Simple Secrets (The Harmony Series 1)
stepped inside. Unlike Joyce’s store, there weren’t any customers standing around. In fact, Sam and I were the only ones. My first impression was that there wasn’t anyone at all in the store. Then a man came from behind the meat counter. He was tall and slender, probably in his early thirties. His long, aquiline nose and dark eyes enhanced his wellsculpted good looks and tanned skin. Longish black hair only added to his overall attractiveness. I felt my mouth go a little dry.
    “Hello, Sam,” he said in rich, deep tones. “What do you want here?”
    “John,” Sam said, acknowledging the man with a nod. “This is Grace Temple, Benjamin Temple’s niece.”
    “Hello,” I said slowly. The tension between the two men was palpable. What was this about?
    John wiped his hands on the white apron he wore over jeans and a dark blue shirt. He stuck out his right hand, and I took it. He held it a little longer than was necessary, but I didn’t pull it away. His eyes locked on mine and for a moment I felt transfixed. A door slammed behind us, breaking the moment.
    “Well, here you two are. I was beginning to wonder if you’d left town.” Mary sashayed up next to us, a fake smile plastered on her pretty face. Before Sam or I had a chance to respond, she turned her full attention to John.
    “I need some ground chuck and twelve rib eyes for tonight, good lookin.’ Is that possible?”
    He spread his arms apart. “Anything for you, gorgeous.” He whirled around and disappeared through a door behind his counters.
    “So, Gracie. Have you met everyone in town yet?”
    “Of course she hasn’t, Mary,” Sam said in measured tones. “There are almost five hundred people living in Harmony. We couldn’t possibly meet all of them in a couple of hours.”
    Mary’s right eyebrow shot up. “Oh, has it only been two hours? Seems like much longer.”
    Frankly, I was getting tired of Mary’s jealous digs. “Maybe we should go, Sam. I’d like to take a nap sometime today. I didn’t sleep well last night.”
    “Sure. No problem.” He walked to the door and pushed it open, waiting for me to exit first. The door slammed loudly behind us.
    “Look, Sam,” I said when we were a few feet away. “I don’t want to be a source of contention between you and Mary. Maybe it would be better if we ... well, if you and I didn’t see each other again.”
    “No!” His explosive response startled me. He blew a deep breath out between clenched teeth. “I ... I should explain, I guess.” He pointed toward a bench in front of the meat market. “Let’s sit down a minute.”
    I lowered myself down on the bench and waited. After a little pacing, he finally sat down next to me.
    “Mary and I ... I mean ... We’re kind of engaged.”
    My mouth dropped open in surprise. “Kind of engaged? How can anyone be kind of engaged? Either you’re engaged or you’re not.”
    He hung his head and stared at the ground. “I don’t know how it happened. To this day, I swear I don’t remember asking her to marry me. But somehow she got the idea that I did. Now I don’t know how to get out of it. I—I don’t want to hurt her.”
    I let out an exasperated sigh. “You can’t marry someone because you don’t want to hurt her feelings. That’s ridiculous.”
    “I know, I know. I’ve been trying to fix this thing for months. But every time I even begin to bring up the subject, she starts crying and I back off.”
    I put my hand on his arm. “The longer you string her along, the worse it will be. You’ve got to tell her. Let her get on with her life.”
    “I know. I know you’re right.” He put his hand over mine and looked into my eyes. “Thanks.”
    “You’re welcome.” I pulled my hand away, my own words ringing in my ears. In two weeks I would be gone. It wasn’t fair to either one of us for me to allow feelings to build up between us. Of course, maybe Sam wasn’t interested in me at all, but when I looked in his eyes, I could

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