Read Love at First Snow: A Christmas Miracle Online

Authors: Boroughs PublishingGroup

Tags: #romance, #love, #christmas, #football, #snow, #cabin, #kitten, #mountains, #second chances

Love at First Snow: A Christmas Miracle (4 page)

BOOK: Love at First Snow: A Christmas Miracle
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She rewarded him with a genuine smile, which
warmed his heart. And even though her eyes were red-rimmed and
bloodshot, he again thought about taking her to bed. Did it make
him a bad person to have the hots for a woman grieving like she
was? Maybe so. Maybe he really was a bad person, and bad things
happened to bad people. But maybe he’d just enjoy the moment,
because for once he had someone and something to focus on besides
himself and his own problems.

She scratched the kitten under the chin, and
it started purring. Damn, if she scratched him under the chin, he’d
purr like that, too. Then she looked up and caught him eyeing him
like her dog would likely eye a slab of ham, and her face reddened
slightly.

“Did you eat?” he blurted.

She started to shake her head then met his
gaze. Damn, he loved those eyes. Brown didn’t describe them. He’d
never been much of a romantic or a poet, but these were a rich
brown color with a ring of gold. He got lost in them whenever he
looked at her. For a weird moment, time seemed to stand still and
the world was flipped on its head.

Blake yanked his gaze away. “I was just
about to make dinner,” he said. “Would you like to stay?” He
sounded desperate, but he really didn’t want her to go. Even though
he’d been prepared to spend Christmas Eve alone, just as he had for
the last four years, he needed someone tonight. She needed him,
too. Of that he was certain. They were two lost souls thrown
together by an injured kitten.

She hesitated. He feared she’d say no, so he
rushed to convince her. “I make a really mean pasta
fettuccini.”

“I love fettuccini,” she admitted.

“Me, too.” It was another thing they had in
common, and the points were stacking up on the plus side. For the
first time since he’d been cut from his team, things were starting
to look up. “Homemade noodles. Everything from scratch.”

“You cook?” she said. “Really?”

He grinned, unable to hold back his pleasure
at her look of awe. “My mom insisted all her kids learn to cook
regardless of gender. She loved to cook, and she instilled that
love in all of us. I also cooked a homemade rum cake.” He’d been
cooking up a storm as soon as he’d stepped foot in the house early
this morning. Something about being elbows deep in a batch of dough
gave him comfort.

“Rum cake?” She licked her lips, and he bit
back a groan. “I’m a sucker for a man who can cook. I’ll stay.”

“You won’t be sorry,” he promised.

He motioned for her to follow him to the
kitchen, and there he sat her at the counter with a fresh hot
buttered rum and proceeded to finish his dinner preparations.

“Could I help with something? Though, I warn
you…I can boil water, but that’s about it.”

Blake chuckled and shook his head. He didn’t
need any help. Plus, he liked her where she was. He stole several
looks at her as he made the sauce, prepared the salad, and cooked
the noodles. He couldn’t recall ever being so instantly attracted
to a woman on so many different levels. He loved talking to her,
trying to figure out what made her tick, what went along with a
mind smart enough to become a doctor. He’d already seen quite a
bit. In fact, he knew more about her than his last four
girlfriends—probably because talking had never entered into those
relationships. Not serious talking. It had been all about getting
horizontal. Not that he didn’t want to get horizontal with Sarah,
because he did, but he also liked just being around her.

His dick liked being around her, too.
Sometime between her crying in his arms and her watching him
prepare the meal, it had gone rock hard.

Back off, buddy. No one’s promising you any
action tonight.

No, he didn’t want this to be a quick
hookup. They’d been two strangers almost immediately comfortable as
old friends, and he didn’t want to ruin something so special
without taking the time for it to develop.

God, though, he did want her. Painfully so.
But he’d be a good boy. For the first time in ages he was truly
enjoying himself, and that enjoyment had nothing to do with sex or
hockey.

* * * * *

Sarah cleaned her plate and helped herself
to seconds. “This is some of the best fettuccini I’ve ever tasted.
You used real cream in the sauce!”

“Thanks. And can’t you feel those arteries
clogging?”

“What a way to die.”

