Guest Post: Kimberly Ann, “Canadian Thanksgiving”

I would like to thank Ivy Whitaker for letting me take over the blog today. My name is Kimberly Ann and I’m a small town contemporary romance author from B.C., Canada.

My story, Canadian Thanksgiving, is part of my Logan Creek series. It follows Dyllan and Skylar Thompson as they wade their way through busy lives, demanding jobs, and being newlyweds that didn’t get off to the best start.

You can find more of their story in my novel, Canadian Spring. 

Thank you for joining me and I hope you enjoy!


Chapter One

Dyllan

The smell of burned sugar woke Dyllan Thompson from a restful sleep. He groaned as the early autumn sun streamed in through the window. “Too fucking early,” he spat as he threw his arm over his eyes, attempting to chase what was left of his very sexy dream starring his wife.

“Uggggggh!” Skylar’s frustrated voice echoed down the hall.

Deciding there was no way in hell he was getting any more rest, he dragged himself out of the comfort of his warm bed and threw on a pair of sweatpants. Staggering down the hallways, he followed the sound of his wife’s frustrated voice. Standing at the doorway to the kitchen, he dragged his hands down his face, trying to let his brain process what he was walking into.

Flour covered every inch of the countertop of their granite island. Muffin trays were haphazardly thrown in disarray over the stovetop and in the sink. Milk, eggs, and butter were spilled in front of a very unhappy Skylar.

“Babe, what are you doing?” Dyllan groaned, taking in the mess in front of him.

Skylar gasped as her eyes darted her eyes to his. “You weren’t supposed to see this.”

“And what is ‘this,’ exactly?” He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the doorframe, narrowing his eyes as she scrambled through the kitchen, hastily trying to tidy up.

“I was trying to make you muffins,” she replied, not looking at him as she funnelled the mess on the counter into the garbage can with her arm.

“I love you, but we both know baking isn’t your strong suit. What’s up?” Dyllan asked.

Skylar huffed, dropping her chin to her chest. “I know you like the pumpkin spice muffins Lila makes at the bakery, so I thought I would try making them for you. You know, like a good wife.”

Walking to her, he lifted her chin with his knuckles, raising her face to his. “Where’s all this coming from?”

“It’s just…” she sighed, her eyes darting away as they filled with tears before looking back at him. “I don’t know. Lila can bake the amazing treats you love. Kade is such a great wife and helps Brody run the farm and cidery. Mandy is just amazing at everything she does. What can I do? I can’t help you with your job. We don’t have a farm to run…”

“You have your wedding planning business, which you’ve single-handedly made the best in all of the Okanagan in a very short amount of time. How many times have you had to turn people away because you were booked? How many weekends have you had to go to Kelowna or Kamloops because people needed you to be their wedding planner?”

“But…” she started.

“No buts,” Dyllan silenced her by cupping her cheeks in his hands. “I don’t need you to bake, or run a farm, or do whatever it is Mandy does. I want you. Crazy, messy, burned muffins, and all.”

“Dyllan,” Skylar’s voice was laced with frustration as she blew out a deep breath, causing the hair that had escaped from her ponytail to fly up in the air. While he knew she wasn’t in the mood to hear it, he found it adorable.

“What do you say about a weekend just for us? No weddings. No town business. No meddlesome friends.”

“They aren’t meddlesome,” Skylar huffed.

“Have you met Travis?” Dyllan asked, raising an eyebrow at her. “My point is, we’ve been so busy lately that it’s been too long since we’ve taken some time just for us. What do you say, Mrs. Thompson?”

A smile cracked through her crestfallen expression. “I would love that.”

“Good.” He leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose. “Now go get in the shower and wash all this crap off you. I’ll clean up in here.”

“Who are you and what have you done to my husband?” Skylar placed her hands on her hips as she studied him.

Dyllan rolled his eyes. “Oh, please.”

“You must have some sort of ulterior motive, don’t you? There’s no way you’d willingly clean up this mess and take me out for the weekend. Not to mention you are shooing me out of the kitchen without any intention of joining me in the shower.” It was Skylar’s turn to raise her eyebrow at him.

“I’m not a complete asshole. I’m capable of being a decent human being,” he retorted.

“Oh, baby. I know. What I’m saying is, this isn’t like you. Have you been hanging out with Zach?” She reached up to feel his forehead with the back of her hand.

“No, Richardson has nothing to do with this,” he said, playfully smacking her hand away. “I just know you’ve been working hard, and we’ve barely been able to see each other. Is there anything wrong with wanting to spend some time with my wife?”

“No, I guess not.” Skylar’s voice lowered as she studied him. He didn’t know what she was searching for, but by the look on her face, she’d found it.

“Fine, I’ll go get in the shower. On one condition,” she added with a coy smile. “We get to stop for coffee,” she looked around him at the mess on the island before turning back to him, “and maybe breakfast?”

Dyllan laughed, slapping her on the ass with a stern “go” as she left the room. Breathing out a sigh, he looked around. “Maybe I should have just joined her and left this shit,” he mumbled to himself as he got to work.

Chapter Two

Skylar

Now that she was showered and dressed, the realization of the morning truly hit her. More than slightly embarrassed, she covered her face in her hands and let out an exasperated sigh. She didn’t know what had come over her, leading her to believe she could wake up before Dyllan and make him those muffins; but she’d been determined. When every attempt failed, she’d become increasingly more distressed.

Lila had made it sound so easy when she sent over her recipe—just some mixing and baking and poof pumpkin spice muffins. Instead, the first batch stayed in batter form, and the second batch burned like hockey pucks.

“Babe, you ready?” Dyllan yelled from the hallway.

