This was a really sweet read. Gabriel is the new administrator at school and Amelia is the sun shiney art teacher. She knows immediately that she needs to get to know this man better, but this slightly grumpy very serious man needs a push in the right direction. Cue their friends and his mother and abuela all trying to help Gabe work out his feelings and how to get the girl. First in a series and I can't wait to read Owen and Madi, and Noah's stories.
Sun Valley, 1
Amelia Graham’s sunny disposition makes her a great friend, daughter, co-worker, and art teacher. She has a kind word for everyone, and in turn, she is universally beloved with one very notable exception—the one man she can’t seem to shake her attraction to and can’t stop picturing a future with.
Gabriel Hernandez doesn’t have time for Amelia’s bright smiles or the flowers and cookies she seems determined to deliver to just about everyone. As the new vice principal at Central High School and the man responsible for the care of his mother and grandmother, Gabe needs to keep his head down and stay focused on what really matters.
The more he and Amelia are thrown together, and the more he gets to know her, what really matters starts to change. Can these two push the boundaries of their comfort to find a love worth waiting for?
My attention turns back to the woman at the front. She is smiling as she speaks with Carla in Attendance and I relax against the frame of the door and take in the view. She’s wearing a cream-colored sweater with a giant box of Crayola crayons printed on the front, a diagonally striped blue-and-green skirt, and yellow tights and red low-heeled shoes. Her shiny locks are up and away from her swanlike neck in some kind of fancy twist. Her makeup is minimal and she doesn’t even need that. Her beauty would shine through if she wasn’t wearing any and if she swapped her unconventional ensemble for a trash bag.
She places one of the mason jars on Carla’s desk and turns my way. Ducking back into my office as fast as I can, I scramble behind my desk, pulling my laptop open again to try and look busy. I hear her just outside, talking to one of the administrative assistants.
“Happy First Day of School,” Amelia singsongs in her melodic voice.
“Thank you so much. You are just too sweet to bring us flowers. And do I smell something yummy in that basket?”
“You might, but that’s for the teachers’ lounge. I figure we might need a bigger sugar fix than you guys today,” she explains.
“Oh, that’s too bad.” I’m also a little disappointed. I didn’t get a chance to try a muffin at the meeting the other day and while I normally don’t have much of an affinity for sweets, I found myself wondering what kind of wonderful food the art teacher would create.
“Oh, don’t you worry,” Amelia reassures the admin. “I dropped a little box full of my white-chocolate biscotti in the break room for all of you here in the front. I know you’re all in for a long day yourselves.”
“Well, why didn’t you lead with that? And here I am drinking my coffee without a cookie like a fool.” She laughs.
I hear Amelia chuckle and say, “Have a nice day.”
I busy myself checking emails again when there’s a soft knock at my door. I look up and see Amelia standing in the doorway with a look of cautious optimism on her face. I can’t say I blame her for being a little hesitant with me. I haven’t exactly been overly friendly with any of the staff, but she brings something out in me that I’m not ready to confront, so I’m especially aloof with her.
I clear my throat, “Good morning, Ms. Graham.”
I can see her dim a little at my formal use of her name, but I can tell she’s hiding it as best she can. “Good morning, Principal Hernandez.” I don’t really like the formal use of my name and title either, but I’m not about to do anything to change that.
She steps inside and puts one of her little mason jars on my desk. It’s a lovely little bunch of daisies in water with a little green-and-gold ribbon, our school colors, wrapped around the outside in a bow. “Happy First Day of School,” she tells me.
“Same to you.”
“Thanks.” She shifts awkwardly on her feet before saying, “I just like to do a little something for everyone on the first day to help make it a little brighter. I also made some biscotti. It’s in the break room if you’d like any.”
“I don’t really do sweets,” I tell her. Even though I was just lamenting the fact that I hadn’t had any of her baked goods yet, I need to maintain a personal distance from her, if only as a means of self-preservation.
She rolls her eyes and I am pretty sure I hear her mutter the words, “Of course you don’t.”
I smirk at her sass. “What was that?”
Her eyes snap to mine and she blushes slightly. “Oh, uh, nothing.”
I can’t help put push this woman’s buttons a little more. “Are you sure it was nothing? You don’t strike me as the type of person to say something you don’t mean to say,” I said smugly.
Her eyes narrow as she looks at me. “Fine. I said of course you don’t eat sweets. It’s probably the reason you’re such a grump.”
An unexpected laugh escapes me. I didn’t think she’d own up to it and the fact that she did impresses me. “Well, that could be one reason. It could also be because I’m just trying to get some work done and someone brought in a boatload of daisies when I’m allergic to flowers.”
She gasps. “Oh my goodness, I am so, so sorry, Gabriel. I had no idea.” Amelia moves to take the jar off my desk, but I stop her with my hand on hers. I try not to think about why her touch fills me with a warm glow or why my first name on her lips sounded so sweet.
She looks down at our hands and I think I see her blush from seconds ago make a reappearance. She looks up at me and I can’t help but smile. “I was just messing with you,” I tell her.
“So, you’re not allergic to flowers?”
I shake my head and smile.
She laughs and then sighs. “You really had me going for a second. I felt terrible.”
“I could tell and I do feel a little bad about that,” I admit, holding my thumb and forefinger about an inch apart.
“Well, I suppose that is something,” she says with a smile. Silence descends upon the room then and it’s not awkward, but not comfortable either. It just kind of hangs there like a manifestation of the strange dynamic between us.
I gesture to the jar in front of me. “Well, thank you for the flowers.”
That spurs her into action and Amelia grabs the box and basket she had placed on the chair next to her. “You’re welcome. I guess I better head out and deliver the rest of these before the day gets started. Have a great first day, Gabriel.” She waves as she hurries out the door.
It’s the second time she’s said my name this morning and it sounds even better than it did before. I stare at the little jar of happy blooms that have just as much sunny personality as the woman who delivered them. Every time I’m around her I tell myself I don’t have time for a relationship, I’ll keep my distance, and my reactions to her will go away with time. I just wish that time would come sooner rather than later.