Falling in Love with Emma
Ever since the sudden death of her mother left Emma in charge of caring for her grandmother and the family’s French bakery, she has survived by rejecting change. The last thing she wants is an ex-boyfriend with commitment issues. But while making a delivery to the matchmaker sisters’ café, Emma opens a door and is transported to eighteenth-century Paris, on the eve of the French revolution.
Björn has made a mess of things. He returned from fishing in Alaska believing his relationship with Emma would go back to the way things were, only to have Emma smash a pie in his face. But when Björn learns she is in danger, he leaps at the chance to save the woman he loves, even if she wants nothing to do with him.
The card had always seemed so grown-up and out of place next to the cartoon and joke-style valentines she’d received in grammar school. She wasn’t sure why she felt compelled to recreate the design after all these years, but once she’d begun the challenge, she couldn’t let it go.
Emma stood over a batch of cooled sugar cookies and positioned an image of a couple about to kiss over the first in the row. Designing the image and transferring it onto edible sugar sheet paper was the easy part. She’d used the technique before, with her mother’s designs. The problem was that she couldn’t capture the couple. Something didn’t look right. The couple looked like they were fighting instead of on the verge of kissing each other.
Focus, she told herself. You can do this.
She anchored her elbows on her work table, holding the piping bag filled with white frosting, and outlined the heart with shell-like swirls.
Startled by the male voice, she pressed too hard on her pastry tube and a big glob of frosting plopped onto the center of the cookie, completely obliterating the faces of the man and woman.
She’d recognized Björn’s voice instantly. One minute she’d been daydreaming about him, and the next he’d appeared as though her thoughts had conjured him out of thin air.
His voice, deep and rich, filled the Boulangerie and flowed toward her like warm caramel. Her heart sped up a notch. Ten notches, if she were being honest. Emma patted her hair into place, feeling the butterflies in her stomach that awakened whenever Björn was around. Remember, he just wants to be friends.
He stood silently on the back porch as though waiting for her to respond, then a Golden Retriever puppy, all big paws and floppy ears, tried to squeeze past him. He blocked the puppy from entering in much the same way Emma had prevented Ella from sneaking into the kitchen.
Emma wiped frosting off her hands, drawn to Björn by the memories they shared from their childhood. She’d forgotten how broad his shoulders were and how his shoulder-length blond hair and blue eyes made her imagine what a Viking warrior might have looked like. Well, maybe she hadn’t so much forgotten as pushed the thoughts out of her mind and out of her dreams.
The puppy barked, bringing her back to earth. “You can’t bring him into my kitchen,” Emma said. “You know the rules.”
“Sorry,” Björn said, restraining his active puppy with a nod as he attached a leash. “Shark and I are in the stage where we’re positioning to see who is the alpha dog in this relationship. I think he’s winning,” Björn said with a grin as he focused on the burnt cookies in the wastebasket. “Since when do you burn cookies?”
“Everything’s under control,” she shot back. “And I meant both you and your dog aren’t allowed in my kitchen.” She winced, knowing how that must have sounded, but he was on the back porch and probably hadn’t heard her.
What had gotten into him? He was as much a stickler for rules as she was. Her kitchen was a place of business, not a place for friends to gather.
She thought for a moment that he might have changed his mind about returning to the doorway, then was surprised at the sudden regret she would feel if he didn’t come back. She shook it off, as the words her mother had said, on almost a daily basis, repeated in her thoughts. Build a wall tall and thick enough around your heart, and you won’t get hurt.