Bloodbaths and Banana Cake – Addison Moore

I see dead people. Mostly I see dead pets, but on the rare occasion I do see a dearly departed of the human variety, but right now I see a very alive, very beautiful woman claiming to be my boyfriend’s wife. “I’m sorry.” I shake my head, a silly smile floating to my lips. “I’m afraid you have the wrong Noah Fox. This one’s not married.” A flash of heat powers through me, and as much as I want to feel a surge of relief from the words that just spewed from my lips, I strangely don’t feel an ounce of anything even remotely close to it. The strawberry blonde before me lifts a well-sculpted brow as if amused by my reaction. Her long hair hovers over one eye, giving her a seductive glamorous look. She has full, pouty lips that most women would take to the needle for, her fitted coat and patent heels offer her a big city appeal, and suddenly I wish this woman, whoever she is, would have stayed just about anywhere but Honey Hollow, Vermont. Certainly, I wish she would have stayed out of my bakery. Everett steps up next to me, looking every bit the official judge he is. His commanding presence makes everyone offer him, in the least, a modicum of respect, and this woman is no different. “Lemon, I think it’s best we let Noah handle this.” I look to Everett, surprised at the calm, casual way he was able to dispense each word.

The blonde perks to life as she looks toward the walkaway that leads into the Honey Pot Diner, the hometown café that’s connected to the Cutie Pie Bakery and Cakery through a cutout in the wall. “Well, speak of the devil.” Her lips pull back into a wicked grin, her eyes brighten at the sight of him, and it suddenly feels as if I’ve slipped and fallen into a rabbit hole. “Noah?” I take a blind step toward the man I love, the one I’ve given my heart and my body to. Noah Corbin Fox and I met about six months ago, and after a rocky start quickly made up for lost time with one another in every spectacular way. Only at the moment, things don’t feel too spectacular. “This woman says she’s your wife. Tell me that’s not true.” A thought hits me like a ton of bricks, and that surge of relief I’ve been craving washes over me like a tidal wave. “Is this your ex-wife?” Noah stops short of me, his eyes pinned to the buxom blonde, and I can’t help but note a touch of horror in them.

“Lottie, I can explain.” He shakes his head as he steps in closer. “Britney? What the hell are you doing here?” A husky laugh belts from her as if she were enjoying the show before she turns her attention my way. “Is this your inamorata? You’ve traded me in for a girl? The town baker? You never cease to amuse me.” She bites down on a cherry red lip, and a fireball of embarrassment rips through me. “Noah?” My voice breaks, and I hate it betrayed me. “Please tell me this isn’t happening.” I look right into those evergreen eyes of his. Noah is tall, muscular, with dark wavy hair and a face that makes every woman take note of his magnificence in a threemile radius. It’s felt like a dream to be with someone who’s not only shockingly handsome but shockingly wonderful all the way around—except for the tiny detail about his wife.

That’s not panning out to be all that wonderful. Noah takes a breath that expires in a sigh, his shoulders sagging as he looks to the woman before us. Keelie and my sister, Lainey, stride up behind him. Keelie is my bubbly blonde best friend whom I’ve known since birth, and a part of me is glad both Lainey and Keelie are here to witness the spectacle because Lord knows I never want to repeat it. “What’s going on?” Keelie demands, and Everett shakes his head her way. “Don’t you tell me no,” she’s quick to scold him. “Lottie?” Her voice hikes to fighting mad levels. “Why does it look as if there’s a hostage situation brewing?” The blonde, Britney, laughs. “No hostages here. My husband is just surprised to see me, that’s all.

” She blinks a smile my way. “And apparently, his girlfriend is, too.” The room grows cold by ten degrees at least. “A realtor friend of mine let me know there was an opening down the street, and I thought this might be the perfect place to expand my franchise.” She casts a side-eye to Keelie. “I own a string of Swift Cycle workout gyms, and I’m always looking to expand.” She takes a bold step closer to Noah and glides her finger brazenly down his tie. “And now that I’m in town, I’m hoping to win back my husband.” She gives his tie a quick tug and it looks intimate, as if she’s done it a million times, and I can’t stop the tears from blurring my vision. “We’ve been through better and through worse.

