In the midst of a battle for leadership at their Ojibway community, two enemies of opposing families fall in love…
Raven finished stacking the clean coffee cups on the tray. At ten-thirty in the morning, only a few people mingled in the diner. The cold had probably kept everyone else away. A flash of black caught her eye. She held tight to the dish rag. Her heart did a ba-bump ba-bump. Jude was here. She wasn’t supposed to see him until Thursday.
Her damned clit could remain hidden behind its protective hood. He might simply want a coffee break elsewhere from the school. Oh heck, never mind modesty. Men liked her. And so did Jude.
Just as the diner door swung open, Raven spared her reflection a glance in the window of the pop cooler. Everything was perfect—makeup, false eyelashes, hair neatly secured in place with a nice beaded barrette she’d crafted.
Raven swiveled on her comfy shoe sole designed for being on her feet all day. Too bad she couldn’t wear her favorite fuck-me heels. Rosy cold red flecked Jude’s dark skin. Even frost dusted his black eye lashes.
“I’m guessing you want something hot.” Uh, she hadn’t meant to toss out a double meaning, as she was prone to do, because she’d sincerely meant a cup of coffee or tea.
“Hot?” Jude’s slanted thick black brow quirked.
Raven had guessed correctly about dimples when they appeared on his strong face. “Yes, hot. Can you think of anything…hot…on the menu?” Okay, that’d been intentional.
Jude’s dimples deepened.
“Well?” She held up the coffee pot.
“Hmm, besides coffee?” He continued to smile as he removed his parka and set the heavy coat over the back of the stool at the counter.
“Oh?” Raven used her sassiest voice. “And what are you thinking exactly?”
Turning over the mug, Jude winked. “You’re the student. It’s up to you to provide the answer, not me.”
“You know all the answers to the questions? And what other kinds of questions do you have for me?” Once Raven poured the coffee, she stared directly at Jude and stood straight in front of him. She set her free hand on the counter and clattered her nails.
His gaze roamed to her hand and then traveled upward, lingering on her apron and tucked-in blouse to highlight her super-slim waist. When his admiring peep settled on her breasts, she went hot and cold. Just as fast, his dark eyes drew back to hers. That was not a perverted gawk but a very appreciative gentleman admiration.
“You’re a master at your craft.” She almost had to draw out a fan in minus thirty-seven-degree weather.
“My craft?” He retrieved two creamers from the small bowl.
“I didn’t think you’d be so…smooth.” Raven giggled.
Jude chuckled. Red slid onto his cheekbones. He set his forearm on the counter. “Not smooth. I’m simply not the kind of man who…” The sound of his tongue clucking the top of his mouth echoed.
Warmth coated Raven’s skin.
“I guess it’s a good thing you’re a Catholic boy. Something tells me you’re capable of a lot of trouble.” Raven snatched a menu from between the sugar container and salt and pepper shakers.
“Nah. I did your usual high school and university mischief-making—”
“I never heard it called mischief-making.” She again giggled. He had a way of making her stomach tingle with laughter.
“I’m a principal. I make sure to use proper language. Remember, I was responsible for elementary-aged children.”
“Okay, I’ll let it pass. What would you like?” She pushed the menu in front of him and withdrew an order pad from her apron.
Jude’s pupils deepened, smothering his irises, and his eyes crinkled at the corners. He set the tip of his finger against his mouth.
The breath caught in Raven’s throat. The word seemed to dangle in the air—you. His potent look was twisting her into a pile of goo, ready to melt all over the floor.
He leaned in over the counter slightly. “What do you recommend? You’ve been at this longer than I have.” His lips tugged upward.
If Raven’s heart pounded any faster, she’d have to jump into the snowbank to cool off. She flipped over the menu. “The bagels are fresh. Cookie came in early and made them.”
Bad Raven! Why’d she skitter under the bed to hide? No, she wasn’t afraid. No man scared her. She scared men.
“Fresh? Anything else fresh?” Jude kept smiling. Not a friendly smile. Coy. Frisky. Daring.
Raven’s throat dried. Screw the snowbank. Water. Where was a pitcher of water?
“Hey, hey, hey. Order up.” Cookie banged the bell.
Cheesy, yes. But the bell had saved Raven. With all the courage she could muster, and in her smokiest voice, she choked out, “Take a good look around. You’ll see for yourself what’s fresh.”
She set the coffee pot on the burner, scooped the order off the stainless-steel counter Cookie used to set orders on from the kitchen window, and dashed off to deliver two Hunter’s Specials to Mick and Moe—like a pathetic coward, instead of a flirty seductress.