Kitten Cove Christmas, Book #3

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Dash of Bryce

Dash of Bryce

Can a Holiday Fling Become the Real Thing?

A practiced pessimist meets her match in this fun holiday romance from a USA TODAY Bestseller: Bryce Beckett. With his killer abs and bulging bank account, the guy is surely out of my league, especially for anything permanent.

But that's fine by me. Maybe I don't want anything permanent. Maybe all I want is to forget what happened the last time I dared to think of forever.

These days, I'm a realist. I know what I am, and I know what I'm not. Sure, I'm cute, I suppose, but I'm hardly the kind of beauty that a guy like him would go ga-ga for.

Plus, sometimes, my mouth has a mind of its own. This, I knew. What I didn't know was that my heart could be equally traitorous, because one thing's becoming scarily clear. In spite of my best intentions, I might be falling for Bryce just a little.

Or maybe a lot.

But could a guy like Bryce ever fall for me?

***This sweet and occasionally spicy romantic comedy is new for 2022 and includes a guaranteed happily-ever-after!

Sneak Peek

Businessman, my ass.

The guy standing on his front porch – correction, my front porch – looked more like an overgrown frat boy than an entrepreneur.

His hair was thick and brown. His legs were long and lean. His arms were tanned and muscular, like he spent his weekdays doing pushups at the beach.

Idiot. Didn't he know it was almost December? And snowing?

Apparently not, because even though the mid-morning temperature was well below freezing, he wore strategically ripped jeans and a thin Central Michigan T-shirt – burgundy with faded gold letters.

When he lifted his arms in a long, leisurely stretch, the shirt hiked up several inches above his jeans, giving me a shameless glimpse of the finest six-pack I'd ever seen.


So the guy was an idiot and a show-off.

Adding insult to injury, the interior of my coffee truck now felt annoying warm in spite of the freezing weather. Stupid abs.

As I stared across the distance, I felt my brow wrinkle in concern. With abs like that, he probably got a lot of action. If his libido matched his appearance, he'd be bedding a different girl every night.


True, I didn't really know the guy. And normally I wouldn't care what he did in his free time. But thanks to that short-term rental contract, he'd be porking those girls in my bed – unless, of course, he was sleeping in my sister's room.

In front of me, a different guy, this one older and huskier, shifted with obvious impatience and grumbled something too low for me to make out.

Taking the hint, I murmured an apology and picked up the pace. I'd been in the middle of making the guy's candy cane mocha when the younger guy had emerged from the front door of the cute little bungalow that I owned with my sister.

The renter was still on the porch, looking oblivious to the cold as he bent down to tie up the laces of his classic red sneakers. If he had any sense at all, he would've tied them earlier, before walking out the front door.

I frowned. If he tripped over the laces and fell down my porch, would I be liable?


My stomach twisted with new worry. Did my insurance cover such a thing?

Probably not.


I kept one eye on the renter and another on my work while I reached for the whipped cream dispenser and positioned it over the mocha. Almost done.

But just as I pressed the nozzle, the customer gave a loud huff. When I glanced in his direction, he practically growled, "You wanna say that again?"

Huh? Say what again? I paused in mid-squirt. "Excuse me?"

Outside my concession window, the guy looked seriously miffed. "You called me a pig."

I felt the blood drain from my face. Had I truly said that pig thing out loud?

To a customer?

Jumpin' Jimminy Christmas.

When I replied with only a horrified swallow, the guy's chin jutted outward. "So…you got the guts to say it again?"

Me and my stupid mouth.

It was always getting me into trouble. But in my own defense, I'd been cranked about the rental situation all week, and I'd just gotten my first glimpse of the stranger who was now living in my house.

Was it any wonder I was distracted?

I gave the customer an apologetic wince. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean you. I meant someone else."

The guy glanced around. "But I'm the only one here."

Sure, he was the only customer, but that didn't mean he was the only person I could see. In addition to the guy on my porch, a much older man in a big brown coat was shoveling the snow off his sidewalk with a degree of gusto that made a mockery of his years.

Him, I knew. The customer, I didn't. Maybe he was new to the neighborhood?

I searched his face and came up empty. Neighbor or not, I hadn't meant to insult him. "I really am sorry," I said. "I was thinking of a totally different person, honest."

"Oh, yeah? Who?" He gave me the squinty-eye. "An ex-boyfriend?"

I snuck another peek at the porch. The renter had finished tying his laces and was now staring across the distance.

At me.

He looked amused.

I wasn't.

I looked back to the customer. "Ex-boyfriend?" A nervous laugh escaped my lips. "Um…something like that." Okay, so the renter wasn't an ex, and he wasn't a friend, but maybe a decade ago, he had been a boy. Right?

The customer's face finally relaxed. With a low chuckle, he said, "If you wanna talk pigs, I should send out my wife."

What? Now I was the one frowning. "That's not a very nice thing to say."

The guy's good humor evaporated. "Hey, you started it."

"I don't care," I said, giving my own mid-section a nervous glance. "We all struggle with our weight."

The guy drew back. "I wasn't calling her fat."

Hah! Likely story. "Oh, yeah? Well, it sure sounded that way."

"Not to me," he insisted, looking like he meant it. "You took it all wrong."

I gave him a dubious look. "Oh, did I?"

"Yeah, I meant something way different."

