Authors: Melissa McClone
Tags: #romance, #western, #christmas, #american romance, #cowboys, #montana, #wedding
Meg stiffened, torn between wanting to kiss him and being afraid. She hadn’t been kissed in so, so long. And she wanted to kiss Ty. Almost desperately.
One kiss wouldn’t matter, she told herself. Wouldn’t change anything. She kissed him back.
Warm. Ty’s kiss chased away the chill and sent heated blood rushing through her veins. He might be taking things easy, but she wanted more. Laying on top of him, she arched against him, pressing her lips firmly against his, taking the kiss deeper.
She tasted a hint of salt and a dash of coffee and an ounce of something that was all his own. Delicious. She might not be the best cook, far from it actually, but she recognized a good recipe.
His kiss was, in a word, perfection.
And she would never be able to get enough.
Ty wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer. She went eagerly, wanting more of his kisses, wishing their thick coats weren’t coming between them. But she’d rather have this, than no kiss at all.
Had kissing always felt this good? If so, why had she taken such a long hiatus? Or were Ty’s kisses setting her on fire with the brush of his lips?
She hadn’t been kissed in a long time, but the desire burning low in her gut she recognized. The tingles running through her were new.
A good thing they were horizontal. Her legs sore from skiing were like overcooked pasta thanks to Ty’s kisses.
In his arms, with his lips against hers, the sense of belonging felt more real. Kissing Ty made her believe anything was possible, even if the odds were . . . high.
She gave into the sensations grabbing hold of her. She didn’t dare let go of Ty. A moan escaped her lips, the sound as unfamiliar as the way she felt.
To be the right girl she’d have to not want kids. No offense.
Ty’s own words rushed back. One kiss didn’t matter, but she couldn’t keep kissing him. Not when her heart seemed to want more, something not possible with him.
She backed away, rolled off of Ty.
His ragged breathing matched her own. “Forget what I said about snowshoeing. It’s cross-country skiing from now on.”
Temptation flared. She knew better. “Not sure we should make a habit out of this.”
His gaze narrowed. “Didn’t you like kissing?”
“I liked it very much.”
“Good because I did, too.”
Feminine pride rushed through her, but she couldn’t let herself get carried away. They were adults, not teenagers who didn’t know better.
“There’s nothing wrong kissing for kissing sake, but we should be careful,” she said this for her sake as well as Ty’s. “We’re co-workers. Friends. I’m a single mom.”
“Being smart,” she countered. “I’ve met some nice people since moving to Montana, but the truth is, you’re the closest friend I’ve made. I wouldn’t want anything to change that.”
“We are friends.” He brushed the hair off her face with his gloved hand, then kissed her forehead. “Nothing is going to change that. I promise.”
eg helped Ty store the ski equipment, then said goodbye and went to the lodge. She removed her boots in the mudroom and put on slippers. Best to keep the place looking clean for guests.
She stepped into the kitchen. The smells of fresh baked goods filled the air. Her stomach grumbled. “How did baking go?”
Rachel stood at the island, her blond hair pulled back into a ponytail and an apron tied around her waist. Mismatched brightly colored socks stuck out from the bottom of her jeans. “Great, except Brooklyn’s worn out. She asked to take a break. Five minutes later, I found her sound asleep under the Christmas tree with Dusty. I took some pictures. I hope that’s okay.”
Bowls of candies and different colored icing made the island look like Grand Central Decorating Station. Sheets of wax paper had been rolled out and were covered with decorated cookies. “Looks like you’ve been busy.”
“We had quite the production line going.” Rachel pointed to a plastic container near the sink. “The box over there is filled with cookies and brownies we made today and for you to take home. Brooklyn’s gingerbread house needs to dry before we move it though.”
Meg took a closer look at the gingerbread house her daughter had decorated. Gumdrops covered the roof. Sprinkles made for a multicolored front door. Peppermint candies formed a walkway to the front door.
“That’s cute,” Meg said. “You’re so talented.”
“I only made the house. Brooklyn did the rest with a few pointers, but thank you. I love to bake.”
“I never learned how to cook. Been trying to teach myself for years.” Meg sighed. “It’s a slow process. That’s one reason I’m so happy Brooklyn got this chance to bake with someone who knows what they’re doing.”
“I had fun today. I love cooking with kids.”
“Well, thanks. How can I help clean up?”
“No worries. I have more in the oven. I’m going to be at this for awhile, but I appreciate the offer.” Rachel studied Meg. “Did you enjoy your free time this afternoon?”
“I did.” She glanced out the window in the kitchen. Past the snow-covered meadow and beyond the trees, she could see the river. A pretty view, like the ones she’d seen earlier. “I went cross country skiing with Ty.”
Rachel picked out two twigs from the ends of Rachel’s hair. “Looks like you must have fallen.”
Meg’s cheeks burned. “I, uh, did. You’re, um, brother helped me up.”
Understanding filled Rachel’s hazel eyes, the same color and shape as her brother’s. “I like you, Meg. You fit in perfectly at the Bar V5, and guests have high praise for your work.”
“I hear a ‘but’ coming.”
