Authors: Gemma K. Murray
Tags: #Paranormal Romance
I looked at him defiantly, “Maybe I am. Maybe it’s me who is trouble. Did you ever consider that, Adam?”
He tucked a curl back behind my ear. “I do think that. You are trouble with a capital ‘T’, but I can’t seem to stay away from you. If anything, it calls me to you.”
My knees were trembling as he bent his head to kiss me. The yeasty smell of the beer invaded my senses, the taste filling my mouth. My arms went around his neck to hold him closer. He took my hand and led me to the porch swing. We made out most of the night, but we also talked. Adam taught me a lot that night. He showed me it was okay to have dreams which didn’t revolve around the continuation of the pack. I began to think if I could make myself a better person, then I would be bigger help to the pack.
Adam and I began to date. At first, we did it as secretly as possible. I’d tell my parents I was going to the movies in Marquette with Maria. Adam and I could stroll along the lakeshore without the entire town watching. I was the one who pressured him to make a stand in Cedar River. I was so tired of hiding the fact we were in love. My dad stopped speaking to me. My pack all but shunned me. I should have felt alone, but with Adam, I didn’t. However, it did push our relationship at a quicker pace. With the entire pack refusing to stand against their alpha; it didn’t take long for the relationship between Adam and I to move to a more physical level.
On a blanket at Shifter Beach, we gave into the temptation. It wasn’t earth shattering, but it was nice. Once I had a taste of Adam, I craved him as much as he craved me. Sex became an automatic end of date activity. Until one night, we didn’t have protection and we thought it would be okay. It wasn’t. Instead, I began counting the days and watching my calendar intently. Finally, I told Adam my fears and we ditched school to drive into Marquette to a doctor my parents wouldn’t know. My fear was confirmed. I was seventeen and pregnant. Adam promised to marry me. We called Adam’s aunt and uncle to my parents’ home. We sat them down and told them what we had just found out. My father sat silently, listening to us. My mother cried. Alicia Pierce sat in utter disbelief. Her husband, Roman, got up and slapped Adam across the face before walking out of the house.
I watched my father with a wary eye. After Alicia followed her husband out the door, Daddy stalked toward Adam. Adam’s cat reflexes kicked into gear and he leapt over the back of the chair. Daddy put Adam through the sliding glass door that night and warned him against ever stepping foot on pack land again.
My parents kept me home for the remainder of the school year. I wasn’t allowed to graduate with my friends. My diploma arrived in the mail. I had to hear from Maria that Adam had joined the Marines. I cried myself to sleep for days after he left. At the end of my first trimester, I miscarried Adam’s baby. Depression set in and I could hardly function. Mama told me that the gods had willed this child to die since it would have been a “monster.” That taught me a swift lesson and brought me back to reality.
I began taking online classes to get my business degree. I had a dream of owning a shop in town. Shifters are known for having a tendency toward sweets. I loved to make candy and other sweet goodies. It seemed like the best thing to do.
I took a few cooking classes just to add more recipes to my repertoire. However, I wasn’t allowed to go alone. My parents and pack all hovered too much for my comfort. It was so bad my father hired one of the pack members to drive me to my classes and home. Adam was stationed in the Middle East, but somehow or another he was waiting for me at my classroom, at least in my father’s thoughts.
With a degree in my hand and money in my pocket, I went into Cedar River and rented a small shop with an apartment overhead. In a beautiful, old, abandoned little stone building, I began a life I was very proud of. Then, I got word Adam was back in town and I felt as if the bottom had fallen out of my world.
Chapter Three- Adam
I had managed to avoid Luna and her sweet shop for quite a long time. Then, the little minx, Ana Golden, came in with a box of salted caramels for Bowie one day. I smelled the chocolate as soon as she opened the door. Chocolate is my one downfall. I cannot get enough of it.
“Hi, Adam. Would you like a caramel? Luna is trying out a new recipe and I get to be her guinea pig,” Ana asked as she stopped at my desk.
My mouth was watering. “No, I’m fine. Thank you though, Ana. Boss man is out on a call.”
Ana’s face dropped a little bit. “That’s alright. I’ll just visit with you for a while.” She sat down in the chair across from me, set the box on my desk, and popped one of those caramels in her mouth. She threw her head back and moaned in ecstasy. “Oh my gods, Adam. I think Luna has hit the perfect note with this batch. Are you sure you don’t want one?”
