Home > Horn of Plenty (Farm to Mabel Duet #2)

Horn of Plenty (Farm to Mabel Duet #2)
Author: Krista Sandor


Chapter 1






Everything stopped.

The hum of the crickets chattering outside ceased.

Mabel’s jaw hit the floor. She had to be hallucinating. There could not be a man peering in through her window. A man who made her mad enough to spit nails and curse all men for eternity! She crossed her arms and threw her broodiest glare at the one and the only Callan Horner. As if he were the asshat farmer version of Batman, he’d scaled the lattice leading up to her bedroom window and now currently rested an elbow on her windowsill as if the broody jerk was simply looking for a place to hang out.

“What the hell are you doing?” she whisper-shouted, glancing from her door, then back to Cal.

“I used to climb up here all the time,” he answered with a half-shrug as if there was nothing insane about this.

She should get the broom and push his ass out the window! His casual demeanor amped-up her anger. He was there! He must comprehend what just transpired between them!

Under the summer sky, beneath a blanket of twinkling lights, one of the most romantic locales she could imagine, he’d rejected her. And damn the man for looking so ruggedly handsome while he did it!

“Believe me, I know you used to climb up to my window. But that was when I was ten, and you and my brother were teenagers,” she threw back. And, by the way, again, what was he doing here? After giving her the ultimate cold-shoulder, he could not expect her to welcome this intrusion.

“Jamie’s window doesn’t have lattice to climb up,” he answered, matter-of-factly.

Oh! He was infuriating!

“I know! This is my house and my room! So, if you’re done moonlighting as a peeping Tom, you can be on your merry broody way and go find your next window.”

She ran her hands through her hair, frustration churning in her belly—or maybe it was something else. Anger? Irritation? This was ludicrous! This entire night had moved way past crazy.

“I don’t want to find another window. In fact, I want you to climb out of this window and join me,” he said smoothly.

Join him? The stupid farmer couldn’t seem to get away fast enough when they were back in the field.

“Have you lost your mind?” she fired back.

He cracked the hint of a grin, and heaven help her, that twist in her belly wasn’t anger. It was exhilaration.

“Maybe a little. Come on. I’ll help you,” he replied, extending his hand.

She batted it away. “I don’t need any help. I can climb out my own damn window just fine. And don’t look up my dress.”

She shimmied out the window, feeling for the rung of the lattice as her muscle memory kicked in, and she scaled the side of the house.

What was she doing? Why would she give him another opportunity to break her heart?

But she didn’t have much time to answer that compelling question. Because after a few more feet, she’d made it to the ground.

She glanced around at the darkened fields. “Well? What’s the plan, broody farmer?”

“Come with me,” he said, taking her hand and leading her toward the greenhouse.

This was a terrible idea! She should have kicked his ass out the window and gone to bed. But here she was, hand in hand, following this jerk.

“Is this the part of the night where you tell me that the Elverna Sustainable Farming Initiative is the front for drug cartel activity? Are you growing magic mushrooms and selling them on the black market?” she ranted.

“Betty, Sally, and Margaret gave it away, huh? With that horoscope code-talk, you figured it out. Since you’re working for the town, I should tell you that those sisters are major players in the rural Illinois drug underworld,” he replied with an extra side of sarcasm.

“Oh, shut up!” she whisper-shouted, ready to tell him where he could stick his possibly psychedelic mushrooms when a smaller greenhouse came into view. Situated behind the barn, she’d missed it when her father had shown her the larger greenhouse this morning.

“What is this?” she asked.

He opened the door to the darkened space. “We’ve started growing lavender in here.”

She entered the space and inhaled. “It smells heavenly.”

“It’s you, Mabel,” he said, tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear.

She wanted to melt into his touch, but she couldn’t. “What’s me?” she questioned, doing her best to put a sharp edge on her words, but Cal seemed unbothered by her tone.

He took her hand and led her down the center row. “This scent—lavender and a touch of honey. I could never get it out of my head.”

“My lotion?” she questioned, surprised the man had noticed.

He grinned. “I wondered if that’s what it was. Now, close your eyes.”

“Cal!” she protested.

“Please, Mabel, do this for me. Don’t fight me on this,” he whispered against the shell of her ear as the scented air grew electric and her body thrummed. It was too easy to get lost in this man.

“Fine,” she answered, closing her eyes as she listened to his footsteps trail off. She could not let her guard down. She doubled her resolve. “You better not have dragged my ass out a window to leave me here standing alone in the dark.”

He wouldn’t go to all the trouble, would he?

She felt him come up behind her—felt his energy, his presence.

“Open your eyes, Mabel,” he said, his voice taking on that gravelly rumble that drove her crazy as he slid his hands around her waist.

She swallowed hard, blinked open her eyes, then gasped.

Twinkling white lights hung from the rafters, casting the expanse of green and violet in an ethereal glow. She half-expected pixies to rise from the fragrant plants. The scene was something out of a fairy tale.

“It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” she said, awe coating her words as she turned in his arms to face him.

“I want your first time to be special,” he said with the sweetest twist to his lips.

A wild sense of euphoria washed over her. He did want her.

“Oh,” she breathed, butterflies taking flight in her belly. She took in the twinkling lights, then she spied something on the far side of the enclosure. “Is that a bed?”

“It’s my futon cushion. I didn’t have that much time to throw this together,” he answered, his cheeks growing pink.

She couldn’t let him think that this was anything less than the most romantic gesture anyone had ever done for her. She pushed up onto her tiptoes and cupped his face in her hands. “Cal, it’s perfect. It’s more than perfect.”

He rested his forehead to hers. “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings in the field. I just wanted to do more for you, Mabel. I’ve always wanted to do more. It’s what drives me forward each day. It’s my purpose.”

His purpose?

That didn’t make any sense.

“Cal, I—” she began, but he pressed his fingertips to her lips.

“Mabel, I want to kiss you, and once I start, I don’t want to stop,” he continued, his words breaking down her every defense.

For a broody farmer, he could sure dish out the sweet talk when he wanted to, and she knew what she had to do.

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