Authors: April Hollingworth
Tags: #Contemporary,Holiday,Humorous/Romantic Comedy,Small Town
Exiting my car, I spot Mark’s,
a couple of parking spaces away. Hurrying into the building, I can’t wait to see him. When I do, I come to a screeching stop, tripping over my own feet; I stumble forwards only to be caught in his strong arms.
“You okay?” He asks steadying me.
“I’m fine, thanks to you,” I reply, looking him up and down, I ask the question slamming around my brain, “So why are you dressed in only shorts?”
A laugh escapes him, as he traces my jaw line. “I was training,” he explains. A second later, the door opens to the gym area; Jonathan appears also dressed in loose shorts, similar to Mark’s.
“Hey Beth, are you early or am I running late?” he inquires while wiping the sweat from his muscular torso.
“Both,” I reply, for lack of anything better to say.
“Okay, I’ll be back in a second,” he replies, walking past us and into the men’s changing rooms.
“I best get ready too,” Mark informs me, releasing me slowly, before heading into the changing rooms. I can’t help turning around and watching his fantastic back disappear. Just before the door closes, he pops his head out, and with a wicked grin on his face asks, “Did you enjoy the view?”
“Oh yes,” the words fly from my mouth before I can think about stopping them. Heat enters his eyes burning brightly into mine, before he retreats behind the closing door.
“Damn.” I mutter, before finally moving into the ladies room to get ready for class.
Praise for April Hollingworth
“Romance. Mystery. Murder. Find it all in
DOUBLE MAGICK IN THE FALLS
~Linda Joyce, author of Bayou Bound
“In this fabulous book about a witch, we are drawn into a world full of intrigue, murder, magick and love…action-packed and full of surprises.”
DOUBLE MAGICK IN THE FALLS
is a unique paranormal, romantic, mystery filled with witches, vampires and shifters…quick pace and snappy dialogue…I loved the characters…”
~author Christine Elaine Black
“Immediately you know you’re in for a wild ride when the young protagonist reveals that her parents were murdered and she herself is a witch. Candi [is] bound and determined to find out why a group called The Protectors killed her parents.”
~author Lori Lesko
“I was drawn into the gruesome death of Candi’s parents and her dark journey to find the group who killed them and why. The author spins this tale…leaving you hanging on…waiting for the mysteries to be unveiled.”
“Not your everyday paranormal romance book…it has shifters, vampires, witches, suspense and mystery.”
A Candy Hearts Romance
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
COPYRIGHT © 2016 by April Hollingworth
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com
First Champagne Rose Edition, 2016
Digital ISBN 978-1-5092-0551-6
A Candy Hearts Romance
Published in the United States of America
To my family for believing in me and cheering me on.
I love you all so much.
To Deb Burchfield, Lori Thompson Marsh, Linda Joyce, Christine Elaine Black and Anne Gonsalves,
for your support in my writing career
and mainly for your friendship.
I love you guys.
Finally thank you to my wonderful editor, Lill Farrell.
You make doing edits a pleasure,
or at least less painful.
Thank you for coming on this journey with me.
“My shift is almost finished, no way in hell am I staying later,” I holler over my shoulder at my best friend, Sally Jenkins, who’s just come into Pete’s Diner to start her shift.
“Worth a try,” Sally yells back, grinning from ear to ear.
Shaking my head, I carry a plate of lasagna through the swing door leading from the kitchen to the dining area. The doors swoosh close behind me, while I stumble in shock at the sight of Mark Jenkins, Sally’s older brother. The boy of my dreams now most definitely a man. A large, muscular, and stunningly gorgeous, man. In horror, I watch the plate fly from my fingers and head like a missile straight at him.
It lands in his lap with a plop, and instant chaos erupts. Customers laugh, I pick myself up off the floor, and Mark curses like crazy as he attempts to remove the hot food from his tan trousers.
Oh God, this can’t be happening!
I grab some napkins and rush over to him. Drop to my knees, muttering an apology, while trying to clean the food off him.
He places a large hand on my smaller one, stopping my motions easily.
“Normally, I get an introduction before having my junk played with,” Mark informs me. My eyes jerk up to look into his hazel ones. My mouth forms an O of surprise and heat blossoms in my cheeks.
Before he can say anything else, I roughly remove my hand from under his, stumble to my feet, and run back into the safety of the kitchen.
“Oh God. Oh God,” I mutter in shock. As if the repeating of the words can erase my mortification. I have no idea how.
“What have you done?” demands Sally, coming up behind me.
Quickly I tell her what happened, only to have her erupt in laughter.
“You are such a klutz,” she finally manages to splutter out.
“And you’re not helping,” I ground out, “Can you give table eight their lasagna? Everyone else has been served, well except your brother,” I amend.