“Yup, give me a sec.” Skylar pushed herself up from the bed and looked in the mirror. Dark circles rimmed her eyes, and her face was pale. She could feel she was on the verge of being burnt out, and she didn’t know what to do about it. It was true her wedding planning business had taken off so much she’d been able to hire another planner. She’d been able to train Carla to do things just as well as Skylar could. Carla had been a godsend; with her help, Skylar had been able to book multiple weddings on the same weekend. It was the backend of the business that left Skylar running on fumes—paying the bills, organizing schedules, making sure everything was where it should be at the right time. Never mind the weddings themselves. The travel, set up, appointments, bookings. It was a never-ending to-do list that ran for months.

Skylar missed being home with her husband. She missed her friends in Logan Creek. And in some irrational way she didn’t fully understand, she tried to make up for it with the freaking pumpkin spice muffins.

Grabbing a hoodie she’d stolen from Dyllan, she threw it on as she opened the bedroom door and stepped out into the hallway, colliding with a huge, solid chest.

“Really? My sweater?” Dyllan’s deep voice grumbled as he looked down at her.

“Yes. You know it’s my favourite.” Rolling her eyes as she walked past him as she headed into the kitchen to grab her purse. “So, I was thinking. We should leave our phones at home. Just enjoy the moment. Like you said, don’t worry about anything else around us.”

He raised an eyebrow at her and crossed his arms. “You are going to leave your phone at home?”

“Yes,” she answered, placing her hands on her hips. “I can disconnect, you know.”

“Sure, babydoll. Whatever you say,” he said with a smirk.

“What? I am! See!” Skylar picked up her phone and put it in the drawer, closing it harder than she’d intended.

“Okay, babe.” He smirked as he opened the drawer and added his phone. He leaned down and kissed on the nose. “Shall we get going?”

“Where are we going, exactly?” she asked as she threw her cross-body bag over her head and quickly followed him down the hall.

“Well, I know you’re into all the small-town tourist shit, so I thought I’d take you to see some of that,” Dyllan replied as he grabbed his keys off the hook by the door and threw on his black leather jacket.

Moments like this made it hard for Skylar to do anything other than stand in awe and marvel at just how sexy her husband was. His dark hair was getting longer than he normally kept it, creating a perfect flop to the side of his head, leading her straight to his deep brown eyes. The leather jacket stretched across his wide chest and back. She promised herself she would never grumble about him getting out of bed early to go to the gym ever again.

He turned and opened the front door to give her the perfect view of his denim clad ass. 

Yup, luckiest girl in the world. 

“Stop ogling me, woman, and get going. My offer to do this shit isn’t going to last long,” Dyllan grumbled as he walked out the door.

Chuckling to herself, she closed the door and locked it behind her. The crisp autumn air made her shiver, but she loved it. Skylar ran to the truck and smiled as she realized Dyllan had already started blasting the hot air, knowing her well enough to know she’d be shivering from the short walk from the door to the truck.

“You know, for a big, growly grumpy bear, you sure are sweet sometimes.” She chuckled as she pulled the seatbelt across her body.

Dyllan growled as he threw the truck into reverse and backed up their driveway. He didn’t say anything, but Skylar knew he loved doing this, but only for her. She was the only one that got to see this side of him, and she loved it.

“I can feel you smirking all the way over here,” he grunted as they drove into the heart of Logan Creek.

“I just love you,” she replied, beaming.

He glanced over at her, his handsome face softening as his eyes found hers. “I love you, too.”

“So, where’s our first stop?” she asked.

“No telling,” he muttered, making a left turn down Main Street. While her hometown of Vancouver was beautiful in its own right, it had nothing on Logan Creek. Skylar admired the trees along the road that had turned deep reds and oranges, the fallen leaves lining the sidewalk as people strolled by. Skylar thought about how this time last year she’d been living in the city and engaged to the man who had broken her heart. She might have thought that Adam was the love of her life, she never truly knew love until she’d been able to accept Dyllan, his growls and all.

“What kind of tour guide doesn’t let the guest know the itinerary?” Skylar joked.

“The one you married,” he said.

“Fine.” Sitting back in her seat, Skylar looked back out the window, seeing that most people were headed toward the town square. She’d heard there was a festival going on from her friends Kade Walker and Lila Langston. At the time, she didn’t think much of it because she’d been so busy. The only reason she wasn’t working at the moment was because it was Thanksgiving and only had one wedding. Carla had jumped at the chance to run it, making her wonder if maybe Dyllan had planned this for longer than he let on.

“We’re here,” he said as he pulled into a parking spot and turned off the truck. “Now, I said no meddlesome friends, but they’re going to be here. Don’t let them suck you into any dinners or events.” He narrowed his eyes at her as he spoke.

“Um, okay?” Confusion laced her words.

“I mean it, babydoll. You’re mine this weekend. Got it?”

“Got it.” Skylar couldn’t help the wide smile that crossed her face. She’d never get tired of hearing that she was his. Just the same as she loved every minute, knowing that he was hers. Their relationship may have started as a drunken night in Vegas, ending in an accidental wedding, but their time then had—mostly—been magical.

Skylar jumped out of the car and ran to the entrance to the square, taking in all the booths and attractions that filled the space. Locals from Logan Creek were selling their seasonal wares. A stage had been set up with someone singing an upbeat country tune. People walked around drinking coffee and eating delicious smelling treats. Her heart was full as she took in all the seasonal magic that surrounded her.

“Where to first?” Dyllan asked as he walked up next to her and took her hand in his.

“Coffee. Definitely coffee first,” she stated, going up on her tiptoes to look for the tent.

Dyllan chuckled. “Of course, babydoll. We wouldn’t want the people of Logan Creek to see what you’re like, uncaffeinated.”

She smacked him playfully on the chest, earning an overdramatic eye roll. “Hey, I’m not that bad.”

“Sure, tell it to the guy that has to deal with your grumpy ass in the morning,” he said with a smirk.

You’re calling me grumpy? That’s rich, Grumpy Bear.” She laughed.