Now I think it’s time to put the past behind us and focus on rebuilding our family. You have my heart, Noah Corbin Fox, and you have it forever. I’m staying at the bed and breakfast at the edge of town, and I have Toby with me.” She flexes a wicked smile as if to say I’ve got you now. “You have Toby?” Noah takes a step toward the door as if he were ready to find this Toby person right this minute. I bet it’s her sleazy boyfriend. From what he’s told me in the past, she was cheating on him and he lost his job because he discharged his weapon at the guy’s car. Unless, of course, that was all a lie, sort of the way Noah and I were all a lie. “He’s staying with me,” she purrs it out as if it were somehow meant to entice Noah, and I’m back to being confused. “We’ll have breakfast tomorrow and sort everything out.

” She tips her head, and a curtain of strawberry blonde hair falls over his chest. Just the sight makes me sick to my stomach. “Unless you’d like to have a nightcap at my place. Second floor, third door to the right.” Her finger glides over his lips. “It will be just like old times.” She heads for the exit and steals all of the oxygen out of the room right along with her. “Holy heck.” Keelie takes a step toward Noah and pokes him in the chest. “You’ve got some serious explaining to do, mister.

” “Noah?” My voice comes out less than a whisper as he steps my way. Everett gives him a firm shove to the chest. “Let me guess. You didn’t tell Lemon the truth because it slipped your mind?” My adrenaline finally kicks in. A painful knot the size of a blueberry muffin clogs my throat. Noah looks to me with his sad eyes pleading for me to understand, but I don’t. I don’t understand any of it. “Lottie, I’d like to speak with you alone.” “No.” The word bullets from me without my permission.

“How could you keep this from me?” “I wasn’t trying to keep it from you. Believe me, I’m trying to fix this.” “Well, you just made it worse.” I speed to the back, jump into my car, and race all the way home so I can weep all night long. And I do just that. “BANANA CAKE?” Everett asks as the wind does its best to blow us both over. It’s the first Saturday night in March, and truly the month has come in like a lion with its windy tail on fire. Everett leans into the bakery van he gifted me a few months back as a means to thank me for getting him off the hook of a murder investigation in which he was the prime suspect. I was well on my way to winning a refrigerated van just like this, but the killer was at hand, and I chose the path with the least amount of pie filling. But I digress.

Standing before me is the dashing and honorable man who not only gifted me the van but landed me the baking gig I’m about to storm with a truckload of goodies. That horrible night at the bakery comes back to me. It’s been five days since the maleficence. Wait, that’s not quite the word. The melee? The outright carnage that ripped out my heart. That’s better. It’s been five days of Lainey, Keelie, and yes, Everett all trying to help me Scotch Tape my tattered heart back together in haste. But alas, it was to no avail. It’s shattered to shards, and quite frankly, I don’t think it’s worth salvaging. Noah isn’t my first ugly breakup.

There was Otis Bear Fisher who was the first to burst my heart open like a piñata. Then there was the New York catastrophe, Curt in Manhattan whom I shared a very brief engagement followed by an explosive breakup. Curt tossed my heart in the air before taking a baseball bat to it and hitting a homer— after which I ironically ran all the way back to Honey Hollow and fell right into the arms of my first true love, baking. As for Noah, I haven’t returned his calls, texts, or even bothered to open the door when he came a knockin’. I need space to think things through before I can even hear what he has to say—beyond what I already know. To make things worse, I’ve had to witness The Coffee Cake Break get gutted by a construction crew yesterday. It was the coffee shop that Greer Giles and her friends, Nikki Spencer—who wasn’t Nikki Spencer at all come to find out—and Tinsley Shields, opened up last month. Once Greer was murdered, the place went down the toilet. And after Nikki skipped town, Tinsley gave the key back to the landlord—who in the mother of all ironies might just pan out to be me in the long run, but that’s another story altogether, which involves the death of a woman named Nell Sawyer whom I thought was just a dear friend but turns out was my biological grandmother—actually, aunt if you want to get technical. It also involves the reveal of my biological mother and the fact that I was left half of Honey Hollow and a beach house in Nantucket in Nell Sawyer’s will.

The entire legal document is currently being contested by my new uncle William whom I’m pretty sure hates me to the bone. But I digress. Essex Everett Baxter, Judge Baxter to some, stands tall and vexingly handsome before me, his cobalt blue eyes piercing right into mine. He’s shockingly gorgeous and oozes an unfair amount of testosterone, thus holding the ovaries of every woman in Vermont hostage to his devilish whims. He hardly smiles or shows an ounce of emotion, and I swear on all that is holy it just makes the girls swoon that much harder. When we met, he asked me to call him Everett, as does everyone else with the exception of his exes. They’ve all graduated to referring to him by his proper moniker, Essex. I’ve always said it’s a parting gift he gives them, and I stand by my claim. Everett is a notorious womanizer, and I do mean that in the nicest way. We met last fall when my old landlords took me to small claims court, and he made the wise decision to side with me.

