Dahlia Collins had sworn that she’d escape the sandy beaches of her little hometown of Avenel on The Hidden Banks Islands. She’d dreamt big for herself, craving the adventure and success that could only be found in a big city. But life in the big city turned tumultuous, and the overwhelming swells of betrayal and financial struggle carried her back home to Avenel. Taking over Dahlia’s Delights Bakery should have been easy for her, except it wasn’t. Someone was sabotaging her business. She prayed that with the help of a handsome police officer, she would save her bakery.
Mark Lane was a simple man with simple needs. He had his health and a successful career as the police lieutenant on a beautiful island off the coast of North Carolina. That was all he needed, or thought he needed, until he walked into Dahlia’s Delights. When he saw her, his brain whirled with surprise. The young teen he’d last laid eyes on a decade ago was now a grown beauty. His heart double-tapped. His blood heated and strummed through his veins faster than normal. Gone was the girl he’d teased in his youth. Instead, an auburn-haired beauty with emerald eyes robbed him of rational thought.
When Dahlia shares her concerns about the bakery with Mark, and he promises to help her, all the feelings she’d had for him rushed through her again. Her heart palpitated, desire cloaked her, and she was thirteen again. Falling in love with him would be so easy. Hell, she was already halfway there.
“Thanks for tonight.” One side of her mouth curved into a coy smile. “And for your help with the fake camera.” Nerves zipped and zapped through her, sending little bursts of desire through her body. He’d been a fantasy in her head for so long that she’d never expected anything with him to happen. Yet, here she was, her hand in his. Even as the cool breeze off the ocean swirled around her, the heat of his hand and the look in his eyes scorched her.
She stared at his lips. She’d never noticed how perfect they were. She’d always been busy looking at his blue eyes or checking out his body. But now she noticed that his upper lip was the perfect complement to his bottom lip. As if Cupid had offered his bow to Mark for perfectly kissable lips.
She prayed that Mark would touch his lips to hers. Her heart beat faster in her chest.
He watched her tongue slide over her bottom lip as she stared at him. He wanted to taste those lips. He’d tried all night to be a gentleman, to balance the line between catching up with an acquaintance and pursuing a lover. Could he smear that line? Bring the two together?
He was over the notion of being her friend. He had no use for a female friend. What he wanted from Dahlia required a piece of her heart in exchange for a piece of his own. At that moment he just wanted to pull her to his body and show her how he felt about her.
Before she knew it, his hands encircled her hips and his fingers spanned her waist. The heat from his touch scorched her though her clothes and lit her up inside. Her pulse skyrocketed as he leaned down and placed his lips softly against hers. His tongue darted out and traced her lips, but the kiss was over as quickly as it began.
About the Author
Karen Tjebben lives in central North Carolina with her wonderful husband, twin daughters, two hamsters, four guinea pigs, an axolotl, and a school of various fish. When her girls left for kindergarten, Karen discovered that she needed to fill her days with something, and that was the beginning of her writing career. She loves to create worlds filled with unique characters that will delight and raise goose bumps on her readers. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband and seeing the world through her daughters’ eyes.