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Sweet Beginnings

Sweet Beginnings

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It was intended to stop the gossips. But maybe the gossips were on to something. If you like a down-to-earth billionaire with some serious swagger, and a heroine who says it like it is, you’ll be swooning in no time over this Sweet Beginning.

Main Tropes

  • Second Chance
  • Single Mom
  • Fake Relationship

Synopsis

It was intended to stop the gossip. But maybe the gossips were on to something.

Adam Cade is just trying to settle down—alone. He’s made his billions and wants to live a quiet, small-town life. So why is every woman in town all over him? Hannah Jenkins is just trying to survive. She’s trying to provide for her son and grow a decent vegetable garden. So why are people in town so against her? When Adam shows up at Hannah’s new Bed and Breakfast with his jeans and heart-stuttering smile, Hannah will propose something that will either protect their battered hearts or breath new life into them.

If you like a down-to-earth billionaire with some serious swagger and a heroine who says it like it is, you’ll be swooning over this Sweet Beginning in no time.

Get your copy today!

Intro into Chapter One

Chapter
One

 

 

She
was standing on a ten-foot ladder in a
skirt with a shoebox hanging around her neck,
with a bird inside.

“I
can feel you hopping away in the box. When I get you next to the branch, you
better hop on it.  I’ve got guests
coming, and I don’t need them to see
little birdies who don’t know how to stay in their nests.”

Hannah
Jenkins was cautiously making her way up the ladder, which leaned precariously
against the house. This was just her luck. Today she was waiting for her first
guests to come to her home. She needed some extra income and had decided this
would be the way. If the city could make money on Airbnb, she could too.

It
was all going well; she had picked out the perfect outfit for her brand-new guests. They were from New York, so she
made sure she had on a skirt and blouse to look country chic. Then she heard it — the chirping of a baby bird.  Hannah looked at the bird, and she was ashamed to say she thought about
ignoring it. Then a vision of one of the cats prowling around the property came
to mind. Hastily looking down the driveway,
she started to think. 

Looking
up at the large tree next to the house, she saw the bird’s nest in the “V” of
the two branches that touched the side of the house. Did she have time? She
needed this BnB thing to work. Trying to
support a teen in a town without a lot of opportunities and an ex who had to be
reminded to send support was hard. Then it happened again! The little bird
chirped.

Hannah
hurried to the side of the house to grab
the compacted ladder. It took her twice as long to move it, as she was trying
to make sure her skirt didn’t get smudged. She knew she should have worn the
dark skirt, but no, she wanted to look
all delicate and floral.  Hannah didn’t
have enough words to go over how ill-planned
this was. She extended the ladder against the house and then reached for the
bird, which promptly hopped away.

“You’ve
got to be kidding me.  I’m trying to help
you!” Hannah exclaimed. Looking around, she saw a shoebox in the recycling,
popped a hole in the top and through the bottom with her finger, threaded some
recycling twine, and made a circle. She scooped the bird into the box, hung it
about her neck, and then up the ladder she went. The bird hopped and chirped.
“I know, little guy, almost there.”

As
if on cue, the adult birds returned, and
none looked happy to see her coming toward
the nest.

“I
want you to know this is not a daily service,”
Hannah said, as she stood on the last rung of the ladder. She took the box from
around her neck, opened the box, and the chick happily hopped back to the
nest.  That was when she heard wheels on
gravel. She looked over her shoulder and just what she was trying to avoid was
coming to pass. Her new guests were arriving, and
she was on the ladder. Hoping to minimize the moment, she began to descend the
ladder. An errant wind blew, ruffling her skirt. Hannah instinctively grabbed
for her skirt to hold it down, and at the same time shook the ladder.

“I’m
coming, don’t move,” someone called from
below. “I’ll steady it for you.”

Hannah
shook her head, trying to sort through all the acceptable answers as to why she
would be on the ladder. “No worries, I’ve
got it,” she called out. “My timing is always off,” she muttered to herself.

Hannah
looked down and saw a man at the bottom of the ladder, and all she could think of was to hold the skirt tighter as she
moved down. “Please step away from the ladder.
I’m fine,” she called out.

“It’s
no problem. I’m here,” the man persisted.

“No,
really, you should move away.”

Hannah
had slowed her descent as she realized the man wasn’t moving. She was about to
call out to the man, telling him to move aside so she could finish her descent
without him knowing the color of her underwear, when another wind came. Then,
like a perfect storm, it happened. Hannah bent down to gather more of her
skirt. The ladder held firm, and her grip
wasn’t as tight as she thought. The next moment, though, the only thing she had
in her grasp was her skirt.

