Title: Kisses and Lemon Snowflake Cookies
Author: N. Jade Gray
Genre: Contemporary Romance - Holiday
Return to Cedar Bend, CO Fireman Dustin Keith didn't realize women would be coming out of the woodwork after he posed for the local fundraiser calendar. But the one who catches his eye is a baker with trust issues. Can he scale the wall she's built around her heart, or is fate destined to extinguish the flames of desire before they engulf his heart? Lauren Badini came to Cedar Bend to lend a helping hand at her aunt's bakery, not fall for Mr. July. The image on the calendar she received last Christmas fueled her fantasies, but the in-person version is too hot to handle. But if life after her ex has taught her anything, it's okay to look...but don't touch.
“Thank you, Dustin, for inviting me tonight.”
He chuckled and gave her a brief glance. “If we want to get technical, interfering Maddy asked you.”
Was he unhappy she accepted Maddy’s invite for the evening? The warm glow from the time spent with his arm around her while on the outdoor glider dimmed. Lauren tipped her chin up in defense. “You didn’t want me to come along?”
He shook his head as he trained his gaze back on the road. “That didn’t sound right.” He reached to adjust the heater in the truck. “If you haven’t noticed, I’m not good with words sometimes.”
Was that the reason he hadn’t talked much on the ride over to Maddy’s house earlier? Did he actually like her? “It’s a good thing you’re an exceptional kisser than, isn’t it?” A chuckle rumbled in her chest as she heard a choked noise emerge from his throat. Her words had accomplished the shock factor she was going for. At his continued silence, she turned her head to hide a smile. He was fun to tease.
He pulled up in front of her aunt’s house and put his truck in park. He twisted in his seat and met her gaze. “You’re trouble.”
“You’re catching on.” She shot a finger in his direction and winked.
He shook his head and laughed. “Hang on. I’ll get your door and walk you to the house.”
She peeked at Dustin as they stepped onto the porch. “I will pitch your idea of a booth to my aunt.” She reached into her pocket to retrieve her cell. “Can I get your number?” Nerves fluttered in her stomach. “You know, in case Josie decides to do a booth.”
Could he see her hands shaking as she entered his number? Her thoughts weren’t really on the task. All she could think of was whether or not he would give her a good-night kiss. She talked a mean game, but when the time came to follow through, she wimped out. “Well. Thanks again for the evening. I had fun with your friends.”
He took a step forward. “Even the game of spoons?”
Her heart leapt as she inhaled the soft cologne that clung to his body. The scent was nothing like the cloying aroma her ex preferred. A nervous laugh bubbled from her lips. “WWE at its finest. I would love to go mud or Jell-O wrestling with those women. Can you imagine the fun we would have?”
“Oh, Lord help us. Do they still have those events?”
She shrugged. “I’m not sure.”
He took another step forward and grazed her cheek with a finger. “Can I kiss you good night?” Finally. She’d hoped for another chance at a kiss since they had shared one at the bakery. Her thoughts scattered as he captured her lips.
This wasn’t a brief kiss like they’d shared before. He confessed he wasn’t much of a conversationalist, but who needed words when his lips could fire up her system in a nanosecond? Fire spread through her system like quicksilver. She broke the kiss and drew in a deep breath. He really did need a warning label. She took a tentative step backward. “Good night, Dustin.”
“Good night, Lauren.”
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Runs December 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on January 3, 2022.
N. Jade Gray, grew up on a farm in Oklahoma with one sister and three brothers. She began reading romance novels in high school and was hooked. In an attempt to entertain her friends, she began writing stories. The biggest hurdle she had to overcome was sharing her stories. Her former writing groups, the Wichita Area Romance Authors and Low Country Romance Writer’s, helped with her confidence and shook the needed pom poms to get her motivated for publication. She is also a former member of the Romance Writers of America. She met her husband while attending college and has two grown sons. Not really knowing what she wanted to do when she grew up, she’s held various jobs in the accounting and legal fields. She lives in Missouri with her husband, rescue cats Meera, Mango, Pancake and one spoiled dog-named Fabio. Yes, she had a hand in naming the dog.
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