The Heart of Winter, 1
Can love withstand the test of time?
Winter never truly understood love, nor did she have time for men until she met Austin Wells Carlyle. He was the man who would rock her world to its foundations. He would test her notions, give her something to believe in, and change her misguided thoughts regarding happily ever after. Strangely, she was going to allow him be the one thing she never believed in—her soul mate.
Note: The Heart of Winter is a 4-book continuing series. It is best read in order.
He took me into his arms. We danced to the sounds of the waves breaking on the shore, underneath the stars. The breeze made whooshing sounds through the reeds and tall spiky grass up on shore. In the distance, the intermittent light flashed from the lighthouse which was perched upon a bluff. It was the perfect backdrop, too beautiful, too tranquil. This was the kind of place made up of dreams; no one should be nervous in this setting. To be here in this picture perfect place with a drop dead gorgeous man, the man I loved after all, was everything a girl could want. I needed to get a grip and stop being so totally silly, so jittery.
It was about time to internally scold myself when Austin’s hand brushed up against the small of my back. I delighted in the feel of his hand as he made small movements against my bare skin beneath my shirt. He leaned in and caressed the base of my neck with his lips.
Against the hollow of my throat, I experienced his words. “Winter, I love you.”
“I love you,” I said, breathless.
With each dance, Austin seemed to pull me closer into his body. With each dance, I wanted him more and more. The anxiety and nervousness I had experienced earlier was now gone as if it had never even existed. The slow simmering of desire had turned into a full-blown boiling beneath my skin. I wondered if he was feeling the same. I thought he was.
Austin kissed my lips softly. My body began to tremble. He looked at me with those all too tempting eyes. “Winter.” He whispered in my ear with his silk ridden voice. “Would you like to go back to the cottage with me?”
I whispered, “Yes.”
He pulled back. He was gazing deeply into my eyes. His fingertip ran over the lines of my lips. He sighed contently then took my hand. We walked without words back up the beach, finally reaching the cottage. The others were gone from the terrace, off getting into their own sort of trouble I guessed. Austin paused. We dropped our shoes at the back door. He gazed at me with the softest expression then kissed my lips softly before entering into the cottage.
We went up the stairs slowly, down the hall then stood in front of the door to our room. The pause seemed like a lifetime. I studied the wood-grains in the door, wondering if we were ever going to go inside. Then Austin glanced over at me with a heat which could only be described as mind-blowing. He opened the door, scooped me up into his arms and carried me inside, closing the door behind him with his foot.
My eyes flitted around the room. It was filled with dozens of white, pink, and red roses. The light of the room was only candlelight. Music played softly like a lullaby in the background.
He has been busy. This is good. This is very good.
“Don’t be mad,” he said as he put me down.
Has he lost his mind?
“Why would I be mad?”
“Well, I was hoping.” He paused. “I want us to be closer. I want to make love to you so bad it hurts. But if you are not ready than please do not feel like this.” He gestured toward the room and the four-poster bed. “Do not feel like I am pressuring you. I love you. You are more important to me than anything so I can wait.”
I never said a word. Every insecurity I ever had was vacant from me. I was going to allow my body to do all the talking tonight. I moved with assurance toward him. He watched me. I wrapped my arms around Austin’s neck. I stood on my tiptoes in order to press my lips to the hollow beneath his ear. I closed my eyes, took a breath, and wanted to dissolve.
He smells so good.
“Winter,” he whispered softly.
“Shh.” I opened my eyes to see him. “You told me once you would not look until I wanted you to, do you remember that?”
“Well….” I dropped my hands from his neck. “I want you to look.”
His returning smile took my breath. I had to look away from his eyes, which was almost impossible. I glanced at my hands. They should have been shaking, but they were not. My hands found Austin’s shirt. I unbuttoned each button slowly foregoing the urge to hurry. With a tremulous breath, I ran my hand down his skin, exposing the perfect alabaster of his muscular chest. His shirt was off and on the floor. He’s so beautiful, I thought.
My lips found his chest and liked the feeling of his flesh beneath them. My fingers outlined the angles and planes of his strong rippled stomach, moving slowly around his tight waist. I watched his skin, his reaction to my touch. The muscles beneath my touch seemed to jump, flex, relax. I could not believe this beautiful man was here with me. If I could, I would look at him; worship Austin’s perfection for the rest of my life. My eyes were filled with more beauty in this moment than ever before.
I allowed my hands to find and trace the outline of his wide shoulders, follow the contour of his muscular back. My body moved around him while my eyes, hungry, followed my fingers which were lost to the canvas of his flawless skin. Touching him was like finding a secret. I pressed my lips to his shoulder blade. He groaned. I burned. My teeth grazed the surface of his skin. My tongue followed the line of him while my hands ran freely over the surface of his biceps, his forearms.
I had to wonder in awe. A part of my mind told me such beauty should be a dream, because no one could be this fabulous. But touching him grounded me in reality. I had never seen anything so magnificent, so beautiful. It was in this moment I knew. I knew in the whole of my life I would never want anyone but Austin Carlyle. I would indeed love him, forever.
Other Books in theHeart of Winter series: