September 15, 2009
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If You Believe
There’s only one man she needs to believe in. Him.
When it comes to her love life, the name of Aubrey Mathison’s coffee shop says it all: “Bean There, Done That”. There’s only one harmless man in her life right now—the homeless one parked outside the shop. Except the crazy things he says keep coming true.
She has to laugh at “You’ll meet your soul mate today”, though. Divorce taught her that men as gorgeous as sexy police chief Price Delacroix are not to be trusted. She’s totally up for a one-night stand, but more than that? No, thanks.
Price bears his own scars from the past, but he knows instantly that Aubrey is his. How to convince her he wants more than to be her personal jungle gym? Cut her off. That means no more mattress gymnastics—until she starts seeing things his way.
Aubrey is just as determined Price’s campaign to wear down her resistance is going to fail, no matter how wickedly determined he is. Until her resident prophet spouts a new prediction: her soul mate’s life is in danger…
Read an Excerpt
This is an unedited excerpt, it may differ slightly from the final version.
“The end is near!” The grubby man shouted at Aubrey as she walked past. He waved a big sign that said the same thing in fire engine red letters.
The end of what, though? The world? America? Poverty? The bad song blasting out of his boom box? She was hoping for that last one as she dumped some change into the rusted coffee can sitting next to him.
“Hi Jericho.” She gave him a wide berth. The homeless guy was bat-shit crazy, but harmless, and she’d been forking whatever change she had in her pockets into his can for a couple of months now. Ever since he’d parked his unwashed self on the park bench across from her coffee shop Bean There, Done That.
“Hey, Aubrey!” Jericho gave her a gap tooth grin before he sobered abruptly, his eyes taking on a weird intensity. “Beware of fire today.”
She blinked down at him, chills crawling over her skin at the weird statement. Opening her mouth to ask what the hell he was babbling about, she stopped. He’d already started humming along with the radio. Yep, the man was certifiable.
“Yeah, okay. Thanks, Jericho.” She waved as she jogged across the street through the early morning fog.
A wave of deep satisfaction rolled through her when she approached the front of her shop. Over three years and business was booming. She’d moved to Cedarville from Portland after her divorce was final because she needed a change of pace, a change of place. She’d caught her ex screwing one of the waitresses at the restaurant they’d owned, so she’d screwed him in the divorce settlement. Was she bitter? Hell, yes. Almost eight years as Mrs. Scott Roberts had gotten her nothing except a broken heart and broken dreams.
Scott had cured her of her girlish longings for love and commitment. Now she kept it light and fun with the men she dated. She’d found it was easier for everyone that way. No one got hurt, especially not her.
Unlocking up the side entrance, she turned off the security system and went through the routine of opening up the shop. After the chaos and rush of being the head pastry chef at a chichi restaurant in Portland, Bean There, Done That was nirvana. The mornings were her alone time, when the whole world came down to this Zen place with just her and the ovens and the smell of baking pastries and fresh brewed coffee.
Susan would be in soon to help Aubrey with the morning rush, but right now was all Aubrey’s. The time flew by and before she knew it, Susan’s massive combat boots were tromping into the kitchen. Glancing up, Aubrey stifled a snort. Over the boots, Susan wore a lacy black Victorian style dress. “Heya, Aubrey.”
The only dress code for employees was that they wear a black outfit with the black and green Bean There, Done That apron over it. Susan liked to take the uniform to the next level. “Morning.”
The younger woman checked the daily menu Aubrey had written on the chalkboard out front and then took the chairs off the tables to set up for the day. Thirty minutes until they opened, and they worked in companionable silence. One of the reasons she had Susan on the morning shift with her was that she didn’t chatter.
Wiping a last bit of flour off her hands, Aubrey turned to Susan before walking into the back room. “I’ll grab the last batch of lemon cakes out of the oven if you watch the glaze on the stove.”
“Sure thing, boss lady.” Susan’s braids swung when she nodded.
Just as Aubrey flipped off the ovens and pulled out the hot pans a shriek came from the front. Her heart seized in terror before it leaped into a gallop. Slapping the pans onto the cooling racks, she raced for the other room. Flames danced across the stovetop, and Susan lay in a crumpled heap on the floor.