Thursday, April 10, 2014

Up By Five!!

Up By Five, the last of the Counting on Love books, is out now!!

Here's a fun collection of graphics to tempt you! :)  Some from me and some from reader friends!








BUY LINKS! :)

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Samhain

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cody's Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cody had somehow found and perfected the best chocolate chip cookie recipe in the entire universe.  
-Going for Four, Erin Nicholas, Feb 25, 2014





Cody’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Special thanks to
Joann Berggren, Donna Neels Harris, Laura Gamble and Stephanie Staton
for contributions to this recipe

1 cup butter, softened
½ cup butter flavored shortening
¾ cup sugar
1 ¾ cups packed brown sugar
1 ½ tsp instant coffee granules
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips
½  (6 ounce) package milk chocolate chips
1 (8 ounce) package toffee bits

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix butter and shortening until creamy.  Add sugars and beat until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add coffee granules and vanilla and continue to mix.


In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture, beating until well blended.  Stir in the chocolate chips and toffee bits.  Scoop ¼ cup amounts onto a cookie sheet about 3 inches apart.  Bake for 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let cool for 2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.






*** and honorable mention goes to Stephanie Staton for her recipe for Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies!  My hubby's new favorite :)

*Leave cherries out to make chocolate chip cookies.*

2 sticks butter (softened)
¾ Cup Dark Brown Sugar (Firmly Packed) - *I mix light & dark brown
sugar*
¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
1 TSP Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
2-¼ Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 TSP Baking Soda
½ TSP Salt
1 TSP Cinnamon
12 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Dried Cherries – *I use 5 oz. of cherries*

Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

If you get your ingredients to room  temperature you can mix the dough by hand, but life is much easier with a hand or stand mixer.

In a bowl, cream butter and both sugars until fluffy.

Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy again.

In a smaller bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Slowly add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. If the batter seems
wet and extremely sticky add more flour (About a tablespoon at a
time) until dough comes away from your fingers easily.

**The key is right amount of flour and dough not sticking to fingers.*

Once the dough is the right consistency, add the chocolate chips and cherries
and mix well.

Scoop dough onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

**I bake them for exactly 10 minutes. The cookies will finish cooking after you
take them out of oven.*

**Remember the dark brown sugar will make the cookies look much darker.

Cool on a sheet for a couple of minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack.



** Notes from Stephanie




Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tidings of Comfort & Schnapps



Cody and Olivia are the hero and heroine in book four of the Counting on Love series, Going for Four. They have a bit of history that happens before the start of Going for Four that I thought my readers would like to see :)  So... here you go!



Part One:

