Reaching For Trust: A Bloo Moose Romance
Romance as sweet as maple sugar, and as smooth as the best melody, Reaching for Trust is an excellent addition to the Bloo Moose Romance series with edgy suspense, and sexy romance.Tyrean Martinson
Running a Sugar Shack should be easy for a burned-out lawyer, but Jack is soon in over his head. His sweet and sexy new office manager isn't helping with his focus.
Unaware that his last case has ongoing repercussions, Jack attributes the problems at the shack to Trina's errors and his inexperience.
When evidence points to false conclusions, they'll both have to learn how to trust if they want a future together.
Reaching For Trust is the 6th book in the Bloo Moose Romance series. Each book can be read as a standalone. The book contains some strong language and sexy times. Enjoy the read!
Release date: January 19, 2021
Publisher: Jemi Fraser @ Just Jemi Books
Print pages: 208
Content advisory: The book contains some strong language and sexy times. Enjoy the read!
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Reaching For Trust: A Bloo Moose Romance
By the time Trina Volkova found the sign for the turnoff to the Bloo Moose Sugar Shack, she was one minute past the time for her interview.
Great first impression.
She wasn’t entirely sure what a Sugar Shack was or what the work entailed, but the hours sounded perfect. Flexible enough to leave her time for her music.
A great way to hide in plain sight. Jerk Face would never find her here. As long as her potential new boss wasn’t a stickler for timeliness.
Blaming her tardiness on his homemade sign that was half hidden in the bushes probably wouldn’t make that first impression any better.
With a sigh, Trina slowed her car to a crawl, weaving between the giant potholes until the trees opened up into a wide gravel space.
She pulled up next to a shiny red pickup truck and squared her shoulders before she got out.
At twenty-eight, it was weird to be facing her first job interview, but she could do this.
There’d been nothing online about the Bloo Moose Sugar Shack. No social media, no listings, not even a phone number, so she didn’t have a lot of information. Only the ad she’d found when scrolling through the Bloo Moose town’s website asking for retail help.
The silly name of the town was the reason she’d chosen it as her temporary home.
She was exhausted and afraid. A dose of silly was just what she needed. Her parents and Babushka would have approved.
Trina straightened her jeans as best she could. Not the clothes she’d planned for her interview, but an accident on the highway caused by black ice and blowing snow had put her behind schedule. She hadn’t even had time to go to the apartment she’d rented.
At least she wore her grandmother’s necklace.
Trina took in a deep breath of the frigid forest air and tucked away the nerves. This couldn’t be as scary as being onstage for the first time.
The only building in the clearing was an old log cabin which might have been charming if the windows weren’t boarded up and the surrounding area was cleaned of junk. Some was hidden beneath a layer of snow but she could see barrels, poles, shovels and other shapes she couldn’t identify.
The door stood open, even in January in Vermont.
Trina knocked with her leather gloves even as she stepped into the doorway and called out a greeting. The interior was dark and musty, and it took her eyes several moments to adjust.
The voice sent a glorious shiver down Trina’s spine. She was a total sucker for a good voice. This baritone sounded like hot chocolate—the good kind with a topping of mini-marshmallows and a shot of Bailey’s.
It took a few more moments for the voice’s owner to separate from the shadows and approach her.
When he appeared in the light, she realized he matched the voice perfectly. Medium-brown skin covered in a sexy stubble. Dark eyes and hair long enough to be messy.
He wore jeans and a checked flannel jacket buttoned up against the cold. What looked like a pair of brand new work boots completed the lumberjack look.
The man could make a few bucks on stage. Wouldn’t matter if he could sing or act, he could just be decoration and people would pay.
“I’m Jack. Jack Taylor. Nice to meet you.”
She grasped his offered hand. “I’m Trina Volkova and it’s nice to meet you as well. Sorry I’m a little late. Had a bit of trouble on the road and then finding the place.”
He nodded and released her hand.
