Giving up sugar right before Halloween. Brilliant.
Going on vacation with an ex. Not so bright.
Honey and her ex-husband, Max, travel to Sapphire Falls to give their two young children the perfect Halloween treat. Max wants Honey back, and he’s counting on the magic of Sapphire Falls to seduce her into a second chance.
Honey is leery of Max and his tricks, but when he woos her with a Halloween romance complete with bonfires, hayrides, parties, and paintball, Honey warms to the idea of a new beginning.
Unfortunately, there's something off about Max that Honey can't put her finger on. When their vacation goes haywire, Honey must decide whether the treat of true love is worth all the terrible tricks life can play.
Honey Myers had never been known for making good decisions.
If she had, she wouldn’t have:
1. married and divorced Max Wolff
2. agreed to go to Sapphire Falls with her ex-husband
3. decided to give up sugar right before Halloween.
So here she was, waiting at the taxi stand at a tiny airport in the middle of Nebraska with her son, Mattie, age four, and baby daughter Sara, barely sixteen months.
Problem? The last taxi had left the stand, the other passengers were busy piling into assorted pickup trucks, jeeps, and large jalopy sedans.
“Mommy? I’m hungry,” Mattie whined.
Sara babbled, chewing on her fingers and drooling, clearly overdue for a feeding.
“Where are we?” Mattie’s voice grew more high-pitched. “Why isn’t Daddy here?”
When ex-Max, that was her nickname for him, had suggested a fun, family-filled vacation to the annual Sapphire Falls Halloween festival, Honey had been resistant. After all, ex-Max grew up in that small town and couldn’t escape it fast enough. He’d hated it and told her a million reasons why he would never, ever set foot in that boring one cow town till his dying day.
Clearly, he wasn’t dying, or one could hope. But as ex-husband’s went, ex-Max wasn’t too bad. He paid child support, he didn’t flaunt his dates around her, if any, and he even affirmed her decisions for Mattie’s preschool. He was also a good father during the few weekends he was around.
And not being around was his major failing.
“I’m cold and I want a hotdog.” Mattie looked up at her with the pale blue eyes he inherited from his father. “Please?”
Sara squirmed in her stroller and her face scrunched, letting out an irritated cry for food.
Honey scrambled in her bag and handed both her children juice boxes, yes, full of sugar, but being abandoned by her ex-husband at a Podunk airport called for emergency rations.
She barely felt guilty as she fumbled with her cell phone for the Uber app to find a driver. They’d had a long flight and she had to get to the Rise & Shine Bed & Breakfast and find food or risk a double toddler meltdown.
“Ma’am, I can take you where you want to go,” a deep, booming male voice said, as a man jumped out of his extended cab pickup truck.
“Are you an Uber driver?” Honey narrowed her eyes at the broad-shouldered man who’d started picking up her luggage. As country boys went, this guy wasn’t bad at all. Square jaw, pale blue eyes, and dark brown hair made him quite the package. She could easily see him on a billboard selling tractors.
“Nope, this here’s Ford country.” He hefted her suitcase into the truck bed.
“Wait, I can’t go with you if you’re not from Uber.” Honey grew up in the big city, and she wasn’t about to become another statistic.
“I’m hungry,” Mattie shared with the towering farm boy who wore bib overalls, a plaid flannel shirt and a brown corduroy jacket.
“Here, have a Tootsie pop.” The man dug two wrapped Tootsie pops from his pocket.
Honey held up her hand. “I’m afraid we can’t accept that or the ride. Please take my luggage from your truck.”
But did anyone pay attention to her? Her son took the candy and gave the man a high-five.
Her daughter squealed with delight and clapped her hands, and her suitcases were soon joined by her roller bag and Sara’s stroller.
“It’s getting dark,” the man said, helping her into the cab. “Max said I’d find you here. He’s already at the Rise & Shine waiting for you.”
Which was why he was the ex-husband and she was going to need a lot of chocolate to get her through this haunted Halloween weekend. Except she couldn’t have chocolate—at least the kind with sugar in it.
“I’m Troy Caine, Max’s best buddy growing up.” The man introduced himself after making sure both Sara and Mattie were strapped into their car seats.
If it hadn’t been for the kindness of strangers, Honey wouldn’t have even made it to the taxi stand with luggage, children, and all their paraphernalia. But then, this trip had been the first time Max was able to leave his investment banking job for four days straight, and he wanted the kids to enjoy a small town Halloween.
Honey, too, had always been curious about Max’s love-hate relationship with Sapphire Falls, so when he'd mentioned an all-expense paid trip to his hometown, she’d jumped at the chance—right after she’d bet her sister, Candi, that she could kick her sugar habit, cold turkey.
“Well, thanks for picking us up.” Honey remembered her manners. “How far is it to Sapphire Falls?”
“About thirty minutes.” Troy steered the pickup onto the interstate.
They drove by miles and miles of empty fields with grain silos sticking like sentinels every so often. The sky was a cloudy gray and the landscape was flat.
“Is there really a waterfall in Sapphire Falls?” Honey imagined a trickling spray of bright blue water.
“No actual waterfall, but we do have an awesome river.”
“That’s not the same thing. How can you get away with the name Falls in a town without an actual waterfall?”
Troy snickered and rubbed his nose. “That’s because it’s not water that’s falling at Sapphire Falls.”
“Come again?” Honey noticed the sign on the turn off for Sapphire Falls, population 1221. Someone had put a line through the 1221 and painted 1388.
“It’s people.” He slowed down as the road narrowed. “They come and fall in love, and they never leave.”
He ended that sentence with a wicked laugh.
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Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She writes from sweet to steamy and believes that everyone should find love as often as possible, even if it's within the pages of a book. Rachelle is working on a sweet series of romances with pets and firemen, Have a Hart Romances, and one full of bad boys, Bad Boys for Hire. She also writes sports romances in both football and baseball, as well as many holiday romances, both sweet and spicy. She has won the 2015 and 2016 Readers Favorite Gold Award and the 2015 Angie Ovation Award.