Tina left Ziegler’s farmers market, feeling tired and hungry. It was hard enough, standing on her feet all day, but pasting on a smile and dealing with people were exhausting. The townies weren’t so bad. She knew most of them by name, knew their families, and a quick and friendly hello was always welcome.
But the tourists? The ones who had come from out of town and thought venturing to the farmers market on the weekends was a rustic adventure? Not so much.
On the plus side, they were willing to pay premium prices for organic produce.
The best and worst thing about working the market every Saturday was having to smell the slow-roasted rotisserie chicken from the Amish place a few stalls down. Mouthwatering and delicious, it was hands down the best chicken around.
Tina wasn’t the only one who thought so. Zook’s sold out every week without fail. The locals knew to get their orders in early, before the place opened its doors to the public.
Those enticing aromas were now filling the cab of her truck, whispering suggestively that she didn’t have to wait until she got home to have a taste. Her stomach growled loudly in hearty agreement. Why should she wait? The chicken was hot and fresh now, and when she got home, she’d feel compelled to unload the truck before settling in for the night. It could be an hour or more before she had a chance to sit down and enjoy it.
That was how Tina found herself in the back corner of Ziegler’s parking lot, ripping into the foil-wrapped goodness of a Zook’s chicken as if she hadn’t eaten in days.
The first bite was practically orgasmic. The skin was crispy and dripping with hand-churned butter. The meat, melt-in-her-mouth tender and perfectly seasoned. She closed her eyes and savored the moment before she took another bite. And another.
She was tearing the last piece of meat from the bone when there was a knock at the window. She turned, ready to rip her brother a new one for ghosting her all day, and promptly froze.
Because it wasn’t her brother standing there.
No, it was so much worse. Dirty-blond hair, brushed back from a sculpted face, just long enough to skim the collar of his plaid flannel. Amazing hazel eyes so focused that she felt his penetrating gaze on the inside.
At least, that was what Kate Handelmann had called him. Tina didn’t know his real name. All the Sanctuary guys had nicknames.
But none of them made her heart beat faster on sight like he did.
And none of them were currently standing outside her truck, looking on as she tore into a chicken like a savage.
She scanned the interior of the cab for a paper napkin, a tissue—anything she could use to mop up the butter currently dripping down her chin—and came up empty.
Summoning as much dignity as she could, Tina moved the bag to the passenger seat, wiped her greasy lips with the back of her sleeve as discreetly as possible, and put the window down.
“Is everything okay?”
His voice was just as buttery as the chicken. Smooth. Calming. But it wasn’t enough to erase her embarrassment, and her knee-jerk response was to go on the defensive. Growing up with three older brothers probably had something to do with that.
“Yes,” she snapped. “Why wouldn’t it be?”
“You’ve been sitting here for a while.”
He shifted his weight. “So, I just wanted to make sure everything was all right.”
“Well, it is.”
He hesitated, almost as if he wanted to say something more, but simply nodded. “Okay. Sorry to bother you.”
He started to turn when she said, “What are you doing, skulking around the parking lot anyway? Ziegler’s closed an hour ago.”
He smiled, and damn if it didn’t make him even more gorgeous. “Helping a friend.”
Tina immediately wondered who that friend was, followed shortly afterward by a wave of envy. She imagined those broad shoulders lifting crates into the back of her truck. Not only would she have enjoyed the view, but she also would have appreciated a second pair of strong hands since her brother hadn’t bothered to show.
The Good Samaritan walked away. She groaned and banged her forehead on the steering wheel.
Nice going, Tina. Way to make a great first impression.
She lifted her head and followed his progress in the side-view mirror, curious to see where he was going, but another knock, this one on her passenger window, garnered her attention and made her jump.
“Damn it, Rick!” Tina yelled. “You startled me.”
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