Snippet 1: Tessa and Ian's first meeting was a little bumpy:
When she reached the country road at the end of Buck's drive, she turned left toward her white bungalow and the acres it sat on. She'd turned the barn in the side yard into a farm stand and bakery. She closed the stand each winter and didn't reopen until the first of May, two and a half weeks away, but she sold baked goods all year on Fridays and Saturdays with special requests available by order.
She was halfway home, flying past farm fields, when she saw a sleek, black car parked on the side of the road. A dark-haired, lanky man stood beside it, waving his arms to get her attention. He wore a suit and black shoes that gleamed in the sunlight. She pulled up beside him and rolled down her window.
"I'm in a jam," he said. "My car has a flat, and I'm not sure where I am, so I can't give directions to get help."
He was damned good-looking. Not gorgeous, but easy on the eyes. She didn't trust him already. Good-looking men would eventually cheat. Women threw themselves at them, and they caved after time, succumbed to temptation. She had to give this guy credit, though. He didn't try the charm or smiles that most handsome men used, and she was sure it would work for him. He looked to be about six-four with black hair and brown eyes. Off-limits. Tessa frowned. "Do you have a spare?"
He raised his eyebrows, surprised. "The car's a rental. I'm not sure."
Tessa got out of her pickup. "Let's look in the trunk. Mill Pond's only a few miles away. A donut'll get you there. You can get a new tire and be on your way."
He unlocked the trunk and pointed at the empty space. "See? Nothing's there."
Tessa blinked at him, surprised, and shook her head. She flipped up the dark mat and pointed to the wheel well with its spare and jack.
Snippet 2: Tessa has sworn off men after she found her fiancee, Gary, with another woman. When she learns that her new neighbor, Ian, is engaged, it's a relief. He's off the market, safe. They can be friends, but he brings back memories:
She felt restless, ill at ease. Ian had brought up memories and decisions she'd pushed aside for a later date. That date had never come. And Gary's parents had stopped at Buck Krieger's, asking about her. She didn't let herself think about them, or Gary, or men. Now wasn't the right time.
Not every man was like Gary. But after the hurt of his betrayal subsided, she had to admit that wasn't her only worry, was it? She'd been with Gary for their first, three years of college. He swore he loved every thing about her....
...The real doubts and fears didn't come until later. Then, she had to wonder. Maybe she wasn't special enough to keep a man's interest. Sadie, obviously, had something she didn't. And that worried her. Maybe she wasn't enough. Maybe the same thing would happen with every man she ever met.
She pulled into her driveway and parked in the garage. She took a deep breath and let out the old pain and confusion. Maybe if she used the beauty products her mom sent. Maybe if she wore more dresses and ribbons. But she was what she was, and she had no desire to fake it. She'd rather be alone than pretend to be someone she wasn't. She'd be found out eventually, anyway. So why risk it?
Snippet 3: Ian is more tempting than she ever thought possible. And he's attracted to her, too, so Tessa decides she'll have to be a lot more careful:
She started to the door. The sooner she got out of here, the better. "I have a big day tomorrow. So do you. Lily's coming. We both need sleep. See you on Monday."
Short, terse sentences. That's all she could manage. She hurried to her pickup and cussed herself on the drive home. She should have worn coveralls with a baggy shirt under them. Her mind said she wasn't interested in men, but her body didn't get the message. She was going to have to be careful around Ian.
Once back in her own bedroom, she looked in the mirror. Wild, copper hair spilled over her shoulders. Her eyes were too wide, too worried. Was this what had happened to Gary and Sadie? Had they been thrown together, living in the same apartment building, until their willpower proved too weak?
She pointed at her reflection. "I am not Sadie." She would never steal some other woman's man. As if she could. But that didn't matter. She was stronger than that, had more resolve.
Once her head hit the pillow, though, thoughts of Ian swam in her dreams.