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After assuring him everything is fine, I get up out of bed. I use the extra time to do more with my hair and makeup, trying to make an effort so my mom will lay off of me already.

I leave the house without another run-in with my mother, and I’m sure it’s because my dad convinced her to go back to bed.

At work, I enjoy getting to do some of the cooking and baking, putting in my own extra touches on the displays.

When the sheriff from the day before comes in midmorning, I do my best not to blush, even though I know it’s going to happen. He’s very handsome.

“Hey, Sheriff…”

“Scott.” He interrupts me with a smile.

“Hey, Scott. What can I get you?”

“Coffee, please. The same as yesterday,” he says. I can stand here and admire his dark brown eyes and the way his skin crinkles on the side as he smiles at me, but I don’t. I turn to make his coffee with a little bit of my homemade vanilla creamer and a smidge of cinnamon.

“Will that be all for you?”

He laughs then. A sound that seems to vibrate in the room. “No, that will be it. Thanks for not offering me a donut.”

He must see the confusion on my face until it finally dawns on me about the saying with cops liking donuts. “Sure, but don’t you want a cinnamon roll or something to go with your coffee?”

“I don’t really like a lot of sweets. And I admit, I’m not easy to feed in the morning because there’s not a lot that would entice me to eat.” He shrugs his shoulders. “I’m not really a morning person. At least I don’t think I am, but I have to say, waking up was easier today knowing I’d be seeing your smiling face behind the counter.”

Is he flirting with me? Surely not. I shake my head as if I’m knocking the thoughts right out of it. Don’t be stupid, Carrie.

I know he’s just being friendly, but I find myself blushing nonetheless. I focus instead on the challenge he’s thrown down about finding something that would actually entice him to eat early in the morning. “You’ve challenged me now. I’ll have to figure out what kind of food I can get you to order.”

He laughs and warns me again, “I promise you, I just can’t do sweets in the morning.”

“I’ll remember,” I assure him.

The morning rush starts to pick up, and Scott leaves with a refill of his coffee. He waves at me from the door, and of course like a schoolgirl with a crush, I’m staring at him, so I awkwardly wave back at him.

The rest of the morning goes by fast because any time there is a lull in guests, I’m brainstorming different ideas of what I can make to tempt Scott to eat in the mornings.ScottI walk out of the bakery and look up Main Street, which already seems to be bustling this morning. I take a deep breath of the clean mountain air and am so glad I decided to take on the sheriff position in the small town of Forest Grove. It’s like fate stepped in and made the position open to me a year ago, and everything seems to be working out. My life is set; I’m doing what I love. Now, all I need is someone to share my life with.

Instantly, thoughts of Carrie come to mind, and I stop myself from turning around and looking in the big windows of the bakery. I don’t need another glance to know that she’s too young for me. After a little bit of digging, I discovered that she’s twenty-three years old. She’s six years younger than me, and I’m sure she’s not even close to wanting to settle down. And I’m not looking for a one-night stand. I may be only be twenty-nine, but I’m ready for a wife and kids. I could think about Carrie all day, but I spot Crawford chatting it up with some young women while he’s on the clock.

Instead of walking toward my cruiser, I approach Officer Crawford on foot. He’s turned with his back toward me, so it makes it easy for me to get close enough to hear the conversation.

“You can come over to my house later,” I hear him say.

I reach his side and look at the two girls in shock. “How old are you?” I ask them.

One is holding her books to her chest and mumbles, “Fifteen,” just as the other says, “Sixteen.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be in school?” I ask them.

“Yes, sir,” they say before taking off down the sidewalk.

I turn toward the rookie. Anger has me flexing my hands at my sides, and I know if he says the wrong thing, like he knew they were underage, it wouldn’t take much for me to punch the guy in the face.

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