He pulled out his phone for the first time in hours and indeed found her unread text. “Shit,” he said again.
“You’re a jackass, you know that?”
Aidan scrubbed a hand down his face. Lily hadn’t even been back in town twenty-four hours, and she was already screwing with his head. As much as he wanted to get laid, all he could see were her moss-green eyes when he closed his own. “I’m sorry, Shelly.”
She looked shocked. “Good-bye sorry, you mean?”
He couldn’t believe he was going to do this, turn away a sure thing with no strings attached. “Yeah. This isn’t working for me.”
Shelly paused. “Let me get this straight—all the casual, easy sex isn’t working out for you?”
“No,” he said. “It’s not.”
She was looking and sounding pissy now. “Your job is your life, Aidan, and I get that. You’ve said you don’t have time for a real relationship, and I get that too. I don’t want one either. But I do want honesty. I deserve that much.”
She was right about his job being his life. But he also did want a real relationship … someday. And though they were compatible in a lot of ways, Shelly wasn’t the one he wanted a relationship with.
Just as he wasn’t the one for her either.
“You do deserve honesty,” he said. “And okay, yeah, this is about more than my work, but I don’t know what exactly it is. That’s the truth,” he said when she gave him a skeptical look.
She stared at him, the temper still clear in her eyes. “You’re funny and hot and magic in bed, but I don’t play second fiddle, Aidan. Not even for you.” She slipped into her sandals and headed toward the door. “You’re going to miss me, you know.”
But when she was gone and he looked at his empty bed, he felt nothing but a little ping of relief that he could have the entire thing to himself.
The next day, Lily woke up early because her toes were missing. When she cleared the cobwebs from her brain, she realized she was still in possession of ten toes—they were just frozen. Overnight, the temps had dropped, and she could in fact see her own breath inside her apartment.
Damn. It’d been a long time since she’d experienced the fifty-degree drop between night and day that Colorado called normal. Huddling under the covers, she wished for a magic blanket warmer. Or a really warm man.
The image that came to her wasn’t her usual fantasy of Channing Tatum and Chris Hemsworth.
It was even more embarrassing.
Aidan. Naked. Heated. Willing and able to share that heat …
She grabbed her phone and distracted herself with her daily morning chore—checking her email for a response to one of her resumes. Any response at all would do. But, like yesterday and all the days before that, she had zip.
Sucking in a breath, she braced herself for the rush of cold before sliding out of bed. The early light drew her to the window, where the mountains backdropping the resort seemed to mock her.
She yanked the shade down.
Yesterday she’d unloaded her suitcases from her car but hadn’t unpacked. So she dug through them until she found a sweatshirt and pulled that on over her PJs. She added wool socks and then stood in the middle of her apartment hugging herself. There was no central heater in the place, just a woodstove.
With no wood.
The welcome letter on the counter read:
Utilities come with the rent. The stacked wood by the dumpsters is free. So is the Internet.
We hope you’ll take advantage of some of the recreation the resort offers this summer season; biking, climbing, rafting, kayaking, a ropes course … the sky’s the limit.
Enjoy your stay.
That would be easier to do if she were back in San Diego, where it didn’t get cold at night. Or ever. Where she could insulate herself from her past with a nice, solid thousand miles between herself and Cedar Ridge with all its memories.
Including Aidan Kincaid.
Shivering again, she stomped into her Uggs. Then she opened her front door to peer out and see how far away the woodpile was. At least a hundred feet away off to the left, she discovered, next to two large dumpsters. She looked down at herself; oversized sweatshirt, hood up, PJ shorts in pink plaid with KISS IT on her butt, wool knee socks, and her Uggs. Own it, she decided, and ran down the stairs to the woodpile.
The first piece weighed far more than she remembered it would. She grabbed two more pieces and then the worst possible thing happened.
Something slithered out from behind one of the logs in her hands. At the way she screamed, one might assume that a bear had come trolling along looking to eat her up. But no, not a bear.
It was a snake, and it touched her arm.
Tossing the wood away from herself, Lily gave another scream and did the snake dance, the one that looked like maybe she was having a seizure. This lasted a full minute before she got ahold of herself.
Torn between the snake willies and possible humiliation if anyone saw her, she decided humiliation was worse and forced herself to calmly smooth down her clothes. Nope, nothing to see here … Casually she turned to send a glare to the snake.
It was gone.
Well, crap. Because now she had a bigger problem. How could she pick up the wood now knowing that the mofo was hiding in there, watching her from obsidian eyes, waiting for his big moment to give her another heart attack.
She kicked one of the logs. Nothing. Okay then, she thought, and gingerly picked it up. And then another, carefully stacking them in her arms as if they were fully locked and loaded bombs. “He’s long gone,” she whispered to herself as she headed to the stairs. “He went on vacay. Somewhere warm.”
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