Dreaming of daisy a red.., p.1
Dreaming of Daisy (A Red Maple Falls Novel, #6), page 1
Table of Contents
Dreaming of Daisy
Mad About Matt
Other Books by Theresa
About the Author
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All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval systems, without prior written permission of the author except where permitted by law.
Published by TMP Books
Copyright November 2017
Edited by CookieLynn Publishing Services
Cover Design by Amanda Walker PA and Design Services
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious.
Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Dedicated to my readers,
for giving Red Maple Falls a chance.
It means the world to me.
Nick Davis had lost his damn mind. It was the only explanation for why he willingly volunteered to put himself face to face with the girl who hadn’t only broken his heart but ripped it out and tap-danced across it on her way out of town and out of his life.
It had been six long years, and he still hadn’t fully recovered. He wasn’t sure if he ever would. How did he recover when the girl he always assumed was his soulmate up and left in the middle of the night without as much as a goodbye thrown his way?
For a long time, he’d been angry at Daisy for being so selfish and not stopping to think about how her actions would hurt him. That was Daisy, though—self-absorbed and selfish at her core. It was a wonder he could have ever loved someone like that.
But she’d also been fun, carefree, lighthearted and genuinely kind. It was a ridiculous combination that had him worshipping the ground she walked on.
Daisy Hayes was an enigma and god had he loved her.
He’d caught a glimpse of her blonde curls once about three years ago as she ducked into the Happy Apple on Main Street. It took everything he had not to follow her inside and demand an explanation. That’s all he truly wanted from her. He just needed to know why—why she didn’t care to leave a note or send a text. Hell, he would have settled for a message relayed from one of her five siblings, but they had been as clueless as he’d been.
There one minute and gone the next, Daisy had left behind a trail of heartbreak and questions, both of which would always be a proverbial thorn in his side.
He pulled into the bus station and parked his truck in the first opened space. The clock on the old dashboard told him he had at least ten minutes before her bus was scheduled to arrive. He hit play on his Mumford and Sons album and closed his eyes for a second.
He’d just gotten back that morning from a weekend business trip in Merrimack, where he’d secured placement at three restaurants to carry Five Leaf Brewery on tap.
Mason Hayes, his boss and Daisy’s brother, had been scheduled to pick her up, but Mason was working night and day to keep up with the demand brought on by all the new business Nick was bringing his way and needed help, whether he wanted to admit it or not. While Nick currently questioned his current state of sanity, earlier he had willingly volunteered to pick up Daisy.
Mason had helped Nick when he needed it most though, so how could he not reciprocate?
Nick had graduated college with a 4.0., was the youngest person to achieve a senior sales position at Hershel’s doubling his sales within the first quarter of his promotion, but when his dad got sick, he couldn’t keep up with the busy schedule. He left Hershel’s behind and went home where he spent most of his days driving his dad to and from doctor appointments. But he had missed the rush of securing a sale, so he had taken a chance, determined to become the new face of sales for Red Maple Falls up-and-coming brewery, and went to Mason. Best damn decision he ever made.
His cell rang, and he turned down the music, glancing at the screen. Tyler’s name flashed, and he didn’t hesitate to answer his best friend.
“Hey, what’s going on?”
“You at the brewery?” Tyler asked. “I want to run something by you and thought I’d stop by.”
“I’m actually not there right now.”
“You out on the road still?”
“I’m at the bus station.”
“You going somewhere?”
“Picking someone up.”
“You want to be a little less vague?”
“I’m picking up Daisy.”
Tyler went silent on the other end. It was a long uncomfortable stretch and Nick didn’t need words to know exactly what Tyler was thinking. Tyler had been there for him after Daisy skipped town and was all too aware of the dark days that followed.
“Daisy,” he finally said disbelief evident in his tone. “As in, the girl who ruined you?”
“She didn’t ruin me.”
“No? So tell me again why you’re twenty-four and single?”
“You’re twenty-four and single.”
“Because I’m not into that happily ever after bullshit like you are. You always wanted to get married and have a family. That’s not me.”
“When you meet the right person that changes.” At least Nick had always thought so up until the girl he thought was the right one left him.
“If you say so. Look, I know you probably still have a hard-on for her, but for your own sanity, I’m warning you to stay clear. The only thing Daisy Hayes cares about is Daisy Hayes, and you deserve better than that, man. Always have.”
“I appreciate your concern, but I’m just picking her up and bringing her to the hospital.”
“Her grandmother slipped and fell on some black ice. Broke her hip. She needs replacement surgery.”
“Shit. That sucks. I always liked Betty.”