Walking through the crowd hand-in-hand, he led her to a tent filled with their friends. “Skylar!” Lila yelled, running from behind the tent to give Skylar a hug. Noticing something shiny and furry on Lila’s head, Skylar pulled back a little as it hit her face. “What are you wearing?”

“Pumpkin pie headband!” her friend said excitedly. Do you love it?” The small blonde modelled her spring-loaded fabric pumpkin pies, two of them bouncing as she moved along with the whipped cream pompoms.

“They’re—something,” Skylar laughed.

Skylar was flooded with emotion, realizing just how much she missed not only her husband, but her friends, too. It’d been too long since she’d been able to have a proper girl’s night.

“It’s so good to see you,” Kade added, playfully pushing Lila out of the way to give Skylar a hug.

“I’ve missed you girls so much,” Lila said. Her eyes filled with tears as the impact of how much she’d missed them hit her.

“Uh oh, she needs coffee. Quick,” Dyllan said, wrapping his arm around her. To anyone else, it might have looked like he was being a jackass, but she knew it was his way of taking care of her.

“Here,” Lila said, thrusting a to-go cup at her. “PSL. Freshly brewed.”

“You’re a lifesaver,” Skylar said, taking a deep breath and letting the warm spices wash over her. Immediately, she felt herself calm. She took a sip, relishing in the comforting taste that she’d waited all year for.

“Better?” Dyllan asked, his voice a rumble in her ear sending shivers down that spine. She knew that tone. That tone meant that she’d done something that turned him on, and he was looking for the fastest way to getting her alone.

“Much better,” she said as she backed herself up against him, feeling just how much he enjoyed watching her drink her coffee.

Chapter Three

Dyllan

Dyllan couldn’t help but react to Skylar’s little moan and the way she closed her eyes and smiled as she took her first sip of her coffee. He was pretty sure she hadn’t even been aware that she’d done it, but he noticed.

It was only the start of their outing and he’d already been searching for places he could pull her off too, but as mayor of the town, he couldn’t risk getting caught, no matter how sexy she looked in his sweater drinking that sugary-ass shit excuse for coffee. But if it made Skylar happy, Dyllan would grin and bear it.

Maybe not grin. But he’d shut up and deal with it. 

“Hey, man. It’s good to see you!” Travis said as he walked up and slapped Dyllan on the back.

“Thompson,” Brody said with a nod of his cowboy hat.

“Did you two get dragged down here with your wives or are you selling some alcohol?” Dyllan asked, pointing the question at Brody and his apple cidery.

“I’ve got a tent up. Jacob’s running it right now,” Brody answered.

“Look at you, delegating. I’m so proud,” Travis said, attempting to pull Brody into a hug but found himself pushed aside.

“Fuck off, Langston,” Brody said, but Dyllan didn’t miss the hint of a smirk on Brody’s face.

“Now, boys. Get along,” Lila chuckled as she walked between the two overgrown children with a plate filled with pastries in her hand. “I have the strawberry rhubarb Danishes you guys like so much.”

“Score! Thanks, kitten,” Travis said as he grabbed one and stuffed it into his mouth.

“Thanks, Lila,” Brody said, picking one up and toasting her with it.

“You’re welcome, boys. There’s more where that came from if you promise to get along,” she joked.

“These jerks? Never.” Dyllan said, taking a pastry and offering it to Skylar. “Babe?”

“Aw, thanks,” she said, grabbing it and taking a bite. “Wow, Lila. Everything you make is delicious.”

Returning to Lila’s plate and grabbing a Danish for himself, he tried not to focus on his wife and the sexy sounds she made while eating. He’s going to have to have a talk with her again about making those noises around anyone other than him.

“So, then the whole kitchen was a mess. I promise, I followed all your directions. I don’t know what happened.” Skylar pouted as she took another bite of her Danish.

“Aw, honey. I don’t know but how about we find time and I’ll show you how to make them?” Lila said, putting her hand on Skylar’s arm. “Baking can be tricky. It’s not like cooking. Sometimes it has to be an exact science. I have to throw things out all the time when they don’t work. Don’t I, Kade?”

“Yup, it happens to Lila all the time,” Kade replied, walking up behind Lila and wrapping her arm around Brody’s waist. “And she won’t even let me try in the kitchen, so that shows how much faith she has in you.”

The group all laughed, knowing just how much Kade did not belong in the kitchen. She can do just about anything else for their business, Charmed Bakery, but doing the actual baking was not one of them.

“Well, that’s good, at least someone has faith in me then,” Skylar said sheepishly.

“I have faith in you, babydoll. I also know the tornado that I walked into this morning,” Dyllan added, earning him a poke in the ribs from Skylar.

“You guys never got back to me about Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Can we count you in? Mandy and Zach will be bringing the kids,” Kade said.

“What dinner?” Skylar asked, looking from Kade to Dyllan.

Dyllan cringed. “Yeah, about that.” He looked at his wife, rubbing the back of his neck. He purposely hadn’t mentioned it to Skylar because he’d wanted to keep her to himself all weekend. It might have been a jerk move, but he couldn’t help it. They’d both been so busy, he didn’t want to share her with anyone else.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” The hurt on his wife’s face made him feel even worse. He’d never meant to hurt her. 

He was just a selfish bastard.

“I’m sorry I didn’t mention it. I was hoping this weekend could just be us.”

“So that’s why you mentioned not having any meddlesome friends around,” Skylar chuckled. 

“Hey,” Lila and Travis said in unison while Kade and Brody laughed.

“Really, Langston?” Dyllan asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Okay, fine. I earned that one,” Travis said sheepishly. “But just because I love you all.”

Dyllan rolled his eyes and turned back to Skylar while Lila swooned over her wanker of a husband. “Anyway—yes, that’s why I mentioned no meddlesome friends.”

