A Proposal & Pumpkin Pie — Out Now!
Sweet Holiday Novella
Welcome to Starlight Hills! Mountain views, small town charm, and one little bake shop, where romance is always on the menu.
Lacey Andrews is focused on her city life and her CPA career. The last thing she wants is a relationship and up to now she’s managed to dodge her mother’s increasingly desperate attempts at matchmaking. But it’s Thanksgiving, and for Lacey that means family, the magic of walking through crisp fall leaves, and the Bitty Bake Shop’s pumpkin pies. So she’s heading back to Starlight Hills for the holiday. Only this year, she suspects coming home alone might be a big mistake.
Kane O’Brien learned the hard way that being chivalrous only ends in betrayal and pain. He’s been an outsider in Starlight Hills since the Andrews family turned the town against him twelve years ago. While he’s done his best to rebuild his life and his auto repair shop, he’s never quite outrun his turbulent past. Now he no longer believes in family traditions or holiday celebrations.
But a chance encounter in the Itty Bitty Bake Shop, a shared pumpkin pie, and one crazy proposal could make this the holiday that changes everything.
“That your little tin can of a car blocking traffic?”
The low rumble of his voice interrupted her train of thought. Was he talking to her? She turned in her chair, surprised to find him looking directly at her as he leaned forward with one elbow on the table. Strands of wavy, dark hair blocked his left eye, while the other eyebrow arched mischievously over the bright blue orb of the other.
Her throat closed on the last bite of pie she’d swallowed, her mouth going dry. After all these years, Kane O’Brien still made her nervous. “It’s a hybrid, not a tin can.”
“Fancy name for something that probably can’t get out of its own way.” He swiped at the lock of hair covering his eye and glanced out the front windows.
She fiddled with the scarf around her neck, noticing the way his lips curled into a half-smile. “A guy ran a red light. The accident had nothing to do with the ability of my car to get out of its own way.”
“If you say so.” He shrugged and took a bite of his pie.
“It wasn’t a matter of being able to get out of my own way. My light had just turned green. It was the other person’s fault. He hit me.” She turned her back, not planning to defend her choice of vehicle to him any more than she already had.
“If you called Ned, you’ve probably got time to eat a whole pie.”
“I’ll be fine. Thanks.”
“He’s up on the highway; I passed him on the road. He’s probably gonna be a while. I could have a look at your vehicle or give you a ride home.”
Lacey put down her fork and swiveled in her chair to face him again. “On the back of your motorcycle?”
“I’m not in a hurry. I can wait.”
Kane scraped the last bits of pie from his plate and took it back to the counter. With determined strides, he approached her table and pulled out the chair across from her, flipped it around, and straddled it, resting his arms across the back. The errant lock of hair fell across his left eye again, but he didn’t bother to swipe at it this time. The half-smile grin she remembered from high school instantly took her back to the days of watching him in the hallway. The familiar butterflies of a schoolgirl crush on the bad boy seemed to appear from nowhere. Twelve years and she still loved his smile.
He drummed a finger against the sleeve of his jacket, his eyes intently focused on hers. “My bike is right out front. Or are you afraid someone might see you? Afraid of ruining your pristine, good-girl rep?”
Forget the butterflies. Her stomach seized into a lead ball as heat rose from the base of her throat. She swallowed and carefully measured her words. “I’m not afraid. It’s just a little cold to be on a motorcycle.” She smacked her lips together to keep them from trembling, but she didn’t look away.
He quirked a brow and shifted in his seat, a challenge clearly brewing behind his cool visage. “Still playing it safe, living up to the family standards? Probably just as well, anyway. I hear Simon Deville was invited to your house for the holiday dinner.”
Simon Deville? Was her mother crazy? She’d turned down his advances dozens of times over the last ten years, and now she was going to be expected to sit across the Thanksgiving table from him and engage in small talk? No way. She simply couldn’t subject herself that particular brand of holiday torture. Not this year. This matchmaking had to end.
Kane’s challenge still hung heavy in the air. The amused twinkle in his eye sent a zing along her spine and sparked an idea. An insane idea at best, yet there it was, a fully formed crazy plan that her mother would never see coming.