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Deerbourne Inn Series
Licking her wounds after a bad relationship, San Diego accountant Caitlyn Summers travels to Willow Springs to help her friend gear up for the annual Maple Sugar Ball. She isn't planning on staying long, but one encounter with the delicious Corey Duncan has her re-evaluating her plans.
Corey swore off love when his wife Annie died from breast cancer. Caitlyn is too young, too citified, and vibrates with a passion and energy that will upend the safe, comfortable rhythm of his life. Corey has to choose between playing it safe and taking a risk on love. Caitlyn needs to find the patience to let Corey lead. If not, the Maple Sugar Ball might end in a sticky mess, instead of a slow dance with the man who has captured her heart.
Will their fire burn hot enough to erase doubts and past hurts?
Page Count: 178
Word Count: 42822
Caitlin shoved her empty suitcase into the inn wardrobe and shut the door. Now what? She had two hours to kill before she met Annette. She walked across the room and twitched open the curtains, staring at the street below. A gentle buzz rose, the kind she got in San Diego on a sleepy Sunday morning. In the ’burbs. City streets would be louder, especially late afternoon.
A tight knot formed in her chest when she thought about San Diego, and she rubbed her hand across her breastbone to ease it. The knot had been lodged there for twelve months, and she couldn’t shift it. She couldn’t think about home without thinking about him, the shame and the embarrassment. He’d ruined her home town for her, his presence lingering on the streets and in restaurants, even office space. She was determined to get over it. Twelve months traveling in Europe and South East Asia hadn’t helped, but maybe what she really needed was an American holiday, in a place familiar yet different. She was counting on this detour to Willow Springs to provide the tonic she needed to cast him out of her memory.
On the opposite side of the street, two men were in discussion outside a bar. She admired their relaxed stances, their boots, and the way they filled out their jeans. She chuckled. Eye candy wasn’t on her shopping list for Willow Springs, but who was she to turn it down? Not that she was looking for a man—not here anyway—but no harm in window shopping.
Or flirting. A fling might be the tonic she needed. She’d discovered in Europe that she was too old and too prudent for one-night stands. She’d had opportunities, but… She shuddered. Some were young enough to be at school still, and she couldn’t trust the men her age not to have a wife at home they were cheating on.
On the street below, her eye candy lurked outside a traditional bar with a green and gold sign declaring it Irish or faux Irish. Finnigan’s. Pity it wasn’t a quirky wine bar. She preferred pinot to stout.
She let the curtain fall and picked up the big brass room key. She’d take a walk, orientate herself, and learn something about this town. With luck she’d find somewhere that served real coffee. The sooner she knew whether she could buy a macchiato by the cup or needed to purchase a coffee machine, the better.
After a chat with the receptionist, she turned left on Main Street, crossed over Maple Run Avenue, and headed toward the town square. She’d never been to New England before, not if she discounted New York. Willow Springs was picturesque, like a postcard or a movie set, not a real town. No litter, no high rises, no four-lane highways. Main Street with its sedate traffic was apparently the main thoroughfare. She couldn’t imagine rush hour lasted longer than a couple of minutes. The trees lining the street were still bare, the edges of the sidewalks covered in ice and slush. Whitewashed buildings gleamed in the weak afternoon sunlight, their slate roofs dotted with snow, and their shutters closed.
She shivered and wrapped her scarf more securely around her throat, tucking her gloved hands into the pockets of her jacket to keep them warm. It never got this cold in San Diego, not even at night in the middle of winter. The two men she’d spied from her room had moved on and were standing outside a store called Duncan’s Feed and Seed. She dawdled, sizing them up. The one facing her way was gorgeous. Strong square chin covered in a light dusting of dark scruff, with twinkling hazel eyes and brown hair long enough to curl up at the edges, chestnut highlights glinting. Even bundled up in a bulky parka to combat the February cold, he was clearly built. Not an ounce of fat in sight.
She rubbed her own soft belly and sighed. She ought to make time for the gym. Living on tourist rations and walking the world for twelve months ought to have firmed it up, but no, it was as soft and round as ever.
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