“Who has meddlesome friends?” Zach asked from behind Dyllan with Mandy and children in tow. Zach’s red-headed wife walked slowly behind him, very pregnant, holding her son Daniel’s hand as he excitedly tried to keep up.

“Dad, can we go do the apple bobbing?” Daniel jumped on the spot as he looked up at Zach.

Daniel’s sister Avery rolled her eyes. “He already said later, Daniel.”

“Yeah, bud. After we say hi to everyone,” Zach turned back to the group as he placed his arm around his very pregnant wife and let her rest against him. “Now, who’s meddlesome?”

Dyllan closed his eyes and pinched his nose. “This is what I mean,”

“Oh, stop being a grump,” Skylar chastised, shooting him an annoyed look before smiling at her friends. “Don’t mind him. He’s extra grumpy today. Mandy, how are you feeling?”

“Big,” she stated, making everyone laugh.

“All right, it’s been fun, but we have to get going,” Dyllan said, taking Skylar’s hand.

“At least take your box before you go all caveman on her,” Lila said, thrusting a white cardboard box into his free hand.

“Thanks,” Dyllan grumbled and nodded to the rest of the group before pulling Skylar behind him.

“Bye?” she yelled to her friends as she struggled to keep up. “You didn’t have to be so rude, you know.”

“And you could have listened when I said don’t get sucked into their shit,” he said, stomping off to the next tent. This wasn’t how he’d planned this day to go. The last thing he wanted was to fight with Skylar, but he also didn’t need their friends mentioning Thanksgiving dinner, either.

“It’s not—that,” Skylar spat as she waved her free hand at him, still unable to swear unless severely provoked. “They care. They want us there with them. Why is that still so hard for you to believe?”

Dyllan stopped short and turned, causing Skylar to bump into him before backing up slightly. “And why is it so hard to believe that I want you all to myself?”

She looked at him, dazed for a moment before her gaze softened. “I’m sorry, you’re right. The whole reason for this weekend and leaving our phones at home was to spend time together.”

Dyllan’s shoulders slumped as the anger left his body. “And you’re right, I know they mean well. I’ve just missed you, babydoll.” He wanted nothing more than to reach out and tuck a wayward strand of hair behind her ear, but he wasn’t ready to let go of her hand, and he certainly wasn’t going to drop the box. “Let’s get through the rest of the festival and then get out of here. Just you and me. How does that sound?”

“That sounds incredible.” Her smile put another crack in his stony heart, as he leaned down and kissed her gently. He wanted nothing more than to deepen it, grab her neck, and hold her to him, showing the whole town that she’s his. For now, he would settle for holding her hand and leading her around town on his arm. But later, he would show her just how much he wanted to claim her.

Chapter Four

Skylar

As Skylar followed Dyllan from tent to tent, she became increasingly curious of his plan. Now with arms stacked with a pile of boxes, he could no longer hold her hand as they walked through the crowd. Instead, he growled until she placed her hand in the crook of his elbow, smiling like an idiot as she slid her palm against the buttery leather.

She couldn’t hide her pride as the people from town stopped to talk with him for chitchat or to discuss town issues. Even though she knew he was itching to get out of here and get her alone, he spent the time to listen to everyone who flagged him down. Her heart swelled as she watched her grumpy bear show the town he cared. Even if he did growl and bark a little.

“Finally,” he huffed as he placed the boxes in the backseat of his truck. “I didn’t expect the whole fucking town to want to talk shop today.”

“It’s because they love and respect you, Dyllan. And as much as you grumble about it, they look up to you.”

Dyllan grunted in response as he claimed into the truck. When Skylar had first met him, that grunt frustrated her. 

Now, it made her body light up like fireworks on Canada Day.

Skylar excitedly jumped into the truck excitedly, eager to see where he would lead her next. “Any hint for stop number two?”

“Nope,” he replied, resting his arm along the back of her seat and to look over his shoulder as he reversed out of the parking spot. 

Why is that so sexy?

“Hmph,” she sighed as she crossed her arms and leaned back in her seat. She waited a few moments in silence, tapping her toe as she looked out the window. The town raced past them as they got closer to the city limits. “Are we going home?”

“No,” Dyllan answered, not taking his eyes off of the road.

“To Kelowna?” she asked, turning in her seat to face him.

“No.”

“Kamloops?” Skylar tried.

“No.”

“Alberta?”

“Skylar,” Dyllan warned, glaring at her for a heartbeat before turning his attention back to the road.

She huffed, falling back into her seat, and crossing her arms again. She hated not knowing where they were going or what they were doing. As a wedding planner she needed control. She needed to know every detail down to the very last moment.

Dyllan knew this, which was why, Skylar was sure, he wasn’t telling her anything.

Not able to take the silence any longer, she reached over and turned on the radio, filling the cab with sounds of Chris Stapleton’s soulful twang, singing of loves that were better off leaving.

Skylar looked at her husband and realized that months ago she felt the same way. Now, no matter how much he got on her last nerve or grunted instead of speaking, she loved him. She thanked every lucky star he fought to keep them married after their drunken night in Vegas.

As she hummed along, she smiled and realized that a year ago she never would have known this song, let alone listen to it in a truck driving down a back road. But here she was, and she’d never been happier.

Skylar reached across the console and grabbed Dyllan’s hand to intertwine their fingers. She tried her best to push aside her need to know and just enjoy the here and now. 

She closed her eyes and felt her body relax as the warm autumn sun wash over her face through the window. She trusted Dyllan, and knew she’d love whatever he had planned.

Her eyes flew open when the truck started abruptly making a funny noise, causing Dyllan to curse and snatch his hand back. 

“What’s going on?” Skylar asked in a panic.

“Just give me a second,” Dyllan grumbled as he gently coasted the truck to the side of the road. He popped the hood, jumped out, and moved quickly to the front of the truck. 

