Josh Kowalski is tired of holding down the fort--better known as the Northern Star Lodge--while his siblings are off living their dreams. Now that his oldest brother has returned to Whitford, Maine for good, Josh is free to chase some dreams of his own.
As the daughter of the lodge's longtime housekeeper, Katie Davis grew up alongside the Kowalski kids. Though she's always been "one of the guys", her feelings for Josh are anything but sisterly. And after a hot late-night encounter in the kitchen, it's clear Josh finally sees her as the woman she is.
Katie's been waiting years for Josh to notice her, but now that he has, she's afraid it's too late. Giving her heart to a man who can't wait to leave town is one sure way to have it broken. But Josh keeps coming up with excuses not to leave--could it be that everything he's ever wanted is closer than he could have imagined?
Josh Kowalski's life could be summed up in just a few words--thirty years' worth of itches he couldn't quite scratch.
He itched to get out of Whitford, Maine, and away from the Northern Star Lodge. He itched for adventure and travel and a job he'd chosen, rather than one chosen for him before he was even born. He itched to find the woman who'd make him want to forsake all others until death do they part. There was no medicated powder to cure those kinds of itches, either. All he could do was bide his time, and that had gotten harder with every passing year.
This year, though, things were looking up. Josh grabbed a six-pack out of the fridge and bumped the door closed with his hip since he was clutching a bag of stolen baked goods in his other hand. Breaking his leg back in July had sucked. But his brothers coming home to help out at the lodge, giving him the chance to let them know he resented being left holding the bag just because he was the youngest, had been his big break.
"You heading out?"
He almost dropped his beer. In her sheepskin-lined-suede winter slippers, Rosie was almost silent as she moved around the lodge. "Yeah. Half hour until kickoff."
Rose Davis had been the housekeeper at the lodge for as long as he could remember, but when Josh's mother died when he was only five, she'd become much more than that. She was as close to a mother as he could have. That meant, of course, that he was thirty years old and essentially still lived with mom. No wonder he had such a hard time scratching that need-a-woman itch.
"If you--" She broke into a coughing fit and Josh frowned. A bad cold had gone around Whitford a while back and Rose had ended up with pneumonia. She'd bounced back pretty well, but he didn't like the sound of that cough. "If you see Katie, tell her I said hi."
"Maybe I should stay home."
She scoffed and waved her hand. "I'm going to curl up with my knitting and the Criminal Minds marathon. The last thing I want to listen to is you screaming and swearing at the television in the other room."
"You had pneumonia, Rosie. If you don't take care of yourself, you'll end up back in bed."
"Is that my banana bread in your bag?"
"You're trying to change the subject."
"You're stealing my banana bread."
"You told me you wanted to lose a few pounds, so really I'm doing this for you." He was busted, but he didn't even break a sweat as she raised an eyebrow at him. "Even though you're perfect the way you are, I just want you to be happy. Eating this banana bread won't make you happy, but it'll make my friends--including your daughter--very, very happy."
Rose laughed, but it quickly deteriorated into another bout of coughing. Josh didn't like it, but it passed fairly quickly and she waved away the concern she must have seen on his face. "You think you're a charmer, Joshua Kowalski, but I've had your number since you were four years old and told me you peed on the back of the toilet so I'd always have something to clean and your parents would keep paying me. You were doing that for my sake, too."
"See? I'm always thinking of you, Rosie."
She shook her head and made a shooing motion with her hand. "Go. Take the banana bread. And I bet you put a dent in the cookie jar, too."