Many of them still remembered Anah from her intern days, but more importantly, they all looked at her as their honorary little sister, owing to her close ties to the Blackwoods.
"Hello again." Farica, co-owner of the cafe, looked unusually frazzled as Anah settled herself on one of the bar stools. Her lovely blonde hair was twisted up in a messy bun, and her granny glasses kept slipping down her nose. Anah had a feeling it was the older woman's way of making herself stand out less, and well...it wasn't working. Nothing would, with the kind of looks the Dutch heiress possessed.
"Everything okay?" Anah asked when she Farica exhaled her breath in an irritable sigh.
"We're short-staffed again," Farica admitted grumpily while handing Anah the menu over the counter.
Anah was stunned. "But didn't you guys just hire the last one?"
"Yeah, she's gone."
Anah winced. "I guess that means she..."
"Couldn't help falling in love with Slade and made a nuisance of herself?"
Before Anah could answer, the other owner of the cafe sauntered up to the bar, saying dryly, "No need to hold back, Fari. Feel free to make it sound like it's all of my fault."
"But it is your fault," Farica pointed out, "that we've gone through five waitresses in the past three months!"
"Ignore her." Slade Wyndham's pleasant voice was clearly meant to further needle his business partner. "She's always hysterical this time of the month." Anah had to swallow back a laugh as a successfully baited Farica threw a dishcloth at Slade's ruggedly handsome face.
Anah cleared her throat. "Can I order my lunch before someone dies?"
Farica groaned. "Sorry, Anah. It's this jerk's fault I forgot to take your order."
Ignoring this, Slade turned to Anah, asking suavely, "Won't you change your mind and start working for us instead?"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Wyndham," Anah apologized. "But I really like my job at the library."
The cafe owner grimaced. "I knew you'd say that."
Anah bit back a smile at the way Slade's brooding expression only made him look more handsome. He looked very much like Henry Cavill when playing pre-Superman Clark Kent, with his dark hair, beard, and penchant for plaids. It was easy to see why so many of the cafe's former waitresses had all lost their hearts to him. Anah probably would have done the same thing, too...if she already had her heart back.
But since that part of her body was still stubbornly beating for a man who remained out of her reach...
Slade mentally shook his head when he saw the girl's expression turn pensive. He knew exactly what that look meant, mostly because he had seen it more times than he wished on his own business partner, who had been nursing her own unrequited love for almost a decade.
Anah was still in love with Ethan Blackwood, and she had done such an awful job hiding this that the whole town knew of her feelings. Unfortunately, the whole town also knew that Ethan had never returned her feelings...and probably never would, for as long as a temptress named Guilia was in the picture.
It was about ten in the morning when Ethan's plane landed in Laramie, and after grabbing a quick shower, he found himself succumbing to the urge to drive to the library.
He'd just say hi, Ethan reasoned to himself. He and Anah had rules now, and dropping by to check on her would be fine as long as he remembered to play by their rules.
Unfortunately, it was only Mrs. Hutchins manning the counter when he arrived.
"You just missed her," the head librarian told him regretfully. "She's on her break right now, but I think you can find her at Redwood Cafe."
Hearing this nearly had Ethan groaning out loud. That damn place tended to be the beehive for local gossip, and it was with extreme reluctance that he decided to bite the bullet and simply make his way to the local cafe.
As expected, all heads swung to his direction the moment he entered, and Ethan responded to their looks of interest with a flip of his finger. Fuck you all.
But of course, everyone was just thick-skinned enough to simply laugh it off.
The sudden laughter made Anah glance curiously over her shoulder, and she almost choked at seeing Ethan sitting down and joining the twins at their table. He was his usual rakishly good-looking self, and when she saw him flash a grin at something Aidan said, she couldn't keep her heart from skipping a beat. She liked him best when he was grinning like that; he looked so much like Christian Slater in his Heather days, and it just made her wish so, so bad she had the right to just look at him for as long as she wanted.
But since she didn't...
Anah forced herself to turn back to her food, and it was then she saw that her iPhone, placed next to her plate, already had one unread message waiting for her.
Ethan: I'm back.
Anah's heartbeat rate shot up like a rocket. She and Ethan had "rules" now, and one of those rules?
Ethan permitting himself to reach out to her first, but only in the days when he was officially without a girlfriend again.
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt! Their book should be out within the month!