Dessert First – Excerpt

"Are you here for long?" he asked.

Abby couldn't take her eyes off his hands as they prepared the milk for her coffee. They were so big and…able. "I'll be here for three days, but I might stay longer if I like it."

"Of course you'll like it! What's not to like?"

She laughed. "Well, I like it so far, not that I've seen much yet."

"Perhaps you need a tour guide," he suggested, flicking his eyes up to hers for the briefest moment before returning to the task at hand.

"Are you offering your services?" Abby couldn't believe her flirty tone. This behavior was most unlike her, must be the lack of caffeine in her body.

He poured the delicious smelling coffee into a mug, not the take-away cup she'd intended. Had she forgotten to ask? Quite probably. She was rather distracted.

"It just so happens I have the day off tomorrow, and as one of my civic duties I would be more than willing to show you around."

Abby suddenly returned to her senses. "I'm sure you don't want to waste your day off on a random stranger, so I decline and let you off the hook."

He shook his head and smiled while working the milky top of her latte. "It's really no trouble. Actually, it would be my pleasure. I'm Ben, by the way." He pushed the mug toward her.

Abby rummaged through her pockets for some change, hoping like mad it was all right to use American coins in Canada.

"Forget it, it's on the house," Ben said, running a hand through that crop of messy hair. Abby could feel heat rising in her cheeks and couldn't think of a single thing to say. Who was this strange Adonis-like man offering her free coffee and sightseeing?

"Um," she mumbled, fairly certain it was her turn to speak but completely unable to remember the question. Had there even been a question?

She looked down at the coffee in front of her. The pattern of the frothy milk had been shaped into a heart. Her insides gave an unexpected twinge, and she moved her gaze up to take another peek at Ben. He was smiling, showing off a set of lovely white teeth with a barely noticeable chip off one of the front ones. She guessed he hadn't shaved in a few days as a definite beard was starting to form along his jaw line. It was very sexy.

"So, what do you say?" he urged. "As a local I can show you all the best spots."

Abby knew she was staring. The underside of that jaw was a marvelous view. She forced herself to blink. "Well, okay. But only if you're sure you don't mind."

"Great! How about we meet at nine o'clock tomorrow morning, right here?"

"All right. Thanks, Ben."

"And you are?"

"Oh, sorry. I'm Abby. Abby Henderson." As she spoke a group of customers entered the café. Ben looked disappointed by their arrival. "I'll leave you to it," she said softly. "Thanks for the coffee. See you tomorrow."

Abby sat down at a table at the back of the café and took a sip from her mug, taking a good portion of the carefully constructed heart shape into her mouth. It was delicious, and she relaxed back into her seat, feeling the effects of her long day of travel, yet buoyed up by the encounter with Ben. It had been way too long since anyone had asked her out, and it felt lovely to receive such attention. Ben was undeniably gorgeous and seemed like a nice enough guy. Her loony spotting radar was decidedly quiet, so that was a good sign. And there was no denying she was attracted to him. The man was gorgeous. Good enough to eat! She'd practically had to grip the counter bench he'd stood behind to stop herself from launching over to lick his face like an ice cream.

She sat back in her chair and waited, knowing it wouldn't take long. Yep, sure enough, there it was. The all too familiar guilt. She did not deserve to be going on a lovely date tomorrow with lickable Ben. After what she'd done she deserved nothing more than to be single and miserable for the rest of her life. Squeezing her eyes tightly shut, Abby held her breath, trying to prevent negative thoughts from infiltrating on her previously chipper mood. Would she ever be able to move on from her mistake? How could she cleanse herself from all the crap that constantly swamped her? Maybe going with Ben tomorrow was a way to help her move on. She sure as hell hoped so.