If You Kiss me (Sugar Maple #5) - Ciara Knight Page 0,1

her an escape from small town life. A journey that ended before they had even reached the big city. Now that she was grown up and wiser and had her own heart broken, she’d spend the rest of her life trying to make up for that gross error in judgment.

“We’ve been over this. I’m not mad anymore. You did me a favor.” Carissa nudged the bag toward Jackie.

“You should be.” Shame filled Jackie until a snap of realization broke her self-loathing trend. “That’s a bribery tart. Spill it, girlfriend. What do you want?”

Carissa toed the floor, her hair falling over her face, and Jackie wanted to chastise her for the way she’d let herself go already. Especially when she’d snagged the devilishly handsome man, Drew Lancaster, only a few months ago. Or had it been a year? “Wait, that’s it. This has to do with your wedding, doesn’t it?”

Carissa’s face lit up like a girl on proposal night. “Yes.”

“You want me to design and make your wedding dress.” Inside, Jackie sang with the opportunity to do something nice for the friend she’d wronged so profoundly.

“Yes.” Carissa leaned on the countertop, smudging the glass before she remembered better and shot up straight.

Was this only because Jackie’s business had never taken off in Sugar Maple? “I don’t need pity work.” She stepped out from behind the glass separating them and straightened the latest summer dresses she’d created. “I listened to a friend of mine and designed for the small-town woman more than the big city girl.”

“They look amazing. As a matter of fact, I want to get one. Do you have my size?”

“Sure, size frumpy is available.” She couldn’t help herself. Her pet peeve in life was being treated like a doll that had to be coddled or it would break. Besides, her friends never wore her clothes. They didn’t like fine garments.

Carissa ignored the rude remark, but Jackie still wished she could pull it back into her mouth. Why she had to be so hostile all the time to her best friends and why they put up with it, Jackie wasn’t sure. “I’ll make your dresses. I guess Stella wants one, too. Are you two still thinking of a town square double wedding?” Excitement drove her to pull her special sketch pad from a drawer and open it to record the ideas bombarding her mind all at once.

“Stella said she’s going to wear the white dress you gave her the night before she went on her first date with Knox.”

The ideas dammed inside her brain. “Seriously? Does she even think about the fact that her fiancé is an internet sensation and he’s about to do a segment on my store? No. This won’t do. Tell her to be here after the shop closes one day this week for us to talk about this. She’s only planning on wearing that dress to stick it to me because I tried to sabotage her first date with him.” Jackie bowed her head at yet another example of her unworthy friendship shenanigans.

“You did tell Knox where to take her,” Carissa said in a playful tone with the corner of her mouth curved up.

“Who knew she wouldn’t enjoy the best date place in town?” Jackie shoved the sketchbook aside and returned to the summer dresses to finish straightening them on the hangers.

“You had him take her to a steak place when you know Stella is a vegetarian.”

They both laughed at the idea of their abrasive car mechanic friend who lived in torn, stained clothing and combat boots dressing in a formfitting white dress and going to eat at a steakhouse.

“You know we all love you. We just wish you could love yourself,” Carissa said in a soft, don’t-kill-me-for-saying-it tone.

They stood in silence for nearly sixty seconds.

“Hey, I saw you with Elijah Warren the other day at Maple Grounds.” Carissa picked up a hat and tried it on, turning side to side in the mirror. “How’s that going?”

Jackie laughed. “You honestly think I’m interested in a hot bachelor fireman turned father of two girls and nicknamed Blaze? Me, the fashionista New Yorker who hates children? I think all that extra business you’ve had from your Knox Brevard internet segment is making you small-town crazy.”

The door opened with a gush of fresh spring air. And if God himself could announce the entrance any better, Jackie didn’t know how, because in stepped the ruggedly handsome, oh-so-wrong-for-her man. He was breathless and wore a furrowed-brow look of desperation and a