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Sweet Gamble

Sweet Gamble

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He was looking for a quick payday. She was looking for forever. 

Main Tropes

  • Fake Relationship
  • Second Chance Romance
  • Small Town Romance


He was looking for a quick payday. She was looking for forever.

Patrick Cunningham came to Sweet Blooms to cash in his inheritance and try to rebuild his life. He wasn't looking for a relationship, and he definitely wasn't looking for love.

Daisy Patterson, daughter of a single mom, had resigned herself to being alone. As the town herbalist and florist, she was valued but was considered eccentric living by herself. When she agrees to a fake relationship to help a stranger, she never imagines he might be the one to fill her lonely heart.

Can two independent people learn to trust a stranger and love blindly, or will they lose an unconditional love of a lifetime?

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Intro into Chapter One




“Why is it that men are only around
to open doors and not around to help me carry the heavy pots?”

Daisy Patterson carefully made her
way down the steps, aware that one false move could have her tumbling down the
ten steps of the courthouse. They were so easy to manage when she had the
dolly, and she had brought the plants into the courthouse. When Skye, the owner
of the general store, came in to find out if she could borrow a dolly to move
some supplies into her store, Daisy volunteered hers.

Her neighborly etiquette might be spot-on,
but her long-range thinking needed some work. So here she was paying for her
good deed by risking her neck, taking the empty flower pot back to her truck.

“One step at a time,” Daisy said,
gingerly making it down the steps.  If
her count was right, she had already made it down four of the ten steps. As if
she had invoked Murphy's Law by counting the steps, her foot had to feel for
the next one. She could do this like she had done so many times before; she
just needed to concentrate and keep her balance.

“Hey, little lady, let me give you a
hand,” someone said from below her. “I’ll help you bring it down.” 

Daisy blew a hank of her blonde hair
out of her face. “I did ask for a man,” she muttered. “I didn’t really mean it;
take him back,” she said to no one in particular. Daisy hoped if she just
ignored him that maybe he would be offended and go away.  She peeked around the large flower pot and
saw the shadow of a person climbing the steps toward her.

She pulled in a breath she didn’t
really have  to spare and tried to warn
him off. “I’m good,” she called out. “Just stay out of my way.”

“I’m all for women’s liberation, but
you need some help,” the man replied.

“Nope, been here before, and I know
how to do this alone.”

Daisy stopped, realizing that when
she called out to the stranger, not only did it take away from her strength,
but it made the load she carried begin to wobble. The pot was large, and her
arms were wrapped around it, basically hugging it close to her chest. In truth,
that wasn’t the problem. The problem was the bag of dirt inside the pot. Daisy
had to keep the pot steady if she wanted to keep the dirt steady so she
wouldn’t be pushed off balance.

After expending the extra energy and
unknowingly shifting the dirt, Daisy shifted the dirt back into the middle of
the pot.

“Come on, center yourself already,”
Daisy said as she leaned to the opposing side, trying to get the dirt back into
the center.

“See what I told you?  You’re already leaning to one side from the
weight,” the man said from below.

Daisy wondered what would happen if
she looked around the pot and just yelled, “Catch!” It would totally serve the
guy right, women’s liberation and all.

“Thanks,” she said. “If you’ll just move
away from the steps… And don’t touch me or I’ll lose my balance.”

“I’ll make sure you’re balanced. I’ve
got you.”

Then the perfect storm of disaster
came. A breeze came by and lifted a hank of Daisy’s hair, blinding her. In an
attempt to move it, she leaned to one side. Then the man she had been talking
to spoke, and he was much closer than she thought. Daisy still couldn’t see;
when the man spoke, he made her jump in surprise, and whatever balance she had
was lost in that instant.  

Daisy lost her grip on the pot, and
in her attempt to grab it, pitched herself forward. Her hair cleared her face,
and as she was falling, she could see the pot rolling down the steps until it
hit the bottom, and then it broke into four pieces. She didn’t have enough time
to moan over the pot because she tried to protect her head as she fell. The
next thing she knew, she had slammed into a wall of muscle. She knew it was
probably the guy who scared her.

When it was all said and done, at
least Mister Interfering had done some good and cushioned her fall. Now all she
needed to do is make sure he wasn’t hurt. The last thing she needed was a
stranger trying to sue her, and they were already on the steps of the

Daisy wasn’t the one to put off bad
news. She pushed herself off of the man, realizing she was bracing herself
against a wall of muscle, and thanked her good fortune to fall on one of the
last people who actually worked out. She could see he had dark hair and a
sturdy body. He still hadn’t listened to her. A person couldn’t have it all. He
didn’t move as she pushed herself up, so she was a little concerned, but his
heart felt strong beneath her fingertips and his chest moved up and down in a
good rhythm.

“Are you okay?” she asked as she got
to her knees and really looked at the man. “Can you move everything or do you
need me to –”

Daisy blew an errant strand of blonde
hair out of her face to get a better look at her impromptu cushion. She knew
this man. Well, not in a neighborly kind of way, but because she had just seen
him in the waiting area of the mayor’s office. She hadn’t given him more than a
glance. He was exactly the kind of man she stayed away from. He was tall, with
dark hair and beautiful lashes that every woman wanted to have. He had a nice
build and probably turned heads wherever he went. On top of all of that, he was
dressed in a pair of jeans that looked like they had just come out of the store,
and the shirt her hands were on right now had to be the softest shirt she had
ever felt on a man. He had all of the signs of a city man.

