Authors: Jessica Jarman
Alone with Liam
By Jessica Jarman
Resplendence Publishing, LLC
Resplendence Publishing, LLC
2665 N Atlantic Avenue, #349
Daytona Beach, FL 32118
Alone with Liam
Copyright © 2011, Jessica Jarman
Edited by Christine Allen-Riley
Cover art by Les Byerley,
Electronic format ISBN: 978-1-60735-401-7
Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
Electronic release: September 2011
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or occurrences, is purely coincidental.
To Brian—there’s no one else I’d rather be alone with.
If she didn’t die, she was going to resort to murder instead of writing about it.
Erin Harrison gripped the steering wheel and leaned forward to peer into the relentless snow bombarding her poor car. Not that it helped one iota. She could barely make out the road in front of her. The tire marks, illuminated by her headlights, were quickly filling with the horrid white stuff.
Why had she listened to Penny? Her best friend had reassured her that the weather was going to be clear, that it was a perfect weekend for a cozy winter getaway with the ladies at the cabin. Yeah right. Erin should have foreseen this. Really, Minnesota in December? It wasn’t rocket science. Of course, she wouldn’t mention
when she ripped Penny’s hair from her scalp.
She breathed a small sigh of relief when she came upon the narrow road leading to the cabin. It would’ve been so easy to miss in this shit if the road hadn’t been plowed recently. Penny’s husband, Ryan, must have been out with the truck, though Mother Nature was quickly messing up all his work.
She peered into the whiteness. Time crawled slowly as she wound her way along the curvy path. When she finally pulled up in front of the small house, she turned off the engine and leaned her head against the steering wheel. She focused on breathing evenly and counted to ten before straightening. Uh, she was never doing that again.
Bracing herself, she left the car. Immediately, snow whirled around her, violently pulling at her coat and hair and pushing her against the car.
She stumbled around to retrieve her bag and laptop from the trunk. She glanced around, squinting against the driving gusts. A laugh welled up within her chest. No other cars were there. Only a set of tire marks leading into the garage gave evidence of anyone else. Apparently, all the other ladies had sense. At least, Penny was there to maim. Erin had that to look forward to.
She battled the wind and climbed up the porch steps. A warm light filtered into the night from one of the first story windows.
She pushed the front door open, quickly entered and slammed it shut.
“Penny, you wench, it took me forever to get here. The weather is supposed to be clear, huh? Well, take a look outside, sister! I’ve been thinking of payback the whole way, and you know I have one hell of an imagination. Be afraid. Be very afraid,” she drawled as dropped her bags and moved to hang her outwear in the closet.
“Penny’s not here.”
The masculine voice had Erin yelping in surprise and trying to turn. Her shirt caught on a hook, and she was pulled into the closet, tumbling head first into the small space. Her wet shoes slid right out from under her, taking her feet with them. She landed smack on her belly, face in a pair of Penny’s sandals, legs sticking out of the closet like a rag doll.
Before she could scramble out, she was lifted and set on her feet.
“Sorry ‘bout that. Didn’t mean to scare ya. Are you okay?”
Erin closed her eyes, acutely aware of the large hands still on her waist, warm and firm. Oh God, not Liam. What was he doing here? What did he mean Penny wasn’t there? This was supposed to be a
. No guys. She specifically remembered Penny saying no guys, that Ryan was going to plow out and head back home. There had been
mention of his brother, and Erin wouldn’t have forgotten that little detail.
“I’m fine. Thanks.” Carefully, she turned and found a pair of clear blue eyes peering at her. Her stomach quivered, and she swallowed hard as her throat tightened. “Where’s Penny?” she croaked.
He frowned. “At home. She decided not to come up because of the weather. She was supposed to call everyone.”
“Huh, guess she forgot me.” She bit back a groan as his fingers tightened ever so slightly. Oh God, she had to get away from him before she made a fool of herself. Right now. “Well, I’m obviously here for the night, so I’ll just settle in. What room do you have?” She pulled away, inched around him and lifted her bags.
“I haven’t brought my stuff in yet. You choose.”
