Keep reading for a super sweet excerpt from The Sugar Queen by Tess Thompson. It releases May 19th!
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True love requires commitment, and many times unending sacrifice. . .
At the tender age of eighteen, Brandi Vargas watched the love of her life drive out of Emerson Pass, presumably for good. Though she and Trapper Barnes dreamed of attending college and starting their lives together, she was sure she would only get in the way of Trapper's future as a hockey star. Breaking his heart, and her own in the process, was the only way to ensure he pursued his destiny. Her fate was the small town life she'd always known, her own bakery, and an endless stream of regret.
After a decade of playing hockey, a single injury ended Trapper Barnes' career. And while the past he left behind always haunted him, he still returns to Emerson Pass to start the next chapter of his life in the place his ancestors built more than a century before. But when he discovers that the woman who owns the local bakery is the girl who once shattered his dreams, the painful secret she's been harboring all these years threatens to turn Trapper's idyllic small town future into a disaster. Will it take a forest fire threatening the mountain village to force Trapper and Brandi to confront their history? And in the wake of such a significant loss, will the process of rebuilding their beloved town help them find each other, and true happiness, once again?
Fast forward to the present day and enjoy this contemporary second chance romance set in the small town of Emerson Pass, featuring the descendants of the characters you loved from USA Today bestselling author Tess Thompson's The School Mistress.
She blinked as she looked up at me. “I forgot how tall you are. How big.”
“I didn’t forget anything about you.”
“Is that true?” she asked.
“I never lie to you.” I wrapped one arm around her waist, searching her eyes for any hesitation before I kissed her. She responded immediately, wrapping her free arm around my neck and pressing close. The kiss deepened. I drew her close and ran my fingers down her back. God, she felt good. So right. I pulled away. “I have to stop before I throw you down in the grass.”
She grinned and tossed her hair behind her shoulders. “That would be like the old days.”
I held out my hand. “Let’s keep walking before we end up in trouble.”
Her face clouded, and she dropped her gaze downward. What had I said wrong? I didn’t ask. Instead, I took her free hand and led her across the meadow.
“The whole town knows about last night,” she said after a minute or so.
“I know. Does it bother you?”
She shrugged. “Not really. I don’t care what anyone thinks.”
We headed down the slope toward the creek bed. This time of year, the water was shallow and warm from the sun. Still, there was a nice pool between two narrowed sections of the creek where we used to fish and swim.
“Give me your glass,” I said. To get to the water’s edge, we had to climb over a few rocks, and I didn’t want her to slip.
She did so, and I watched as she made her way over the uneven rocks to a section of sand. Years ago, I’d dragged a log over as a makeshift bench. She sat, and I handed over her wineglass.
I eased my long body onto the log, wincing when pain shot through my knee.
“Does it hurt?” she asked.
“Every once in a while. I’m going to be one of those old men who can predict the weather by the pain in my knee.”
We both slipped off our sandals and put our feet in the creek. After the water settled, minnows drew near, cautiously at first until their curiosity got the better of them. I sipped my beer, conscious of Brandi’s body heat and wishing I could take her in my arms and make love to her as I had when we were young.
She giggled as minnows nibbled at her toes.
“You always had the most ticklish feet,” I said.
“It’s embarrassing when I get my toes done at the salon,” she said. “I can’t stop laughing.”
“I’ve missed your laugh.”
“I missed yours, too,” she said. “We might’ve gotten a little carried away last night.”
“I don’t know. Maybe dancing in the middle of the street was a little over-the-top?” She smiled, then leaned her head against my shoulder. “You’re such a romantic.”
“I know it’s a little much. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize. You’ve said you’re sorry too much in the last twenty-four hours. You shouldn’t have to say that to me. Not now. Not after all the ways I hurt you.”
“How about if we just start fresh? Forgive whatever happened in the past and see what’s here?”
She didn’t answer for a long moment. “There’s something I have to tell you.”
She didn’t speak for a long moment. More minnows came, swarming around our ankles and feet.
“I’m afraid,” she whispered. “I don’t know if I can tell you.”
Tess Thompson is a USA Today bestselling author of small-town romance and historical fiction, with nearly 20 titles across multiple series that focus on heartwarming journeys of triumph and humanity for colorful characters you'd love to be friends with in real life.
Tess holds a degree in theater from the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), and can be found most days at her desk in suburban Seattle, where she also makes her home with the hero of her own love story and their blended family of two sons, two daughters, and five cats.
Tess loves music, dancing, books, bubble baths, cooking, wine, movies, snuggling, Seahawks football, and hearing from her readers. Drop her a line at email@example.com.
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