"Oh, so you were calling her a slob?" Like that was any better. "Well, we all struggle with housework, too. And maybe if she had a little more help, your wife wouldn’t be so messy."

"Messy?" He gave a sarcastic snort. "Oh, that's nice."

I was still holding the whipped cream dispenser. Deciding that the guy had received all the whipped cream he deserved, I set down the dispenser with a thud and reached for the shaker of candy cane sprinkles.

If I were any less professional, I would be skipping the sprinkles entirely and going straight for the lid. But this was my very own coffee truck, and I prided myself on quality.

When it came to sprinkles, every customer – no matter how rude they might be -- received a minimum of six shakes, seven if they were extra-nice.

I was barely two shakes into it when the guy grumbled, "You know, I'm only out here because the wife made me do it."

I glanced up. "Do what?"

"Buy a mocha – or whatever you call it. She says you've been parked here every stinkin' day."

"I have not," I protested. "I wasn't here yesterday."

"You mean Thanksgiving?" he scoffed. "That doesn't count."

On this, he might've had a point. I'd spent yesterday not making mochas, but celebrating the holiday with my sister and parents. We'd had turkey and stuffing and all of my favorite side dishes, too, plus coconut cream pie, which was my absolute favorite.

I was still thinking of the pie when the customer said, "So back to the wife. She says you're out here every day from nine to ten. And the whole time, you're staring outside, all sad-like, because you've got no customers and are probably dead broke, too."

My jaw dropped. Now that was insulting. "That's not true," I told him. "I've had lots of customers." And then, upon further consideration, I added under my breath, "Just not at this location."

I wasn't lying. From seven to nine every weekday, I parked out in front of the courthouse, where I had gobs of customers – office workers, mostly. And then, from ten until three in the afternoon, I parked near the library, which was hit or miss in the customer department.

The only truly dead time was from nine to ten. That's when I'd been parking here within sight of my house – and only since last Friday, when the renter's lease had officially begun.  

As far as the house, it was located on a cute little side street across from a wonderful neighborhood park. In the summer, the park saw plenty of action, with its two tennis courts, three full-size swing sets, and a big jungle gym with a long, curvy slide.

This time of year, the park was mostly empty, but I'd parked near the tennis courts anyway, thinking that my coffee truck wouldn't look so terribly out of place in a public park compared to the spot directly in front of my house.

See? It all made sense.

Sort of.

But it's not like I'd wanted to stake out the neighborhood. I'd had to, because the agent handling our rental agreement had stubbornly refused my perfectly reasonable request to meet with the tenant in person.

Unfortunately, I'd been in no position to raise a stink about it, so here I was, scoping out things on my own – and serving up delicious coffee while I was at it.

In theory, anyway.

In front of me, my lone customer was still talking. "So this morning the wife says to me, 'Larry, why don't you be a sport and go buy something?' And I say, 'Because I don't drink coffee. And neither do you.'"

I felt my face go all scrunchy. What kind of people didn't drink coffee?

And the guy wasn't even done. "And the wife says, 'Yeah, but the girl's had like three customers all week. It's the holidays. We should do something nice. You know, like charity."

"Charity?" I sputtered. "I'll have you know, my coffee is the best in the city."

The guy snorted. "It all tastes like ass to me."

Now I was the one insulted. "Ass? Seriously?"

"Ashes or ass," he clarified. "The point is, the wife's got a twisted ankle and can't toddle out here herself, so here I am, freezing my ass off for a drink I don't even want, and what do I get?"

My gaze drifted to the mocha, now sitting there on the counter, all lidded up and ready to go. "Um…?"

"A butt-load of grief, that's what."

I hadn't meant to give him grief. And maybe he hadn't meant to insult his wife. Guys could be so clueless sometimes.

"Yeah, well…" I stammered. "It sounds to me like your wife is a really nice person, and… " Did I dare say what I was thinking?


Definitely not.

And yet, the words spilled from my mouth, anyway. "Okay, I realize it's probably none of my business, but maybe you should stop implying that she's a pig."

The guy looked at me like I'd lost my mind. "I wasn't implying anything."

"Well, it sure sounded like it."

"Maybe to you," he said. "But I was trying to tell you that she grew up on a farm."

I blinked. "Sorry, what?"

"Yeah, she had pigs and cows growing up. That's what I meant."

I felt all expression drain from my face. "Oh."

"Yeah." He rolled his eyes. "Oh."

The guy was nearly old enough to be my dad, which put him well beyond the approved age for such an epic eye-roll. Still, I gamely refrained from mentioning this as I stammered, "I, uh, guess I owe you another apology, huh?"

"Forget it," he said. "And forget the coffee, too." He made a sound of annoyance. "Merry Flippin' Christmas."

And with that, he turned and stomped away, leaving the mocha sitting there like a lost puppy.

I watched as the guy stalked across the parking lot, took a left on the nearest sidewalk, and walked past three houses before turning up the walkway of a yellow two-story home that had been for sale maybe a month ago.

Huh. So he was a new neighbor.

Welcome to the neighborhood, huh?

I was still staring aftet him when a new and unfamiliar male voice asked, "So, are you gonna drink that or what?"

(End of Sneak Peek)

Now Available on Amazon/Kindle Unlimited!


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The Kitten Cove Christmas Trilogy

Dash of Bryce is the third in a 2022 holiday trilogy starring three quirky cat-sitters and the dashing men who claim their hearts. Each book in this festively angsty series can be read as a standalone.

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