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A little blackmail. A lot of glitter.
When the coffee shop owned by Bailey’s found family is threatened by a new corporate coffee house, Bailey immediately makes her protest signs and starts marching in front of the building. She charms the construction workers, the project manager, and, without knowing, the owner of the franchise—Jackson “Jax” Roberts.
Jax is so successful in his coffee kingdom that he’s bored. He’s assembled a team of professionals that scout new locations, train new owners, and launch new ventures. He doesn’t have to do a thing. Then one day he gets a call that there’s a problem with one of their latest acquisitions. All it takes is watching one video of Bailey marching around in front of his construction site with her handmade protest sign and he’s smitten.
To Jax, Bailey’s a hot mess of baking products, marker and glitter, but he’s never seen anyone sexier in his life. He’ll do anything for her to move her picketing from outside his building to inside his bedroom…even if it includes a little blackmail.
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“BB?” I jerk to a sitting position, startled at hearing my own name. I blink a few times, wondering what time it is. My alarm hasn’t gone off. “BB?” Millie says my name again, reminding me where I am. This time the lights flick on in my small studio apartment. I close my eyes, fighting the painful sudden blast of light. It could be early morning but normally she isn’t up here waking me. I tend to sleep in since I stay up late cooking. I crash around two in the morning by the time I’m done getting the baked goods ready for that morning rush. I snooze away while the rest of the world enjoys my yummy treats.
“I haven’t heard from you all day.” I slowly peek one eye open. I am sitting at my small eat-in kitchen nook. I must have passed out here. I stretch, trying to wiggle my bottom, which is throbbing. I let out a small yelp when a pain shoots through my spine.
“I’m too young for back pains,” I half scream, cringing as I do it.
“Anyone that falls asleep in a hard-ass chair is going to wake up hurting,” Millie tosses back at me. She’s got that mom look on her face. It’s the same one she gives her little boys when they are being naughty. I had fallen asleep in the hard wooden chair. My bottom will be paying the price for the rest of the day. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in making my treats for everyone that I lose track of time and most of the time I don’t make it to my bed before passing out.
“What time is it?” I stand and stretch my body out. The ache quickly begins to fade. I let out a giant yawn. I have no idea how long I was asleep.
“I just closed.” She motions to my front door. The coffee shop below my feet closes at four every afternoon. I live over the shop Millie and her husband own. They took me in a few years ago. I’ve stuck to them and haven’t let go since. They might not be my real family but they feel damn close. As close as I’ve ever had, at least. Millie is about ten years older than me but she walks a line of being like a mom and, more often than anything else, a best friend.
“You didn’t come down for your afternoon fix so I got worried.” I am usually out of bed before noon at least, slipping downstairs to see how my treats sold and to snag a coffee for myself. If they are crazy busy I’ll lend a hand. That’s rare. Oh, they are often busy, but I am the worst at making coffee. I don’t know why I can’t get it right but the machines overwhelm me. There are so many different names for coffee these days. Cappuccino, Latte, Macchiato, Americano, and all of the other ones that I can’t remember. I usually wing it when someone asks me for anything other than a brewed coffee. Which is the reason why I’m usually not asked to help out. I work better with a simple oven. I like to stick with what I know.
“I stayed up late,” I admit. After I was done baking last night I started a little project. I couldn’t get my mind to stop racing after Millie told me the news yesterday. I know it was crushing to her but she always has a smile, even in the face of something terrifying. Her face when she told me she may have to go out of business was heartbreaking. I think I was in a little bit of shock once the words left her mouth. So many things raced through my mind in that moment. The thought of everything changing is something that I can’t even comprehend. I am so happy living above the shop and thinking that all of this may be taken away shook me to my core.
“I see that.” She walks over to where I was sleeping. “What are you doing?”
I glance down at the small area I was working in. I actually got further than I thought I had before I passed out. There is glitter everywhere. I might have gone a touch too far with it. I am never going to get this all cleaned up.
“I’m not going to stand by and let someone else take us down.” I fold my hands over my chest ready for battle with my glittered-out sign. I’m not sure how to fight something like this. It may not even be possible but I plan to go down fighting.
“You can’t protest.” She picks up my sign, which reads I’m so angry I made a sign.
“I didn’t know what else to put on there.” I shrug. It took me forever to decide what to write on the sign. The saying wasn’t mean but it was forceful. Millie begins to laugh. Her laughter brings a smile to my face. Even if I don’t use this to protest, it was worth making it just to see that smile.