“Maybe in Hallmark stores,” she said, pushing up from her chair and glancing at her watch. “But now we need to focus on cake, not sugar cookies.”
Colin followed her into a sitting room near the kitchen. It had several comfortable wingback chairs and a loveseat surrounding a coffee table.
“Have a seat.” Natalie gestured into the room.
“Are you joining me?” he asked as he passed near to her.
“Oh yes,” she said with a coy smile. “I’ve just got to let Amelia know we’re ready.”
He stepped inside and Natalie disappeared down the hallway. He was happy to have a moment alone. The smell of her skin mingling with her perfume and that naughty smile was a combination he couldn’t take much more of. At least not and keep his hands off her.
Something had definitely changed since Tuesday. Tuesday night, she’d been more open and friendly once he told her why he’d turned her down, but nothing like this. Not even when she’d leaned into him, thinking he was about to kiss her.
Perhaps she was trying to distract him. Did she think that keeping his mind occupied with thoughts of her would shift the focus away from bringing Christmas joy back into her life? This had all happened after the bet, so that had to be it. Tricky little minx. That was playing dirty after her big speech about how she wasn’t the right kind of woman for him. Well, two could play at that game. If he was right, now that he knew her ploy he’d let her see how far she was willing to push it to win.
No matter what, he wouldn’t let himself be ensnared by her feminine charms. They were oil and water that wouldn’t mix. But that didn’t mean he wouldn’t enjoy letting her try. And it didn’t mean he’d let himself lose sight of the bet in the process.
He heard a click of heels on wood and a moment later Natalie came back into the room. She settled onto the loveseat beside him. Before he could say anything, the caterer, Amelia, blew in behind her.
“Okay,” Amelia said as she carried a silver platter into the room and placed it on the coffee table. “Time for some cake tasting. This is the best part of planning a wedding, I think. Here are five of our most popular cake flavors.” She pointed her manicured finger at the different cubes of cake that were stacked into elegant pyramids. “There’s a white almond sour cream cake, triple chocolate fudge, red velvet, pistachio and lemon pound cake. In the bowls, we’ve got an assortment of different fillings along with samples of both my buttercream and my marshmallow fondant. The cake design you selected will work with either finish, so it’s really just a matter of what taste you prefer.”
“It all looks wonderful, Amelia. Thanks for putting this together.”
“Sure thing. On this card, it has all the flavors listed along with some popular combinations you might like to try. For a wedding of your size, I usually recommend two choices. I can do alternating tiers, so if a guest doesn’t one like flavor, they can always try the other. The variety is nice. Plus, it makes it easier to choose if you have more than one you love.”
“Great,” Colin said, taking the card from her and setting it on the table. He watched as the caterer shot a pointed look at Natalie on the couch beside him.
“And if you don’t mind, since Natalie is here with you, I’m going to go clean up in the kitchen. I’ve got another cake to finish piping tonight.”
Colin nodded. He was fine being alone with Natalie. That left the door open for her little games anyway. “That’s fine. I’m sure you’ve got plenty to do. Thanks for fitting me in on such short notice.”
“Thanks, Amelia,” Natalie said. “If we have any questions about the cake, I’ll come get you.”
Amelia nodded and slipped out of the room. Colin watched her go, then turned back to the platter in front of them. “Where should we start?”
Natalie picked up the card from the table. “I’d go with Amelia’s suggestions. She knows her cake.”
“Great. What’s first?”
“White almond sour cream cake with lemon curd.”
They both selected small squares of cake from the plate, smearing them with a touch of the filling using a small silver butter knife. Colin wasn’t a big fan of lemon, but even he had to admit this was one of the best bites of cake he’d ever had.
And it was just the beginning. They tried them all, mixing chocolate cake with chocolate chip mousse, lemon pound cake with raspberry buttercream and red velvet with whipped cream cheese. There were a million different combinations to choose from. He was glad he’d eaten a light lunch because by the time they finished, all the cake was gone and his suit pants were a bit tighter than they’d been when he sat down.