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One hot holiday, p.4

One Hot Holiday, page 4

 

One Hot Holiday
 


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“I know what you were trying to get.” Asshole. Zane was a total player. “Now I want you to get back to your seat. You’re not kissing Haley, mistletoe or no freaking mistletoe, got me? She’s off-limits.”

  Zane hurriedly backed away. “Sorry! My bad. Didn’t know she was with you.”

  Well, now you fucking do. But he bit those words back because…she wasn’t. She wasn’t with him. He was simply looking out for her. She’d obviously had a bad time, and the last thing she needed was some douche sniffing around after her. Spencer turned around and found himself staring straight into Haley’s green eyes.

  Had she heard the dumbass’s comment? Probably. He needed to set the record straight because the last thing he wanted was for Haley to believe that he was lying about her. “Listen, she’s not with—”

  “Spence!” Keri called out. “You’re under the mistletoe! Don’t you dare move!” She rushed toward him, moving up fast behind Haley.

  Haley narrowed her eyes. “You’re under the mistletoe.”

  “I—” Shit. I was trying to make sure the idiot skulking away didn’t kiss you.

  “That means you have to get kissed,” she told him softly. “That okay with you?”

  “Uh, yeah. Yeah, it’s—”

  She shoved the drink tray onto the nearest table. Grabbed the front of his red coat and yanked him toward her. She shot onto her toes, and Haley’s lips pressed to his.

  Everything stopped around them. He didn’t even hear the music. The crowd was gone. The voices and laughter faded. There was just her. Haley’s lips were soft and parted, and yes, he took a taste. His tongue swept into her mouth, and desire freaking exploded within him.

  His arms curled around her body. He hauled her even closer to him. And that light, tentative little kiss became something a whole lot hotter. He feasted on her mouth, and she kissed him back with the same wild ferocity. Her hands were on his shoulders now, hauling him closer, and he wanted to lift her up, get her to wrap those long legs around him and—

  Haley jerked back. Her breath heaved in and out. In and out.

  His heart almost burst right out of his chest.

  She stared at him with shock on her face. In her eyes.

  Then the clapping started.

  So did the whistles.

  Her face flushed that delicious pink that he was starting to adore, and Haley grabbed the tray she’d put down before she hurried away. Spencer scanned the smiling faces. All right, so he didn’t have to worry about the assholes hitting on Haley anymore. Because after the kiss, everyone was assuming that he and Haley were hot and heavy. But he didn’t want her embarrassed. Not even for a moment. “Mind your own damn business, everyone,” he snapped. “Nothing to see.”

  Keri sidled toward him. “I disagree. That was… plenty to see.”

  It had been plenty to feel, too.

  “Knew you were involved,” she added with an incline of her head. “Could tell by the way you watched her when you came into the bar. Landlord, my ass.”

  “I am her landlord.” Spencer glanced over his shoulder. Haley was busy behind the bar, and she didn’t look up to meet his gaze.

  Keri gave a throaty laugh. “Yes, I’m guessing you’re that and a whole lot more.”

  Haley looked up at Keri’s laugh. Her gaze locked on his.

  He’d seen fear in her eyes before. Seen it and hated it. But this time, when she looked at him, Spencer saw desire.

  And he knew the same need was blazing in his own gaze.

  The kiss had taught him one very, very important lesson. Okay, two lessons.

  Lesson one…Haley Quick could sure as hell kiss.

  Lesson two…He wanted her in his bed. The sooner, the better.

  Chapter Three

  Haley hurried out of the bar, her boots rushing over the sidewalk, as snow fell down onto her.

  Wait. Hold up. Haley tilted back her head and squinted. Sure, the temperature had dropped a little bit, but it still had to be in the sixties. No way was snow actually falling on her head. It couldn’t be. She lifted a hand and caught a bit of the snow on her fingertip.

  “Bubbles,” Spencer’s deep, rumbling voice told her. “Since Mother Nature doesn’t give us the real thing all too often, we have to improvise down here.” He pointed to the balcony on the left.

