Sweet As Candy, page 1
Sweet As Candy
About the Author
Also by Tory Baker
From the moment Dylan Walker stepped foot into the new bakery, Sweet as Candy, he knew Candy Jameson was meant to be his. But, Dylan doesn’t come alone. He adopted his nephew Johnny and they’re definitely a package deal. Not many women want a man who comes with a ready-made family.
Still, the attraction between Candy and Dylan is instant and so hot that it just might consume both of them. Candy’s heart melts for little Johnny as much as it starts beating faster for Dylan.
Trick or Treat! Tory definitely has a treat for you in this book, which is guaranteed sweet as any candy you might score this holiday season. It’s guaranteed safe, an over the top single-dad Alpha, hot enough to keep you warm on those cool fall nights and won’t cause cavities. What more could you want?
To those who love pumpkins, the smell of Fall in the air, and the leaves changing.
I never thought at the age of thirty, my five-year-old nephew would be the brightest spot in my life, or that his dumb ass parents could be so negligent. Yes, I’m talking about my own flesh and blood, bonehead of a brother. If our parents were still alive, they’d no doubt beat him black and blue.
Brody met Kena right after our parents passed away, one thing led to another, and nine months later Johnny arrived.
It was a devastating loss and one we didn’t see coming. One night they were here and loving every minute of their twenty-five years together. Then, a drunk driver collided with them in a head-on car collision and they were gone.
Brody was already at the edge of a slippery slope, and one woman helped push him further to the cliff. They were both toxic to each other. Keeping Kena clean while she was pregnant was hard. You’d think she would want to stay healthy for her unborn child. Wrong, she didn’t care and eventually I talked her into staying at a rehab facility during her pregnancy. She was still sneaking pills, somehow.
He and Kena signed over their rights shortly after Johnny was born and he’s been with me ever since.
It makes my heart ache to know that Brody gave Johnny away so easily, but I knew if I didn’t offer to take him off their hands, he would somehow end up hurt.
“Have a good weekend, Tabitha,” I tell my receptionist, as I head out of my office. I’ve been trying to perfect this app for children and adults suffering from dyslexia. I usually develop gaming apps, but when your very own little man has something holding him back from reading, you drop whatever you’re working on to see if you could get this right for him.
“Hi Mr. Sullivan, heading out for the day?” she questions.
“Yep, I’m off to grab Johnny and take him to the bakery,” I say, with a smile. Tabitha is older in age, her hair is greying at her temples, and she’s been the biggest asset since I brought her on six years ago.
“He’s going to have the biggest sweet tooth,” she admonishes.
“He’d get it honestly then,” I reply, giving an exaggerated toothy grin.
“It’s all the other junk food they sneak. Trust me, I raised three girls, and now I have six grandchildren.”
“I have a feeling you’re the one feeding them all the junk.” I finish locking up my office.
“You’re probably right. Have a good evening,” she says.
“You too, don’t stay too much later,” I say, with a wave.
I get to Johnny’s school fairly quickly. We live in a small town and it’s only a few minutes away and within walking distance. In fact, you can practically walk everywhere. He’s in the after-school program and I hate it. My job is flexible enough that he could come with me or I could work from home, but he begged to stay after and hang out with his friends. One look at his puppy dog pleading face and I caved.
I see him waiting on the stoop of the elementary school and my smile already broadens. He runs towards me, arms out, and yelling, “Daddy, guess what, guess what?”
I bend down and get on his level as I respond, “What is it? Did you have a good day?”
“I wrote my name. Mrs. Sanchez even said it was perfect!” he exclaims.
“I’m so proud of you, Johnny. I think this deserves a trip to the bakery?” I question, he doesn’t know I was planning on taking him anyways.
“Yes!” He’s beyond excited and something as simple as writing his name correctly, it tugs at my heart. I know he may not be mine by birth, but he’s mine all the same.
“Hi, Mrs. Sanchez,” I say, as I walk closer to her, where she has a clipboard with all the children’s name to sign them in and out.
“Hello Mr. Sullivan, ready for the weekend?” she asks
“We sure are,” Johnny squeals. He’s got a pile of energy and it’s only going to get worse, but to see that smile on his face, I’ll deal with his energy any day of the week. After he has his treat from the bakery, I’ll take him to the park, let him run, jump, and swing. That will tire him out before dinner.
“Have a good weekend,” I tell her.
“You too,” she replies, and we head off for our walk to the bakery.
I hear the doorbell ring and go towards the front of the store. I stop in my tracks when I see Dylan. He’s been coming in here with his son since I opened the shop up a couple of months ago. It was so endearing how he always gives him one on one attention, even when I hear his phone ring. He silences it and then turns right back to Johnny.
