December 24, 2018

Stolen Goods - Fourth and Final Chapter Reveal!

Merry Christmas Eve!! 🎅🎄🎁

Since I'll be celebrating with my family all day tomorrow, I thought I would post this week's #teasertuesday a bit early :) This is the last full chapter reveal before Stolen Goods goes on sale on January 7th! If you haven't been following along with the December posts, you can click this link to start at the beginning with Chapter One! 

Today I'm posting the fourth chapter, which is told through Addy's POV! When a mysterious and handsome stranger shows up at her bakery asking for directions, she's more than happy to oblige. But when her dream meet cute quickly becomes a meet ugly... well... you'll see ;) 

Hope you enjoy!

P.S. If you're counting down the days until January 7th (like me!), don't forget to pre-order your copy :) The ebook is available on Amazon!

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- 4 -

Addison


Holy hotness. Addy had lost the ability to think the second she saw that man standing in the doorway. At first, she thought he was a mirage. A figment of her imagination. She had, at that very second, been daydreaming about the perfect meet-cute with a construction worker building a house in the hot summer sun—shirtless of course, sweat dripping slowly down the contours of his muscles as she happened to saunter by. Their eyes met across the distance, attraction an instant bolt of lightning down her spine. Totally taken off guard, she tripped on a discarded wooden board hidden in the grass. He, in a show of inhuman, nigh-heroic strength, managed to race across the distance to catch her in his more-than-capable arms—
And then tap, tap, tap.
Addy had been certain it was her mother, coming home from a night out to dinner, asking what in the world she was doing still working at that hour.
Instead, it was an Adonis.
Naturally, she couldn’t believe her eyes, even as she crossed the room, undid the lock, and opened the door. Words came out of her mouth. There were definitely words, that much she knew, but what she said? A complete mystery. Her thoughts were too wrapped up in trying to decipher if he was a hallucination, if she’d finally lost her mind, if she was talking to nothing but open air…
But then he spoke.
Real words.
With a deep, sensual voice her brain couldn’t possibly have imagined.
“Sorry to intrude.”
A flurry instantly swarmed to life in her stomach. Heat gathered beneath her skin. Which meant he was real—he had to be. Intrude away.
His lips twitched, making those dimples in his cheeks dig deeper.
Shoot! Addy shook her head. I think I said that out loud. She coughed, clearing her throat. “I mean, no bother. Can I help you with something?”
“My car broke down,” he explained, an apology laced through his tone. Addy tried to focus on his story—something about a wheel, and the highway, and walking. But in the back of her mind all she kept wondering was, Is he married? He’s got to be married. Girlfriend at least. He’s too hot to be single. Those brooding gray eyes. That debonair smile. Her gaze trailed down, over the flat stomach, pausing on the little flash of hard skin beneath the lifted end of his T-shirt, moving to his snug jeans. Those…feet.
“So, can you help me?” he finished, then stared at her. Expectant.
“Of course!” Addy chirped, jerking into motion, the gut need to help someone in trouble an innate reaction, something she did without a second thought. But—what exactly did he need help with? And what exactly had he asked her to do? Buying time, Addy opened the door a little wider and let him step inside behind her.
A phone. I think he said something about a phone.
“There’s a landline in the office. Just follow me,” she murmured, heart thumping in her chest as she fought to regain her composure. Southern women kept it together. Southern women were in control. Southern women were not affected by the sight of a man, no matter how devilishly handsome he was—at least not noticeably.
“I’d be happy to use your cell phone,” he murmured smoothly, voice like melted chocolate, sweet and simmering with sin. Her toes curled in her ballet flats. “To save you the trouble.”
“No trouble at all.” Addy smiled, all those life lessons her mother and grandmother drilled into her brain bubbling to the forefront. Be gracious. Be a lady. Be charitable. She led him past the counter, into the kitchen, and tried to carry on polite conversation. “So, where were you headed? Just passing through? We don’t get very many out-of-towners.”
He paused. “Doing a bit of traveling.”
Traveling? Addy’s brows twitched. Who would be traveling near here? “Oh, where are you going?”
“The, uh, beach.”
Hmm… We’re pretty far from the beach.
And we’re pretty far from the major highways.
We’re pretty far from everything, really.
A nervous burn coiled in her gut.
“Hey, where did you say your car broke down?” she asked, her voice a twinge higher than normal. Because, yes, he was gorgeous, but he was still a strange man. They were alone. It was nighttime. And…why exactly had she let him inside? Addy’s gaze shifted right, toward the large table in the middle of the kitchen—her rolling pin could do some damage with the right amount of force—and then moved left, toward the drawer where they kept all the serving knives. She turned her head just so, trying to subtly sneak a peek over her shoulder and—
Shoot!
She jerked her head forward.
He’d been looking right at her.
Duh, he was looking right at me. He’s following me to the phone. He has no idea where to go. Don’t be silly. But why did his face seem so familiar now that she’d had a chance to clear her mind? Something about those stormy eyes, that ruffled mocha hair, that smile…
“Are you painting something?” he asked, deep voice echoing across the small confines of the kitchen, bouncing off stainless steel.
Addy jumped.
And then shook her head. Relax. Everything is fine. He’s just being polite.
