Hello romance readers!
I’m so elated that the official release day of The Sweetest Kiss is finally here. Tiffani Chase-Lake is one of my favorite heroines. I admire her ambition and strength to follow her dream of opening her own bakery, despite the fact that she lost her husband at a young age and now has to raise her son without his father. Of course, she has a weakness: the suave business mogul, Broderick Hollingsworth.
When I created Tiffani, I wanted her to be unwavering in her decision to never marry again. However, she’s all for an “in the moment” relationship because, well…a woman has needs, and she figures Broderick is the perfect man to fulfill them. What she didn’t factor in was that their first kiss was the sweetest kiss Broderick had ever experienced, and now he intends to make her his forever.
I hope you enjoy reading Tiffani and Broderick’s sweet yet fiery romance! As always, chapter one is below along with the buy links. Happy reading!
Luscious, tantalizing, delectable…and that’s just Tiffani Chase-Lake’s cupcakes. The moment Broderick Hollingsworth sets eyes on the adorable baker herself, he’s truly intrigued. For the first time, the wary real estate developer is ready to open up to someone. Then he realizes that his next business deal is going to leave Tiffani and her cozy bakery high and dry…
Just as hardworking single mom Tiffani is falling for Broderick’s easy charm, she learns about the property deal that will destroy her business. Even her most decadent dessert can’t eclipse the bitter taste of betrayal. Tiffani’s livelihood and her independence are on the line. Walking away from their sensual chemistry won’t be easy—but is trusting him a recipe for heartache?
“Strong from start to finish, the novel features heated lovemaking, rich dialogue, and strong main and supporting characters.” RT Book Reviews 4 out of 4 1/2 stars review on The Sweetest Kiss
Glancing at his Rolex for the fifth time, Broderick Hollingsworth scanned the ballroom of the Pinnacle Boutique Hotel. White and purple roses overflowed from tall gold vases on the dinner tables as guests mingled, ate braised lamb and sipped on champagne while wearing their finest after-five attire. Weddings had never been his forte and he didn’t even know why he’d RSVP’d to attend in the first place. He didn’t necessarily consider himself a friend of the groom, who was his attorney and sometimes golf partner. Bryce Monroe apparently deemed him more than just a business associate, though, because the invite had stated it was an intimate affair for close family and friends. There were about one hundred and fifty or so people seated around twenty round tables waiting for the bride and groom to make their grand entrance as husband and wife. Everyone seemed to know everyone except him, but it didn’t bother him. He saw a few familiar faces, all people he’d had business dealings with. He was somewhat of a loner at social events such as weddings and in life in general. However, he was seated at a table with another golf buddy and they’d made small talk while they waited.
Broderick needed to leave for another event, but his attention gravitated toward the bridal party seated at the front of the room. One of the bridesmaids he’d spotted during the ceremony had to be the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes on. He’d noticed something elegant and classy about her as she’d glided like a graceful princess down the aisle. The memory of her clutchable hips swaying like a cool breeze in a fitted purple dress that hugged her tantalizing body like a glove was etched into his brain. He’d been so in awe of her during the ceremony that he hadn’t realized it was over until he heard laughter and clapping around him. He’d stood to join in the cheers but never released his eyes from her delicate, beaming face.
Now Broderick was mesmerized once more as her flawless skin shimmered under the vast chandeliers of the ballroom. Her thick, waist-length hair was swept over her right shoulder in flowing curls showcasing her sculptured cheekbones on her alluring face. He did a customary glance of her left hand and was relieved to see no wedding ring. However, she was much too sexy and exquisite to not have a man in her life. He briefly perused the room but didn’t notice anyone else staring in her direction. Some of the men were seated with their significant others. A few of the single ones he knew were cousins of the groom, but the other handful he wasn’t sure about. Heck, for all he knew she could be dating his colleague next to him, though he doubted it.
Broderick continued watching her chat and laugh with one of the bridesmaids, not once realizing that he couldn’t tear his gaze away. Even as his business associate conversed about the stock market rates of the day—which normally would have his full attention—he was focused on the breathtaking bridesmaid and her luscious lips. Lips like hers needed to be kissed and caressed gently at first to savor their warmth and to listen to her soft moans before crashing further into her mouth with fervor. Her moans would undoubtedly increase from the intensity of being under his command. He took a sip of his brandy while his thoughts carried him to a place of drawing her to him and tasting her divine, sweet mouth. His tongue lingered on the warmth of the liquor as he imagined doing the same to her succulent lips.
