Worth the Risk (Pine Valley Book 1)

By: Heather B. Moore

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When Alicia moves back to Pine Valley to help her mom through a serious addiction, the last person she wants to see is her teenage crush, Jeff Finch, who destroyed their friendship in one single disastrous night. But Alicia is determined to not let anything about Jeff affect her, especially since she hasn’t seen him in ten years. All she knows is that he’s living a successful and charmed life, and she is more than happy to keep anything between them in the past. But when he shows up with a date at the restaurant where she works, Alicia realizes she’s still not over her feelings, and Jeff is definitely looking at her in a way he never has before.

Alicia Waters hid a grimace as she looked up to greet the next patrons walking into the Alpine Lodge restaurant. She’d just read the most recent text from her mom: You’d better bring home some of that gourmet seafood tonight, and not that soup crap again.

Her mom was becoming more demanding by the day, it seemed. She hadn’t left the house in over two months, and her hoarding had become even worse once she signed up for Amazon Prime. She hadn’t even let Alicia throw away the Amazon boxes from all of her online purchases.

“Good evening,” Alicia said to the older couple who’d just entered. “Welcome to the Alpine Lodge. Do you have a reservation?” Even though their website and the sign near the doors said Reservations Required, it was amazing how many people ignored it.

The man raised his brows, but his brown eyes were warm and friendly. “We don’t have reservations, but we’re willing to wait.” He looked at the woman in a dark purple coat next to him, who must be his wife. “Is that all right, dear?”

“Of course,” the woman said, smiling up at her husband.

Alicia liked the couple immediately. They were well dressed, obviously wealthy—as most of the restaurant patrons were at the Alpine Lodge. But unlike so many of the patrons, this couple was friendly.

She hated to disappoint them. “I’m sorry, but we’re booked because of the holiday weekend.” More specifically, Valentine’s Day. She didn’t add that the restaurant was usually booked well in advance between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s—prime ski vacation season.

“Oh,” the woman said, her smile faltering. “I suppose it is Valentine’s Day for everyone else.”

This comment made Alicia curious.

The husband jumped in to explain. “It’s our anniversary, and every year, we try a different restaurant.” He wrapped his arm about his wife’s shoulder. “But I should have called in advance. Knowing this is a small resort town, I guess I didn’t think it would be as crowded.”

The wife shook her head, but there was a patient smile on her face. “I keep telling him we should just go to lunch, but he’s kind of old-fashioned.”

The husband chuckled. “No worries. Is there a café in town?”

Alicia blinked and looked from the man to his wife. Instead of becoming upset, they’d been charming. “Let me see what I can do about squeezing you in here,” she said. She stepped away from the hostess stand and moved into the restaurant portion to survey the tables.

Just as she remembered, one of the reservations had been changed. A table for six only had four people on it. She signaled Gwen, one of the waitresses, and quickly whispered her idea. Gwen nodded in agreement as she smoothed a strand of her blonde hair that had escaped her messy bun. Alicia and Gwen had struck up a friendship over the past few months, and now more than ever Alicia was grateful. Moments later, she returned to her hostess stand. By now, another couple had entered and was waiting behind the first couple.

“You’re in luck.” She smiled at the older couple. “We’re going to rearrange a couple of things and get you a table ready. It will be about ten minutes. Can I get you anything while you wait?”