Title: Just a Taste
Author: Shannyn Schroeder
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: O’Leary’s, Book 4
Grief has brought them together again—will love open the door to their future? When it’s an O’Leary in the picture, finding out is just part of the adventure…
Carmen Delgado is left reeling when her father dies. Taking care of him has been her sole purpose for so long, she’s forgotten what it’s like to have dreams of her own. And with steady, sexy Liam O’Leary inheriting a share in her dad’s successful food truck, Carmen is suddenly free to explore her life’s possibilities. She never expected Liam to provide the kind of temptation she’s not sure she can resist…
A talented chef, Liam O’Leary has been itching to open his own restaurant for years—and the death of his mentor is a reminder that time passes too quickly. Gus’s Taco Taxi isn’t exactly what he dreamed of, but he can’t desert Gus’s daughter. Working side by side is an unexpected pleasure—and grownup Carmen is alluring in all new ways. Is love on the menu—or will old fears and insecurities drive them apart?
He entered the house and looked around. People packed the entire living room. He stood still for a moment, allowing the air of the room to warm him. He studied the faces and realized he didn’t know anyone. No one approached him, but many looked in his direction with open interest.
Then he spotted Carmen. She bustled around, taking plates and delivering coffee to older men and women around the room. He crossed to her and followed until she went into the kitchen. He waited in the doorway.
The kitchen was empty of guests. She put the dishes in the sink and then braced her arms on the counter and released a breath that shuddered through her. Guilt poked at him. He was interrupting a private moment and he should leave, but his feet wouldn’t listen.
He cleared his throat. “Carmen?”
She straightened slowly before turning to face him. A slow smile formed on her face. “Liam.”
He hadn’t been sure she would remember him. “How are you holding up?”
She lifted her shoulders in answer. The question was dumb. That was one of the worst parts of dealing with people after his father had died. The dumb questions from people.
“Here.” He held the flowers out to her. “I know it doesn’t help or ease the pain in any way, but I couldn’t come here empty-handed.”
“Thank you. They’re beautiful.” She took the vase from him and looked for a free space on the counter. The entire kitchen table and the length of the counter held trays and bowls of food. The smells made his mouth water even though he wasn’t hungry.
“Can I get you something to eat?” she offered after she stashed the flowers in the corner near the refrigerator.
“No. Can I help with some of this? Do something for you? You look like you have your hands full with all of your guests.” He removed his jacket and hung it on the back of one of the kitchen chairs. He rolled up the sleeves of his shirt, prepared to help.
She blinked a couple of times. “Uh… In all honesty, I’ll probably end up throwing most of this out. There’s just too much.” She turned in a circle. “Coffee. I need to make more.”
Liam moved forward. The girl looked dead on her feet. How could her family not see this? He pulled a chair out from the table. “Sit. I’ll make it.”
“No, it’s okay.”
“Carmen, sit down. Take a break and relax for a minute.” While not harsh, his tone was firm and she sat.
He remembered when Gus’s wife, Inez, died and the house had been filled like this. Gus loved having the family here, but Carmen had hidden in the kitchen, overwhelmed. Liam had joined her then too. He moved around the kitchen making coffee and then washed the dishes that were in the sink.
“You don’t have to do that, Liam.”
“I know. I like to feel useful. And I don’t think anyone in your family wants to chat me up.” He rinsed a dish and put it in the drain. “I came here to see you, Carmen. I don’t know anyone else. Your dad was my friend.”
He heard her hiccupping breath. When he turned, he expected to see her crying, but she just stared off at nothing. Drying his hands quickly, he squatted in front of her. “What do you need, Carmen? I watched you run around here, taking care of everyone. What can I do for you?”
Her focus shifted until her eyes met his. So much sadness. He wanted to wrap her in a tight hug, but they had never had that kind of relationship. They’d had a teasing, laughing one with minimal contact. And that had been years ago.
“Could you take the coffee into the living room? I just need a few minutes.”
He patted her knee before rising. “Take all the time you need.”
About the author:
Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series and the For Your Love series, contemporary romances centered around large Irish-American families in Chicago and the Hot & Nerdy series about nerdy friends finding love. Look for her new series – The Dating Challenge in 2019. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies.