washington. He stuck a butter knife under one of the legs to keep it from shaking. The two men knocked off work early after completing construction on a section of town homes, getting them all under roof. They had caught up for the season and were almost out of work.

In between bites of his pork barbecue sandwich, Barlow filled Irv in on his trip to Pennsylvania and the opportunity to temporarily farm out workers to his late father's construction business.

Irv wore a big smile. "This is serendipity, son. I can hardly believe it."

Barlow set down his sandwich and wiped the corners of his mouth with a napkin. "If guys on our crew are willing to relocate to PA over the winter, there will be jobs for them. My father's construction business isn't officially mine until it clears probate, but once everything is squared away, we can form that partnership you keep bugging me about."

The big man clapped his hands together. "Outstanding!"

"I'm finding out I may have misjudged my old man." That thought made Barlow pick up his mug of beer and finish it off. He held it up for Caroline to see.

She sashayed over and took his mug. "How 'bout you, Irv, you need another?"

"Sure thing, doll." He passed his mug to her. "You don't mind me flirting with your girl, do you, Barlow?"

Caroline looked at Barlow and raised an eyebrow. When had it become commonly assumed that Caroline was now his  girl? "I don't mind as long as she doesn't."

She winked at Irv. "You can call me doll anytime. Doesn't matter what Barlow has to say about it."

Irv winked back. "While you're at it, tune in the big screen to the Buckeye's replay on ESPN."

"You're such a football nut," she said while walking away.

They watched her. "That sweet, young thing is a great catch," Irv said. "You're a lucky man."

Yeah, lucky. Barlow wanted to change the subject. "I'll contact Les Cunningham, my father's foreman, to find out his specific needs and when he can be ready to take on our guys."

Caroline returned with their beers. "I need to get off my feet for a minute. Do you mind if I sit with you?"

Irv pushed out a chair with his foot. "We'd be delighted."

She sat between the two men.

Barlow pointed to his empty plate. "Tell them in the kitchen that my pork sandwich was delicious. Did you eat yet?"

"Too early. I'll grab a bite after happy hour." She faced Irv. "I couldn't help eavesdropping and heard Barlow explain about what's going on in Pennsylvania. Pretty cool, huh?"

"The timing couldn't be more perfect." Irv grew serious. "Uh, Barlow, Sorry man, I didn't mean that your father's death was timely."

Barlow waved him off. "Don't worry about it. I know what you meant."

"Anyway," Caroline continued. "I have a few days of vacation banked and will be riding along with Barlow during his next trip to PA. I've been to Pittsburgh a few times but never to the middle of the state."

"That so?" Irv asked with a big grin.

"You'll be bored," Barlow said. "Perry County is pretty to drive through, but there isn't much to do there."

"You'll find a way to keep me entertained." Caroline stood. "Gotta get back to work."

"I didn't realize things were at that stage between the two of you," Irv said. "Taking overnight trips together."

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