Skylar sat still, too stunned to move as her mind raced. They were at least a half an hour out of Logan Creek, down a back road, and the last car they’d seen had been before they turned off the highway a while back. 

Skylar’s first instinct was to reach for her phone, but as she grabbed her purse, she remembered they had left both of their phones back in the kitchen drawer. Skylar slammed her head in her hands, as she let out an ‘ugh.’ Broken down in the middle of nowhere. No phones. No passing cars. No way to reach anyone.

Skylar slid out of the car and walked to Dyllan, who was focused intently on the engine. “Any idea what happened?”

“Yeah. Timing belt,” he growled as he slammed the hood down. “We’ll have to call a tow truck.”

“Ugh, about that…” Skylar said, as she toed the dirt in front of her.

“What?” Dyllan said, narrowing his eyes at her.

“They’re—uh—at home,” she answered sheepishly.

Dyllan cursed and kicked the bumper of his truck. With his fingers laced behind his head, he looked up at the sky. He let out a deep, calming breath. Skylar recognized it as Dyllan’s way of trying to get his emotions under control.

“I’m so sorry, babe. I had no idea that we’d be this far out of town when we suggested leaving our phones at home. I didn’t think…”

“That’s right, you didn’t think,” Dyllan interrupted, as he rounded on her. “Now thanks to you we are stuck out here with no way to call for help!”

Skylar stood stock-still, staring open-mouthed at her husband. Dark clouds starting rolled in, perfectly matching his mood. She willed the tears not to flood her eyes as she looked at the man she loved as he spewed hurtful words. “I’m sorry.”

“Well, ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t going to help us get the truck back to Logan Creek.” He took deep breaths through his nose, reminding Skylar of a bull that was about to charge.

“And you acting like a jerk is going to help us either!” Skylar yelled back, placing her hands on her hips.

As if summoned by their anger, black clouds that rolled in opened, unleashing a waterfall of rain down on them.

“Just fucking great,” Dyllan growled.

“You know what? Forget you! You and your grumpy butt can stay here in the rain with your precious truck!” Skylar turned and threw open the door, grabbing her purse and slamming it closed again. Without looking back, she stomped off away from him.

“Skylar, where are you going?” Dyllan yelled after her.

“Away from you,” she spat, refusing to look back.

The sound of the drain drowned out what she suspected was a spew of curses from her husband. But she didn’t care. She wouldn’t stick around and let him talk like that to her.

He’d planned the day. He knew they were going out of town. He agreed to leaving their phones at home.

Skylar knew that walking back to Logan Creek was preferable to a miserable evening trapped inside a broken-down truck with an upset Dyllan.

Chapter Five

Dyllan

Well, shit.

He hadn’t meant to take out his frustration on Skylar any more than he’d meant the awful words that left his mouth. He knew he’d made a mistake the moment he saw the hurt cross Skylar’s face. But like every other time he lost his temper, it was too late to stop the train wreck from happening.

With another curse, he reached into the truck and grabbed the boxes before storming off after his wife. He knew he was going to have to do a lot of grovelling, and the treats in the box were his best bet at getting her to listen to him at all.

“Skylar!” he yelled, running through the rain while trying not to drop any of the boxes. “Babe! Come on, please. Wait up.”

“Why? So you can yell at me some more and blame me for all of this? No, thank you!” she yelled back, quickening her pace. She flipped the hood of his sweater over her head, barely shielding herself from the storm.

“Skylar, I’m sorry!” he called, closing the gap between them.

Skylar turned, face red as she stormed back a few feet. “What was it you said, Dyllan? Oh, right. ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t going to help us get back to Logan Creek!” Her breathing was heavy as she squared up to him. He would never admit it to her in the moment, but he loved she stood up to him. Wasn’t afraid of his gruffness.

Dyllan searched her face, needing to find something that would let her crack a little bit of the wall that she’d put up. “I’m so sorry, babe. I mean it. I was just upset about the truck, and I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.” He looked past her down the road, seeing nothing but a downpour. “Look, we need to get somewhere dry. Can you please work with me until we find somewhere? Then I promise you can yell at me all you want.”

“Aarg!” she groaned as she turned and stomped away from him. She was still mad, but she didn’t say a word as he caught up and walked beside her.

The rain became deafening as it fell harder. Dyllan tried to cover the boxes the best he could and hoped that at least some of their contents would be salvageable.

Seeing a structure off to the distance, Dyllan lightly nudged Skylar with his elbow and pointed with his chin. Her gaze followed his, and she nodded in agreement, speeding up toward what he hoped was a shelter.

Not speaking as they waded their way through tall grass off the road, they found themselves standing on the doorstep of an old cabin that looked like it had seen better days. Dyllan pounded on the door, yelling for anyone that might be inside.

“Come on, maybe we can keep going down the road and see if there’s someone else who can help us,” Skylar said, looking around the land behind them.

“Where we are, there won’t be much around, babydoll.” Dyllan placed his free hand on the doorknob and turned it before he gave the door a solid push and let the door swing open in front of him.

“Dyllan, we can’t just go in. That’s trespassing,” Skylar hissed through her teeth.

“Do you want to go back out there?” he asked.

She looked behind her, her shoulders sagging. “No.”

“Then come on. I doubt anyone will be coming by tonight and we’ll be gone in the morning before anyone can find us.” He took a step inside, looking around to make sure there weren’t any animals, or people, hidden inside. “Look, there’s a fireplace and some logs and some dry blankets. I don’t know about you, but I want to get out of these wet clothes.”

Taking one last look out to the road, Skylar sighed before she followed Dyllan inside, and closed the door behind her.

Dyllan smirked to himself as he placed the boxes on a dust-covered table in the corner of the room. He got to work taking off his dripping-wet jacket and hung it on a hook placed on the wall next to the fireplace.

Getting to work, he stacked the wood in the fireplace and started a fire, letting the rush of warmth roll over him. “Don’t just stand there. Take your sweater off before you get sick.”