“Oh, yeah…” She turned her attention back toward the flattened fondant in the middle of the counter, the discarded paintbrushes, the haphazard strokes. “I’m not much of an artist. I was just trying something for this wedding cake. But I’m much better with buttercream than a brush.”
He stopped by the edge of the table and leaned over her work. “What were you going for? I’m a bit of an artist myself. Maybe I could help. A favor for a favor, that sort of thing.”
“Really?” she asked, curious. Some of her discomfort melted away at the kindness in his tone. “I’m not sure. The rest of the cake is going to be covered with roses and flowers in all different shades of pink, so something to complement that, I guess.”
“Mind if I…?” He gestured toward the fondant.
Addy shrugged. “Go ahead.”
He eased the brush between his fingers with an authority that couldn’t be faked, leaning over the table as he kept his hand hovered over the bowls of dye. A slight purse rose to his lips as he narrowed his eyes, studying each pigment. He leaned closer, causing his brown hair to spill over his forehead in untamed disarray. The fingers of his right hand twitched with palpable creative energy as the rest of him stilled. Then he burst into action, dipping the brush into a dye, sweeping graceful strokes across the fondant, switching to a different brush, a different color, layering the makeshift watercolors into an explosion of sunset hues. Addy couldn’t look away, drawn in with a magnetic pull she couldn’t fight, following the deft flicks of the brush, marveling at his control, his skill, at the sheer beauty of what he was creating. Had he seen inside her mind? Somehow this stranger understood the exact vision of what she’d been trying, unsuccessfully, to bring to life. Addy could already see the cake coming together. The three bottom tiers of cascading pastel flowers would be perfectly complemented by this burst of color at the top, a firework to complete the celebration. A little piping around the edges and some edible gold swishes would finish the effect perfectly.
The stranger paused, leaning back, surveying his work.
Addy stared at him in awe.
Who are you?
Where did you come from?
But before either of those questions rose to her lips, he leaned back over the table, reached for the food coloring, and deepened some of the tones before retrieving another brush. This time, as he worked, Addy stared at him, the cut lines of his jaw, the tan sheen of his skin, the contours of strong muscles visible just below the edge of his sleeve.
Handsome.
Polite.
An artist.
And not afraid to ask a woman for help.
Did you walk straight out of my dreams and into my bakery?
Seriously—he was a bona fide Prince Charming.
Here.
In her kitchen.
Impossibly within reach.
Addy could already see it—her imagination had a way of zooming into overdrive at the first hint of a romantic situation. She would thank him profusely for the help with the cake. He would say it was nothing, but maybe, he could take her out for dinner sometime? Or no—even better. They’d part ways, and then, somehow, he’d be a guest at the wedding and recognize his handiwork and come find her in the kitchen, professing he’d been unable to stop thinking about her. In five years, Addy would laugh in her white gown as he jokingly told the entire ballroom how for a brief moment when they first met, she thought he was an ax murderer, until she saw him paint. Everyone would laugh. Then they’d kiss, and live happily ever after.
“How’s that?”
Addy sighed. “Perfect.”
And then she blinked, realizing he was actually asking about the cake and not commenting on the Harlequin romance playing out in her mind. She dropped her eyes to the fondant, breath hitching as she took in his creation, an abstract vision of a rose garden in bloom.
“Perfect,” she repeated. Because it was. “I can’t believe you— I mean, this is really— I’m speechless.”
“It’s nothing.” He waved her off with a lopsided grin. “I’m happy to help.”
“Well, you did, you really did,” Addy continued gushing, eyes still on the makeshift canvas before her, unable to quite believe this was real life. “I can’t thank you enough.”
“My pleasure,” he commented softly. “Would you mind if I borrowed your cell phone now? I just need to call Triple A. It’ll only take a minute.”
“Oh, sure.”
Without a second thought, Addy reached into her pocket and pulled her cell phone free, then paused for a moment to unlock the screen before handing it over. While he stepped to the side to make his call, Addy stared at the fondant and let the world drift away as the rest of the cake came bursting to life in her mind’s eye.
Do I pipe the edge in a teardrop pattern?
Or a pearl border?
Or maybe shells?
What if I leave the edge blank and decorate the base of the monogram instead? Simple white piping? That would look a little cleaner, a little more modern. Actually, I think that’s perfect. And I’ll add a few green leaves to make the colors pop.
Addy looked up from the fondant and turned toward the fridge, fingers itching to test various arrangements of buttercream flowers. It was only then that she realized she was alone.
She spun.
Once.
Twice.
Addy pivoted on her heels and scanned the empty kitchen.
The man was gone.
Wait. Where did you…?
“Hello?” she called aloud.
There was no response.
Her brows knotted—had he been a ghost?
She patted her pockets, her apron, searching for her cell phone. But no—it was gone. He’d taken it, which meant he was a tangible human being. He’d just, for the moment, disappeared.
Addy bit her lip with confusion.
Behind her, the front door to the bakery whooshed open.
She breathed a sigh of relief. Of course, you dolt. He went outside to make the call in private. You still have time to thank him. And ask for his name. And do the best eyelash batting you’ve ever done in your life to convince him he can’t live without you.
Addy spun, prepared with a broad smile.
Then she froze for a second time that night.
Because it wasn’t the handsome stranger.
It was two men—with guns.
Her heart leapt into her throat, and a scream barreled through her lips before she thought to stifle it. “Ahhhhh!”


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