“I’ll take care of table eight, but I believe you did ‘serve’ my brother,” Sally chortles, as she grabs a plate and dishes up the order again.
All I can do is gape at her in surprise. Well that and go bright red. Again!
I can’t believe she just said that!
Thinking of surprising my sister, by showing up in the diner she works at, I hadn’t expected to have a plate of hot lasagna thrown into my lap by a klutzy waitress. I especially hadn’t expected to have the mortified woman attempt to clean up the mess by rubbing my pants and swiping up the spilled food. Feeling my body react, I place a stilling hand over her much smaller one, and jokingly tell her, “Normally, I get an introduction before having my junk played with.”
Startled blue eyes fly up to meet mine. Her luscious bow shaped mouth makes an O of surprise. There’s something familiar about her, but I can’t for the life of me figure out who she reminds me of.
Next thing I know, her hand jerks out from under mine, she scrambles to her feet, and bolts for the kitchen. Leaving me in a right hot mess in more ways than one. Everyone around me is laughing. I’m left wondering what the hell just happened. A few minutes later, my sister swans out of the kitchen with a plate of lasagna in one hand and a wet towel in the other.
“Here you go, Mark,” she hollers flinging it toward me.
This time, I catch the towel before it hits me in the face. With a grimace I clean up as best as I can, then head to the restroom to try to make myself more presentable.
“Damn tan trousers, and damn that waitress,” I mutter in annoyance.
If I get my hands on her I’d be tempted to swat her pert ass!
At that thought, a smile spreads across my face and I instantly harden.
Hurrying down the road away from the diner, a flush still stains my cheeks. I’m tempted to double check to make sure he hasn’t followed me. Once I reach the lot where I’d left my car, I hurry to it, unlock and climb in before locking it behind me.
Tension releases from my shoulders. A giggle escapes. I clamp my hand over my mouth. Look around, realizing no one can see me, I release my nervous laughter. It quickly turns hysterical, and tears pool in my eyes.
He’s not James. I’m okay. I’m okay.
Taking big gulps of air, the words echoing around my head settle down. Soothing me. Genuine laughter bubbles up as the image of flying lasagna enters my head. Glancing at my watch, I realize I must hurry home if I’m going to make it in time for my self-defense lesson. I buckle up and put the key in the ignition. Indicate I’m pulling out; I reverse and head toward the exit.
Upon leaving I pass Mark. I have to bite my lip as I notice his tan trousers are not only stained from the dinner, they’re also wet from his attempt at cleaning them. Yet somehow he still manages to look sexy and in control.
I hear someone shout something at him. He turns toward them laughing, says something back to them.
The simplicity of the interaction astounds me. I can’t help compare him to my ex James. A shudder ripples through me at the thought of him. His temper and volatile nature still scares me, even though it’s been seven years since I left him.
If the incident in the diner had happened to him…
I refuse to continue that line of thought. Instead I head toward home. I’ll need to get showered and changed before heading out again.
Giving up on cleaning my trousers, I opt to go home and change them altogether. I leave the rest room to more laughter, so I give a bow as I exit. Walking down the road to the car park where I’d left my car, I wish I hadn’t worn such light colored trousers.
Hearing a lewd shout from a woman on the other side of the road, I burst out laughing. Turning toward her I call back a polite rejection, and head toward my car.
I’d rather have the klutzy waitress clean me up than the woman across the road. Spotting a car pass me, I realize it is the waitress, looking very much like she’s determined to not notice me.
A grin of genuine amusement spreads across my lips.
She obviously noticed me, and I’ll make sure the little minx has plenty of opportunities to notice me as often as possible.
With a shake of my head, I walk toward my car, whistling a happy tune. For the first time in a long time, peace flows through me. I can’t remember the last time I felt this way, so relaxed and intrigued.
I’ll have to have a chat with my sister, and get her to tell me about my little waitress.
Startled by the thought I abruptly stop mid step.
Yes, my little waitress.
With a shake of my head at the oddity of my thoughts, I carry on to my car.
Things are going to get interesting. I have a feeling my little waitress won’t be impressed with my decision, to make her mine.
“Well done, ladies.” Jonathan Myers, instructor of self-defense and expert at kicking my ass calls out. With a groan of relief, I accept the hand he offers, letting him help me up off the floor.
“You did good, Beth,” he compliments me.
“Really?” I ask doubtfully, “Because the floor and I are beginning to have a strange relationship. I would go to the extent of saying the floor is beginning to trip me up on purpose, just so it can hug me!”
A burst of laughter erupts from my normally serious instructor, catching everyone’s attention.
“I like you. Seriously you did well. You managed to hold your own and even knocked the others down. You’re coming along extremely quickly. I’m impressed.”
I gape in shock at his complement. Finally a grin spreads across my face as pleasure washes through me. “Thank you,” I reply, before heading off to collect my stuff and leave.