Katie Guthrie has pie magic. Intuition tells her what to bake. Whether it’s a Goodbye Pie or a Welcome Home Pie, it will turn out perfect and be waiting for the person who needs it most.
She cherishes her life in the small village of Miracle, Wisconsin, and has no desire for change. But to help a friend, she agrees to film a cooking pilot show. Only to realize the filmmaker is the dying boy Katie used to call her angel when she lived in Chicago with her junkie mother.
Gabe Robbins is no angel, and he’s no boy anymore. Burned out after a three-year stint building a hospital in Africa, Gabe ignores his demons by living day-to-day and filming wedding videos. Nothing deep, nothing he has to become invested in. Nothing that will get under his skin, until…
Watching Katie create her pies from behind his video camera makes him realize what he’s missing. Thanks to Katie and her pies, Gabe discovers his passion again. But will it lead him to his heart’s desire…or will this miracle take him away from Katie forever?
Gabe bent over the keyboard and fast-forwarded to the end of the show. The video moved again at regular speed. On the video, Katie stood behind the counter but his voice came out of the speakers, asking, “Tell us, why pies? Why not cakes or cookies or cupcakes?”
He must have edited Rosa’s objections out, because Katie was wrinkling her nose then leaning over the counter and saying, “Pies are love.”
His on-screen voice laughed softly. “Tell me how pies can be love.”
Sitting next to her tormentor as she watched the screen, Katie groaned and laughed and covered her eyes and then uncovered them. Finally, the video ended, freezing with her bemused face looking back at her.
“What do you think?” he asked.
“I don’t know.” She couldn’t think, as if banana cream pie filling was clogging up her brain cells.
He twisted in the chair, so close she could see three shades of blue in his eyes. See that his eyelashes were golden brown, darker than his hair. Close enough that she could lean forward and kiss him.
She drew in her breath.
“I thought it was great,” he said. “So did Taz. Viewers will love it.”
“You mean…” She sat back in her chair and shook her head. Shaking the thought of kissing him right out of her mind.
“I can’t promise it will go viral, but I can promise a lot of views. Not with just this one—we’d have to do a series of similar videos to build your viewers. We can do it. You’re passionate about pies. People love passion. They can get recipes anywhere, but what you have is unique. They’ll love you. They’ll want to watch you. They’ll tell their friends about you.”
She shook her head again. Sometimes she thought she might be a little insane, but she was nowhere near as insane as this man.
“You don’t have to do anything. Leave it to me. I’ll do it.”
She shifted her gaze. Not toward the camera but toward the back door. Wishing she could step outside. The sun was out. Coming home this morning after delivering pies to the truck stop and the Italian restaurant in Tomahawk, she noticed a few yellow and orange leaves on the sugar maple tree in the front yard. In the dawn redness it looked like an old painting. She had an urge to go outside and see them now, in full sunlight.
“You’re afraid,” he said.
Her head snapped around. “No.”
His eyebrows lifted. “It’s very common. Some people are afraid of greatness.”
“I bake pies.” Her tone was sharp. What didn’t this man understand about baking a pie? Anyone could do it. In fact, everyone should do it. If all the leaders of all the countries in the world went into their kitchens and made at least one pie every day, the world would no doubt be a better place.
Slowly, her breaths shallow, she turned her gaze back to him. He watched her. Unmoving. Implacable.
She wanted to kick him.
“I promised Rosa to do this with her. I can’t do it with you.”
“It’s not the same thing. She’s doing a show. What we’re doing is small moments of time.”
“You sound like a politician.”
He put his hand over his heart. “You wound me.”
“If the knife fits…”
Dropping his hand, he leaned closer again. Inches away. His blue eyes brilliant, enthralling her so she couldn’t pull back or look away. “Think of the videos like movie trailers. If they become popular, it will make her show all the more valuable. In fact, I’ll ask her to do some.”
“She said yesterday she doesn’t want to do short videos.”
“Then she doesn’t have to. It will be just you and me.”
“You’re worse than a bulldog.”
“I promise…” his smile returned… “I don’t bite.”
She gritted her teeth and put both hands to her hair, grabbing handfuls. This man. This insane man. Can’t he leave me in peace?
“You have no excuses,” he said.
“I don’t need an excuse. I don’t want to do it.”
“Because you’re afraid. You have this…magic.”
“Magic!” She stared at him. Her? She was the quiet one. Her pies were special, she didn’t deny that. But she had nothing to do with it. It was a gift, the way another woman was born with a beautiful singing voice. The way Gabe was born to captivate her. “This is too much.”
Emotion churned up inside her and she drew back from him. Her body started to shake, as if she were in the middle of an earthquake.
“Out.” Her voice quaking, she pushed up from the chair. She was overreacting, she knew it, but right now she didn’t care. “I just want you to leave. You didn’t have to say that.”
“You don’t believe me.” He shook his head, staying in his chair. “You really don’t know how powerful you are.”
“If I were powerful, you’d be a pile of ashes.”
“Powerful doesn’t mean the person who talks the loudest or laughs the loudest or has the most money.” His gaze locked with hers, and she couldn’t look away. “You’re powerful because you care, and that shines out of you. You care about your dog, your friend, your grandmother. I know you cared for her. Love is powerful.”
“You are…” She flailed her arms up. “Insane. Totally and horribly insane.”
“Then humor an insane man.” He smiled and once again his eyes glowed and she could practically feel him sending her waves of seduction that melted her muscles. “Do this for me. We’ll try it a few times. It will prove who’s right. You or me.”
She plopped back down onto the chair. “I don’t have to prove anything.”
“Why does it scare you so much? You saw the bit.” He gestured at the screen. “Once you relax, you’re a natural. Even if I’m prejudiced because I want to sleep with you, there’s no failure in this. No risk. People either watch you or they don’t. If they do and we get ads, we’ll make money. If they don’t…” He shrugged. “The only one who will lose money will be me.”
She sat stunned. She heard everything he said, but the only thing that stuck in her head was that he wanted to sleep with her. A squeaking sound came out of her mouth, but she couldn’t form words. Her brain seemed to have turned into pureed pumpkin.
“I believe in you.” His voice was even and calm. He kept staring straight into her eyes, compelling her to go along with him. “What I want to know is, do you believe in yourself?”
As if his expression unfroze her voice, words spewed out of her mouth in a hot rush. “Yes. Yes, I do. Yes, I believe in myself.”
He grinned and sat back. His intense gaze lessening, as if he were releasing her from a compulsion spell. Which was more crazy thinking. The result of reading the whole Harry Potter series. Real people didn’t have compulsion spells. As for her magic pies… Some people could write songs by the time they were three. Others could do college math in third grade. She made pies.
Yes, they were magic, but everyone had magic. It’s just that not everyone knew it.
“You know I meant…” She stopped, suddenly fighting laughter. “If Rosa gives her okay, I’ll do it.”
“Done.” He slapped his hand on the table, as if he were sealing a deal. And he smiled at her like a man who’d just won the poker hand.
She guessed that made her the loser.
Slowly, she stood. This was the craziest day she could remember since she came to Miracle. This man was turning her calm and ordered life upside down.
“Do you have a card?” she asked. As if this were a normal conversation about business. As if he weren’t crazier than her. Locked up, medicated and throw-away-the-key crazy. “I’ll call you.”
“Am I scaring you?” he asked. “Am I moving too fast?”
“Of course not.”
“Then you won’t mind if I do this.” He stepped toward her, put his arm around her…and then he leaned so close to her she felt his breath on her skin. He pulled her against him and she closed her eyes and sighed, her body curving against his.