Page 8 of Sweet Treasures

Knowing she was going to regret this, Anna let Cailyn turn her from the mirror, pin her hair on top of her head, and secure the crown.

“There,” Cailyn said with a satisfied nod. Taking hold of Anna’s arms, she turned her back to face the mirror.

One look and Anna blinked at her reflection. As much as she hated to admit it, she really did look like a princess. She just hoped that Nicholas didn’t turn out to be a frog in disguise.

♥ ♥ ♥

Nicholas tapped on the front door of Sweet Treasure’s. The lights were on in back, but nobody was coming and the door was definitely locked. Had he been stood up?

He tampered that fear down and tapped again.

A moment and Cailyn came hurrying to the door where she turned the key to let him in. “Hi. Anna will be out in a minute.” Her gaze raked over him, and she did a pitiful job of suppressing the giggle.

Wrinkling his face into a frown, Nicholas glanced down at himself “What’s so funny?”

She held up her hand. “Oh. Nothing. Nothing at all. I love your costume.” Again with the giggle, except this one wasn’t suppressed nor disguised at all. What was up with that?

His eyes roamed over his costume once again before coming back up to Cailyn. Maybe he shouldn’t have worn this costume after all. He had debated between it and the gladiator costume. Truthfully, the gladiator only lost because of the leotards. Nicholas wouldn’t be caught dead in leotards for more reasons than one, and that is what he would have had to wear with knee high sandals in order to keep his legs warm on this freezing cold evening.

“Sorry, I kept you waiting. I had to grab my purse and coat.”

His gaze flew to Anna gliding around the counter and heading toward him. One glance and it took everything he had to hold his mouth shut and to keep his eyes from showing his surprise, not only at how beautiful she looked but at her costume as well.

In that light blue gown with the silver and gold embellishments, she looked like a real princess. So much so in fact, that he wondered if she had glass slippers on under that long skirt. The bright twinkling lights on the Christmas tree were no match for the sparkling crown she had on.

Rather than stand there all evening looking like an idiot staring at her, he shook himself out of the shock and strode toward her, took the fur wrap she had draped over her arm, and settled it around her shoulders. “You look very nice.” She smelled just as nice. Like a bouquet of fresh cut flowers.

“Thank you.” Dimples appeared in her cheeks with the smile. Taking a couple of steps back, her eyes traveled over him. Starting with his black pants with the gold stripe running down the outside of the leg, the white jacket with the red and gold belt, the shoulder epaulettes with a gold cord running under his arm, all the way up to the high red and gold collar, ending at the crown on his head. “Wow. Looks like we both had the same idea. Did Cailyn pick out your costume too?”

Nicholas didn’t miss the humor in Anna’s voice and he laughed. “No, but I got the idea from her comment about the coach and glass slippers.”

Anna looked over at Cailyn standing beside her and shook her head. “You and your big mouth.”

Cailyn giggled and shrugged. “You have to admit, it was a great idea. You both look amazing. Like you belong together.” With those words she brushed past them, grinning from ear to ear and stepped outside. As she walked by the big picture window, her gaze stayed on them and never left them until she disappeared out of sight.

“That woman’s quite the character, isn’t she?” Nicholas said. It was a statement, not a question.

“She sure is,” Anna agreed, shaking her head.

They shared a laugh.

“Well.” He took the opportunity to slide his gaze down her once again. It was a sight he could definitely get used to. “Shall we go?”

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Very well then.” He offered Anna his arm, and she looped her arm through his. “Ready or not, here we come.”

“They’re probably not,” she whispered, and he smiled.

Nicholas held the door open as they stepped out into the frigid night air. Anna locked her shop, dropped the keys in the small purse, and pulled her wrap tighter around her.

Settling his hand on the small of her back, Nicholas led her to his car. He opened the passenger side door of his sedan, and when she was seated, he helped gather the skirt of her dress. Once it was all tucked safely inside, he closed her door, climbed in behind the wheel and turned the key. Since it had only been a few minutes since he’d shut his car off, he was relieved that warm air blew from the heat vents right away. The idea of Anna freezing made him feel he was letting her down, and that just wouldn’t do.