Page 25

Those damn butterflies were fluttering around, bouncing off my insides as I left the bathroom. My cheeks were warm in spite of the cold. I stopped by the Christmas tree—only for a few seconds, because of the windows and the danger they presented. My gaze dropped to the two presents under the tree, the ones with our names on them. A smile fluttered across my lips as I dragged my eyes up to the shiny star perched atop the tree. We hadn’t even thought to turn the lights on.

If I had my days right, Christmas was a week and a few days away. I knew what I wanted for Christmas, and it seemed like I’d gotten it. I hoped the holiday had come early for me, and this wasn’t some wild fluke.

When I returned to the living room, Kyler had spread out a buffet of breakfast food across the dark oak coffee table. The non-cooked kind—bananas, breakfast bars, dry cereal, and whatnot.

I stopped just inside the room, my heart in my throat, or maybe in my mouth at this point.

He glanced up and grinned. “This is the best I can do for breakfast.”

“It’s perfect.” My words sounded thick and I realized I was close to tears. The good kind, but really, bawling like a baby wouldn’t be attractive. Ducking my head, I went over to the side and sat on an unoccupied pillow, keeping the blanket close.

“Looks like chips and raw vegetables for lunch and dinner,” he said, sliding another cup of fresh coffee my way. “We’re eating healthy today.”

I laughed. “Like I eat differently any other day.”

He scoffed. “You’re such a red meat kind of girl. Don’t lie.”

That part was true. “Thank you for putting this together.”

“My pleasure.” He elbowed me gently. “Eat up. I have a big day planned for you.”

My brows rose. “You do? Planning on getting me outside to shovel the driveway?”

“No.” Picking up an apple, he leaned back in an arrogant sprawl. “Doesn’t involve the outside, but it does center around some physical activity.”

Heat zinged through my blood. “Really?”

He regarded me with a wicked glint. “Look around the room, Syd. There’s something you’re missing.”

Scanning the room, it took me a couple of moments to catch on. “My clothes? Where are my clothes?”

His answering grin was pure sin. “You’re not going to need any clothes today, baby.”

Chapter 16


Oh my, my, my…

My eyes widened to what was probably seriously unattractive. Under the blanket, my body warmed deliciously. “So all I have is this blanket?”

“Most of the time.”

A thrill went through me. “Okay. And you get to wear clothes?”

Kyler winked as he took a bite of the apple. “Most of the time.”

“Doesn’t seem fair, does it?”

Heat simmered in his gaze. “Oh, it will be equally fair.”

Was it possible to turn into goo? I believed so. His deep chuckle caused me to flush and I turned back to our little buffet, busying myself with eating. So many questions rose to the tip of my tongue. I wanted—no, I needed—some sort of confirmation of what was happening between us, but to be honest, I was too afraid of saying something that would bring all of this crashing down on me, shattering like a fragile snow globe.

It was weak, probably even a little wrong, but I kept my mouth shut.

After a few moments, we started talking…talking like normal. About the next semester and what classes we had left. How he planned to talk to his mom about veterinary school during the break, and I really hoped it would go better than what he dreaded. Kyler needed to do what would make him happy, not what his mother expected.

Hours passed. Every so often, he’d check the window and return to my side. We talked about Andrea and Tanner, about how I imagined he had to be bummed about not getting to snowboard.

We just talked like we always did, but there was something more to it. Kyler would touch me at the most random moments, and I came to anticipate those seconds. He’d brushed his fingers over my cheek as he spoke about his mom attempting to cook turkey again this year. I’d been an unwilling participant in many of his mom’s cooking adventures, so I didn’t envy him. When I admitted that I still nibbled on raw stuffing, he tucked my hair back behind my ear. And as he talked about wanting to make a gingerbread house when we got home—and he’d said we—he slid his fingers over my bare shoulder, eliciting a series of shivers from me.

Kyler stood, extending a hand. I had no idea how much time had passed when he did this. “It’s time for some of that physical activity I promised.”

For a while I’d completely forgotten that I was naked under the blanket. Not so much now. I swallowed hard. I had a pretty good idea of what that physical activity was. Nerves unraveled suddenly and frayed at the edges, and I couldn’t find enough air to breathe. I locked up. I wanted him so badly. I’d always wanted him, but I had no idea what to do. What if I did something wrong? What if he felt the same way Nate had afterward?

But I trusted Kyler, and that made a huge difference.

Holding the blanket to my chest, I gave him my free hand. His fingers threaded through mine and he pulled me to my feet with astonishing ease. He slipped an arm around my waist. With a soft smile, he bent down and pressed his forehead against mine.

“Do you remember our senior prom?” he asked. His hand tightened around mine, but he didn’t pull me any closer.

I blinked at the unexpected question. “Yes.”

“I promised you a dance.” His eyes drifted shut and his fingers splayed across my back. “I didn’t keep that promise.”