The wedding coordinator’s announcement of the newlyweds entering the room jerked Broderick from his daydream as everyone stood and yelled as Bryce and his wife, Sydney, zoomed into the middle of the dance floor on a Harley. Broderick wasn’t surprised—the newlyweds both loved motorcycles and owned several.
Once the excitement died down, he was tempted to stride over to the lovely woman who had filled his thoughts for the last hour. Unfortunately, a quick swipe of her cell phone from the table and a grimace on her adorable face had her slipping out of a side door in a flash.
He returned his attention to his colleague, who still yammered on about the stock market without realizing Broderick hadn’t heard a single word.
“So are you considering taking your money out of Swanson Technologies?”
Broderick pondered for a moment and sipped the rest of his drink. “I’ll have my stockbroker look over everything before making a decision. It’s the weekend, Dave. Let’s just enjoy the moment.”
Dave scanned his face with puzzlement. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say anything like that before. Ever.”
Grabbing his empty plate, Broderick shrugged and stood. “I don’t talk about business all the time.” He knew that was a lie. As a real estate developer and investor in Atlanta, making more millions was the only thought on his mind. He owned a lot of property in Georgia and the surrounding states, including a percentage of the hotel he was currently standing in. However, staring at the dazzling woman had clouded his brain. He quickly shrugged it off as he made his way to the dessert table, which was laden with tiers of assorted cupcakes. A woman like her would want more than just a fling. She’d want a real relationship that would eventually lead to a ring on her dainty finger, an extravagant wedding, children and cross-country vacations in a Winnebago. Maybe even a dog. No, that wasn’t on his agenda. At age thirty-seven, he knew he should consider settling down, though the thought irked him.
He reprimanded himself for even parading such ideas and reached out to grab a cupcake. Biting into it, he was impressed by the deliciousness of the caramel icing and took another bite.
“Mmm…this is delectable,” he said out loud, setting it on his plate and reaching for another one.
“Why thank you.”
A wicked grin lined his face as the angelic voice of a woman caressed his back like heat from the sun. Even though he’d never heard her speak before he knew it had to be the lady who’d caught his curiosity. He pivoted to stare, almost eye level with the tall, regal beauty who was even more intriguing up close. She wore a pleased smile that showcased a yummy dimple on her left cheek.
“You made these delicious cupcakes?”
She glanced at them before resting her cinnamon eyes on him once more. “Yes and the wedding cakes. The one you have is the same flavor as the groom’s motorcycle-shaped cake. I’m glad you like it.”
“Like is an understatement,” he paused, stepping closer to her and lowering his voice. “I love it.” He swished his tongue to the left corner of his mouth to lick off icing he felt.
He noted a slight gulp as she backed up a tad and turned toward the dessert table.
“Well, there’s plenty here for you to select from.”
“Mmm…yeah, but I prefer the caramel one. It’s quite mouthwatering.”
Running her fingers through the top tresses of her hair, she tried to squash a smile while biting her bottom lip.
Goodness she was sexy, but he could sense there was so much more to her than that, and he wanted…no, needed to know.
“I’m Broderick Hollingsworth, and if I had to guess I’d say your name is Angel.”
Releasing a cute giggle, she ran her fingers through her hair once more. “That’s very sweet, Mr. Hollingsworth, but it’s Tiffani Chase…umm Lake.” She stumbled on her words and shook her head as if she’d forgotten. “It’s hyphenated.”
He glanced at her ringless left hand. “You’re married?” he asked with disappointment, hoping that her husband wasn’t somewhere nearby watching their interaction and feeling ready to fight. Not that Broderick was scared. At six-feet-three inches and two hundred and ten pounds of all muscle, he feared no one; however, he would never disrespect anyone’s marriage. He decided to back up a few steps.
She waved her hands back and forth. “Oh…no…not anymore. My husband died a little over three years ago.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” he said, trying to sound as sincere as possible while moving to his original spot in front of her. A server with a tray of champagne flutes approached. Broderick took two and handed one to Tiffani.
Sipping the champagne, a faraway expression washed over her features. “Thank you. My family and friends have been a huge support. Plus, I have to stay strong and focused for my son, Keith Jr. He’s my only concern.”
