And what better time to jump back on the blogging train than by joining in for Teaser Tuesday with my newest release, WISHES & WEDDING CAKE!
Wishes & Wedding Cake is the newest installment in the Starlight Hills Holiday Novella series.
Nick Berkley is happy being the best man, never the groom. Life is complicated enough with his thriving veterinary practice and working nights at the family pet store covering for his ailing father. He prefers dates to relationships. He doesn't need one woman to try to change him or his ways. Now his friend's Marine unit is shipping overseas and with only two weeks to plan a 4th of July wedding, Nick's put in charge of finding the perfect wedding cake when all the bakeries in town are booked for the holiday.
Independent single mother Delilah Redmond still remembers the first wedding cake she watched a groom feed his bride. In that one magical moment, baking the perfect wedding cake became her passion. Six years later, Delilah finds herself wishing for more—more time with her son and more of a name for herself in the wedding cake business. But long hours in the kitchen with no recognition have left her feeling like a failure on both counts. Now Delilah's thinking of giving up her cake pans, and she hopes a vacation in the quiet mountain town of Starlight Hills will help clear her head…until she meets Nick, the desperate-for-a-cake best man.
Sweet desperation has Nick making promises he's never made before and one woman's to blame.
Now, pulling off the perfect wedding cake may force Delilah to depend on someone else…but she might also find everything she's ever wished for.
From the corner of her eye, she saw a man stand and motion to her. Nick Berkley, a.k.a. the Cake Man. The ripple of anxiety grew into a life-size wave. Her nervous fingers brushed at the sides of her pink sundress as she hoped the heat rising up the base of her neck wasn't visible. Even from the doorway she could sense his blue eyes watching her—sizing her up, most likely.
So, she'd share a meal with the man. No harm in that.
Delilah walked to the table, and he pulled out her chair. Apprehension zinged along her spine, though he was a perfect gentleman. He'd changed clothes since their earlier encounter on the street. His T-shirt was now replaced with a black golf shirt. She looked around for his dog; thankfully, he was nowhere to be found. A single yellow daisy stood at attention in the bud vase between their two plates, and in the awkward silence of those first few seconds while he sat and adjusted the napkin on his lap, she considered counting the petals to avoid his eyes.
She glanced up, only to be instantly captured by the twinkle in his sapphire eyes. Then he smiled, the carefree grin tugging at the edges of his lips. Warmth spread through her chest. Though she wasn't naive enough to believe this was anything more than part of his act, she could still enjoy the man's company. He wanted something that he thought she could provide. Whether she said yes or turned him down, having dinner with a good-looking man wasn't a bad way to start her vacation. Her mother would have a field day with him and his proposal. Still, Delilah found herself intrigued, and ignored her mother's voice that always took up residence in her head at the most inopportune times.
He held out his hand across the table. "I guess we should introduce ourselves. I'm Nick Berkley, and just so you know, I don't normally ask strangers to bake cakes for me."
She couldn't resist the laugh that bubbled up. His admission made him even more endearing. She extended her own hand across the table in return, letting it be enveloped in his. "Delilah Redmond, and just so you know, I don't pack cake pans in my luggage when I'm on vacation. And you'll forgive me if I seem a little cautious, Mr. Berkley. I must admit I'm feeling a little like I've been set up."
"Guilty. Sometimes knowing everyone in town has its advantages. I promise you I'm not a crazy stalker, just persistent." He released her hand and leaned back against the seat, his tanned arms relaxed against the arms of his chair.
A teenage girl appeared beside their table, dressed in the green and white striped shirt everyone at the Galaxy Country Cabins wore. The interruption gave Delilah a moment to settle the butterflies in her stomach while the waitress offered them a choice of shepherd's pie or fried chicken with homemade mashed potatoes and gravy. She wrote down their choices on her small pad. Before leaving, she turned to Nick. "Dr. Nick, I just wanted to thank you again for what you did for Ruby."
"My pleasure, Paige. Bring her by again next week, but from what I hear, her leg is healing just fine. Just don't let her overdo it, okay?"
The girl laughed and nodded. "Will do. Thanks again." She stuffed her pad in the pocket of the apron around her waist and scurried off toward the kitchen.
Delilah picked up her water glass and arched a brow, admittedly curious about the man across the table. "Dr. Nick? Now I really am intrigued. What would make a doctor beg a stranger to bake a cake? Tell me about Ruby. Maybe she can bake you a cake."
"That would be quite a feat, since Ruby is a German Shepherd. I'm the local vet." He grabbed a roll from the basket sitting next to the daisy vase and started to butter it. He glanced around the room before those beautiful blue eyes focused on her once again. "I'm also the best man in a wedding less than two weeks away. A wedding in need of a cake. The groom is a marine, being deployed shortly after the reception."
"Well, every wedding does need a cake. But there must be a bakeshop here in Starlight Hills that can take care of that. What about the caterer? Your mother or your wife, maybe?"
He ate his roll and shrugged. "Oh, I'm not married, and though my mother is no longer with us, she never baked anything more difficult than a potato. The bakeshop is closing for vacation, and the caterer doesn't handle dessert. And in case you haven't noticed, we're not a big town and a bit out of the way, one would say. The closest town with another bakery is well over an hour away without the holiday traffic. You can only imagine the traffic nightmare on one-lane mountain roads during the tourist season. Which puts me in a bind to help out a friend."
"This is important to you. I understand that."
He leaned his forearms on the table, and his expression turned serious. "Tell me about you. Your son says you can bake the best wedding cakes. It's been my experience that kids don't lie when it comes to the talents of their parents. And believe me, kids tell me lots of things about their parents while I'm healing their pets. I said I'd pay anything. I meant it."
"Kids also believe their parents are superheroes—that doesn't make them right."
At the mention of Dillon, she looked over to where he sat, happily chatting with his new friends, his plate piled high with French fries and chicken fingers. Nick was right about Dillon. He hadn't lied about her culinary skills, but did she want to admit that to a man she barely knew? Did she even want to make another wedding cake at all?