  A bubble machine was up there, blasting down its fake snow.

  As she watched, more of the small bubbles fell down, raining on the street.

  “Practice for the big parade,” he added as he ambled closer to her. “People in town like for things to be perfect.”

  She dropped her hand and tried not to look at his mouth. She failed, though. Miserably. Her gaze went right to his mouth, and she immediately thought of the kiss they’d shared.

  Of the way heat had blasted through her whole body.

  Of the way that she’d plastered herself to him.

  Of the way his mouth had felt against her.

  Of the way…she wanted more.

  “Everything okay?” Spencer asked in the low, sexy voice that she knew would haunt her dreams that night.

  “Fine.” She sidled away from him. A little distance between the two of them had to be a good thing. The more distance, the less temptation. She hurried down the sidewalk.

  He followed.

  As soon as she turned the corner of the building, he turned, too. Haley spun to face him. “Stop it!”

  Spencer frowned. “Stop what?”

  “Following me. I don’t like it, and I don’t need—”

  He pointed behind her. “My motorcycle.”

  His what now?

  “My motorcycle,” Spencer repeated as a smile played at his lips.

  Dammit. She was looking at his mouth again. It was wrong for a man to have such gorgeous lips.

  “My motorcycle is parked right there. I wasn’t following you. I was going for my bike.”

  She looked back. Saw a big, black beast of a bike. Her head swung toward him. “Where’s the patrol car?”

  “I’m off duty. I don’t drive it when I’m off duty.” He motioned toward his Santa coat. “Didn’t notice I wasn’t in uniform?”

  “This town is…eccentric.” She’d definitely noticed that during the day. “You’re the seventh man I’ve seen in a Santa coat in the last hour. I figured it was part of the uniform.”

  He laughed. Why did he have such a warm and sexy laugh? She rocked back on her heels. Around them, thousands of small, clear lights filled the trees that lined the streets. The town was old-fashioned, seriously, like something from a greeting card. The streets were as close to cobble-stone as she thought it was possible to get. The storefronts all shone merrily with their decorations. And the trees—the trees on either side of the streets had obviously been carefully decked out. She wondered how many hours and hours it had taken the city employees to cover all of those trees in the soft holiday lighting.

  “It’s not part of the uniform. I was at the elementary school earlier, doing a reading for the kids. That’s why I’m still wearing the coat.”

  Oh, God. He’d read for small children. Of course, he had. Could the man be any more perfect?

  And he rides a big, black motorcycle.

  Her eyes narrowed as she frowned at him. “Stop it.”

  Spencer looked around. “Stop what?”

  Stop being sexy. “You know what you’re doing.”

  His dark gaze focused on her once more. “I have literally no clue.”

  She pointed at him. “You’re too good to be true.” He kissed too good to be true, as well. And if there was one thing she’d very clearly learned from the life-altering disaster in New York…if a guy seemed too good to be true, he was.

  “You keep saying I’m good.” Spencer shook his head. “No one is one hundred percent good.” He closed the remaining distance between them. Stood right in front of her. All big, strong and handsome—damn him. “Trust me, I’ve done plenty of bad things in my life.” The shadows of pain and anger whispered beneath Spe
ncer’s words. “There are some things that you can never forget.”

  Her heart ached. “I’m sorry.”

  “For what?”

  She rolled one shoulder. “For bringing up bad memories.” No, it was more than that. “I’m sorry that you hurt.” Her hand lifted, and she squeezed his arm.

  He stiffened. His gaze moved to her hand. Then very slowly, his stare tracked back to her.

  Okay, I should stop touching him. Only, her fingers didn’t seem to get that message. They went right on touching him. Maybe stroking him a little bit. Woman, stop!

  On the third try, she yanked her hand away. “It’s late. I should get home.”

  He nodded. “How about a ride?”

  “On your motorcycle?”

  His dimple peeked at her. “Unless you want me to go and find the patrol car…”

  “No!” Hard no. She didn’t want to be riding around town in the patrol car.

