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A Taste of Cinnamon

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They both reach for the last cookie on the tray. Raeliana is just a second too slow; her hand brushes against Noah's as he snatches away the cookie.

"Give it to me!" she says. She reaches across the table, and he pulls his hand back. Raeliana glares at him. "You don't even want it."

"But I do want it," Noah says. He sounds infuriatingly calm and reasonable, and he gives her a smile that says really, truly has no idea what she is talking about.

"You only ate one! And you were making a face the whole time, I saw you!" she says. She leans over the table, making another grab for the cookie. "Besides, those are for me."

She's spent weeks working with the cooks to figure out how to make cookies that taste like the ones from her favorite cafe in Korea. They've finally gotten a small batch of it right — and now Noah is taking it away from her.

He scoots his chair back, out of her reach. "You let Adam have some," he says.

Raeliana spares Adam a glance — he's staying out of this, watching the two of them without comment as he finishes a cookie.

"You are not Adam." She scowls at Noah. "Adam can have all the cookies he wants, because he's nice. And he actually likes sweets, he doesn't eat them just to spite me."

Noah chuckles.

Clearly, she won't get anywhere by reasoning with him. As usual. So instead, she gets up and dashes around the side of the table.

If she has the element of surprise —

But he's up as well, backing away from her, keeping the cookie out of her grasp. She reaches for him again and he circles around her easily, evading that and her subsequent attempts to grab for the cookie.

"Raeliana," he says suddenly. He gives her a serious look, his eyes dark and intense. There's something intimate in his gaze, and for a moment, it's just the two of them. She forgets to reach for the cookie — everything else drops away.

It's unfair for a man to smolder that much.

"What?" But her voice is a little less steady than before, and she's caught by surprise when he breaks off a piece of the cookie and brings it to her lips. She isn't sure why she lets him feed it to her.

But the cookie is delicious when she eats it off his fingers; it's soft and still a little warm from the oven, melting into sweetness in her mouth. Noah's fingers touch lightly against her lips.

"I never said I wanted to eat it," Noah says. The corners of his eyes crinkle as he smiles; he's laughing at her, but there's something else in his gaze too. He's watching her mouth as he drags his fingertips along her lower lip.

"Do you want more?" he asks, his voice dropping, becoming rougher, more intimate, and yes, she does, she's breathing in the scent of cinnamon cookies as he brushes against her lips. He tugs lightly against her lower lip, and she wants to catch his fingertips in her teeth, to taste him with her tongue and see if she can trace along the whorls of his fingerprints —

"No!" Raeliana says, jerking her head away. She marches around the table and heads toward the door.

"You can give it to Adam," she says. "I'm going for a walk."

Adam, finishing his cookie, just looks confused.