We’ve been friends ever since. I may or may not have a propensity to drag him into the homicide investigations that have been thrust my way. And by thrust my way, I mean the ones that I blindly stumble into—by way of a body. It’s been a hectic and somewhat hellish past six months to say the least. “Banana cake.” I nod, assuring him that I came twelve boxes strong with the fruity dessert. “You did say that was Judge Shumaker’s favorite.” Yesterday, I gave Everett the seemingly innocent task of asking Judge Shumaker what his favorite dessert was, and soon enough regretted it when I realized I would need to purchase every banana I could get my hands on to whip up enough banana muffins to serve up the masses that are bound to show up tonight. Everett is throwing Judge Sterling Shumaker a farewell party here at Heritage Hall in Ashford, just across from the courthouse in which they work. It’s gorgeous in this part of Ashford, with its expansive, rolling green lawns tucked among the buildings.

A huge fountain sits in the park across the street, backlit with a blue light that gives it an ethereal glow. Everett kindly requested that the Cutie Pie Bakery and Cakery cater all the baked goods for the event, and I was more than glad to oblige him. His friend, Judge Shumaker, was chosen for the district court down in Burlington, which, come to find out, he needed a presidential nomination as well as senate confirmation to fill the seat. Everett made it sound like no big deal, but it is much more than a big deal. It turns out, Everett should have been up for the position but was turned down due to his questionable dalliances—i.e., the questionable places I’ve dragged him to in an effort to track down killers of every shape and size. I’m not sure I can ever forgive myself for costing him such a big career move, even if Everett insists he doesn’t care. “It sure is his favorite, Lemon.” Everett has a propensity of calling me by my surname, and I’ve always thought it was adorable and lends a certain amount of respect between us so I’ve never protested the fact.

“Banana cake reigns supreme with Judge Shumaker. He was emphatic about it.” Everett takes ahold of a stack of boxes filled with treats for tonight’s elegant soiree. My eyes do a quick sweep of the good judge. Everett has on a long wool coat, one of his signature suits, and a tie that shines like silver in the moonlight. “You look great tonight.” There’s a hint of sadness in my voice as I say it. I can’t help it. I’ve been dripping with melancholy ever since Mrs. Britney Fox walked into my bakery.

“Thank you.” He gives a slight bow. “And you look stunning.” Everett is dressed to the nines per usual, and I’ve donned a hip-hugging cobalt blue velvet dress, the exact color of his eyes, an accouterment quite out of the box for me. My cheeks heat with the compliment he just flung my way. “Thank you.” I pile another box onto his already precariously tall tower. He takes a step away then backtracks. “Oh, and Lemon? There’s a surprise for you inside.” He comes shy of giving a wink as he steps toward the open mouth of the kitchen that belongs to Heritage Hall.

“A surprise?” My voice rises as I animate back to life. “He’s not in there, is he?” I couldn’t help but ask. This last week a mean curveball was thrown right into my gut, and I’m not ready for another one. I’m certainly not ready to come face-to-face with Noah Corbin I’m-Still-Married Fox. Everett closes his eyes a moment. “Trust me, I wouldn’t do that to you. I think you’ll like this one.” He winces. “And if you don’t, rest assured I had very little to do with it.” “Now you’re scaring me.

” I’m only half-teasing as he speeds toward the building. “No fear tonight,” he shouts out. “We’re going to have a good time.” A small laugh lives and dies in my chest as I gather a stack of boxes to transport myself. I made the mistake of forgetting my work boots—and yes, I’ve paired them with a fancy dress a time or two—so it looks as if I’ll be doing all of my catering in heels this evening. “Who’s having a good time with Essex tonight? Would that be you, little Laurie Lemon?” a female calls out from behind me, and I turn to find a familiar brunette looking jarringly beautiful in a fitted white dress and chandelier earrings that sparkle like stars. I’m about to correct her and let her know I’m not having that kind of fun with the good judge, but she moves into the light and I see her face for who she is and a scream gets locked in my throat. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill party guest looking to lend me a hand or razz me about the good time I may or might not be having with Everett. It’s Greer Giles herself wearing the exact dress she was murdered in. And, judging by her ghostly presence, there will most certainly be another murder tonight.

