Perfect Contradiction
of the baby’s bassinet.
    “Sounds delicious, ma’am,” he said with a grin.
    “Mr. Sharp…”
    He shook his head. “It weighs nothin’ and I won’t rest easy thinking you’ll be lifting it down these stairs, so might as well not argue.” His eyes never left mine. There was no argument to be made there.
    “Alrighty then, but you can stop calling me ma’am and start calling me Jen,” I said in a huff as I kept moving down the stairs. “And you be sure to knock your boots off before you enter the house,” I threw in for good measure.
    “Yes ma’… will do, Jen,” he said. “I’d appreciate it if you’d call me Jackson as well,” he countered.
    I nodded my agreement. “That only seems fair,” I said. Jackson took the bassinet out to the back porch for me and then paid for his room. I got him a key and a fresh set of towels for his room.
    “Dinner will be at six. I didn’t make anything fancy seeing as how the inn is mostly empty this week, but if you need anything, feel free to ask or leave me a note downstairs. I’m usually here, though, so I doubt you’ll have a hard time findin’ me if ya need anything.”
    “Thank you, Jen. I’ll see you at dinner,” he said before heading out of the bakery with a smile playing on his lips.
    I used a bill on the counter to fan my face. It must have been a little warm in the house.


    Jackson Sharp had been stayin’ at the inn for almost a week when I realized how much I was enjoying his company. It was nice to have a guy around. We ate breakfast with each other each morning and dinner with each other each night. Each afternoon, he’d show up just about the time my second wave of bakin’ was finished and carry all my trays out to the bakery case for me. It was useless for me to argue with him. He would just grab a cherry hand pie when he was finished and say the fringe benefits are well worth it with a cocky grin and a wink.
    “I don’t know,” I said as I rubbed my hands together to keep them warm.
    “It’s pretty big,” Rachael said.
    I nodded. It was huge .
    “You said to get a nice tree.” Jackson waved a hand to the ginormous tree with a grin. “So, I got a nice tree.”
    “I don’t think it’ll fit,” I said seriously.
    Jackson scoffed and motioned for Rachael and me to get out of the way.
    “Watch and learn, darlin’,” he answered. I shook my head. Men were so stubborn. Jackson got the tree inside, situating near the piano and the front window. Rachael helped him hold it steady as he got it secured in place. Both of them wouldn’t let me even think about helping. I rolled my eyes and stood back, itching to do something.
    Once the tree was just perfect, according to Jackson and Rachael, we all went over to the other side of the room to see how it looked. I turned my head just enough to catch a glimpse of Jackson’s smile. Oh lordy, I was going to have to say it. I sighed and crossed my arms over my stomach.
    “Alright. You were right, Jackson Sharp. It’s perfect,” I admitted. Rachael was giggling, and Jackson had the good sense not to rub it in.
    “So, can we start decorating it?” Rachael asked. I smiled over at her and nodded. She squealed and ran to get the boxes we’d brought out of storage earlier in the day.
    “She is very excited to decorate that tree,” Jackson commented.
    I snorted.
    He glanced over with a questioning look. “What?” he asked. “What did I miss?”
    I smiled and walked over to sit down on the sofa where we’d put a huge container of popcorn to be strung for the tree. Jackson followed me and sat down. I shrugged.
    “If you think Rachael is excited about stringin’ popcorn and decorating that tree, you’ve got no clue,” I said as I began pushing popcorn kernels onto my needle and thread. Jackson picked up his own threaded needle and set to work as well. Stringing popcorn for that big a tree was going to take some time.
    “So, clue me in,” Jackson said near my shoulder. I stiffened

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