The first in the new Petals and Potions series!
Previously published in the Entangled Paranormal anthology. Now get my short story, Sinfully Sweet, for a cool $0.99!
When Chloe bakes a little magic into her pastries, she attracts the attention of Edward, the sexy half-demon, half-witch, who’s come to warn her those who murdered her sister are now after her.
The town of Hickory Hollow was a quiet sleepy out-of-the-way town in east Texas. Location way off the beaten path, it was tucked between the bigger cities of Longview and Mount Pleasant. It was the kind of town in which you stayed at the local bed and breakfast for a night or two. It was the kind of town you passed through and shopped at the local antique. It was not the kind of down to put down roots.
But putting down roots was exactly what Chloe O’Shea did. She pulled into town and opened a bakery almost on the same day.
At four in the morning, she unlocked the door to Sugar Mamma’s Bakery—that name being a bone of contention between her and her landlady—and flipped on the interior lights. She turned on the ovens, gathered her ingredients and started baking for the day.
With a giant yawn that nearly split her head in two, she made orange cranberry scones, a customer favorite. Then the muffins—blueberry, banana nut, poppy seed, bran. Once she had the morning cravings in the glass case ready to go, she whipped up the afternoon favorites. Cupcakes, cookies, mini-tarts and other delectable goodies. During the course of the morning, she made numerous pots of coffee to keep the java-addicted crowd properly caffeinated.
People often asked her what made her bakery so special and popular. She’d smile, flip her blonde hair over her shoulder and say her success was due to her grandmother’s recipes.
That was really not true. She hadn’t baked a day in her life until she landed in Hickory Hollow. She’d had more baking disasters than she could count. Until she decided she needed a secret ingredient—her magic.
The morning customers rolled in as soon as the doors opened at six. By eight, she had sold out of her famous blueberry muffins and scones.
That wasn’t the only thing she anticipated when the eight o’clock hour rolled around. She anticipated seeing him. He showed up around the same time every day. So when her door chime sounded at 8:13 a.m., her gaze flew to the door, nerves raw and heart racing.
He sauntered in with a confident gait, his highly polished boots scuffing on the scarred wooden floor. He wore a black leather jacket and a beige t-shirt that strained over his totally lickable pectorals. Faded denim hugged his thick thighs and a certain rounded package up front at which Chloe tried desperately not to stare.
Who was she kidding? That bulge was hard to ignore.
He was tall, mysterious and devastating. He had thick wavy black hair that curled around his ears and his eyes were the brightest blue she’d ever seen. He had a cleft in his clean-shaven chin and two dimples on either side of his oh-so-kissable mouth. When he spoke, his rich voice rumbled around in a muscular chest, leaving an impression so deep on her he invaded her sleep, turning her dreams into hot, sensual ones she hated waking up from.
Today was the third day he’d come. She’d put on her best smile for him as he approached the counter, stood in line, and then at last was in front of her looking delicious and perfect. Not a hair out of place. No five o’clock shadow. His clothes were impeccable and tidy. His fingernails clean and trimmed. His hands sculpted and muscular.
Normally, she didn’t tune into customers’ emotions. She kept her powers in check. But today, she couldn’t help herself. Today she had to feel him, test him, and see if he was even remotely attracted to her.
Tentatively, she reached out, touching him with her senses. A jolt of sexual eroticism and power zapped her so hard, synapses sizzled in her head. Chloe jerked back, blinking wildly as her eyes watered and burned.
What the hell?
She hadn’t felt a jolt like that in a long time. Uncertainty gnawed at her. Who was he? What did he want? He’d been coming here for three days and she hoped it wasn’t just for her scones. Peering at him closely, she noted he acted as though everything was situation normal. No one else in the bakery seemed to notice anything amiss either. She composed herself quickly so she wouldn’t arouse any suspicions he might have and smiled.
“What will it be today?” she asked.
He pinned her with his gaze before his eyes dropped to her mouth—she licked her lips—and then lifted back up. His mouth quirked a grin showing off those incredible dimples. Chloe was certain she could still hear the sizzle.
“No scones today?” His voice was like a deep rich baritone rumbling through her, vibrating her very soul.
Chloe shrugged. “I’m sold out.”
“Too bad.” He looked at her lips again.
Her palms broke into a heated sweat. She resisted the urge to wipe them on her jeans. “Maybe you’ll have to come back tomorrow.”
“Maybe I will.” He winked. “Since you have no scones, I’ll take a cup of coffee.”
She rang up his order, watched him fill his cup and lusted after this very cute backside, half-ignoring the customer in front of her who seemed oblivious to her drooling. She somehow managed to ring up another pastry.
Perhaps he sensed her looking at him. As he stirred cream and sugar in his cup, he glanced over his shoulder and gave her a wide grin. She felt the flush of heat go all the way up her body, tingling the roots of her hair. She couldn’t help but watch him saunter from the coffee station to the front door, stop and turn around.
“Did you get that? Hello?” The woman in front of her waved her hand in front of her face.
“Oh, yes, yes. Sorry. One coffee, one blueberry muffin, and two chocolate chip cookies. Anything else?”
The man turned and headed back toward her with a purposeful stride. Her skin tingled with anticipation as she shoved the bag of goodies at the woman in front of her and all but shooed her away.