Two years, one week and three days ago

There was nothing sexy about gingerbread men.  Especially ones that were really just big
blobs of gingerbread with a foot sticking out here and there.  There was also nothing sexy about sugar cookies.  Especially ones that were burnt on the bottom.  And there should be nothing sexy about his best friend’s little sister muttering words that would have shocked her mother while putting colorful gumdrops on the top of green Rice Krispie treat trees.
But Cody Madsen found himself a little tighter in his blue jeans when he stepped into Olivia Dixon’s kitchen.  She was beautiful.  Her jeans were faded across the butt, her hair was escaping the twist on top of her head, she had green frosting smeared up one arm and cocoa powder on her left thigh.
And he wanted to kiss her.
But then again, he wanted to kiss her nearly every time he saw her, green frosting or not.
The timer on the oven went off, startling him.  She turned away from the table where she
had at least four different kinds of cookies spread out and saw him.
“Cody!”
“Hi.  Didn’t mean to sneak up on you.”  Of course, with Bruce Springsteen belting out his version of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, she couldn’t have heard his knock or him coming in through the front door.
She reached for the stereo that sat on the shelf where she kept her cookbooks and turned down the volume.  “No problem.”
“Conner asked me to come over and get his cooler.  He said he sent it home with you after the last tailgate.” Among other things, Cody and Olivia’s brother Conner, played on the local amateur football team, the Omaha Hawks, together.  Once a month, the guys hung out with fans pre-game at the Hawks sponsored tailgate party.
“It’s in the garage,” Olivia said, gesturing toward the door.
Cody started in that direction, but something in her eyes made him stop.  He’d only been able to appreciate her from the side.  Now looking at her straight on he realized she’d been crying. 
He frowned.  “You okay?”
She sniffed, but nodded. “I’m baking for the bake sale at St. Anthony’s.”
St. Anthony’s was the big local trauma center where Conner, and their buddy Ryan, worked as paramedics.  The Christmas bake sale was an annual event that raised money for Christmas gifts for the local women and children’s center.
“It smells great.”
It did.  Underneath the aroma of burnt sugar.
“My gingerbread men are more appropriate for Halloween, my Rice Krispie trees are too mushy, I’m out of coconut, and I can’t even get the sugar cookies to turn out.  And,” she went on. “I have to come up with a unique recipe for the contest and everything I’ve tried has ended up in the garbage.”
It was obvious she was distracted.  Olivia was a fantastic baker.  He’d had her cookies, pies, cakes and brownies in the years since he’d met Conner in college.  They were all amazing.  Almost as amazing as his.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
She sniffed again and shrugged. “Nothing. I’m just stressed about getting the cookies done.”
“How many are you doing?”  There were a lot of cookies in that kitchen already.
“Ten dozen.”
Ten?”
She lifted a shoulder.  “Baking makes me happy.  It comforts me.” 
“You need comforting?”  He hated that idea.  Olivia was the sweet one of the Dixon Divas—as she and her three sisters were collectively called.  She was the bubbly optimist.  Everyone loved that about her.  Cody loved that about her.  She was one of those people that could put you in a good mood no matter what else was going on.  He hated to think she was anything less than happy.
“No.  I just need to make six dozen more cookies.”
“I’ll help.”
Her eyes widened.  “You’ll help me make cookies?” 
Well, hell, he hadn’t really meant to say that but… cookies he could do.  Comforting a woman, he wasn’t so sure about and he suspected that she did actually need comforting.
Cody tossed his keys onto the counter by the coffee pot and rolled up his sleeves.  “I’ll help you make cookies.”
She looked wary.  “Do you know how to make cookies?”
“Olivia,” he said, stepping to the sink to wash his hands.  “I’m going to blow your mind with how I make cookies.”
Her expression brightened.  “Well, I haven’t had my mind blown by a man in a long time.”
He paused and looked at her.  Was she flirting?  Did she mean that the way his mind had taken it?
Her cheeks were pink.  “In the kitchen,” she added.  “I haven’t had my mind blown by a man in the kitchen in a long time.”
Yeah, he could blow her mind in any room she wanted. 
He focused on the running water.  No he couldn’t.  She was his best friend’s little sister. His best friend who had seen Cody watching Olivia across Trudy’s Tavern three months ago and said “Don’t even think about it.”  Cody’s response had been “nothing to worry about man”.  It had to be.  Conner knew things about Cody’s past with women that gave him good reason to worry about Cody getting involved with someone Conner cared about.  The fact that it was his little sister… yeah, never gonna happen.
“Tell me about this unique recipe you have to come up with,” he said, reaching for a towel.
“It’s for the Cookie Contest.  Winner gets a hundred dollars to donate to their favorite charity.”
Feeling a little more composed with talk of cookies and charity, he turned to face her. 
She was beating something in a big plastic bowl with a vengeance.  And wearing a deep scowl.  He rescued the innocent cookie dough, setting it to the side.
“What do you have for the contest so far?”
She sighed and reached for the huge mug sitting in the middle of the stove, then leaned against the counter.  “I’ve done a peppermint sugar cookie that wasn’t pepperminty enough, I tried making mocha gingerbread men—” She wrinkled her nose.  “—that were a disaster.  And I tried an eggnog cookie recipe that was… okay.”
He looked around.  “Where are the remnants?”
She leaned to the right, revealing a plate of cookie pieces behind her.  He reached for one but she didn’t move, which meant that his body ended up closer to hers than it had ever been. 
He was instantly hit by heat and the urge to put his lips against her neck.  As he slowly straightened, he caught the scent of peppermint.  But it wasn’t coming from the cookies.
“Schnapps?” he asked.
She sipped from her cup again and nodded.
“You tried the schnapps in the cookies to make them more pepperminty?”
She smiled.  “I put the schnapps in my hot cocoa to make my attitude better.”
“Bad day?”
She shook her head, but said, “Yes.”
“Is the schnapps helping?”
She drank again.  “Yes.”
He bit into one of the peppermint cookie pieces.  It was good.  It wasn’t amazing, but it was good.  “I can fix these cookies,” he said.  “Does that help?”