Son? He had a rule to never date women with children, especially young children. He was spontaneous and didn’t want to deal with the hassle of a woman trying to secure a babysitter at the last minute or having to be back by a certain time. Then there were the other issues like she couldn’t spend the night at his house or he couldn’t stay over at hers. Or dealing with the fathers or meeting the child, who may or may not like him. However, there was something intriguing about Tiffani that had piqued his curiosity, and there were exceptions to every rule, especially those he made.
“How old is he?”
“KJ is eight. He was the ring bearer in the wedding.”
“Ah, I remembered him coming down the aisle, looking quite dapper in his tux.” Broderick glanced around the room. “Where is he?”
“Oh, I sent him home with the babysitter after the ceremony. I’ll be here late and didn’t want him up past his bedtime.”
“Makes sense. So, is baking a hobby for you?”
“At first. Now I own a bakery in the Dunwoody area. Cupcakes are my specialty, but I can make just about any dessert.” Setting the flute on the table, she opened her evening clutch and pulled out a sterling-silver business card case engraved with her initials. “Here’s my card.”
His hand brushed her dainty, French-manicured one as he took the pink card from her. Her skin was warm and he had the urge to travel his fingers along the rest of her. He cleared his throat and read the card before he acted on his thoughts.
“Sweet Treats.” Broderick pondered for a moment as he noticed the bride’s twin sister, who was also his interior decorator, wave in their direction. Apparently Tiffani was needed for something as she nodded and held up a finger to signal she’d be there in a moment.
“Before you go, I’m having a get-together for some business associates at my home next week. Can you make some of these delicious cupcakes for me?”
“Why, of course. My information is on the card including my website, which has a list of desserts and prices.”
“Great. I’ll have my secretary call you on Monday.”
Her face scrunched for a second but perked back up. Was she disappointed that he wouldn’t be the one calling? Making arrangements for events wasn’t something he typically did, but a jab pierced his heart for a moment when her lovely face saddened.
“I’m closed on Sunday and Mondays, but I’ll be there Monday morning preparing for an order.” She looked past him once more. “I have to go. It was a pleasure meeting you, Mr. Hollingsworth.” She rushed off before he could say goodbye. He watched her and the other bridesmaids hurry through the main entrance.
His cell phone vibrated in his pocket. Retrieving it, he read the text message on the screen. It was his business manager, Josh Powell reminding him of the networking social he was supposed to be attending that very moment. His intention had been to leave after the wedding ceremony, but that was before he’d laid eyes on Tiffani and wanted to see her once more. Luckily, the other event was only a few blocks up on Peachtree Road in the Buckhead district, and he sent a message back that he would be there in twenty minutes.
Broderick bid his goodbyes to the newlyweds and thanked them for inviting him. As he walked out of the ballroom, he spotted Tiffani heading back inside. He caught her eyes as she graced him with the sweetest smile a woman had given him since his mother had died. He put a little more pep in his step as he trekked to the valet stand. He knew he had to see Tiffani and her breathtaking smile again.
* * *
“So I noticed you were having an in-depth conversation with Broderick Hollingsworth. I almost hated to interrupt you,” Megan Chase-Monroe stated as she and Tiffani headed back to their seats at the bridal party table. “Is there a date in the near future? That was some smile you gave him.”
Plopping into a purple tulle-covered chair, Tiffani glanced at her baby cousin out the corner of her eye. “No. No date. He wants to order cupcakes for an event he’s having. That’s all.”
Megan scrunched her forehead and frowned. “Cupcakes for an event? Broderick is the last man on Earth who would care about ordering anything. He’s one of those millionaires who has a ton of staff at his beck and call. He’s sort of standoffish and serious most of the time. Everything is business with him. Perhaps he wanted your number, hence the ordering of the cupcakes,” she stated with a beaming face. Megan was the hopeless romantic of the family and wanted everyone to be in love and happy.
“He was definitely flirting with me but he was pleasant.” And so sexy, she added in her head. “He said his secretary would call. How do you know him?”
“He’s a real estate developer and investor. I’ve decorated a plethora of projects for him including his mansion and beach home.”
Tiffani nodded and tried to keep her focus on the bride and groom’s first dance, but her thoughts drifted back to the man whose charming smile nearly knocked her over when he turned around. She wasn’t expecting a handsome man with a commanding demeanor who outshined every other male in the room. He had a yummy, smooth, butterscotch-toned face with a neatly trimmed beard and mustache that surrounded his sexy lips. He’d had a little icing on the corner of his mouth and she’d had to restrain herself from reaching over and wiping it off…with her tongue. When he’d swished his tongue over, she’d nearly melted in a steaming puddle at his feet.