I couldn’t help, but smile at her. I could see why my best friend had fallen so hard. “Alright, give me one.” The second the chocolate hit my tongue, I was a goner. One bite and the salty caramel oozed through my mouth.
Ana was watching me with a very satisfied grin, “I know, right? It’s almost as good as sex, isn’t it?”
“If you know what’s good for you, you won’t answer that,” came the voice of my best friend and Ana’s husband, Bowie.
I could only laugh. Bowie kissed his wife as he swiped the box of candy off my desk.
“Sharing my candy with Adam? Shame on you!” he scolded Ana with a hint of amusement in his voice. Taking her hand, they disappeared into Bowie’s office where I could hear Ana giggling. I put on my coat and gloves before hitting the mean streets of Cedar River.
Brady Golden was headed out to the woods with a group of anglers. “Good morning, Adam. How’s it going?”
“Quiet. Your sister-in-law is seducing my boss so I thought I’d take a walk around town.”
Brady shook his head, smiling, “All these years and you’d think they needed to make up for the lost time.”
I smiled. “What’s biting today?”
“The bluegill have been hitting hard. The Chinook have been touch and go. Why? Do you want something?”
“A mess of bluegill wouldn’t make a bad dinner, if you catch some.”
Brady shook my hand, “I’ll see what I can do. I’ll be back in before dark.”
“I’ll be here. Thanks, Brady.”
My walk took me a little further down the sidewalk where Mr. Samson, the owner of Samson’s Diner, stood outside his establishment with a cup of coffee and a jelly doughnut. “Good morning, Samson. Any trouble today?”
The bear shifter looked at me and smiled, “Just you, Adam. I thought you could use a little breakfast.”
The man made the best coffee in town. The bitter brew hit my mouth and the caffeine entered my bloodstream.
“Coffee’s not too bad today, Samson,” I said. I’ve picked on the burly man about his coffee since I worked for him as a kid.
“Not bad? Well, I guess I’ll just take it and toss it then,” he said reaching for my cup.
“I may be able to choke it down,” I protested with a smile.
Samson smiled, “Have a good day, Adam. Some of us have to get back to work. Be safe.”
I nodded, “You, too, Samson. Thanks for breakfast.”
My quiet town was alive with activity. One street over, I could hear the kids playing on the playground. The bell was ringing in the high school, signaling the time to change classes. I crossed the street, enjoying the rhythm of life going on around me. People honked as they drove by. I’d wave back. Life in a small town was wonderful. I stopped to talk with Bernard and Lorelai Golden for a few minutes. My aunt was coming out of the grocery store so I asked after my uncle and the rest of the pride. Mr. Fisher had emerged from the woods between the pack and pride lands for his weekly grocery visit. The fisher shifter was as grouchy as ever. Not many people could tolerate the ornery little man, but I really liked him. I kept walking through town and before I knew it, I was in front of Full Moon Sweets, Luna’s chocolate shop. She was just putting out the display in the front window. My mouth felt dry as she looked up with those beautiful citrine eyes.
Chapter 4- Luna
Getting up at dawn was not something most people enjoyed. I, however, looked forward to it. I loved walking downstairs to my shop and deciding what recipes to create that day. People laughed when I told them that the chocolate told me what it wanted to be, but it was true. There were some days the dark chocolate wanted to be wrapped around a raspberry center and other days it begged for caramel and cashews. I create recipes I hope will become favorites. I have a few tasters I can rely on. Anastasia and Bowie Golden are two of my favorites. Bowie had just called to tell me to make up another batch of my salty caramels. I chuckled when I heard Ana in the background moaning in ecstasy.
“Is that from my candy or from you, Sheriff?” I asked.
“Both. That’s why I need more. Your new recipe hit every spot for Ana,” he replied with a smile in his voice.
“I’ll start working on them as soon as I finish the pretzels.”
“White chocolate?” he asked.
“I just set those in the display case,” I said. Cedar River’s sheriff has a tremendous sweet tooth.
“Luna, I’m going to weigh a ton if you don’t go out of business soon,” he said with a sigh.
“I’m sure your wife can find a way for you to work off those extra calories,” I said with a laugh. The comfort of picking on Bowie comes from years of being friends with him and Ana.