She looked at him in surprise.  “Yes. That would definitely help.”
He moved toward the collection of ingredients she had spread out on the counter top.  “I think it’s interesting that you didn’t realize what you needed to do here.”
“What do you mean?”
“Peppermint cookies are good, but chocolate peppermint cookies are awesome.”
She opened her mouth, then looked down at her cup, then up at him.  Her mouth curved into a smile.  “I guess I’m a little slow today.”
Cody started measuring and stirring.  “Yeah, what’s going on?”
“I went to the grocery store for supplies.  I ran into George.” 
He glanced at her. Her eyes filled with tears and Cody abandoned his bowl and spoon, instinctively stepping forward.  He didn’t know who George was, but the encounter had clearly upset her.  That made him want to punch George.
“He was with another woman.”
Ah. The fact that she was upset about George being with another woman probably meant he wasn’t her accountant.  Cody reached out and ran his hand up and down her arm.  “I’m sorry, Liv.”
She smelled like chocolate and peppermint.  He loved both.
“You were dating a man named George?” Cody asked, trying to concentrate on the issue.  George making Olivia cry.  The fucker.
“Yes.  And George is apparently dating a woman named Maggie.”
Dammit.  He definitely wanted to punch George.  “But he took her to the grocery store.  That’s not very romantic.”
“They were buying whipped cream and chocolate syrup.”
Cody thought about that.  “Ice cream?” he suggested.
Her eyes filled again.  “George has sensitive teeth.”
Cody thought about that.  Then laughed.  “You’re better off without George.”
“It’s not his fault his teeth are sensitive to cold.”
“George was buying whipped cream and chocolate syrup with another woman, Liv,” Cody said gently.  “He’s an idiot.”
She shook her head.  “It’s me.”
“It’s not you.”
“It is.  I told him…”  She trailed off and sniffed, wiping her hand over her wet cheek.
The motion left a streak of green granulated sugar behind.  Which went along well with the powdered sugar that dusted her hairline at her temple, the red frosting that was smudged on her neck and the streak of chocolate at the corner of her mouth.
Cody felt himself move in closer without even thinking about it.  “You told him what?”
Please God, don’t let her have said she loved him.  Cody wasn’t completely clear on exactly why that idea put a huge knot in his gut, but it did.
“I told him I wouldn’t sleep with him.  It was too soon.  I wasn’t ready.”
Cody let out a long relieved breath. Relieved was a strange emotion to be feeling about it, but he decided it was too complicated to spend much time on at the moment. “I think that’s amazing.  Good for you.”
One eyebrow went up.  “Amazing?”
“You deserve a guy who will wait and put every effort into winning you over.”
She shook her head.  “Why do men only think of sex? I mean, is it really that important?”
Cody shrugged.  “Well… yeah.”
“But with the right woman… a guy would be willing to wait, right?”
He looked into those big blue eyes, the tendrils of blond hair escaping her ponytail, the bright red apron that covered her and said, “Absolutely.”
“So, what’s wrong with me?”
“Not one damned thing.”
She stared at him for a moment, then shook her head.  “I think what’s wrong is that I only wanted to kiss him.”
“That doesn’t make you wrong.”
“It means that I was with the wrong guy,” she said, setting her cup down.
There was something in her eyes, and her voice, that made him swallow hard. “It might just mean you weren’t ready to move to the next level with him.”
“That’s strange considering that with you I’m ready for the next level right now.”
Her words rocked through him and now he couldn’t swallow.  “Wh…wha…what?”
“You heard me.”
“You’re drunk.”
She shrugged. “I’m tipsy. But it’s not like this is the first time I’ve wanted to kiss you.”
“Liv,” he said, his heart twisting in his chest.  “We can’t.”
“You don’t want to kiss me, Cody?”
She reached behind her and untied her apron.  She slipped it over her head and tossed it to the side.
He blinked.
What are you wearing?”
She looked down and smiled.  “My ugly Christmas sweater.”
“Why?”
“It was supposed to cheer me up.”
The sweater was a light knit in shimmery gold.  Except for the two Santa-type mittens curving around either side and covering her breasts.  The bottom said “Feel the joy”.
He couldn’t resist his own smile.  “Did it work?”
“A little.” She moved closer.  “Not as much as kissing you would.”
He took a deep breath.  She was tipsy.  But she was also sad.  He hated that George had chosen Maggie over Olivia.  She understandably needed some reassurance.  He was a big fan of hers, so he could easily assure her that she was amazing. “You’re gorgeous and sexy and sweet and any guy would be a damned fool if he didn’t kiss you every chance he got.”
She’d looked him straight in the eye. “Prove it.”
Yeah, he’d kind of known that’s where this was going.
Even as he stepped closer and put his hands on her hips, he knew he shouldn’t.  Even when he lifted her up to the countertop, he knew he shouldn’t.  Even when he stepped between her knees, lifted his hand and wiped the chocolate from the corner of her mouth then licked it off, he knew he shouldn’t.
But he did anyway.
He pulled the clip from her hair and tossed it over his shoulder, he ran his hand through her hair then cupped the back of her head.
He took a moment to appreciate the way her breath caught. The way her pupils dilated. The way her cheeks flushed.
Then he kissed her.
And it turned out that the chemistry he’d imagined between them, was very, very real.
The kiss went from sweet to spicy in two seconds.  She gripped the front of his shirt, arching closer.  He opened his lips over hers and she moaned, allowing him to stroke his tongue deep, tasting the chocolate and peppermint and the underlying deliciousness that was all Olivia.
She wrapped her legs around his waist.
He slid his hand up under her sweater, stroking her spine, her ribs, then cupping her breast.
Feel the joy, indeed.
She whimpered as he brushed his thumb over the hardened tip.
Just as he heard the front door bang open.
“Liv, we’re here to help!”
Cody ripped his mouth from Olivia’s as her sister, Amanda, called to her.
“Damn,” Olivia muttered.
Cody stepped back, taking a deep breath and trying not to notice how gorgeous she looked with her hair tousled and her mouth wet from his.
She pressed her lips together and pulled her ugly sweater down as she met his gaze.  “Damn,” she said again.
Yep, that about summed it up.
Olivia slid off the counter as her sisters came into the kitchen.
Cody reached for the bottle of peppermint schnapps.



