Say You Love Me (Pine Valley Book 3)(12)

By: Heather B. Moore

An hour later, he found himself at the bookstore, browsing the newest releases. A romance cover caught his eye—it wasn’t one of those bodice rippers . . . at least, the hero and heroine were fully clothed.

“Can I help you?” an employee asked.

Dawson looked up to see a young brunette with purple-rimmed glasses. Her name tag read: Felicity. Before he asked her his question, he glanced about the store. Only two other people were inside browsing, but they were out of earshot. “What are some of the top-selling romances you carry?”

Credit went to the employee when she didn’t gasp or even raise an eyebrow. She pointed to one of the books on the display table. “Rachael Anderson’s books are really popular. She writes wholesome romances, both contemporary and Regency.”

Dawson gazed at the cover—the woman was wearing an old-fashioned dress. “What do you mean by Regency?”

“Oh, it’s specific to Regency England, early 1800s, during the rule of the Prince Regent,” she said.

It all went over his head, but he picked up the book anyway and started to thumb through it. An idea was forming in his head.

“If your girlfriend or wife likes to read historical romance, she’ll like Rachael’s books,” she continued. “They’re sweet and clean.”

Dawson frowned. “What do you mean by ‘clean’?”

“No sex scenes.”

Dawson swallowed, his throat suddenly dry. He didn’t correct the employee on the girlfriend/wife assumption. “All right. I’ll get it. Anything else you recommend?”

“In romances?”

He nodded. His face also might have been turning red.

“Sure, there’s a new contemporary romance by Amy Harmon out,” she said. “We have a stack of them by the register.”

Two romances sounded like a decent start, and Dawson followed the employee to the register. Moments later he left the bookstore, not entirely sure he could believe that he’d just purchased two romance novels.

“It’s not a problem,” Clara told Jeff Finch over the phone. It was a rainy Monday, which pretty much matched her mood. And now Jeff was calling into work sick, which meant she’d be spending the next hour rescheduling all his appointments for today, and possibly tomorrow. “I hope you feel better soon. Do you want me to bring you soup or anything?”

He chuckled, which quickly turned into a deep cough. “Uh, my mom has that one covered,” he said when he could talk again. “Thanks for the offer, though. I’ll let you know if I’m feeling better tomorrow.”

“Sounds good,” Clara said, leaning back in her office chair. She was glad Jeff was taking the day off. He sounded terrible, and she didn’t want to catch whatever he had.

“Oh, one more thing,” Jeff said, his voice scratchy.

“What is it?” She’d already written down about seven tasks Jeff had rattled off when she’d first answered her phone.

“I thought I’d give you a little heads-up in case you’re interested,” he continued.

“What’s going on?”

“Well, yesterday I ran into Dawson Harris when I was out doing errands.”

Clara stiffened. She’d tried not to feel guilty about turning down Dawson’s invitation for a date. She might have eaten a little too much chocolate over the weekend, but tonight at yoga, she was determined to cleanse her thoughts and move forward. Yeah, Dawson was a good-looking man, and charming, but she stuck by all she’d told him. Their differences were too great.

No, things hadn’t worked out with Max, even though they’d had a lot in common, but that was in the past. And Clara wanted to be one-hundred percent Clara before she started dating again. She braced herself for what Jeff might say next.

“Well, I noticed he’d bought some books, and when I asked him what he was reading, I’ll just have to say, I was shocked.”

Clara had no idea where Jeff was going with this. She didn’t really want to talk about Dawson Harris anyway.

“You won’t believe this, but he’d bought two romance novels—for himself! He said he was expanding his reading arsenal. Of course I gave him plenty of crap.” Jeff laughed, which turned into another coughing fit.