Competitive, work-obsessed Bella Simonetti has just been fired from her high-paying job at a Manhattan law firm. At an all-time low, she returns home and helps her parents at their small-town gift shop, but the business is failing and may not make it past the Christmas holidays.
Successful landscape architect Dean Jackson is like a son to Bella’s parents. But he’s a persistent annoyance to her—he seems to have forgotten his unforgivable blunder thirteen years earlier.
When Bella transforms her parents’ gift shop into a cookie cottage, Dean’s generosity and magnetic smile are hard to resist, and those feelings of unrequited adolescent love come rushing back. But can Bella let go of the past and accept Dean for the man he is today?
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Dean had been waiting all day to get the call from Clive. Not that he couldn’t wait to rearrange furniture and cases in the gift shop, but because his blood pumped every time he thought of Bella. The combination of excitement and dread had him confused.
She was such a presence! Beautiful—with thick, dark hair that his fingers itched to comb through, flashing blue eyes that sucked him in, and a tall, lithe body that somehow looked good in flannel pajamas. Although he’d rather see her in silk and lace.
On more than one occasion today, he’d gotten lost in the memory of her standing on the ladder, her arms overhead, sweater inching up to give him an eyeful of her soft, silky midriff. When she leaned over too far, he’d slid his palms around her waist in an attempt to keep her from falling. At least that’s the excuse he’d used.
He’d like to be back there right now, just the two of them, working together, brushing against each other, eliciting fireworks that went straight to his core.
But even more than her lovely assets, he was mesmerized by her powerful energy in taking charge of a problem and working to find answers. She didn’t force anything. She collaborated. All while steering her stubborn audience toward her resolutions.
Despite his captivation with her, she unfortunately didn’t hold him in like esteem. She’d disregarded his inquiry into the cause of her clear disturbance over his presence by closing down and refusing to discuss it. Of course, it hadn’t helped matters when he sided with her parents last night about not changing the store. With the exception of a thirty-second interlude where they’d connected on some other level, her eye daggers and ice-cold voice had been lethal.
And today, despite Clive and Barb’s change of heart and his willingness to help out with whatever they wanted to do, her steely glance told him he was not forgiven for his opinion last night and whatever other grievance she had against him.
With luck, he’d be able to steer her to a remote corner of the store today while they were rearranging, to attempt to get on her better side. At least, that was the plan.
Maria Imbalzano is a retired matrimonial lawyer who now writes full time. Instead of drafting motions, legal memoranda, and briefs, although fascinating, she now spends her days creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys through her contemporary romance novels.
Her novel, “Unchained Memories,” won the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers’ Award and the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award. “Sworn to Forget,” the first of the four-book Sworn Sisters Series was a finalist for the illustrious RONE award as well as the Book Buyers Best Award. Her novellas, “The Blueberry Swirl Waltz” and “A Song For Another Day” each came in first in their category in the National Excellence in Story Telling contest and both finaled in the Colorado Romance Writers Beverly contest.
To learn more about all of her books, visit Maria at http://mariaimbalzano.com
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