Duncan gasped and stood frozen as a chunk of what was left of the exploded cupcake plunked from his forehead to the ground, leaving his nose coated in pink icing shrapnel.
The absolute horror on Lacy’s face made something inside him shift. Pure joy burst through him as he roared with laughter. Barely able to catch his breath, he doubled over, hands on thighs, and continued to chuckle.
“Oh, Duncan, I’m so sorry.” She sat the box of cupcakes on the dock. “Here, let me help.”
“Got a bit of a temper, huh?” he asked as she swiped cake off his forehead.
Her cheeks were as pink as the streak down his nose, and she looked pretty as a picture in her embarrassment. “I’m sure my parents would confirm that.”
A grin stretched across his face. And it felt good, so good to have the weight of guilt lifted, if even just for a minute. “You should’ve seen your face.”
“You should see yours.” She smiled back at him as she wiped icing off his chin, her cool hand soft, gentle.
He couldn’t look away from her pretty brown eyes. Though he knew he didn’t deserve it, he wanted to spend time with Lacy. To get to know her better. “Looks like you owe me a Valentine.”
Her eyes widened. “Wh…what?”
“You know. Another Valentine cupcake.”
With a rush of breath, she let out a tense laugh. “Oh, these aren’t for you. I was bringing them since I noticed you gave away your mother’s cupcakes.”
Yep. Definitely a small town. “Oh, so you just happened to notice me walk by and just happened to notice I was empty handed?” he teased.
“Well…uh…yes. My shop has windows. Big windows. “ Her gazed darted out to the water, then back toward town. She gathered up the box of the three remaining cupcakes and held it out to him. “Plus, remember you’re back in Cupid’s Cove now. People talk.”
And didn’t he know it. People talked. People remembered every failure. And some people wouldn’t forgive. “Thanks for checking on me. I promise I won’t swan dive off any docks.”
She gave a firm nod and jabbed the box toward him once more as if wanting to get away from him.
“My mother will love these—all three of them.” He couldn’t help grinning at her, even as his heart hurt that she’d shut him out.
“Tell her it was my pleasure and to have a lovely Valentine’s Day.” She turned and made a beeline back toward her shop. Back to all those red and pink-iced Valentine treats meant for couples who were in love.
It seemed that this year, his mother would be the only one in the Hines family getting a Valentine.