Marietta had grown, of course, but it was still a small town, with that lovely small town flavor. Of course, there was also the “everyone knows everything about you and your business” angle of living in a small town, but that seemed a small price to pay for such a great place to raise her child. Marietta was a beautiful place, situated to the north of Paradise Valley, in between the Absaroka Mountains and the Gallatin Range. Copper Mountain rose to the west of town, lending dignity and majesty to the view with its purple and white peaks, and the green of the Evergreens and spots of yellow where the Aspens had only just started to turn.
There was only one possible fly in the ointment. One tiny little thing she was worried about. Living in the same town as Jack Gallagher again. Dr. Jack Gallagher now. Along with the mountains and her family, she’d left Jack behind when she left Marietta to pursue her modeling career, in Dallas, Texas.
Jack Gallagher. Her almost fiancé, whom she’d almost jilted at the altar, the night of their high school graduation.
Maya had plenty of time before she needed to worry about seeing Jack again. Right now, she was driving to the high school with her daughter in tow. Some bright soul had decided the Spirit Club should have a party shortly after school started, so that all the students and parents could get to know each other. The same bright soul had also decided to make it a potluck supper. Maya had volunteered to make her famous Death by Chocolate dessert. It was always a crowd pleaser. Not to mention, it was one of few desserts Maya knew how to make.
She asked Carmen to help her carry everything in, since she not only had the glass compote full of the dessert, but also various bags of paper plates, napkins, and plastic cutlery. So much for that promise. Maya hadn’t even turned off the car before Carmen dashed off to see some friends. “Carmen, wait,” Maya called, watching her daughter’s retreating back. Typical, she thought. Determined to make only one trip, Maya balanced the heavy dish in one hand and the bags in the other and headed for the gym doors.
Holding the compote carefully, she reached with her other hand for the double wide doors just as they swung open. She jumped back to avoid being smacked by them, losing her precarious grip on everything, including the dessert.
“Da—darn it!” she yelled, just in time to see her beautiful masterpiece slide right out of her hands and land upside down on the door mat in front of the entryway. She stared at it with her mouth open, then looked up, prepared to rip someone’s head off.
“Don’t you look where you’re go—” Maya broke off staring into those gorgeous green eyes she’d never forgotten. “Jack?”
“Maya,” he said, looking as taken aback as she was. “I’m sorry. I should have been more careful.”
She bit back the obvious response, wondering why in the world the glass serving dish hadn’t broken, and why she’d thought it a good idea to bring anything glass to a high school party. The dish looked intact, though, but the dessert’s lovely layers were a thing of the past. The stupid thing had taken all afternoon to make, an afternoon she’d spent cooking when she should have been working.
Jack and she knelt down at the same time, bumping foreheads. They both drew back as if burned. “Let me help,” he said. “Maybe we can salvage it.”
“Oh, sure,” she said, dripping sarcasm. “We’ll just turn it over and hope no one notices the nasty dirty crap from the floor on the top.” Why did it have to be Jack? And why now? She’d known she’d run into him after moving back to Marietta, but she’d hoped to have more time before seeing the man whose heart she’d broken all those years ago.
He didn’t look heartbroken now. Sexy, good-looking, smoking hot, maybe, but sure as hell, not heartbroken.
End of Excerpt