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Availability date: 01/18/2016
Darby Malone has trouble saying no. Hosting a children’s Valentine party at her recently renovated gallery is the last straw, and the last time she intends to say yes to anything. That is, until she meets Ben, a well-known Cape Cod artist with eyes as deep and blue as the ocean. He stirs feelings in her that have been dormant for too long. Can she afford to say yes to him?
Ben Phillips needs this gallery show. His life has been empty since his wife died four years ago, his paintings the only thing giving him solace. But his style has changed, his art completely different than the breezy shore paintings he staked his reputation on. Can he convince Darby to give him a chance – and to consider him for more than just a place on her gallery walls? Will she give him a place in her heart as well?
Every muscle in her body tensed at his proximity. Her mouth went dry and her brain clicked into hyperdrive, suddenly aware of every last detail of the six-foot god standing far too close. The shadow of scruff along his chiseled jawline, the salty ocean smell wafting off his leather jacket, the weathered tan along his cheeks and nose giving him the look of someone who spent all his time outdoors wearing sunglasses. His dark blond hair, tossed every which way by the February wind, looked like he’d just rolled out of bed. Darby wondered what it would be like to be in that bed with him, tousling the unruly mop with her hands, tugging him closer to taste those sculpted lips…
She blinked hard, reining in her fantasy. This was strictly business. Ben Phillips was kind of a big deal in the Cape Cod art community; it would be a coup for her little gallery to handle some of his paintings. She’d been surprised when he responded to her mass mailing with a request for this meeting.
He cleared his throat, looking hesitant, maybe even a little unsure of himself. “Maybe this is a bad time. I should come back in the morning as originally scheduled.”
“No, no,” she said, regaining control of her voice. “You just caught me by surprise. I guess I expected you to be…different.”
His brow furrowed, mouth quirking up on one side. “Different? How?”
She headed for the office desk in the corner, talking over her shoulder so he wouldn’t notice the heat suffusing her cheeks. “You seem too young, too laid-back, to be such a well-known artist.” Reaching the desk, she sat and grabbed her planning calendar, shuffling pages and not meeting his gaze.
“Thanks, I think.” He trailed in her wake, seating himself in the chair opposite hers.
She tilted her head to one side, deciding to be honest. “Don’t get me wrong, but I’m not even sure why you’d want to exhibit in a little gallery like mine. I’d be excited for the opportunity to work with you, but there must be bigger, better known places on Cape Cod that want you and your work.”
“You’d be surprised.” He reached for the glass bowl of candy hearts on her desk. “Uh-oh, don’t look now, but there’s more blue food in your gallery.”
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