Jennifer lives in Arizona where she writes escapist fiction she calls “Cotton Candy for the Soul.”
He needs this job to honor his late wife.
Â She needs to complete her late fiancÃ©â€™s bucket list to be free.
Former action-movie star Chet has counted the days since he lost his wife last New Yearâ€™s Eve almost a year ago. When heâ€™s given a shot at starring in a reboot of her favorite TV show, he jumps at it. But thereâ€™s a catch: the producers wonâ€™t hire him unless he can prove heâ€™s regained emotional stabilityâ€”by bringing a steady girlfriend to his five auditions.
Which means: five mandatory dates for this bereft widower.
Social worker Holly lost her fiancÃ© to war. With his good life snuffed out too soon, she feels compelled to finish his bucket list of unselfish deeds. But four years later, several remain, and theyâ€™re ridiculously impossible. Until she accomplishes her soldierâ€™s dreams, she canâ€™t even consider moving on with her life.
When they meet on the beach at Getaway Bay, what she doesnâ€™t know is homeless-looking mourner Chet is actually Colt Winchester, screen star and fashion icon. What he doesnâ€™t know is that heâ€™s a means to an end.
When their walls start to crumble on their Christmas season dates, can these two find love again, or will they forever be chasing ghosts?”
â€œExcuse me.â€ A server approached with a silver platter covered with frosted sugar cookies. â€œWould you care for a cookie?â€
â€œWho says no to a sugar cookie?â€ Holly took twoâ€”a star and a snowman. â€œThank you.â€ One bite of the starâ€™s vanilla-almond buttercream frosting sent her mouth into ecstasy.
â€œThese are good,â€ Chet ate his green-frosted Christmas tree in two bites.
â€œDid you try the snowman?â€ The frosting of her second cookie melted into a sweet coconutty heaven on her tongue. â€œMmm. Itâ€™s childhood in a sugary bite.â€
â€œDo you bake?â€ He spoke through a mouthful. â€œMmm. Cookies are love.â€
Chet caught Holly off guard. He hadnâ€™t seemed like the type to make such a tender analogy.
â€œAh, sometimes. And youâ€™re right. Especially sugar cookies. They require so many steps I always just buy them.â€ She never made them. Not even for Rick. â€œThe only thing that could motivate a person to make them is love of the recipients of the cookies.â€
â€œThat,â€ Chet said, â€œor a deep love of sugar cookies.â€
â€œGluttony could also be a motivator.â€
â€œWhereâ€™s that platter? We should get more of those.â€ Spoken like a true hungry person.
Holly had never experienced true hunger, at least not physical hunger. Maybe Chet needed more cookies.
â€œIf we walk around, we might run into the sugar cookie person again.â€ Or someone with another kind of food, if Chet needed it. However, tonight, Chet seemed a lot less like a guy who needed to fish to feed himself than he had the other day.
They walked toward a table with chairs and sat down. Chet reached across the table and took her by both hands. â€œI thinkÂ girlfriendÂ is right for now.â€
Girlfriend. Holly stared down at their clasped hands atop the green velvet tablecloth. His were rough, like theyâ€™d held a fishing rod in the sun for a lot of hours, day after day. Sheâ€™d seen him on the shore.
â€œSo that makes you my boyfriend.â€ The word sounded younger than she felt. The last four years had aged her. Against her collarbone, Rickâ€™s unused wedding ring heated up again. â€œYou work fast.â€
Tags: adult, adults, adventure, Arizona, clean reading, clean romance, Contemporary Romance, Cotton Candy for the Soul, fiction, friendship, Jennifer, Jennifer Criffith, love, love story, pre-teens, romance, sweet romance, teens, ya, Ya fantasy, YA romance, young Adult, young adult book, young adults