Promises Under the Peach Tree by Joanne Rock
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Amazon ♥ B&N
The trouble with Heartache
Nina Spencer swore she was done with Heartache, Tennessee, when she left the town—and her sexy ex, Mack—in her rearview mirror.
But when her bakery business is rocked by scandal, she needs a place to regroup. What she doesn't need is Mack Finley reminding her of peach-flavored kisses and the hold he still has on her.
Mack never forgot Nina—not that he didn't try. Yet between caring for his family and organizing the annual Harvest Fest, he's overwhelmed and he needs Nina's help. They can work together without getting swept up in memories and the rush of brand-new passion…right?
“I know you’re not sure about the Harvest Fest, Nina, but can’t we move forward…as friends?” She didn’t look at him for a long moment, her attention fixed on some peeling paint on a low windowsill of the barn.
“It’s a nice idea,” she said finally. “But that’s a lot of layers of hurt, Mack.” For him, too. Not that he was going to say it so many words. She ought to know better than anyone.
“How does the saying go—shoot for the moon and you’ll still hit some stars? We could at least make a stab at forgiving each other.”
“I’d like that,” she said finally, tucking her fidgeting hands into the pockets of loose jean cutoffs. “I’ll try doing some of the baking for the Harvest Fest and we’ll see what happens. I’m here, so I might as well be involved. Besides, it will be good for me to get back to work.”
He was relieved she’d agreed, but her practical reasons surprised him. Nina had changed more than he realized; some of her passionate impulsiveness had been tempered.
“That’s great.” Normally, he’d shake hands to seal a deal, but since he couldn’t risk touching her after what had happened the last time, he ended up jamming his fists into his pockets, too. “I’m really glad. There’s a festival meeting today at three in the town hall if you want to go.”
“I’ll try, but I have to supervise the movers. How about I copy off your notes instead?” She arched an eyebrow at him before heading into the shadows of the barn. “Just like in high school.”
“Suit yourself. If I could copy off someone else’s notes, believe me, I’d ditch this committee gathering, too. But if you’re not going to be there, you should set up some appointments to talk to some of the local restaurant owners to see how they can contribute.” He followed her into the cool, musty depths of the barn. “I’m supposed to be meeting a couple of guys here who will be picking up the wagons. We can pull them out when they get here.”
“Okay.” She stalked to the back of one wagon, and leaned down to check a tire. “I just wanted to make sure there aren’t any flats. I’m sure there’s an air compressor here somewhere—”
“We’ll be fine.” As much as he wanted to patch up their relationship, he wasn’t ready to test it in the confines of a dark barn just yet.
He still saw that pink bra strap when he closed his eyes.
“Okay.” She straightened. “If anyone comes to the house I’ll send them back here.”
“The kid who cuts your grandmother’s grass is one of the people I’m expecting. Ethan Brady.”
“Right.” She snapped her fingers. “I met him this morning. He was going to pick peaches after he mowed the lawn, so I’m guessing he’s in the orchard.”
Mack was right back on a blanket beneath the stars on a long, hot summer night. He closed his eyes to shut out the mental images of their first time together, but new images crowded with the old ones.
Nina’s throaty laugh. The pink strap. Her flushed cheeks when she remembered the day they’d fooled around in that little vacant apartment…
“Mack?” Her voice was close to his ear.
He opened his eyes. Shook his head.
“Are you okay?” She stood just a couple of feet away.
It was dark and hard to see in the barn, but she was close enough that he could smell the fragrance of her shampoo.
“I’m fine.” His voice was a heavy rasp of sound, his heart thudding in his chest. “Allergies,” he explained. “From the hay.”
“Oh.” She stepped away, the delicate curve of her bare collarbone still close enough he could have cupped her shoulder there.
“Maybe we should step out of the barn.”
“Good idea.” He stalked away from her toward the sunlight, needing to breathe air that didn’t carry a hint of her fragrance.
Or ripe fruit.
Had he really told her they should try to be friends? Damn, but coming home had messed with his head.
“Hey, isn’t that the boy you were looking for?” Nina stretched an arm out, pointing toward the south with one long, bare arm.
Mack followed her gaze and saw a hint of a blue shirt between the trees in the orchard beyond the field.
“Probably.” He pulled his phone from his pocket. “I’ll shoot him a text and remind him to meet me over here.”
She nodded absently, her eyes still on the figure in the distance.
“It’s been years since I picked peaches.” Her words hung in the air.
A gauntlet dropped.
His gaze went to hers, but her gray eyes gave away nothing. Did she realize she was killing him?
His fingers froze, hovering above the screen of his phone while he wrestled with how to respond to that.
But then, her eyes slid toward him. A sly smile curved her full lips. She turned on her heel and sauntered away.
This friendship thing was going to be the death of him.
Three-time RITA nominee Joanne Rock never met a romance subgenre she didn't enjoy.
The author of over sixty romances from contemporary to medieval historical, Joanne dreams of one day penning a book for every Harlequin series. A former Golden Heart recipient, she has won numerous awards for her stories.
Learn more about Joanne's imaginative Muse by visiting her online.