It’s In His Kiss – Candlewood Falls: The Winery Book 3 by Jen Talty

It’s In His Kiss
Candlewood Falls: The Winery Book 3
USA Today Bestselling Author


Where broken dreams collide, two hearts will come together and find the love they thought they lost.

Dax Fabion had once thought he could have it all. However, Chablis River made it perfectly clear that he couldn’t have her, and have a career in the NHL. He chose the latter. A decision he’s regretted for years and it’s time to make right a wrong.

All Chablis River wants is to prove to herself, and to her mother, that she still has what it takes to be one of the best winemakers in the country. When, her ex-boyfriend, and the real reason she left Candlewood Falls in the first place, returns with the goal to win her back, Chablis will be able to forgive him for chasing his dream, but she will she ever be able to trust him with her heart again?

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NFL star Dax Fabion has come back to his hometown of Candlewood Falls. He’s also hoping to reunite with Chablis, he really owes her a big apology for the way he left things with them.

Chablis River is very nervous to see Dax. She has a really big secret that no one knows other than her brother Malbec. Once upon a time she was ready to give up going to college and be with Dax through his NFL career. She also had to make a real difficult decision, one that Dax made a lot easier at the time.

Dax is going to be the new head hockey coach at CFW Prep. When Chablis joins him for dinner, one of the parents, Selena is their waitress. Dax and Chablis talk about the past and how they both felt back then but Chablis still holds something back. Of course, Selena has to ingratiate herself and Toby by inviting Dax to dinner. Selena and Toby’s son TJ is one of the players Dax is looking at. He and Toby have a rather awkward past to get through, but his concern is only for the team he’s building.

The unveiling of an amazing outdoor portrait of him done by Axel a local artist on the side of the Brewery is an opportunity for his friends to welcome him home. Merlot, Malbec, Caleb, Brad, Axel and Raf are all there to celebrate with Dax. Then the news comes of a crash with an explosion and injured fire fighters.

Not willing to wait for additional news, Dax heads to Chablis apartment.

This is a favorite scene.

But the reality was she wanted to be alone so she could let the tears come. She’d never been so scared in her life. She’d fought some serious fires before. Dealt with some hard situations. But that explosion had been like nothing she ever witnessed before.

She could still hear it echoing between her ears. And the heat prickled her skin like a cattle prod. For the first time in her life, she thought she might die.

Curling her fingers around her father’s strong biceps, she mustered up a smile. “I love you, Daddy. But it’s one in the morning. Go home and be with Mom. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Okay. But will you promise me that you’ll call me if you need anything? I’ll leave my phone on all night. And tomorrow there isn’t anything too pressing that I can’t change my schedule to be with you.”

“I promise.” He leaned in and kissed her cheek.

“Follow the doctor’s orders.”

She looped her arm through his and guided him to the door. “Don’t worry.”

“It’s a father’s prerogative to do that.” He pulled open the door. “Oh. Hello, Dax. Isn’t it a little late for you to be showing up?”

“Hi, Carter,” Dax said, holding a bouquet of flowers in his hand. “I saw you pull in. I’ve been trying to reach Chablis since I heard what happened. I wanted to make sure she was okay.”

“She’s fine. It’s late. Time for you to go home.”

“Dad,” Chablis said with a stern tone. “I’m not fourteen. You don’t get to send him away like that.”

Her father turned and glared.

“He’s right.” Dax handed her the flowers. “I’ll call you—”

“This is ridiculous. Come in,” she said. The need for tears was suddenly replaced with the desire for human contact.

And not her father’s.

“Dad. Tell Mom thanks for the food. I’ll call you in the morning.”

“Why does this feel like déjà vu?” Her father tapped his temple. “Oh, I know why. I’m being ditched for the star hockey player. Again.”

She laughed.

“In all seriousness,” her father started. “She’s been through a lot. Don’t stay too late.”

“I won’t.” Dax nodded.

She stood in the doorway and waited for her father to get in his car and turn the engine on before turning her attention to Dax. “You didn’t have to come over. Or bring me these.” She stuck her nose in the pretty bouquet. They smelled like a meadow on a sunny day. “They’re beautiful.”

“I would have waited until morning, but I saw you pull in.” He gently took her arm and lifted it. “That’s got to hurt.”

“It’s all superficial burns. They aren’t bad. But do you mind if we go sit? My head is pounding.”

“Here. Let me help.”

He took the flowers and practically ran into the kitchen where he found a vase.

She made herself comfortable on the sofa in the small family room and watched him skillfully cut the stems of the flowers and arrange them in the vase as if he were a master florist.

“Do you want something to drink? Water? Juice?” he asked.

“Water would be nice.”

He brought her a glass and sat on the other side of the sofa, lifting her feet and resting them on his lap. Normally, she’d protest, but she didn’t have the energy.

“How was the unofficial unveiling?” When she’d heard what Axel was doing, she’d been super annoyed. The last thing she wanted was to drive into town day in and day out and see her ex-boyfriend’s face.

She still didn’t.

But the town did and she understood why.

“I have to admit, I’m not sure how I feel about seeing myself on that building all the time, but Axel is an amazing artist.”

