A lot of people believe you can’t keep a secret in a small town, but that simply wasn’t true. Sage Carrigan was only twenty-nine years old and already she had two that would blow the minds of her sisters and her father and the girlfriends who thought they knew every little thing about her.
And one of those secrets was just now stepping into her chocolate shop.
Sage stepped behind the counter, needing something solid to lean on. It was really him, Dawson O’Dell, her biggest secret, her biggest mistake… her biggest weakness.
Right now O’Dell was one of the top ranked cowboys in professional rodeo. She’d met him back in her barrel-racing days, but five years hadn’t changed him much. He still dressed like the bronc-rider he was, in Wrangler jeans and dusty boots, western shirt unbuttoned to the white T shirt beneath. His dark blonde hair was a little too long, and his green eyes a little too astute.
The second his eyes met hers she knew this was no chance encounter.
He walked right up to the counter and gave her a look that made her instantly remember all the things she had once found so irresistible about this man.
“It’s been a long time,” he added.
He looked at her as if he knew her inside and out. Which he did. Or at least he had. Then his gaze swept the shop, the shelves of attractively packaged chocolate. However you liked it, she had it. Dark chocolate covering silky mint creams, milk chocolate over salt-flecked toffee, chocolate shavings and chocolate mixed with nuts. Bars of dark, milk or white chocolate. Chocolate in the shape of horses, cowboy boots…or the letters from A to Z. And more.
“Quite a departure from barrel-racing.”
“That was kind of the point.” Finally she’d found her voice. And now that the shock of seeing him was settling down, anger began seeping into its place. “If you’re here to buy something—please do it quickly. Otherwise, it would be best if you just left.” She looked pointedly at the door, hoping she’d kept the nerves out of her voice.
He rubbed the side of his face, using his left hand. No wedding ring, she noticed. But then there hadn’t been last time, either.
He gave her a lopsided smile. “Sounds like you’re still a little angry.”
“I’m not angry, O’Dell. Just really not interested in seeing you. Or talking to you. Or even breathing the same air as you.”
His eyebrows went up. “That’s harsh.”
Obviously not harsh enough because he didn’t leave. Instead he wandered to the display of chocolate letters and selected an “S.”
“I owe you an apology,” he allowed.
“Five years ago you owed me an apology. Now, you just need to walk out that door and let me go on pretending I never met you.”
He sighed like she was the dolt in the classroom who just didn’t get it. “I did try to apologize. But you left town mighty fast.”
Less than twenty-four hours after she crashed on that second barrel, her father had shown up in Casper, Wyoming and had whisked her home. But there had been time for Dawson to reach her. If he’d wanted to.
That had been the last rodeo she’d ever competed in. And it had been the last time she’d let herself get tangled up with a cowboy, too.
“Sage, even if it is a little late, I still want to say it. I was sorry then, and I’m sorry now.”
Damn, if he didn’t look sincere. But she hardened her heart. Facts were facts and how sorry could he be if he’d waited so long to find her?
Keeping her tone artificially sweet, she asked, “What exactly are you sorry for? Would that be for sleeping with me even though you were married?”
“Or for your wife catching me butt naked in your bed and then pointing a rifle in my face?”
His gaze dropped to the counter and he swallowed hard. The words—she’d never spoken them aloud before—hung out there, embarrassing, and true, damn it. All too true.
“Sure sounds bad, when you put it like that.”
End of Excerpt