Authors: Shelli Stevens
The fireplace isn’t the only thing heating up this cabin.
Romance sucks. Especially when it kicks Nikki out of her own house so her roommate can get cozy with her boyfriend. At least the bribe is worth it—a weekend of blissful isolation in a mountain cabin.
It’s not until she’s wrapped in a full-body tackle that she realizes the cabin comes fully equipped with an uptight, incredibly sexy man.
Chase was looking forward to a quiet weekend alone in his cabin, but his brother had to go and lend the key to a woman with funky clothes and sassy attitude. Yet he can’t just let her leave. Not at one in the morning with the mother of all snowstorms bearing down on them.
Also, Ms. Not-My-Type sends his blood racing to parts of his body he hasn’t used since he broke up with his old girlfriend. A painfully long time ago…
Warning: Two strangers, a snowstorm, and one weekend together. Opposites attract in this stranded-in-a-cabin romance that has more than just the marshmallows melting!
Take Me in Tahoe
Romance was completely and utterly overrated.
Nikki scowled, tossing her orange polyester suitcase on the backseat before climbing in the driver’s seat of the ancient Volvo.
She glanced at the house one last time—a townhouse she and her best friend had been renting since summer—and then shifted the car into reverse and exited the driveway.
Men sucked. Love sucked. Roommates who wanted the house to themselves so they could have a romantic weekend sucked.
As she waited at a light, she glanced down at the map on the seat next to her.
Where the hell was she going anyway? A cabin in the middle of freaking nowhere? Well, technically the outskirts of Lake Tahoe wasn’t nowhere, but it was pretty damn close to it for a girl from San Francisco.
So now she was going to be stuck in a secluded cabin in the forest. All alone with a fire and her endless stash of marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers.
Well, maybe it might not be so bad after all.
When Shaylee had informed her Nikki was being booted out of the house for the weekend, she’d given her the key to Justin’s cabin. Justin being Shaylee’s boyfriend of the season.
Though Nikki didn’t understand why they didn’t just use it themselves. A cabin in the woods sounded a lot more romantic than a townhouse smack dab in the city.
Because Justin has tickets to the theater to celebrate our four-month anniversary, so we need to stay in the city.
Shaylee had pleaded, begged and guilted Nikki into finally agreeing to leave.
Checking the time again, Nikki hit the gas. There were only a couple more hours before the sun went down and getting lost in the dark, in the woods, was
her idea of a good time.
So much for that plan
Three hours and two cappuccinos later, she was squinting through her windshield at a dark, tree-lined road. Good gravy it was cold. She really needed to get the heater fixed.
Shit. She slowed to a stop and held the map up toward the light again and shook her head. Where the hell was she? Twisting the map, she looked at it from a different angle. Hell, was she even reading it right?
“Screw it.” She tossed the map onto the passenger seat and hit the gas again. It had to be nearby—she’d passed all the landmarks that were there.
She looked for the unmarked turn-off that was supposed to appear after an old wooden fence.
Twenty minutes passed, and her eyes were starting to drift shut. She was sleepy, and there was virtually no light except for her headlights. She hadn’t passed another car in God knew how long.
She hit the brakes as a squirrel darted across the road.
“Damn, stupid—” her eyes widened. “Oh. The fence.”
It was so thin and rundown she’d almost missed it. Spotting the narrow dirt road beyond it, she turned in. That was fate for you—the squirrel had been her sign.
The crunching of her tires seemed obscenely loud in the quiet of the night. Her lights bounced down the road, locking on a small cabin at the end.
Finally! And it was exactly as Shaylee had described it. Quaint, surrounded by trees, with a creek she spotted flowing in the back.
Nikki pulled the car forward and parked it in front of the cabin. She climbed out, grabbed her suitcase from the back, and stomped up the wooden steps to the door. Shit, it was freezing out here.
