Title: Love on the Sweet Side
Author: Mariah Ankenman
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Maggie Evans is back in Peak Town, Colorado to take over her grandmother’s cupcake shop, but problems keep arising. Is it rotten luck…or something more nefarious? To top it off, her former best friend/childhood crush, Colton Denning, won’t leave her alone. He’s sexier than ever. But Maggie has no time for love.
When his best friend comes back into town all grown up, Colton finds his feelings for her go far beyond friendship. Unfortunately, the pretty baker only sees him as the town playboy. He plans to convince her otherwise, but may not get the chance when someone starts threatening Maggie’s life.
Whether she likes it or not, Colton plans to take her safety into his own hands. How will Maggie keep her shop afloat with a madman after her? More importantly, how will she keep her heart intact when Colton admits her safety isn’t the only thing he wants in his hands?
Her mouth opened, but the sexy baker said nothing.
He chuckled, pleased with himself at her exasperated look. He had no idea why it was so fun to get her all riled up, but he thoroughly enjoyed it.
“See, you’re no fun.”
Maggie’s teeth clenched together. Her arms crossed over her chest defensively as she scowled at him. “I am so fun.”
He laughed. “And way too easy to tease, Magpie.”
She uncrossed her arms then placed her hands on her hips instead. “I’m twenty-eight now, Colton. I think I’m a little too old for nicknames.”
Maybe, but he’d given her that nickname years ago when she used to come out for the summers to spend time with her grandmother. She’d been so tiny and skittish. The littlest thing would startle her, like a bird. He started calling her Magpie one summer, and it just kind of stuck. He liked that he had a special name for her. One that no one used, but him.
“Did you come in here for a reason or just to annoy me?”
Deciding not to tempt his fate, he stopped his teasing. He wouldn’t put it past her to dump a bowl of cupcake batter on his head.
She’d done it before.
“Dade sent me to pick up his order.”
“Oh right. He called it in this morning.”
Turning, Maggie walked to the large refrigerated cooler along the sidewall of her shop, opened the door, and reached in to pull out a large cardboard box.
“Two dozen vanilla cupcakes with mint-chocolate frosting. A treat for the hands or do you guys have a group today?”
He and his brother ran the family horse ranch where they boarded horses for several people in town who didn’t have enough room on their own property for the animals. They also offered riding lessons and group trail rides. The Denning Ranch had been in the family for three generations. He and Dade had helped their mother and father run it growing up. Since their parents retired to Florida five years ago, the brothers had hired on a few hands to help out. He loved the work. Couldn’t imagine doing anything else with his life.
“A small bonus for the guys. It’s a little too cold out for people to want to ride yet.”
It was mid-May, but springtime in the Rocky Mountains could be in the sixties one day and a snowstorm the next. At the moment, the temperature was holding in the mid-fifties. Warm, but still too cold for most folks to want a long trail ride. They did most of their riding business in the summer. The boarding helped pay the bills the rest of the year.
“I’m sure they’d rather a real bonus than cupcakes.”
He gave her his best lady-killer smile. “Ask any man around and they’ll tell you they’d rather have one of your delicious cupcakes than anything else.”
She blushed, the color rising up her cheeks, making her even more beautiful.
“Flattery will not get you free cupcakes, Colt.”
He placed a hand to his chest. “You wound me, Magpie. I was just trying to give you a compliment.” But he would never say no to a free cupcake.
“That ego of yours couldn’t be wounded with a twenty-foot pole. Sixty-three dollars.” She rang up the order on the old till.
He pulled out some cash and handed it to her, making sure their fingers brushed during the transfer. She shivered at the contact; it was barely noticeable, but he saw it. He didn’t know why, but he liked getting a rise out of Maggie Evans.
She passed him back his change, being very careful not to touch him, he noticed, as she dropped the cash onto his outstretched palm.
“Tell your brother I say hi.”
He grabbed the box from the counter, balancing it in one hand. “Will do. You gonna come out and ride Maple anytime soon?”
The beautiful brown Arabian they used for trail riding had been on the ranch for two years and had a sweet disposition. Whenever Maggie came out for a ride, she always chose Maple. Though, she hadn’t been to the ranch very much since moving back to town, and that bothered him. They’d once been such good friends.
He missed her friendship. He missed her.
“I don’t know.” She worried her lower lip with her teeth. “I’ve kind of got some stuff going on right now.”
All the protective instincts rose inside him at her worried tone. He placed the box back on the counter. “Everything okay?”
Maggie waved a hand in the air. “It’s fine. Just shop stuff.”
“Anything I can do to help?”
“No. I’m fine, Colt. Thanks.”
She was always fine. One thing he knew about Maggie Evans was that she liked to take care of everything herself. It was an admirable quality, but sometimes he wished she would let someone else share her burdens. When she took over the cupcake shop, after her grandmother died, she went through a mountain of red tape. He offered to help, but she had refused, opting instead to spend countless days and nights on the phone and taking hours-long trips into the city to get everything straightened out.
The woman was too independent for her own good. Picking up the box once again, he reached out with his other hand and bopped her on the nose with his finger. She smacked his hand away, but he could see the hint of a smile she was trying to hide. Good; he hated seeing her upset.
“You see? No fun, Magpie.”
“Yeah well, you have enough fun for the both of us.”
Colton laughed as he left the shop, the chime of the bell ringing in his ear and the sweet smell of cupcakes wafting after him. Yup, teasing the sexy cupcake maker was just about his favorite thing to do.
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Here’s my tip to add romance to your love life:
Do something every day that makes you smile and something to make someone else smile too.
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Bestselling author Mariah Ankenman lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her two rambunctious daughters and loving husband who provides ample inspiration for her heart-stopping heroes.
Mariah loves to lose herself in a world of words. Her favorite thing about writing is when she can make someone’s day a little brighter with one of her books. To learn more about Mariah and her books, visit her website http://mariahankenman.com/, follow her on social media or sign up for her newsletter http://bit.ly/2XeKPZm
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