 Read Part Two here!



It’s either true love…or the biggest mistake they’ve ever made.

Blurb:

Counting on Love, Book 4

Cody Madsen has stayed away from Olivia Dixon for almost two years—technically. Even though he talks to her every day and sees her every weekend. But there’s no kissing, touching, or telling her how he really feels. Because they’re just friends.  Anything more than that would mean crossing the line that Olivia’s older brother—Cody’s best friend—has firmly drawn between them.

Olivia wants what her three sisters have—true love. She could almost believe she’s found it with Cody, if it weren’t for the fact that her brother won’t have it. And he’s never steered her wrong before. Her head is telling her to trust her brother, but her heart won’t let go of Cody.

Her solution? A dating site where she and Cody can each find their “Perfect Pick” once and for all.

But when the site yields some unexpected results, their real feelings come front and center. And they have to decide if it’s worth the risk to cross the line from friendship to love after all.

Warning: Contains a starry-eyed romantic, a wanna-be Knight in Shining Armor, and chocolate chip cookies. A lot of chocolate chip cookies.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tidings of Comfort & Schnapps-- Part TWO

 Another scene in the short holiday story Tidings of Comfort and Schnapps... the short prequel to Cody and Olivia's story, Going for Four!




PART TWO


There was no way she was going to take her clothes off in a mall food court.

Which made the tables in front of Tacos R Us the perfect place to meet Cody the day after he’d kissed her in her kitchen.

Finally.

He’d finally kissed her.

There had been so many times she’d thought he wanted to, thought he was thinking about it—too. 
But he’d never done it, never given in.

Until last night.

And it had been amazing.  And horrible.

Horrible because now she wanted to do it all the time and they could never do it again.

That was why she’d called him to meet her for lunch.

She’d known he’d say yes. They were friends by default. Cody was her brother’s friend from college. She’d met Cody for the first time almost fourteen years ago. If Conner’s little sister—any of Conner’s four younger sisters, actually—had called for lunch, Cody would say sure.

But this wasn’t any old lunch. This was a day-after lunch.

She blew out a breath. She wanted to get this over with. Telling Cody that they couldn’t ever kiss again was going to be one of the hardest things she’d ever done.

Especially if he tried to talk her out of it.

But she had to. She knew it.