“Call me when the caramels are ready and I’ll pick them up,” he said as he hung up the phone.
Business is good. Shifters and their taste for sweets are pretty well known, but the dragon shifter I call “friend” keeps me in business, almost single-handedly. I hung up from Bowie and put the finishing touches on my front window display. The new candy for the day was dark chocolate espresso beans. I had just put the lovely crystal dish in the window when I looked up to find Adam watching me intensely with his cool green eyes. I stopped and stared back. I had caught glimpses of him, but he’d avoided me. I smiled at him and waved him in. He looked startled, but within seconds, he took his first steps into my shop.
“Hi, Adam,” I said as I walked up to him. I wanted to hug him in the worst way, but I put my hands in my back pockets to avoid touching him.
“Hi, Luna,” he replied softly.
“How are things going?” I asked, though Ana kept me up to date on these things.
“Good. I put a trailer out on the border of the pride lands.”
“I heard something about that.” Actually, my dad had bitched about it for the better part of a Sunday afternoon, but I wouldn’t tell Adam. “Can I get you something?”
Adam looked around the shop. “This looks real nice, Luna.”
I tilted my head to look at him., “Thank you. That means a lot. I’ve worked hard, but it’s all mine. Well, mine and the bank’s for the next few years, but you know what I mean.”
The smile I loved bloomed across Adam’s rugged face. “Yeah, I do.”
I watched as he prowled around the shop, looking in the display cases and asking about certain candies. I noticed his tastes leaned toward the bitter chocolates more than the dark or milk varieties. I made a note on my mental list of customer preferences.
I returned to my spot behind the counter, offering him samples of the candies he pointed out. “You don’t happen to have any of those caramels you sent with Ana, do you?” he asked shyly.
I laughed aloud. “Bowie just called and made an order for more. Do you want me to add another three or four dozen for you?”
Adam blushed slightly, “If you don’t mind. Those were delicious. I’ll also take a pound of those coffee beans.”
I scooped his espresso beans into a bag. I added a bag of pretzels for Bowie. “The caramels will be ready early this afternoon. I can run them over if you’d like.”
Adam pulled his wallet out to pay for his candy, “That would be great, Luna. It looks like you’ve done really well for yourself.”
“Thank you, Adam. I’m a lucky woman to have friends like you.”
My use of the word ‘friend’ startled him, “Are we still friends, Luna?”
There was sadness in his eyes which hadn’t been there before. I walked back around the counter and took his face in my hands, forcing him to look me in the eye. “Of course, we’re friends, Adam. We always have been.” I hugged him tight, not expecting him to hug me back. When his arms tightened around me, tears ran down my cheeks. I whispered, “I’ve missed you, Adam.”
“I missed you, too, babe,” he said.
The bell over the door rang, signaling more customers. I wiped my eyes and smiled at Adam. “I’ll bring those caramels over this afternoon. Tell Bowie I expect him to forget the parking ticket from last week if I deliver them.”
Adam laughed as he carried his packages out. My heart felt as if it had wings as I returned to my store and customers.
“Bribing our sheriff’s department, Ms. McIntyre?”
I turned to find Dr. Goodman at the counter. I smiled at the man who had been my doctor for most of my life. “If it keeps me from having to pay a parking ticket, you bet I’ll bribe them.” I turned to my assistant, Kelsie, “Add in a quarter pound of espresso beans for the good doctor, please. I may need to pay him a visit soon and I want to be guaranteed top notch care.”
Dr. Goodman laughed a full belly laugh.
Chapter Five- Luna
I had planned to get Bowie and Adam the candy long before closing time, but that dream flew out the window when the schools let out. The kids love coming in to get a taste of this or that. Of course, I love having them visit. It makes my heart hurt to think my son or daughter would have been in the group, but I think I look forward to their visits all the more for this reason.
I closed up the shop and put the candy for our sheriff into a pretty bag. Adam would appreciate the simplicity of a box. I loaded up my arms and walked up the street. The town looks so pretty when the sun is beginning to set. The sun rolls the last beams right down Main Street and hits the water in our brand new fountain, creating a rainbow. I stopped to chat with a couple of the residents, all of whom wished me the best of luck. I did get a couple of requests for diabetic candy. I had to make a mental note to check into making that.