“Save room for the rum cake.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she
admitted. A few more of his drinks topped off with the
aforementioned rum cake and she’d be passed out before Santa even
managed to slide down the chimney. Oh, Lord, her mind conjured up a
different image of a naughtier Santa sliding down her chimney, with
a very special gift just for her. A very naked, very buff Santa
wearing nothing but his Santa hat and looking quite a bit like
Blake. It had to be the rum making her mind a little woozy. Or
horny. Or both.

She’d just cried her eyes out in this man’s
arms, now she wanted to screw his brains out? Such thoughts weren’t
like her. Not at all. She’d done just fine for years without a man
in her life. Vet school and the practice took up all her time.
Sure, she’d dated casually, but every decent man on this island got
snapped up before she even managed time for a date. Most men hadn’t
cared to wait around for a break in the schedule. Besides, Sarah
hadn’t had the energy to put into a relationship. Not lately.

Yet, here she was lusting after a soul more
damaged than her own. A man she believed had more baggage than she
had animal hair on her couch.

Blake placed a plate of cake in front of
her. After one bite she knew she’d died and gone to that place all
bad girls without willpower went. She gobbled down the entire
thing, despite how full she was.

“Oh my God, this is pure sin.” Okay, the
sexy man relaxing across the table from her was
truly
pure
sin, but the cake scored a close second.

Blake leaned back in his chair and crossed
his arms. “Honey,
that’s
not sin….” His eyes darkened like
the clouds on a stormy beach, and her body was all in. Only her
head maintained a smidgen of restraint. But then Blake frowned, as
if realizing he’d overstepped his boundaries. He stood and pulled
out her chair for her, and together they walked to the two-story
wall of windows and gazed outside. Neither said a word.

The snowfall had slowed. The neighbors’
Christmas lights lit the white-covered trees and reflected off the
water in the channel like hundreds of gems glittering along the
shoreline.

“It’s so beautiful,” Sarah said. Then, eased
by alcohol, she asked the question sitting on the tip of her tongue
all night. “So, what brings you to the San Juans for Christmas all
by yourself?”

That sexy mouth tightened once more into its
thin, grim line. Blake ground his teeth, heaved a deep breath. At
last, an answer tumbled out like puppies escaping a dog crate:
“Tradition. My family has been coming to the San Juans for
Christmas every year since I was born.”

His stormy eyes were cooler when he glanced
at her. Despite that warning, Sarah pushed on. She had to know.
“Where’s your family now?”

He stared out the window, looking as if
she’d cut an artery and all the blood was flowing out of him.
“Gone.”

“Gone? As in
gone
gone? Like gone to
Heaven?”

He nodded, not meeting her eyes.

“I don’t understand.” The rum was muddling
her mind and she couldn’t staunch the flow of questions. Most
important was that she knew he needed to tell someone, to tell
her
. He needed to talk about it.

“I’m all that’s left,” he said.

“All that’s left?” His entire family
couldn’t possibly be gone. All those people in those pictures?
All
of them?

“Yeah.” His words were strangled, like he
struggled to hold back but his emotions were winning.

“What happened?”

At first she didn’t think he’d answer. He
stared out the window into the night, a profound sadness lining his
face. Then he heaved a huge sigh and started talking. “Christmas
Eve four years ago. My game went into overtime, and I missed the
floatplane my family chartered from Lake Union.” He paused,
swallowed, and scrubbed his hands over his face. Turning his head,
he let his hands fall limply to his sides and met her gaze. Those
stormy gray eyes drowned in unspeakable sorrow. “The plane went
down in the Straits in the storm. My entire family was on it. My
sister-in-law was pregnant with my parents’ first grandchild. I was
looking forward to being an uncle. No one survived.”

“Oh my God.” Sarah’s hands flew to her
mouth. She remembered the incident. News like that traveled all
over the island at warp speed. At the time, she’d felt sorry for
the lone survivor and even said a prayer for him—an unusual thing
for her to do.

Their eyes stayed locked. Blake didn’t
flinch, didn’t blink. His face was mask, but he didn’t fool her. He
was on the edge of a breakdown.

“Blake, I’m so sorry.” She didn’t know how
to comfort him, how to tell him it was okay to show his grief, so
she put her hand on his shoulder. That was all, and it seemed as if
it were enough. His iron will melted away. Tears filled his
eyes.

