Seasoned with Love (Prosperity Ranch #4) - Heather B. Moore Page 0,1

is talking about closing down the bakery since her granddaughter ran off to San Antonio with that boy? I’ll bet she’d be willing to sell to you.”

“I’m not a baker, Mom,” Cara said. They’d had this conversation too many times to keep track of. “I’m a chef, and I cook for elite clientele. I’m not about to decorate birthday cakes or cater pigs-in-a-blanket for weddings.”

“I know, dear,” her mom cut in. “But you can bake and you’re excellent at it. Maybe you can find a happy medium in Prosper. You know, Harvey keeps asking after you.”

Cara tried not to laugh. Or groan. Or both.

“Mom, I need to go,” she said.

“I thought you had the night off?”

“I do, but there’s a lot to catch up on.”

This was why conversations were much better when her mom was in a rush to get somewhere. Not when Cara had a rare weeknight off, and so their conversation went into a deep rabbit hole. Just because most of her siblings were either married, engaged, or in a serious relationship, that didn’t mean Cara needed to join them.

Harvey had been her high school crush—then he’d dumped her. They’d both moved on. Harv had married the girl he’d dumped Cara for, and four years later, he was once again on the market. Divorced. No kids.

He was also a cowboy through and through, which Cara really had nothing against, but she’d gone to a high-end culinary school for a reason. She liked the challenge, she liked the competition, the creativity, and she wanted to rise to the top. And that wouldn’t happen in her small hometown of Prosper, even if most of her family was living there. Cara missed everyone, sure, but she wasn’t a kid anymore.

In her late twenties, she sometimes felt the hollowness of being on her own for so long. She’d dated off and on, but nothing had ever moved to a serious stage. Each time she’d received a wedding invitation to one of her girlfriends’ weddings, Cara would felt the prick that maybe she should be more social. Put herself out there. Hang out at the clubs after work. But really, she worked so late anyway, by the time she arrived at any club, those still lingering were the drunk and sloppy types.

And she wasn’t interested in being anyone’s designated driver.

So she was flying solo, and she was happy about it for the most part. She had a great apartment close to the beach, and her favorite thing to do was run along the shoreline as the sun rose each morning. Since that had to be pretty early, she often took a midafternoon cat nap. Then she was off to work around four p.m. and serving up culinary delights by five-thirty.

No single night was ever the same, and Cara loved the fast-paced work, the energy of the restaurant, and the high-brow clientele.

What she hadn’t told her mom was that she’d met Roman De Marco in person two weeks ago. He’d come in with a party of six, and when he’d asked to pay personal compliments to the chef, Cara had walked into the main restaurant area.

She’d found a table full of who’s who. She couldn’t have named all of them, but she’d seen them on the big screen. Roman De Marco was sitting at one end of the table next to a beautiful blonde woman. Cara herself was blonde, but she was more of a beachy, natural blonde, with a smattering of freckles. Whereas Mr. De Marco’s friend—date, girlfriend, whoever she was—had gorgeous, honey-colored skin, long, silky hair that rivaled any shampoo model’s, and dark, expressive brown eyes that had arrested millions on the big screen.

Mr. De Marco had been friendly and complimentary toward Cara’s cooking.

She’d felt so flushed at all the attention that she’d barely made eye contact with him. The entire time, she wanted to be back in the kitchen, sautéing something in her best cast-iron skillet. Cooking was her calming place.

When her boss told her about the invitation to Mr. De Marco’s Wyoming ranch for the holidays, Cara’s mind had raced in a hundred different directions. How was she going to deal with being around celebrities all week? It all came down to a few final thoughts—she needed to have everything planned and supremely organized, and she needed to stay in the kitchen as much as possible.

“THAT LOOKS SO DUMB!”

Roman rubbed the throbbing spot at his temple, then smiled at his six-year-old daughter. “Should we start over? Again?”

Mia scrunched her pert