Her brother would never go for it. He had a strict rule about his sisters dating his friends and she knew that this rule—well, probably all of his rules—applied especially to her. She was the baby. She was the one he most staunchly protected. Some of it came from the fact that she had still been a little girl—only eleven—when their father had his fatal heart attack and Conner had to step in as father figure to his four sisters. But a lot of it was Olivia’s fault. She, plain and simple, made bad choices when it came to men.

Conner had always had her back. He’d saved her from more than one huge mistake.

But as Cody stepped off the escalator and turned toward her, her breath caught.

Her taste really seemed to be improving.

Cody Madsen was gorgeous—dark brown hair, deep brown eyes, the build of a firefighter who also played football five times a week.  But he was also sweet, funny, always polite, always considerate. And he baked kick ass cookies. She was so winning the Christmas cookie contest with his creation.

He was letting her take full credit for it too.

That was the kind of guy Cody was.  Everyone knew it. His friends were known as playboys and flirts, but Cody was known as the nice guy.

The only person who didn’t think Cody was perfect was her brother.

But Cody was the youngest Fire Chief in Omaha history. He saved lives for a living.

Whatever he’d done in the past to make Conner wary had to be big.

“Hey,” Cody greeted her.

His deep voice and easy smile really did make her want to take her clothes off.  Good thing fast food tacos put a bit of a damper on her sex drive.

She cleared her throat and forced her eyes away from the navy cotton t-shirt that stretched over his shoulders and chest. The firefighter emblem and stitched “House Three” over the left breast reminded her he was taking a break from work to be here. “Hey.”

He pulled out the yellow plastic chair next to her. Next to her. Not across from her. Then he angled it so he was facing her, their knees almost touching.

“Last night was amazing,” he said.

Well, that was one way to start the conversation.

“The cookies turned out great,” she said lightly.

“They did. Almost as great as the kissing. And the breasts.”

She felt both eyebrows go up. “The… breasts?”

“There were a couple of very nice breasts.”

She could tell her cheeks were pink and hot. As was the rest of her body at the reminder of Cody’s hands on said breasts.

She’d tingled in places she hadn’t even known she could tingle.

Who knew her pinky finger could tingle?

Maybe everyone. Maybe she’d just never been kissed like that before.

That was possible.

Again back to the bad taste in men thing.

“We can’t do that again,” she said. Somehow.

Cody gave her a long look, then settled back in the chair, resting his forearm on the table beside him.

“Cody?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, you heard me or yeah, you know that’s true?”

He sighed. “Both I guess.”

“You agree, don’t you?” Maybe he’d talk her out of it. Maybe he had a bunch of great reasons why it could still work. Maybe he knew something she didn’t that would help Conner be okay with it. Maybe he’d already talked to Conner and…

“Yeah.”

Damn.

At least he didn’t sound happy about it.

“Conner will never be okay with us being together,” she said.

“I know.”

“And I can’t sneak around behind his back.”

“I know.”

“And if it can’t go anywhere, if there’s no future, then I think we should stop it before it starts.”

“I know.”

She blew out a frustrated breath. Which didn’t make any sense. She shouldn’t be frustrated. He was agreeing with her. And she was right.

Still, would it kill him to argue a little? Or to at least say something like…

“I’m sitting in a mall food court, smelling cheap crappy tacos and caramel corn and I still want to pull you onto my lap and touch you until you make those amazing little sounds you made last night.”

Olivia felt her whole body flush. Yeah, something like that.

“Co—”

“And I can’t even watch you shredding that paper napkin without thinking about how it felt to have your hands on me.”

Olivia quickly wadded the napkin up and pushed it away from her. “Co—”

“And I can’t even watch you drink from that straw without remembering how your lips felt and how you taste and how much I want your mouth on other parts of me.”

She also pushed her iced tea away and took a deep breath. “This is a problem.”

He nodded. “It is. Because I’m pretty sure that even sitting here in this plastic chair in a food court with you, complete strangers walking by can tell that there is an electricity between us and I’m barely holding it together,” he said.

She stared at him.  Damn.

There was a reason she couldn’t climb into his lap right this second, but she was having a hard time remembering what it was.

“We, um…” She cleared her throat. “We can’t.”

He looked sincerely sad when he nodded this time. “I know.”

“Conner…” She trailed off.

“Yeah, Conner,” Cody said simply.

“So I guess, we just have to play it cool if we see each other,” she said with a shrug, as if that would be a piece of cake.

