Crushing on You

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When Gabriella Peters inherits her aunt’s cottage in Emerald Falls, she’s ready for a change. After a failed relationship in another city, she’s determined not to make the same mistakes again. But when she runs in to a crush from her past, she wonders if taking a chance might be worth the risk after all.

Travis Haywood plans to live in Emerald Falls only long enough to complete his veterinary internship, but when he meets Gabriella he begins to question what’s most important to him–the woman who has captured his heart, or his long-held career aspirations.

This is a clean and wholesome standalone romance.

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Chapter 1

“It’s okay, Sadie,” Gabriella Peters murmured to her gray tabby as she carried her into Emerald Falls Veterinary on a mid-August morning. “We just need to get your shots up-to-date.”

Sadie mewled in protest, but Gabby tucked her against her chest as she stepped up to the counter in the empty waiting room. “I don’t have an appointment,” she said to the woman behind the counter as she tried to hide an embarrassed smile. “But I just moved to town and thought I’d take the chance that the doctor would have time to see Sadie.”

The woman checked her computer screen, then turned to Gabby with a smile. “Looks like today is your lucky day. The doctor can see Sadie in about fifteen minutes.”

Smiling with relief, Gabby said, “That’s great. Thank you.”

The woman placed her fingers on the keyboard. “Let me get some information from you.” She gave the woman her contact information, then the woman asked, “What brings you to Emerald Falls?”

Holding a squirming Sadie in her arms, Gabby thought about the passing of her Aunt Mary, whose cottage she’d inherited, then considered her answer. Had it been serendipity that she’d been given the opportunity to move to Emerald Falls—the place where she’d spent many happy summers in her teenage years—right when she needed a change of scenery? She liked to think so, although she already missed Aunt Mary and her sage advice.

She decided to keep her answer simple. “I’m going to be teaching second grade at Emerald Falls Elementary school when school starts in a couple of weeks.”

“Oh,” the woman said with a smile. “My grandson will be in second grade there this year. Maybe he’ll be in your class.”

Happy to feel a connection to the community, however small, Gabby’s face lit up. “Really? What’s his name?”

“Samuel Richards, but he goes by Sam.” The woman paused. “I’m Emily Richards, by the way.”

“So nice to meet you, Emily.” The woman’s name didn’t ring a bell from the summers Gabby had spent there. Then again, it had been ten years since her last full summer there. Plus, she had only been fifteen back then and not exactly paying attention to the adults of Emerald Falls.

“Well,” Emily said with a warm smile, “if you’ll have a seat, the doctor will be with you shortly.”

With a nod, Gabby turned away, then sat in one of the chairs and placed Sadie in her lap. Stroking Sadie’s soft fur, Gabby thought about the move to her aunt’s cottage—the place that held so many good memories. Her aunt had been there for her when her parents had gone through a nasty divorce when Gabby was a pre-teen, and for the four summers afterward, Aunt Mary had cared for Gabby while her parents had worked.

The summer Gabby turned fifteen had been her last summer in Emerald Falls. After that, she’d gotten a job in her hometown and hadn’t been able to come for extended visits and she’d lost touch with her Emerald Falls friends. Not much for social media, Gabby had no idea which of those old friends were still in town and which ones had moved away.

Now, as she struggled to picture the faces of the girls she’d hung out with during her summers in Emerald Falls, another face popped into her mind. A face that made Gabby’s heart do a little flip. She had no trouble remembering that particular face.

Travis Haywood. The boy she’d crushed on from afar. The boy she had been too shy to even speak to. The boy who had gone off to college before she’d been able to gather the courage to let him know she was alive.

Gabby remembered the summer she’d first seen Travis Haywood. She had been fifteen and had just arrived for the summer. He had been eighteen and had just graduated from high school. His family had moved to Emerald Falls late the previous year, and by the time Gabby had shown up, he’d already established himself as the boy all the girls were crazy about. 

With no desire to compete for his attention—not to mention her complete lack of flirting skills—Gabby had developed a king-sized crush on him from a distance. A crush that had not been reciprocated. How could it have been when Travis hadn’t even known Gabby existed?

Why had she been so shy? Why was she still so shy?

Frustrated with her lack of confidence, Gabby consoled herself by remembering the painful lesson she’d recently learned that taking chances didn’t always pay off.

Face heating with fresh humiliation, she tried to push the unfortunate incident out of her mind.

Sadie nipped at Gabby’s finger, yanking her out of her memories, and she realized she was holding her cat a little too tight.

“Sorry, kitty,” she whispered as she loosened her grip.

“You must be Gabriella Peters,” a male voice said.

Gabby lifted her gaze from her cat to meet the deep-blue eyes of the man who stood in front of her. When recognition flooded her a split second later, her eyes widened and her throat closed up.

The man held out his hand. “I’m Dr. Travis Haywood.”

* * *

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