Thirty-four-year-old meteorologist Sandford “Sand” Oliver of Radar, Pennsylvania, is having a problem finding a husband. To warm up Sand’s dreary life, Kat Shaw, his best friend of forever, sets up brunch between Sand and the adorable, sexy, and famous pastry chef, Ben Cutter.
Ben is not in Sand’s league, though. Not only has Ben written best-selling pastry cookbooks, but he just happens to have his own television baking show called Sugaring Ben.
During their brunch, the two men hit it off rather well and find each other attractive. After a few more dates and a business trip with Ben to Pittsburgh, Sand realizes the pastry chef is perfect, and definitely a possible candidate as husband material.
No one is perfect, though, including Ben Cutter. Somehow, in some way, the man is flawed. Sand doesn’t know what the flaw is, but when he finds out, will his happy world with Ben crumble? Or will a teaspoon of sugar be enough to make their relationship work?
The low temperature mixed with wind from the northwest told me that Ben was right, we had to go inside because it was too cold and we would freeze to death in just a short period of time. Over my shoulder, while walking to the house, I called out, “Let’s get this done and over with!”
“You make it sound like a chore.”
“Call it what you want.” I admitted to myself that it maybe was a chore: escorting him inside, feeding him a shot of something warm, and patting his ass and sending him on his way. I don’t think I could have made it anymore clear to let him know that I didn’t want a boyfriend.
Once inside my kitchen I poured us shots of bourbon. While leaning into the kitchen counter, he made the toast, “To a new friendship.”
The bourbon was smooth, warm, and flavorful, but not my favorite in a closet of many liquors to choose from. Vodka soothed my soul on many occasions, but not too much, which proved that I wasn’t an alcoholic.
Following his shot, he placed his shot glass on the counter upside down and said, “Enough for me.”
I was a little stunned to hear that he didn’t want a second one.
“Before leaving, though, I want to know something, Sand.”
I poured myself a second shot, which I could since I was the owner of the house, and the guy who made all the rules of the house. “What do you want to know?”
“Do you like me or not?”
I nodded. “Of course. You’re a nice guy. Why would you think otherwise?”
He ignored my question and asked his own, “Do you find me attractive?”
No. I didn’t. I thought him one of the most beautiful men on the planet, inside and out, which was beyond attractive. But I didn’t want to tell him that, keeping it to myself. Instead, I replied with, “You’re a good looking man.”
“Just a good looking man? You don’t see anything else about me?”
“What else do you want me to see?” I asked, raising my shoulders and squinting at him in a confused action.
He moved closer to me, touched the tip of my nose to his, brushed fingers along my left cheek, and inhaled my scent. “I’m not really sure. What do you want to see?” His other hand fell to my center and fingers gently pressed against my stomach.
“Ben, are you flirting with me?”
“I wouldn’t necessarily call it flirting. It’s more like just getting-to-know-you a little bit more, part two.”
I wanted to tell him not to stand so close to me because the last thing I wanted was a boyfriend, but I felt at ease all the same with his frame next to my frame. “You’re toying with me. I swear, you’re trying to make me your puppet.”
“If that were so, you’d be the cutest puppet in Radar.”
How I felt, but shouldn’t have: easy next to him, drunk on his passion, or whatever game he had decided to carry out with me, lust-driven, feeling something erotic for the man, and deeply neurotic, because a wave of confusion came over me, with a strong sense of carelessness.
How I should have felt, but didn’t: distanced from Ben Cutter, unable to have his breath meet with my own, unreactive to him, uneasy and without any feeling for the man whatsoever.
“Sand Oliver, I’m catching you, and maybe you don’t even realize it.” He leaned into me, brushed his lips against mine, pulled away, and added, “I realize I’m a whirlwind in your life, but maybe that’s what you want and need. What do you say?”
What I said, “I don’t know what’s going on between us. Catching. Pitching. I’m just not really sure.”
He kissed me again.
I kissed him back that time.
And before I comprehended the moment, playing by his rules, whatever they entailed, I didn’t listen to my head, and heart, and escorted him through the house, upstairs, and closed the both of us in my bedroom.