“Getting an actual sign is on the list.” He turned and waved his arm around the space. “It’s a long list.”
Trina could only imagine. The inside was dark because of the boarded windows, but the room in front of her looked large and airy.
“Why don’t I give you a bit of an overview of what the plan is, and then we’ll see if you’re still interested in the job.”
Trina nodded and followed him in until they stood in the middle of the room.
“The maple trees outside have been tapped previously for syrup, but it’s been a couple of decades. Out there, I have to modernize the whole operation. I’m still finding out what some of that entails and I’ll be hiring at least one other person to help me with that part of things.”
Trina nodded again, as if she’d known all along that a Sugar Shack was a place that produced maple syrup.
“Your job would be to help organize the business end of things. And with the interior clean up and setup.”
He scowled at the room. “It’s more of a mess than I expected, but starting from scratch means I’ll know the business from the ground up.”
His voice was fierce.
“This is your first maple syrup venture, then?”
He blinked at her. “Maybe I shouldn’t admit that when you haven’t agreed to the job, but yes it is.”
Intriguing. “Why maple syrup?”
Another frown. “I needed a change. My pépère, my grandfather, ran his cabane à sucre up in Quebec and I used to visit sometimes in the winter when I was a little kid. Now I’m going to try my hand at it.”
There appeared to be a whole lot more to the story. Trina wanted to ask more questions, but Jack waved his hand as if cutting off that line of conversation.
“Through those doors on the left, there’s an office space that should be more than sufficient for space for both of us.” He opened the door and turned on a flashlight app on his phone so she could see.
Tables and chairs, a few filing cabinets, and a pile of boxes filled the room. “Definitely big enough.”
Back in the main room, Jack moved to the opposite side and showed her public and staff washrooms that looked serviceable if not recently updated.
Then they moved toward the counter running near the back wall of the space. She ran her fingers over the wood and the smoothness surprised her. It looked gorgeous. “It’s hard to tell in the light, but this counter looks beautifully hand-crafted.”
A small smile was her reward. The man should smile more often. “It looks to be. Pretty old, too. It’s my favourite part of the space so far.”
She could see why. “Maybe there’s some of the cabin’s history in some of those filing cabinets in the other room. If there are pictures or articles, they’d make great decor for the walls in the main room.”
Jack’s head turned to her, expression sightly surprised. She wondered if she should be insulted.
“I’d been thinking the same thing. Searching for that kind of thing is on one of the lists.”
A list maker. Not something Trina herself had ever perfected.
Behind the main room, the kitchen ran the length of the cabin and had open shelving for more storage and lots of cupboards and countertops along with a huge stove and two large fridges.
“Any chance you have a chef’s degree and come equipped with a couple dozen maple syrup recipes?”
Trina laughed. “Afraid not. My specialty is a grilled cheese sandwich. And salad, I can do salad.”
Another half smile. “Not exactly traditional maple syrup fare.”
She laughed again, not something she’d been doing a lot of lately. Vermont just might be good for her. As long as Jerk Face didn’t figure out where she’d hidden this time.
Jack interrupted her thoughts when he headed back toward the main room. She followed the beam from his cell phone until the light from the door was enough to see by.
“Electricity will be set up on Monday. Then we’ll be able to get a better idea of what we’re facing. I’ve got a lot of lists and a lot of questions, but not a whole lot of answers.”
“Your grandfather can’t give you some help with that?”
His mouth tightened and Trina regretted the question. “My grandfather died a few years back. I visited there a bit when I was a kid. I always enjoyed it.”
“So you decided to give it a shot.”
He nodded. “And now I’m wishing I’d paid more attention to the actual workings of the place rather than sampling all the candy.”
That made her smile. “You’ll figure it out.”
The pause was a bit uncomfortable. “Maybe.” Another pause. “No, you’re right. I have a plan and I’m going to make it happen. I just have some learning to do.” One of those half-smiles sprung up. “A lot of learning, but that’s okay. I’m good at learning.”
