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~*~ SNEAK PEAK ~*~
A chapter excerpt from Pulled by Love, A Kindle Worlds Novella in Melissa Fosters the Remingtons Series!
Ava Sweet tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear, eyes intently focused on the sticky mess in front of her. Pulling taffy was an art, one she’d carefully honed and perfected since she was a little girl in her grandmother’s sweets shop. Nona Jan had taught her the secret to making and pulling the perfect taffy, creating just the right texture that would melt in your mouth and keep you reaching for another piece. Now that she had her own taffy shop, it was up to Ava to carry on their family tradition and continue to create the taffy she’d grown up eating.
Ava could almost hear Nona’s voice whispering in her ear as she buttered her hands, reminding her to keep them greased to prevent the taffy from turning into a sticky mess. The taffy always started off as a brown gooey mess, but Ava knew within fifteen minutes of pulling it would turn into the sweet, creamy coloring her funfetti taffy was known for. It was the nature of the beast, they would always laugh, and it was times like these when Ava missed her grandmother the most.
Her mind drifted as she pulled the taffy, drawing her back to childhood memories. An only child, Ava and her mother had lived with her mother’s parents in a two bedroom apartment in New York City. She never knew her father. Apparently being told he was about to be a father had sent him running. That suited her just fine. Growing up, Ava was showered with so much love and encouragement by her mother and grandparents that the absence of a father rarely crossed her mind.
It was her grandmother who instilled the joy of taffy making in her. From a young age, Ava could be found in the kitchen of her grandmother’s shop, buttering up her hands and grabbing small batches of goo to pull. As she grew, so did her interest in the business, and while other teenagers were out on dates or hanging out, Ava studied her grandmother’s recipes, looking for ways to enhance the flavors. When she graduated high school, going to college had never crossed her mind. Being in the taffy business with her grandmother was all that she knew, and all that she wanted to do. Nona’s death a year after she graduated sent the entire family into a tail spin, and it wasn’t until the following year when Ava was cleaning out one of Nona’s old boxes from her sweets shop that she came across her grandmother’s recipe book.
Ava’s movements slowed as she pulled the taffy, remembering that day clearly as though it were just yesterday. She’d been struggling without her grandmother’s influence, trying to stay afloat and figure out what she was going to do with the rest of her life. Finding that book had been an answer to her prayers, and the minute her fingers had touched the worn leather binding, she knew what she was supposed to do. What her grandmother would have wanted her to do.
She started out small, setting up shop in a tiny, one bedroom apartment. It took months for her to gain traction using her grandmother’s recipes, and she spent many long hours on her feet, hocking her taffy at every vendor event and business in town. With a bit of luck and ingenuity, her hard work finally paid off, and six months after creating her first taffy, Ava was moving her business from her tiny apartment to a new storefront in Soho. It’d been a tough road, but she knew she’d do it again in a heartbeat.
The door to the kitchen abruptly swung open. Ava glanced up, her thoughts scattering to the wind as Hudson James stormed through the doorway. She’d only been in her storefront for a month and had yet to meet all her neighbors, but she knew Hudson’s family owned Fudge Nuggets, the fudge and candy store next door.
Sandy blonde hair, deep set blue eyes and a strong jaw were complimented by his muscular physique, and Ava would have been sorely tempted to stop and admire the show had he not been staring her down. Judging by the firm clench of his jaw, Ava had a sneaky suspicion the neighborhood Boy Scout wasn’t here for a social visit. He looked pissed. As in seriously pissed. And he was glaring at her.
“Just who in the hell do you think you are?” he spat, feet planted on the floor and hands firmly on his solid hips.
Ava tried not to notice those hips, forcing her gaze to remain locked with his. Her hands continued to pull the taffy on the work table in front of her, knowing that if she were to stop it would harden and become unusable. Not exactly a good time to be carrying on a conversation.
“Um, excuse me?” she asked, furrowing her eyebrows in confusion.
His nostrils flared, and if it were possible for steam to escape his ears, Ava was fairly certain she could see it circling his head. Hudson was known as the neighborhood Boy Scout for the simple fact that he was always helping someone out. Rumor had it that he had an appealing, easy going nature about him, and Ava had heard more than her fair share of stories about the kind hearted Hudson from customers who came into her shop. Needless to say, seeing him standing in the middle of her kitchen, glaring her down, was in stark contrast to the image she had of him in her head.
His lips pressed into a thin line, annoyance stamped across his handsome features. If looks could kill, she’d be a goner. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. Did you think you could just steal our recipe and it would go unnoticed?”
Ava’s mouth fell open, a soft gasp escaping her lips. “What?! Listen, I don’t know what you think it is that I’ve done, but I suggest you back the truck up and explain yourself.”
He stepped closer and leaned in, bringing his face even with hers. The combination of his nearness and the heady scent of his cologne wafting past her nostrils made her insides quiver with anticipation. Hudson was even more handsome up close than when she gawked at him from afar, and she tried not to notice the bulge of hard muscles bunching his shoulders, or the hint of stubble shadowing his strong jaw.
“My family’s secret recipe, the one we were working on to introduce at the Big Apple Sweets Convention. The one you stole and used in your new taffy recipe.” His breath brushed over her face like a caress, and had she not been pulling taffy, she would have been sorely tempted to lean in closer to him.
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