Johnny is five years old. How do I know? Well he loves to come in and tell me all about his day. Whether it’s at school, on the weekend, or how he did at his tee ball game. I hear about it, usually laughing and giggling with Johnny while he’s talking a million miles an hour.
I may be only twenty years old, but I know if I ever have children, I’m hopeful they’ll be as sweet and kind as Johnny is. Of course, first I’d have to find a man. Maybe I’d have to not be a virgin either. I chuckle at my own thought and that’s when Dylan notices me.
He stops me dead in my tracks. Our gaze never wavers. His jacket is gone. He has a long-sleeved dress shirt on, but he has the sleeves folded back to his forearms. The buttons that were once buttoned all the way to his throat are now open. The whole look works for him. Add in the five-o clock shadow he has going on, and his hair, that I can tell is tousled from running his hands through it multiple times today, and it’s enough to melt me into a puddle. He has everything going for him.
“Hi Johnny,” I say, with a smile on my face.
“Hi, Miss Candy. Guess what?” he asks.
“What’s that?” I reply to him as I come from around the counter. I go down to a sitting position, my leggings helping to keep things sucked in, but also allow me to move freely throughout the day. I threw on a “Ho
Once I’m sitting down in “crisscross apple-sauce” pose, Johnny does the same and he tells me all about his day.
“I did really good writing my name, the best in a long time. Didn’t I, Daddy?” he may be sitting down but his arms are moving all around him as he talks.
“You sure did, Bud. I couldn’t be any prouder,” Dylan says as he squats down beside us. I can see the muscles in his thighs and as much as I want to let my gaze linger, I don’t. I quickly avert my eyes back to Johnny and listen to him tell me about the rest of his day.
Fuck, this woman is perfect. The way she listens to Johnny like she doesn’t have a business to run and how she has no problem sitting on her shop floor and giving him her full attention. Shit, she doesn’t even care if she gets dirty. She’s that amazing. Her caramel colored hair is tied up high, allowing me to see the curve of her neck. A neck I want to rain kisses down till I get to the hollow of her throat. I want to mark her. Yeah, I’d mark her until I can get my ring on her finger and show the world that she’s mine.
Her green eyes sparkle as she interacts with Johnny. I keep my eyes on her the whole time. We glance at each other from time to time. She doesn’t even know how gorgeous she is when she tucks that errant piece of hair behind her ear, or how she flutters her long eyelashes when she notices I’m watching her.
Her smile has got to be one of her best qualities and fuck, do I know she has some amazing ones. It lights up her whole face. I stand up when I hear the bell ring above the door, letting us know someone is walking in.
“Come on Johnny. Candy has another customer. Let’s go see what’s new in stock while she helps them,” I tell him, as I hold my hand out for her and Johnny both. My hand engulfs hers, and it’s so much smaller than mine.
“Thank you, Dylan. Give me just a few minutes, Johnny, and you can finish telling me your story. Mrs. Johnson is just picking up her order, it won’t take me too long,” she says. I watch the sway of her hips as she walks away. She’s it for me, now I just need to execute my plan.
I walk around with Johnny as he oohs and ahhs over the new treats Candy has put out, “Look Johnny. There’s even candied apples.”
“Can I have one and a cupcake, Dad?” I look at him and it’s hard to believe he’s my brother’s child. He looks so much like I did at his age, from the way he’s built, lanky, and on the shorter side. Always having a hard time keeping his breeches up, to his facial expressions, and all the way to the coloring of his hair.
“You can, but you know the rules: if you have something now, you’ll have to wait till tomorrow to have more,” I tell him, as he looks up at me with hopeful eyes.
“Alright, let’s go see if Ms. Candy is done with her customer. Then she can help us out and we can get home and make homemade pizza,” I tell him.
“Can we ask Ms. Candy to come over, too?” And just like that, a plan comes together. Not only do I want Candy, but it seems Johnny does as well.
“We can ask her, but she may not be able to make it. This is one of her busiest times of the year,” I tell him.
“Well, I think we should try, Dad.”
“Try what? The new candy apples?” she questions.
“That too and umm... Dad and I would like you to have pizza with us tonight,” Johnny asks before I can string three words together.
“Are you sure?” She looks up at me with her answer.
“Absolutely. We’d love to have you,” I tell her. I’m coming up with several ideas to keep her with us forever now.
“I don’t close for another hour or so. It may be too late by then?” She questions.
