Earning Her Love by Rory Reynolds




My alarm goes off,and I slap it with a groan. Three A.M. comes early. Especially the day after book club… which at this point has devolved into drinking wine and eating the leftover desserts from my bakery. We might as well call it sugar-coma night instead, but Lani insists on keeping up pretenses. I slowly drag myself from my bed and make my way to the shower. I strip off my sleep shirt and flick on the cold water before stepping inside. The burst of freezing cold does its job and jolts my system awake. I adjust the temperature and relax into the steady stream of hot water. Minutes later, I’m dressed and have my hair twisted up into a tight bun.

Fifteen minutes later, I’m letting myself into the back door of the bakery and flicking on the coffee machine. I do my normal prep for the day while my coffee percolates. I’ve got the ovens preheating and the ingredients ready for my first recipe of the morning. I take my first sip of liquid goodness with a little sigh.

Before I know it, two hours have passed, and it’s time to put together the first special orders of the day. I leave packaging Burnt Sugar’s order until last. As always, I make sure every dessert in the box is perfect. Every double chocolate chip cookie is perfectly round. The mini pies are golden brown perfection. Even the cinnamon rolls are completely even in size and have the exact amount of sticky apple-honey glaze.

Thirty minutes after I open the doors, all the special orders have been picked up but for one. Amos always waits to pick up Burnt Sugar’s order until after the morning rush trickles out. Like clockwork, the bell above the door dings and in strides the object of my infatuation. He’s wearing a Burnt Sugar Diner t-shirt which is stretched taut over his muscular chest and a pair of jeans that hang low on his hips. I can’t help but wonder how much of his tanned, tattooed skin would show if he lifted his arms.

I lick my lips at the fantasy, cursing the fact that I don’t need a lightbulb changed. He’d do it too, then I could spend the time gawking at his hotness without the risk of getting caught.

“Morning, sweetness.”

“Good morning, Amos. I’ve got your order ready.” I run to the back to grab the order and then promptly trip on my own feet a scant foot before I reach him with the cumbersome box. Like magic, Amos not only catches the box but manages to prevent me from taking a header too. He quickly sets the box on the counter then wraps both arms around me.

“Careful,” he says in that sexy growl of his that does naughty things to my body. It never fails to turn me on.

“Thank you,” I say, completely breathless and a little more than turned on like panty-melting levels of turned on. Ever since our interrupted moment at the Apple Festival a month ago, every moment I spend with him is fraught with sexual tension. I’m wound so tight it’s a miracle that I haven’t blown into a million pieces.

“You’re welcome, sweetness.”

Those hazel eyes of his are burning for me, maybe even with more need than last time he looked at me as if to warn me of his impending kiss. I don’t need a warning though. I just need the dang kiss. I need it like I need my next breath. I’m so hungry for it that I’m tempted to close the distance myself, but I can’t do that for some reason. I want Amos to make the first move.

His arms tighten around me, and my hands grip his shirt in tight fists. Slowly his mouth descends, and I know this is it. This, right here, is the moment that I kiss Amos Webster for the first time. And then like a cruel twist of fate, the bell above the door rings, announcing a customer.

I move away from Amos like I’ve been scalded—and I practically was from the heat between us. I have a feeling that a kiss from him will leave scars all over my heart. One of my best friends, Prue, stands just a foot inside the door gaping at us. She raises an eyebrow in question, and I give a minute shake of my head, telling her to leave it.

“Hey Margo, just stopping in to get a coffee and muffin. I had an early emergency call, and I’m dying for some caffeine and sugar.”

I expected Amos to grab his order and leave, but instead, he stands there like a silent sentry daring anyone to ask him to leave. Not that Prue would, she wants us to get together as much as any of my friends, even if she is anti-relationship. Which is why after I give her the muffin and coffee, she hightails it out of here with barely a goodbye instead of hanging around and chatting like usual.

As soon as the door closes behind her, Amos strides toward me with purpose. Before I can protest—not that I would—he’s got me by the hand and is dragging me to the kitchen. The doors swing shut behind us, and he smashes his lips to mine in a searing kiss.