“You can’t get sick from being cold and wet, Dyllan. Sickness is caused by germs.”

He caught her rolling her eyes as she took off the hoodie and laid it over the back of a chair at the table. He tried not to stare at how the tank top she wore underneath molded to her like a second skin, or the way he could see the outline of her bra through the fabric. Cleaning his throat, he turned back to the fire before she caught him staring and made things even worse. “Still, don’t just stand there in your wet clothes.”

To make his point, he stood and pulled his shirt over his head, letting the flames of the fire warm his cold skin. He pulled a chair closer to him and draped his shirt over to dry before he untied the laces of his boot, looking over his shoulder at his wife. He smirked, catching her as she stared at him.

As if she awoke from a dream, Skylar gave shook her head slightly, seeming to remember she was mad at him. “I’m fine.”

“Babydoll, you’re shivering. And it’s not like I haven’t seen it before,” he added as he took off his other boot.

“That’s not the point,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Look,” he said as he turned to her and placed his hands on her shoulders. “I’m sorry for what I said. I know none of this is your fault. I agreed to leaving the phones at home knowing I was planning on taking you out of town.”

He felt her shoulders sag under his weight. “And I’m sorry I yelled at you.” She looked up at him sheepishly through her eyelashes. “I’m still upset with you, but I’m also really cold.”

Dyllan chuckled as he helped her get undressed before he shed the rest of his clothes and placed them by the fire to dry. He searched the cabin and found a blanket, giving it a good shake, before he placed it around Skylar’s shoulders. He stood in his boxers, hiding the shivers that threatened to take over his body; but he wasn’t going to let Skylar see it. He knew it would turn into a fight over who needed the blanket. He’d never let her win. Her health and comfort always came first.

“So, do I finally get to know what’s in these boxes?” Skylar asked as she poked the top of one.

“Yes, you nosy woman,” he answered, taking the box from her with a wink.

“I think I’ve earned the right to be nosy,” she said, pulling the blanket further around her.

“Maybe you have.” 

Opening the first box, Skylar let out a gasp as she looked past the water-soaked cardboard. “Is this what I think it is?”

“Yes, but you don’t get it right away,” Dyllan snatched the box filled with an assortment of Lila’s baked goods, making sure he’d put an order in for all of Skylar’s favourites. Caramel apple cupcakes, pumpkin scones, and chai sugar cookies filled the box. Dyllan almost couldn’t resist the mouth-watering smell that came from them, but knew he needed to wait.

Dyllan pushed it aside and grabbed the next one, opened the top and handed it to Skylar.

She peered inside, her eyebrows drawing together as she looked up at him. “Bread?”

“Not just any bread. The bread you like. The fancy one that costs more than your sugary-ass coffees.” He reached for the next box and held it out to her.

Giving him another questioning look, she accepted the box and opened the lid. “Is this…?”

“The specialty meats and cheeses from that shop in town that does those adult lunch kit board-things,” he grumbled.

“Charcuterie boards,” Skylar laughed.

“Yeah, those things.”

“You did this all for me?” Skylar asked as she looked up at him. He could tell by the look on her face he’d done the right thing. He just never thought he’d be using it to grovel. 

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that farfetched it would have been a possibility.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” Dyllan said, getting up and walking to his jacket. Reaching into the large pocket, he pulled out a bottle of cider. “I got this from Brody. It’s the super sugary one you like.”

“I can’t believe you did this all for me,” Skylar whispered, looking at the opened boxes on the table between them.

“Why?” Dyllan knew he could be a pain in the ass, but he always tried to show Skylar how much he loved and appreciated her. Sure, it didn’t always come out the way she wanted, but he’d been trying hard to change that since she’d decided to fully commit to their marriage.

“I don’t know, I guess…” she trailed off as she looked past him into the fire. “I’m not saying this to be mean, but I guess I forgot. I’ve been so busy with the weddings and you with your work, I guess it’s been a while since I’ve seen this side of you.”

Dyllan placed the bottle on the table and knelt in front of her. “If you’ve ever felt that way, then that’s my fault, babydoll. I know I’m a pain in the ass, but I’ve never intended to make you feel anything other than loved and appreciated.” Her face dropped at his words. “I know what I said back there was wrong, and it wasn’t directed at you. I’m hoping you can forgive me.”

“You’ve softened a little, Mr. Thompson,” Skylar said with a coy smile.

“You’ve made me that way, Mrs. Thompson,” he replied. Tucking a stray piece of hair behind her ear, he looked into her bright blue eyes. “I love you, Skylar.”

Her face softened as she nestled her cheek in his hand. “I love you, too, Dyllan.”

“Can we start tonight over? Forget about the truck. Forget about the rain.”

“Ah, but then we wouldn’t be mostly naked and surrounded by delicious food while breaking the law,” she joked.

Dyllan leaned in and brushed his beard along her soft skin as he whispered. “Oh, believe me. You were going to be doing at least two of those things either way tonight.”

He felt the heat of her blush on his cheek and smiled to himself. The night was just starting to look a lot better.

Chapter Six

Skylar

The bristle of Dyllan’s beard along her cheek made Skylar shiver. It was no longer the cold that made body tremble. It was her husband.

Her mind screamed at her not to forgive him that quickly. Their fight mixed with their recent lack of connection already made it hard for her to move past his misspoken words.

She loved him, and she was over the initial shock and hurt, but she wasn’t ready to let go.

“So, are you going to let me eat this food, or just look at it?” Skylar asked, pulling away from his touch.

He startled at her sudden change of course but recovered by pulling the box of bread closer to them. “Uh, yeah. Go ahead.” Standing he took a seat on the chair across from her, reaching into another box and grabbing some of the salami. She watched as he ate it, moving on to a piece of cheese, avoiding her gaze.

Great, I made it worse. 