He blinked furiously, so Sarah moved to him,
wrapping her arms around his broad shoulders and showing him it
would be okay. She wasn’t a small person, but hugging him was like
hugging the trunk of a large cedar tree. For a second he stiffened;
then he wrapped his arms around her, buried his face in her hair,
and fell apart.

His body shook with silent sobs. She ran her
hands up his back, guessing he rarely broke down. She could even
believe this was the first time in four years. It’d be bad enough
for a macho guy like him to cry, let alone cry out loud like an
emotional female. His tears didn’t matter to her, though, didn’t
make him any less of a man. He’d given her peace and strength
earlier; now she gladly returned the favor. She even felt humbled
that he trusted her enough to do this.

He held her tightly, almost painfully, but
she didn’t mind. Eventually, the spasms wracking his body slowed.
Her hair, wet from his tears, stuck to her head where his face
pressed against hers. He sniffled several times, and finally, with
an embarrassed groan, he lifted his head and met her gaze. “I’ve
never done that before in front of anyone.”

“It was time.” She stared up and him and
dabbed his eyes. “I’m just glad you trusted me enough to let go. It
feels better, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah. Surprisingly, it does.” He almost
smiled.

She glanced around his beautifully decorated
home. “You said your family did all this?”

“Yeah, my mom and dad came up here the week
before Christmas four years ago and decorated. I haven’t had the
heart to take any of it down.”

He’d left the house like this for four
years? Just like she’d left her father’s office untouched at the
vet clinic. “Good thing it’s an artificial tree.”

“Sure is.” He almost smiled. “My mom hated
the thought of cutting a new one down every year.” His voice
cracked slightly.

“We’re a sad pair, aren’t we?” she
whispered.

His voice was stronger. “I don’t think we’re
so sad. We found each other.”

They
were
a pair. Their mutual pain
had forged an unusual bond, melding them together in an impossibly
short period of time. She couldn’t believe they’d only met a few
hours ago. Hadn’t she known him forever? He filled all the empty
places in her heart.

Was this how love at first sight felt? She’d
always been too practical to believe in such. But now?

She traced a finger along his strong jaw to
the cleft in his square chin. He could’ve easily modeled hunting
clothes or anything equally manly, but he was also down to earth.
And he cooked and loved animals.

His steel-blue eyes radiated hunger as she
touched his lips with her index finger. Hands on his shoulders, she
stood on tiptoe. Then, driven by hot buttered rums, mutual
confessions, and their closeness, both physical and emotional, she
touched her lips to his.

She expected his mouth to be hard and
demanding, but his lips were soft and pliant. He tasted of salt and
rum. “Merry Christmas,” she whispered against them.

“Merry Christmas to you.”

The song playing on the stereo system was
one of her favorites. “White Christmas.” Blake started moving in
time to it.

“I love this song,” she admitted.

“So do I. Dance with me.”

“I haven’t danced in years.”

“Then you’re long overdue.”

He led her slowly to an open expanse of
hardwood floor near the entryway. Holding her close, he smiled down
at her. The smile reached his eyes and made him seem younger, much
younger, and she glimpsed the fun-loving man he used to be. She
suddenly wanted to be the woman who restored more than a
glimpse.

He lowered his head. This time he kissed
her, gentle and easy, yet the kiss was full of so much promise. It
was a sweet kiss, lips only, but the most powerful she’d ever
experienced. It radiated reined-in passion.

He lifted his head just a fraction. “You
taste good.”

“So do you.”

Their eyes met and held as they swayed to
the classical Christmas music playing on the stereo. Behind Blake
the lights on the tree blinked happily, and she saw that outside
the snow had started to fall again. Inside the house, a warmth
embraced Sarah and she felt as if, for the first time in two years,
she’d finally come home for Christmas.

 

Chapter 5—Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

The meowing of the kitten penetrated Blake’s
haze.

Sarah stiffened in his arms and pushed
against his chest, and he released her with great reluctance. She
gazed up at him, her face flushed and her eyes shining. “I’d better
check on the little guy.”

BOOK: Love at First Snow: A Christmas Miracle
13.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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