Tag Archives: Sisters

#SundaySnippet 2.17.19

Cooking with Kandy was my first book for Kensington/Lyrical Shine. Introducing the world to the life and family of cheflebrity Kandy Laine was fun. The fact this book spawned a few more in the series was an added bonus! Kandy is reluctant to have a bodyguard, and doesn’t feel any of the weird things occurring lately warrant one. Her family disagrees. 

The heat between Kandy and Josh is palpable from the first time they meet. In this little snippet, Kandy is finally beginning to see what an asset Josh could be to have around – and in more ways than one.

He made his way to the other side of the room, ignoring the stares and whispers of the crowd, found the lounge, and knocked. “Kandy? It’s Josh. Can I come in?”

It was Gemma who answered. “Yes.”
The sisters were seated in twin floral Queen Anne chairs, Gemma reclining back into hers, arms crossed over her chest. Kandy was opposite, head wrung in her hands.

“Cort thought you could use this,” he said, handing her the champagne flute.

He’d expected tears, but was surprised to see Kandy’s beautiful face pinch in a scowl, her eyes flaring with sweltering anger and venom when she looked up at him.

“Thanks.” Kandy took the drink and downed half of it in one gulp.

When she wiped her lips with the back of her hand, the corners of Gemma’s mouth lifted and she asked Josh, “What did you do to the turd?”

“Explained he needed to leave, put him in the elevator, and made sure he went down in it.”

“Made him how?” Kandy asked.

“Little persuasion trick I know. His wrist’s gonna be sore tomorrow. Maybe for the next few days.”

“You physically removed him?” Gemma asked.
Josh almost laughed at the excitement in her voice.

He shrugged.

“Yeah. He was going to follow Kandy if I didn’t.”

“Please tell me you have unmarried, available brothers at home,” Gemma said.

It hurt to keep the smile from his face, but he did. “Three, in fact.”

“Are they all like you? No, scratch that.” She sighed, the sound wistful.

“I doubt there’s anyone like you.”

“If you mean are they all workaholics and career-driven, then no. They’re not like me. But they are available.”

“I’ll keep it in mind.” She glanced at her sister and said, “Well, looks like my work here is done. She’s all yours now.” She stood and kissed the top of Kandy’s head. “Evan Chandler is an egotistical, phony prick. Remember that.”

“How could I forget it?” Kandy grabbed her sister’s hand and kissed the back of it. “Thanks.”

When Gemma left, Josh took her empty chair. “You okay?”

She took a deep breath before saying, “Mad, but okay. I underestimated him.”

“How so?”

“I didn’t think he’d have the guts to crash my party. I thought he was too much of a wimp to risk it after our last encounter. Guess I was wrong.” She stood and crossed to the vanity. Peering at her reflection, she ran a lazy hand through her hair, fluffing the curls. She caught his gaze, watching her, in the mirror. “Aren’t you going to ask me about it?”

He’d considered it. But the weary look in her eyes told him he was better off asking Stacy or Gemma.

“No. If you want to talk, I’ll listen. Otherwise, you’ve got a pretty fancy shindig going on out there.” He cocked his thumb in the direction of the ballroom. “Maybe you want to get back and enjoy it. Bask in the adulation,” he said with a good-natured grin.

She turned to him and her eyes softened. When her lips moved upward into a small, lazy smile, the dimples dancing, his legs went a little soft and he was thankful he was seated.

“Yeah,” she said, moving to him. When he stood, she linked her arm in his. “Thanks. You’re right. Let’s go have a party.”

He returned her smile, glad he could help.
“You’re not so bad, Keane. This bodyguard thing might be fun after all.” It was a moment before he trusted himself to speak. “I aim to please.”

