Christmas always holds surprises…
When Lia walks through the door of Aiden’s bed and breakfast, he can’t believe his luck. He’s loved Lia since before he knew what love was.
Not all surprises are welcomed…
Though Lia knew she was heading straight into Aiden’s arms when she entered the town of Mountain View, Colorado, she had nowhere else to go. The reality of seeing him, however, was a special kind of hell.
A white Christmas and a couple of miracles…
With the help of family she never realized loved her so much, maybe Christmas can be turned around. And maybe her heart will break all over again.
After waiting another hour, Aiden finally headed back upstairs to Lia’s suite. Careful to be quiet, he let himself in and peeked in on his sleeping beauty. She hadn’t moved. From his stance in the doorway, he could appreciate her beautiful face as she lay on her side. Unlike last night, the dark circles were nearly gone, though her eyes seemed a little puffy. It was painfully obvious she needed the extra sleep she was currently getting. He hated to wake her, but Rebacka would be home soon, and he wanted to talk to Lia before then.
As if she sensed his presence, she whimpered a little, and her eyes fluttered open. She must have thought she was dreaming because she gave a little smile of something that looked like wonder. Aiden didn’t move, not wanting to spoil the moment. He needed every clue to what was going on in that incredible mind of hers if he was going to get her back.
Finally, the euphoric expression disappeared, and Aiden could tell reality was settling in on her. She closed her eyes, and he could see moisture glistening on her lashes. Several deep breaths later she opened her eyes.
“Hey,” she offered.
“Hey, yourself. Feel better?”
“How long have I been out?”
Aiden shrugged, “A while. Aunt Lil and Susan have Rebecka in Christmas Town. By all accounts, the child is a master cookie decorator. I can only imagine the trouble she’s giving Santa.”
As he’d hoped, that got a small smile out of her. “She’s a good kid.”
“That she is. You know, she’s got Aunt Lil wrapped around her little finger. Susan and Gerald, too.”
“Sounds about right.” Lia sat up, the quilt still over her legs. It was wrong, Aiden knew it was, but he couldn’t help but notice her nipples pebble through the T-shirt she wore.
“I’ll, uh, leave you to dress.” He hiked a thumb over his shoulder. “I’ll just be in the sitting room.”
Aiden closed the door, heaving a frustrated sigh as he did. This was about more than just sex. He’d loved Lia before he even knew what love was. And been too stupid to tell his buddies to fuck off when they’d made fun of him for not trying to get a “souvenir” from her after prom. The fact was, he hadn’t even tried to get her panties, as dared. It had just seemed wrong to him.
Like the rest of it wasn’t. Instead, he’d pretended he didn’t know her at school the following Monday and, when she’d finally approached him in that tentative way she had, he’d blown her off. He’d told her he’d only asked her to go with him on a dare, and that she should be on her way. Find a boy more her speed, because he was way out of her league. The second he’d uttered the words, he wanted to take them back. But it had been too late. Lia’s lips had quivered, and a single tear had spilled down her delicate cheek before she’d whirled and fled.
She must have avoided him the rest of the year, because he could never seem to find her. The few times he did see her, he’d caught only a glimpse. He’d been too chicken shit to go to her house. Then he’d gone away to college, and she’d been gone to LA before he’d come home to stay.
It didn’t take her long to emerge from the bedroom, fully dressed, her long dark hair in a ponytail at the back of head. Her cheeks were flushed, probably from washing her face. The jeans she wore were loose but shaped her hips and thighs nicely. Her sweater hit her at the waist. Again, it wasn’t form fitting, but seemed to cling to her breasts lovingly. To Aiden, she looked as lovely and beguiling as she had all those years ago in high school.
Without a word, she sat in a chair across from the couch Aiden had parked himself on. She looked everywhere but at him, obviously nervous about this meeting.
“It really is good to see you, Lia.” Aiden tried to keep his voice calm and soothing. He’d been told he could talk a nun out of her panties, and he did his best to charm Lia now. Not necessarily for sex, but for her to let him back into her life.
“Yeah,” she said, still not looking at him. “Well, I suppose I need to collect my daughter and have her pack –”
At the thought, something inside Aiden snapped. “No.”
Finally, she looked at him. “I beg your pardon?”
“I said, no. The weather is going to be bad, and I don’t want you out by yourself in it. Lia… I can’t watch you leave. Uh. In this kind of weather.” He was losing it.
“I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself and Rebecka.”
“I know you are. But no one should be out in weather like we’ve got coming. It’s supposed to be blizzard conditions for at least thirty-six hours. That will take us up to Christmas. Once the storm has passed and you’re able to dig your car out, I’ll happily help you get to Augusta or wherever you want to go. For now, I want you to stay here.”
“Aiden, you don’t have the right to tell me what to do.” Her voice was hard, but he could see moisture gathering in her eyes. He knew he was being harsh, but he was hoping to snap her out of the depression she was obviously struggling with.
He stood, crossing the short distance between them. Pulling her to her feet, he wrapped one arm around her while he brushed strands of silky dark hair from her face. “I know that. So, I’m about to remedy the situation. Right now.”
Lia’s breaths quickened, and that charming little blush on her cheeks deepened. “Aiden?” His name on his lips was a plea as much as a question.
“I’m going to kiss you, Lia,” he told her. He didn’t miss that she was now clutching his shirt in her little fists. “Once I do, I’m going to keep you. Forever. That will give me the right to protect you, no matter what. If you don’t want it, you’d better push me away. No token protest either. You have to push me away like you mean it.” He gave her a couple of seconds. “No?” When she only stared wide-eyed at him, he felt the corner of his lips twitch. “I thought not.”