One Hundred Mistakes (Aspen Cove #16) - Kelly Collins

Chapter One

Deanna Archer rushed from the Corner Store with sweat on her brow and a tingle on her lips. Why in the hell did she kiss Merrick? Sure, he was handsome and single, but holy hell, what compelled her to fist his shirt and pull him down for a lip-locking kiss? He was the new deputy sheriff and could have arrested her for sexual harassment, but instead, he agreed to have pizza and beer with her at six.

She stopped at the curb and took several cleansing breaths, but her heart whirled faster, like a cyclone out of control.

“What the hell was that about?” Red said from behind her.

She steeled her shoulders. “That was about self-preservation. My mom once told me you could lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. You’re the horse, Red, and I’m the water, but my well is running dry. No, scratch that, you’re a donkey, and I’ve had enough of you being an ass.”

“So, you kiss Merrick?”

She brought her fingers to her lips and felt the heat the sheriff left behind. “I guess I did.”

“You’re not having dinner with him, are you?” He stood with his legs spread and chest pushed out like he was showing off a coat of armor.

She glanced at her phone to see the time. “I don’t have time to waste discussing my love life when I have to prepare for my date.” She pivoted and started for home.

“I know what you’re doing,” he yelled after her. “You’re trying to make me jealous, but it won’t work because I’m not the jealous type.”

She lifted her hand in the air and waved like she didn’t have a care in the world, when in reality, she had at least a dozen starting with, what in the hell was she thinking? She had a date with Merrick. Was it a date? Surely, he knew it wasn’t a date date. He was in law enforcement and most likely could read a bluff.

Her fingers felt her lips again. It sure felt real, though.

But it wasn’t, because as much as she wanted someone to choose her, love her, and be her prince charming, those stories only happened on the Hallmark Channel, romance novels, and The Bachelor. There was no one waiting to gift her with a rose.

She considered her “date.” With only a take-and-bake pizza from Dalton’s shop and a six-pack of beer to offer, she was woefully unprepared. At the corner, she crossed the street and backtracked to the bakery. If Merrick showed up, she’d let him know it was an impulsive act, a gut reaction to Red being an idiot. If he was cool with her rationale, there was no reason they couldn’t have dinner and a beer together. She’d pick up some of Katie’s sweets to make his evening less of a waste.

Red stood across the street, scowling at her. “Forgot dessert,” she called over to him. It probably wasn’t smart to poke a bear, but he deserved her wrath. They had sex, and after that, he ghosted her. Now she had to see him every single day at work and wonder why in the hell she didn’t measure up.

As she neared B’s Bakery, the rich aroma of dark chocolate wrapped around her and tugged her into the shop where Katie sat across from Sage under The Wishing Wall. Though Sage wasn’t due to have her baby until November, she looked ready to pop.

“Deanna,” Katie squealed. She always was upbeat and happy. Maybe working with sweets instead of assholes was the key. “Do you have time for coffee?” She hopped up and grabbed another chair from a nearby wrought iron table, pulling it to theirs. “I just made a batch of caramel pecan brownies. It’s a new recipe, and you can be the guinea pig.”

She glanced at the wall clock and shrugged. “I’ve got a few minutes.” She plunked into the seat and looked at The Wishing Wall, and then her eyes went to Sage. “What’s it like making a human?”

“Exhausting. Who knew it would be so hard? I mean, women have been doing it since the beginning of time. One would think it was easy. If men had to pay to have their wives make a baby, they couldn’t afford it. If they had to have the babies, civilization would have ended thousands of years ago.”

A ripple moved across Sage’s belly. “Did the baby just move?”

“He never stays still.”

Deanna sat up. “It’s a he?”

Sage laughed. “It’s a he when it’s a