Gambling on Love (Stories of Serendipity #6)

Stories of Serendipity
Anne Conley's
Gambling on Love

Anne Conley
Text copyright © 2013 Anne Conley

License Notes

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This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was purchased for your use only, then please return and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Cover design by Vanessa Booke

Edited by Catherine DePasquale

Table of Contents
 Books by Anne 
(in order)

Neighborly Complications
Dream On
Chef's Delight
Hot Mess
Falling for Him
Gambling on Love

Acknowledgement

I
would like to thank all those who have supported me: my writing group, fellow authors and bloggers, and especially my family. Thank you all. Your kind words get me out of bed some mornings.

Dedication

T
his book is dedicated to my mom, who instilled in me a love for the written word at an incredibly early age. She has supported my writing endeavors from day one, read each and every story, rolled her eyes at the sex scenes, but still offered words of encouragement and love. Thanks, Mom. You’re the best. I know I don’t tell you that often enough.

Wanted: Someone to donate sperm the old-fashioned way, to create my child without emotional attachments. Must pass a health check. Must pass interview. Interested parties please meet at the McDonal Hotel at 11:00 am on March 1. If chosen, will need to pass a STD screen. Chosen applicant will be monetarily compensated upon positive pregnancy test.

Chapter 1

K
athy had to cancel a major pity party to do this, and she was pissed. The gallon of Blue Bell was still in her freezer, and
The Way We Were
was in the DVD player, ready to go, followed by
An Affair to Remember,
and two bottles of Chardonnay waited for her in the fridge. But no…Here she was, catering and out-door event in February, of all times. She just had to get through the Valentine’s Day from hell. Then she would truly deserve her party for one.

She should have just quit. Sure, she was indispensable. She was the acting manager now that Jessie was pregnant, and Connor wanted to take more time off for “family time.” Good for him.

But did he have to expand the business at the same time? Did Connor have to give her the reigns to the new catering branch of Estelle’s? Did he have to put her in charge of the first job? The soft opening for his brother’s new business? His brother Luke, her EX? On Valentine’s Day?

Ugh.

Racing around with her arms full of Sterno cans to keep the food warm, Kathy went from table to table to make sure each chafing dish had heat. The venue was spectacular, and she wouldn’t want any less for her first catering job in Serendipity. She had dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s, but when she got down to the heart of the matter, she wanted Luke’s business to fail.

Like their doomed relationship.

“Kathy!”

She turned at the voice, and Sterno cans slipped from her grip. If she bent to pick them up, more would fall. But she couldn’t leave them there. Thankfully, her friend Jessie saw the dilemma and stooped, with a grunt, to pick them up for her.

“I think this is going well, don’t you? Everything’s almost set up, right?” Jessie grabbed more cans from her arms, lightening the load and walked alongside her, distributing them to the tables.

“Yeah. As soon as the truck gets here from the restaurant with the food, we’ll be ready.”

“You look great, Kath. He’ll be so sorry he let you go.” Kathy rolled her eyes, disappointed she was so transparent. She’d told her hairstylist to make the highlights subtle. Of course she wanted to look good. Luke would be here, and she knew what he liked. She needed him to see what he had given up. Besides, she couldn’t let him see how dull and lifeless her hair had become, nor the bags under eyes from lack of sleep. She couldn’t do much about the lost weight or the perma-red that rimmed her eyeballs, but a girl can’t fix everything, can she?

Her friend Jessie’s tall frame showed off a small volleyball under her maternity dress, with long, blonde hair piled on top of her head in an elegantly messy quaff. Kathy’s heart sank to see another scheme playing behind the decidedly mischievous glint in Jessie’s eyes. Great. Another plot for her happiness. Never mind that Kathy had plainly told everybody that nothing short of a baby of her own would bring her happiness.

“What’s going on, Jess?”

Jessie’s eyes rose to the sky, as she said, “Oh, nothing. Just excited about this new venture. I think it’s really great, don’t you?” The upturned corners of Jessie’s mouth told a different story, and Kathy looked at her friend though narrowed eyes.

“I guess.” All Kathy could think about was Chardonnay in her fridge, calling out to her, as if she were Alice in Wonderland,
drink me
.

They finished with the cans just as the truck got there, and Kathy left to direct the high school kids they’d hired to help. Eager to please, they worked diligently under her direction, and everything was set up efficiently. She turned to survey the scenery.

They were set up on a picturesque acre of Jessie’s property. Apparently, Luke had bought a couple of adjoining acres for his Nursery business. The food tables were laid out on one side, with tables for eating on the other, with a small stage and microphone set up for speeches. It was essentially a pasture, but there was a rolling, wood-covered hill behind the flat open space, and the effect was spectacular. She didn’t do much decorating, allowing the scenic area to do most of the work.