Intrigued? You can find COOKING WITH KANDY at these on-line retailers:

Buy links: Amazon //Apple // Google // Kobo // Nook//

Walmart // Books-a-Million

Reviews for COOKING WITH KANDY

Read a preview of Cooking With Kandy

Sugar and spice and everything sexy make the perfect recipe for romance in this brand-new series by Peggy Jaeger. Look for exclusive recipes in each book

Kandy Laine built her wildly popular food empire the old-fashioned way-starting with the basic ingredients of her grandmother’s recipes and flavoring it all with her particular brand of sweet spice. From her cookbooks to her hit TV show, Kandy is a kitchen queen-and suddenly someone is determined to poison her cup. With odd accidents and threatening messages piling up, strong-willed Kandy can’t protest when her team hires someone to keep her safe-but she can’t deny that the man for the job looks delicious…

Josh Keane is a private investigator, not a bodyguard. But with one eyeful of Kandy’s ebony curls and dimpled smile, he’s signing on to uncover who’s cooking up trouble for the gorgeous chef. As the attraction between them starts to simmer, it’s not easy to keep his mind on the job, but when the strange distractions turn to true danger, he’ll stop at nothing to keep Kandy safe-and show her that a future together is on the menu…

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Filed under Alpha Hero, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Food lover, Foodie, Kensington Publishers, love, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Laine Women

#1stLineFriday Cooking with Kandy

“Hold on to your forks, folks, because today I’m making one of Grandma Sophie’s to-die-for layer cakes, guaranteed to make your sweet tooth tingle.” Kandy Laine aimed a wide, dimpled grin at the television camera.

 

Buy links: Amazon //Apple // Google // Kobo // Nook//

Walmart // Books-a-Million

Reviews for COOKING WITH KANDY

Read a preview of Cooking With Kandy

Sugar and spice and everything sexy make the perfect recipe for romance in this brand-new series by Peggy Jaeger. Look for exclusive recipes in each book

Kandy Laine built her wildly popular food empire the old-fashioned way-starting with the basic ingredients of her grandmother’s recipes and flavoring it all with her particular brand of sweet spice. From her cookbooks to her hit TV show, Kandy is a kitchen queen-and suddenly someone is determined to poison her cup. With odd accidents and threatening messages piling up, strong-willed Kandy can’t protest when her team hires someone to keep her safe-but she can’t deny that the man for the job looks delicious…

Josh Keane is a private investigator, not a bodyguard. But with one eyeful of Kandy’s ebony curls and dimpled smile, he’s signing on to uncover who’s cooking up trouble for the gorgeous chef. As the attraction between them starts to simmer, it’s not easy to keep his mind on the job, but when the strange distractions turn to true danger, he’ll stop at nothing to keep Kandy safe-and show her that a future together is on the menu…

 

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Filed under Alpha Hero, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Food lover, Foodie, Kensington Publishers, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, The Laine Women

#SundaySnippet 2.10.19 PASSION’S PALETTE

Book 5 in the MacQuire Women series is PASSION’s PALETTE, the story of Serena MacQuire and Seamus Cleary. These are two fiery personalities and it’s not unusual they fall hard and fast for one another.  In this snippet, their mutual attraction isn’t exactly what Serena is looking for.

Seamus’s pulse galloped the moment her arms went around him. Her smooth skin against his was too much. Before he could stop himself, his hand came up to her shoulder, and encircling her neck with his palm, he pulled her closer. Their lips were a whisper away from one another. When her tongue nervously flicked across her bottom lip, an explosion ripped through his core.

Was she really as sweet tasting as he remembered? He needed to know, needed the silky smoothness of her lips pressed to his again to be sure.

With a swift, firm tug on her neck, he pulled her closer and claimed her mouth.

And she was as wonderful as he remembered. She hadn’t stiffened or pulled away as he’d thought she would. Instead, she leaned into him, a willing participant showing him her own desire.

He needed no further encouragement. A gentle yank at the waistband of her pants, and she was down on his lap. Her hands settled on his shoulders, touching so softly he barely felt them.

Taking her lower lip between his teeth in the lightest of nips, he then ran his tongue gently along the seam of her mouth. When she opened, allowing him entry, he explored and tasted every nook and cranny of her mouth. The notion he could sit here consuming her all day and that it would never be enough to satisfy his growling hunger for her swam through him.

Serena broke from the kiss and tried to pull back, but the firm grip of his hands on her waist pinioned her in place.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, averting her eyes.

“I’m not.”

“It must be the champagne. I’m not usually so…forward.” She shook her head as if clearing it.

