Bad Boy's Revenge:A Small-Town Romantic Suspense(4)

By: Sosie Frost


To them, he was the reason my shop was gone.

To me, he was the only man I ever loved.

“It’s getting late,” I said. “I’m gonna get started on the cookies. Nolan wants them hand-delivered the day after tomorrow.”

“You’re not going to his house?”

I knew better than that. “He agreed to meet me for coffee.”

“Do you need any help?”

The last time Delta entered my kitchen she accidentally baked a knife into an apple pie, broke the handle of my best copper-bottomed pan, and melted the groom topper on the Miller’s wedding cake with a Crème brûlée torch I specifically hid from her. Delta swiped a Lego man from her kid brother to replace the plastic figure, but it just wasn’t as elegant.

“I’ll be fine,” I said. “I like baking on the weekends. I like baking any time.”

“Freak.”

“Party-Animal.”

Delta howled, which I’m sure her office loved, but it was a Friday and they were probably relieved she wasn’t pole dancing next to the Xerox machine. I promised to call her on Saturday and headed home.

Or…I went to my apartment.

I lost my home in the fire—the cute little rooms over the shop. But my new apartment was comfortable, if only because I packed every available space with fifty-pound bags of flour, tubs of sugar, a variety of nuts, cocoa powders, chips, and baking spices. Even my linen closet was filled with brown sugar and corn syrup and cookie sheets.

My apartment still teased with a vanilla scent from the last batch of cookies I made. It’d only get better. I dumped my recipe book on the table and sorted through what’d work best for the event. Nolan ordered an obscene quantity of cookies…

…Probably because the creep liked the thought of my slaving over a hot stove.

And other places I refused to imagine.

I had no place to prep. Most of my counters were crowded with too many papers and folders. They were the final piece in my puzzle—the crown of my yearlong investigation of Nolan that would prove his involvement in the fire. It took a while to find, but I finally had the blueprints, plans, and engineering schematics Nolan commissioned for my shop. The plans were delivered the week he made the offer on my property. Public record was a funny thing, and having a former classmate on the inside of the busiest engineering firm in the county helped when I needed more information.

The engineers designed plans for Nolan’s renovation and reconstruction of Sweet Nibbles from bakery to a trendy bed-and-breakfast. If nothing else, the plans were presumptuous, the makings of a man used to getting what he wanted when he wanted it. Had I agreed to the sale, he’d have taken his first reservation for the inn the night I signed the transfer. But I refused him and his perverted proposal, and my store burned to the ground.

I spun sugar for a living, but when the licorice whip needed to crack, I was all business. It took me a year, but I’d prove Nolan belonged behind bars. Then, nothing would stop me from getting my shop back.

Nothing.

Except a knock at the door.

I dove over the papers, shoving them in the first available hiding space…which happened to be my refrigerator. I edged the milk and a couple containers of yogurt out of the way and jammed my future legal case beside the week-old lunch meat.

Damn, Delta. It was just like her to be too sweet to let me spend a weekend alone. She stayed with me every Friday since the break-up, since the trials started and he was gone. I loved having her around, but tonight was a date with two dozen oatmeal raisin cookies before moving to nut horns and the pecan tassies before the…

The knocking thudded louder, insistent. A fist punished the door frame. I bit my lip.

That wasn’t Delta.

I edged close, flinching as the pounding shook the door. Almost angry.

But who would be angry? My stomach clenched. The reaction was ridiculous. Nothing bad ever happened in our sugar-starved little town.

Nothing except arson.

Nothing except almost losing my life in a terrible fire.

But who was counting?

The slamming practically jarred my teeth. Something wasn’t right. I should have dialed the police or called someone for help.

Instead, I opened the door and made the biggest mistake of my life.

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