“Ty isn’t a settling down kind of guy,” Rachel said. “I’m sorry for being so blunt when this is none of my business, but I’m worried.”
“About you.” Rachel touched Meg’s arm. “Don’t get me wrong. My brother is a great guy. The best. He put his life on hold for over eight years because of me. I can never repay him for all he’s done and gave up for me, not that he would want that. But Ty’s not interested in having a family. I’m not sure he’s all that keen on marriage. He mentioned something about our parents, but I was too young or oblivious to know anything.”
Meg was touched. She could only imagine how hard bringing this up must be for Rachel. “It’s okay. He told me about not wanting a family.”
“Been there done that. Not about to repeat.”
Relief washed over Rachel’s expression. She lowered her arm. Smiled. “I’m so glad he told you.”
“Thank goodness, because the last thing I want is for my brother to break your heart and make you quit your job here.”
Whoa. Rachel’s words made Meg’s head spin. Not literally, but she felt dizzy. “Thanks for the concern. Ty and I are just friends. No hearts are going to be breaking, and I promise you I won’t be quitting. I love being at the Bar V5. So does Brooklyn.”
“This makes me so happy.” Rachel hugged Meg. “And if you ever want to cook with me, just say the word. We’ll have you whipping up dishes like a chef in no time.”
“I burnt soup from a can.”
“Okay, it might take a few more lessons,” Rachel joked. “But nothing is impossible.”
Meg was realizing what Rachel said was true. Nothing was impossible, especially at the Bar V5.
n Saturday, Ty carried a Christmas tree from his truck to Meg’s cabin. He’d first carried in Brooklyn, who had fallen asleep on the drive home. Running around in the snow and going on a sleigh ride had worn her out. She slept on the couch.
“A good thing I was at the tree farm today,” he said.
Meg held open the front door. “I’m glad, too.”
He hadn’t seen her since their kiss, and the way he kept staring at her, he wondered if today was too soon.
Friends, he told himself. Just friends.
Except he’d never kissed any woman, friend or not, whose kiss had affected him like Meg’s. Must have been the moment, having fun in a beautiful setting.
He focused on the tree. “This would have never fit in your hatchback.”
“I know. I appreciate your help.” She looked cute in a lime green parka and black snow pants. “The tree didn’t look that big surrounded by all the others.”
“Hard to get a sense of scale in a forest.”
“I’m realizing that now.” She sounded more amused than concerned. “I think the tree will fit in the cabin.”
Ty smiled, thinking about Brooklyn proclaiming this the “best tree ever.” He pushed the tree through the door. “No worries. We’ll make it fit somehow.”
“Thanks. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been there.”
“Happy to help.” And he was. Wanting more kisses had nothing to do with it.
Ty entered the cabin. Dusty lay on the ground next to the couch. Meg had placed a small plastic tarp covered by a beach towel underneath the tree stand by the front window.
Was there anything this woman wasn’t prepared for?
Ty heard the door close. He placed the tree into the holder. “How does that look?”
“Crooked,” she said. “The tree is leaning to the left.”
“Your left or mine.”
He adjusted the tree, then turned one of the four knobs that would screw into the trunk to hold it in place. “How’s that?”
“Better, except . . . maybe it’s leaning too much toward the right now.”
Back and forth they went. This way, that way. Never. Quite. Right. He and the boys didn’t have this much trouble putting up their tree in the bunkhouse. Granted, theirs was never perfectly straight, but that gave the tree character.
“Let’s trade places,” he suggested after another go around. “We might have better luck this way.”
“Sure.” She crawled under the tree giving him a nice view of her butt. “How’s it look?”
Perfect. Except Ty knew she wasn’t talking about her backside. Still, the way her jeans cupped her bottom was sexy.
Focus. He looked at the tree. Damn. Now he knew why Meg wasn’t satisfied. “Too far back.”
The tree moved slightly. Straightened. “Stop. Dial it in now.”
She did, then peeked out. “Good?”
“Yes.” He smiled. “Whatever you did, it’s perfect now.”
Meg crawled out. Stood. “Oh, you’re right.”
“Team effort.” He smiled.
She smiled back.
Her arms wrapped around him in a hug. His temperature skyrocketed. His heart pounded. His lips begged for another kiss.
She stepped back, and he missed her warmth and softness against him. “Thank you. You’re more than welcome to stay for dinner and to help us decorate. We’re having pizza and a salad. No cooking skills required.”
There was no place he’d rather spend his Saturday night. And then, he remembered. “Thanks, but I have plans. The boys minus Zack are hitting Grey’s tonight and playing pool.”
Her smile didn’t waver. “Sounds like fun.”
“So does what you have planned.”
Ty thought about bailing on Dustin and Eli. He couldn’t. Meg might just be a friend, but she was getting under his skin.
Time to get her out from under there.
he sun shone brightly on Caitlin and Noah’s wedding day. Meg stared out the cabin’s front window and wiggled her toes in anticipation of the ceremony and reception. The temperature was cold, but not cool enough to induce shivers. Wisps of clouds floated in the blue sky. No sign of snow or the prediction of a storm headed their way. The bride would get her outside wedding photos.