Seamus studied her in silence, knowing the way she’d reacted to the kiss had nothing to do with the wine.

“Well, I’m glad this happened. I’ve been trying for hours to figure a way to kiss you again without making you mad at me. I wish you’d have asked me about this modeling business when you first arrived. If I’d known it was going to bring out this kind of response, I’d have volunteered myself before being asked.”

Her head shot up at his words. Why was the irritation drenching her eyes as intoxicating as her taste had been?
“It’s no secret I’m attracted to you, Serena,” he said before she could rail at him. “I have been since that first morning in the barn. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you feel the same.”

“You certainly make your presence known,” she told him after a few beats. “I don’t usually kiss a man within the first five minutes of meeting him.”

“Good. I’ll take that as a yes.” He dropped a light kiss in the hollow behind her ear. “Where do we go from here with this?”

“Oh, Seamus. Don’t do that. Please.”

“Here’s a start.” He pulled back and regarded her. “Why don’t you call me Jim like everyone else does?”

Serena’s gaze flitted across his lips and landed at the scar. “No, I don’t think I can do that. Your name is too unusual. Too…I don’t know,” she said with a delicate shrug. “Too you. I like your name. It fits you. Like this house does.”

Charmed, he said, “Okay. Forget the name. How about having dinner with me tomorrow? I promise this time I’ll go grocery shopping.”

“You just want me to cook for you again.” She broke into a wide grin.

“Well, you could. Or we could go out on a real date.”

After a second, the humor dancing in her eyes faded. She bit down on the corner of her bottom lip. “Seamus, maybe this isn’t a good idea. I mean, I’ve been so busy lately with everything in my life, I don’t know if I really want to add a…relationship…to it now. I don’t think I could do it justice.”

His hand came up and tenderly smoothed the burgeoning furrow between her eyes. “I’m not asking you to free the known world, Serena. Just out to dinner. The answer is simple. Yes or no. No heavy thought involved.”

“A real restaurant?” she asked after a few moments.

“You get to pick it.”

“Whatever kind of food I want?”

He squinted down at her. “Why does that question terrify me?”

“The answer is simple,” she mocked. “Yes or no?”

“Smart aleck. Okay, you pick.”

“Good.”

Intrigued? Here’s where you can order the book to read more:

Amazon // B&N // KOBO // i-tunes // Google Play // Books-a-million // Walmart

and you can find all the MacQuire women books, 1-5 at the same on-line retail sites.

                     

Peggy Jaeger ~ Strong Women. Loving Men

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Filed under Contemporary Romance, Food lover, Foodie, MacQuire Women, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press

#1stLineFriday 2.8.19

Serena MacQuire twined her long fingers together, stretched her arms, just grazing her bed’s headboard, and smiled.

Talented and witty portrait artist Serena MacQuire is successful in everything but love. Her gift for capturing people on canvas is rivaled only by her fiery and legendary temper. A tragedy from the past keeps her heart securely locked away, preventing any man from getting close enough to claim it.

But Seamus Cleary isn’t just any man. After he left his professional football career to become a veterinarian, his bitter wife ended their marriage. Now, as he starts his life over in a new town, love is the last thing he’s looking for. The more he tends to Serena’s horses, though, the more he realizes her own heart needs tender care and healing as well.

Will he be the man who finally unlocks and claims her heart?

Buy Links:

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#SundaySnippet 11.18.18

So since this book released on 11.12.18 I figured I’d put up another little sumthin’ sumthin’ from it to whet your book reading appetite and get you to buy the book if you haven’t yet. Yeah, I know: I’m not above a little subtle (or in your face!) bribery at this point in my life! Hee hee.

This is a long passage because I wanted  you to get a feel for the dynamics of the O’Dowd sisters, Maureen and Colleen, here.

The drive to my sister’s inn took a few minutes longer than usual due to a high volume of tourist traffic along the main road, the extra early leaf peepers already present and…peeping.

Maureen’s wide driveway was filled with out-of- state licenses.

I loved walking through the front door of the inn. A large, fall-themed floral wreath sat on each of the side- by-side doors, their vibrant autumnal colors standing out against the pale cream-colored wood. The moment I went through the doors, the warm, spicy aroma of apples and cinnamon welcomed me like an old friend.