It
wasn’t a far fall. It was even less of a fall because she never hit the ground.
Instead, she fell into the firm grasp of
the stranger who didn’t know how to take basic instructions.

Hannah
was cradled in the arms of what she could only deduce was one of her new guests.
She released her skirt, tapped him on the arm, and
he set her on her feet.  As he put her on
her feet, she couldn’t help but notice
the five foot eleven inches of him, giving him the perfect height to look into
her eyes. Or how his arms didn’t shake when she was in his arms, and at one hundred eighty pounds or the
publicly disclosed one hundred and sixty, she wasn’t a lightweight. When she braced her hand against his chest before he
set her down, she didn’t feel his heart thumping.  She was thrilled. Injured people didn’t make
long staying guests.

“Excuse
me. Are you okay?” she asked, smoothing
her skirt down. She stood up to her full five feet eight inches and extended
her hand. “Welcome to the Pearl B and –”

Hannah
scrunched up her face and did a double take. This wasn’t just any city guest.
His face had been all over the tabloids not even six months ago.  In the small town of Sweet Blooms, when one
of our own hits the news, it was news for four months past the time it was news
for everyone else. According to the town gossip, he was the spitting image of
his father. The married women still spoke of how the Cade men had all been
gifted with looks. They could have been models if it weren’t for the fact, they
all worked with their hands. He had the Cade trim beard, with the long
eyelashes that would give the fake lashes a run for their money. Each one of
their boys was named for someone in the
Bible.  It was said they needed it to
balance out their sinfully good looks.

Adam Cade, Fortune 500 owner, and the man who walked away
from the beautiful cover model Nadia Larson. The rumors ran rampant;
what would make a man walk away from the most beautiful woman on the earth?
They had been photographed together, and
he went from being an up and coming entrepreneur who was modernizing his family
business and making the top 250 companies to
watch, to being the man who would make
perfect children with the perfect woman. Nadia Larson was the top model on both
hemispheres. Adam brought a down-home
quality that never went out of style. He didn’t work out at the gym; he worked
with his hands making furniture as his
father had before him. If there was a picture of a country wholesome good guy, it would be Adam Cade.

Adam
didn’t forget his roots. He came to Sweet Blooms to help bring business to the smaller
struggling businesses in town. He always ensured
his friends and business acquaintances meet in Sweet Blooms. More importantly,
when a natural disaster struck Sweet Blooms,
he came and helped rebuild houses and invested money. They had never met
before. No one wanted to speak to Henry Jenkins, and the woman who had been fool enough to marry him wasn’t held in
that high regard either. Adam Cade was the town hero, and he was here. She had just been caught by him.

It
was a bit much. All her original insecurities started to flood back. This BnB thing had been a last resort. What if they
didn’t like her house? What if they didn’t like the two rooms? This was Adam
Cade; he had stayed in the best of the best, and
he was coming to stay in her home for a week. What had she been thinking when she thought up this plan?

He
smiled at her and held out his hand. “Thank you.”

“For?”
she asked, confused.

“I’ve
never been able to introduce myself, as I’m the man who just saved you.”

Hannah
was transfixed watching his mouth move. She wasn’t really into the bearded
look, but she had to admit it looked good
on him. Then his words penetrated the fog of male appreciation.

“Really?
Well, you still can’t.”

His
smile grew, and a perfect mouth was
revealed. “I don’t know. I seem to remember it a little different,” he said,
looking at her.

Hannah
cocked her head to the side and folded her arms over her chest. “Let me tell
you what really happened. I was coming
down the ladder just fine when a man stood impolitely at the bottom of it and
would not acknowledge common decency and move. Instead, he loitered at the
bottom of the ladder, stopping me from getting down in a timely manner before
the wind came.”

“Ouch!
I think I prefer my version better. Saving the helpless damsel in distress
before she fell to her –”

“I
wouldn’t have needed saving if you had just moved! Now let’s not squabble over
the truth. You’re here. Let’s get you settled. How many bags do you have?”

He
didn’t move; he just stared at her, and
for a moment she thought he had a sparkle from his white teeth. Okay, it was
definitely time to move this along.  She
didn’t have time for men. Besides, she had a talent for picking all the worst
ones out of the bunch. So, Adam Cade may look like a shiny new apple, but she knew there was something about him that
was rotten to the core.

