Authors: Nicole Smith
a work of fiction.
resemblance to any person or persons, living or dead, characters,
locations, or businesses is purely coincidental.
Anna watched him cross the street and come into the bakery--six
feet tall with sun-bleached blond hair hanging over a chiseled handsome face--and
thought she'd never seen such an intensely masculine, utterly compelling work
of art as the one walking toward her.
His name was Samuel Carter and he'd been living in the
little town of Sully Point, Massachusetts for a few weeks. The gossip had run
rampant through every little shop on Main Street and on cell phones throughout
the county as people tried to discover just who he was and what he was doing in
their small town. Guesses ran from entrepreneur to con man to movie producer,
and still nobody had any hard information.
She started and realized she'd been staring when she heard
him call her name.
"Excuse me, Anna? Is that your name?"
"Yes, but how did you know?"
With a smile he said, "Your nametag."
"Oh, I'm sorry, how can I help you?" Mortified,
she felt herself blush.
He tilted his head and looked at her for a few seconds, then
asked, "Were those rolls made today?" He pointed to the big yeast rolls in the basket behind her.
"Yes, we make our bread items every day. Would you like some?"
"I'd like two. They told me at the hotel this bakery
had some great rolls. I figured to go to the deli and get something to make a
couple of sandwiches for lunch."
"If you go there, just tell Deb what you want on your
sandwiches and give her the rolls and she'll make it up for you." Anna
bagged the rolls and moved to the register. As he pulled out his wallet and
fingered through large bills, she took the time to focus on his hands. They
looked strong and tanned as if he'd spent time outdoors. She wondered if he'd
gone out fishing on one of the rental yachts at the marina, and could just see
him standing at the wheel of some big boat--
Oh no, she'd done it again. "Sorry, sorry, Mr. Carter.
I don't know where my head is at today."
"You know my name?"
Flustered, she waved a hand around vaguely. "Pretty
much everyone in town knows your name. It's a small town and you're new here,
so, of course, people are guessing what you do, why you're here, that kind of
thing. It's just how small towns are."
"Ah, I see. Well, since I know your name, you should
feel free to call me Sam. And your last name--Anna what?"
"Grainger. Anna Grainger."
"I've heard that last name before," he said, brow
crinkled in thought. "Yes, I know, the hardware store--Grainger's Hardware.
Is that your father?"
"Yes, Dad owns the hardware store and my brother Cody
owns the Bait and Tackle shop at the docks."
"And do you own the bakery?"
"Me?" Anna laughed and shook her head, thinking
how strange it was to be talking to the mystery man. "No, that would be my
sister Holly. I'm just the baker. It was either this or become a candlestick
He laughed. "Do you like baking?"
"Yes. It's fun to create something that pleases
"Yeah, that's true."
She looked into his dark brown eyes. "Do you create
something that pleases people, too?"
His eyes shifted to one side. "Just saying it makes
sense to me. That you would enjoy making people happy. You seem like a person
who wants to see people happy.”
She thought he sounded a bit like he was floundering in what
he was saying, like he'd misspoken and was trying to cover it up. Strange.
"Well, thanks for the rolls. I'd better be getting my
lunch. I hope I see you again, Anna Grainger." He smiled and she felt that
damn blush creeping on again.
"You're welcome, Sam Carter," she said with a
He left the bakery and she stared after him.
spoke to him
, she thought.
And he smiled at me
. No, no, she
definitely was not going there. Anna knew well enough there was no way he could
be interested in her. Once he got a good look at Holly, he wouldn't notice Anna
at all. Holly was her beautiful sister, head cheerleader in high school, the
prom queen, popular in college. When she'd come back to Sully Point and opened
the bakery, everyone had known it would be a success because it was Holly doing
Anna sighed. Holly was a kind and generous sister. When Anna
left college after only three semesters, Holly had been the one in the family
to offer a job without any recriminations. Holly wanted to move on to bigger
things and the bakery was a good, stable job for Anna. Knowing Anna's lifelong
passion was her art, Holly didn't care if she kept a sketchpad at the bakery.
The thing about Holly was that nobody could ever resent her
because of her good nature. Comparing yourself to her was a pointless exercise.
Sam Carter could never be interested in Anna, she knew. She was the plainer,
quirky sister. No, if Sam met Holly it wouldn't be at all surprising if he was
interested in her.
The timer went off and Anna walked back to the kitchen ovens
to take out trays of chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies. Time to ice the
special birthday cake for little Ellie Travis. Mrs. Travis had asked Anna to do
something special. One of the benefits of having an artist as the local baker was
that it showed up in amazing cakes. When Anna began working in the bakery she
did research to learn how to use cake decorating as a way to 'paint' cakes. She
always liked it when customers gave her free rein in the decorating. She was
already picturing a field of grass and flowers with a pony--Ellie's favorite
* * * *
Sam Carter sat on a park bench munching on a delicious roast
beef sandwich with horseradish sauce. He looked around the pretty tree-filled park
located inside the square of downtown. Most small towns he'd been in had the
local courthouse inside the square, but this one kept Town Hall and the courts
on one side of the park, with businesses and shops on the other sides of the
The weather was gorgeous. It was an unexpectedly warm, late
April day, but with a refreshing breeze coming off the water. Sam glanced down
at his sandwich. Great bread, and an interesting woman at that bakery. He was
curious about his reaction to her. She wasn't anything like the women he was
normally attracted to, nothing like the tall, lanky and beautiful Patrice who he'd
broken up with a few months ago. No, Anna Grainger was...different. Yet, he
felt drawn to her.