She’d met a couple of them before.
They came to small towns, looked for women who were wowed by their money or
worldliness, and then they left. They weren’t interested in tomorrow. They
weren’t interested in building anything. It was true her opinion was probably a
bit harsh, but what her mother hadn’t taught her she’d learned on her own the
hard way.

City men were like candy. In the
beginning, it was fun, and you could eat a little, but too much made you sick.

He gave her what must have been his
go-to smile.

“Hi,” he said. “Now aren’t you glad I
didn’t listen to you and stayed around to help you?”

Daisy rolled her eyes and pushed
herself up. “No, I’m not. It would have done us both some good had you been
able to follow instructions.”

He grinned. “You don’t really mean
that.  I’m Patrick Cunningham by the way,”
he said as he stood up and brushed off his jeans.

“Well, I’m the owner of the broken
pot at the bottom of the steps,  and yes,
I do wish you had been a little more obedient. Good day!”

“Hold up. I can see you’re feeling a
little shaken up; let me help you.”

Daisy turned to face him and wondered
if maybe something had been hurt when she fell on it. “You were the one who
just had to mind your business and stay out of the way. You failed to do those
simple things that I believe most five-year-olds can do, and now you think you
can evaluate my feelings about your ineptitude? 

“Ineptitude. I can see someone is
using S.A.T words,” he said with a grin.

Daisy couldn’t really believe he had
said that. “Did you really say that? Whatever.” 
She ignored him and went down the steps to look at the damaged pot. As
she was looking at the damage, Clarissa came by. Daisy let out a breath and
waited. It was going to be a trying day. Clarissa was the town beauty
queen.  She was a shapely woman who had a
razor tongue and was on the town council. Daisy didn’t know what she did
exactly as work, but when she ran into most people, it wasn’t going to be a
nice encounter.


“Hello, Clarissa.”

Clarissa looked behind her. “I don’t
know who you are, but if this is your way of introducing yourself, you can
skip  me.”  Then Clarissa turned back to Daisy.  “Do you need help?”

Daisy hoped her mouth wasn’t hanging
open from the shock of Clarissa being pseudo nice to her. What was the world
coming to if Clarissa was being nice?

“I’m good, thank you for asking.”

With a nod, Clarissa went on her way.
Then, as a rude reminder of why she was on her knees anyway, she looked up to
see him standing there. He bent down to try to help her, and she didn’t know a
way to stop him.

“These shards are big and might cut
you.  I can throw them away,” he offered.

Daisy shook her head. “We don’t throw
things away here when they get broken. W find another use for them and keep

            Patrick stood up. “Okay, what do you
want to do with them?”

            “You do realize you can go and I’ll
take care of this?”

“I could, but what kind of person
would that make me?  I save you, and then
I leave you. No, I’ll see this through.”

“See it through? I think I’d like to
see something go through you,” Daisy muttered. She stood up and wiped her hands
on her jeans.

“Look, my truck is right here.  If you can pick up a shard and put it in the
back of my truck, that would be helpful.”

She watched Patrick flash a smile at
her that would have made any other woman want to be best friends with him.
Daisy was not moved. When he had finished moving the shards, he came back and
smiled at her.

She looked around and then back at

“Did you want money?”

His grin became wider. “No, I thought
you’d give a thank you.”

Daisy looked at him and then let out
a sigh of supreme patience.

“You would think that because you’re
living in a different world.  But since I
can see that you’re not going to leave until you get something, let me say it.
Thank you for interfering and breaking my pot. Have a nice day.”

With that, Daisy left, shaking her
head about how Sweet  Blooms was changing
and more city people were visiting. She knew it was fashionable to go to the
country and see how people roughed it, but she was glad they didn’t stay. In
fact, during the summer months, she tried to stay away from town because of the
increased visits by out-of-towners.  

Today’s encounter just confirmed all
of her thoughts about city folk. Fortunately, it was just a one time meet up.

* *

Patrick had been waiting for the mayor
on the steps of the courthouse just about all day. Nothing had happened since
the blonde nymph had left. Patrick had taken up residence on the steps in a
diminishing shaft of shade. When the secretary had told him she had called the mayor,
he thought it would be, at most, an hour wait. He had been wrong.

Every moment he stayed on the steps
looking out at the town, he thought he finally understood what it would be like
if the apocalypse hit. Everything in Sweet Blooms was quiet. The cars were
quiet. The people on the street were quiet. Patrick had lived in the city all
of his life. He didn’t think he’d ever been in funeral homes this quiet.

The town was clean, he’d give it
that, but the silence was just too much. Finally, he saw the mayor coming up
the steps. He knew it was her because she looked just like the picture in her office.

“Ms. Mayor, I’m Patrick Cunningham,”
he said with a smile. He got that gut feeling that this was not going to go the
way he imagined. It was the way she looked down her nose at him, or maybe it
was the way she looked him up and down, and then he thought he had somehow come
up wanting.