Fumbling in her purse, she tried to find the key Shaylee had given her. Damn. It sure was dark. Didn’t people in the boondocks believe in porch lights?
Her fingers closed around the cold metal key just as a yawn popped her jaw. Bed. That was the only thing on her mind. Screw the s’mores. Those could wait until breakfast.
She unlocked the door and swung it inward, reaching inside to find a light switch. Nothing.
Swearing under her breath, she stepped inside and kicked the door shut behind her. There had to be at least one light in this cabin.
Stretching her arms out and squinting—as if narrowed eyes would give her a better chance of seeing anything in the pitch black—she ran her hands over the smooth wooden walls.
No light switch, just more wall. Wall. More wall. Wait, what was that? Something warm, and…hairy?
“What the—” She jerked her hand back, just as arms wrapped around her waist and lifted her off her feet.
The war cry that erupted from whoever was behind her mixed with her terrified screams. The person—a man, it felt like—held her high against his chest as he crossed the cabin.
“Don’t hurt me! Oh, fuck, please don’t hurt me!” The air rushed from her lungs as she was flung onto a bed or couch. Fear clogged in her throat, and her blood pounded.
She rolled away in an attempt to escape from whoever it was, but he was already on top of her, pinning her hands above her head with a knee on each side of her waist.
Shit! If she got out of this alive, she would beat the crap out of Shaylee. Who the hell would send her friend up to an isolated cabin to get raped and murdered?
He transferred her wrists to one hand and lifted himself away a tiny bit. She heard him click on a lamp and bright light filled the room. She squeezed her eyes shut, crying out in pain.
“Who are you? Breaking and entering is illegal in case you didn’t know.”
His voice was rough, raspy, and—God, she was stupid for thinking it—damn sexy.
“Who am I?” she peeked at him through one eye, wondering if the man would match the voice. Yes, unfortunately. “I’m the bitch who’s about to have you arrested.”
Arrested? Was the woman nuts? Chase eyed the woman beneath him warily. She certainly looked a little…different.
Her black hair was in two braids, each one coming to rest just below her chin. Green eyes, rimmed in dark black eyeliner, glared up at him. Her tongue darted out across a lush mouth, tracing over a faded red lipstick stain.
His gaze moved lower to the tight black sweater that hugged full breasts. His cock stirred slightly, and he bit back a groan.
Stop looking at her tits
. He glanced lower, noting the obscenely tiny black and white plaid skirt that revealed pale white thighs. Thighs that soon disappeared into knee-high, laced-up black boots.
He shook his head. Christ. Only he would catch a kinky gothic chick trying to break into the cabin he was using for the weekend.
“I think you’ve got that backward, lady.” He reached down and grabbed his belt off the floor, wrapping it around her wrists.
. I’m into some freaky shit, but not with a complete stranger who looks like he belongs in a boy band.”
Boy band? His eyebrows rose, and he glanced down at his brown slacks and blue sweater. How was his attire similar to a boy band? It was completely normal for a dentist just off from work.
“And I wasn’t breaking and entering, I had a key. Or did you miss that fact while you were tackling me like some testosterone-laden football freak.” She glared at him. “What? Didn’t make the team in high school, buddy? Living out your fantasy now on some poor, defenseless woman?”
“Defenseless? Ha.” Scowling, he tightened the notch a little and secured her to the bed. Too bad he didn’t have a gag too.
“Where did you get the key? Did you pickpocket it from some guy?” He glanced at her again, hoping she was sufficiently restrained while he grabbed his cell phone.
“Pickpocket? Oh you are so thinking in the wrong direction, Mr. One Direction.” Her eyes widened, and her mouth twisted into a scowl. She started jerking on the belt and kicking the air toward him. “You jackass. I don’t pickpocket, despite you having already condemned me to be some druggy thief. I was given a key.”
“Fine. Say I believe you. Who on earth would give you a key to my cabin?”