“Me too.” And she was. She’d had to be.
“Tell me a little about that. What do you know about setting up a business?”
Even though she’d known the question would come, Trina still had to take a moment to push down the tough memories. “My parents were Russian immigrants when they landed in New York. They opened a small convenience store in Brooklyn, with both American and Russian items.”
The warm memories of sitting in the shop practicing her reading and writing in both languages filled her.
Scents of borscht and pierogies wafting from the back room while her parents waited on customers. So many comforting memories.
She pushed those to the side, no risking tears in front of Jack. “I grew up learning how to order inventory along with multiplying and dividing. Balancing the budget and accounts was all part of the job. I ran the till and opened and closed the shop on my own when I was old enough.”
“So you’d be able to set up and run the office here?”
“If I can do it with beets and potatoes, I’m sure I can do it with maple syrup. What I don’t know, I’ll learn.”
“Would you mind helping out with some of the initial clean up alongside that part of the job? With the way this place looks, it might be a couple of days before we’re ready to order inventory.”
“That part sounds like fun. It’ll be interesting to go through what’s in there and find out what’s good to keep and what’s trash.”
Jack pulled out his phone again. “Trash. I need to order a dumpster for Monday too.”
The man definitely liked his lists.
When he finished typing, he looked at her seriously. “So, Trina, do you think you’re willing to put in some hours helping this mess become a functional Sugar Shack the town of Bloo Moose will be proud of?”
The challenge of organizing and setting up the business sounded exactly like what she needed to keep her mind off her troubles. She held out her hand. “I’m in.”
Jack Taylor wasn’t sure of a lot of things about his new life, but he was sure that hiring Trina Volkova was a good start.
As long as he wasn’t trusting the wrong person again.
Like Sophie, she was long and lean. Blonde and beautiful. Charming.
No. He wasn’t going down that road, not even in his head. Sophie was in the past. He’d been burned, but he’d learned from that mistake.
There was no way Trina was looking to hire on at Bloo Moose Sugar Shack full of ulterior motives all aimed at turning him into a patsy.
He needed to put the past where it belonged and turn his full attention to making this new venture work.
He wasn’t heading home to Boston with his tail tucked between his legs. He’d passed the bar without much trouble. Followed in his folks’ footsteps and worked at making the evil of the world pay for their misdeeds.
Surely he could figure out how to make maple syrup.
Trina’s background in running a store and business would be invaluable. She’d be able to cover some of the gaps in his knowledge. He’d add a new list with her name.
To Find Out.
And now a Trina list.
That might be a lot of lists, even for him.
As Jack was adding hire more help to the Tackle First list, a howl broke the silence. A howl that came from the woods and didn’t sound friendly.
Trina broke into a sprint and was out the door before he’d even registered that it wasn’t an angry sound, but more like something in pain.
Which didn’t make it any easier to deal with.
He called her name, but Trina was already heading through the snow into the woods when he emerged from the cabin.
The next howl had him moving more quickly, and he put out his arm to slow her down. “Let’s not rush in without checking. Might be dangerous.”
“That animal’s in pain. We have to hurry.”
“If it’s a wild animal, it could be dangerous. We need to approach with caution.”
She rolled her eyes but slowed her pace. A whimper sounded instead of a howl and they moved forward together.
It didn’t take long to spot a massive grey and white chunk of fur sticking out of a large cluster of cedar bushes.
Thankfully, the curly matted fur said dog not wolf.
Jack started talking in a low voice, hoping to calm the animal. “Hey boy, we’re here to help. Relax and let us see what’s happening.”
An excited yelp and scrambling paws greeted his words, and then a whine of frustration.
“I think he’s stuck.” Trina kept her voice low and soothing.
Jack squatted down in the snow and shoved aside branches. The dog was big and definitely stuck. “Looks like he’s tangled in some kind of meshing.” The dog swivelled his head toward Jack and let out a pitiful howl.