He
held his hand out behind him.  “I’ll
bring in the luggage. Let me introduce my grandmother, Delilah Cade.”

“Welcome,
Mrs. Cade,” Hannah said, trying not to stare at the woman. You could tell she was older, but the Cade gene of
good looks wasn’t just on the male side. Hannah’s mother had often
cautioned her that she could never hide her thoughts.

Delilah
Cade smiled and grabbed Adam’s hand. She
was the epitome of classic beauty and grace.

“I
know my grandson means the best,” Delilah said. “Forgive him. He’s a do first
and sort it out later kind of guy and I’m
sure you understand the need for privacy when making the reservation under a
false name.

“It’s
no problem, gran,” Adam said.  “I’m sure
Ms. Jenkins was glad I was here to assist.”

Hannah
had to clench her teeth to let the moment of frustration pass by. She warred
with telling him what she really thought and not having to break the news to
Delilah Cade, who looked at her grandson with such love and devotion, not even she had the heart to let her know the
truth.

“I’m
sure Mr. Cade had the best of intentions. However, I really will have to ask
that he try to control his take charge inclinations. Things are a little
different out here, and I want to make
sure he stays safe.”

Adam
laughed. “I have to say that this is a first for me. I think you’re trying to
put me in my place.”

Hannah
smiled at him. “All of us mortals have this experience. I’m sure you, too, will
adjust.”

“Thank
you for the lesson, Hannah. Not many
people disagree with me when I’m right.”

“Right?”
She took a deep breath.

“Why
don’t we move on? Follow me, and I’ll
show you to your rooms.”

She
slowed her pace to make sure Mrs. Cade wasn’t rushed. She was so
conscious of the warm, deep tones of his voice as he spoke to his grandmother.
She could see his shadow in front of her. Was everything about him impressive?
She really needed to focus.

She
knew she had a rotten apple to the core
pick-a-man syndrome. If she was looking for someone, and she wasn’t, but if she were, it wouldn’t be with super
famous Adam Cade. She would like someone who had some very specific
characteristics. He would have to be happy with her baby, Nathan, who wasn’t
really a baby anymore. He was about to become a teen without a dad. She would
also be looking for someone who would be happy with her. Is Adam Cade happy with her? That was a non-starter. A man didn’t rebound from the most
beautiful woman in the world to be with plain Jane and her son. Adam would find
his new Nadia because Barbie always found Ken. 

Hannah
had learned a lot about herself since her split with Henry. She knew that she could depend on herself to provide for herself
and her son. She knew she was strong, determined, and had a quick mind. She
also knew her hobby of making quilts and blankets was a budding business that
would provide for her and her son. She was self-sufficient.
 She also knew the town of Sweet Blooms
had some small-minded people. 
While most of the residents were understanding,
there were some who didn’t think the divorced wife of Henry Jenkins should be
living on the Jenkins farm. It didn’t matter to them that Henry hated it. She
had been judged a golddigger who had
stolen Henry’s land in the divorce. As an owner
of one of the original tracts of land in Sweet Blooms,
she was grandfathered to the council, but that hadn’t
endeared her to anyone either.

She
had spent a lot of time trying to get accepted by the town. Not for her sake, but for
Nathan’s. He was going to go to high school
next year, and he had enough problems
without being reminded his mother was an outsider and, by default, so was he.

“Ms.
Jenkins?”

“Yes?”
she snapped.

Hannah
had been so far in her thoughts she had walked them to their room and was standing in the doorway. “I see
these are two adjoining rooms and the bathrooms are inside like the brochure
says. Is there anything else you wanted to show us or house rules?”

She
shook her head wildly. “No, no. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s
no problem. You’ve had a harrowing day.” Adam grinned at her and leaned against
the door in front of her. “I’ll see you tonight?”

Tonight? She repeated to herself. That’s right! Mr. rotten somewhere at
his core was living here for the week. She would provide room, board, and two
meals a day—breakfast and dinner. “Of
course, I’ll see you later.”

She
heard Delilah call out, “I’ll see you later, dear.”

“Of
course, I’ll see you later,” Hannah replied.

She
stepped away from the door without acknowledging Adam anymore. When the door was closed, Hannah looked to the heavens and couldn’t believe the way
she had acted. She had to get dinner together. Maybe having a different focus
would help her not focus on Adam Cade.

Cooking
was dependable, she thought. It was a set of clear instructions held together
by order and then executed in such a way that practically guaranteed a
satisfying result. But men – they didn’t seem to comprehend the word
dependable. Looking at the way Adam had left Nadia, dependable might be a
foreign word for him too. For a moment, when she came down from the ladder, and she was in his arms, she felt safe and
treasured.

It
wasn’t the chemistry that couples are built on. It was the hint of something
that could be. Almost a taste of what might be.
Even Hannah had to admit it felt good. The bad news was it was happening with one
of her guests. Her guest had dumped the most beautiful woman in the world. He
was so way out of her league.

In
Adam’s world of perfection, she didn’t even exist. She would never be given a
second look because she was honest enough to know she was attractive, but she didn’t stop men in their tracks. The
real problem she found was she was too trusting, and she believed in love. Believed
in putting in the work through sickness and health.

Shaking
off her maudlin thoughts and concentrating on dinner, she was able to bring her
mood back up.  Fashion came and went;
maybe a good woman who wanted to stand by a man and support him would come back
in style too. Until Mr. Ordinary showed up, she’d better make sure she was
self-sufficient and could take care of her son.

* * *

Adam
had put away the luggage and had taken a walk around the house. It was a five-bedroom home that seemed like it would be
more suited for a large family than a bed and
breakfast.  The floors had been
recently waxed, and the railing on the
staircase was shining.

However,
other little things told him all was not as new as she wanted it to be. If he
looked hard enough, he could see her attempts to hide what he thought was
damage to the house.  The connecting door
between the rooms at first glance looked like it was there for guest
convenience, but he could see how the
paint was a little darker around the door than the rest of the room. The blue
was a good color to use, but he could
still see the signs of water damage. If he had to guess he’d say that the door
was installed as a way to hide some leaking pipes, and Ms. Jenkins hadn’t been
able to find a perfectly matching blue paint.

As
he walked through the house, the builder
in him could see it had great bones. This was a house he could happily spend some
time renovating.

On
the side of the house was a garden that
had been fenced off and a small,
cushioned bench sat inside the perimeter. That was where he was going to take his
grandmother. He’d been thinking about his life since the breakup with Nadia,
and he needed a change. An idea had been forming in his head for that change and
he’d recently formed a plan to start a new career in Sweet Blooms. He had carefully
thought over his plan to start a new venture in Sweet Blooms and he looked at
others who had done the same thing.

Now
that the time was at hand and he could see his grandmother coming around the
corner, he was nervous. Grandma Delilah was a spitfire to be sure. She was also
the most level- headed person he knew and
the one person whose opinion mattered to him more than anything. She was also
the one person who supported him no matter what.

When
Adam’s father found out he wanted to join the family business, he had told Adam
no. Daniel Cade said he wanted better for his son than to be a laborer. His
grandmother had recognized his talent and got him into an apprenticeship.

When
his father passed away, his grandmother
had been his rock. When his sister and brother thought it was better to sell
the struggling company, his grandmother
had stood by him to keep it and make it grow. Now, Designs by Cade was known
throughout America and they had so many
requests in the pipeline that they had to turn business away.

He
had done his duty by his family and made sure they were provided for and happy
in their business. He had groomed his sister Corinne to take over because she
was good at taking charge on a higher level. His brother Luke didn’t thrive in
the office. He enjoyed doing the designs and couldn’t stand being in meetings every day so Adam left him alone to his designs.

Now
Adam was ready to do something for himself.  

The
last fiasco with Nadia had brought it to bear that it was time for him to live
his life. The rumors about their breakup got more fantastic as time went
on.  In truth, Nadia broke up with him.
She wanted it to leak that he had left her because she needed some sympathy to
boost her career. Nadia was a lovely woman, but
he wanted one that would just be happy being with him. Nadia was happy as long
as he wanted to be in the limelight with her.

He
always enjoyed coming back to Sweet Blooms. Over the years he had made friends
here and helped people. Some of those people had even come to call him
Delilah’s Boy. He couldn’t think of a reason gran would say this wasn’t a good
idea, but until it was done, it was still up in the air.

“I’ve
been waiting on you, gran,” he said, holding out his hand to her. When she put
her hand in his, it felt so warm. It was
just one more sign of how nervous he was. In the end, he’d do what the best thing for
him was, but if she didn’t agree, he’d be less for it. His gran had been
the one to always support him through thick and thin.

“I
see something is weighing on you,” she said.

“I
was glad when you wanted to come here to get away for your birthday. It’s like
it was a sign,” he started.

