This year, my favorite magazine, Festive Treasures, is hosting their Countdown to Christmas bake-off event right here in Willow Valley. The last two years I’d entered, I’d come in second place. Everyone tells me that the third time is a charm, so with the whole town routing for me I enter my newest creation cinnamon buns.

When I get my acceptance letter, I discover that Tristan Ryan is sitting on the judges panel. We went to culinary school together. We didn’t have a good relationship then, especially when he voiced that he didn’t think I deserved to be at one of the top culinary schools if all I was going to do was take over my mother’s bakery back in my small hometown.

I don’t let that deter me. Instead, the day of the try-outs I arrive with my buns and a smile. When my name was called, I raised my head high and climbed up the stairs to the stage. That was when it happened, my ankle went rolling, my rolls went flying, and the next thing I know I wake up in the hospital.

I wake to see my assistant, and my arch enemy by her side. He immediately claimed the guilt for what happened. He volunteered to take care of me and my badly sprained ankle. He even volunteered to move in and help with the bakery. I don’t know what I was thinking when I accepted. Tristan always had a way of testing my patience. I figured it would never last. To my surprise, the criticism seemed to stop, and something else started. I was beginning to like the big dumb jerk.

I still wasn’t convinced that the trip was just an accident, but, I was convinced he’d decide soon enough there was nothing for him in this little town, including me, so what harm would come from a little fling?