“O C H A P T E R 2 f all the ghosts in the universe,” I say it mostly to myself, but, holy God up in heaven, I think I just said it to the late Greer Giles as well. A cackling laugh bubbles from her, that exact same one she had when she still owned a set of vocal cords to expel it. “Holy Moses,” I squeal as I pull her in close as if I were making an effort to hide her presence. She’s every bit herself, same long, luscious dark hair, same glowing gray eyes, same naughty up-to-no-good mischievous smile. “What are you doing here?” “You know what I’m doing here, Laurie.” She plucks her arm free from my grasp. “And it’s up to you to figure out who’s going to die.” She snips that last bit mean and nasty right in my face. “It’s not Laurie. It’s Lottie, and it’s nice to see eternity hasn’t changed you all that much.

” I gasp as a thought hits me. “What’s it like? What happened once you bit the big one? Tell me everything! Leave no celestial detail unturned.” She smirks as she grabs a box of baked treats that still needs to be hauled into the buzzing building behind us, and I snatch it right back out of her hand. Even though she has a see-through quality about her, she’s still solid and tangible. And not only can I hear her, but judging by the box she just tried to make off with, she can move things, too. It was almost amusing when it was Dutch, the deceased Golden Retriever, and that black bear who once belonged to Eve Hollister moving things around, but now that Greer has been gifted this unholy power, I’m terrified to think of the supernatural possibilities. “I can’t tell you.” She scowls at the heavens, and for a moment I’m fearing for her soul. “But I can say that after I was shot by that nasty woman who said those wicked things to me while shoving a cupcake down my throat to keep me from calling for help, I did see myself as I floated out of my body.” “I had wondered why she shoved a cupcake down your throat.

Of course—you were still conscious. She wanted to silence you.” “Boy, did she ever. And thank you, by the way. I hear you’re the reason that lunatic is finally behind bars.” My heart aches a little because the poor woman she’s referencing happened to have had a hard life. “Anyway”—she tries to open the box of goodies in my hand, and I bat her ghostly fingers away—“the next thing I knew I was flying through the sky, and the rest is a mystery to you until it’s your turn to bite the big one.” “But you’re here.” I shake my head in disbelief. “That means something very sinister is about to happen.

You have a mission, Greer. You’re to lead me to whoever it is that’s about to meet their maker. Don’t you see? Together we can stop this tragedy from ever taking place. We can take the Grim Reaper by the sickle, and turn in the perp before they ever commit a crime!” Her expression sours. “That’s not how justice works, and you know it.” She glances back at the hall alive with music, laughter, and a steady flow of bodies filing in on this chilly March evening. “Would you look at that? Of all the luck. A real live party. It’s almost as if I get to pick up right where I left off. Let me guess? My Essex is waiting inside.

” She looks to me and glowers. “He’s never that far from you, now is he?” Her lids drop down a notch as an evil grin glides easily over her features. “I’m betting he’s feeling frisky tonight. What do you think, Lottie? Shall I see if he’s up for playing a naughty game of hide-and-seek with a girl from the wrong side of the celestial tracks?” “Oh no, you don’t.” She starts to take off, and I pull her back by the wrist. “You leave Everett out of this. You and I both know that man is always frisky.” A horrible thought flits through my mind. “Oh my word! It’s not Everett you’re here to usher to the other side, are you?” I can hardly catch my next breath just thinking about it. She makes a face and takes back her arm.

“That’s for me to know and for you to find out.” Greer skips off, and it’s then I notice the dark crimson circle still evident over her back and shudder. Now there’s a grisly detail I wish she didn’t drag along with her. “Don’t touch anything!” I shout after her. “And don’t touch any body either!” “Lottie?” A voice startles me from my left, and I turn to find my mother and that far too tan—far too bleached toothed, far too controlling boyfriend of hers, Rich Dallas. He has a shock of white hair. His skin is dyed orange, and his teeth move in one large block of chalk. “Oh, you scared me.” My hand slaps over my chest, and I close my eyes a moment. Miranda Lemon, my sweet mother, was generous enough to adopt me as an infant.