“Hmm,
go on.” She eyed him knowingly.

“I’ve
decided that I want to step down from the company. I want to start to live a
normal life. The company is set up so Corinne can run it. Luke will still do
designs. They don’t need me there anymore, and
I need to move on.”  He said it in one
breath, and suddenly, the load was off
his chest.

“If
you made up your mind, why are we out here?”

Adam
laughed. “Because I wanted to know your thoughts. Having two made-up minds is
better than one.”

She
shifted on the bench. “All the cushions in the world won’t make this bench
comfortable. You should give her some dead stock on the old treated pieces.”

Adam
smiled. Gran could throw a curve ball at you while she thought on things.

“Well,
I have some questions.”

“I
thought you would.”

“Did
you decide you wanted to walk away because you’re running from Nadia?”

“Ouch,
gran!  I’m not running. I will say the
whole event helped me to see what I really wanted, and how it wouldn’t really
be possible on the road I was on.”

His
grandmother turned to him and pulled him
into her arms.

“I’m
so glad you’re looking out for you because I was starting to worry,” she said.
“You know I’m beyond proud of you. Besides that,
I’m not getting any younger, and I’d like
to see some of my great-grandchildren.”

“I
don’t even have a wife, and you’re
looking for grandchildren.”

“Goals,
boy, you have to set goals,” she laughed. “When and where would you be making
this great exodus?”

“I
wanted to move here to Sweet Blooms.”

Delilah
laughed out loud and patted her chest to catch a breath. “You do know that all
the women in this town will be flocking to you in no time.”

“I’m
not going to tell everyone. I’m going to take my time and not make any public
announcements, to avoid the publicity.”

Delilah
patted him on the leg. “Boy, you may know the city, but you don’t know small towns. If you stay
here long enough, you’ll find that people find out what’s going on almost as
quickly as you think it.”

“Ah-hem,
I’m sorry to interrupt, but dinner is
ready if you are?” A soft voice said behind them.

Adam
and Delilah turned to see Hannah at the gate. Delilah smiled at Adam. He wanted
to ask her what the smile was for, but
she brushed him off and said she had to get to supper, or they’d offend Hannah.

* * *

Later
that evening, Hannah went out to her garden—trying to find some peace from the day—when her cell phone rang. Five minutes
later, she regretted not ignoring the phone. 

“You
have got to be kidding me,” Hannah said on her cell. Shaking her head in disbelief, she walked out the back door and into the garden. She grabbed her
pink foam knee pad and shook the loose dirt from it. She could tell she’d need
a relaxing distraction in order to get through this phone call. She picked up a
pitcher and dropped water over her garden tools to make sure they were clean.

“Hannah,
I am dying! I need to stay in the hospital for a little longer,” the voice on
the other end of her headphone whined.
Hannah grabbed the shovel, rinsed it, and then put it back in her kit.

“We’re
all dying, Henry. Your son is waiting here for you to come this week. You
promised!”

“The
hospital won’t let me out.”

“Okay, which hospital are you in?” Hannah was so
tired of his excuses. The only thing she could focus on was how Nathan was
going to be disappointed again.

“Well,
I wouldn’t want to put anyone out. It’s no place to see a man in.” Henry
stammered and backpedaled as he tried to bolster his thin excuse.

“Tell
me, Henry, what new opportunity is going on?” She bit out each word, trying not
to let the bitterness or the held back tears, seep into her voice.

“The
city is a great place, Hannah. You always
think it’s the city that’s coming between us. I can’t help it if the city has
these great work opportunities for me. I don’t understand why you stay in Sweet
Blooms anyway. There’s nothing here for you. All the opportunity for you can be
found in the city. Think about what the income could do for you and Nathan.”

She
wouldn’t argue with Henry about how great he thought the city was. When it came
to choices, the city always won. It was
more important than her, and it was more
important than their son Nathan.

Exhausted
with it all, she sat back on her haunches and looked at her faded denim jeans.

“Henry, are you coming, yes or no?”

“No,
I can’t. I told you –“

“Fine,
when are you going to tell Nathan?”

“Well,
I don’t know when the hospital will let me on the phone again. So maybe it
would be best if you told Nathan. I -I
mean, I’ll try, but just in case, make sure you tell him.”

“Henry!
No, I –”

“Hey, I gotta go. Thanks, Hannah.”

The
next moment she was listening to the dial tone. She dropped the cell in her
pocket and tried not to imagine how her
son would take the news when he returned home in a couple of days.

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