Patrice had been a social butterfly, seen at every opening
and party in her designer dresses. It had taken a while for him to realize
there was no substance underneath the beauty. When he'd caught her going
through his private files on his computer, he'd known he had to end it right
away. She hadn't taken it well, to say the least. In her world, she was never
dumped, but instead was the one doing the dumping. After a huge fight, she'd
stormed out, spewing threats as she left. No, she was nothing like the young
woman he'd met today, he could already tell that.
There was something about Anna, some depth in her eyes, that
had made him want to stay and talk with her. Those eyes were intriguing. They
seemed a dark forest green and then later more brown. He supposed they would be
called hazel. At any rate, he couldn't get the direct gaze of those eyes out of
his mind. Something about them, about her--she ignited an interest within him,
a hunger to see her again. Which was completely
inappropriate at this point in time. She was just a baker in a small town. He
knew himself well enough to know he was often drawn to the exotic and exciting.
Anna seemed calm and normal, not quite plain, but not beautiful.
she did something with her hair and make-up--her hair was a lovely shade of
he thought--then stopped in surprise.
Why am I thinking
He shook his head at himself and finished off his sandwich
and iced tea. It was almost time to get back to work on the house. He'd set a
schedule when he bought the dilapidated old beach house here in Sully Point.
The plan was to finish fixing it up within six weeks, then settle down to his
* * * *
Frank Grainger nodded to the stranger as he came into the
hardware store. Although, he thought, you couldn't really call him a stranger
now that he'd been coming in here regularly for weeks. Frank had heard all the
gossip around town about the newcomer. He walked over to the man, who was
headed for the back where the larger items were kept.
"And what can I do to help you today?" he asked.
Sam turned back to look at him. "I think I need a
ladder. I don't want to need a ladder, but I think--no, I know, I've got to buy
one. I've got to get up on the roof."
"You've been coming in here long enough I think I
should know your name. I'm Frank Grainger, and you are--?"
Sam stuck out his hand. "Sam Carter. But you must be
Anna's father, right?"
Frank's looked more intently at the other man. "Anna?
How do you know Anna?"
"I was in the bakery earlier. If those rolls are any
indication, she's a terrific baker. She mentioned you owned the hardware store."
"Ah, I see. Yes, Anna's one of mine. You should stop
back by there to get the freshly baked cookies. Everyone in town knows she
takes a batch out of the oven right after lunch."
"Maybe I'll do that," Sam said. He pointed to the
ladders. "Any one in particular that you recommend?"
Frank considered for a moment, then gave Sam two choices,
very different in price from each other. Sam bought the most expensive one. At
the cash register in the center of the store, Frank asked, "So what is it
you're doing? You've been coming in here for supplies for weeks now. It's made
Sam gave him a rueful grin. "Fixing up my new house on
the beach. I bought the one the agent called 'old Wally's place,' although I'm
surprised you haven't heard yet that I bought it. I figured in a small town like
this the news of my purchase would have spread all over."
Frank chuckled. "Linda Firestone is about the only
person in town who isn't a gossip. Anyone buys a house from her, she keeps mum
about it. Here, let me help you get this out to your car--you tying it down to
your roof or do you have a pickup?"
Sam grimaced. "I don't have either one. I need a
different car, or better yet a pickup. Know anybody selling a decent one?"
"What, you mean, right now?"
"No time like the present. I can pay cash if that would
speed it up."
"Well, I honestly don't know who has one for sale. Tell
you what, I'll talk to my son, Cody, tonight when he comes over for dinner. He
probably knows if anyone is selling a pickup. Right now I can have Bobby run
this out to your place. Leave me your phone number and I'll call you when I
have some news. But--I have to ask, what kind of car are you driving that you
can't put a big ladder on top?"
Sam smiled. "It's a 2003 Aston-Martin Roadster, which
currently has no top for a ladder."
"Where're you parked? That sounds like a car I want to
Sam laughed. "I'll drive by here on my way out to the
beach house. You're sure it's not a problem to have the ladder delivered? I can
"No charge for deliveries for new friends. Bobby's not
doing much today, anyway, might as well keep him busy. During summer vacation
he works for me, but for now he has half days until the school year ends. I
swear he would spend the whole day texting his friends if I didn't confiscate
his phone." Frank handed the receipt over to Sam. "You go on over and
grab some of those cookies, and I'll send Bobby out to your place in about an
hour. How's that sound?"
"Sounds great--the delivery time and the cookies.
Thanks Frank, I do appreciate this."
Frank watched him walk away and out the door, considering
him thoughtfully. He would bet that an Aston Martin had to cost over one
hundred grand. Dinner tonight ought to be interesting. Discussing the newcomer
was common conversational fodder. Still no clue, though, about what the man did
for a living. Frank felt that you couldn't really trust someone who kept
secrets. Why should his job be a secret? Yet nobody in town knew what Sam
Carter did when he wasn't fixing up old Wally's place.
* * * *
Anna was in the kitchen working on Ellie's cake when she heard
the bell on the front door clang. "Hang on, just a sec. I'll be right
there," she called out.