“Most people do, which is why I’m putting the past behind me and doing the family a favor. I owe Mason that much.”
Mason hadn’t opened his doors to the public yet and had no money to offer, but Nick didn’t care. All he cared about was being back in the game, and he knew—if given the opportunity—he would be successful. So, he had offered Mason a deal that he couldn’t refuse—Nick would do all the work to prove himself at no cost.
Nick always wondered why Mason hadn’t told him to turn around and walk away. Instead Mason had given him the opportunity to prove himself. It was the distraction Nick had needed to get his mind off of his dad’s illness. In the first month, Nick had secured placement for Mason’s beer in twenty-five restaurants in the state of New Hampshire, more than Mason had on hand, and from that m
Having something to work for, watching his efforts grow and expand and become tangible in front of his eyes, had given him the strength to keep on moving, to not let the hardships of life keep him down. Mason gave that to him, so offering to pick up Daisy when Mason had a million things on his plate was the least Nick could do.
“As long as that favor doesn’t wind up in your bed.”
“Unlike you, I can control my dick.”
“Maybe that’s your problem. If you’d let him out every now and again…”
“I have to go the bus is here.” Nick watched as the bus pulled into the lot. Six years he’d waited for this moment and now that it was here he wished he had pushed it off longer.
“Fine, call me later. We’ll go to Calhoun’s and get a beer.”
“You got it.”
“And whatever you do, don’t make eye contact with her.”
“Goodbye, Tyler.” He hung up the phone and shoved it into his pocket, thinking about Tyler’s final warning. Nick used to joke that Daisy’s big blue eyes were hypnotic. One look into their blue depths and he would do just about anything for her. That was a long time ago; things were different now.
He got out of the truck and leaned against the hood, watching the people file off the bus one by one until he saw her.
She was like a radiant light floating down the steps. She had an undeniable presence that demanded attention. Her curly blonde hair was wild and uncontained, like she’d spent the entire ride tossing in her sleep. Her blue eyes were just as big and full of life, but there was a dullness there that told him life had been hard for her lately.
Wrapped in a designer scarf, she pulled it tighter around her neck as she scanned the parking lot. She fumbled with her bags, and he fought his natural instinct to go help her. He wanted to take her in for another moment before the awkwardness of six lost years drove a wedge between them.
She looked around the parking lot again then went to turn away when her gaze drifted in his direction. Before he could prepare himself, their eyes locked, bright blue to his golden brown, a million memories flooding back to him.
It was that moment he knew life was about to get complicated.
Daisy sucked in a jagged breath as if she’d forgotten how to breathe on her own. A lump rose in her throat, and she swallowed it down. There was no mistaking those eyes—eyes she had looked into so many times, that were more familiar than the ground beneath her and once had the ability to turn her insides to mush.
Nick pushed off the truck and walked toward her, his hands shoved in the pockets of his navy blue peacoat. His coat was left open, revealing a blue and white plaid shirt tucked into khaki dress pants.
A complicated mess of knots twisted in her stomach the closer he got. The tall lanky guy she had known no longer existed, replaced with a man who had filled out in all the right places. He had a strong presence that was as intimidating as it was enticing.
She couldn’t think. Nick had always been handsome, but now he was downright sexy. Her mouth dried as she took in the dark stubble along his chiseled jawline. There was a time when he couldn’t grow a single hair on his face. It gave him a natural rugged yet sophisticated appearance guys in New York would kill for. Her lips parted at the combination of his facial hair and his clothes. She had to make a conscious effort to keep her mouth shut or she’d wind up drooling, creating a frozen path of evidence thanks to the frigid temperature.
Nick looked as if his good looks repelled the cold, and she found herself standing there staring at him as he continued toward her holding her gaze with intimidating intensity.
Her mind was blank as she struggled for air. Her knees wobbled and she had no idea how she was still standing as her past caught up and stood right in front of her.
“Nick.” There was an apology on the tip of her tongue but before she could speak, Nick beat her to it.
“Do they not have real men in New York?” he asked, a cocky grin settling on his chiseled face.
Her eyebrow arched in confusion. “What are you talking about?”
“Just the way you’re staring at me makes me think you forgot what a real man looks like.”
“You wish.” There was a hint of humor in her laugh, but when he reached for her suitcase, practically knocking her out of the way, any hope at a light-hearted reunion was gone.
She yanked her bag back unsure what his motive was. “I’m waiting for my brother.”
He laughed and dammit if it wasn’t the sexiest thing she’d heard in a long time. “You can wait all you want; he’s not coming.”
Her head snapped up. “What do you mean?”
