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Stryker wandered over to the tree where he and Jess had their picnic. How could something that started so great, end up so badly? He shook his head. He’d left shortly after, and only returned today to see plans his architect had drawn up.
Jess had been on his mind from the moment he took her home. Afterward, he’d kicked himself. Then, John and Chris had piled on. They’d been right, of course. Seemed like he was never right anymore. Where was his head? Why couldn’t he figure things out?
Maybe because it wasn’t about dollars and cents, but about feelings and emotions. If there had been a class in that at Yale, he’d have flunked. He feared the only one glad to see him back in town was Laura Dailey.
“Stryker! Welcome back. You’re just in time for the corn festival. Having your usual?” she’d asked, adding half a teaspoon of sugar to his coffee. “Your table is free.”
He’d smiled and taken the seat he’d occupied every morning at the Cozy Cupcake during his stay in town. How could it feel so good to be back? This tiny hamlet, barely a blip on the map, had crept into his blood. Or was it Jess Lennox? As he sipped his brew, she came through the door, her arms loaded with pies.
When she saw him, she almost dropped the boxes. He’d rushed to help, putting two of the containers on the counter.
“What are you doing here?” she’d asked, her eyes brightening.
“Good to see you, too.”
“Sorry. It’s not that I’m not glad to see you. I am. Glad, I mean. I am glad. Not, not glad.”
“I get it,” he said.
“I didn’t think you were coming back.”
“Neither did I,” he replied.