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Page 26

Author: Jill Shalvis

They typically took turns going to the bakery every morning, grabbing a box of whatever Leah had fresh, and bringing it back for the other guys. And it was definitely Tim’s turn.

But Jack didn’t want Tim to go to the bakery. Jack wanted to go to the bakery. He’d told Leah that nothing would change between them, but that’d been before they’d had the hottest sex of his life up on a mountaintop.

Now he wasn’t so sure that everything hadn’t changed. Because now he knew how she kissed, how she tasted…the sexy little sounds she made when she came. “I’m going to get the donuts,” he said.

“It’s my turn,” Tim said.

“No, it’s not.”

“Yeah, don’t you remember? Sam went last time and—”

“I got it,” Jack said.

Tim stared at him, then let out a slow smile. “Right. Because you and Leah are a thing. You see the show last night? Her and that Rafe guy? Some serious chemistry there.”

“The show was filmed six months ago.”

“So they’re not together?”

Jack headed to the door. “Let it go.”

“I don’t know, man. Maybe you’ve been dumped and you don’t even know it.”

“Tim?”

“Let me guess. The senior center?” But Tim was cracking his ass up as Jack slammed the door and stalked to the truck. An idiot. He was a fucking idiot.

And he didn’t mean Tim.

Chapter 16

Jack tied Kevin’s leash to the bench in front of the bakery. “Stay.”

Kevin immediately hopped up onto the bench like he owned the thing.

“Down,” Jack said.

Kevin indeed went down. He laid down, across the entire bench.

Since there was no one else around, Jack shook his head and walked into the bakery. The bell above the door tinkled, and the usual delicious scents assaulted his nose. Vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, and a hundred others that made his mouth water and his brain go straight to Leah.

And his other body parts as well.

Like Pavlov’s dog, he thought, with a shake of his head.

There were people seated at the tables, and a few more at the counter still eyeing their selections, among them Lucille and Mrs. Burland. Mrs. B had been Jack’s second-grade teacher, and he still twitched whenever she gazed at him with those hawklike eyes that saw everything.

Leah came out from the back carrying a huge tray. She was wearing two tank tops layered over each other, a short denim skirt, and high-heeled ankle boots that had a bunch of cutouts in them and were so damn sexy it made it difficult to put a thought together. Her arms were tanned and toned, carrying her burden with ease as she bent and began reloading the shelves of her glass-front display.

She served a couple of customers before glancing his way. Lucille and Mrs. B were down at the other end of the counter, and Jack scrambled for something clever to say but the only thing he could think of wasn’t clever at all.

He wanted to ask about the “fuck me” shoes.

Instead, he kept his mouth shut. Or he tried. He blamed his caffeine-deprived brain. “Nice shoes.”

He heard Lucille chuckle, but when he glanced at her, she was busy looking at donuts.

“What’s this new thing you have about my shoes?” Leah asked.

“I don’t know.” But he wanted to see her in those boots and nothing else. He leaned over the counter and caught a whiff of whatever she’d washed her hair with. Something with coconut, which made him hungry and not for food. “You smell good too.”

“You’re in a bakery,” she said dryly. “Everything smells good.”

He was a little stymied by her tone, but before he could ask her about it, someone tapped him on the arm. Turning, he looked down at all four feet of Mrs. Burland.

“Hey, you hoodlum, no cuts.”

There’d been a time when her voice had struck terror in his heart. And he supposed that if she was still judging his character on his “little hoodlum” eight-year-old self, the one who’d painted her desk chair with superglue and let the hamsters free in the ventilation system, then she had good reason to call him a hoodlum.

“He’s not a hoodlum,” Lucille said.

“Really?” Mrs. B asked snidely. “I take it he didn’t rearrange your Christmas reindeer lawn ornaments every year so they were…copulating.”

Lucille fought a grin and lost. “No, he didn’t.”

Jack sighed, gestured Mrs. B ahead of him, and waited while she curtly snapped her order at Leah.

“And make sure the cannoli is vanilla,” Mrs. Burland told her. “You don’t make good chocolate cannoli.”

“Yes she does,” Jack said.

Mrs. Burland turned an eagle eye on him. “She’s already yours, Harper. No one likes a kiss-ass.”