“Your cabin?” Her gaze snapped back to him, the green eyes seeming a little more uncertain now. “No. This is Justin’s cabin.”
He stopped before he could dial the police. Justin? His blood pressure rose, and he pressed his palm against his forehead. Was she one of Justin’s latest women? It would certainly make sense. The man slept with anything with breasts and a pulse.
Snapping his cell shut, he walked back toward the bed. “You know Justin?”
“No, it’s just a super big coincidence I guessed his name right. Of course, I know him. Do
?” She looked downright irritated now.
“I should know him. He’s my brother.”
Her jaw dropped and then snapped shut.
“Well shit.” She groaned, and her head fell back against the pillow, her eyes drifting shut. “So let me get this straight. He gave us both the key to his cabin—”
cabin.” He thrust a hand through his hair, his temper spiking. “Jesus, woman. What is it going to take for you to understand that?”
“Well, you could have just told me. I can’t believe this is your place.” She tugged at the belt that secured her wrists. “I’m going to kill him when I get back. Seriously, is this necessary?”
Damn. Seeing her trying to free herself reminded him what he’d done.
He stepped forward and unfastened the belt, releasing her. “I’m sorry.”
“What, for tying me up like you caught me robbing a bank or something?” She rubbed her wrists. “You absolutely should be.”
He shook his head and fought the urge to snap his teeth together again. The woman was completely in the wrong. He’d just pointed it out, and yet she still insisted on making him out to be the bad guy.
“I’ll just get my suitcase and head out.” She slid off the bed and walked back into the darkened living room.
Leave? Chase turned on the lights and shook his head.
“You want to leave tonight?” He glanced at the clock above the fireplace. “It’s almost one in the morning. Where will you go?”
“I don’t know. A hotel?” She shrugged and headed toward the door.
“You’re in Lake Tahoe on a weekend. You’ll never find an available room that’s at all decent.”
“So I’ll drive all night back to San Francisco.”
Was she completely insane?
She paused, turning to face him and raising an eyebrow.
Or maybe he was the one who was crazy. Was he really going to tell Justin’s girlfriend to spend the night here? The icy wind whistled outside the windows, and the faint ticking of the clock confirmed his decision.
“You can’t get back on the road this late at night. It’s supposed to snow.”
“Snow?” Her eyes widened, and she looked horrified by the idea.
“Yeah, snow. White, cold stuff? Couldn’t you smell it in the air?”
“Smell the snow in the air?” She blinked and shook her head. “Umm. I’m from San Francisco. I have no freaking idea what
snow in the air
smells like. I figured since it’s April snow wasn’t a possibility.”
“I think you should stay here tonight.”
She cocked her head and her eyes narrowed. “Is that your attempt at hitting on me?”
“My attempt…what? Hitting on you?” Heat raced up his neck. “No. Of course not.”
“Hmm.” She dropped her suitcase on the floor and walked past him toward the bedroom. “Too bad. You’re kind of cute. Okay, I’ll stay.”
She thought he was cute?
He watched her retreating figure, noting again the curves under the bizarre but sexy outfit. He smothered a groan of alarm as the blood in his veins stirred.
Oh God. What was he doing? She was not his type. She was nowhere near his type. Not to mention the massive fact she was Justin’s girlfriend.
“So are we sharing a bed, or are you going to be a gentleman and take the couch?” She laughed, and the soft, feminine sound tantalized. “I promise not to bite if you want to share a bed. Unless you’re into that kind of thing.”
She turned around and batted her eyelashes at him. Lord, she was a flirt. And damn it, it was working. He shifted, his pants feeling a little tighter in the crotch now.
“I’ll take the couch.” Like any horny gentleman getting hit on by his brother’s gothic girlfriend would.
“Bummer. I was starting to think how much fun one of those cliché ‘stuck in a cabin’ flings could be.”
The air in his chest locked as he tried to figure out if she was serious.
“Hey, are you going to tell me your name?”
