Surrender My Love (Love in Bloom_ The Bradens)By: Melissa Foster
The Bradens at Peaceful Harbor
Love in Bloom Series
COLE BRADEN INHALED the sweet aroma of specialty coffee and baked goods as he walked into Jazzy Joe’s Café. It was finally Friday, which meant a lighter patient load at his orthopedics practice, and at least this week, time to help his father and brothers with the sailboat they were refitting. But all he could think about right now was a French vanilla maple cappuccino and a low-fat cranberry walnut muffin, Jasmine and Joey Carbo’s specialty. The twins only made them on Fridays, and after performing a difficult surgery on a patient with a broken tibia, Cole deserved that deliciousness.
“Welcome to Jazzy’s,” Jasmine called out from behind the counter where she was serving a line of customers. Her curly dark hair was tied back in a ponytail, trying its best to bust free from its tether as she pushed a bag across the counter and waved to Cole.
“Joe’s,” her tall, dark-haired twin added with a smirk. They greeted everyone at the café with the bright, cheery welcome. Sometimes Joe got his welcome out first, Welcome to JJ’s, or Welcome to Joe’s, but they never said, Welcome to Jazzy Joe’s, and it was one of the things that never failed to make Cole smile. As a physician, his days were about methodical diagnoses and precise treatments. He enjoyed the siblings’ tag-team greetings.
Cole made his way around the colorful, oversized chairs, where customers sat chatting, and around a sofa, where a couple sat holding steaming mugs. At the self-help station, he filled a to-go cup. He could practically taste the sweet liquid as he moved to the side to grab a lid and a pretty blonde stepped up beside him. She flashed a shy smile and quickly averted her eyes to the machine. Cole’s eyes drifted down her clingy tank top, over her skimpy blue running shorts, to her incredibly sexy ass and lean legs.
“Cups?” She said it so quietly he thought she might be talking to herself.
Cole reached above her, brushing against her side in the process. She smelled as sweet and fresh as summer rain. He handed her a cup. “Here you go.”
“Thanks. I never would have thought to look up.” She blinked at him long enough for him to notice the grassy hue of her eyes before returning her attention to the coffee machine.
He pointed to another shelf below the counter, where more cups were stored. “They like to keep the customers guessing.”
She nodded and started the machine. Cappuccino streamed into her cup and then quickly fizzled out. She sighed, her shoulders dipping slightly.
“They have other flavors.” He pointed to the other machines.
“Thanks. This is my friend’s favorite. I’m not sure what else she likes.” She furrowed her brows, her gorgeous green eyes filled with concentration.
“Here, take mine.” He handed her his cup. As the eldest of six, he’d been raised to take care of others first, and for this beautiful blonde with the kissable lips and wisps of silky hair falling in front of her eyes, he’d happily give up just about anything.
“No.” She waved her hand. “I can’t do that.”
“Please. I don’t mind.” He set the cup in her hand and she smiled tentatively, like a kitten unsure if the outreached hand was safe. He was used to women taking, taking, taking, seemingly without a care of who they were taking from. Her cautiousness intrigued him.
“Thank you. That’s sweet of you.” She took the cup. “Are you sure?”
Cole smiled. “Yeah, I’m sure. I’ll just grab a muffin. I hope your friend likes it.”
He walked toward the pastry counter to grab a muffin and she followed him over. Her eyes sailed over the muffin labels as Cole snagged a piece of wax paper and reached for the last of his favorite muffins.
“Oh, I need to find the low-fat cranberry walnut muffins. That’s Tegan’s favorite.”
He stopped midreach and laughed softly. Are you kidding me? If she weren’t so sexy and sweet, he might not relinquish his favorite treats so easily. “Really? Cranberry walnut?”
She trapped her lower lip, reining in a guilty smile, and nodded.
He placed the muffin in a bag and handed it to her.