Stranded by Jasmine Aherne
contemporary (sensual) romance
Cover Art by Valerie Tibbs
When Rachel Coles flew to New York to surprise the man she thought was her fiancé, coming face to face with his wife broke her heart. She needed a shoulder. So, she turned to a man she met by chance--handsome carpenter Will Norton. Together they turn her disaster into a short but magical holiday.
Will was attracted to the pretty brunette he met on the plane, and the fun sightseeing day they share only deepens his feelings for her. He’s just starting to regret never seeing her again when he learns Rachel’s had all her suitcase and purse stolen.
Now, as he offers her his guest room while she waits for a new passport, Will and Rachel find themselves struggling against a deep-rooted attraction that shows every sign of making itself permanent. The only trouble is, Rachel’s stay in New York will be anything but…
Will wanted to look at Rachel but he didn’t. Her shiny, chocolate brown hair swung past her chin and brushed her shoulders in gentle waves. He wondered what it would feel like between his fingers.
He longed to say something, anything, anything at all, a comment on her appearance, an enquiry about the time of flight she would attempt to board tomorrow, but his thought processes were interrupted when the elevator slid to a halt and the doors opened. Her floor.
“My room is right around this corner.” She led him down the large tan hallway. It looked like a nice place, not too expensive, not too cheap. “Here we are, this should be-” she got her key ready.
He stayed her hand. “Would you like me to come in with you?”
Rachel deliberated. She drew her bottom lip between her teeth, her eyes filled with anxiety.
Their eyes met. Rachel hesitated, but then she nodded firmly. “Yes. Please.”
The key slid home. The door opened, and Will had time for a cursory glance around the empty room.
His fingers itched to touch, to stroke her cheek, hold her hand.
But he didn’t, of course, he didn’t. He had proved himself a gentleman, and he didn’t want to outstay his welcome. Yet his feet stayed rooted to the ground. He wanted to stay with her, near her. Even though I shouldn’t. It would be so inappropriate.
“All right.” He finally kicked himself into doing the right thing, unfortunately it was the opposite of what he wanted.
What I want is just to stand here and drink her in: her delicate profile, still so wounded in the harsh light of the hotel room. To feel the softness of her hair and taste the salt of her tears.
“All right?” she asked.
“I should go. You should get some sleep. It’s been a long day for you.”
"Yes. It has.” She rubbed at her hair, a nervous gesture. “Thanks, Will. For… seeing me safely up here.” She lifted a hand and dropped it, then leaned up and kissed his cheek, very gently, her lips silk-soft against his skin.
He hoped she had left a lipstick-colored imprint. Something to remember her by.
“You’re welcome.” He turned to go, but then, just couldn’t help adding, “So what are you doing tomorrow? You have a whole day to just mess around the city, right?”
Realization dawned. “Oh, I… I hadn’t thought about it, but yes I do.”
Silence circled around them. Finally, Will gathered up the wherewithal to ask, “Do you want me to show you about?”