“I’m not his,” Leah said. “I’m my own woman.” She thrust a bag of baklava at Mrs. Burland. “It’s made with phyllo dough, which is much lower in fat than the cannoli.”

“I want cannoli. I am paying you for the cannoli.” Mrs. Burland waved a few bills.

Leah pushed them away. “And Dr. Scott paid me to give you something low-cholesterol instead.”

Mrs. Burland snatched the baklava and huffed off.

Leah turned to Lucille, who smiled. “Jack can go first,” she said.

Leah gave Lucille a look. “So you can eavesdrop?”

Lucille grinned. “Well, of course. But also the good men don’t wait around. You don’t know that yet because you’re still a spring chicken.”

“You’re not worried about him waiting around for me,” Leah said. “You want your daily dose of gossip.”

Lucille had the good grace to look slightly guilty. “People like to know what’s going on, that’s all.”

“What’s going on,” Leah said, “is that you’re both holding up my line.”

Both Lucille and Jack turned and looked behind them.

There was no one else in line.

Lucille looked up at Jack. “Seriously,” she said. “You can go first.”

“Seriously,” he said. “No thank you.”

“Because you and Leah have to talk?” Lucille asked hopefully.

“If I say yes, will you get the hell out?”

“Jack,” Leah said admonishingly.

Lucille didn’t seem bothered in the slightest. She pointed to a coffee éclair. “Anyone ever mention that those look like a one of them toys you can buy at the dirty stores? What are they called, dildos?”

Jack laughed, but Leah looked horrified. “Lucille!”

“Hey, this is the modern ages, honey,” Lucille said. “Women don’t have to hide the fact that they buy devices for themselves. After all, that’s what a nightstand drawer is for, right?”

Jack didn’t want to know what Lucille kept in her nightstand drawer, but the thought of looking in Leah’s was giving him a whole bunch of fantasies.

Leah packed up a bag and thrust it at her.

Lucille just grinned. “You’re my favorite,” she said to Jack.

“Favorite?” Jack asked.

“Yeah, you’ve got some competition, you know.” At Jack’s expression, she laughed. “So you don’t know…”

Jack looked at Leah. “That host guy?”

Leah blinked. “Who?”

“I noticed that too,” Lucille said. “The whole town noticed. What?” she said at Jack’s long look. “We gather to watch it at the bar. Anyway, that’s not what I’m talking about.”

“Lucille,” Leah said, “I think your phone is ringing.”

“Oh, I don’t have my phone on me.” She looked at Jack. “And you. You have no one to blame but yourself. You haven’t put a ring on it, so she’s got some real good options.”

“Lucille,” Leah said again, more tightly. “How much do you like my pastries?”

“More than George Clooney’s sexy tushie.”

“Then you’ll stop talking now,” Leah said.

“Honey, a man should know what he’s up against.” With that, she patted Jack’s arm and left.

Jack met Leah’s gaze.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“No worries. I can’t think past wondering what’s in your nightstand drawer anyway.”

“You’re bad.”

“So bad I’m torn between begging you to let me watch you use whatever you have in there or offering my services to replace it.”

She went pink as Lucille poked her head back into the bakery. “Oh, and don’t forget about the Facebook poll, Jack. You might want to round yourself up some votes. Tim’s out in front right now, with Ben right behind him.”

Jack looked at Leah, but she was suddenly very busy wiping down counters. “A poll,” he said.

“Honestly, don’t you ever go online?” Lucille shook her head. “You young people.” She vanished again.

Without a word, Leah began loading up a box for the fire station. She closed the box and handed it over. “I added a few old-fashioned glazed donuts for Tim. I was out of them the other day, and he had to help me change some fuses and said I owe him.”

“Tim’s on your list of options?”

“Not my list,” Leah said. “Facebook.”

“And Ben’s on it too.”

“Apparently.”

“And I’m…third.”

“Actually, I think you’re fifth,” she said. “Someone put Rafe on there.”

“Rafe.”

Leah shrugged.

Jack wasn’t actually worried that she was involved in something with Rafe. Six months was a long time, and long-distance relationships weren’t Leah’s strong suit. Plus, one of the very best things about her was how loyal she was, to her very core. If she’d had something going on with anyone else, she wouldn’t have slept with him. Logically, Jack knew this. But he wasn’t feeling all that logical at the moment. “Where would you put me on the list?” he asked softly.

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