Title: A Slice of Summer
Author: Melissa McClone
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance
First, he ghosted her. Now, he has a proposition… Taryn Lawson needs more customers in her bakery to prove she’s capable of taking over the family business. The summer fair is the perfect opportunity to jump-start her vision with a specialized booth showcasing her creative desserts. Despite her fierce work ethic, she needs help to build her booth in time. Unfortunately, the only person available is the handsome attorney who played with her heart last Christmas. Trial attorney Garrett Andrews regrets not contacting the pretty baker he dated during his last holiday vacation. But he had his reasons and is finally ready to make amends. When he returns to town for his sister’s wedding, Garrett gets his second chance when Taryn needs help building her booth. Working together reignites the spark, but Taryn is aware the clock is ticking. Will they realize what they have is special before it’s too late, or will their second chance at love once again slip through their fingers?
He studied Margot’s list. Only one stopped remained—Lawson’s Bakery.
As he opened the door, a bell dinged. Not the jingling he remembered. The smell, however, hadn’t changed. The mouthwatering aroma of baking bread tickled his nose. He would order something, or he’d never survive until dinnertime.
The tables were empty. That surprised him, given how crowded the place was the last time he was there. The pleasant weather might be the culprit, or people ordering to go.
Garrett approached the counter. He hadn’t taken three steps when Taryn stepped out from the kitchen.
She wore all-white clothes with a hairnet and cap. Six months had passed, but she looked the same. No, that wasn’t entirely true. She was prettier than Garrett remembered. He waited for her light-up-his-life grin to appear.
Her gaze met his, and her eyes widened. “Garrett?”
Her voice was tentative…surprised.
He got that. They hadn’t seen each other in months. “Hey. Margot sent me by for two loaves of your artisan bread.”
“She phoned in the order and prepaid.”
Taryn grabbed a bag from under the counter and handed it to him. She moved so fast he almost dropped it.
But a whiff of Taryn’s sugary scent brought memories of her sweet kiss to the surface. Yes, getting together sounded better and better.
Garrett added the bread to the tote. It barely fit.
“Thanks.” He flashed his most charming smile, the one that worked as well with the women on a jury as it did at a party. “I’m in town for Callie’s wedding. I’ll be here for two weeks.”
Taryn raised a brow and pressed her lips together.
She must want him to ask her out. That was fine with him. He’d start with something easy so that they could catch up. Then he would invite her for a meal. “Let’s meet for coffee tomorrow.”
Her eyebrows furrowed. “Seriously?”
He nodded. “Tea Leaves and Coffee Beans. Say three, unless you can’t take off. I have a few things to do but have a flexible schedule. The same as the last time I was here.”
Not exactly subtle, but at least she would know where he was coming from.
Her jaw tensed. Lines deepened on her forehead. “I don’t believe this.”
Her harsh tone surprised him. “What?”
Taryn’s lips thinned. “You have some nerve, waltzing in here as if you hadn’t ghosted me over six months ago.”
He stiffened. They’d agreed to keep in touch but made no promises. Neither of them wanted a relationship, so he didn’t know where her anger came from. “I had a reason—”
“Save it for someone who cares. I’m not stupid enough to fall for a made-up excuse now that you’re in town and want to pick up where we left off.” She stared down her nose. “I’m not interested in a selfish man who is only after something convenient for him. Forget having coffee. I’d rather not see you again.”
Each word hit like a slap to his face. He didn’t understand her reaction. Okay, he might have handled things better in January, but she acted as if he’d dumped her. “Look, I get you’re upset, but we never said we were girlfriend and boyfriend. I had a good reason not to call you. There was—”
“Do you want anything else?” she interrupted.
He wanted to apologize, but she appeared too upset to listen. “I’d like a molasses cookie, please.”
“I’ll have Jayden get that for you. One moment.” She disappeared into the kitchen.
A minute later, Jayden came out, pulling on plastic gloves. The baker had always been friendly, joking around and wearing a big grin. Today, his expression was pinched and his eyes dark.
“How are you?” Garrett asked.
“One molasses cookie coming up.” Jayden placed a cookie in a small paper bag. “Here you go.”
Garrett jockeyed the bags to remove his wallet. “How much?”
Jayden glanced over his shoulder, but no one was there. “On the house.”
“That’s putting it mildly.”
“I tried to explain.”
Jayden rolled his eyes before crossing his arms over his chest. “You’re a lawyer. You should be smart enough to realize it’s too late.”
Garrett didn’t want to leave without explaining, but he might have to wait. He shoved a five-dollar bill in the tip jar. He was here for two weeks—plenty of time to explain.
As he opened the bakery’s door, the bell rang again.
“Is he gone?” Taryn’s voice sounded shaky.
Tension drew his shoulder blades together. Garrett had never heard her speak that way. He forced himself not to glance back to make sure she was okay. But he didn’t need a visual cue to know she wasn’t.
He was the reason, even if it made no sense to him. Okay, he’d ghosted her, but Taryn should have let him explain why. Instead, she made it clear he wasn’t welcome.
He would keep his distance.
Silver Falls was small, but how hard would it be to avoid the bakery and her while he was in town?
What was that phrase Taryn always used?
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What’s the first binge-worthy book you read and why was it a must-read?
I’ll go back to when I was much younger. It was Dragonflight, the first book in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series.
What makes your featured book a binge-worthy read?
Let’s see… There’s a quaint small town, a baker heroine with an all-male staff, a hottie big city trial attorney hero, and lots of family, community and friends. Oh, and lots of sweet treats that you’d find in a bakery. I love writing and reading about food!
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon (US) gift card.