Can Paul heat up Mara so she forgets all about the cold?
Mara Davis has come home for Christmas. After five years of living in a small, secluded beach community, she wants to have a more traditional Christmas…cold temperatures, snow, and being with her mother. She quickly realizes that the traditional Christmas she envisioned is not going to happen. There wasn't even a wreath on the front door! Her mother is going out of town for the holiday. Finally, after being home less than a day, the reason she left in the first place arrives on her doorstep.
Paul Sutherland has been waiting five years to find out why Mara left him and their hometown behind without so much as a good-bye. Instead of the girl he grew up with, he comes face-to-face with a woman who can't stand him. Now, he has to crack the ice around her heart to fix whatever went wrong all those years ago.
Will the ice melt or will it get even thicker as Paul attempts to take things up a notch?
She was still awake an hour later, listening to the sounds of the house…wind against the window, the hum of the heat, and the muffled sounds of the television downstairs. Suddenly, the television sounds stopped. Mara smiled. She'd waited him out and he had finally gone home. She glanced at the alarm clock to check the time, but the face was blank. The red numbers had disappeared—which meant the power was out.
She slipped out of bed and gingerly made her way downstairs. At the bottom of the staircase she put her hand out to feel for the wall, but touched something not quite as hard or flat as the wall.
"Aren't you gonna buy me dinner first?" Paul mumbled his voice full of humor. He took her hand from his stomach and held it. Mara resisted the urge to slap him with her free hand.
"The power is out," whispered Mara as she yanked her hand from his.
"Don't be a smart ass!" Mara snapped. "I have to go start the generator."
"Wait a minute," he said. Mara felt his hand wrap around her wrist and bit her lip to keep from sighing. "Where's the generator?"
"Behind the house, a few yards east of the garage," she answered.
"It's the middle of the night. We don't really need electricity. As long as we can stay warm, the generator can wait until morning. Does that fireplace work?" He nodded toward the fireplace on the far wall.
"I…I…think." Why couldn't she talk when he was touching her? Hell, she couldn't even think.
"Cool. I'll start a fire and we can sleep down here tonight."
Mara sighed. "We…uh…my mom doesn't keep wood on hand."
"We'll just have to bundle up and triple cover ourselves…maybe cuddle to keep warm."
Her mind had been so muddled that she hadn't noticed that he'd been pulling her closer even when she bumped into the soft wall that was his chest. The cuddling comment shocked her out of complacency. "What are you doing?!" she almost shrieked.
"I really think we should talk," he whispered making her knees wobble a bit.
"We talked yesterday. I don't have anything else to say to you."
His large hands held her waist firmly when she tried to back away.
"You never let me defend myself," he said removing one hand but maintaining a strong grip on her waist. She felt it against her cheek and the sigh slipped out.
There was only darkness around them so she jumped when his lips pressed against her cheek.
"I wasn't cheating. You never told me anything," he whispered again.
Mara pressed her palms against his chest and pushed. His grip didn't give a bit. "Don't do that. We're not talking about this now."
"If not now, when?"
Mara wrestled herself from his arms. "Never…I'm going back to bed. There are blankets and extra pillows in the linen closet at the top of the stairs. You can sleep on the couch."
"Can't I get upgraded to the guest room?" Paul called from the darkness behind her.
"You are not a guest…so you sleep on the couch."