Peyton Honeybun just wants to get a six pack of cold beer and watch football. But, he doesn’t quite make it to that la-z-boy with his six pack. When four gunmen enter a small country grocery store and take the employees hostage, Peyton and the store’s beautiful owner just barely avoid being discovered and taken hostage with the others.
Willa Sloan doesn’t know what’s happening when she emerges from the backroom and gets a big, warm, Honeybun hand slapped over her mouth as she’s dragged backward into hiding. But when she learns her store has been infiltrated and her people taken hostage, the last thing she intends is to hide in a dark corner whimpering.
Together, they discover two things through that long and terrifying night. First, a country grocery store is a great place to run a stealth operation if you’re enterprising enough. And second, love can happen at the strangest times!
The store was older and small, but everything was clean and bright and well laid out. The walls were painted a soft, creamy white and the black, red, and white tile at the front of the store looked new.
The smell of herbs filled the air and every available surface was covered with unique items like old farm implements, dried flower arrangements, and antique toys. It could have looked cluttered. But Peyton felt the warmth of the place, the coziness that made it feel like home.
He liked it a lot.
The two cashiers looked up and smiled as Peyton walked through the door. “Evenin’ ladies.” He put a little extra drawl into his Texas accent just for fun.
Peyton tipped his cowboy hat and the younger of the two women tittered coyly. He gave her his patented Honeybun grin and her shoulders dipped a little as if her knees had buckled.
The older woman reached up to fluff her graying brown hair. She bit her bottom lip and asked, “Is there something I can help you find?”
Peyton winked at her. “Cold beer?”
“Just past the produce section on the left. The cooler’s on the back wall.” The woman took a step away from her station and Peyton shook his head. “I can find it myself, ma’am. Don’t you bother yourself now.” His grin widened with mischief. “I might pick up a few more things along the way. But I’ll be back.”
Both women gave a visible sigh as Peyton turned away and headed toward the back of the store. He could feel their gazes on his backside and gave them an extra little swagger just for fun.
He loved the ladies. He knew they liked him too but that didn’t mean he took them for granted.
Far from it.
Peyton loved women. Everything about them.
He loved their soft bodies, their even softer skin, and the way they smelled. He loved the way they smiled, the way they walked, and the way their eyes sparkled when they looked at him.
He even liked their minds, which worked differently from his. He could respect the differences.
In fact he relished them.
Peyton found the cooler and plucked a six pack of his second favorite beer out of the pristine space before closing the glass door. Small town groceries rarely carried his favorite beer. He stood for a moment getting a fix on the layout.
“Can I help you find something?” The soft, slightly breathless voice seemed to come out of nowhere.
Peyton looked around but didn’t see anybody.
Finally, a dark head lifted from behind a cart filled with vegetables. Soft brown eyes peered at him as a long fingered hand gripped the top of the cart. Peyton opened his mouth to tell her he was fine, but something about those eyes drew him in.
As he strolled closer, she stood up and Peyton caught his breath.
She was incredible.
An unruly cap of black hair curled softly around a slightly round face with fine features and a cupid’s bow mouth. Her chin was small and her neck was long, elegant. Her skin was a soft, creamy brown, and she was tall for a woman, probably 5 foot 10 inches.
She dropped a cabbage leaf into a bin at the top of the cart and placed a smooth green orb onto a pile of cabbages in the open cooler. “You look lost. You new in town?” Her smile sent a heated spiral spinning through his gut and Peyton felt himself responding as he hadn’t done in years.
He stopped a few feet away and shook his head. “You could say that.”
“Can I help you find something?” She repeated.
“Happens I just needed a cabbage or two.”
She rolled her lips to stop the smile he suspected came easily to her. Her beautiful brown eyes had soft crinkles at the corners that told him she smiled a lot. “Two cabbages, huh? What are you making?”
“He leaned a hip against the cooler and grinned. “Now that’s a very personal question, ma’am. I don’t generally divulge my recipes until at least the third date.”
She threw back her head and laughed, the sound finer than Mozart on a warm summer evening. “I wasn’t asking for your recipe, just your menu. They are different you know.” Her brown gaze slipped over him and the smile turned soft. Then she seemed to catch herself and she blinked, looking away.
She bent down, pulled another cabbage from the bottom shelf of the cart and ripped an outer leaf from it rather ruthlessly. “I just wondered if you were going to need carrots to go with your cabbage.”
Peyton’s gaze never leaving hers, he gave her a seductive grin. “Absolutely. I wouldn’t think of leaving here without some carrots.”
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