Dream by the Fire: Winter Magic Anthology
A Winter's Gift
(c) 2007 Kim Rees
Siobhan Kerr has been dumped. Again. She has no clue why her love life is such a disaster. Mr Right is too often Mr Wrong. So she does what she always does when she screws up? she runs home.
Her friend Ethan Jacoby, is waiting. However, Ethan has his own agenda as he faces yet another of Siobhan's collapsing relationships. And with the help of an ancient temple, he plans to prove to Siobhan that the right man is closer to her than she ever believed possible?
"I've always been nice to you."
"You've ripped apart every man I've ever been out with."
Ethan didn't even have the decency to look embarrassed. "You know they weren't right for you."
Siobhan glared at him. "You don't have to point it out so enthusiastically." She stared down at the sandwich in her hand. The trip was a mistake. Ethan could rile her faster than any man she'd ever known. Best in small doses, that's the way she should view him... She should've followed her first instinct and stayed at home. A slow sigh escaped her.
"Sorry," Ethan said. "Can I begin again?"
She laughed. "We've known each other too long for that." Biting into her other sandwich, she found Ethan staring at her. So Siobhan turned his question on him. She could be the interrogator too. "D'you like being tied to the Estate? I thought you hated it here."
His dark gaze pulled away from hers, staring out to the grey horizon. "For years I ran from it," he said softly. "I was hardly here. I've been around the world more than once, seen bizarre landscapes, bizarre people." He shrugged. "Then one day, I came here to this ruin of a temple and it hit me. I love this bleak land." Ethan smiled, and Siobhan's gaze dropped. Her stomach knotted at the lingering softness in his eyes. "So when my father got itchy feet I offered to take over the running of Bellingham."
His smile turned sly as his cold fingers lifted her chin. "One. Now that I'm home you don't stay for more than a few days in the year."
Siobhan brushed away his hand, unnerved by his touch. "You don't give that impression, Ethan."
"I've hardly seen you in seven years." His fingertips returned and pressed, ice-cold on her jaw. "I think you've been avoiding me. Have you?" His touch slid lower, edging against the warm skin of her throat. "What are you afraid of, Siobhan? Where my teasing will take us?"
Her cheeks burned at his words, at the insinuation in his tone. She couldn't say yes to him. The insane part of her wanted to, really wanted... She stared at his mouth and that urge to taste him surged through her. Her insides tightened. If she crossed that line with Ethan, she would destroy something important. Time to be sensible. Siobhan found her voice in a dry mouth and changed the subject, "You promised chocolate."
"I did," he said, unperturbed. His hand dropped away and he fished around in the bottom of the bag and produced two chocolate bars. "Don't break your teeth on them. They're frozen solid."
Siobhan gave him a brief smile as she took one.
"So what shall we do now?"
His insinuating smile irked her. He watched her over his coffee cup with gleaming eyes. Heat seared her skin, and she closed her eyes. Damn him, enough was enough. She'd call him on it...and watch him run screaming. "Well we're both single consenting adults. I say we go back to the Gatehouse for some wild monkey sex."
Ethan coughed, choked, and spat coffee into the snow.
Siobhan slapped his back. “Something I said?”