Cooking Up Trouble(6)

By: Judi Lynn

He stared. “I knew this area was known by foodies, but I didn’t know there were so many options.”

“We offer a lot. There’s a vineyard on the north side of town.” She couldn’t help the note of pride that crept into her voice. Ian had lucked into a prime food area. As she led him back to the house and kitchen, he pointed to a small cabin that sat between her place and his. “What’s that?”

“When my grandpa got older, he hired a farmhand, part-time, who worked for room and board. No one uses it now.”

He studied it. “I’ve been thinking about building rental cabins close to the lake.”

“It wouldn’t be that hard.” Once inside, she put their leftover supper in plastic containers to send home with him. She gave him a coffee cake from her freezer, too.

He licked his lips. Sensual lips, she noticed, that curled up on the sides. “Streusel. I love it.”

“Good, then you should have a decent start tomorrow morning.” Tessa waved him off as his golf cart zipped down the road and turned, out of sight. Then she went to the kitchen to finish cleaning up. She felt restless, ill at ease. Ian had brought up memories and decisions she’d pushed aside for a later date. That date had never come. And Gary’s parents had stopped at Buck Krieger’s, asking about her. She didn’t let herself think about them, or Gary, or men. Now wasn’t the right time.

Chapter 3

Early every Thursday, Tessa’s grandmother drove to the farm to help bake. When Gramps died, Grams already had a plan. She signed the farm over to Tessa, gave a chunk of money to Tessa’s brother, Craig (who didn’t need it, he was rich enough), and Grams still had plenty of money to move into a ranch-style house in town. She didn’t miss the farm, but she did enjoy spending time with Tessa. And it was mutual. They spent the day in the barn, mixing up cake batters and rolling out pie dough.

“Heard the new guy came to town.” Grams had to raise her voice to be heard over the food processor, as Tessa grated carrots for this week’s special. “Seen him yet?”

Tessa scraped the grated carrots into her cake batter and added cans of crushed pineapple. “I picked him up on the side of the road. He had a flat tire. Got the spare on for him, then had him follow me to Garth’s before I drove him to his place.”

Grams stopped crumbling cold butter into flour for her piecrusts. She stared. “The man can’t change a tire?”

“He grew up in New York. Doesn’t own a car. He’s looking for one this weekend. I recommended a pickup.”

Grams cocked her head to one side. Some women grew softer with age. She wasn’t one of them. She grew leaner. With her steel gray hair, she didn’t look the cuddly sort. “Sounds like you’ve already gotten friendly.”

“Ian didn’t have a car or any groceries when I drove him home, so I invited him for supper. He’s been coming every night this week until he settles in.”

“Do you like him?” Grams always got straight to the point.

“He’s going to make a good neighbor. And he’s engaged. Had you heard that?” Grams knew enough people, she was usually on top of every tidbit of information floating around Mill Pond.

“Oh.” Her shoulders drooped. Obviously, she hadn’t heard. “It’s been a long time since you’ve been interested in anyone.”

“It’s not gonna happen. I’m happy doing what I’m doing. I don’t need complications.”

“Your grandpa was a complication, for sure.” A grin. “That man could annoy a saint, but Lord, I loved him.”

“You two were perfect for each other.” Tessa turned on the mixer to start the cream cheese frosting. Maybe if there was enough noise, Grams would let the subject drop.

“Not every man’s like Gary. Not all of them are rotters.”

Tessa sighed. “I lost three years of my life playing at romance. I’m not wasting time on it again.”

Grams divided her dough into slabs to wrap in plastic wrap. The first batch was already in the refrigerator, chilling. “Who said anything about romance? How about a little toss in the hay? Something to get the juices going again.”

Tessa laughed. “My juices are just fine, thank you. Leave it alone. Give me some town dirt. You usually have something fun to talk about when we get together.”

“Leona Jackson’s back in town. Have you heard?”

“No.” Tessa turned the mixer off. Leona had kept the town in gossip for years before she ran off with a tourist four months ago. Everyone missed her. She was the best hairdresser in Mill Pond. “Tell me about it.”

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