With a pathetic little laugh that ended in a hiccup, I squared my shoulders and continued on.
Three blocks later, my boss walk had wilted and ran down the gutter with the rain that had totally soaked me. I was shivering. Whether it was from the cool rain or from delayed emotion I have no idea. Don’t much care either. Fact is, I am cold, wet, stranded and feeling sorry for myself.
This was my state of mind when a white car pulled up to the curb next to me. It wasn’t a car I recognized. Great, now I had a possible rapist/lunatic to deal with on top of everything else. I almost laughed. Could this night get any worse?
I froze in my tracks. Apparently, it could. I knew that voice. This night was about to get a whole lot worse.
Waiting for Holly
Sophie looked at her dad with her big blue eyes. She just stared at him until he gave her a little push toward the door.
“I will handle it,” he said firmly.
Sophie looked back at me, then sighed with so much gusto that her bangs blew in the breeze. “He’s not very good at this kind of thing, so be patient.” Then she headed for the door.
I looked at Mr. Brandt in question and his face was one of shocked humor.
I could play stupid and ask him what she meant or I could help him out and let him off the hook…or I could do what I do best and ignore the possibilities and see what he had to say. I chose the last one.
Mr. Brandt’s eyes were a dark blue. His lashes were thick and dark. He had a slight dimple in his left cheek when he smiled. He was smiling now.
“Ms. Holly,” his voice was deep and smooth, “would you care to make me and Sophie happy by having dinner with me on Friday night?”
Sophie was wrong. He was just fine at this kind of thing.
Enough With The Mistletoe!
“It’s like a work of art. Do I dare eat it?”
“I dare you,” he said with a grin and created a masterpiece for himself.
I sipped and sighed. It was heavenly. “I bet this actually works for you, doesn’t it?”
“With the girls?” He didn’t even pretend not to know what I was talking about, he shrugged and took a drink of his own cocoa. “I don’t do it for them, I do it for me. I love this stuff. It’s my one weakness.”
As I envisioned licking the sweet white stuff off his upper lip, I could imagine why he loved it.
“If you keep looking at me like that, I will take you up on it,” he warned.
I blinked. Where my thoughts so easy to read?
He set his cup down and reached for me.
Timing Is Everything:
“What right do you have to tell me what I can and can’t do?” she demanded.
“Just don’t go alone,” he warned.
“Okay, how about that new cowboy, Sirus?” she asked recklessly.
He clamped his teeth together, not trusting himself to speak.
“I’m sure he’d love to go riding with me.”
His hands fisted.
“Will he do?” she asked daringly, narrowing her eyes.
A muscle jerked in his jaw.
“How ’bout it?” she taunted.
“Be careful with him,” he managed to get the words out clearly even though a muscle had started to twitch in his jaw.
“Careful?” she raged. She was in a full temper and apparently unable to control it. It was as if the shock her system had been in was finding a release in her anger. “Why should I be careful?”
“Just . . . be . . . careful,” he said through gritted teeth.
“Since when do you control my life? Be careful riding! Be careful with Sirus! Anything else I should be careful with?”
“Yes. Me.” He stepped closer.
“You?” She defiantly matched his step forward.
“Yes.” He closed the small remaining gap between them.
“Why?” she demanded, tipping her head back and not giving ground.
“Because you don’t know when to stop pushing,” he growled as he grabbed her by the shoulders and lowered his mouth to hers.
All She Wants For Christmas:
When the speaker on the traitorous piece of plastic remained
silent, she continued.
“Okay. So, we’ve never really had great boundaries. Maybe we
should set some now. My dating life isn’t a topic I wish to discuss.
Not with you. Not with anyone.”
“You write romance novels. You have to actually experience
some romance in your life in order to describe it in a realistic
manner for your readers.”
She shook her head as she paced the soft carpet of her living
room. “No. See? That’s the beauty of it. I’m a romance writer, I
don’t need to date. If I start to feel like I’m missing out, I can write
myself a date.”
She heard his chuckle. “Emily—”
“Okay, okay. Even better, you date—” she paused as she
warmed to the idea—“and then tell me all about it. I can live
vicariously through you.”
Another long pause. “Emily,” when he finally spoke, his voice
sounded slightly off from his usual deep bass, “vicarious sex is a
Time Will Tell:
“Touch me again and I will kill you!” she hissed.
“Calm down!” Cody ordered soothingly as he grabbed and anchored the blanket that had tried to stay put when he’d hightailed it back from the bed. “I was only checking for injuries.” He felt like he was twelve years old again and his mom had caught him looking at the lingerie section of the Sears Catalog.
“You think I’m going to believe that?” she snorted in icy contempt. “You’re just like all the rest of your friends. You think nothing of hurting an innocent woman and then taking advantage of her while she’s unable to defend herself! You’re all…no good, saddle tramp, scum!”
