Time for this playboy to face the music. He just never dreamed it would be a lullaby…
Nate Hunter went to college for a business degree, but he prefers working as a bartender and enjoying his small-town, single life. Then a dying ex-girlfriend tracks him down to tell him he has a daughter he never knew existed.
Nate doesn’t know the first thing about being a father, but one look at Autumn and he’s a goner, so he agrees to take care of her until her aunt returns at Christmas.
When he asks no-nonsense librarian Maxine Abbott to move in with him and help take care of his daughter, she agrees – but only if he’ll pretend to be her boyfriend and get her mother off her back.
Their relationship of convenience works perfectly at first, until real feelings begin to chip away at their fake romance. Then Autumn’s aunt shows up early, and everything changes. Will Nate and Maxine’s budding love end in heartbreak before the last leaves fall?
“Nate!” Bethany called across the room. “Picture time!”
Oh, God. Now their charade would begin in earnest. Max closed one eye, afraid to see his expression as he walked over. He handed her a glass of chilled white wine and winked. “Here I am. Ready for the camera.” He leaned over and planted a kiss on Bethany’s cheek. “How’s the prettiest town council candidate in town?”
Bethany wriggled and cooed like a schoolgirl. Then she stopped, and her eagle-eyed gaze zoomed in on the table. “Why did you give my daughter a glass of wine?”
Max froze. Nate didn’t know, of course, that she was allergic to wine. And bananas and kiwi. The fruit allergy, they’d found out about years ago, when Max swelled up in first grade after eating banana bread that a classmate brought in. The doctor hadn’t bothered to tell her she might develop a wine allergy someday too. She’d found out about that one after ending up in the hospital her freshman year of college.
A boyfriend would know that. Bethany knew a boyfriend would know that. Max pushed the glass away and forced a laugh. “Sweetheart, I think you mixed up our drinks.” She reached for whatever he held, something that looked like scotch or bourbon on the rocks, and took a swallow.
Oh dear God, I’ve set my mouth on fire. She looked at Bethany, Parvati, and the cameraman, who seemed interested for the first time all night, and forced herself to swallow before she spit it out. “That’s your wine.”
“Of course it is. Sorry, babe. Got caught up in the moment, what with all the guests.” He took a sip and watched her intently over the rim of his glass. What else haven’t you told me? his gaze seemed to ask.
Max continued to sweat. They needed to sit down and make a list ASAP. They could start with food allergies and go from there. Likes, dislikes, favorite colors, favorite foods, and anything else they could think of. Max scolded herself for not doing it earlier. Bethany’s general intuition and desperation to marry off her daughter meant she’d be watching the two of them like a hawk.
Right now, though, Max needed to do something to wipe the look of puzzlement off her mother’s face. She thought about taking another sip of whatever horrible drink she held in her hand, but she couldn’t make herself. I never drink in front of Nate, she could say, but Bethany wouldn’t buy that excuse. My allergies never came up, she could say, but that seemed unlikely for a couple that lived together.
Nate solved the problem for her. He ran one hand over his white-blond hair, gelled into haphazard spikes. His blue eyes caught hers and twinkled. Then, with the Elks Club filled to capacity and the press looking on, he put down his wineglass, leaned over, and kissed Max squarely on the mouth.
|Summer's Song ✯ Winter's Wonder ✯ Spring Secrets|
A graduate of the University of Rochester and Case Western Reserve University, Allie currently lives in a small town in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York with her husband and their two furry felines. When she isn't teaching high school English, she likes to travel, lose herself in great music, or go for a long run and think about her next small town story.
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