For Noah Mackie, life is finally back on track. He has a great support system, a promised promotion is on its way, and he’s finally getting the hang of this single father thing. But when the job falls through and his neighbor’s matchmaking efforts become more aggressive, Noah is in for yet another unwanted detour. With his career and two spirited daughters to worry about, he doesn’t have time for dating—especially not someone like Cassie Ellis, his girls’ beautiful and sophisticated dance instructor, who is about as open and approachable as a brick wall.
Rough around the Edges Meets Refined is about two people who think they know exactly what they want but who have no idea what they really need. It’s about learning that people aren’t always what they seem and that sometimes life’s detours take you exactly where you need to go.
Through the curtains hanging across Noah’s front window, Cassie could see the glow of what appeared to be little white lights framing the window. She hesitated on the front porch, pulling her jacket tighter around the long, flowing top she’d chosen to wear with her favorite charcoal leggings, thinking that she should have worn sweats instead.
What would happen if she knocked on the door and allowed herself to dance with Noah? What if he tried to kiss her? Would she be strong enough to say not yet? Two months ago, she only knew this man as the father of two little girls in one of her dance classes. Now she was about to spend the evening dancing with him.
A breeze whipped at her cheeks, and Cassie glanced at her car parked in the driveway. She should leave right now and send him a text that she’d changed her mind. He might be disappointed, but he’d understand.
Or—her gaze returned to the glowing window—she could knock and dance with Noah like they’d danced before.
No big deal.
Her mom used to tell her: “Don’t run toward a relationship, but don’t run away from it either. If it’s right, it’ll just happen.”
It had sounded so easy, so smart. And Cassie had thought she was doing just that when she’d dated Landon. But looking back, she’d not only run toward marriage, she’d full on sprinted. She’d let the fog of twitterpation, fairy tales and romance cloud her judgment. Cassie hadn’t really known Landon and he hadn’t known her. It was like they’d fallen in love on a reality dating show, where nothing had been real. She’d been romanced, schmoozed, and swept off her feet. But she’d never been loved.
Looking back, it was all so clear to her now.
A shadow crossed in front of the window—a tall shadow with strong shoulders, a confident gait, and a good heart. Yes, it had only been two months since Cassie had met Noah. But in that short amount of time, he knew her better than Landon ever had—faults, quirks, Irish dancing, and all.
Maybe taking a small step forward wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Cassie lifted her hand and rapped on the door. A moment later, it opened, and the dark shadow became Noah. His face was freshly shaved, his hair was slightly damp, and he wore a fitted, button-down shirt that was as blue as his eyes. Her breath caught.
“Wow,” said Noah. “You look beautiful.”
“And you look . . . great.” Too great. Her physical reaction to him was so strong that she wanted to sprint forward and forget all about taking her time.
Noah opened the door wider. “Would you like to come in?”
Behind him, the soft glow of the lights created a sort of aura around him, and three beefy candles flickered on his bar. With the furniture pushed to the side, the room oozed romance. He probably smelled amazing too—just one more thing to sink her deeper into that quicksand.
Noah held out his hand. “Don’t be nervous, Cass. It’s just me.”
That was the problem. Noah wasn’t just anyone. He had the power to undo her. “Promise we won’t move too fast.” Her eyes pled with his.
“I promise,” he answered, wiggling his fingers. “I loaded a lot of slow songs, so we’ll be moving very slowly.”
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USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.
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