Home > A Little Christmas Romance(5)

A Little Christmas Romance(5)
Author: H.M. Ward

Yeah, I didn’t really think about the gravity thing. A waterfall of cocoa spills off of him and into my face. I wriggle and try to get free, but it’s too late. There’s a look in his eyes, and there’s no way in hell that Chris is letting me up without dumping his drink over my head.

His blue eyes glitter with mirth. “You are an evil elf.” He takes his mug and tips it, spilling the contents down the center of my throat and then lower. He makes a line of cocoa from my collarbone and empties the rest of the cup between my br**sts. I’m sopping wet, and sucking in air like I’m drowning, but it’s not because of what he did. It was the way he did it. His eyes traced the movement of the dark liquid across my pale skin.

I can barely breathe as his gaze dips to my chest and lingers before returning to my face. He watches my lips and it seems like an eternity passes before he lowers his head and leans in close. His warm breath washes over my skin, and the urge to feel his lips on mine shoots through me. Neither of us is smiling, and we’re both breathing hard.

Blinking slowly, Chris looks at me from under those dark lashes. His gaze flicks between my lips and my eyes before he inches closer. His chest is pressed against mine and we’re both soaking wet. He hesitates. “You smell like Swiss Miss.”

“So do you.” I reach for him and tangle my fingers in his hair, which pulls him closer. His skin feels so warm against my palm and I can feel his heart racing. Fear surges through me as we linger, nearly lip to lip. I want to kiss him, but I don’t. I want to mean something to him and I’m not sure if I do. Sucking in a shaky breath, I look away. Everything feels stuck in the moment and time doesn’t move. The weight of his body against mine feels so wonderful, so warm. I wish things were different, but they’re not. Chris doesn’t have relationships, and nothing he’s said makes me believe that he’s changed.

The moment shatters and he moves to the side, sitting up on the floor next to me. Pulling his knees into his chest, Chris looks over at me. I feel his gaze on the side of my face as I sit up and offer him an awkward smile and pull my soaked shirt off my skin, and sniff. “They should make this stuff into perfume.”

Chris extends his long legs and laughs. “Do you know what that would do to the world’s population if women smelled like candy?”

A grin crosses my lips and I nod. “World domination. Oh yeah. I can see it now.” We both laugh with the awkward tension of infatuated middle school kids. We sit facing one another, but neither of us looks up.

The fire crackles and Chris sucks in a breath and pushes up off the floor. “Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be warm and dry. Come on. I’ll see if I have a slutty elf costume in my closet.” A wry smile appears and he looks down at me and wiggles his fingers. Why does he have the ability to shock me over and over again? I sit there with my jaw springing up and down and let out a huff of air, mainly because I don’t know if he’s joking or not. “Suck it up Brooke.”

“Wow.” I put my hand in his and he yanks me up. As he pulls, I say, “Is that what you say to all the girls?”


The words do something to him. The smile slips off his face and his grip tightens on my hand as he pulls too hard. I slam into his chest and blink, surprised by his action. His arms clamp around my waist for half a second before he releases me. Those beautiful eyes meet mine and my stomach sinks. He’s mad.

“Who do you think I am? You keep saying stuff like that, like you have me all figured out, but you don’t. You’re the one who walked away from me after your mom died. You’re the one who never looked twice at me. Is that the reason? Do you think so little of me? Do you really think that I’d be so calloused that I’d throw you away?” He’s in my face, saying things that I don’t want to hear. Tension lines his arms and shoulders like he wants to strangle something, but he doesn’t. Chris just stands there, close enough to kiss, and madder than I’ve ever seen him.

Is it possible that I misjudged him? My voice quivers when it comes out, so much so that I don’t sound like me. “No, don’t try to flip this around. You’re a player. You’ve always wanted—”

“I’ve always wanted what, Brooke? Be very careful, because the next thing you say could land your ass outside in the snow.” His hands ball at his sides and he looks away, like he can’t stand the sight of me.

Why is he offended? How can he act like this? “I don’t understand.”

“That’s the smartest thing you’ve said all night.” He sighs and runs his hands through his hair after he walks away. Chris grabs a couple of towels from a small closet and tosses them at me. “You can use the shower first.”

The towels smack into me and I keep them from tumbling to the floor. Clutching them to my chest, I walk past him to the little bathroom. Why does he have to do that? Everything was fine, right up until then, and I’m not going to feel bad for saying it. It’s the image he put out there. Why is it my fault for believing him? Screw that. He can go have PMS by himself. I clean up and wrap myself in a towel. The room is steamy from all the hot water and the thought of hiding in there forever sounds really appealing.