Shaking my head slightly, I stared up at him. “Kyler…”

His eyes opened. “We never danced. I was a douche.”

My heart started thumping at the memory. I’d gone to prom with Nate, but Kyler had promised me a dance. As wrong as it was, I’d spent most of that prom looking forward to that one dance instead of paying attention to Nate, but Kyler had left with Betty Holland. They had a hotel room. I’d overheard her talking to her friends in the bathroom.

I shook my head again, at a loss for words. I couldn’t believe he even remembered that.

“So I’m making up for it right now.” He straightened and graced me with one of his full smiles. “We don’t have the music, but I think we can make it work.”

Tears burned the back of my throat and I dipped my head. Taking a deep breath, I nodded. “We can make it work.”

“Good,” he said, his voice huskier than normal.

Kyler lifted me up so that my bare feet were atop his, and I laughed at the act. His dimples deepened in response and he pulled me close. My hand was pinned between us, holding onto my blanket, but our legs were pressed together. Humming under his breath, he swayed slowly, moving in a small circle. I didn’t recognize the song, but the lilting sound and the deep vibrations coaxed my eyes closed.

Placing my cheek against his chest, I smiled as we danced. In a matter of moments, I forgot that I was wearing nothing but a blanket, that the only music besides his humming was the wind outside, and that we weren’t in some glamorously overdone ballroom. This—being in Kyler’s arms—was breathtakingly perfect. There was no other way to describe it. My heart swelled to the point I thought it’d burst in an ooey-gooey mess. He was making me into a giant toasted marshmallow, turning me into nothing but goo on the inside.

This dance was better than any dance at prom could’ve been.

Lifting my head, I opened my eyes and my gaze immediately latched onto his. His eyes were almost black and they became my whole world.

Kyler lowered his chin and the slightest touch of his lips against mine sent a shivery rush through my veins. He whispered my name and it thundered through me. One hand slid up my back and fisted in my hair. He took over, nipping at my lips until I opened for him and the kiss deepened, causing the air to catch in my throat. He kissed me until I felt like I’d drunk too much, until heat flowed through me and I was swimming in raw sensations.

“I want you,” he said roughly, his lips brushing mine. “I want you so bad I can taste it. Tell me you want the same thing.”

A shudder rocked me. I was snared in his heated stare. I was sure that I’d made it clear what I wanted, but only one word came out of my mouth. “Yes.”

“Say it.” His lips brushed mine and he kissed me once more, twisting my insides into delicious knots. “Tell me, baby.”

“I want you,” I said, dizzy. “I want you, Kyler. Only you.”

With a deep sound that made me tremble, he lifted me off his feet and then loosened the blanket from my fingers. It slipped away, falling to the floor in a soft hush. Liquid fire poured into me as his gaze traveled over me.

“Damn,” he growled as he pulled his sweater off, tossing it somewhere. Hopefully not into the fireplace, but at that point I don’t think either of us would’ve noticed.

My gaze got snagged on his stomach. He took a six-pack and turned it into an eight-pack. God. I wanted to suck in my breath, to hold my belly in, because standing naked next to someone who was the epitome of fitness was a little unnerving, but then he grasped my upper arms. He pulled me to him hard, our chests flush. The contact fried my senses.

Capturing my lips again, he kissed me as he started to move. We were dancing again. One hand on the nape of my neck, the other against my lower back, and he kept kissing me as we swayed to the sound of our pounding hearts and the wind. His hand slipped down over the curve of my rear, and I gasped against his mouth.

I felt his lips curve into a smile as they slipped over my chin. He guided my head back, exposing my throat. The kisses he trailed along my neck spun me so high with anticipation that I whimpered. I didn’t realize he’d even turned me around until my feet brushed the blankets.

My fingers dug into the taut skin of his sides as he lowered me to the blankets, his body almost, but not quite, covering mine. I sucked in a shrill breath as I slid my hands along the hard ridges of his stomach. My fingers tingled, and my entire body felt strung too tight in a delicious sort of way. Old insecurities crept in, threatening the heady bliss he’d created as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out several foil packets.

I tensed under him.

His grin was sheepish. “I’m prepared this time.”

“I see that,” I croaked, my stomach twisting and dropping at the same time. How could I feel so good and so nervous at the same time? It seemed impossible to feel so much.

Kyler stared down at me, his chest filling and brushing mine. “We don’t have to do this, Syd.”

“No.” I clutched his arms. “I want this—I want you.”

“Relieved to hear that, because I…” He trailed off with a little shake of his head and dropped a kiss against the hollow of my throat. “You need to relax. Let me help you relax.”

Before I could respond, he swept me up in a kiss that was so soft, so tender, that tears filled my eyes. I didn’t know I could be kissed like that. That kisses could be so heartbreakingly perfect that they could shatter you forever. My muscles relaxed and I placed my hand on the drawstring of his sweats.