Her heart screamed at her to make it better. She yearned to get back into the honeymoon phase with Dyllan, where they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. When everything was new and exciting, and it still was. But with her weekends away and the long hours he’d been putting at his office it had been easy to drift.

They’d only been married for less than six months and look where they were.

“Hey,” she whispered, placing her hand on top of his on the table. “Thank you for this.”

The corner of his mouth lifted as he turned his hand in hers, interlacing their fingers. “You’re welcome.”

With a small smile, she pulled her hand back and ripped off a piece of bread. As soon as the soft and fluffy French bread hit her tongue, she closed her eyes and moaned. She never could turn down a good loaf, and this was one of her favourites. She knew she should be like most other women and care more about what she ate, but she loved food, and wasn’t afraid to eat what she liked.

“Babydoll,” Dyllan warned, causing her eyes to fly open.

“What?” she responded, looking around the cabin at what might be wrong.

“You know what you do to me when you make those noises. Unless you’re willing to get over our fight and let me have you, stop it.”

There it was. The Dyllan that reminded her why she couldn’t give in to his softness that easily. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She reached across and grabbed a piece of prosciutto to place on top of another piece of bread.

“You know exactly what you’re doing,” he said with a pointed glare at her.

Without breaking eye contact, she popped the food in her mouth and gave a loud, exaggerated moan. Grabbing a piece of cheese, she closed her eyes and did it again, even louder. If there was anyone outside the door they’d be able to hear for sure. Lucky for her, there was no one around and the rain outside would have drown anything out.

He was right; she did know what she was doing. She knew it drove him crazy when she moaned because it was very similar to the moans she made in bed. For him. Only this time, she used it to her advantage to frustrate him as much as he frustrated her.

Deciding she needed to back off before he picked her up and showed her just how much it affected him, she changed the subject. “So, where were you planning on taking me?”

“It doesn’t matter now,” Dyllan answered, clearing his throat and grabbing more food.

“No, I want to know.” Skylar pushed the box of bread away from her, invested in Dyllan’s answer.

“It doesn’t matter anymore.”

“It matters to me,” Skylar insisted.

Dyllan sighed, throwing a piece of bread into his mouth and turning to face her. “Star gazing.”

“Sorry?”

“I was going to take you out to this spot I found not long after I got to Logan Creek.” He met her eyes for a moment before looking back down at the table. “It’s away from all the traffic and the noise. No city lights, just open sky. I thought we could lie in the bed of the truck and watch the sunset, catch a few constellations.”

“Dyllan, that’s really sweet.” She reached across the table and took his hand once again. He didn’t pull away, but she noticed how tense he was. “Will you take me there another time? With cell phones,” she joked.

The corner of his mouth lifted. “Sure.”

They sat for a moment looking at one another. With every passing second she could feel a little more of the armour come off.

His shoulders sagged, and he squeezed her hand before he stood and walked to the fire. Picking up the fireplace poker, he moved the burning logs around before placing another on the burning embers.

She watched him as he stood staring at the flames in only his black boxers. His broad back faced her and she couldn’t help but watch as the sinewy muscle under his skin rippled with the movement of him crossing his arms. Images of Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing came to mind, instantly making her giggle as pictured jumping into his arms as he lifted her into the air.

“What’s so funny?” he asked, looking over his shoulder at her.

“Have you ever thought of going as Johnny Castle for Halloween?”

“Who?” he asked, turning to face her.

“Never mind.” She chuckled.

“Are you feeling okay?” he asked, closing the distance between them and placing the back of his hand on her forehead.

She moved away from him and swatted at his hand. “I’m fine. You just reminded me of Dirty Dancing the way you were standing there.”

Dyllan looked at her intently for another moment before he grunted and went back to the fire.

Seeing him standing there in front of the fire made her heart melt. Yes, he was a tough jerk that got on her nerves a lot of the time, but he could also be incredibly sweet and caring. He’d planned this whole day with her. Picked up all of her favourite foods just to spend time with her. It was in the little things that showed that he loved her, and that made her love him all that much more.

She stood and closed the distance between them and wrapped her arms around his waist, resting her cheek on his spine. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” he asked, laying an arm across hers.

“For being mad longer than I should have.” He smelled of outdoors, campfires, and the forest. She breathed in the smoky scent she’d come to know was purely Dyllan.

Dyllan dropped his head to his chest for a moment before turning and taking Skylar in his arms, giving her a kiss on the top of her head. “Don’t worry about it, babydoll.”

“How did we get here, Dyllan? We’ve only been married a few months and already we’re drifting apart and fighting.”

“Fighting is kind of our thing, babe. Don’t you remember the coffee shop?” 

“Yeah, I guess it kind of is.” Skylar chuckled, thinking of how they met in the small coffee shop in Hope. He’d been even more moody than he was now, and he felt the urge to put him in his place. Little did she know he was friends with her friend Kade, who she was on her way to see.

“Hey,” he said, placing his knuckle under her chin and tilting her face up to his. “There’s nothing wrong with where we are. You’re building up your business and I’m running a town. That’s it. Wedding season will calm down soon and we’ll be able to spend more time together. It’s tough now, but it will get better. We will get better.”

“When did you become such a romantic, Mr. Thompson?” She smiled up at him.

“Probably when I woke up with an infuriating, but beautiful, blonde in my bed,” he said with a smirk.

“You most certainly were not romantic then,” she ribbed.

“Okay, fine. Maybe shortly after then.” Looking into her eyes, he cupped her cheeks and slowly lowered his lips to hers.

Her heart raced as he deepened the kiss; he held her in place with her head in his hands. She loved when he took control, showed her exactly what he wanted and how he wanted it. Dyllan pushed the blanket off her shoulders and he walked her backwards until her legs found the side of the lone bed in the cabin. Skylar fell back on the bed as Dyllan climbed on top and covered her. His hot skin warming her more than the blanket ever did.