  “Then the motorcycle it is.” He headed around her and offered her a helmet that he picked up from the bike. “Safety first.”

  She plunked the helmet on her head as he climbed onto the motorcycle. She bit her lip and nervously studied him. “You know what you’re doing? Like, this isn’t secretly your first time to drive a motorcycle, is it?”

  He revved the engine and tossed her a smile. “It’s your first time to ride, isn’t it?”

  “Yes. Back home, my preferred mode of transport was the subway.”

  He leaned toward her. Conspiratorially, Spencer told her, “We don’t have those here.”

  She pressed her lips together to smother her smile. After a moment, she managed, “I did notice that.”

  He took her hand. “Climb on behind me.”

  A bit hesitant, she did.

  He put her arm around his waist. “Hold on tight.”

  She settled her arms—both of them—at a better position around his waist.

  “How about we go the long way home?” Spencer asked. “Ready for the scenic route?”

  “Um…”

  Too late. They were off. The motorcycle seemed to shoot forward, and she tightened her light hold to a full-on death grip around him. The lights whizzed past them and soon they were away from the downtown area and winding along the twisting road that faced the bay. Heavy, thick oak trees were around them, and their thick limbs stretched overhead. The enormous limbs were weighed down by moss. Moonlight glinted off Mobile Bay as she looked into the distance. They were up on the bluff, and the water gleamed below them. The longer they drove, the more her fear vanished. She found herself relaxing even as she kept holding tightly to him. And with every curve…

  She was smiling.

  Even laughing.

  She felt free on the motorcycle. Free with him as they took the old roads and the wind rushed over her. He wasn’t speeding. Wasn’t being some kind of show-off. He was just driving her and letting her feel…

  Good.

  All too soon, he was turning toward his house—and her cottage. He opened the gate and then drove through. When he braked in front of her cottage, Haley realized that she was still holding his waist. Her arms were curled around him, no, correction, her whole body curved around him. So she’d gotten a wee bit clingy on the ride. Whoops. Haley finally pushed back and hurried off the bike. She could feel his gaze on her as she fumbled with the helmet.

  “Not so bad, was it?”

  “Not bad at all.” She handed him the helmet. “Thanks for the ride home.”

  “Anytime.” He reached for the helmet. His fingers brushed hers.

  Her breath caught. Why did his touch send that spark of awareness through her? She yanked her hand away from his and immediately put both of her hands behind her back. “Good night.” She backed away.

  He remained on the motorcycle. “Are we going to talk about it?”

  “It?”

  “Uh, hmm.” Now he put down the kickstand. Slowly rose. Headed toward her.

  The lights from her cottage blazed behind her. She’d realized that morning that he had the exterior lights set on a timer. It was nice to come home to the lights and not total darkness.

  “It.” He kept his arms at his sides. “The kiss.”

  Her hand rose and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “You were under the mistletoe.”

  “And I do appreciate you joining me there.”

  His voice had gone all sensual on her. In that moment, she could still taste him.

  “I was about to leave the bar—after our little talk in the storage room…”

  Like she needed any reminder of that talk. Dirty, hot sex.

  “Then I saw one particularly bold dumbass decide he’d cut you off by standing under the mistletoe. Guess he thought he’d luck up and get a kiss.”

  She didn’t remember any other guy. She only remembered him. “He didn’t luck up.”

  Spencer took another step toward her. “No.”

  This was intense. The air felt thicker, and her skin was warm.

  “Why did you kiss me, Haley?”

  “Because you were under the mistletoe. We just established that.” She turned away. Reached for the door.

  “You could have ignored me. I wasn’t going to push you. I might want you like hell, but I wasn’t going to—”

  Haley spun back around. “Say that again?”

  His hands clenched at his sides. “I wasn’t going to push you. That’s not who I am. I’m not—”

  “No. You said that you want me.”

  “Baby, after the kiss, I think it was obvious to everyone there that I was fucking wild for you.”

  He’d just called her baby. She wasn’t his baby. They weren’t involved. They were… “You’re my landlord.”

