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Authors: Nicki Night

His Love Lesson (5 page)

BOOK: His Love Lesson
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Chapter 8

C
hey woke with a start, looked around the room and remembered that she wasn't at home. Memories of watching movies with Hunter brought a smile to her face. She pulled back the covers, got out of the bed and headed to the adjoining bathroom. As she showered, she wondered if Hunter was awake.

After dressing again in layers with jeans and a thick sweater, Chey walked quietly to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. To her surprise—and delight—Hunter had already prepared a pot of coffee and laid out several selections for breakfast on the table.

“Good morning!” he said and smiled. She could have sworn she saw his perfect teeth sparkle.

“Good morning to you. I see you're up and ready to go.”

“I'm going home today!”

A twinge of sadness sprang up in Chey. She was starting to enjoy his company. “Oh! Did it stop snowing?” she asked, then walked toward the window and peered out at the snow still falling.”

“Nope!” Hunter said with confidence.

Chey raised a brow. “Uh...”

Hunter walked toward her with one of the steaming cups. “I'm being hopeful. Coffee?”

“Sure!” Chey took the cup with her brow still raised and followed Hunter with her eyes as he made his way over to the large dining table.

“As a token of my appreciation, I took the liberty of getting breakfast. You could have left me in the lobby last night. I couldn't imagine having to sleep in that chair all night long. I wasn't sure what you'd want, so I brought a few options.” He held up packages of cream and sugar. “I didn't know how you liked your coffee, so these are for you, and in case you didn't like coffee, I also have picked up tea.”

Chey nodded her approval. “How considerate!” She looked over the options. “I'll take the egg sandwich. Thanks!”

Hunter pulled out a chair and gestured for Chey to have a seat before sitting on the opposite side.

“Such a gentleman,” she said, shaking a package of raw sugar.

“I try.” Hunter flashed that smile again and something squiggled in her chest.

Was that my heart skipping a beat? What the heck!
Chey kept a smile on her face for Hunter's sake and then set an intent focus on opening her egg sandwich. What was happening?

They ate in silence for several moments.

“What—?” Both of them started at the same time.

“Sorry. You go first,” Chey said.

“No!” Hunter shook his head adamantly. “Ladies first.”

“I was going to ask, what time is your flight?”

“It was supposed to leave around one, but now I'm seeing that it's been pushed back to five in the evening.”

Chey sucked in air. “Oh.”

“Yeah. I know. What time is your ski lesson?”

“Nine.” Chey looked at her watch. “I have about forty-five minutes. I hope they don't cancel it because of the weather.”

“You should be fine.”

Silence swelled between them for another few moments. Chey thought about asking Hunter if he wanted to join her on the slopes since he had so much time before leaving. Then she decided not to waste her time. What sense did it make getting to know him when she would probably never see him again? Then again, it would be nice to have some company.

“What time are you heading to the airport?”

“Don't worry. I'll be out of your hair very soon. I just wanted to make sure you enjoyed your breakfast.”

Chey held her hand up. “I didn't mean it that way. I was just wondering how you planned to pass the time. It's still pretty early and you don't have to be at the airport until later this afternoon. That's even if you are still able to get out of here today.”

Hunter sighed. “As long as the roads are open, I can find something to do.”

“Want to join me on the slopes?” There. She'd asked.

“That's not a bad idea, but I don't do bunny slopes, though.”

Chey playfully rolled her eyes. “Hey! It's my first time.”

“I'm sure you're a quick learner.”

Chey chuckled. “We'll see. So what do you say? Slopes or nah?”

“Slopes it is!”

Another twinge shot through Chey. This time it was excitement.

“Before I go, I just need to check in with the airlines and find some transportation to the airport.”

“Cool.” Chey took the last bite of her sandwich, clapped the crumbs from her hand and cleaned the area with a napkin. “I'll be ready in ten minutes,” she said, pushing back from the table.

“I'm going to jump on the phone.”

Chey left Hunter to handle his business as she got everything together for her first skiing lesson. Exhilaration whirled through her, giving her more vigor than the coffee. Hunter was going to be around for another few hours and she liked the idea of spending more time with him. She was glad to have his company.

As Chey pulled out the gloves that she'd bought especially for this trip, she heard Hunter groan. The sound bellowed through the villa and seemed more like an animal's growl. Chey grabbed her things and jogged to the great room, where Hunter stood with the phone to his ear and his other hand firmly planted on his forehead.

With her expression she asked,
What happened?

Hunter frowned, briefly closed his eyes and shook his head.

Chey left him to his call and continued getting her stuff together. By the time she came back to the great room, Hunter was pacing.

“Bad news, I assume.”

“The flight was pushed back another hour, but that's not the worst of my problems.” Chey frowned as she awaited the additional news. “The roads are still considered unsafe and even if I could catch my flight, I'm unable to get to the airport!” Hunter huffed and let his head fall back.

“I'm so sorry. How long do they anticipate the roads being closed?”

“They don't know. The snow has been falling for almost twenty-four hours straight. They can't start trying to clear them until the snow stops or at least slows down some. They said it's one of the worst storms the area has seen in years.”

“Oh, no! I wonder if my ski lesson will be canceled.”

“Maybe you should call. In the meantime, I'll check in with reception to see if there's any chance that I can get into another room, even if I have to share with another guest. Either way, I'll be out of your hair today.”

Chey didn't want him out of her hair.

“Listen, don't worry. You can have the room another night if you need. I don't mind.”

“Are you sure? I don't want to impose.”

Chey waved off his look of concern. “I've already spent one night with a complete stranger—what's another night?”

At least she made Hunter smile, and again that twinge danced in her belly.

“I'll pay for these two nights. Thanks.”

“No need. I didn't think I'd enjoy your company, but I do.” Chey froze, sorry that she'd been so brutally honest—a “problem” she'd developed when she freed herself of Todd.

“Okay?” Hunter responded as if he wasn't sure how to take her comment.

She was slightly ashamed at her bluntness. “I'm sor—”

Hunter put his hands up, stopping her. “No need to apologize. That's how you really feel. I have always appreciated people who weren't scared to be forward.”

“Shall we see if the slopes are open?” Chey was happy to change the subject. Calling the front desk, she tried to find out about her lesson. After being passed around a few times, she finally confirmed that the lesson and all other activities had been canceled for the day due to the weather. Besides the fact that the weather conditions made the activities unsafe, many of the instructors lived in the area and were unable to get to work.

Chey was disappointed but tried to stay positive. “I guess I'll work on my book and catch up on some reading and more movies.”

“Let me know if you feel like company. I saw that they have a few board games on the bookshelf over there.”

“Hmm. That could be a fun way to pass some time.” Chey started toward the bookshelf. “What do they have?” Sitting on the floor, she looked through the games. “Oh! Scrabble! That's my favorite. Monopoly. Yahtzee. Taboo. Oh, and 5 Second Rule!” She hoisted herself up on one hand. “Oh my goodness. I love this game. It's so much fun. Let's play this.” Chey carried the game to the table.

“I've never heard of that game.”

“Really? My family and I play this all the time. It's easy. I'll show you.” Chey spread the board out on the table and shuffled the cards. “Basically, you have five seconds to name three things in a specific category. We'll do a test run.” Chey gave a few examples, all of which Hunter fumbled, failing to get his answers out during the five seconds allotted. Each time the buzzer went off, signifying another unsuccessful attempt, he groaned. By the third try, both he and Chey were doubled over in laughter.

“This is embarrassing. I'm a lawyer. I'm supposed to be able to think fast on my feet! Set that timer!” Hunter pointed to the small object. “Let's see how well you do.”

“Come with it! I've got this!” Chey welcomed the challenge.

Hunter asked the first question and pressed his face closer to Chey's, waiting for her answer. She tried to think fast. Answer fast. Hunter's face was inches from hers. She laughed. Then stuttered, snapped her fingers and then fumbled. The timer buzzed.

“Ha! See! And you were laughing at me.”

“That's not fair. You made me laugh.”

“That was strategy!”

Chey gasped and tossed one of the couch pillows decorated with scenes of mountain wildlife. “That's cheating!”

“No. That's winning!” Hunter sang in true Charlie Sheen fashion.

“Okay, Hunter. It's on!” Chey took on a competitive stance and pulled out a new set of cards. “You ready? Let's go!”

Hunter leaned in, matching her stance. “Ready.”

Hunter fumbled his way through an entire round, hardly able to speak because he was laughing so hard. Chey managed to get a few answers in before the buzzer went off and declared herself the undisputed winner. Chey victory-danced around the table with her fists in the air. She bobbed and weaved and rubbed her win in Hunter's face.

Hunter sat back and smiled, entertained by her clowning around.

“Oh, I'm sorry.” Chey feigned innocence. “I don't mean to be a sore winner. Boo-yah!”

They cackled for what seemed like forever. Each time their laughter subsided, they'd start up all over again. It took several minutes for them to reel themselves in.

Finally, Hunter went back over to the bookshelf and came back with a deck of cards.

“I Declare War?” he challenged her, holding up the deck.

“What do you know about that game?” She twisted her lips and shot him an amused look.

“My brothers and I played that all of the time.”

“No. I want to play a game of Spit! What do you know about that?”

“Oh! I'm the master at Spit! I was the only one able to beat my dad. Are you sure you want to play with me? I never lose.”

“Is that a challenge?” Chey put her hand on her hip. “Because you've never played with me.”

“Be careful,” Hunter said with all confidence.

Chey sucked her teeth, dismissing his warning. “I Declare War, then Spit. Now deal the cards!” she commanded.

With a slick smile, Hunter split the deck in half and then counted to make sure they each had an equal number of cards. For the next hour, Chey was lost in the sheer joy of playing nostalgic games that had been some of her family's favorite pastimes—games that her father had taught her and her sister as children. Games that Todd would have never spent time playing with her, because he would have been too busy declaring them silly wastes of time. She won two rounds of I Declare War and boasted hard.

They switched to Spit, and Hunter was too fast for her. After losing the first game, she insisted that he'd cheated and challenged him to another game. She lost that one, too. Her hand tingled from his touch when they reached for the same pile of cards and his hand landed on top of hers. They lingered there, the masculine feel of his palm covering the back of her hand sending currents up her arm and straight to her belly, releasing a gang of butterflies. Their eyes met and connected. A beat passed. Then two. She cleared her throat. Slowly he lifted his hand and she pulled hers out from under his.

“Movie?” she asked when she was able to find her words.

“Sure.” Hunter held her in his view with the same level of intensity as he had when his skin touched hers.

Chey cleared her throat again. “I'll go get them.” When she got to her room, she closed the door, shut her eyes and breathed.

Chapter 9

B
y the time the sun made its full ascension the next morning, Hunter had already called the airlines, checked on the mountain roads and called the concierge to see if he and Chey would be able to indulge in any of the winter sporting activities. The snow had finally taken a break, but the number of trees that had fallen left the main roads even more unsafe. The airlines were taking reservations, but with the thousands who had been stranded, many of whom had beaten him to the phone, he couldn't get confirmed on a flight until the next afternoon. This meant he'd have to spend a third night at the resort and pray without ceasing in hopes that roads would finally be safe enough for him to travel home tomorrow.

Blake interrupted his flow when he called for an update.

“You're up early.” Hunter flicked the television off.

“Coming home today, bro?”

“No!” Hunter sighed, but wasn't as perturbed as he pretended to be. He looked forward to spending another day with Chey. It had taken all of his willpower to resist stroking her supple skin and shiny black hair when she fell asleep across his lap after the third movie.

“Seriously? You must be going crazy. I'd lose it...” Blake whistled, punctuating his point. “Where's the honey that let you stay in her villa?”

Hunter looked toward her room before whispering, “I think she's still sleeping. She hasn't come out of her room.”

“You think she'll have a problem with you staying another night?”

“Hope not.” Hunter looked up again to ensure that she hadn't made an appearance.

“So are you going to get her number?”

“Probably not. I don't do the long-distance thing.”

“Where does she live?”

Hunter thought for a moment. “Actually, I don't know. Never asked.” Hunter pondered the fact that with all the time they'd spent together in the past two days, there was still much he didn't know about her.

“Keep me posted and let me know if you need a ride from the airport tomorrow.”

“What's up at the office?”

“Worry about that when you get back. I've got everything covered. I need to get to work. Talk to you later.”

Hunter ended the call, retreated to his room and changed into something comfortable enough to exercise in. He needed to work through the pent-up tension in his muscles. Partly from his horrible travel ordeal and partly from the fact that he wanted to touch Chey in sacred places so bad that his muscles ached—very specific muscles.

Trying to stay quiet, Hunter took to the floor in front of the fireplace and cranked out a couple of push-ups, sit-ups, planks and mountain climbers. Then he took to the sturdy coffee table for a few triceps dips. As he reached his last set, Chey came out of her room looking ripe with natural beauty.

Her eyes stretched at the bulging in his arms and Hunter added another set of ten dips for good measure.

“Morning, Hunter.”

He could see through his peripheral vision that Chey had been staring at him. “Oh.” Grunt. “Hey.” He acted as if he'd just noticed her. Jumping up, Hunter wiped the sweat from his hands down the front of his basketball shorts and stretched his arms.

“Looks like you've been up for a while.” Chey made her way to the kitchen. “Have you eaten?”

Feeling pumped, Hunter took off his shirt and wiped the sweat from his head and neck.

The move wasn't necessary, but it did serve his purpose. He hadn't missed the way Chey's brows slightly lifted.

“Nah. I usually don't eat before working out.”

“Oh.” Chey put the coffeepot on and yawned.

“I'll run and get something for us from the café.”

“I'll walk over with you. I could use the change of scenery.” Silence descended on the room once again.

Chey was distant this morning. The day before, silence hadn't stood a chance. Hunter watched as she moved around the kitchen cautiously. He decided to give her some space. He went into his room to shower.

When he got back, Chey was sitting on the couch tuned into the morning news.

“The roads are still closed! Can you believe this?” She spoke to him but kept her eye on the news reporter. “Have you spoken to the airline?” She turned to him with concern etched in the lines of her face.

Hunter threw his hand up. “Flights are starting to go out, but they couldn't confirm me on anything before tomorrow afternoon.” Flopping on the couch, he continued, “If I could get to the airport, I could try to get on the list for standby, but they said that wasn't guaranteed and with the amount of people that are trying to get out, it would probably be a waste of time.”

“I just heard on the news that there are trees down all along the roads. Crews are working on cleaning them up now, but that will take hours, maybe even days. You must be so annoyed.”

“Yeah.”
Not really.

“You can certainly stay another night if need be.”

“I appreciate that.”

Chey got up and headed for the landline. “I wonder if I can get my lesson today. You can join me,” she said over her shoulder.

“I already called.” Chey stopped walking. Her shoulders slumped. “Yeah,” Hunter continued, confident that she already knew what he was about to say. “That's a no-go once again.”

“Ugh!” She practically stomped back to the couch, her inner child clearly getting the best of her. “I'll never learn to ski.” She picked up the remote and cranked up the volume. I guess you're stuck with me for another day, although I should try to get some work done on that book.”

“I can take care of myself. Do what you have to do.”

The coffeemaker gurgled and sent a rich aroma through the villa. Chey got up and poured two cups without hesitating, handing one to Hunter as if it were a familiar dance that she'd done for years.

Hunter took the cup and sipped, grimaced from the heat and said, “Thanks.”

“Let's get breakfast and after that, I can come back and work on my book. You can go through my movies or check out Netflix and see if there's anything you want to watch. I feel so bad that you've been stranded for so long.”

Chey and Hunter bundled up in order to brave the cold for the short walk to the restaurant in the main reception area. What they saw when they walked outside stopped them both. In unison, they gasped, their mouths hanging agape. This storm was much worse than they'd realized. Several of the resort's towering trees were now stretched across the grounds just yards from their door. Some leaned as if they were still deciding whether or not to fall. One tree had even broken through the roof of one of the nearby villas. Debris tumbled across the walkway, being shoved by the still-strong winds. Snow from rooftops flew horizontally, causing them to shield their faces.

Inside the lobby, people were pacing, talking on cell phones, raising their voices at the front-desk clerks, whose irritation now hid behind thin veils of patience. Kids cried. Parents sighed and bounced babies in their arms. Hunter and Chey silently maneuvered through the crowd, in awe of the scene unfolding around them. Hunter looked down and didn't remember when he had taken Chey's hand in his. At the restaurant, their thirty-minute wait expanded into a fifty-minute one. Thankful they weren't dealing with as much obvious frustration as some of their fellow guests, they exercised the utmost patience with every resort employee they encountered.

Breakfast was consumed mostly in silence, save a few brief inquiries by their waitress and some forced small talk between the two of them. That same silence dominated their walk back to the villa.

Once inside, Chey shook her head. “Wow! I had no idea.”

“Neither did I.” Hunter took a seat on the stool near the counter that divided the kitchen from the main space.

Chey walked toward the picture window centered in the back wall. Folding her arms across her chest, she shook her head. “Wow! Looks can truly be deceiving. I mean look at this view. It's so beautiful,” she sighed. “Peaceful. I never would have guessed all this mayhem lay in wait right outside the front door!”

Chey walked back over and sat on a stool next to Hunter. “I have been looking forward to this vacation for months. I couldn't wait to go skiing and snowboarding and take the shuttle into town to eat and do some souvenir shopping for my family and then write by the fire. I really hope this gets better before it's all over.”

“I'm sorry things aren't going the way you expected.”

Chey clucked her tongue. “No. I'm sorry. Here I am complaining and you've been trying to get home for the past two days. There's still hope for me.” Chey sucked in a lungful of air and blew it out. She turned to face Hunter. “How was your trip before—” she waved her hand around “—all of this?”

“My frat brothers and I did all those things that you're looking forward to doing. We hung out in town, rented snowmobiles, skied. We're pretty adventurous.”

“That sounds like fun. I guess I'll have to live my vacation vicariously through you. Tell me more.”

Hunter obliged her curiosity, sharing stories about their adventures, as well as ones he'd engaged in with his brothers. He was happy to put a smile on her face. Since she had opened up a little, he decided to ask her a few questions.

“So why are you here alone?”

“Whoa! That was subtle,” Chey teased and raised her brows.

“A beautiful woman like you?” Hunter relished in the reddish hue that warmed her cheeks, brought on by his compliment. “Why travel alone?”

“This is part celebration, part test.”

“What are you testing?”

“My ability to live life on my own...and on my own terms.”

“Bad breakup?”

“Kind of.” Chey turned away.

“Wanna talk about it?”

“Not really.” Chey paused. “Let's just say our expectations weren't lining up.”

Hunter took a slight turn in his line of questioning in order to keep her talking.

“So where are you from?”

“A small town several miles outside Woodbridge, Virginia.”

“I have a cousin in Woodbridge. I grew up in a big city. I always wondered if I could do small-town living.”

“And I often wondered what it would be like to live in a big city. It always seemed so intriguing.”

“Any brothers or sisters?”

“One sister.” Chey didn't look at him as she answered. He could tell she didn't want to reveal too much, but he was eager to know more about her.

“What do you do?”

“Right now I'm a student—again.”

“Again?”

“Yeah. I took some time off to help my parents out. They have a great little shop in our area. We try to bring our small-towners a few big-city options. Now that the store is doing better, I've decided to go back and finish school.”

“What do you sell?”

“Mainly clothes and accessories, but it's kind of like a variety store. My mom crochets and we get a decent amount of orders during the holidays or when someone has a baby. We also sell some of my dad's favorite cigars, as well as scented candles, fragrances and a few home-decor items.

“Cool! What are you studying in school?”

“Chemistry.”

Hunter stretched his eyes. “Wow. So you're pretty smart,” he chuckled.

“Silly!” Chey laughed. “I guess I am.” She wiggled proudly.

“Hey, how about we watch another movie? I have more popcorn.” Chey stretched her eyes as if she were giving him the offer of the century.

Hunter took the hint. She was done talking. “Sounds good. As long as you don't fall asleep on me again.” Hunter's core almost responded to the memory of her sleeping in his lap.

“I guess I wasn't very good company last night.” Chey stood from the stool. “Speaking of which, I don't even remember going to my room and getting in bed,” she laughed. “When I got up this morning, I wondered how I got there. You would have thought I was drinking.” She seemed tickled by her words.

“I carried you.”

“Huh?” Chey inclined her ear toward Hunter, still chuckling. “What did you say?”

“I said...” Hunter's purposeful pause was designed to make sure that she heard him “...I carried you.”

BOOK: His Love Lesson
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