Love blooms in the New Hampshire town of Red Maple Falls in this newest collection of utterly romantic small-town love stories! Join the rest of the Hayes siblings as they each find love in the most unexpected ways.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 4 – R Rated
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I love to read family sagas set in small towns. I wanted to create a place where I would love to live with people I'd want to be friends with.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
All my characters have a little of me sprinkled in them as well as people who I know and who I have met through my life. In this series an older couple is based on my grandparents and is my way of paying homage to them.
Cooper Hayes was bored. The itch inside him to take off was craving its next adventure. It was like this invisible rope, relentlessly tugging and refusing to leave him alone.
He had traveled to seventy-four countries over the past seven years, chronicling his experiences and becoming a popular travel blogger and social media sensation. But he had grown tired of the constant on-the-go and being away from his family, so he’d come back home to the small town of Red Maple Falls.
But being home was a reminder of why he’d left. His days were monotonous, and while he loved kayaking with his oldest brother, Matt, and helping his other brother and best friend, Mason get his brewery up and running, after almost nine months he couldn’t ignore the itch. Which was why he volunteered to man the cash register at his very pregnant sister-in-law’s bakery while she was home on doctor ordered bedrest—he was desperate to occupy his mind. Even wrote a book after Mason suggested it, putting his travels and experiences onto paper. Even bigger, he managed to snag an agent within a couple months of querying. But now that he had finished the book and was waiting on editors at publishing houses to get back to his agent, he was growing restless again.
The pull to find his next big venture was strong, but he couldn’t leave now. Not when his big brother was about to become a dad. He wanted to meet the little guy who would be arriving any day now. At least they all hoped so; Shay was going to snap, and they’d be dealing with his brother’s murder instead of the birth of Cooper’s nephew.
Shay looked like she was smuggling a beach ball beneath her shirt and was growing impatient while Matt was losing his mind with worry. His constant freak outs were driving his poor wife insane. While it was entertaining, it still wasn’t enough to scratch the itch and that made Cooper feel guilty.
Red Maple Falls, the town he was born and raised and absolutely loved wasn’t enough. His family wasn’t enough. No matter how many people he met, how many ruins he explored, he was always looking toward what was next. He was looking for the thing that made him feel complete.
The bell above the bakery door chimed, and Cooper pushed off the counter, plastering on his famous smile—the same smile that got him out of countless predicaments and scored him free room and board across the world.
“How can I help you today?” he asked as two perfect onyx stones caught his own eyes. Her lip tilted slightly as she approached the counter, long black hair in waves bouncing on her shoulders. Cooper always had a high appreciation of the opposite sex, and this woman was no exception.
She pointed a long finger at the display case. He noted the lack of nail polish which made him think either she couldn’t be bothered with the glitz and glam or she simply didn’t have the time. She also wasn’t wearing a ring, which, in his eyes, signified an invitation to flirt.
“I’ll take a blueberry muffin,” she said without hesitation.
“A woman who knows what she wants,” he said, and her eyebrow arched but not in the way he’d hoped. She looked at him with disdain, like he was a joke, and she was waiting for the punch-line. He was usually quick-witted, but he suddenly forgot how to form complete sentences.
“You know… You want…” He mentally smacked himself for losing his cool. He’d seen millions of women around the world, bedded too many to remember, yet this woman with her sinfully dark eyes and silky long hair who barely gave him a second glance had him tongue-tied. He smiled at his idiocy then took a deep breath and tried again. “Most people come in here and take an hour to decide. You knew exactly what you wanted without even glancing at any of the other pastries or cupcakes.”
“I come here every Monday, and every Monday I get the blueberry muffin. To go, please.”
“Coming right up.” He grabbed one of the light pink paper bags with the bakery logo—a cupcake with a hot pink and black striped baking cup and Sweet Dreams Bakery written in girly font above—and placed the muffin inside. He slid it across the counter to her, and she already had the exact amount due in her hand.
