Brinley Delvaux loves to bake tempting treats that can change people’s lives. But when he moves to a quaint seaside town in order to alter his own, the last complication he needs is falling for Jack Brewer, a man whose sudden appearance messes up Brinley’s timetable to renovate the old Holberton place, as well as his plans for a quiet future.
Worse, Jack is a normal human, whereas Brinley is one of the Gifted, with powers most people cannot comprehend and which Brinley isn’t at liberty to share. Spending time with Jack is potentially dangerous for at least one of them, and Brinley’s seeking a quiet future separate from his past with the Gifted community.
There’s only one answer ... to use his powers to solve the problem of Jack. Aside from some personal trauma, what could possibly go wrong?
"So, you’re Mister Delvaux.” Sounded more like Jack took the declaration on board than questioned the fact. “The mystery purchaser.”
“Yes. And you are?” Not as he wanted more details, but knowing as much about this man as possible might prove useful if Jack became a real problem.
A defensive expression passed over Jack’s face. “Jack ... Brewer.” The slight hesitation didn’t pass Brinley by, though he didn’t know what to make of it, or the way Jack scanned the room again. The man still seemed unhappy, and about something more than Brinley skipping out, or leaving him a biscuit. “So, you’re opening a bakery?”
An attempt to change the subject? That suited Brinley. “Of a sort. Selective goods, one might say. All sweet. No savoury. At least, not right away.” Locals might want more variety, but once they tried his sweets, he doubted it. “I don’t intend to compete with any local pasty bakers.”
“Think you’ve picked the right spot? I mean, this is mostly a holiday crowd. They’ll be on the lookout for pasties, sausage rolls, chips. Fudge. They eat their share of cakes and cream teas --”
“No cream teas here,” Brinley declared, the reason he volunteered the information beyond him. “Only cakes. Cookies. Specialties. But trust me, the holiday crowd won’t resist. Neither will those in this parish.”
“So, you’re actually moving in? To work and live.” Gaze flicking over the ceiling, down to the windows, Jack appeared to absorb this information. He peered around, taking everything in. A confusing expression of regret appeared on his face. “I didn’t think the kitchen here would --”
“I’m changing all that. Changing everything.”
Jack took to nodding, slipping his hands into the back pockets of his jeans, hands pressed against the luscious curve of his arse cheeks. An unwanted shiver passed through Brinley.
“Still, it’ll take time. Cost a lot.”
“Jack, what’s truly going on here?”
Colour infused Jack’s face, though Brinley couldn’t tell if the cause was embarrassment or anger.
“What do you mean?”
“The fact we’re here is a surprise to us both, but you seem angry with me. I’m sorry if you expected me to stick around to wake you with a kiss ...” Though he wouldn’t have minded doing so, he couldn’t take the risk. Romance with the non-Gifted didn’t mix. Brinley gave himself a mental kick, finishing with, “I’m not the sort to pause long enough to lay roses on pillows.”
“No, only cookies on tables.” Jack grinned, but the gesture didn’t stretch to his eyes, his tone a blend of disgust and annoyance.
“But why are you here at all? Why wander on in here? Can’t be a coincidence. Either you learned I arrived, though I can’t imagine how, or ...” A flash of insight came to him. “You’re interested in the building.”
Jack’s eyes narrowed. He made chewing movements with his jaw. His hands, removed from his pockets, fisted. Long seconds stretched out, calculations speeding through Jack’s eyes, until he apparently settled on being honest. “You beat my bid. I stopped by to check who took the house, which should rightfully be mine.”
“What on earth are you talking about?”
“I bid on this place.”
“As did others.” Scanning the auctions, Brinley had spotted this building in an ideal location. “Anyone might have outbid you.”
“But you did. You’re the one. An anonymous bidder. On the phone.”
“I couldn’t get down here on time. I needed an agent to --”
“I put in the second highest. The most I could afford. You put in a jump no one could outbid. More than the place is worth refurbished.”
Jack sounded accusing and perhaps with reason, but his antagonism struck Brinley as excessive, not merely a pissed local angry with someone from outside coming in and taking over the place. This showed all the signs of something personal.
“It’s not listed as a commercial property,” Jack added. “So how you got by regulations --”
“The building was once a business venture. Many years ago, when first built. Because someone once used the premises for trade, planning gave the okay. How did you not know?”
Jack blinked, a frown and twitches running over his face. “I wanted this house for a home. Maybe to create an annex to rent to help finance the running. Not as ... as ...”
“As what, Jack? What’s so wrong with a bakery?” Not that his place would be any old bakery. “Once used as an apothecary, this is ideal for my needs.” Out back, a large apothecary cabinet covered one wall, a fine antique Brinley fully intended to utilise for his own supplies, the multiple drawer unit part of the house’s charm.
“You wouldn’t understand.”