My sister was truly a genius at innkeeping. Her guests never felt like guests, but like treasured family members. She allowed anyone who had a mind to, to sit and chat with her in the kitchen while she cooked, offered up a cup of coffee or tea, or at times, a glass of wine. She’d made the bedrooms a personal project when she and Eileen had first purchased the place, turning each separate room and bath into a little bit of a homey paradise. The soaps were all organic, purchased from a local manufacturer who used only local ingredients. The sheets and towels were washed daily, the detergent aromas changing with the seasons. Apple scented for the fall, evergreen for winter, lemon for spring, and rose for summer. The carpets were plush, the rooms airy and light.

When I’d come home to roost from New York, Maureen offered me the use of one of the extra bedrooms in her little manager’s apartment. At the time, I’d refused, thinking we both needed the personal space, me in our childhood home, Maureen at the inn. Cathleen had tried to convince me to stay with Mo, stating that with her twin’s death, this was the first time in her life Maureen had ever been truly alone. For this very reason, I decided to stay at my parents’ house. After thirty years of being the “other, quieter twin,” Mo deserved the freedom to find out who she was on her own.

I was glad I’d stuck to my guns on that decision, too, because my little sister had, as I’d always known she could, broken out of her shell. She’d blossomed and grown in her adult role. Every time I walked into the inn, I was proud of her. Her individual stamp was everywhere, in every room, in every personal touch she’d given the place. Instead of falling apart after our sister’s death, as most in my family thought she would, she’d actually done the exact opposite. She was still quiet, often to the point I worried something was weighing on her, but she led a productive, busy life and seemed fulfilled.

I made my way through the downstairs, past the ballroom—set for the prewedding dinner being held there that night—and toward the kitchen. Just as I knew she’d be, Maureen was standing at a counter, a piping bag in her hand, adding the finishing touches on a bridal cake. The apron covering her trim body from shoulders to knees was red in color and had black lettering that read I bake. What’s your superpower?

Green flip-flops covered her feet. I knew if there were no such thing as health code violations and spot state inspections from the food police, she would have been barefoot. My littlest sister was born in the wrong era for sure. She would have thrived in the earth-mother centuries, or as a hippie.

An educated, high-functioning, business-savvy, and non-pot-smoking hippie, but one regardless.

“You just missed the tasting,” she said without looking up from piping white buttercream around the perimeter of the five-tiered confection. “I saved you a piece of each.” She lifted her head to look directly at me, then settled her attention back on her handiwork. “You’re welcome.”

I planted my butt in one of the raised metal chairs circling the kitchen table and lifted the plate filled with samples of her newest cake offerings.

At her kitchen door alone I could lay the reason I’d gained these dreaded eight pounds. If she kept tempting me with these delicious sweets and flavor profiles, I was going to need a new wardrobe sooner than later. Of course, I could always skip the tastings and save myself a few thousand extra calories.

Yeah, like that was ever gonna happen.

“What are these?” I reached over and grabbed a fork from the utensil drawer and stabbed at each small piece of cake.

“The white one is french vanilla buttercream on the outside, orange vanilla sponge on the inside, and orange coulis in between.”

I tried a taste. “Oh, this is yummy. Tart and sweet at the same time.”

A corner of my sister’s mouth lifted. “Exactly.” She switched piping tips and began twining a scallop shell around the outer perimeter of the bottom tier. “The dark one is chocolate ganache on top, covering a milk chocolate sponge with coffee liqueur, and hazelnut cream in the middle.”

Since I’d already finished the first, I dove into the second. “Good God, woman. This is a sin.”

The other side of her mouth quirked up to follow suit. “Only a venial one. No need to go to Confession.”

I licked the plate with my fingers so I wouldn’t miss a smidge. “And this last one? It looks a little like coconut.”

Maureen nodded. While she ran a critical eye over the creation she’d decorated from every angle, she swiped her hands on her apron. “That’s Isabella Harrington’s inspiration. I’m thinking of naming it after her.”

“Why?”