Connor had said that Luke wanted to capitalize on the date, Valentine’s Day, by making the setting look romantic. Kathy snorted inwardly at the thought. Did he realize she was the one that was having to do all this? Make
his
special day romantic? She had pulled on her big girl panties and gotten the job done, making it look more like a wedding reception than a gathering for business people, because the customer, who in this case was her boss’s brother, was always right.

She had used red and white tulle fabric on everything, turning it into a fluffy red extravaganza. Twinkly lights, layed out underneath organza on the table runners, provided a romantic table setting. She’d even put fresh-cut roses on each place setting, all tied with a pretty white ribbon. Chocolate covered strawberries, decorated with sparkly sprinkles, adorned the tables as well. All in all, it looked good for an outdoor event in a pasture, if she did say so herself.

Kathy had been dubious about holding an outdoor event, as weather in Texas was so unpredictable, but so far, they were blessed with fabulous weather. Even for February. It was a little chilly, but nothing a sweater couldn’t conquer, and there was no wind to worry about.

She could see over the fence line, where Luke was setting up greenhouses on his property. Wire-framed arches modeled after Jessie’s greenhouse, were lined up in rows. An unwelcome memory flashed through her mind, completely unbidden. Jessie’s greenhouse was where he’d first told her of his idea to start a nursery.

They had been walking around the property, Kathy pointing out the things that Jessie wanted done to her property before her big open house: gutters, mowing, flowerbed work, rotting wood, and paint. She tried to embellish the list, to keep him around longer, because she knew that when the job was over, he would be going back to Houston.

His home.

She finagled a way to get him inside the greenhouse, showing him some wooden tables that needed to be replaced. He’d run his work-roughened hands over the grain, thoughtfully.

“I wouldn’t mind running a nursery someday. Working with plants. It seems like a pretty good gig. Digging around in the dirt all day, potting them up really pretty to sell.”

They’d talked about it then, his need for start-up capital to start a venture like that. Something to save towards. She’d been hopeful that he’d want to move someplace where it would be easier, like Serendipity, where real estate was cheap and the climate was good.

Eventually, like every conversation they’d had at that stage in their relationship, they’d kissed. He’d pushed her up against the table with his hard body, and she’d tried a trick she’s read about in Cosmo.

Shaking herself out of it, Kathy took a fortifying breath and walked back to the tables to make sure everything was ready to go. She needed to prepare herself for the encounter she was sure would take place. She wasn’t going to be able to leave without speaking to him, no matter how hard she tried.

Luke paced nervously, hiding behind the truck like a titty-baby. His mind was re-living the same memory.

Inside the greenhouse, he pushed her hot little body against
a wooden table filled with tomato plants, tasting the warmth of her lips. This woman did things to him no other woman had done. Ever. He held his control on a tenuous thread with her. She made him hard just by him looking at her, and he knew, when he managed to get her in bed, it wouldn’t be enough. Luke thought about her constantly, relived every kiss until the next one.

Pressing himself against her, Luke’s hands traveled to her backside, kneading the flesh there. He reveled in the moans and gasps he swallowed from her mouth. He broke the kiss, looking up and taking a deep breath, hoping to regain a sense of control. He reeled around her, unable to focus on anything besides getting her body against his.

“I don’t ever want to go home.” He mumbled against her mouth, unwilling to break contact. Her mouth hadn’t stopped moving, tasting his neck with wet, open-mouthed kisses. He shivered as goosebumps rose on his skin where her mouth had been.

“Then don’t. Stay here.” She tongued the hollow in his neck, as she pulled at his shirt, getting her hands on his chest. Her fingernails tickled, and Luke tried to grasp her greedy little hands as they wandered across the planes of his chest. He was tempted to stay here with her. But it was Serendipity. Podunk, USA. He liked the city, with all of its distractions. This place only had one grocery store, for fuck’s sake. And fourteen churches.

He looked down at Kathy, to see she had squatted on her heels, kissing his stomach now.

Oh shit. What was this woman doing to him?

Her hands on the button of his jeans, she undid it, and his cock sprang free, accompanied by a low murmur of approval from Kathy before she took him in her mouth. A hiss of air escaped from Luke, as the warm wetness encased his cock. It was like putting his dick inside of a warm cloud. Instinctively, his hand went straight to her pony tail, and he had to restrain from moving her head deeper over him. She did something to the inside of her throat, and pushed herself on him until he couldn’t see anything but her mouth up against the base of his cock. Jeeee-sus. That was the hottest thing he’d ever looked at.

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