It was her husband, my father, Joseph Lemon, who found me abandoned on the floor of the fire department. Carlotta Sawyer, my biological mother, just sprung back into my life last January, and I’m still not over the trauma and drama. Mom squints into the night. “Who were you shouting at?” “Just a friend.” I blink a short-lived smile to the two of them. “What are you doing here?” My heart ratchets up to unsafe levels again. Hey? Maybe Rich Dallas here was one of Greer’s naughty customers, and it’s his controlling turn to bite the big one? Greer worked for an escort agency known as the Elite Entourage before she was brutally gunned down. Maybe good old Rich Dallas here had his fair share of demented dalliances with her? I feel terrible for entertaining it and even worse for not feeling so bad about his impending doom. Mom waves me off. “You will never believe this, Lottie, but Judge Shumaker and I used to date way back when.

This predates your father, of course. It was a silly high school thing that quickly went south. Of course, Sterling went away to some fancy college and met his Jillian, and I met my Joseph, so it all turned out the way it was supposed to.” Rich grunts, “Did you see the way that man was looking at you in there?” The whites of his eyes glow with rage, and I can feel the negative energy radiating off him like a primal heat wave. After my mother told me about the twenty-minute check-ins that he required of her, I knew this guy was nothing but smothering trouble. And to think I couldn’t wait for my mother to break up with her last perverted boyfriend. Brad Rutherford was into some really horrific kink, and I wanted my sweet perhaps not-soinnocent mother to have nothing to do with him. But let’s face it. Rich here seems a lot more dangerous than a pair of whips and chains. He looks every bit controlling to the core.

“Well, my mother is gorgeous.” I shrug as I load their arms with three boxes apiece. “I don’t think you can fault anyone for admiring the view—especially when you’re the lucky man that gets to have her on your arm all night long.” My mother chortles like a schoolgirl as she looks to her new beau. “And she does mean all night long.” “Gross. Still here!” I say, snatching up the last of the boxes and closing the van. I lead the way into the kitchen and quickly work alongside Lily Swanson, the one employee of mine that I managed to convince to join me this evening in getting all the cookies to the dessert station on time. Lily is a brunette stunner who just so happens to wear a permanent scowl. She’s best friends with Naomi Turner, who happens to be my best friend Keelie’s twin.

Naomi has a long-standing hatred for me, and thus Lily and I have never seen eye to eye either, but she gladly accepted the position at the bakery after a dry spell in her employment history. Lily is also the one that introduced me to Greer. They were sorority sisters back in college. The Coffee Cake Break was Greer’s baby. It will be interesting to see what her thoughts are now that it’s closed. Not that I plan on spending copious amounts of time with the ghost in question, but as fate and my transmundane slash supersensual supernatural status would have it, I’m willing to bet that will be the case. The party swirls around us, thick with hundreds of guests as elegant instrumental music seeps through the speakers. After what feels like a small eternity, Lily and I finish up with the dessert table and take a step back to admire it. “Banana cake.” She shakes her head.

“At least you made it look good.” “If you sprinkle enough powdered sugar over something, you can make just about anything look good.” I baked them in cupcake tins, and they look like the most delicious muffins you ever did see. “Say, this is quite the dignified crowd, don’t you think?” I nod into the sea of formal gowns. “Sadly, it reminds me of the Hearts of Hope Charity Ball. That was the very last place I saw Greer Giles alive.” Lily rolls her eyes. “That girl loved a good party. Believe you me, if she could find a way to show up tonight, she would. This is the exact kind of blowout she liked.

” I want to say believe you me, she did show up, but I offer up a nervous smile instead. A thought comes to me. “Hey? If Greer were here, who do you think she would gravitate to?” I figure I might as well be a little preemptive in my investigation. After all, Greer showed up with both bells and bullets on. Lily blinks back as if I struck her. “That’s an odd question, Lottie. But since you’ve been buried under banana cake batter all afternoon, I’ll excuse you.” She makes a face at the crowd. “I don’t know. If I had to guess, there’s only one person she’d cling to.

” “Who? Who?” I practically crawl on top of her to get my answer. “Relax, would you? It’s obviously Essex.” She rolls her eyes again like a thirteen-yearold. Lily and Everett have had an on-and-off-again fling. Since Everett is committed to steering clear of relationships in general, he only ever has on-and-off-again flings. Those words we shared last month, ironically at Greer Giles’ funeral, come back to haunt me. Everett let me know he had feelings for me—after Noah all but wrangled them from him. And I assured Everett that if things ever went south for Noah and me that I would make a beeline for his mattress. Of course, it was in good fun and I was teasing— for the most part. But now that the moment is here, my heart is too wounded to even think about committing mattress shenanigans with someone else.