“He’s busy. So lucky you, I offered to pick you up.”
She laughed. “Lucky? Is that what you call it?”
“You can call it whatever you want. I don’t care. Give me your bag.”
She understood Mason was busy, but he couldn’t have gotten anyone else? For crying out loud, she had five other siblings, all of which had a significant other. Heck, she would have been more inclined to get in a car with her eight-year-old nephew driving than have to be subjected to being confined in a truck with Nick for any length of time.
Mason had to have known how she’d spent the last six years avoiding this very moment. Why the hell would he throw her into the damn lion’s den without warning?
She stood in front of her luggage, debating on calling an Uber. Awkward silence spread between them as he stared at her, causing her to shift from one foot to the other.
“It’s obvious you’re not happy to see me. I’d wager to say you might actually hate me, so why offer to come get me?”
He shrugged, causing a tiny stab at her heart. A small part of her hoped he would deny it, tell her she was out of her mind and he could never hate her, but that shrug confirmed what she already knew. He probably wouldn’t care if she stumbled in front of a bus and turned into road kill.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise. Yet, his noncommittal shrug spoke volumes. The way he held himself, the way he spoke to her… that wasn’t the Nick she left behind. Once upon a time Nick was always her go-to person; now he was nothing more than a stranger.
“Mason’s done a lot for me,” he finally said. “He needed help. So don’t think it’s anything else because it’s not.”
“Yeah, sure.” The disbelief in his tone sparked a fury inside of her. She was trying to be nice here. Trying to get through this with her dignity still intact but he was being a jerk.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I know you.”
“Correction… you knew me. You don’t know me anymore.”
He met her gaze with a mind-numbing glare that caused her knees to wobble. That gorgeous defined jawline with the sexy dark stubble ticked.
“And whose fault is that?”
“Do you want to do this right now? Here in the middle of a bus station parking lot? Fine, let’s do this. Go ahead. I’m sure you have six years of pent up rage you’re just dying to get out.”
His gaze swept across her, causing her to freeze in place. He stepped closer; a delicious masculine spicy aroma with citrus accents surrounded her. She could see the gold specks in his eyes as they narrowed in on her.
Her heart beat so hard and fast she wondered if he could hear it. He bent down, his lips inches from her ear. She could feel his warm breath against her skin, the heat radiating off his body. She swallowed and mentally reminded herself to breath.
“Sorry to disappoint you, but I let that shit go a long time ago.” He pulled back with a smug smirk on his face. “I can see you haven’t changed. You still think the world revolves around you. Well, it doesn’t. So no, I don’t have anything to say to you.”
He reached for her bag again, and she yanked it out of his grasp.
“I got it.” Six years ago, she would have gladly let him take her bags, but he was wrong. She wasn’t that gir
She hiked her duffel bag up on her shoulder and rolled the other two suitcases toward his truck, desperately trying not to appear like she was struggling.
“Unbelievable,” he mumbled behind her. She refused to look back. It was something she perfected a long time ago. There was no point looking behind when the future was in front.
She got to the truck and pushed the handle of her suitcase down. She bent at the knees and tried hoisting the luggage into the bed of the truck, but the truck was too high, and she was five inches too short.
Nick’s laughter registered in her ears as he grabbed the bag from her hands and tossed it into the bed like it weighed nothing.
“Look,” he said, leveling her with his gaze, “I get it. You’re an independent woman who lives in New York. Now that that’s cleared up, move out of the damn way.” He grabbed her other bag, and she stepped back as he tossed it in the bed with her other suitcase.
He tapped the gray metal of the pickup. “Since you’re a big city girl now used to yellow cabs and subway cars and may have forgotten… this big heap of metal is what we call a truck.”
She let out an annoyed breath. “More like a heap of shit.”
“It was my dad’s,” he growled, and guilt consumed her.
She knew it was his dad’s, the truck might’ve had more rust spots than it once did but it was unmistakable.
She’d heard from the Red Maple Falls rumor mill that still managed to reach her in New York that Mr. Davis’ cancer came back stronger and more aggressive than before. Within a year, he was gone. Not thinking she insulted something Nick clearly held dear and in doing so she hit an exposed nerve.
“Nick…” She reached out to him, her finger grazing his, sending an unexpected spark of awareness through her body. Instinctively her hand snapped back and her eyes went to his, confirming he’d felt it too, but just as quickly as the spark appeared, it diminished into complete darkness. The lines in his forehead returned, and his lip curled in what she could only assume was disgust.
She had so much to be sorry for, for not coming to the funeral, or sending a card, but she couldn’t manage to spit the words out.
by Theresa Paolo have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes