Authors: L.L. Muir
The enemy, he thought. Remember,
she is the enemy.
But still, his heart tripped. Tripped again. A deep breath in, then out. It made little difference. He could not hold another thought in his head. His only purpose now, was to kiss her.
And what harm would a kiss cause?
He could think of nothing.
“Fine. I confess,” she whispered. “I’d rather have a kiss for my reward. Okay? Are you happy now?”
Was he happy? He was in hell. And her speaking aloud of the kiss he was determined to take? It should sober him. He should turn and put space between them. He should walk about in the snow outside, perhaps with his feet bare, to remember his purpose. And still, he advanced.
She hid her shaking hands behind her back and waited. When the toes of his stockinged feet mingled with hers, he leaned down, breathing her in. He measured the moment, tucking each rise of her chest into his memory, to relive later.
How sad, that it would all be relegated to memory.
With his mouth an inch from hers, he murmured, “There was no date on the letter lass. I win. I claim my prize.”
Their lips brushed past, then returned, hers pressing forward as much as his. But he wanted to ensure she would remember it, this one and only kiss between them. He teased, sipped the taste of her, his lips a whisper against her own, then he pressed in again, renewing the heat they’d begun with, stealing her breath away.
Then he stepped back and did the only thing that would ensure it would never happen again...
L. L. Muir
AMAZON KINDLE EDITION
Lesli Muir Lytle
CHRISTMAS KISS © 2012 Lesli Muir Lytle
All rights reserved
Amazon Kindle Edition, License Notes
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This ebook is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Cover Art © 2012 Kelli Ann Morgan
my sister and my friend,
who laughs in all the right spots.
Highlands of Scotland, 1806
Heathcliff McKinnon, reclusive Laird of the McKinnons, stood alone in the arched window of the East tower, the shutters flung wide with no fear of the coming storm. His calloused hands gripped the ledge in desperation as if he were hanging from it instead of standing safely inside the stones of his own home. He’d made this tower his private sanctuary long ago. Tonight, it wasn’t enough.
He threw back his head and faced the plump white moon. An ominous size that night, it held back a wall of gathering clouds as if waiting for some signal to allow the army of snow to attack the peaceful village below. As if waiting for a signal from
“Help me! God. Odin. Anyone.” Heathcliff whispered. “I’d give all I have.”
The moonlight pulsed and the wind stirred. Brighter clouds pushed ‘round the orb and spilled into the sky like milk poured into water. The crumbling battlements below were lit for a moment, then were gone, for in no time at all, the thickening clouds had blocked the light.
The storm was upon him. Large wet snowflakes flew into his shirt and melted it to his chest, but still he held onto the ledge as if the brawn of his arms might save him from despair. When the cold began slipping past his body and into his home, he finally accepted that his pleas would go unanswered...
For surely, the storm could be no help at all.
Scotland, December, Present Day
Surprised to still be alive, Bree Colby sat in her rental car, gripping the steering wheel and staring at the tilted landscape for one very long minute before she realized the vehicle was filling with water.
This can’t be happening.
This can’t be happening.
This can’t be happening.
But it was.
Water leaked around the edges of the passenger door. And, thanks to her still-functioning headlights, she realized the dark patches in the snow in front of her were signs of a half-frozen stream. And she’d be half-frozen in two minutes if she didn’t start moving!
The seatbelt had probably saved her, but it had become her biggest threat. She pushed herself hard against the back of the seat and lifted the release, but she ended up tumbling anyway, sideways, head-first toward the water. Her hands hit the submerged glass of the passenger window, and it took all her strength to catch herself, but only the ends of her hair got wet. Her head might be filling with blood, but at least she wasn’t drowning in four inches of water.
She had two new problems, though. Her hands were starting to tingle from the icy water and she could feel the glass screaming; it was going to shatter!
She hooked her knees on the steering wheel and pulled as much of her weight as possible off her hands. Then she pulled her way back up the dashboard until she could grasp the steering wheel again. Unfortunately, it spun around and her knees slipped. She hung on for dear life, but she couldn’t stop her bottom half from falling. When her feet landed in the water, she was grateful she was at least right side up.
The glass was not so grateful.
She didn’t know where the strength came from, but as her footing fell away, she pulled and jumped. Her feet landed on the seat and she tried to climb it. The steering wheel was no help at all. The tires were obviously in the air and there was nothing to keep the damn wheel from spinning every time she gained a step. But even if she could climb, there was a very heavy car door above her and that window was still intact.
She was going to die. And at her funeral, her mother would place a big ribbon across her casket that would read, “I told you so.”
How sad. She had crashed in a foreign country, miles from any town, late at night, and she dreaded her mother’s reaction more than freezing to death. The woman had forbidden her to go to Scotland alone, especially at Christmas time when she should be with her family. But Bree had to take control of her life sometime. It might as well be during the holiday break when it wouldn’t interrupt with her teaching job. Besides, she had to make sure her mother understood that just because Bree had stopped letting David manipulate her didn’t mean she would hand control back to her mother. Bree was in control of her life from now on...
Even if she drove herself into a ditch.
It was too late, of course, but she realized she should have refused to take a rental car that didn’t have snow tires, especially when it was snowing when she was handed the key. But the old clunker had been the only option and she’d been so mortified she couldn’t wait to get out of that little town.
But old clunkers wouldn’t have electric windows!
She looked over her shoulder, into the shadows, and found the window crank. If it worked, she might even consider forgiving the old man that rented her the car—in spite of the fact she’d insisted.
Her eye caught on her large plaid purse. At least some of the squares were visible in the near darkness. She grabbed it and pulled the handle over her shoulder.
The glove box was open, so she stuck a foot inside it, then she made sure her other foot was stuck firmly between the seats before she reached for the crank. No way was she going back into the water. She was afraid one more icy splash might be one too many. Already, she was so cold she felt the fight draining out of her.
She pulled with everything she had, but the window didn’t budge. Terror flooded her lungs. She really was going to die!
Then she realized she might be turning it the
She said a prayer while she pushed, and the crank turned easily. The window came down, inch by inch, and by the time she was done, her hands had warmed up a little too. Thanks to her coat and jeans, only her feet and hands were in danger of freezing at the moment.
She stretched up and found the car handle on the outside of the door, then wrapped her fingers around it and clamped down tight. If her hand froze, it would at least be frozen in a helpful place. Using the seats and the dashboards like ladders, she finally climbed out of the hole, but she still wasn’t going to let go of the handle. The car was slippery from the constant snowfall and she was surrounded by water.
While she took a minute to catch her breath, she noticed the wind blowing against her face wasn’t nearly as frigid as she’d expected. It was almost warm. A large puffy snowflake stuck to her hand and melted immediately. Maybe she wasn’t going to die after all.
The trunk was open and above water, but she wasn’t going to tempt fate. With her luck, she’d jump down into it and the lid would mysteriously close.
The tingling in her feet reminded her that the cute red rain boots were in the suitcase, in that trunk, and if she could get to them, it might save her toes. She also had a cell phone in her purse that might just work in the Highlands of Scotland. But even if she could figure out Britain’s version of 911, she could easily freeze before anyone could get to her.
No. She was on her own, for a while at least. And she needed those boots.
She stretched out on the cold wet metal and scooted toward the trunk to take a peek inside. She didn’t dare move fast. She was shaky and a good shiver might throw her off balance. She had to stay centered.
The last normal thing she remembered was cautiously making her way through the snow storm and reminding herself that the white stuff was just going to make the holiday in Scotland that much more picturesque. But then a burst of wind, or a mean-spirited fairy, had shoved at the front fender and sent her spinning.
If only she’d swallowed her pride and waited until morning... But the little man had sounded just like her mother. If only he hadn’t used the word
As it turned out, she’d been scammed by the Heart of Scotland Tour Company and discovered it five minutes before the man at the rental office used her mother’s eff word. He thought she was silly to want to leave his humble town so late on a winter’s day, but she’d felt desperate to get to the next town where no one would know what a sucker she’d been. No way did she want to sit around a pub wondering who the bartender might have told or waiting for someone to cajole her into telling her pitiful tale.
She’d taken the train from Heathrow Airport and arrived in the little town of Burnshire right on schedule. The tour was supposed to start at the Will o’ the Wisp Pub at four o’clock that afternoon. They were to check into a Bed and Breakfast, next door, before dinner. Unfortunately, the big man at the Pub had never heard of the tour company and there was no Bed and Breakfast next door.
The bartender assured her she was welcomed to let a room from his sister down the road. But in her shock, the only words that fell off her tongue were, “Where can I rent a car?”