I don’t understand him. How can he be offended? And I have looked twice at him. I have thought about him, and wished for way more than any sane girl would possibly hope for, because he’s Chris. The idea of dealing with another loss right now is too much and that’s what will happen. I’m not stupid and I don’t want to hear that Last Christmas song next year and feel like an idiot. Because that would be the biggest mistake I could make—telling him that I care about him, that I always have. Caving in and letting him kiss me would be so nice, but so far from sane that I can’t comprehend the outcome.

I swipe my hand across the mirror, but it fogs again almost instantly. This isn’t the way I wanted to spend tonight, resisting attraction until we’re both crazy. I should leave, but the snow has only gotten worse since we got here.

There’s a knock and I hear his voice. “I have sweats for you.”

I open the door a crack and he shoves them through. “Thank you.”

“No problem.”

He hands me a pair of gray sweats and leaves me to change. I hold them to my face and inhale deeply knowing that they smell like him. I stand there like that way too long, wishing for things that I shouldn’t want. When I leave the bathroom, Chris slips into the shower, and I head over to the couch. He’s already mopped up the spilled drinks. I flick through channels, but nothing takes my mind off of Chris and the hurt look on his face.

When he emerges from the shower, his dark hair is tousled and wet. He’s wearing sweatpants, and nothing else. His toned chest has perfectly defined abs that look totally lickable. The thought shocks me, because I don’t think things like that, but holy hell.

“I’ve got to get to sleep. Long day. Just let me grab a blanket and pillow. You can take my bed.” He disappears into his bedroom before I can say anything. I pad barefoot, following after him, wanting to fix things, but I don’t know how.

Chris’s bedroom is gray with a queen bed topped with a snowman quilt. It makes me laugh. He looks over his shoulder at me as he grabs one of the pillows. “The bedspread? Yeah, compliments of my mom.” It seems like he’s going to say more, but he doesn’t. His serious look calms his features, and he reaches for the blanket at the foot of the bed. “Good night, Brooke. Merry Christmas.”

Chris is about to walk past me. I have to do something. I can’t let tonight end this way. He was so happy and I shot it all to hell. I’m not bold, brave, or anything else, but tonight I manage. Just as he’s about to pass me, I step in front of him. There’s an armful of fluffy crap between us.

My gaze fixates on that because it’s too hard to look into his eyes. “I’m sorry I said that before. The truth is,” why is it so hard to say? I feel the words stuck at the back of my throat, but I can’t make my mouth move. I glance up at him and try again. “The truth is that something about you scares me.”

His head tips to the side slightly and his stern features soften. The death grip he has on his blankets loosens and he closes his eyes for half a second before tossing the stuff back onto his bed. “So, then, let’s have it.” He holds up both hands and waves his fingertips toward his chest. “Dish it out, Brooke, and let’s just get this over with.”


Annoyance flashes in his eyes and drips from his voice. “Just tell me why I’m not good enough for you—why you don’t want—”

I have no idea what he’s going to say, but his words are all wrong and I don’t have any of my own. I can’t tell him how much he means to me or why. It’s all been bottled up inside me forever, so I step toward him and stop thinking. I don’t think about what will happen next, if he’ll laugh and push me away, or if he cares about me. I care about him. I love him and I want him to know it. The time for hiding is over.

Before he can finish his sentence, I press my lips to his. For a heart pounding second, there’s no noise, only his perfect mouth on mine. My heart slams into my ribs as someone sucks all the air from my lungs. Every muscle in my body is filled with tension, fearful of the rejection to come. But in that moment, I finally get to know what it feels like to taste his lips and feel his warmth. Part of me is so content, but the sane part is frightened like a chinchilla skittering across the freeway. The only way to finish this is to go straight through the lanes and if I get hit by a truck, so be it.

I can visualize the eighteen wheeler that’s going to crush me when he pulls away. The moment breaks because he doesn’t kiss me back. Shaking, I pull away and avert my eyes. I try to explain, “I do want you. I’m sorry I ever made you feel like I didn’t. I don’t…” Oh shit, my throat is tightening fast and warm wet tears are filling my eyes. “I didn’t mean to…”

He’s not moved or said a word, but I can feel his eyes on me. The apathy, the utter indifference is harder to stomach than rejection. Fuck it. I’m leaving. I don’t care if I have to room with a snowman on the parkway, I can’t stay here. I dart past him, making a beeline for the door, grabbing my purse as I go.

Just when I grab the knob and pull the door open, Chris is there, towering over me. He slaps the door shut and a blast of snow and freezing air races past my bare feet. I don’t look up. I can’t.

His voice fills my ears, but there’s a mental wall in place because I can’t weather what he’s about to say. “Brooke?” The question in his voice catches me by surprise and before I know what I’m doing, I look up at him. “You like me?” It’s such a simple question and there’s so much shock in his voice.

“Of course I like you.”

“You mean, you like me, like me?” His uncertainty is cute.

“I’ve always liked you, liked you. I kissed you. You didn’t kiss me back. My mistake. Sorry. It won’t happen again.” Because you won’t see me again.

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