Secrets abound in Benson's Bakery. A crazed Santa wants something valuable hidden inside the building, and only two things stand in his way...Jake and Sara.
When Sara Henderson receives threatening letters just days before Christmas, she asks sexy bread baker Jake Benson for help. Jake is more than happy to provide the muscle to keep the beautiful cake decorator from harm, but he has an ulterior motive--to steal a kiss under the mistletoe. Sara wants that kiss as much as he does, but first they have a mystery to solve.
Will they find out who is stalking Sara, or will Santa succeed in stealing Christmas?
Once Tori arrived, Sara returned to the office. Jake stood in the prep area, still up to his elbows in dough. He glanced up as she walked by. “I’m going with you to the bank.”
“You’re behind on the breads. I can take Tori with me or wait until Seth gets back.”
“I won’t be that long, Sara.”
She faced him. “Neither will I.”
He plopped a portion of dough on a scale, checking the weight before rounding it in a ball. “I’ll be done by the time you’re finished with the deposit.”
She groaned. He wouldn’t leave her alone until she agreed to his company. “Fine, I’ll even start the car to give you extra time.”
Jake inclined his head and continued his task. Sara studied the way he manipulated the dough, used the heels of his hands to push the bread away and his strong fingers to fold it over and bring it back. Over and over, he tugged and pulled, kneading and twisting. For a moment, Sara envisioned him doing the same thing to her, even when he occasionally pinched the dough to see if it was ready.
“You’re staring,” he said.
She swallowed. “I wasn’t. How long will the dough take to rise?”
“Depends on how much heat and moisture it gets.”
“What happens if there’s too much heat and moisture?” She met and held his gaze.
“The dough gets too sticky and it won’t rise as much.” He never stopped moving his hands.
She wondered what would get a rise out of him. “I-I’ll be in the office.”
He rounded the dough. “I’ll be here.”
She spun on her heel and bumped into the door, her face burned when he laughed behind her. Head held high she entered the office and closed the door. What was she doing thinking about Jake like that? Could he really want to pursue something with her now? She put her hands to her flaming cheeks, glancing through the door window. He still had his eyes on her. She spun away, and leaned against the door, a hand over her racing heart. A faint smile brushed the corners of her mouth as she went to the safe and pulled out the deposit.
Ten minutes later Sara had the money bundled, her change order ready, and her coat on. She stepped out of the office, digging in her purse for her keys. “I’m starting the car. It’s snowing again.”
“Wait for me. I just have to wash my hands.” Jake placed the last of the dough in loaf pans.
“My car is three feet from the door.” She shook her head. “I’m just warming up the car!”
He chuckled. “I still have to wash my hands.”
With a huff, Sara stepped into the back alley and slammed the door. She paused, thumbing through the jumble of keys for the right one and peered around the drab gray world. Her car wasn’t exactly three feet from the door, more like thirty. She pulled her hood over her ebony hair and started forward.
She was perfectly capable of going to the bank by herself, but now that she was in a winter wonderland alone, her bravado failed. Sara crunched across the snow, bare asphalt peeking through in spots. The keys jangled as her foot slid on an icy patch. She stuttered stepped and came to a bone-jarring halt. That could’ve been bad, she’d have to throw down more salt. Drawing in a deep breath, she moved forward again.
Rough hands seized her jacket.
Sara struggled for purchase while jerking away from her assailant. How could she have been so stupid? Panic turned her limbs to jelly, her breath came in stuttered gasps. She had to get away. His strong grip held her purse and jacket. She pried at his hands, but he refused to release her. Twisting in his grasp, she stared into his cold eyes, his thin lips curling into a sneer.
“Let go!” she shouted.
“Give me what I want!”
Sara wrenched away from him, ripping her coat. He struggled to retain his grip, yanking the purse tangled around her arm. If she could get enough room to maneuver she could get away. His fingers slipped. She raised her foot and kicked, her boot connecting with his shin. He howled, but didn’t release her.
He seized her arms, lifting her. Sucking in a breath, she squirmed this way and that to break his hold. Santa’s sleeve fell back. Her eyes fastened on the bit of ink ringing his wrist. She struggled harder. A shriek left her lips and disappeared into the snow. She kicked her legs, hoping to connect with a body part. Nothing but air. He swung her around. She should’ve waited. The door scraped open. He gave her one final, violent shake, dropped her and fled.