Kandy Shepherd

A Diamond in Her Stocking


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       Jesse still held her hand, and when she made no effort to free it he tightened his grip—now he had her so close he couldn’t bear to let her go.

      She closed her eyes with a flutter of long fair lashes and he could feel her tremble beneath his touch as his fingers traced down her cheek towards her mouth.

      Her lips parted just enough for her to breathe out a slow sigh and she opened her eyes. In them were both wariness and want.

      “Jesse, I …”

      He dropped his hand and used it to take her other hand and pull her closer to him—so close he could feel the heat from her sun-warmed body. He pressed his mouth to hers in a soft, questioning kiss—she gave him the answer he wanted with the pressure of her lips back on his. As he deepened the kiss he felt the same fierce surge of possessive joy he’d felt the first time he’d kissed her. He had kissed her and then lost her through a stupid misunderstanding.

      She tasted the same. Felt the same. And he wanted her just as much—more.

      A Diamond in Her Stocking

      Kandy Shepherd

      

www.millsandboon.co.uk

      KANDY SHEPHERD swapped a fast-paced career as a magazine editor for a life writing romance. She lives on a small farm in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her husband, daughter, and a menagerie of animal friends. Kandy believes in love at first sight and real-life romance—they worked for her!

      Kandy loves to hear from her readers. Visit her website at: www.kandyshepherd.com.

      To the A-team,

      Cathleen Ross, Elizabeth Lhuede and Keziah Hill, with heartfelt thanks for the friendship and support!

      Contents

       Cover

       Introduction

       Title Page

       About the Author

       Dedication

       CHAPTER FIVE

       CHAPTER SIX

       CHAPTER SEVEN

       CHAPTER EIGHT

       CHAPTER NINE

       CHAPTER TEN

       CHAPTER ELEVEN

       CHAPTER TWELVE

       CHAPTER THIRTEEN

       CHAPTER FOURTEEN

       CHAPTER FIFTEEN

       EPILOGUE

       Extract

       Copyright

       CHAPTER ONE

      AS LIZZIE DUMONT looked around at the soon-to-open Bay Bites café, her new place of employment, she vowed she would never reveal how she really felt about the way her high-flying career as a chef had crash-landed into a culinary backwater like Dolphin Bay. Not when people here had been so kind to her.

      She would put behind her the adrenalin rush of working at star-rated restaurants in the gastronomic capitals of Paris and Lyon. Give up the buzz of being part of the thriving restaurant scene in Sydney. Embrace the comparatively lowly life of a café cook.

      Her sigh echoed around the empty café. Who was she kidding? That heady time in France had been the pinnacle of her career. But she’d been sinking in Sydney. Working shift after shift until past midnight in restaurant kitchens—no matter how fashionable the venues—had hardly been compatible with being a good parent to her five-year-old daughter, Amy.

      With no family in Sydney to fall back on, and few friends because she’d lived in France for so long before her divorce, she’d struggled to give Amy a reasonable life. Drowning in debt, swimming against the current of erratic babysitter schedules and unreasonable rosters, after less than a year she’d been going under.

      By the time her sister Sandy had approached her to manage the new café adjacent to Sandy’s bookshop, Lizzie had been on the edge of despair. She’d even been contemplating the unthinkable—letting Amy live permanently with her ex-husband Philippe in France.

      Gratefully, she’d grabbed the lifeline Sandy had thrown her.

      And here she was. Dolphin Bay was a rapidly growing resort town on the south coast of New South Wales, with a heritage-listed harbour and beautiful beaches. It was also, in her experience, a gastronomic wasteland—the only memorable meal she could ever remember eating was fish and chips straight from the vinegar-soaked wrapping.

      But Sandy had offered her sanctuary and a new life with Amy. In return, Lizzie would throw herself wholeheartedly into making Bay Bites the best café on the south coast. Heck, why stop there? She would use her skills and expertise to make Bay Bites the best café in the country.

      She let herself get the teeniest bit excited at the thought. After all, she would be in charge. No cranky head chef screaming insults at her. No gritting her teeth at an ill-chosen item on the menu she’d been forced to cook whether she’d liked it or not.

      She continued her inspection, her spirits rising by the second. Sandy had done a wonderful job of the fit-out. The décor was sleek and contemporary but with welcome touches of whimsy. In particular, she loved the way the dolphin theme had been incorporated. Hand-painted tiles backed the service area. Carved wooden dolphins supported the wooden countertop and framed the large blackboard on the wall behind it where she would chalk up the daily specials.

      There