Read Tart Online

Authors: Lauren Dane

Tags: #Romance, #General Fiction Romance, #Erotica, #Fiction


BOOK: Tart
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Praise for

Heart of Darkness

“Fresh, fun, fast-paced paranormal romance, spellbinding magic, a wry-humored, gutsy heroine and a sexy-as-sin hero put the charm on this witchy new series from multitalented, always fabulous Lauren Dane!���

Lara Adrian,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Dane always delivers a steamy, exciting ride . . . she leaves me wanting more!”

—Larissa Ione,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Unputdownable . . . Great characters, wonderful world-building and, as always, a delicious romance. If you pick this book up, make sure you’ve cleared the afternoon.”

—Ann Aguirre, national bestselling author

Further praise for Lauren Dane and her novels

“[It] just might fry your circuits.”

The Best Reviews

“Scintillating . . . A roller coaster of emotion, intrigue and sensual delights . . . I was hooked.”

—Vivi Anna, author of

“Erotic . . . Sure to keep you reading late into the night.”

—Anya Bast,
New York Times
bestselling author

“In a word . . . amazing.”

RT Book Review

Berkley titles by Lauren Dane



(with Maya Banks)






(with Emma Holly, Megan Hart, and Bethany Kane)














Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Copyright © 2012 by Lauren Dane.

Cover art by Tony Mauro.

Cover design by Rita Frangie.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

HEAT and the HEAT design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


Heat trade paperback edition / November 2012

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Dane, Lauren.

Tart : a delicious novel / Lauren Dane.—Heat trade paperback ed.

p. cm.

ISBN 978-1-101-61231-6

1. Man-woman relationships—Fiction. 2. Triangles (Interpersonal relations)—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3604.A5T37 2012



I’ve been blessed by an abundance of strong women in my life. This one is for Minnie, Jewell, Bernice and Linda.


First and foremost, thanks goes to my family. Family is incredibly important, and despite the grumpy times and the trips to the emergency room when my middle child does crazy things like climb bookshelves, they keep me sane and grounded.

My readers—thank you all so much for loving the Brown siblings so much that I’m able to give you Delicious.

People who make me better at what I do: Leis Pederson, thank you so much for your patient and sharp advice. Laura Bradford, thank you for your continuing belief in my work (and for your friendship). Megan Hart, who has read so many IMs, emails and manuscripts, and who has taken the time to talk me off ledges and make me laugh. My beta readers Mary, Fatin and Renee—thank you for all the time and effort you’ve so freely given me over the years.

My secret illuminati author ninjas, aka TLTSNBN—thank you each and every one for kicking butt and taking names.


Praise for Lauren Dane

Berkley titles by Lauren Dane

Title Page





Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27


n case anyone ever doubted it, getting up at four in the morning was all sorts of things. Jules Lamprey had been doing it for years so it wasn’t so much a matter of
holy crap, it’s early

What she did like, she thought as she locked her front door and headed to her car, was the way the world held so much anticipation. No dawn yet. But it wasn’t the middle of the night anymore either. The promise of a new day was just beginning to manifest itself.

She liked that she pretty much had the road to herself as she made the short trip to Tart. Oh sure, in a while there’d be people waking up to get that first ferry to Seattle, but for now, it felt as if the entire world was all hers.

And for a brief, thrilling moment after she’d parked her car and walked up the block, she stood and looked at her shop.

Tart, in all its glory. Shiny red and chrome with black-and-white tiles on the floor. The place she’d been given so unexpectedly had become her heart. The place she always knew existed because she’d made it so.

Hers. She unlocked the back door and went through to the kitchen, hanging her things up and getting ready to start the day. She figured at least one of her friends would be by in the next hour either to help or seeking tarts and coffee, and that made her nearly as happy as seeing the front of Tart each and every morning.

•   •   •

True to Jules’s gut feeling, Gillian came in at six. Gillian Forrester had been Jules’s closest friend for well over a decade and a frequent early bird visitor to Tart once she got her son Miles off to school.