“Because she was the inspiration for the flavors,” she said, coming to take a chair next to mine. “Deep dark chocolate ganache on the outside, covering a coconut pound cake base, and then coconut, rum, and cream as the filling. I had to experiment with a few different cakes before I settled on the pound. A sponge was too soft for the heavy coconut. So was a standard genoise. The pound held up the best. Tell me what you think.”

I took a forkful and rolled my eyes around a little, tipping my head back and forth a few times. Then I took another bite.

“Well?”

“I’m thinking.”

“Since when can’t you think and eat at the same time?”

“Since I’ve never tasted anything quite as amazing as this before.”

“You think she’ll like it?”

“If she’s as big a coconut and chocolate bar fan as I’ve been led to believe, she’s going to love it.”

“She is,” a voice said from behind me.

The fork stopped on its ascent to my mouth.

No. It couldn’t be. He’d left the night before. I saw him get in his car and drive away, heading for the highway entrance. Maybe I’d hallucinated his voice because I was so exhausted. Yeah. That was probably it.

“Need another cup?” Maureen asked, rising and crossing to the coffeemaker.

Before turning around, I took a mental breath.

Nope. Hadn’t hallucinated it. Right there in the doorway looking way too sexy and hot, stood Slade Harrington.

Intrigued? Here’s where you can get your copy, which is now available in print and ecopy:

Amazon E-copy // Amazon Print copy // Wild Rose Press // B&N // Kobo // Google Play// Books a Million 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Dearly Beloved, Family Saga, New Hampshire, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press, WIld Rose Press AUthor

#Sisters….the gift that continues to keep on giving, Part 2

Yesterday, I shared a sister scene from book 1 of the WILL COOK FOR LOVE series, Cooking with Kandy between, oldest sister Kandy Laine and her younger -by three years -sister, Gemma. In book 2, A SHOT AT LOVE, Gemma is now the heroine of the story. Kandy’s influence is never far from her mind and actions, though. This scene takes place in a cabin. Even though she is hundreds of miles away from her sister, Kandy is still taking care of her younger sister…and everyone else it seems.

From A SHOT AT LOVE

“Kandy sent some of the soup she’s featuring in the new restaurant, along with stuff to make her grilled cheese sandwiches to go with it,” Rick told her when she opened the refrigerator. “There’s a container of it on the second shelf.”

Gemma opened the tub and took a whiff. “Hmmm. Grandma’s tomato cream. Yummy.”

“Your sister is opening a restaurant?” Ky asked. He moved to the kitchen behind her, helping to take down dishes and utensils from the cabinets. Just being physically close to her again brightened the foul mood darkening his soul from everything he and Bannerman had discovered so far.

“Several, actually,” Gemma said. She filled a pot with the zesty smelling soup and placed it on the stove. “The first one opens in a month in Tribeca. Another in Orlando in the fall and then L.A. in January.”

“Impressive.”

“No. Kandy.” Gemma lifted her shoulders. “This has been her dream since she was a kid, although she never told it to anyone until recently. A restaurant featuring only comfort foods, the kind we all had and loved as kids.”

“An interesting premise.”

She nodded and began slathering bread slices with butter. “No lie. This soup,” she pointed to the pot, “is without a doubt the best tomato soup you will ever have. Hands down.”

“Truth,” Bannerman said.

“What makes it so special?”

Gemma’s quick grin had him hard as stone and wanting in a heartbeat. “The showman in Kandy will tell you it’s made with love added into every cup, but it’s really the mix grandma perfected of spices and herbs, plus the fact she uses almond milk as the cream, and not cow’s milk. Grandma was a pioneer when it came to using plant products for baking sauces instead of dairy ones.”

The soup started to warm, it’s enticing aroma filling the kitchen.

“I wasn’t hungry until just this moment,” Ky said, sniffing the air.

Gemma laughed and said, “Wait until you taste the grilled cheese.” She laid two sandwiches onto the griddle. “You’ll think you’ve died and gone to comfort food heaven.”

A few minutes later the three of them sat at the table.

The only sounds for a while were them sipping the soup and chewing.

