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Pulling into town, Gabi noticed Cupcakes. It was exactly as Stephanie had described it—unable to miss. Here it was two months after the holidays and the storefront still had sparkly twinkle lights outlining the building. Santa and his reindeer sat prominently atop the roof ready to slide down the chimney with his bag filled with toys. Gabi laughed.
Now that the sun had faded behind the clouds, the grey skies gave the appearance of a pending snowstorm. Exiting her car, Gabi zipped her jacket up, stepped up onto the curb and walked toward the small coffee shop, the heat of her breath creating steam in the crisp air. Inside, the shop was slightly busy with a handful of locals who were laughing and joking with one another. Everyone turned when she entered, including Stephanie, who was sitting on a stool talking to some guy behind the counter.
“I thought you had a hair appointment?” Gabi said, surprised to see her sitting there.
“I did, but I asked Shelly to reschedule it. I didn’t want you to be alone in town your first day.”
“Is everyone as nice as you in New Hope?”
“Probably, but then I’m a little partial to newcomers. I see it as growth. The old timers see it as ruining our little town. Like they say, you can’t please everyone.”
“Well, you’ve been very kind to me and I’d like to thank you. So what can I buy you?” Gabi asked looking up at the menu. The opening and slamming of the door behind drew her attention when a mister-tall-dark-and handsome, thirty-something, muscular God-like creature walked into the shop. Heads turned in his direction, including Gabi’s. She couldn’t take her eyes off him, and somehow had missed the deep scowl on his face until it was too late.
“What are you staring at?” he asked sharply. His dark brown eyes impaled her with icy contempt.
Gabi jerked back. Tension tightened in her shoulders in defense but she cautioned herself to be nice—this wasn’t New York after all and she needed to rely on these locals for business. All eyes were upon the two of them as though anticipating the start of an altercation.
“My apologies,” she said. “I thought I knew you, that’s all. Sorry.” She stepped back and allowed him to go ahead while she and Stephanie exchanged suspicious glances with one another. His deep timbre voice echoed in the silence when he ordered his coffee.
His full head of dark wavy brown hair was slightly messy except for the curls refusing to cooperate. A lone dark curl dangled haphazardly on his forehead and bounced when he turned to leave the shop.
“Phew,” she said when he took off down the road. “That was a tense moment,” she said to Stephanie. “Do you know him?”
“No. And I’m surprised I don’t. I think he’s new around here too.”
“I guess that’s what I get for ogling the guy.”