Even so, six fifteen was early for Gillian.

“So what? Did you have some hot, early morning nookie with your rock-star fiancé or what?”

Gillian sniffed, but the smile on her lips gave her away. “I really need some coffee.”

Jules grinned, leaning in for the hug. Tart had just opened for the morning commuters. She’d already done all her prep and things were baking and her display case was full of delicious treats.

But it was quiet enough for the time being that she could pause a moment to make Gillian a latte and slide a scone her way.

“Adrian was working pretty much the entire night in his new studio. He came home a while ago and told me he’d get Miles to school before he crashed. I sleep poorly when he’s working. It’s terrible and I should be ashamed of myself for apparently being addicted to him in my bed like some sort of comfort object.”

Her best friend had met Adrian Brown the year before in an unlikely way. He was the biological father of her son Miles. They’d had a rough start, but Jules had never seen Gillian happier and the two of them were getting married that summer.

“Ashamed, my ass. You’ve got love. Love in the form of a tattooed, tall, dark and handsome musician who adores you. Of course you like him in your bed. But it’s nice of him to deal with Miles.”

Gillian’s smile made Jules happy to the tip of her toes. “And we did, you know, get a little early morning—
—action in. So now I’m awake and he’s going to sleep once he gets Miles off to school so I figure I might as well come here, see you, which I don’t do often enough of late. And you’ll take pity on me and give me caffeine.”

It’d been a while since Jules had had early morning action, or action of any kind. Maybe she’d meet some hot rock-star friend of Adrian’s at the wedding.

“Well, I’m glad you’re here. You’re right, I don’t see you often enough lately.”

“Are you mad at me? You must all feel like I’ve abandoned you.”

She squeezed Gillian’s hand. “Heck no. You have a few things going on in your life right now. A kid. A fiancé. A wedding. Your business. A new house. Hanging out with your friends tends to fall to the bottom of the list when you’re doing all that other stuff. We don’t feel like you’ve abandoned us. You should know us better than that.”

Jules handled a few of her regulars before turning her attention back to Gillian.

“I miss you. There’s so much going on.”

Jules studied Gillian carefully, worried suddenly that she’d missed something. “Is everything all right? Do you need me to kick anyone for you?”

“This is exactly what I miss. No one you need to kick, though you know how much it pleases me to have my own army of Amazonian warrior women ready to do my bidding and protect me should I need it.”

Jules laughed as she worked the counter for a few minutes.

“It’s just busy,” Gillian said as Jules got back to her. “Wedding stuff, and thank you so much for all your help. And house stuff. We’re halfway between my house and the new place and Miles is bouncing off the walls with excitement. Little prat got a D on a big math test last week. I only found out when Adrian had taken out the recycling and found it in the papers.”

Jules winced. Gillian loved her son intensely, but she was a tough momma on the big stuff like school.

“Anyway, I figured if I came in here before my first lesson and while my men took care of themselves, we could visit and you could fill me in on how the new arrangement is working.”

The new arrangement was the business deal she’d worked out with her friends Mary and Daisy. Mary had moved her catering and dinner club business into Tart’s space and had already grown her business by 50 percent. Daisy’s art hung on the walls, and she sold it and other local artists’ work as well as handling the business and marketing for Tart and Mary’s catering business.

A lot of new things happening. So much that Jules found herself juggling her life a lot more lately than she ever had. But she felt like things were really looking up.

“I’m getting used to sharing my space, and it’s going well. Profits are up for all three of us. I’m going out to Patrick Carter’s farm after I close today. I’m expanding my menu to include locally grown produce.”

“He’ll love that. I’ve been worried about him after losing his wife.”

“He seemed all right when I spoke to him on the phone. But you know, I can’t imagine losing the love of my life after all those decades together. He still comes in here at least once a month though. And I think he’s slowly moving forward.” The Carters had been one of those couples who seemed to light up at the sight of one another.

BOOK: Tart
10.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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