“You didn’t exaggerate,” Ky said, wiping his lips with a napkin. “This truly is the best soup I’ve ever had. Think your sister will give me the recipe for my mother?”

“Not a chance in a gazillion, but she can come into the restaurant anytime and have some.” Her lips lifted at the corners.

Buy Links: Amazon // Kensington // B&N // Apple iBooks // Kobo //Google

Who couldn’t love a sister who sends food to wherever you are???

When I’m not writing about sisters and families, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Filed under Alpha Hero, Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Dialogue, Family Saga, Food lover, Foodie, Kensington Publishers, love, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Laine Women

#Sisters…the gift that keeps on giving

I’ve mentioned many times that I’m an only child. And that I hated being one. Still do. I think the reason I write about big families with multiple siblings is because that’s what I wanted when I was younger….still do! I love writing about sisters, especially. Older and younger sisters. I haven’t written twin sisters yet, but I intend to. I just need to do some research first.

Anyway…

Sisters. In my WILL COOK FOR LOVE series, there are 7 Laine sisters. Kandy is the oldest, Eleanor the youngest. Their parent’s volatile divorce left each of them scarred in different ways, and, like with anyone, some of the sisters are closer to one another than others. It’s that way for Kandy and Gemma, who is 3 years younger than Kandy. In the first book COOKING WITH KANDY, Gemma is her older sisters’ principal photographer. She does all of Kandy’s publicity shots and has photographed all her best-selling award-winning cookbooks. Gemma is a true visionary in her own right, and in book 2  A SHOT AT LOVE, we see her evolution since Kandy’s show ended.

Today I want to give you a little glimpse at their dynamic. From COOKING WITH KANDY, here’s a snippet of how the sisters react to one another.

“What’s going on with you and the hunk?” Gemma asked as she helped Kandy carry the leftover cake back into the kitchen.

“What are you talking about?”

“The two of you have been walking around each other on eggshells all day. I noticed it the second I got here. What happened?”

“Why do you think anything’s happened?”

“Stop answering me with questions, Kandace Sophia, and tell me what’s going on. I know you like I know the lighting stops on my camera. Have the two of you slept together?”

No.” The explosion echoed in the kitchen. “For goodness’ sake, Gem, what do you take me for?”

She shot her sister a cool, smug smirk. “A fool if you haven’t. I’d fall into bed with him in a heartbeat if he asked me.” When her sister’s mouth fell open, Gemma added, “Don’t be mad at me for the truth.”

She took Kandy’s hand in hers and rubbed it. The sisterly show of affection made Kandy sigh. “I’m not mad at you.”

“Then tell me. What’s going on with you two?”

Kandy sat on a breakfast barstool and rested her hands on the counter. “I don’t know.” A second later she added, “No, that’s not true. I think I know, but I’m not sure.”

When she sighed again, Gemma took a seat next to her. “Tell me.”

Kandy looked into her sister’s eyes, identical in every way to her own and saw concern wash through them.

With a great deal of reluctance, she related the scene in the kitchen the night before. Supreme embarrassment prevented her from telling Gemma what had transpired in the garage earlier.

“I’ve never acted like that before,” she said, dropping her head into her hands. “So needy, so totally off the wall sexually. It was scary.”

“It sounds exciting as all get out.”

Kandy shook her head and gave her sister a small smile. “Beyond exciting. I can’t describe how good it felt to be kissed like that. I can’t believe it was me.” She threw her head down into her hands again.

“It’s about damn time,” Gemma said, yanking her sister up by her hair, her gaze slicing into her. “All you do is work. You never have any fun, Kan.”

“Cooking is fun for me.”

“Yeah, well, we all know you’re not normal.”

“That’s mean.”

“No, it’s the truth. I can’t imagine a better diversion for you than having a hot, torrid, sexfest with this guy. It’s absolutely perfect. Go for it.”

“Gemma, I can’t have an affair with him.”

“Why not?”

“Well, for one thing, he doesn’t want me.”

Gemma’s eyes widened, making her brow groove in disbelief. “I don’t believe it for a second. I saw the way he looked at you in your office the other day. There was enough longing in his eyes to comfort a small, underdeveloped nation.”

