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Snippet of The Bachelor Bargain

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This will be the only snippet from my pen name, Kristen Dixon. If you love small town sweet romance, you can join that newsletter here!

The Bachelor Bargain

“You had a crush on me in school?”

“Yep, you were the whole package. Smart and pretty. Not to mention, brave in a way I could never be. You knew exactly what you wanted, and nothing was ever going to stop you from going after it. I admired that. Still do.” He gazed out the window, lost in memories as we pulled off on the dirt road to the overlook.

I sat in stunned silence as we bumped down the pitted road, even though he drove carefully. That’s what he thought? That I was brave? I didn’t feel it, not anymore. The responsibilities of adulthood had taken their toll on me, and most days I felt stuck. I hadn’t felt brave since the day I’d left for college. Could I be the girl he remembered again? The girl I remembered?

The road split and he took the left fork, heading up the grassy path to the top of the hill. It didn’t take long before we reached the top, and he slid the shifter into park.

“Ready? It’s almost time.”

“Yep,” I answered. “Time for what, exactly?” I asked when he opened my door and offered me a hand down. I slipped my hand in his, the heat from our palms sending an undeniable shiver through me.

“You’ll see. Come on!” Excitement lit his tone, and he didn’t let go of my hand as he grabbed a small cooler bag from the bed of the truck and headed toward the edge of the overlook. He was efficient, pulling out a thin quilt from a side pocket and spreading it out for us to sit on, and then opening the cooler.

“I thought this would be better with appetizers. I hope you still like chocolate,” he murmured, reaching into the cooler and pulling out a Sweet Nothings bakery box. When he popped the lid, the deliciously intermingled scents of chocolate and fruit hit me, and he placed the box full of chocolate covered strawberries between us on the blanket. Next were two bottles of lemonade, tiny meatball sliders, perfect tiny cups of pasta salad, and a few electric candles, which he set out along each side of the blanket.

“This is . . . unexpected. And perfect.” I looked out over the swimming hole below us, the end of the ancient rope swing trailing along the glassy surface.

“I’m glad you think so. I’ve always thought the sunset here would be something worth seeing. Especially with good company.” He smiled, crinkling the corners of his eyes, and I felt drawn into him like a magnet. The brief tension between us earlier was long forgotten, replaced instead by a bubbling happiness in my chest.

“You think I’m good company? Even if I’m not the same brave girl you remember?” I asked, hating the edge of uncertainty in my voice.

“You’ll always be the brave girl I remember. In sixth grade, I was so nervous about being on stage for the spelling bee I was ready to throw up. And you took me by the hand and led me to my seat. You refused to move to where you were supposed to sit, even when one of the teachers threatened to not let you participate. You had this stubborn look on your face, and you stared her down and said, “I’m not leaving my friend. He’s scared.””

I blew out a shaky breath, and my eyes dropped to where my fingers played with a blade of grass poking over the edge of the blue quilt. “I don’t feel it—not anymore. I had such big dreams, you know? And not many of them came to be.”

He frowned and reached forward to trail a finger along my cheek, the touch so soft I might have imagined it. “Tell me about them.”

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