She couldn’t believe her thought process. Sure, she’d oohed and aahed over men, but they were famous men on the movie screen like Denzel Washington or George Clooney. Never in person to the point of blushing. Tiffani was almost certain her cheeks had turned a rosy pink, and more than likely he’d noticed. She was disappointed when she saw him leave and had hoped perhaps he was just stepping out for a moment. However, she’d glanced over her shoulder before going back into the ballroom to see him handing a slip to the valet.
“Can you believe Sydney actually changed out of her wedding dress and into a white leather jacket and pants?” Megan asked. “I had no idea she was going to do that.”
Megan’s question jolted Tiffani from her thoughts, and she was grateful. Daydreaming about a man she would never see again wasn’t on her agenda. No need in getting all hot and bothered for nothing. If he’d wanted to ask her out he would’ve. Apparently he wasn’t interested. Not that she was, but there was a mystery about him she found intriguing, especially now that she’d learned from Megan he was standoffish. He hadn’t exhibited that. Her experience with him had been quite the opposite.
“I don’t know why you’re surprised. Your twin zoomed in here on the back of a Harley. At least she still wore her veil and had her bouquet.”
“Almost time for the bouquet toss,” Megan sung in an upbeat manner.
Here we go again, Tiffani thought. At age thirty-two, she wasn’t in the mindset to concern herself with catching bouquets. Yes, she was single but, considering she never wanted to marry again, there wasn’t any point in rushing to the dance floor. Especially with a bunch of women who had the preconceived fairy-tale notion that they would be the next to marry if they were lucky enough to catch the bouquet.
“I’ll let the young single ladies who really want to get married claw over a bunch of roses.”
“Tiff, you’re still young. I know you continue to say that you don’t want to ever marry again, though you never know. You remember when Raven confided in us after her husband died that she was done with marriage? Well, now she’s happily married again. It can happen. You never know what is in store for you.”
Tiffani gazed out onto the floor as her cousin Raven Arrington-Phillips and her husband, Armand, danced. The DJ had just instructed that everyone join the bride and groom for the Electric Slide. True, her cousin had found love again after losing her husband, but their situations were completely different. Raven had been devastatingly heartbroken and never thought she could love again.
Annoyed with the topic, Tiffani sighed and turned toward Megan. “You know the real reason why I’ve decided not to, so let’s just drop it.”
Megan nodded and patted Tiffani’s hand. “Okay, end of discussion.”
Satisfied with her cousin’s answer, Tiffani excused herself to make sure everything was set for the cake cuttings. She already knew it was because she’d checked just before she had met Broderick, but she needed a moment alone. Being reminded of her marriage from hell was always a sore subject.
Later on that night, the conversation with Megan still lingered in Tiffani’s mind when she kissed her son’s forehead as he slept. Tiffani knew she meant well, but Megan wasn’t the one who had been married to a controlling as well as verbally and mentally abusive man. The thought of having to live through that again wasn’t a life she desired. She was at peace and happier than she’d been in a long time. Plus, the fact that a handsome man had flirted with her that evening reminded her that men still found her attractive. Although she never wanted to remarry, she wasn’t closed off from dating.
Retreating to her bedroom, she grabbed her laptop from under the bed and posted a few pictures she’d taken at the wedding and some selfies with KJ to her blog “My New Life.” She’d started it a year after her husband had passed. At first, the majority of her posts centered around fun yet inexpensive activities to do with children, hands-on lesson plans for elementary school teachers, how to save on grocery shopping and healthy recipes for the single mother. Once she’d stopped teaching third grade and opened her bakery five months ago, Tiffani began to discuss her transition into the small business world while still maintaining a structured balance for her son.
She smiled with pride at the huge grin on KJ’s face that matched hers before pressing Send. Shutting off the laptop, Tiffani set it on the nightstand next to the purple and white roses she’d carried in the wedding. Broderick Hollingsworth’s handsome face appeared in her mind. She shook her head with a smirk as she reached out to turn off the bedside lamp and slid under her down comforter. Laughing, she realized how ridiculous she was behaving over a man who probably hadn’t given her a second thought.