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“Mind? No, I want to,” I assure her honestly.

Lacy reaches in to hug Carrie, and I can hear her asking her if it’s okay or not. I can feel myself holding my breath waiting for her answer. As they’re pulling apart, I hear Carrie say, “Yes, I’ll be fine with Scott. We’re friends.”

Friends, I think. I want to be more than her friend. But I’m willing to be patient.

“Besides, I just found a great dance partner. Did you see us out there?” she asks her friends.

Her friends hoot and cheer for us as I twirl her back onto the dance floor.

We spend thirty minutes on the dance floor, and she teaches me a line dance she’s learned. I don’t even care that it’s probably going to get back to my deputies that I’m out here dancing. I’m having too good of time to stop.

When we finally take a break, we fall into that easy flow of conversation like we have in the mornings at the bakery.

“So tell me about you,” I say to her over the music.

I pull the edge of her seat so she’s sitting closer to me. I do it with the pretense that I can hear her, but really I just want her close to me.

She flushes, and I know she’s thinking about her mother earlier today. “Tell me about the bakery. How did you learn how to make everything you make? And don’t tell Patty, because I’ll deny I ever said it, but there’s been an obvious improvement since you moved into town and started working there.”

She softens toward me and leans even closer. “Thank you, Scott. That’s so nice of you to say. I love to bake and cook. It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed doing. My mom thinks it’s a waste, and I’m sure other women think I’m setting us back like fifty years, but I enjoy feeding people. I like seeing how much they enjoy it, and I love how it brings people together. It’s more than just baking and cooking to me.”

Her voice gets emotional as she talks about her passion, and I fall a little deeper for her. How can her mother not see what an amazing woman she is?

I pat my stomach. “Well, you’ve definitely won me over. I’m going to be a lifelong customer.”

Her eyes flash up to mine as if just realizing what I said. But I don’t panic or try to take back the words. I mean them and don’t want her to see any doubt in my face as I stare back at her.

I reach for her hand and hold it under the table, resting it on my knee. She seems like she’s sobered up a lot, but I can still tell she’s tipsy. I’m a little disappointed because I want so badly to kiss her, but I won’t take advantage of her. More than that, I’m not going to ruin my chances with her if she were to remember the kiss tomorrow and not be into it. Then things would get awkward, and my chances would be blown altogether.13Carrie“I guess I’d better get home. I have to be at the bakery really early,” I tell him.

Truth be told, I should’ve called it a night much earlier, but I was having such a good time and enjoying myself with Scott that I don’t really want to leave. And now, here I am sitting at a table with Scott, and he’s holding my hand.

He looks reluctant, but he stands up and grabs his jacket. Is he wishing we could stay longer too?

Excited shivers dance over my skin when he accompanies me from the bar with his strong hand at the small of my back. Outside, Scott mistakes my excited shivers as being cold.

“Are you cold?” he asks.

But before I can answer him, he’s draping his jacket over my shoulders, and I feel like I’m bathing in his masculine scent.

I try not to read too much into his actions as he opens the door and holds it for me and then does the same with his car door.

“I live over on the other side of town, close to Grove Cinema,” I apologize to him.

But he doesn’t seem to mind the fifteen-minute drive. We make friendly conversation after I give him the address. I’m so nervous being alone with such an amazing, handsome guy like him. I’m grateful that he does most of the talking.

“I really enjoyed dancing with you tonight,” he says.

“Me too,” I say, turning to face him. With his focus on the road in front of us, I can look at him freely. “Do you go there a lot?”

“To the Roadside?” he asks.

“Yeah. I mean, I know there’s not a lot of places to eat in Forest Grove, but do you go there to dance too?”

He shakes his head and looks over at me while we’re at a stop sign. “No. Tonight was the first time I’ve danced there. I usually just go for the food.”