Holiday Hook Up

By: Robyn Neeley

Bachelors of Buttermilk Falls (Book 4)

Chapter 1

Adam Reed needed a woman to kiss and fast.

He zipped up his black leather jacket and bolted down Main Street, trying to put as much distance as he could between him, the Sugar Spoon bakery, and all the angry single women who would soon be fast on his heels. His worn work boots slipped through the fresh powdered snow as the twinkling holiday lights guided his way along the otherwise dark street.

It was Thursday night, and he’d failed yet again at predicting true love for one lucky Buttermilk Falls bachelorette. Unfortunately, the particular single lady, Pauline Maycock, didn’t see the name that appeared in the mixing bowl as a mistake.

Unfortunate, indeed, since it was his name that appeared in the batter.

Magical cake batter. Spells that predicted true love. He’d never asked for any of this, but here he was spending another Thursday night doing his best to get the spell right.

When he told Pauline that his heart belonged to someone else and that his prediction was wrong, she seemed to take the news well. But her dozen or so female friends who had come to congratulate her—not so much. They wanted his head on a Christmas platter.

Honestly, he couldn’t blame them. This was the third time he’d failed to predict a selected bachelorette’s soul mate. These women were outraged.

And now he was a man on the run. There was no way in hell that the town’s eccentric mortician was his soul mate. Nope. They weren’t happening.

Sure, he’d kissed Pauline last month after a few tequila shots at the Buttermilk Tavern. Okay, it was more like a big, blurry make out session in a dark corner booth that he’d only done to make his ex-girlfriend, Rachel Foster, jealous.

When Rachel carried on with her date, Carter Manning, a few tables away without even a curious glance in his direction, Adam made a lame excuse that he had to help his younger brother, Tom, install a new flat screen and hightailed it out of there—alone.

He’d admit it. What he’d done to Pauline was uncool. Not wanting to be a total asshole, he’d apologized to her the next morning in the Star Lite diner and invited her to join him for breakfast—his treat.

She’d waved off his apology and had slid into the seat opposite him, admitting she’d also had too much to drink and had gotten carried away in the moment. She hadn’t seemed mad as they both attacked a stack of Mel’s infamous blueberry pancakes. At least she hadn’t shown it, but then again, Pauline was always sporting a surprisingly large grin for a woman that spent most of her time making up dead bodies. She was nice and all, but she wasn’t the one.

He always thought that role belonged to Rachel, the town’s one-and-only florist who’d made his heart bloom from the moment they’d kissed behind the bleachers their senior year. Seven months later, they’d done more than that on prom night.

They continued to date throughout her four years in college while he remained in Buttermilk Falls, working construction for his dad. They talked about marriage, but it was always something that they would do some day.

The thing was, as the years ticked by, he wasn’t sure when he’d be ready to pop the inevitable question she’d been waiting patiently for him to ask. Things between them had been good—great even, but what if down the line it didn’t work out? It certainly hadn’t for his parents who had also been high school sweethearts.

The last thing he wanted was to experience what his parents did—a huge public spectacle of a divorce. The whole town had been divided when Army Lieutenant James Reed had had an affair overseas and broke the heart of Buttermilk Falls sweetheart Amelia Reed. Their parents had tried to stay together for many years for the sake of Tom and him, but by the time they were teenagers, their mother had had enough.

A few days after his fourteenth birthday, his pop moved out, and shortly after, his mother filed for divorce.

While Tom didn’t let what happened to his parents influence his own desire to get married—and did just that last year to Bridget Dobson—Adam couldn’t kick his reservations. He flip-flopped all the time whether he was ready or not, but ultimately . . . forever was—well, it was forever.

Rachel felt differently and finally put an expiration date on their “some day,” insisting he propose or they were done.

He didn’t want to lose her, and he did want to be a father eventually, so he’d gotten an engagement ring—a beautiful cluster of small sparkling diamonds in a square frame, a style that she’d hinted she’d like. He’d tried for a week, popping the question in front of his bathroom mirror, but couldn’t do it without sweat forming on his forehead.