Monday, February 10, 2020

Valentine Countdown Blitz: A Cookie and a Kiss by Lauraine Henderson

Lauraine Henderson began writing as a child, poems and journaling, until babies, building houses, and bookkeeping jobs usurped her world. 

Now, well established in Oregon and with the children grown, she devotes her time to writing her favorite genre: clean romance. Years of life experience translate into plots, calamities, and happily-ever-afters as she writes her inspirational and romantic stories about fictional people who seem so real, you’ll want to know what happens after the book ends! 

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Where’s the harm in pretending to be engaged for a couple months?

Elliott Palmer’s brilliant impulse to propose a fake engagement to his sister’s teacher in order to get rid of a stalker may be the biggest mistake of his life. Or it could be the best thing to happen since his cookie empire went national. 

Charlotte Bloomberg feels like she’s walking a tightrope at work after the scandal last year that almost cost her teaching job. Yet…Elliott’s proposal could be the answer to her saving face with not only her co-workers, but her family, too. 

As the two work through school calamities, nosy family members, and a stalker getting closer all the time, the lines between real and fake start to blur when hearts get involved. But what happens when the police insist a wedding date will bring the stalker out in the open, and Elliott suspects Charlotte of being a crook?


"We'll need to be sort of touchy-feely this weekend." 
"I figured," he agreed, thinking that he would finally get another chance to kiss her.
"I hope you don't mind."
Elliott caught on to Charlotte's lack of enthusiasm for touching him and his excitement over having reasons to kiss her faded. "We'll keep it to a minimum. I wouldn't want to embarrass you."
"I...oh, okay."
Clouds had filled the sky the further west they drove, and it started to rain. Elliott flipped on the windshield wipers, his eagerness for the weekend clouded up with the sky and the once peaceful atmosphere seemed strained. After the vibes he got when she cut his hair, he had almost convinced himself they could turn their engagement into the real thing eventually. How could he feel such a strong pull of attraction, with all the zips, zaps, and zings that went with it, and it not affect her? One haircut and she had him eating out of her hand. Until now. Now, he realized it was all on his end. Her nervousness that night probably just hid her repulsion. That must be why she kept pulling away. Except for that one kiss. The more he thought about it, he realized it had been the most amazing kiss he'd ever experienced. Things like that didn't happen every day. Did they? 
Five hours and twenty minutes from the time they left Charlotte's place in Spokane, they pulled into an ordinary looking apartment building two blocks off the freeway on the east side of Portland. Charlotte wanted to introduce him to Lizzie and her mom before he met everyone else. Leaving his carry-on and garment bag in the car, he followed Charlotte to the second floor.
But Elliott didn't want the tension in the car to expose their charade. Before they went inside, he needed to clear the air. He rushed alongside Charlotte. As soon as she pushed the doorbell and ignoring the surprise on her face, he pulled her close and covered her mouth with his. At first, she stiffened. He thought she would push him away but prolonging the kiss, pulling her closer, he finally felt her lips and body relax and her hands crept up his arms until they squeezed his shoulders. Elliott angled his mouth and deepened the kiss, drawing it out, and tried to convince Charlotte of his intentions without words. Even with her coat between them, Elliott could feel her heart racing, and it gave him courage. Maybe she just needed to be courted.
The door whisked open, and Elliott vaguely heard, "You're here!"
Elliott slowly broke away from their kiss and kept his eye on Charlotte, who stood a little wobbly with her eyes closed, a dreamlike expression on her face. He took her hand and brought it to his lips briefly. Satisfied that the stage was now properly set, he turned to the young woman standing in the doorway and held out his free hand. 
"Hi. You must be Lizzie. I'm Elliott, Charlotte's fiancé."

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