Cody spread his feet and leaned in, his forearms on his knees. “I don’t think so.”

She blinked. “What?”

“I’m feeling stirred up sitting in the least romantic or intimate place there is,” he said.

She agreed with his assessment of their meeting place. Exactly why she’d chosen it. Though the stirred up thing was definitely happening to her too.

“If we’re together at a barbecue or Conner’s birthday party or even at Trudy’s,” he said, naming the local hangout for the players on their football team and their friends and fans, not to mention most of the staff from St. Anthony’s hospital where Conner worked, “he’s gonna notice something’s going on with us.”

In spite of knowing it was not wise, Olivia liked the sound of that. “You think so?”

“Yes,” Cody said firmly, even as his mouth curled. “I think so.”

“What do we do? Avoid each other?” she hated the sound of that.

He reached out and took her hand. Heat shot from her fingers to her nipples just like that. Yep, Conner was going to be able to see this chemistry. It was like they’d opened Pandora’s box. “I don’t want to do that. For one, it will be nearly impossible. If we refuse to ever be in the same place at the same time he’ll notice that and want to know why.”

She nodded. “I don’t want to do that either.” She shrugged. “I like you. I want to kiss you too, but I also just like you.”

Something flickered in Cody’s eyes and she saw his attention drop to her mouth. “I think maybe we need to make some rules.”

She wet her lips without thinking, then did it again when his pupils dilated.

“Stop it.” His voice was rougher now.

“Sorry.”

His gaze returned to hers. “No flirting. I can’t take it.”

Darn. She’d barely had time to enjoy flirting with him. But yeah, that was just throwing fuel on the fire. “Okay. I have an idea.”

“I’m listening.”

She took her hand out of his reluctantly. “We’ll be friends.”

“We are friends. I still want to put you up on this table and—”

“Really good friends,” she interrupted before he could finish that thought. And before she could say “oh, yes please.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, you know how they say that we become desensitized to violence because we see it on tv all the time?” she asked, coming up with the plan and explanation as she went. “We just need to become desensitized to each other. We need to spend more time together, not less. Maybe if we hang out, we’ll realize that the other one isn’t so hot or so great. Maybe you have some really irritating habits that I won’t be able to stand. Or maybe you’ll realize that I’m only interesting when there’s schnapps involved.”

He grinned at that. “You’re only interesting when you’re drunk?”

She shrugged. “Maybe. So what do you say? Be my friend. I’ve never had a really good guy friend. There could be some real advantages to that. And if we’re friends—like I’ll-never-do-anything-to-jeopardize-this-friendship friends—then we won’t act on our attraction. We won’t want to ruin the friendship just for sex.”

He looked at her for a long time, seeming to ponder her suggestion. Finally he nodded. “Okay. What the hell? It’s worth a try. That way we won’t have to try to avoid each other.”

“And you bake,” she said, looking for and finding a few positives. Though it was damned hard to find something that would make not kissing Cody worth it. “I’ve never had anyone who enjoyed baking like I do. And a guy who bakes? Very cool.”

“You can be my beard,” he said.

She laughed. “What?”

“I love to bake, and I’m damned good at it, but the guys on the team and at the station will give me so much shit, I never do it. Now I can do it, and take it in to them, listen to them rave about how great it is, but I’ll tell them you made it.”

She grinned. “I accept. Oh, and,” she said, thinking of something else. “You can be my advisor.”

“What do you mean?”

“I make bad decisions when it comes to men and relationships. As a guy, you can help me see where they’re coming from and help me avoid picking the jerks.”

“You make bad decisions with men?” Cody asked, frowning. “That’s not okay.”

“That’s why I could use an advisor.”

“I accept. Though I’ll be honest, I kind of want to tell you to just never date anyone again.”

She gave him a smile. “That’s probably not realistic.”

“No?”

She shook her head. “There’s something about me you should know.”

He lifted an eyebrow.

She looked around then leaned in, as if to impart a very deep secret. “I’m a hopeless romantic.”

Cody’s other eyebrow went up. “What’s that mean?”

“I believe in true love. Romance. Soul mates. The whole thing. I watch romantic chic flicks and read romance novels. I love Valentine’s Day. I love love stories. I’m sappy and sentimental and I want it.”

“It?”

“True love. The big love story.”

He sat looking at her.

