Broken dreams...shattered hearts...a special recipe...
Following the tragic, sudden death of her parents, Kate Spencer broke off her engagement from high school sweetheart Logan Daniels, just weeks before their wedding. She chose, instead, to remain in Mount Ridge, Tennessee to raise her younger sisters and help keep the family together. Now, with her sisters grown, she spends her days at family-owned Sweet Treats Bakery, hiding a wounded heart in the sweet confections she creates. Logan Daniels left town when Kate broke his heart, but now he's come home to claim what he lost four years ago, and he won't stop until he gets what he came for...Kate's kisses.
A happy heart makes the face cheerful.
Kate glanced at the clock on the wall over the pastry case and frowned. Her older sister, Mattie was nearly a half hour late…and she was never late. Sweet Treats bakery was her life…and passion. Something was wrong, and the idea caused a platoon of chills to march up Kate’s spine.
She dipped the last ruby-red cherry into dark chocolate fondue, stepped back to survey her handiwork, and then took a precious moment to sigh with satisfaction. This was the best batch of delectable confections she’d ever prepared, by far. She had finally gotten the hang of the delicate process of combining ripe cherries, rich sweet cream, and chocolate, and the result was worth the effort. The new recipe would work nicely into the growing line of sweet-shop selections.
Kate reached for a towel and wiped beads of chocolate from her hands, then delved into the pocket of her apron for her cell phone. She’d give Mattie a quick call and see what was causing the hold-up.
As Kate speed-dialed, the bell on the bakery’s door jangled. A cool breeze filled the room as the door swooshed open, and she glanced up to see Mattie rush in. She wasn’t wearing a jacket to ward off the early-spring chill, and her white cotton blouse was rumpled and untucked from the waistband of navy slacks—highly unusual. Though often casual, Mattie’s appearance was unfailingly neat. Kate frowned. One of the shoelaces on her sensible tennis shoes had come untied, and it flopped with each step.
“What happened to you?” Kate rushed to her sister’s side and placed a hand on her shoulder. “You’re barely even dressed for the chill this morning, and you’re pale as a pastry box. Are you sick?”
Breathless, Mattie shook her head. Her eyes were huge, onyx-black saucers. Kate couldn’t imagine what had her so rattled. Mattie was the most unflappable of the four sisters. She had to be—she was the oldest.
“Take a breath before you pass out.” Kate grabbed the hem of her sister’s blouse and tucked it into her slacks, then smoothed the fabric. “Whatever it is, it can’t be that bad. I’ll handle things here. You go on back home.”
“N-no.” Mattie paced the length of the pastry case as she struggled with the words. “He’s coming.”
She paused and nodded toward the door. Her sleek raven hair, woven into a neat braid, shimmered in sunlight that cascaded through the expansive front window. She pointed as she fought to catch her breath. “Him—Logan Daniels.”
“L-Logan?” Kate followed Mattie’s gaze and her heart caught at the sight of him striding across the two-lane street, his long legs eating up the ground between them. His dark hair curled in waves around the collar of his navy polo shirt and smoke-gray eyes seemed to be searching for something through the storefront glass.
Could it be…her? “Oh, Mattie, you can’t let him in. I don’t want to see him again—ever. Not after…” The room suddenly began to darken and whirl, and Kate grabbed the counter.
“Easy there.” Mattie took hold of Kate’s arm as she began to tremble. “I’ve got you. Maybe it’s best that you talk to him. Just air things out. The way it ended between the two of you, well, you need closure, Kate.”
“No.” Kate drew a deep breath and waited for the dizziness to pass. Her skin flashed hot and then cold as the aroma of maraschino cherries swirled around her. “What I need is to lock the door.”
“Nonsense.” Mattie frowned. “We never lock the door to our customers.”
“But he’s—he’s not a customer. He’s…” Exasperated, Kate reached for a chocolate-covered cherry and popped it into her mouth. The chocolate soothed a bit. She drew a breath. “What’s he doing here…in Mount Ridge?”
“Your guess is as good as mine.” Mattie pressed a cool palm to Kate’s cheek. “Gather yourself, Kate, because we’re about to find out.”
The bell over the shop door jangled as Logan stepped inside. His gaze found Kate, and when he smiled, heat flared in her belly. To her utter dismay, her insides melted into a puddle of hot paraffin. She felt paralyzed as his gaze wavered between her and Mattie.
“Hello, Mattie.” His deep voice was as smooth as warm caramel.
“Logan.” Mattie’s gaze held his as she drew an apron from the box beneath the counter and tied it around her waist. Kate knew by the way her sister twisted and re-twisted the apron strings that Logan’s sudden appearance had Mattie just as nervous, but Mattie seemed to dismiss the anxiety as she turned toward the stairs that led to the storage room. She waggled her fingers at Kate. “It’s…well…you two have a nice little chat. I’ll…be upstairs.”
“Wait!” Kate sputtered. “I need—”
“You’ll figure it out.” Mattie nodded curtly, and then started a hasty retreat up the stairs. “Stock’s waiting.”
Kate smelled the clean scent of Logan. Soap mingled with aftershave so familiar that it hurt. He turned to her, his eyes like two smooth stones beneath a tumble of dark hair. “Hi, Katie.”
“You’re gone nearly four years, and that’s all you have to say?” Tears burned her eyes, and she wasn’t sure whether she wanted to drench him in a pan of simmering chocolate or throw her arms around him and smother him with kisses. No one had called her Katie in years. In fact, no one ever called her Katie…except him. “Wh-what do you want, Logan?”
His gaze held hers for the longest moment, and then he motioned to the tray of sweet cherry kisses she’d just finished preparing. “I’ll take a couple of those...for starters.”
firstname.lastname@example.org (Wednesday, 19 December 2012) Rating: 5 Kate Spencer is the second oldest of four daughters who have lost their parents in a...
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