Happily This Christmas (Happily Inc #6) by Susan Mallery



            It was a lot of pressure to put on chocolate chip cookies.

            She slid in two more cookie sheets, reset the timer and had nearly moved all the baked cookies to a cooling rack when the doorbell rang.

            Wynn walked through the living room and pulled open the front door only to find Garrick on her front porch.

            He wasn’t in uniform—instead, he had on jeans and a T-shirt. As usual, his mouth was curved up in a smile that left her a little breathless.

            “Hi, Wynn,” he said, his voice low and sexy—although that could have been wishful thinking on her part. “Do you have a second?”

            “Sure.”

            She stepped back to let him in, wondering what on earth was happening. She’d just been thinking about him, and here he was. Weirder still, even though they’d been neighbors for a year, they’d never exchanged much more than a few passing comments, greeting each other and mentioning the weather. They’d certainly never been in each other’s houses.

            “I’m baking cookies and I need to get them on a cooling rack,” she said, leading the way into the kitchen. “What’s up?”

            “I need your advice.”

            “Sure. I’m good at giving advice.” She glanced at him as he slid onto one of the stools at the island in the center of her kitchen. “People are less good about taking it.”

            “Tell me about it.” He eyed the cookies. “May I?”

            “Help yourself, but be careful. They’re hot.”

            He took one and blew on it before taking a bite. His eyes half closed as he chewed.

            “Perfect,” he told her, looking at her. “You’re a great cook.”

            “Thanks.”

            Despite the relatively ordinary conversation, everything about the moment was surreal. Him sitting in her kitchen, them talking, all of it. Not that she minded his presence. Her kitchen didn’t host many men, not counting service guys doing things like fixing her dishwasher and unclogging her sink, and the change was nice. Plus she couldn’t help feeling she was being given the perfect opportunity to try one of the conversational threads she’d been practicing, where she mentioned them maybe, possibly, going out sometime.

            “Joylyn’s going to be moving in with me,” he said, taking a second cookie. “It’s going to be a new experience for me.” He glanced at her. “We’ve never lived together before—not full time. There have been plenty of weekends and vacations, but this will be different. I want to make sure the house is comfortable for her.”

            Joylyn? Who was Joylyn and why was she moving in?

            Even as the questions formed, the obvious answer popped into her rattled brain. He had a girlfriend. Of course he did. She’d been telling herself that two years after her last relationship ended she was ready to find someone new, and Garrick was about to have Joylyn move in. How perfect.

            “I think I have the right furniture,” he said. “It’s the other stuff I need help with. Making the house seem...” He paused, as if searching for the right word. “Cozy.”

            Her mind went blank. Totally and completely blank.

            “Cozy?”

            Had he really just said that word? It didn’t seem very Garrick-like, but then what did she know about anything? She’d never suspected there was a Joylyn, which pretty much confirmed the whole her being an idiot thing.