“Then why is he the one who keeps pulling the plug every time we get in a clutch?”

Gemma shrugged. “Some weird sense of duty, maybe?”

“Right.” She shot a finger at her. “He keeps telling me I’m a client. That’s all I am to him, Gem. A job.”

Kandy’s heart ached when she said the words out loud. Admitting them to herself was one thing. Telling them to her sister, giving a real voice to them, was quite another. And it hurt.

It hurt like hell.

“Did he kiss you back?” Gemma asked.

Oh, baby, did he ever! “Yes.”

“Peck-on-the-cheek kiss, or I’ll-die-if-I don’t-wrap-myself-around-your-tonsils kiss?”

Kandy snorted. “The latter.”

“There you go.” She sat back, a smug smile wiggling across her mouth. “What more proof do you need? The guy wants you, Kan. I say go for it with all you’ve got. Enjoy the heck out of him.”

“And then what?”

“What do you mean?”

“What happens next? When this whole thing is over and he leaves? What am I supposed to do then, Gemma? Just go on as if it never happened?”

Gemma shrugged and rose. She opened the refrigerator and took out a pitcher of ice tea. “I don’t know. Why think about it now?”

“Because I think I may be falling in love with him.”

Gemma stopped pouring midstream and leveled a frown at her sister. “You can’t be serious.”

“I am. I’ve never felt like this about a guy before. It’s more than just the physical attraction. I like being with him, having him around. When we went out to dinner last night, for the first time in a really long time I was relaxed and comfortable. I can talk about anything with him. He listens. He hears and understands. I get a safe and warm feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I think about him. I can see the two of us together, sitting in the kitchen, drinking coffee, discussing the kids. I’ve never let myself think about children and carpools and starring in my own happily-ever-after before. Never. It’s never been an option for me.”

Gemma cocked her head. “Because of Daddy and what he did?”

Kandy nodded. “I don’t want to love someone as much as Mom did and then have it all turn to crap. I’ve done everything I could to protect myself from ever being that vulnerable.”

Gemma’s sigh was forceful. “And you all say I’m the one who’s screwed up the most in this family.”

“Gem, no one says that. Truthfully.”

“But you all think it. I know you do.”

The sisters stared at each other for a moment.

“Look.” Kandy finally broke the silence. “I don’t know what do to about this, how to handle it. Whenever we’re in the same room, all I want to do is have him hold me. When he’s not around, I’m thinking about him.” She told Gemma how he’d left her for an hour after the rat incident. “All my mind could focus on was how long it was taking him to get back.”

Gemma sat next to her sister and took her hand. “You sound like you’re in love with him already, no maybes about it.”

Kandy swallowed.

“Can’t you ever do anything halfhearted?” Gemma said, a lopsided grin tripping over her face.

“What?”

“Why’d you go and fall in love with the guy?”

“It’s not like I could help it. Don’t you remember what Grandpa used to tell us?”

Brow furrowing, she answered, “The thing about lightning?”

“Yeah. One day you’re walking along without a care in the world, and then bang, like lightning, you get struck through the heart for good.”

Gemma’s grin grew. “Grandma used to get all teary-eyed when he’d say that.”

“Because it’s what happened to him the day he met her.”

“And you feel this way about Josh?”

Her head moved up and down, slowly, a few times. “Believe me, if I could have prevented it, I would have. I don’t need this right now in my life, you know I don’t.”

On a sigh she said, “Yeah. I do.” Gemma took a sip of her tea. “So, what are you going to do? Pursue it and get your heart potentially stomped on, or let it go and wonder what could have been?”

“Oh, don’t be so melodramatic,” Kandy said. “This isn’t some Jane Austen novel. I have more choices than just those two.”

“Like what? Aside from using him for sex or marrying the guy, I don’t see a lot of options looming on the horizon.”

Kandy shook her head and hugged her sister. “You’re an idiot. I love you dearly, but you’re an idiot.”

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I just lovelovelove sister interaction!! Tomorrow I’ll be giving you a little glimpse of book 2, A SHOT AT LOVE, and how Kandy helps Gemma out when our fearless and opinionated photographer’s life is turned upside down.

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