Finally she fidgeted. “Stupid, huh?”

He took a deep breath. “No. Not even a little. Which surprises me.”

“Surprises you?”

“From anyone else, it might sound silly, but you sell it, Liv. You make me want to believe in it too.”

She smiled. “Stick around. I’ll show you that true love happens all the time.”

He nodded and leaned back. “Yeah, that might be a problem.”

“Why’s that?”

“I already liked you and found you attractive. Last night you proved that you’re also very hot. And just now you became adorable.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Adorable?”

“In a very good—tempting—way.”

“Oh.”

“So if we’re going to hang out and be friends and show Conner that we sincerely like each other and want to spend time together, then we’re going to need some rules.”

“Rules. Okay, like…”

“No kissing.”

She laughed. “Well, yeah, isn’t that a given?”

“I’m just thinking that it might, at times, be tempting to do it, but I think it’s just going to start a whole bunch of stuff we can’t control. Like New Year’s Eve. We shouldn’t kiss at midnight. And we need to stay away from mistletoe. And no birthday kisses or kissing hello or goodbye.”

Uh, huh. She’d clearly been missing a lot of great opportunities to kiss him in the past. “Yeah, okay, those make sense.”

“And no talking about sex.”

She tipped her head. “Why would we talk about sex?”

“I just think we need to be careful talking about anything that will take our thoughts down a dangerous path. Being around you will be hard enough. I don’t need to take any Cosmo quizzes or give the guy’s perspective on anything sexual or anything.”

“But that’s such a great perk to having a guy friend,” she protested.

“Can’t do it.”

She felt a little thrill at how obviously affected he was. “Fine. What else?”

“No skimpy clothing.” His eyes ran over her from head to toe.

“Skimpy?”

“Short skirts, short shorts, tight jeans.”

“So ugly baggy sweatpants and stained t-shirts only?” she asked.

He nodded. “Yes. Please.”

“Well, the same goes for you then. No taking your shirt off to work on my car or something,” she said. She understood what he was saying. The attraction wasn’t going to go away—even with repeat exposure probably—so they needed to avoid things that would make the temptation stronger.

“Agreed.”

“Anything else?”

“No drinking when we’re alone together. I don’t need to lose any inhibitions.”

She couldn’t contain her smile at that. He made it seem that he really was going to have to work to resist her. That did a girl’s ego some good. “Deal.”

“Okay, good. So we have a plan.”

“Sounds like it.”

“Then we’re going to sit here, eat crappy tacos together and talk about football. And I’m going to keep my eyes off of your lips and your breasts and your ass. Mostly. Probably.” He sighed. “I’ll keep my hands off your lips, breasts and ass. That I can promise.”

“Darn.” Too late she realized she shouldn’t have let the teasing comment slip.

“That. That’s what we have to avoid,” he said, his eyes hot on her.

“Yeah.” She shifted under his gaze. “But you started it. You can’t talk about my breasts and lips and ass.”

He coughed. “You can’t talk about your breasts, lips and ass either.”

They stared at each other for a few seconds.

Finally, Olivia asked. “So just friends then?”

He nodded. “Sure. No big deal.”

Right. How hard could it be?

But as she stepped up to Tacos R Us, she was very aware of Cody’s eyes on her ass.





Cody and Olivia heat up the pages of Going for Four
on February 25th!


It’s either true love…or the biggest mistake they’ve ever made.

Blurb:

Counting on Love, Book 4

Cody Madsen has stayed away from Olivia Dixon for almost two years—technically. Even though he talks to her every day and sees her every weekend. But there’s no kissing, touching, or telling her how he really feels. Because they’re just friends.  Anything more than that would mean crossing the line that Olivia’s older brother—Cody’s best friend—has firmly drawn between them.

Olivia wants what her three sisters have—true love. She could almost believe she’s found it with Cody, if it weren’t for the fact that her brother won’t have it. And he’s never steered her wrong before. Her head is telling her to trust her brother, but her heart won’t let go of Cody.

Her solution? A dating site where she and Cody can each find their “Perfect Pick” once and for all.

But when the site yields some unexpected results, their real feelings come front and center. And they have to decide if it’s worth the risk to cross the line from friendship to love after all.

Warning: Contains a starry-eyed romantic, a wanna-be Knight in Shining Armor, and chocolate chip cookies. A lot of chocolate chip cookies.