  “Haley…”

  “I don’t…I need this place, okay?” The cottage. The town. The anonymity. But she was also starting to wonder…

  Could I need him, too?

  “The place is yours.” His voice had roughened even more. “And you don’t have to do a damn thing with me, if that’s what you’re thinking. You staying here is no way dependent on you kissing me or fucking me.”

  Wow. Okay. He’d been direct. “Good to know.”

  Spencer leaned toward her. Didn’t touch her. Instead, he put his hand on the door behind her head. “I want you.”

  Breathing was a little tricky.

  “When you kissed me, I thought you wanted me, too.”

  She had. She did.

  “I want to know why you kissed me. And don’t lie and say it’s just because I was under the mistletoe. The thing about me is…I don’t like lies. Fucking hate them, in fact.”

  Then you’ll hate me. Because she’d already told him more than her share of lies. And she’d tell him more. But not right then. In that moment, she’d give him the truth. “I kissed you because I wanted to kiss you. I…didn’t want Keri to kiss you.” Keri and her talk about dirty, hot sex with Spencer.

  Keri could back the hell off.

  “Why would you care if she kissed me?”

  “I have no idea.”

  She expected him to laugh at her. She didn’t even understand what was happening herself. Instead of laughing, Spencer nodded. “Fair enough.” A pause. “Want to know why I was under the mistletoe?”

  “You told me already. You said some guy—”

  “I didn’t want you kissing some guy. I wanted you kissing me. I wanted to know what you tasted like ever since the first moment I saw you. You were standing in the middle of the street, looking like the cutest thing I’d ever seen…”

  “I was about to get run down by elves,” she whispered.

  He laughed. “When I got you out of their way and we were on the side of the street, I realized how wrong I was about you.”

  What?

  “You weren’t just cute. You are absolutely beautiful.”

  Her lips parted.

  “I wanted to taste you, and that’s why I was under the mistletoe tonight. But I made a mistake.”

&n
bsp; Oh. Right. She straightened her spine. “Because you’re my landlord and—”

  “Screw being your landlord. I told you, that doesn’t matter. It has nothing to do with what happens between us.”

  What happens…she could imagine plenty happening. “I have this annoying habit,” she whispered. “I pick the wrong men.”

  He stared into her eyes. “You think I’m wrong?”

  “You are wrong for me.” She knew it with certainty. He was the sheriff. That spelled all kinds of trouble. No matter how amazing his kiss made her feel, no matter what sort of reaction her body had to him, he was wrong.

  She couldn’t afford to let him get close.

  “I see.” Spencer nodded. He stepped back. “Strange. Because when we kissed back at the bar, I’ve never thought a woman felt more right to me.”

  Her breath caught. That was…sweet. Romantic.

  He gave her a slow smile. “You have a good night, Haley. And don’t forget, if you need me, I’m right next door.” He turned away.

  Headed down the little path.

  She stood in front of her door. She should go inside. Call it a night. But… “That’s it?” Her hand flew up and slapped over her mouth. She had not just said that.

  He whirled around. His expression told her that…yes, she’d said it.

  Her hand dropped. “I mean…good night.”

  He kept staring at her. “That’s it…until you want more.”

  Her heart lurched in her chest.

  “Because I’m not going to push you, Haley. I think you’ve been pushed enough in your life. You want me? Well, you know where I am.” He pointed. “Right next door.”

  Warmth spread through her. “I think I was wrong about you.”

  His hands were loose at his sides. “Oh?”

  “You are a good guy. I guess they do exist.” She just hadn’t come across one before. “It’s nice to meet you.”

  His hands went to his hips.

  “Good night, Spencer.”

  She unlocked her door, headed inside, and for the first time in ages, Haley truly felt safe.

  ***

  Well, shit.

  Spencer stood on the lit walkway, his hands on his hips, and his eyes on the closed cottage door.

  When they’d first met and he’d been trying to reassure Haley, he’d told her that she didn’t need to be afraid of him because he was one of the good guys.

 
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