from Sugar Rush: Snippet #1
The man was damn persistent, and it secretly made her smile. Blind date or not, he was charming. Full of himself but charming. “Well, since you know so much, tell me then, what do I want?”
“I answered that already. Come here, Jane, and stop trying to get rid of me. On the other hand, if you’d rather, I can come over there and get you. I won’t bite hard, and you’ll be glad you gave in.”
She crossed her arms over her chest and leaned against the edge of the open door. “Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you’re right. Let’s say I do want you.”
“I am, and you do.”
“Uh-huh. I know Edward told you why I’ve been a pill for the last few months and maybe it doesn’t make sense to you but, romantically, I’ve never been really successful. I have dated, but there’s never been a lot of real interest, on either side. And when Phillip dumped me… I don’t want to go through that kind of thing again. It was awful. I thought I’d found someone special, someone that I could maybe spend my life with, but I was just a stop along the way.”
“I understand. I really do, but hiding away from your feelings and your desires isn’t going to make the first step any easier no matter how long you wait, Jane. There’s always going to be an excuse not to move forward. You’re too damneddamn beautiful and sexy to just sit and let life pass you by.”
“You make me sound like an immature teenager that’s still holding out hope her first crush will realize his mistake in letting me go.”
“No. You’re just caught in a place between not wanting to be hurt again and let’s get it on. I’ve dated women your age, my age, and younger, and no one is immune to hurt. We all just process it differently.”
“Wow. You’re wise for twenty-six. Far more than I am at the ripe old age of thirty-six.”
“I told you I write for other publications. Well, one of the things I write about is relationships, usually from a romantic getaway perspective, but relationships just the same. Kind of like how to revive the spark stuff. I have a degree in creative writing and a minor in psychology.”
Jane was stunned. Really and truly stunned. So not only was Cowboy Surfer hot as hell, he was also a deep thinker, a pseudoexpert in relationships and travel. While she was just a candy maker sans formal college education. At the same time, she loved the company she and Edward had created for themselves. She might not have the degree, but she had solid business sense, creativity, and the ability to make decadent truffles that melted on the tongue. She truly loved her work. How many people could say that?
However, this between them had disaster written all over it.
He was right about one thing. No matter how long she waited to discover herself post-Phillip and let go of the past, it wasn’t going to be an easy step. Phillip hadn’t been the love of her life, but he had been special to her. If she were honest with herself, she’d admit that it had been more of a comfort thing with him. At first, at least. Toward the end, he’d begun to pressure her to lose weight, to change the way she dressed, to move the business out of the loft. It was then she’d begun to doubt herself. And now that she thought about it in those terms…
“All right, so, you’ve seen me. You can go now. I believe you know where the door is.”
“I appreciate the invitation to leave, but I was hoping we could have dinner together.”
“Nuh-huh. No, sorry. I’m not dating right now.” And she wasn’t. She’d given two years to a guy who had sweet-talked her, who wasn’t even in the same yummy ballpark as Cowboy Surfer and look where that got her? Nowhere. She was safe like this, living vicariously through Edward’s tireless, sex-filled search for “the one.”
“Fair enough, but just so you know, I don’t believe you.”
“It doesn’t matter what you don’t believe.” She turned off the stove and poured the scalded cream over chopped bittersweet chocolate. The aroma filled the immediate air around her, and she inhaled deeply. The scent of excellent chocolate never got old.
“What are you making?”
He’d stepped close, standing just behind her shoulders. She could feel the heat coming off his body and if she leaned back, she’d be touching his chest. Instead of doing just that — because she so wanted to — she pressed herself closer into the edge of the counter, picked up a wooden spoon, and slowly started to stir the cream into the chocolate. “Truffles. Like the ones you didn’t get this afternoon.”
“I smell chili peppers.”
“Mmm. Yes. We infuse the cream with them. It is a very delicate balance of flavor, the chocolate and the chili. It’s sweet at first bite, but then a blast of heat erupts on your tongue, completely intoxicating your mouth with flavor.”
“You know they say that chili peppers are an aphrodisiac, stimulating the blood and nerve endings.” He leaned closer still, his breath blowing against her hair. “Maybe we should try it out.”
“Not on your life.” Go away go away go away.
“We’ll see.” His breath brushed the edge of her ear, sending a shiver up her spine. What did she have to promise the universe to get him to leave and stop tempting her? “Is this your business then?”
“It’s mine and Edward’s. We started it after he went through a hard breakup with a guy he’d been dating at work. He quit shortly after and decided that the way to mend a broken heart was through chocolate.”
“I know many women that would agree with that. How did you meet? You and Edward, I mean.”
Many women? Of course there were many women in life. Just look at him. She was nothing more to him than a blind date. It didn’t really explain what he was doing in her kitchen though. Blind dates that didn’t go right usually didn’t get a second chance, and guys like him didn’t chase after women like her either. “In a candy making class a little over a year ago.”
“And? I want the whole story.”
Jane sighed and fought against grinding her teeth in frustration. “He was taking the class to learn to make candy for Valentine’s Day for his boyfriend. When they broke up, I made these for him one day to try and cheer him up and, well, here we are.” Having Graham so near made concentrating on anything difficult. It was a wonder she could think straight at all.