His hands roamed her skin, trailed along her side, and cupped her breasts. Dyllan flicked her nipples with his thumbs and she couldn’t help but arch her back and moan into his mouth. He set her body on fire, and it wasn’t just from the heat of his skin. It wast the closeness to him. How no matter what was happening, his touch always lit her up, made crave him.

She slid her hands along his muscular back, and held him close to her as he removed her bra and closed his mouth over her taut nipple. She gasped, gripping his hair in her fingers. The bristle of his beard against her sensitive skin was heaven and torture combined.

Moving quickly in unison, they shed the rest of their clothes, breathing heavily as they stared into each other’s eyes. The room only lit by the flickering flames from the fireplace, Skylar took a moment to really look at Dyllan. His ruggedly handsome face, the intense stare from his dark brown eyes. “I love you, Dyllan.”

His gaze softened as he looked at her. “I love you, too, Skylar. So much.”

He spent the night showing her just how much he did until they lay in each other’s arms, purely exhausted and feeling the connection they both needed.

Chapter Seven

Dyllan

The incessant yelling and pounding at the door was not the way Dyllan wanted to wake up.

The fire had long since burned out but he didn’t mind; he had Skylar tucked under his arm as she curled against his chest. He was about to yell for the person on the other side of the door to fuck off when he remembered where he was. Naked in a bed that wasn’t theirs. Trespassing in a cabin that definitely didn’t belong to them.

“Dyllan, man. Are you in there?” Travis’ voice rang through the door, followed by more pounding.

“Yeah. Give me a second, Langston.” He grumbled loud enough for his friend to hear.

“Thank fuck,” Travis said, stopping the knocking.

“Babydoll, you have to wake up,” Dyllan said as he gave her a gentle shake. He hated to wake her. He knew how tired she’d been with all the weddings and the travel, let alone what they went through last night. The last thing he needed was Langston barging through the door and finding her naked. Even though he knew Travis was a happily married man, he’d still kill him.

“Five more minutes, grumpy bear,” Skylar mumbled as she turned her head and burrowed farther into him.

“Sorry, babe. We have to get up. Travis found us.”

The mention of being saved caused her to shoot up into a sitting position, letting the blanket that had covered her fall to her waist. “Travis is here?”

“Skylar,” Dyllan growled, pulling the blanket back up. “If Langston had been in the room, I would have had to shoot him for seeing you like that.”

Looking down as if she forgot she was naked, she clutched the blanket tighter to her. “Sorry, I wasn’t thinking.”

“Pull that stunt again and I’ll have to show you what happens when you aren’t thinking.” He could tell his threat turned her on more than scared her, but he was okay with that. As long as she knew he was serious. No one saw her naked but him. 

No one.

“You guys okay in there?” Travis yelled.

“Yes, I said to hold the fuck on, Langston.” Dyllan gritted loudly through his teeth as he stood and grabbed for his clothes. The fire had done a good job drying most of their clothes off, but it was still a shitty feeling to climb back into them after being drenched the night before.

Throwing Skylar’s clothes at her, she quickly followed, and ran her fingers through her hair, trying to calm the mess they’d both made of it.

With a final once over, he opened the door to find Travis with his back to him, facing his squad car. “Can I turn around now?”

“Yes, fucker,” Dyllan grunted as he turned back into the cabin, helping Skylar clean up. “How did you find us?”

“Got a report this morning of an abandoned truck on the highway. The plates traced it back to you. I figured you got stuck out here, so I started looking.” Travis shrugged, leaning on the door frame.

“Regular ol’ Sherlock,” Dyllan said, grabbing their empty food boxes.

“Do you want a ride back to town or not?” Travis asked, raising an eyebrow at Dyllan.

Dyllan heard Skylar giggle behind him but chose to ignore her. “Yes.”

“Good.” Travis nodded. “I have Gus on the way to pick up your truck. What happened?”

“Timing belt,” Dyllan answered, not looking up.

“Shitty. Glad you found this place with all that rain last night. Would hate for Skylar to be stuck in the truck with your sorry ass all night. Bad enough she’s married to you,” Travis joked.

“Watch it, Langston,” Dyllan growled.

“Oh, stand down, grumpy bear,” Skylar laughed, smacking him on the chest. “You gave me enough reasons not to be in the truck with you last night on your own.”

“Ooh! Grumpy bear strikes again! You’ll have to tell me all about it on the drive back,” Travis exclaimed, rubbing his hands together.

Dyllan rolled his eyes and ushered the two out of the cabin, turning to close the door behind him. Looking around, he got a sense for the first time that maybe he needed a place like this. Somewhere he could go on his own or with Skylar. A place they could intend to get stranded together. “Do you know who owns this place?”

“Uh, yeah. It’s owned by Old Man Jacobs. Heard he was talking about selling it years ago, but I guess he never got around to it.” Travis answered, climbing into his car.

With a final look he knew he would make it happen. He’d find a place that he could hide out with his wife when he wanted time alone with her. He wouldn’t let them get to the point they’d be in again. He’d make sure he was there for her when she didn’t have weddings. He’d do a better job at putting her needs first. Even if it meant sharing her. 

Climbing into the back of the cruiser with Skylar, he met Travis’ eyes in the rear-view mirror. “What time is thanksgiving dinner?” 

“Really?” Skylar gasped, holding on to his arm.

“Six,” Travis answered with a smile.

“Can we bring anything?” Skylar asked.

“Nope. Just make sure your big lug of a husband actually shows.”

Dyllan rolled his eyes but decided that with Skylar at his side, it didn’t really matter where they were—or if their meddlesome friends were involved—as long as they were together.


Thank you so much, Kimberly! Please go check her out, and give her some love! You can find her on Facebook, her Facebook Group, Instagram, TikTok, BookBub, Goodreads, Amazon, or her website! You can also sign up for her newsletter!

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