“Why Monday?” he asked as he entered the information into the cash register as slowly as he could.
“It’s my treat for getting through another week.”
He took the money, pausing as their fingers touched. “Why not Friday, then?”
“A week consists of seven days,” she said matter-of-factly. “Wouldn’t want to celebrate prematurely.”
“Yes, but the weekend is for relaxing and having fun. You look like you could use a little fun.”
He smiled, but she didn’t. He imagined his hand would turn to ice if he touched her face right now.
“Some people don’t get days off.”
“That’s no way to live.”
“I don’t remember paying extra for your opinion.” There was venom in her tone, but that never deterred Cooper before.
He held his hands up in mock surrender. “Sorry. What I was trying to say, and failing miserably at, is I’d love to take you out sometime. Show you there’s nothing wrong with a little fun.”
He waited for the flutter of eyelashes, the slight blush filling her cheeks that all the girls got when he asked them out, but it never came. “No thanks.”
Taken aback, he didn’t hide his shock. “Wow, you don’t beat around the bush.”
Her gaze lifted to his, the two dark stones showing no sign of emotion. “Why would I do that?”
“Because it can soften the blow.”
“I prefer to rip the Band-aid off. No reason to drag it out.”
“I can appreciate that approach.”
Her eyebrow lifted in what he could only assume was doubt. “Can you?”
No matter what he did, she wouldn’t even give him an inch. “I feel like we should start over.”
“Because I’m getting the feeling you don’t like me based on preconceived notions. If you look beyond my devilish good looks and charming personality, I’m not a bad guy.”
“I think you’ve given me plenty to base my opinion on.”
“Ouch.” This woman was insufferable and somehow immune to his charm. He pulled out all the stops and not a single smile. To say he was intrigued would be the understatement of the century.
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, her stoic expression softening. “I’m sorry. I’m being rude.”
“Hey, you said it.”
“I can admit when I’m in the wrong. I just can’t have dinner with you. I’m sorry.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
“Maybe a little of both.” Her voice softened, and he could detect the faintest touch of sorrow.
“Because you don’t have time for fun?”
“Something like that.”
“Well, I’ll keep the invitation open. If you ever find the time, let me know.”
“We need to work on your sugarcoating. Don’t say ‘unlikely.’ Say, ‘we’ll see.’”
“Okay then. We’ll see.” She smiled, and the slight curve of her lips brightened up her entire face, transforming her into an entirely different person—someone who looked warm and friendly, who would jump on the chance for a good time.
He handed her the receipt, figuring he’d stalled long enough. “I’m Cooper by the way. Shay’s world travelling brother-in-law.”
“The one who showed up late to the wedding?”
He laughed. “The one who wasn’t even going to make the wedding but flew halfway across the world and made everyone cry by showing up.”
“Do you always like to steal people’s thunder?”
“You go straight for the jugular.”
She shrugged. “How is Shay doing?”
“Good, but I’m more concerned about my brother’s health. I think if he doesn’t lay off a little, she’s going to cause physical harm, and I can’t say I blame her.”
“At least she has someone who cares that much about her. She’s lucky.”
“I’m sure she’ll realize that one day. After she pops the kid out and her ankles don’t look like tree stumps anymore.”
“Please don’t say that to her.”
“Are you crazy? I like everything intact, thank you very much. Besides one wrong word and she’s either seething or crying.”
“Pregnancy hormones are no joke.”
“When you do see her, tell her I asked about her.”
“I could do that, but I would need to know your name.”
“Well, Sarah Kramer, it has been a pleasure. Although, I’m pretty sure you insulted me more than once.”
“More than once,” she said, that rare smile showing up and spreading wider than before.
“I really hope you find time in your busy schedule to let me take you to dinner. I can guarantee you won’t regret it.”
“See, that’s where you’re wrong.” She didn’t elaborate, just took her bag with the blueberry muffin and walked out the door without as much a glance back in his direction.
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