When the idea for a new script brings Hollywood actor Kelan Hunter to the Wine & Chocolate Festival in the small town of Sweetland Valley, MD, sparks fly with the charming candy shop owner who has a list of reasons for why their love isn’t meant to be.
Ruthlessly organized Sydni Murray’s life goal checklist was derailed after her broken engagement last Valentine’s Day. Now, with the holiday fast approaching again and the town’s biggest chocolate festival on the horizon, she must put her biases about love on the backburner. Until Kelan walks into her shop with his model good looks and a box of his grandparents’ love letters that melt her heart.
But happy ever after may not be in the cards for the couple as Sydni’s in danger of losing her shop and Kelan’s plan to stay in Sweetland is threatened by an unbelievable career opportunity.
Syd hated memories. They crowded her mind more often than she wanted. Uninvited, unwelcome and oftentimes unbelievable. Closing her eyes, she leaned forward until her forehead touched the glass.
“You can try again,” her mother’s voice sounded softly from behind. “Remember you fell off that pretty pink bicycle the day after your daddy bought it for you?”
She didn’t have to turn around to know her mother walked further into the kitchen, going over to the stove area to do something that pertained to the dinner they were all waiting to have.
“I stood on the front porch watching you, my heart beating frantically for fear you’d hurt yourself. I would’ve preferred he’d bought you the dollhouse you’d circled in that catalog that came in the mail. But your daddy said no, it was time for you to learn how to ride and you did. No matter how many times you fell. Your little knees took a beating that summer.”
And so had her pride but she hadn’t given up. She’d finally mastered riding that bike without ever needing the training wheels and when Iman and all the other kids on the block got up early in the morning and set out to roam the town on their bikes three weeks later, Syd had been with them. She was the youngest of the bunch but determined to keep up.
“Life’s not really like riding a bike, Mama. I know it’s a nice sounding cliché, but it doesn’t actually apply to all situations.”
“I don’t know. You’ve opened a store and run it successfully for five years since coming home from Germany. I’d say you got back on that bike after the fall and started riding again.”
Syd sighed because that was something to be proud of, she just hated that the proclamation always came on the heels of thinking about the heart wrenching events that led up to her doing that great thing.
Turning, she walked over to the refrigerator, opened it and pulled out the pitcher of fresh brewed sweet tea her mother always kept chilling. “But I’ve never tried falling in love again.” Those words seemed to echo throughout the kitchen as she set the pitcher on the counter and opened the cabinet above to grab a glass.
Claudia kept on moving. “Now, I didn’t say anything about falling in love. All I said was the movie star guy was handsome and he was coming to the luncheon tomorrow. I’m not cupid, nor do I meddle in matchmaking anybody.”
She was glad she hadn’t been sipping from her glass of sweet tea when her mother spoke those blasphemous words. Claudia and Odell did more matchmaking in Sweetland than Marabelle did gossiping. The thought made her smile as she poured the tea and took a slow sip. Delicious as always. Her mother knew just the right amount of lemon and sugar to add to rival any bottled brand on the grocery store shelves.
“And you’re going to be at the luncheon anyway, so you might as well be nice to him. He’s a tourist and you know we’re a hospitable bunch here in Sweetland. Besides, Odell thinks he might be here to make a movie. Wouldn’t that be something? A movie about Sweetland.”
Claudia kept right on talking, while Syd leaned her backside against the counter, sipping her tea. Kelan had said he was writing a script, something he’d never done before, about a love story no doubt. That was the part that had pricked something inside her. He wanted to write a love story and aside from Valentine’s Day being her most lucrative season, Syd didn’t want anything to do with love. Not after being dumped on the sweetest holiday five years ago. So what were the odds that he’d come into her shop of all places in town and ask her about his grandmother’s letter.
It wasn’t chance or fate or anything like that because Syd didn’t believe in such things. She lived her life by her planner and relied only on that which she could predict and work toward making a reality. Anything else was foolishness and a waste of time. Like standing here thinking about a guy she didn’t know who was going to leave town just as quickly as he’d showed up. When her tea was finished so were her thoughts about Kelan Hunter, at least that’s what she’d intended.
Lacey Baker, a Maryland native, lives with her husband, three children, two grandchildren and English Bulldog in what most would call Suburban America–a townhouse development where everybody knows each other and each other’s kids. Family cook-outs, reunion vacations, and growing up in church have all inspired Lacey to work towards her dreams and to write about the endurance of family and the quest to find everlasting love. To date she has written in several genres including small town romance, YA paranormal (as Artist Arthur), a cozy mystery series titled Rumors and adult paranormal (as A.C. Arthur).
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