“Saddle tramp?” Cody rubbed his sore jaw. The same jaw that had just been kicked hard by a deceivingly delicate and tiny foot. Saddle tramp? “Now hold on just a minute! I don’t know who you think I am lady, but I just saved your life!”
“Saved my life?” Her brow arched. “You were trying to drown me!”
Cody tried to be patient, even though she was spitting mad he could see fear in those liquid brown eyes. She was so tiny and frail looking, huddled there on that big soft bed. He exhaled as he raked one hand through his hair, effectively combing the wet strands off his forehead. “You were frantic and trying to drown us both. I had to stop you or we’d both have died.”
She snorted in disdain, somehow managing to look down her nose at him from her lower position. “No great loss!”
Cody inhaled, counted to ten, and exhaled.
“Did you really think I was going to cooperate, knowing what you and your friends would do to me after you saved me?”
Cody’s jaw dropped. “You mean you were purposely trying to drown us?”
She smiled ever-so-sweetly. “You mean there is a brain in that big empty head?”
Something snapped inside him. His jaw clenched and he had to force his next words out through gritted teeth. “I was trying to save your life and look what you did to my face and neck! Not to mention all the cuts and bruises from the river!”
“Too bad that’s all you got!” she sneered. “The world would have been better off without your kind!”
“Just what ‘kind’ would that be?”
“Low down, belly crawling, snakes!”
Belly crawling snake? Cody looked at her and shook his head. Was she crazy? Insane? He was just too cold and tired to figure this one out. “Lady, just who do you think I am?”
“Of course I know who you are! Do you really think I’m as stupid as you?” Her lips were turning blue from the cold.
Cody’s temperature was rising. He closed his eyes and forced his muscles to relax. When he opened them again, she was glaring at him defiantly. He took a long deep breath and exhaled slowly through his mouth. It didn’t help.
“What’s the matter? Not so big and tough without your friends to back you up?”
A muscle he seemed to have no control over worked in his jaw. “What friends?”
“No friendship among thieves and murderers?” she questioned innocently.
“That’s it!” Cody strode back over to the bed. She cringed backward as he leaned over her, bracing his hands flat against the wall, caging her in with his powerful body, his face inches from hers. “I just saved your life at great risk to my own. I don’t know who you are and I don’t know who you think I am, but I’m about to walk out of here and leave you on your own. Where I come from it’s considered polite to tell someone thank you for saving your life.”
She didn’t say a word, just returned his glare without blinking an eye. Cody gave his head a half shake and slowly straightened. He dropped his arms back to his sides. He stood there and held her gaze for a full thirty seconds more.
“Good luck.” He turned and walked to the door. In all of his adult life he couldn’t ever remember being so upset with a woman.
He was reaching for the doorknob when she spoke quietly. “Where you come from, do they usually go out in the freezing rain with nothing more than a blanket on?”
Knight Of Light:
“It was a simple matter. I simply asked the cook as she exited her car if she could possibly do a special order for me. She complied.”
“Yeah, I’ll just bet she did,” Miranda muttered, as she took another bite of the perfectly cooked eggs.
“You are not pleased to have the food?”
“Yes. Just that if I had asked a woman to do the same thing for me, she would of told me to come back when the door was opened. Must be nice to be so handsome that you can have anything you want.”
His turned until he could look directly at her. “Anything?”
She stopped chewing.
“Will you give me anything I want?”
She stopped blinking.
“Because, Love, there are many things I want from you.”
He was pretty sure she quit breathing.
He lifted his free hand to stroke the skin of her neck exposed by the simple cotton t-shirt she wore. Her pulse was steady, if a little fast. He came close to losing her last night. This scared him more than any battle he had ever fought. How could he fight against something he couldn’t even touch? He raised his hand to trace her jaw with his index finger, following the strong line up and tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
He smiled, leaned forward and kissed just the corner of her mouth. While lying in bed with her, holding her while she slept, he realized he would never be the same again if he lost her. “There are many, many, things I want from you, Love.”
It was time for him to make her realize she would not be the same without him either. “But I am afraid they will have to wait. I fear your family is starting to wake and I do not wish for us to be interrupted.”
That broke the spell. “Oh, crap!” She jumped from the bed, grabbed the empty cartons and turned in two complete circles before realizing she had nowhere to hide them.
Braedan stood as well. “Give them to me, Love.”
She thrust the evidence at him.
He stepped close to her and as he took the empty boxes, he leaned forward and touched his lips to the sensitive spot in her neck.
He winked at her and then left her standing in the middle of the room as he disappeared out her open bedroom window with the proof of their early morning tryst.