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“On a wing and a prayer. I wasn’t able to do omelets on demand which has proven to be quite popular, so I decided to do French toast with blueberry compote, scrambled eggs, hash browns and an assortment of yogurts and granola.”

“Something tells me it was amazing,” Luke said.

“They seemed happy with it, but lunch is bearing down on me and I’ve fallen behind on my quiches.” She sniffled, not wanting to give in to tears of frustration but sensing she was close to a meltdown. She cared too much for Luke to have him see her fall apart over her job.

“Hey,” Luke said in a tender tone, “it’s going to be all right.”

She sniffled again. “I’m sorry if I sound like I’m whining.”

“Don’t apologize.” He looked around the kitchen. “Frankly, I’m impressed that you’re still standing. What I know about cooking could fit on a postage stamp. But if you want some back up, I’m here to help.”

Morgan began giggling. The idea of Luke putting an apron on and cooking in her kitchen was a hilarious thought. She knew he didn’t know a pot from a baking sheet.

“Thanks for making me laugh. I really better get back to it.” She let out a groan as she checked her watch. “I’m drowning here.”

“Don’t you need help?” Luke asked, his handsome face appearing somber.

“Yes,” she admitted, fighting back tears. “I can’t fall on my sword after only a few days. I’m still trying to prove myself and showcase my culinary skills. I don’t want to let the girls or the guests down.”

Luke rolled up his sleeves. “Okay. Luke Duvall reporting for duty. Tell me what to do.”

“What? Are you serious? Don’t you have to get back to Duvall?”

“I’m a senior executive,” Luke said with a wink. “I can make my own hours.”

“Oh bless you, Luke,” Morgan said, throwing herself against his chest and wrapping her arms around him. All of the stress and strain she’d been feeling suddenly evaporated. With Luke at her side helping, Morgan knew she could complete the lunch service. He might not know how to cook, but he was the smartest man she’d ever known.

She felt Luke’s arms cradling her back and she paused for a moment to enjoy the sensation of being held in his arms. She closed her eyes and inhaled the scent of him—woodsy, earthy tones that reminded her of the great outdoors.

Morgan slowly pulled away from the embrace. If she lingered against his chest for a single moment more, she just might be tempted to stay there forever. Or do something bold and unpredictable like kissing him on his perfectly-shaped lips.

They locked gazes for a moment. Morgan studied the golden flecks in Luke’s hazel eyes. Did he know how badly she wanted to kiss him? Did he feel the same way? He seemed to be trying to read something in the depths of her eyes. Maybe the truth was they were both trying to figure out where things stood between them. In Morgan’s mind, Violet had been an obstacle. But now that Violet and Luke had broken up, there really wasn’t any impediment to them being together.

“This kitchen holds a special place in my heart.”

Morgan swallowed. For a single second she’d wondered if Luke had been able to read her thoughts about kissing him.

“It does?” She croaked out the words.

He nodded, a hint of a smile playing around his lips. “That day you gave me the cupcakes was the moment I realized what you meant to me. Before that day I knew you made me feel a special kind of way, but I hadn’t connected the dots. I was only eleven or so.”

Morgan blushed. “I had a crush on you too, in case you didn’t notice.”

“Now you tell me,” Luke said in a teasing voice. His eyes gleamed. “I thought you were just being sweet. I would have done back flips on Savannah House’s lawn if I’d known that back then.”

“It felt a little bit cliché since I’m guessing loads of Callie’s friends had crushes on you. I know I wasn’t the only one.”

Luke shrugged. “There was only one I ever wanted to like me.” He stepped closer to Morgan so that only mere inches stood between them. “And it was you, Morgan. Always you.”

“I never once thought you had feelings for me back when we were kids. I just thought you were the gallant type who liked playing the hero.”

“I would have waged wars for you,” he said, reaching out and tenderly touching her cheek. “I would have fought the devil himself to keep you safe. I still would.”

“You’ve always been my hero,” Morgan whispered as she looked up into Luke’s soulful eyes.

“Morgan. I know we don’t have a moment to spare, but there’s something I really need to do right about now.” Morgan watched with her heart in her throat as Luke dipped his head down and placed a kiss on her all-too-eager lips. Her pulse quickened as she raised her hands to Luke’s shoulders and leaned in to the kiss. Luke’s lips were warm and inviting as they moved over hers. His lips tasted like cinnamon and sugar.

Oh how she’d ached to feel his lips on hers again. And after all this time, it felt like coming home.

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