“That’s fine, we need to stop at the grocery store and pick up the toppings, and we still have to let the dough rise, so that should work out perfectly.” I’m as excited as Johnny, who’s jumping up and down.
“Yay! This is going to be so much fun. I can show you my toys, too!” He shouts with excitement.
“Well if you’re sure. I’d love to,” she says with a smile.
“Dad are we still going to the park?” Johnny asks.
“We can, but it will only be for a few minutes,” I respond to Johnny.
“That’s okay, Ms. Candy is coming over. We have lots to do!”
We exchange phone numbers and I text her our address. Then she rings up our purchases. I hate to walk away from her, but I’m happy as fuck she’ll be at our place tonight.
“See you soon,” I tell her, as we walk out of her shop.
“I can’t wait,” she responds back, her eyes sparkling with joy.
I can’t believe they invited me over, well Johnny did. Maybe Dylan just went along with it? I’m not really sure, but I closed the shop and packed up a few extra candied apples since that seemed to be what Johnny was really excited about this week and then drove to Dylan’s house
I would usually walk, but I wasn’t sure how late I would be out tonight and didn’t want to walk through downtown if it was too late.
Pulling into Dylan’s driveway I’m gob smacked. His house is an adorable bungalow. I thought he’d live in a different part of town. One where the houses were so expensive it would take a century to pay off and it would have a guard at the gate. Yet, he doesn’t. It makes me like Dylan even more. I knew what he did for a living and how he his company helps many families around town. He never came off as pretentious, so I’m not sure why I assumed he’d live in overpriced suburbia.
I shut my car off and grab my purse, along with the bag full of goodies from the front seat and make my way up to the front porch. Dylan has a couple of rocking chairs out front, but other than it’s pretty sparse. I could see orange, yellow, and red chrysanthemums, pumpkins, and lanterns on the steps leading up to the porch. Then add a big rug by the front door with more mums and a welcome sign.
The door opens up and Johnny immediately grabs my hand and leads me inside the front door.
“Ms. Candy, Ms. Candy! You’re here. You actually came,” he says with glee. It hurts my heart to hear that he thought I wouldn’t come.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I tell him, as he leads me into the kitchen, his hand in mine. I could fall in love with this little boy.
As we walk further into the house, I see it’s all soft muted browns and whites, with a pop of color here and there. The trim work is all white, and the floors are stained a dark hickory color. It’s all so nice and cozy. Unlike my house, which is more or less a studio apartment, but it’s mine. I stayed home and worked as much as I could during high school and college, knowing I wanted to save every penny I could to own my bakery. While most kids were out having fun during the summer, I was working every odd and end job I could.
My grandfather was the one who got me into baking. Something that was once a hobby, became my passion. It was a deep bond we shared together. He never recovered from losing Gram, so every time he came into town, we always locked ourselves in the kitchen.
Mom and Dad would come in and check on us, then they’d be off on a date night. It was their time to get away for a night or two and our time to mess up the kitchen.
I stop in my tracks when we come into the kitchen. Dylan is there, elbow deep in pizza dough. He has flour on his cheeks, his hair, and even on his shirt. It’s enough to make me laugh.
Johnny says, “Daddy, I think the flour goes on the dough,” with a snicker.
“Need any help?” I offer.
“If you could stir the sauce, that would be great,” he says, and I meander my way to the stove. I open the lid and smell the aroma of marinara. My stomach takes that exact moment to growl, embarrassing me to no end.
“It won’t be much longer now, Scouts Honor,” I see him wink.
“I’ll be okay. Today was busy and I forgot to eat lunch,” I tell him, as I place the lid back on the pot.
“Give me about twenty minutes and this will be rea
Seeing Candy walk through the house, it’s like she was meant to be here. I don’t want her to leave. The past month or so that Johnny and I have been going into her shop, Sweet as Candy, I knew I wanted her, but we’re a package deal. Johnny comes first, and I wanted to make sure Johnny liked her and to see how she interacts with him.
He took an instant liking to her and well, so did I. Not to mention my dick, it’s been hard for her ever since I first laid eyes on her.
I shake off my thoughts and go back to laying the dough out on the pizza stone.
“Johnny, you ready to come help?”
“Yep! Can Ms. Candy help too?” he asks.
“Of course, this one is yours, so make sure you put the toppings on that you’ll eat,” I tell him.
Candy comes over and watches over Johnny as he puts cheese, black olives, and pepperoni on his pizza. It’s an odd combination, but he’s not a picky eater.
“Wow, that’s quite the pizza you have Johnny,” Candy says with a smile. Johnny looks up at her, his smile wide and toothless. He’s happy to have her here with us and so am I.