They didn’t even know each other’s names. The last few minutes seemed surreal. He was sharing his cabin with a complete stranger who kept making wonderfully inappropriate sexual innuendos.
“Cool. I’m Nikki. Short for Nicole.” She gave a slight nod. “Thanks for letting me crash here. I’ll get out of your hair in the morning before the snow starts.”
He watched her disappear into the bedroom, before finally, he glanced at the couch and shook his head. He needed pillows and blankets. All of which were in the bedroom.
Taking a deep breath, he strode toward the doorway.
“I just need to grab—” His breath locked in his throat, and his feet seemed to be stuck to the floor.
Nikki turned to look at him, seeming totally unconcerned that she’d taken off her sweater and was naked up top save for a red lacy bra.
“I need…” Those breasts. In his hands. So round, pale, full and tempting. “Pillows.”
“Pillows, Chase?” She lifted a brow.
“And blankets,” he croaked.
She nodded and reached into her suitcase, pulling out a T-shirt. “It’s your cabin, honey. Where do you keep them?”
She jerked the shirt over her head, and the luscious breasts were once again covered.
Grab the blankets and pillows, you idiot.
Forcing his feet to move, he stepped fully into the room and opened the closet. Pulling out a stack of blankets and a couple of pillows, he tucked them under his arm.
He turned to walk back into the living room and hesitated, glancing at her again. “Do you need anything else?”
“Now, Chase, that’s a loaded question.” She grinned and tilted her head in that flirty way. “Are you sure you want me to answer it?”
Right now, he was about to declare that he had a new “type” of woman, and she was a lot like Nikki. Had she not been Justin’s girlfriend, he’d be taking her up on all the suggestiveness.
He hadn’t been to bed with a woman since he’d broken up with his girlfriend of four years, and that was a year ago. That night he’d gone out and gotten shit-faced, going home with the first woman who’d shown him any interest.
“You’re staring. Do you like something you see?”
He blinked hard.
She’s off limits
. “Good night, Nikki.”
She gave a soft little sigh, and then he heard the rasp of a zipper. When she reached for the waistline of her skirt, he spun on his heel and bolted out of the room with only her laughter following him.
Nikki rolled onto her side, resting her cheek on folded hands. She’d washed her face and brushed her teeth, all the while wondering if he’d change his mind and come back. No such luck. The cliché cabin sex was not to be. At least not with a stuffy, pretty boy who stared at her as if she were some freak.
She probably shouldn’t have taken the bed. Was he comfortable out there on the couch?
The bedroom wasn’t very big, just enough for the full-size bed and a dresser. Only the door, left open, separated her from the small living room.
All was quiet throughout the cabin, except for the occasional popping and shifting of wood in the fire Chase had built.
Chase. She closed her eyes again—his image was branded in her mind. Tall and athletic, with blond hair that was on the longer side and gave him that boy band look. Then there were those sexy blue eyes that had just stared, obviously not sure what to make of her. It hadn’t fazed her. It was a reaction she was accustomed to.
he think of her? Usually she didn’t even go there. Let herself wonder. But for some reason, it mattered with him.
And why had she come on thick as honey with the flirting? The poor guy hadn’t been able to hide his embarrassment—or the nice-sized erection he’d been sporting by the time he’d left the bedroom. Which meant he was definitely attracted to her.
She frowned. So why hadn’t he responded to the flirting? She hadn’t seen a wedding ring. Of course, he could have a girlfriend, though he hadn’t thrown one up as a defense.
Stop thinking about it. You’re just lonely because everyone else seems to be in a relationship and you haven’t gotten laid in over a year.
But it wasn’t just the sex. She pulled the blankets tighter around her and sighed. It was having a man’s arms wrapped around her, holding her close. The hardness of his chest beneath her head and a different hardness between her…
No means no. Go to bed, you horny bitch.
Taking deep breaths, she did some meditative exercises. It was her sure-fire way to get herself to pass out.