“That he is,” Chablis agreed.

“It’s so weird to see all my old friends and listen to them talk about marriage and kids. On the one hand, being with them feels like I’ve been catapulted back to my youth. But on the other hand, it makes me feel old.”

She rested her hand on her middle. It was hard not to think about what she’d done. It wasn’t about regrets because she didn’t regret the action.

Only the silence.

Dax had the right to know, and she should have told him seventeen years ago. It wouldn’t have changed things. Not even if she’d known Traci wasn’t his girlfriend. The fact remained they weren’t ready for each other.

Or being parents.

“Neither one of us are old.”

“I feel like I’m too old to start a family.”

“Do you want one?” she asked. “I mean, Malbec is having his first kid soon and they plan on more. Caleb is your age and he and Brooklyn plan on kids.”

He placed his hand on her foot and rubbed. It was something he used to do when they were dating. Whenever they would be talking about something or mindlessly watching TV, his hands would always go to her feet. She never minded.

And she didn’t now.

“I didn’t mean to get into a deep conversation. That’s the last thing you need.”

He was right about that, and she was grateful for the opportunity to switch gears.

“I take it you’re going to have to take some time off work?” he asked.

“A few weeks from the fire station and I don’t know how long my folks are going to make me stay away from the winery.”

“I’ve got an idea.”

“Oh. That’s scary,” she said.

“This weekend and all next week I’m recruiting. How would you like to come with me? We can watch some of the games together. You can check out different ones. You can give me your perspective on the kids on the ice. You’ve always had such great insight into the game.”

“You really want my opinion?”

He nodded. “I have a list of twenty-seven kids that have applied. I have five spots open. Only one kid do I know I want to take. It’s really hard because there are so many games to watch and they’re kids and they know I’m there. Once they see me, or their parents do, they act differently.”

“So, you want me to be your eyes when you’re watching a different game.”

“Exactly,” he said.

“What about Serena and Toby? They will know I’m there and they will have something to say about it.”

“I’m allowed to have independent eyes and you’re not making decisions. Just giving me advice. Besides, they don’t have to know why you’re there.” He winked.

She cocked her head. “Don’t give those two something to talk about. This town is already buzzing about what may or may not happen between you and me.”

“I hear there’s a pool down at the brewery,” he said with a laugh.

She kicked him. “There better not be, but if there is, I’ll take one hundred to one that there isn’t.”

“Ouch. That hurt.”

“What? The kick in the thigh or the statement?” She smiled.

“Both, but back to hockey,” he said. “I’ll send you to games that TJ won’t be at so you won’t run into Serena or Toby. I’ll give you a list of things I want you to note.”

“I’m not a hockey player.”

“But you know the game,” he said. “You used to critique me after every single one of my games and you were always on point. Come on. Please. It will be fun and it will give you something to do. I know how much you hate to be idle.”

“Doc says I have to lay low tomorrow, so probably can’t do it until after the parade on Saturday.”

“No worries. I can handle tomorrow on my own and I’m not going on Saturday.”

She smiled. “Okay. But on one condition.”

“What’s that?” “You buy me a funnel cake every day.”

“Deal.” He squeezed her ankle. “On that note, I should let you get some rest. I wouldn’t be surprised if your dad is sitting out in the driveway waiting for me to leave.” He stood, placing her foot on the sofa. “Don’t get up. I’ll see myself out.” He leaned over and tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear and stared into her eyes for a long moment.

She held her breath, waiting for him to say good night. But instead, he brushed his lips tenderly across her mouth in a sweet, loving kiss. It wasn’t the kind of kiss shared between friends. A spark deep in her gut tried to roar to a flame, but she squelched it. She couldn’t allow this to deepen. It was too much. Too soon. So many emotions raced through her mind. She couldn’t think straight.

“Sleep well.”

She clutched her pendant and remained breathlessly on the sofa. She heard the door open, then shut. She brought her fingers to her lips. Everything she felt for Dax in the past had been brought to the present. Nothing had changed. Her love for him was as strong as ever.

And the secret she carried still darkened her soul.
Jen Talty. It’s in His Kiss (Kindle Locations 964-1038).

Selena proves to be a bit more than just a little problem. Then there’s also Brooks, someone Dax has had issues with in the past. He wants the job Dax has accepted. Toby is the biggest surprise though.

While there are lots of ups and downs for Chablis and Dax they both rise to the occasion. This is what true love is all about!

5 Contented Purrs for Jen!

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Jen Talty

Welcome to my World! I’m a USA Today Bestseller of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, and Paranormal Romance.

I first started writing while carting my kids to one hockey rink after the other, averaging 170 games per year between 3 kids in 2 countries and 5 states. My first book, IN TWO WEEKS was originally published in 2007. In 2010 I helped form a publishing company (Cool Gus Publishing) with NY Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer where I ran the technical side of the business through 2016.

I’m currently enjoying the next phase of my life…the empty NESTER! My husband and I spend our winters in Jupiter, Florida and our summers in Rochester, NY. We have three amazing children who have all gone off to carve out their places in the world, while I continue to craft stories that I hope will make you readers feel good and put a smile on your face.

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