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“So, uh..”

The bell over the door jingles, interrupting me, and Officer Crawford and a few of the other officers walk in. “Hey, Sheriff, what are you doing up so early on your day off?”

I try to hide my frustration with just a shrug of my shoulders. I raise the cup of coffee to them. “Coffee and Carrie seems like a good enough reason,” I tell them honestly.

She starts pouring the guys’ coffee, but I see her watching me as she works. If my words surprised her, she’s not letting on.

She takes the guys’ orders, and they all seem overly friendly with her. They must be coming in here too when I’m not here.

A few of the officers hit on her and are openly flirting with her, but she doesn’t seem to notice.

I can barely sit still while listening to Crawford ask her out.

“What do you say? You let me take you over to the Grove Cinema for a movie tonight?”

I lift my head just slightly because I have to see her reaction. Does she want to go out with Crawford? Am I wasting my time here?

But what surprises me is that instead of looking at Crawford, she’s looking at me for just a split second, and then she looks away. “Thank you, really. But I just got back into town and I’m still trying to get settled.”

“You guys got your coffee. It’s on me today. Now go find something else to do besides hit on women that are just trying to do their job.”

The other officers laugh good-naturedly, but Crawford looks mad. Whether from my words or Carrie turning him down, I’m not sure. But he follows the others anyway.

I pull my wallet out of my pocket and lay down a twenty-dollar bill. “Sorry about that,” I apologize to her.

She shakes her head. “It’s fine, really. No big deal. I don’t want anyone to get in trouble or anything.”

She thinks I’m mad. And I guess I am. But not for the reasons she thinks I am. I’m mad because Crawford asked her out. I’m mad that I’ve pretty much ruined my chances of asking her out today after my speech to the men about letting Carrie do her job. But I still reassure her anyway. “No one is going to get in trouble. Thank you for the coffee and the treat. It was good.”

I walk out the door and onto the street, not allowing myself to give her one last glance. Because I know if I do, I’m going to go in there and do exactly what I told my men to stop doing and ask her out.7Carrie“So I drove by the B&B the other day. I can’t believe all the changes. It looks amazing!” I tell Lacy as I bring coffee and pastries to the table. I’m taking a break from my job at Patty Cakes so I can visit with my friend.

We were good friends back in high school. I’ve talked to Lacy a few times on the phone since I’ve been back, but this is the first time we’ve actually made plans to see each other and kept them.

“Thanks, Carrie! My parents have really made the B&B something. But what about this place? All I’ve heard about are all the new recipes at Patty Cakes. The locals and out-of-towners alike have been raving about the food and pastries coming out of here since you got back.”

I’m never one to take a compliment well, so I change the subject. “So what about you and Trent? I hear it’s pretty serious.” I don’t want to ruin the surprise for her and tell her I already know they’re engaged. It was all around Forest Grove by that same afternoon, I’m sure. But I want to hear it from my friend.

Her smile gets even bigger and she blushes as she holds her hand out toward me. “Yep, we are engaged,” she squeals.

“Oh, Lacy. It’s beautiful!”

“I know. It was his mom’s ring, and that makes it even more special.” Lacy sighs.

My hand goes to my heart. “Oh, I know how much his mom meant to you. That’s so perfect.”

I watch as Lacy looks at her hand, still in awe. I remember how devastated Lacy was when she and Trent broke up after graduation and his parents’ passing. I’m so happy that they have found their way back to each other.

The bell rings, and my eyes fly to the door. I know this is the normal time that the sheriff comes in for his midmorning coffee, so I’m not surprised to see him, but I still feel my heart hammering in my chest. I give him a little wave, but instead of getting in line, he takes a seat at a table.

I try to pay attention to what Lacy is saying, but I can’t stop looking over at the sheriff. Each time our gaze meets, I look away quickly. He’s staring at me. I can just feel it.