Kari studied the muscular, tattooed man with the shaved head. Yummy. Not her type, but still, she could see why some women liked bad boys. “You don’t look like a barista.” Whoops, had she said that out loud?
One corner of his mouth twitched. “You don’t look like a business owner.”
Fair enough. Growing her hair out had not, as she’d hoped, helped her look older than her 24 years, and no matter how tall she stood, she couldn’t reach above five feet two inches. All right, technically five feet one and a half inches.
She smiled. “I guess we’re even.”
He glanced around the empty room. Kari followed his gaze. Was he wondering if they would actually get the cat café open in a few weeks? At the moment, they had no furniture, no decor, and no cats. This man had wandered in through the doors that were propped open to let the paint fumes escape. He wasn’t the first person to take interest in the Help Wanted sign in the window, but he was one of the few men, and the oldest. She guessed his age at early thirties, though possibly hard living had added a few years.
His presence made the large room feels smaller. Kari took refuge in professionalism. After all, however she might look, she was in fact a business owner now. “Do you have a resume?”
He turned back to her and his piercing gaze almost knocked her back a step.
“I’m going to be upfront with you,” he said.
She swallowed. “I’d appreciate that.”
“My resume doesn’t reflect my current interests. I did four years in the Army. Then I signed on with a private security firm in the Mid East. Did that for four years before I was injured last year. Almost two years ago now, I guess.”
Kari did some math in her head, partly to distract herself from his golden-brown eyes. Assume he’d entered the military right out of high school. That made four years plus four plus two. That would make him younger than she’d thought, less than thirty. Eight years in the Middle East would also explain his tough, weathered look.
“I spent the time since then focused on healing. Physical therapy, counseling.” His eyes narrowed slightly, as if ready to judge her response.
“That’s good.” It would be rude to ask about his injuries, not to mention against labor laws if this was going to be a job interview. “I hope you’re …” It was probably too much to expect better from a recovery that took over a year of physical therapy and counseling. “… improved.”
He nodded, and his shoulders dropped half an inch. She hadn’t realized until then that he might be nervous about this conversation as well.
Kari smiled warmly. “So now you think making coffee sounds good? Or is it the cats that appeal to you?”
He returned her smile, and her knees went weak. He was not her type. She liked intellectual, career-focused men. She had never understood women who raved over a man in uniform. Not that he was in uniform now. She glanced down at his faded jeans and tried not to let her gaze linger on the snug black T-shirt as she looked up again. Now he looked like he should be jumping on a motorcycle without a helmet, not looking for work in a café that featured adoptable cats. Soldier or biker, he wasn’t her type – but she could see the appeal.
A clatter came from the kitchen, where her sister was organizing the supplies. On the other hand, this man might be Marley’s type. After all, Marley had gotten pregnant at eighteen from a tattooed soldier on leave. She’d hardly dated since, but if her ex hadn’t turned her off of the type permanently, she might find this one appealing. But was he a nice guy or a jerk?
It took Kari a moment to realize he was responding to her question about coffee or cats.
What do you do when you meet the guy of your dreams? Set him up with your sister, of course.
Kari doesn’t have time for love when she’s opening her new cat café. Renovating an old restaurant, hiring employees, fighting with the health inspector – oh, and welcoming 16 shelter cats – keeps her plenty busy. She’s doing this for the cats, the community, and most of all her family. The café will give her sister, Marley, a job worthy of her baking skills.
Then a tattooed military vet wanders in claiming to be a master baker himself. The café doesn’t need another baker, but maybe Marley needs a man. Surely she’ll fall for a guy this sweet, this sexy, this tasty.
Colin has other ideas. It’s Kari who makes him want to pour on the sugar and turn up the heat. But he’s spent the last two years recovering from physical and psychological wounds. Is he really ready for a relationship? He’s not even sure he should commit to Samson, the fluffy marshmallow of a cat who steals his heart.
The Furrever Friends Sweet Romance series features the workers and customers at a small-town cat café, and the adorable cats and kittens looking for their forever homes. Each book is a complete story with a happy ending for one couple (and maybe more than one rescued cat). These sweet romances will leave you with the warm, fuzzy feeling of cuddling a purring cat.
If you enjoy friends to lovers tropes, work romances, military heroes, and strong heroines completely failing at playing the matchmaker, check out Coffee and Crushes at the Cat Café. You’ll also find rescue cats with plenty of personality and their own ideas about what love is.
Get this sweet romance on Amazon, or free with Kindle Unlimited.