“There he is now.” She points over to the devilishly handsome judge and, sure enough, glued to his side, openly fondling his side, is none other than the ghost of Greer Giles. “Thanks for the heads-up. Feel free to hang around tonight. I have a feeling things are about to get interesting.” I head in Everett’s direction and note the blooming crowd around him. “Lemon”—he ushers me into his circle with a sweep of his hand—“I’d like you to meet a couple of colleagues of mine.” He nods to an older couple along with a slightly younger looking man beside them. “This here is Judge Sterling Shumaker and his lovely wife, Jillian, and next to her is yet another one of my comrades in judicial arms, Judge Garrett Kremer.” He bows my way.

“This is Carlotta Lemon. She’s generously provided the baked goods for the evening.” The three of them gasp in unison, and I’m pretty tempted to gasp as well. I realize that Everett is not so keen on calling me Lottie, but Carlotta, really? I’ll relegate that formal treasure to my biological mother, thank you very much. She officially goes by the moniker that was gifted to her by her own mother, Carlotta. It turns out, I’m third gen with the nifty name. But Miranda Lemon, the mother who raised me, aptly chose to nickname me Lottie, and I rather like it. “It’s so wonderful to meet you.” I offer a sweet smile their way. Greer hangs on Everett’s arm as if it were monkey bars, and he shakes his hand out a moment as if it were falling asleep.

“There, there, big boy.” Greer slaps his cheek with a wet one. “I’ll find far more creative things for you to do with those hands later.” “Oh no, you won’t,” I mutter under my breath, and all three of Everett’s friends look to me with expectation to quantify the sentence with something that remotely makes sense. “Judge Shumaker.” The large man with a twinkle in his eyes offers me a quick shake of the hand. He’s tall with a halo of hair on top of his head. His features are handsome, despite his advanced years, and he holds a devilish glow about him. “Can you believe this party? Old Judge Baxter really knows how to roll out the red carpet. He even got Mooney from Mooney’s Roadhouse to work the bar!” Everett nods.

“Mooney’s Roadhouse happens to be our favorite watering hole in Ashford.” Judge Kremer caws out a laugh. “I think we’ve spent more time there than we have at the courthouse!” The three men nod as if it were factual, and I have no doubt it is. Everett looks toward the crowded bar and gives a sinewy man with shoulder-length hair a quick wave. I’m guessing that’s Mooney by the way he’s working with a bottle in each hand, pouring out the drinks as fast as he can. He offers a friendly nod our way before getting back to the tequila task at hand. Judge Shumaker leans in my way, and speaking of tequila, his breath is eighty proof at least. “And, of course, Everett has had nothing but kind things to say about you, Carlotta.” “Has he now?” I look to the ornery judge, a bit taken aback by any kind vocalizations he might have had about me, and bite down on a smile. Everett looks my way.

“I let Judge Shumaker know you made his requested banana cake for the evening. He swears on his mother’s grave, it’s his favorite.” “That’s right”—Jillian, Judge Shumaker’s wife offers—“you know what they say. The way to a man’s heart is straight through his stomach. We don’t have children, so I like to tease that Sterling is my only child.” She stabs her finger into her husband’s belly, and he nearly doubles over. “Geez.” Judge Shumaker comes up laughing. “I’d better watch it around this one. I think she’s gunning for me!” We share a warm laugh while the other man, Judge Kremer, offers me an all too friendly nod.

He’s boyishly handsome, wide blue eyes like Everett’s, but his face looks red around the nose and cheeks as if he’s enjoyed one too many of those jewel-toned drinks he’s nursing in his hand. “It’s very nice to meet you, Carlotta. I’m sure your desserts are just as sweet as you are. In fact, I’m off to indulge right now.” He presses in close with no regard whatsoever for my personal space. His breath reeks of tequila, and those large eyes of his are suddenly glossed over with lust. “If that banana cake is as good as it looks, you’ll have to save me a dance.” A choking sound emits from my throat. “I guess I’ll do just that.” But it’s the last thing I feel like.

It looks as if I’ll have to make myself scarce sooner than later. He takes off for the dessert table, and I’m secretly hoping he never comes back. Hey? Maybe Greer is here to give him a ride to the other side, and I won’t have to worry about dancing with the sleazeball after all? And sadly, I only feel a tiny smidge guilty for thinking it.

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