ISBN: 9780984764525
Length: Novella (79 pages)
Genre: Contemporary sweet romance
Formats available: PDF, Lit, ePub, Mobi, Prc, Html

Tall, dark, and delicious? More like former fiancé!

The stud muffin headed in the direction of Claire Water’s newly opened chocolate shop is none other than the doctor she once dated–and he’s rattling the skeletons in her closet every step of the way.

For Claire has a secret—a six-year old, blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl of a secret—and Burke Harlow has questions. Lots of them, the kind that poke too deep and hit hard too hard, for those pesky old feelings between them aren’t finished yet. Not by a secret baby mile…

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“Red alert! Tall, tanned, dark-haired and delicious at two o’clock!”

Smothering a smile at the oozing insinuation in her assistant’s voice, Claire Waters slid a tray of candy-cane fudge onto the top level of the display case that tinkled with Christmas lights, deliberately focusing on the vast inventory of gourmet candies. “If I want dark and delicious, I’ll be smart and stick with my chocolates, thank you.”

No danger in them, not unless she counted the extra pounds adhering to her hips since she’d decided to quit her demanding but dependable office job and take a flying leap—more like blind plunge—by returning to her Christmas-crazed hometown to open her dream shop, Jubilation.
This year, the holidays were going to pack a double punch to the scale.

“Ah, come on. Did I mention his firm backside?” Flexing her chocolate-smeared, gloved fingers in a grabbing motion, Issy’s enormous smile curled suggestively as she gave a feral meow.

Claire couldn’t help but giggle—Issy’s good humor stripped off the years, making her feel ten years less than her actual thirty-one.

“You’re terrible, you know that?” Not looking, not looking, not looking… Claire shifted the remains of a nearly vacant tray of coconut bon-bons onto a half-empty tray of peanut butter ones, thrilled with her after-Thanksgiving sales. “Certifiably bad.”

“To the bone, baby.”

Some things—some people—never change and Claire was glad her best friend since forever-ago was one of them. Isabelle Quinn was always good for a smile—and her renowned hot guy radar. She could pinpoint a tight heiny at two blocks with her eyes closed. Working with her certainly never made for a boring day.

Not that Claire had any concern for the male gender. Her dating days so over. Not looking…

“Besides, what would Reg think?” In the background, The Little Drummer Boy played on the radio, decidedly innocent compared to the conversation at hand, and Claire shut the display case, tugging off her gloves. “His wife-to-be salivating over every male tooshie to pass by our storefront when you’re supposed to be working?” Claire indicated to a tray of newly prepared chocolate-covered cherries. “Box the rest of those. In sets of a dozen would be best, I think, with the lace paper. It’s almost time for me to meet the school bus, so do you think you can tear your eyes away from Mr. Hunkalicous long enough to watch the store?”

“Phooey!” Stealing one of the candies instead—Issy insisted free yummies were part of her salary—she nibbled and tasted the dark sweet.
“You’re no fun anymore, you know that? So you’ve got a brat now? So I’m engaged? You’re eyes aren’t broken, woman!”

“I take offense to that! Rylee isn’t a brat! And stop stealing those!” Claire snatched the candy from her hand, tossing it in the trash. “You’re licking all over your sanitary gloves!”

“Yeah, okay, Rylee’s a sweet pea.” Issy promptly peeled off her gloves and commandeered another chocolate. “Butloo-sen up! What happened to you? When I agreed to work for you earning barely anything, I thought you were still cool!”

“I’m cool!”

“Well then…he’s a complete ten.” Hitching her right thumb to the window, her friend planted a candy in her palm. “Live a little! Come on. Buns of steel in Levi’s! Chocolate-covered cherries! Let your naughty side out, just for thirty seconds! Pleasssseee!”

“Oh, all right.”

Despite herself—yet completely aware her friend had a very valid point—Claire popped the decadent morsel in her mouth. After all, part of the incentive of moving back to Colorado, besides her mother’s failing health, was for the easy-going environment. Less work-gym-homework-help, work-gym-homework-help and more smiles, laughter, and most importantly, family. She might not have much but, with her daughter growing faster than a dandelion, Claire was beginning to realize how much those ties mattered. Besides, these days she felt far too old to be only thirty-one and was hoping life in Reindeer would peel off a few wrinkles.

Smothering creamy chocolate and fruity tang with her tongue, Claire ducked a quick glance out the shop window at the cowboy across the way, almost lazily strutting across the street. Their direction. And Claire couldn’t believe her eyes.

Literally, didn’t trust what she saw for a second.


Heart froggy, she dashed to the cash register and grabbed her glasses from where they rested above the number keys. Sliding them on, her fuzzy gaze immediately focused on one tall, tanned, dark and delicious…