Page 8 of Forbidden Stranger

Font Size:  

“No,” I say so Joy doesn’t have to lie.Besides, is it really a lie?I wasn’t talking shit.I was stating a fact.Tinsel is always in the know about everything.As the sheriff probably should be but that has nothing to do with it.“You find out who the baby daddy is yet?”I switch the subject over to something else that I know Tinsel will follow, and her face scrunches with annoyance.

“No, but trust me, I will.”It comes out sounding like a vow.

I pity the man that has to deal with her wrath.Tinsel might be down for a lot of funny shenanigans until it comes to crossing one of her girlfriends.We all adore Carol, and it’s hard to believe a man would knock her up and walk away.

“How is Carol?”Joy asks.Carol had a small scare, and I think when she called Tinsel it was her first real emergency.Things are quiet around here for the most part.If anyone is up to anything, it’s our own sheriff.

“She’s good.”Tinsel lets out a long breath, growing serious for once.“She scared the crap out of me, but everything is good.The baby is cooking up just right.”I notice Tinsel’s hand slip over her own stomach.I’m not sure she’s conscious of the fact, but I know where her thoughts are.It would be interesting to see Tins as a mom.“Don’t think I didn’t catch this change of subject, but I'm gonna let it slide today, ladies.”She snags one of the cookies from off the display I have set up.“I’m here about Mark.”She bites into the cookie, almost eating the whole thing in one bite.

“Wait, that was real?”Joy asks, confused.I’m not shocked Joy has heard about this even though it only happened last night.

“Oh, it’s real.He got to Noel’s a little before seven last night and stayed for a few hours.”And there is my point.Tins always knows everything.

“Don’t say it like that.”I give a playful smack to her shoulder.She makes it sound as though only Mark came to my home and we had a private dinner.It was a long two hours.

“Assaulting an officer, Noel?”she says, and I roll my eyes at her.“I want to make it clear Mark isn’t happening.”

“You killed him?”Joy whispers, making me snort a laugh.

“I will if I have to.”She polishes off the rest of her cookie and points her finger at me.“He’s not for you.”Then she points her finger in the opposite direction.I follow it and see Mark walking into the library.

“Crap,” I mutter under my breath.

“Want me to arrest him?”Tins offers.She really is a good friend.

“No,” I quickly respond because knowing her, she might.“He’s almost a lawyer,” I remind her.He’s got one semester left until he takes the bar.I know because he brought it up five million times.I don’t know why I tell Tins that.She doesn’t give a shit, and the expression on her face makes that extra clear.

I glance back toward the front doors to see Mark heading my way.My eyes catch when another man enters behind him.The tall, dark stranger is unmissable, and he makes Mark look like a boy in comparison.He’s dressed in all black, making him stand out in the sea of holiday colors.Our eyes lock, and a flutter of excitement lights through my whole body.

“You sure?”Tins breaks the spell, pulling my attention back to her and Joy.I have to fight to keep it there because I can still feel the man's eyes on me.Maybe I’m crazy, but it’s like the whole atmosphere in the room changed.

“Yeah, I’m sure.”I’ll have to talk to Mark at some point, but I’m surprised he’s here.There was no spark between the two of us.In fact, it was more awkward than anything.At least that’s what I thought.

“All right, but let me know if you change your mind.I think old Marky is going to be shocked you don’t want him.”

Tinsel is right because the man is cocky.I thought college would have changed him, but I think it only made him worse.

“Maybe he should date Donna,” Joy suggests tartly, making me laugh because I had that same thought.

“Those egos couldn’t share a room.”Tins grabs another cookie before hooking her arm into Joy’s.“We need to talk,” she tells her sister-in-law as she pulls her away, and just then Mark approaches.

“Noel,” he says, leaning against the counter.“You really don’t look anything like you did back in school.”His eyes roam over me, and I want to pull my sweater tighter around my body.He mentioned that a few times last night, and I’m pretty sure he thinks it’s a compliment.

“Hey.”I force a smile onto my face.I might read a lot of romance, but I have no clue how to have this conversation.Especially with the handsome man in all black staring right at me.



The library sits near the center of town and it’s truly a beautiful old building.There’s a historical marker out front, and when I pull the door open, even I am impressed by the space.It’s art deco style, and the stained glass lets colored lights dance across the old wood and brass that adorn the walls.It’s like something out of a museum as I step inside and take a look around.

There are lots of children and families in the kids section to the left, and there’s someone on a stool reading stories to them.Have I just been transported into a Hallmark movie?Everything is decorated for Christmas, and there’s even a stack of books made to look like a tree.I smell hot cocoa, and there’s a display with the cookies and boxes so that you can eat them here or take them with you.

In the center of the library is a circulation desk with a few people nearby.There’s a man up ahead that goes and leans on the counter, and when he’s out of the way, I see her.

I would know her anywhere, not because I’ve seen her picture or even spoken to her.It’s like something inside of my chest warmed up, and there’s a pull I’ve never felt before.My muscles tense, and I narrow my eyes as I take a tentative step forward.

Are there magnets in here?How am I moving without telling my legs what to do?

Articles you may like