Trina laughed. “Sounds like a great big softy to me.” She knelt down in the snow and pushed aside more branches.
The dog wiggled and turned until he was able to face Jack. Three of his legs were caught up in the mesh which looked like a volleyball or badminton net.
Jack swiped some of the curls out of the face and the dog gave a little woof of pleasure. Then he heaved a sigh and leaned forward until his head rested on Jack’s shoulder, nearly knocking him onto his ass.
Once he shifted his balance, Jack ran his hands over the parts of the dog he could reach, looking for obvious injuries.
“If you can keep him still like that, I should be able to untangle this mess. He seems to like you.”
As if in response to Trina’s words, the big tongue slurped over his face.
It didn’t take more than a couple of minutes before Trina released all of the mesh. “I think you’re free, boy. Let’s get you out of the bush.”
Jack stood and stepped back. The dog sighed again but followed him out of the mess.
Trina stood and held the netting. She rolled it up into a ball. “Not leaving this out here for another animal to get stuck.”
Jack nodded and they both turned their attention to the dog who was sitting up and looking between them.
“He’s a bit of a mess, poor thing. I wonder how long he’s been on his own.”
The dog had to weigh seventy pounds, but under Jack’s hands, he’d felt the ribs. The beast was hungry and not fending well for himself in the wild.
Matted curls of grey, black, and white clung to his body. Unless you shoved the fur away, you couldn’t even see his eyes.
Massive paws, floppy ears, and a tail that didn’t stop wagging completed the image of a very lost, very friendly dog.
“Now what?” Trina asked.
Good question. He hadn’t planned to go into town today, but he couldn’t ask Trina to take the dog in.
“Bloo Moose has to have a vet. I’ll take him in and get him checked out. The vet should know if anyone is missing this guy.” Jack pulled out his phone to search, but his phone wasn’t in his pocket. He patted the other pockets, but he always put the phone in the same one. Always.
“I must have dropped my phone.” He squatted down and looked under the bush but couldn’t spot it.
Trina looked as well. “Maybe you dropped it on the way in. We’ll follow the same path on the way out.”
They both looked at the forest floor, covered in snow, trees, bushes. Not going to be an easy find.
“Do you have a phone on you? Maybe if you call it, we’ll hear it.”
Trina nodded, pulled hers out, and Jack gave her his number.
They waited and listened to the dog pant. His ring tone sounded so close, he patted his pockets again. Still no phone.
When he squatted down, he couldn’t see it. He moved to a different spot and the dog followed him.
Trina laughed. “There it is. Your new friend had it underneath him.” She ruffled his fur and the dog leaned into her. She didn’t seem to mind the fact that the dog didn’t look like he’d seen a bath since summer.
Just as she hadn’t hesitated before getting herself soaking wet crawling in the snow under the bush to free the animal.
She wasn’t anything like Sophie.
Not that he was considering dating her. She was an employee. Off limits, no matter how attractive she was.
Or how attracted he was. And he was, damn it.
Jack checked the phone and found information on the vet. He had a couple of hours before she closed.
They headed back to the vehicles. The dog trotted happily along beside them. At some point, he’d been well trained. His family would be glad to have him back.
Jack quickly locked up the cabin and opened his truck. He grabbed a blanket he kept in the back and gave the dog a quick rubdown. It wouldn’t eliminate the dirt, but it would help him warm up a bit.
Then he lay the blanket on the floor behind the front seats. The dog leapt up without any hesitation, then turned and grinned at them, making them both laugh.
“He’s going to make your truck all dirty.”
Jack shrugged. “He’ll be fine.” He turned back to Trina. “I’ll see you Monday morning then? Does nine work for you?”
Trina nodded. “It does.” She reached in and patted the dog. “Be a good boy.” She smiled at Jack. “See you then.”
For the first time in a long, long time, Jack wished the weekend would hurry up and be done.
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...