Availability date: 02/08/2016
Valentine’s Day is chocolatier Chloe San Valentino’s favorite day of the year. Not only is it the busiest day in her candy shop, Caramelle de Chloe, but it’s also her birthday. Chloe’s got a birthday wish list for the perfect man she pulls out every year: he’d fall in love with her in a heartbeat, he’d be someone who cares about people, and he’d have one blue eye and one green eye, just like her. So far, Chloe’s fantasy man hasn’t materialized, despite the matchmaking efforts of her big, close-knit Italian family. But this year for her big 3-0 birthday, she just might get her three wishes.
At about ten minutes of ten I was almost ready to turn the Closed sign on the door when it opened. I heard Janie’s breath hitch and turned from where I was sweeping up. Staying open late can be a risk, with the thought of being robbed always a threat at the end of the day.
If the guy standing at the door, glancing around the shop, was a thief, then Dio mio, I wanted to be held up.
About six foot, he had hair the color of a deer’s pelt, with autumnal golds and browns shot together in a glorious patchwork that grazed the collar of his jacket and curled a little at the ends. He wore a faded brown bomber jacket over a shirt, and he had shoulders almost as wide as my doorway. A pair of well-worn jeans covered his mile-long legs, and the fabric on the stress points at his knees was practically white.
“We’re about to close,” I heard myself say. “Can I help you?”
It was at that moment he looked over at me.
His face could have been sculpted by Da Vinci or Michelangelo. A broad, smooth forehead housed naturally arched eyebrows I knew some of my gay guy friends would have paid a fortune to have on their own faces. His cheeks were carved from marble, high, smooth, and deep. And his mouth—mother of God—his mouth. Full, thick, beautiful lips sat perfectly over a chin with a dent you could shove a button into and have it stay put.
“Sorry,” he said. Those fabulous lips pulled up a little shyly at the corners. “I got stuck at work and couldn’t get here until now. I’ll be quick. Promise.”
So here’s the thing: the guy was gorgeous. But even if he’d looked like a frog with raw antipasto smothering his face, I would have dropped to my knees when he opened his mouth. Warm honey, a shot of raw whiskey, and a little hot puff of smoke wafted from his mouth like a fine and rare brandy being decanted.
I swallowed, tightened my grip on the broom because I thought I was coming close to pitching forward, and licked my lips. “Do you know what you’re looking for?” I asked, secretly hoping he’d say, “You.”
“Caramel. Anything caramel.”
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