“Hello, Mr. Cunningham, how can I
help you?”

Oh yeah, this was not going right at
all. She didn’t invite him to her office. She didn’t offer her hand for a
shake. She was giving off all the signs that he was her least favorite person to
be talking to right now.

“You received my letters regarding my
uncle’s inheritance?” he said. He knew she had received them. He had sent them
all priority mail.

“Yes I did receive them, but what you
want isn’t possible.”

He looked at her, waiting for her to
say, “Joke’s on you,” but that never happened. He thought he would be in and
out of this town the same day. He didn’t have enough money to do more than

“I’m sorry, Mayor Mason, but I don’t
understand. Did my uncle leave me the land?”

He saw her shift her weight to one
foot in her lavender suit. She let out a breath as if she were about to explain
something to a five-year-old and needed patience. 

“Your uncle was, indeed, the owner of
the land. He did leave it to you. However, there are trustees of land rules
that forbid you to sell it outright.”

“What? Listen, I don’t want the land.
I need the money to get back to my life!”

“I hear you, Mr. Cunningham, but
that’s not the way it’s done in Sweet Blooms.”

Panic started to creep over him like
a phantom shadow that couldn’t be stopped. He hadn’t felt this kind of panic
since he bet all he had on a bitcoin transaction and lost it all.

“I can get a lawyer, you know. I need
the money! Can I get a lien against the land or…or something?”

He saw her jaw tighten before she
decided to speak.

“You can, of course, seek counsel,
but they will tell you the same. Everyone who has ever owned land here has done
it by agreeing to some rules. The first rule is, we can’t sell the land to
outsiders. The founders of Sweet Blooms believed in preserving history, and the
people who came had the same thoughts as well. The second rule is, you can give
the land to any member of your family. You don’t have to give it to a son or
daughter. You can give the land to someone who you think will preserve it and
value it. Which, frankly, is why I’m so surprised your uncle gave you the

 “Listen, my uncle was an odd man. He would
talk to me in riddles and tell me I had to come here. When he passed, I was
just as surprised as you are that he left me anything. Now that we’ve both been
disappointed, I want to get out of your hair, and you want me gone. Can you
tell me how we can do that?”

She gave him a look of exhaustion.

“In the time that I’ve been Mayor,
there has only been one loophole.”

“Yes?”  He could see her lips were pursed, and she
folded her arms over her chest. Obviously, whatever it was she was about to say
would be distasteful to everyone.

“There is a caveat that a lien can be
put on the land.”

Patrick smiled. “Why didn’t you say
so before?” Patrick was starting to breathe. He kept thinking about the man who
currently had his condo and his Benz in lieu of him selling this piece of land.
“What do you want me to sign?”

The mayor closed her eyes and shook
her head. “It’s not that easy. You have to show that you are working the land. You
or a relative would also have to be on the land to get the lien.”

She gave hope and took it all away in
the same breath. He wanted to fall to his knees and curse his uncle for
dangling a solution in front of his face and then taking it away. The abject
disappointment must have shown on his face.

“Listen, before you make any
decisions, I think you should go see the land first,” the mayor said.

Patrick wanted to tell her he didn’t
need to see a pile of dirt to know what it looked like. He wanted to tell her
he was leaving tonight and going back to his life, but lady luck hadn’t been
kind to him. He had taken what he thought was a sure shot on a quick turnover
investment into Bitcoin, and then the politics of the world had decided that
Bitcoin was bad for three consecutive days. It was unheard of, but he should
have known that it would happen when he decided to make some quick cash.

Patrick had already been balancing on
a string, and that deal broke it. When the mail came and said he had land, he
talked the guys who had come to repossess his condo, which he hadn’t paid on in
three months, and his leased Mercedes Benz into giving him thirty days. He
would then give them the money so he could get his life back.

Then this happened, and now he was
down on his luck. His life was like this. He knew he could find a deal and get
back on top again if he could only sell this land.

“I’ll take a look at the land.” The
mayor seemed a little more relaxed with that answer.

“Do you have a car?” she asked.

He shook his head no. “Well, I’ll
take you out there, and when you want to go back to the hotel, call them; I’m
sure one of the guys will pick you up.”

Patrick nodded. The ride in her car
seemed to take forever. With each passing tree, Patrick knew he was falling
down a rabbit hole. When she drove up to the one level shack, he stepped out
and found his shoes in dust and dirt.

“Mr. Cunningham, take a look around.
Remember, when you are ready to go back to the hotel, just give them a call,
and they’ll come get you.”

He watched her drive away; a cloud of
dust obscured the view. By the time it settled, her truck was gone.  

“Wow, this is a pretty low point,
Patty,” he said to no one in particular. He walked to the house and turned the
knob. It was open. Why did he think otherwise? It looked like something right off
one of those TV shows where a man lives in the wild. The place looked clean, considering
the location. Patrick found a switch, and when he flicked it, there was light.
He was too tired from the day. He would look around in the morning. For now, he
saw the couch and laid down.

He’d start trying to figure this out in the

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