Christmas In Sweetwater County Excerpt

Ciara Knight

USA Today Bestselling Author of Sweet Romance Novels

“Let me check behind the desk and see if I can locate the artist’s information.” Cathy trotted behind the counter and whispered to Devon, “Can you see if Judy has any information in there on an artist that makes ornaments?”

“I can try. Let’s take a look in the folders.”

Cathy glanced below the counter. “I don’t see any folders. She does everything on that darn silver box.”

Devon laughed again. “I didn’t mean those types of folders.”

Cathy huffed. “Well, how should I know?”

He placed a hand on the small of her back. “You really don’t know much about computers, do you?”

Cathy knew she should scoot away. His touch and the trail of warmth it left behind would only play with her emotions. But she leaned into his side instead, eyeing the computer screen. “I didn’t even know how to turn it on.”

“I guess I should give you some lessons.” He returned his fingers to the keyboard. “Ah, here we go. I think I found the right folder.”

The printer sounded and Cathy retrieved the paper. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” He walked over to where a couple was perusing some furniture and handled them like a pro.

Was he really a salesman, not a college professor? How could she trust anything he said?

Cathy shoved the thought from her head and read down the sheet in her hand. Special orders upon request. Two weeks turnaround or a ten percent charge for expediting.

Walking back over to the woman in the red sweater, she said, “Ma’am, it looks like he can do special orders, but there’ll be an upcharge for getting it by Christmas.”

The lady looked over the top of her glasses at Cathy. “How much?”

“Ten percent.”

“That’s fine. I’ll go ahead and place the order.” She followed Cathy to the counter then waited as Cathy wrote down all the specifics, hoping she didn’t forget to ask anything important.

“I’ll call you as soon as it arrives. How would you like to pay?”

“Credit, please.” The woman removed her wallet and handed her the card. Cathy eyed the machine with trepidation. She’d watched how he’d run the card last time, but wasn’t sure she would get it right. Screw it. I’m a smart lady. I’ll manage. She put her hand on the mouse thingy, but nothing happened. The screen remained dark. “Goodness gracious.”

“Something wrong?”

“Sorry, ma’am. I don’t run the computer. Let me get Devon for you.”

The woman huffed. “I don’t have time for this.” She turned and spotted Devon sauntering up to the counter. “Oh, I guess I could spare a few minutes.”

Cathy didn’t like the way the woman looked at him, like a cougar eyeing fresh meat in a desert. When he came behind the counter, she slid her hand into the crook of his arm. She couldn’t help herself. “I appreciate your help,” she crooned. “Oh, and the flower. It really was beautiful.” She glanced at the woman, who now glowered at her, before walking over to tell a small child to stop touching the crystal swans. When she returned, he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against the wall with a smug smile.

“What?”

“So, you did like my flower.” He winked.

“It’s pretty. Don’t make too much of it,” she snipped.

The woman with the child left, leaving the shop empty save for a couple browsing behind the large folding screen.

He approached her, pinning her back to the counter. “Why did you decide at that moment to tell me you liked the flower?” He placed a hand on either side of her and lowered his head to meet her gaze, his face only inches from hers.

She couldn’t think with that womanizing cologne distracting her. “Don’t make more out of it than you should.”

“I don’t think I’m making too much out of it.” He lowered his head further, his cheek brushing her skin, and she thought she’d lose consciousness. A warm breath caressed her ear and she grasped the counter behind her to remain upright. “I think you were jealous,” he whispered.

She swallowed so loud she was sure he could hear it, and based on his grin, he had. The tantalizing cologne, softly sparkling lights, quiet music… The earth spun beneath her and she feared it would never be steady again. His deep, dark eyes sucked her in and for a moment, she was lost.

The front door chimed, breaking the spell, and she ducked under his arm. “Good morning. Welcome to J & L Antiques.” She spoke as cheerfully as possible, but the rasp in her voice confessed he’d managed to break the barrier of rationality.

        

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