Why was he staring at her like that? She thought she was behaving admirably all things considered. Of course, she had just been butt side up on the floor minutes before, so that might be it.
“I’ll take the front room then.” She hurried through the living room and, once in the bedroom, all but slammed the door behind her. Leaning against the wood, she let out a shaky breath.
Oh, Penny was really in trouble now. Not only had she abandoned her best friend, but somehow, Erin had ended up stranded in a snowstorm with Penny’s brother-in-law. This wouldn’t be a problem aside from the fact Erin had made an idiotic move on the man several months ago, and he’d turned her down flat. Yes, ma’am, Penny had better hide her skinny self far, far way.
* * * *
Liam Donovan flopped down onto the sofa. The last thing he’d expected when he’d settled in his brother’s cabin was for Erin Harrison to come breezing in. Okay, so her entrance wasn’t exactly “breezy”, but still, it was unexpected.
The woman had avoided him for months now, which wasn’t easy. His brother was married to her best friend, and they found themselves in each other’s company often enough. At least, until three months ago. Now, he was lucky to catch a glimpse of her in a crowd.
He closed his eyes and thought of the night it’d all changed. God, he could still feel her soft body pressed against him, her lips on his, her hands gripping his shoulders. His groin tightened at the memory. He had wanted nothing more than to sweep her away and tap into the heat her kiss hinted at, but his mama had raised a gentlemen. Poor girl had been drunk off her pretty ass, and he wasn’t going to take advantage of her, no matter how tempting.
The last thing Liam wanted, or needed, this weekend was a perpetual hard on. Especially when his only companionship was a woman who had avoided him like the plague. He sighed and ran his hands through his hair. Oh well, he’d make the best of it. Erin would likely spend her time in the bedroom pecking away at her computer, and she was sure to keep up the avoiding act. So he’d end up on his own, which had been the plan in the first place.
* * * *
Erin stared at the blank screen. Damn Liam for distracting her. Damn Penny for inviting her then bailing. Damn herself for coming on to the man in the first place.
After several more pathetic attempts get some words on the page, she gave up and reached for the phone beside the bed. It was time her friend got an earful for ruining her weekend.
“Hey, Ryan, is Penny around?” She set the laptop next to her on the mattress and leaned back again the pillows.
“Sure, hang on.”
“Erin, hey, girl.”
“Don’t ‘hey, girl’ me. I’m sitting here in your cabin in a freaking snowstorm while you are cuddled up with your hubby. Wench.”
“What?” Penny exclaimed. “You drove up there in this weather? Oh my God, what were you thinking?”
Erin growled into the receiver before responding, “I drove up here because you convinced me to!”
“Didn’t you get my messages?”
Penny’s sigh traveled into her ear. “I left you messages on your cell and at home.”
Erin closed her eyes and counted to ten again. “I haven’t been home, and I don’t get a signal for the cell up here.”
“Man, I’m sorry, Erin. At least, you made it there safe; though the weather’s supposed to be crap for the next day or two. You should stay put. There’s plenty of canned food in the pantry, so you’ll be fine,” Penny said cheerfully. “Hey, you can get some writing done.”
She rolled her eyes. “Well that would be true, except—” She heard a click then silence. “Hello? Penny? She hung up on me?”
Frowning, she hit the call button and held it to her ear. Nothing. Just her luck. The phone was out. Not surprising with the weather. Damn it. She replaced the receiver and returned to sit on the bed. What else could possibly go wrong?
Suddenly, the lights went out.
“Had to think that, didn’t ya?” she muttered in the darkness.
A knock sounded just as she was feeling her way toward the door.
“Erin, you okay?” Liam called.
“I’m fine. Hold on a sec.” She fumbled for the knob and pulled the door open. He stood, flashlight in hand, a wry smile curving his lips.
“What luck, huh?” she muttered.
He chuckled. “I’ve got a fire going. With this wind and no power, the bedrooms are going to be wicked cold soon. You’ll be more comfortable out there.”
She gave a nod and scooted past him. He followed her into the living room. The fire flickered and cast the room in shadows and light.
“Cozy, huh?” he joked. “I’m going to go grab some more firewood from the shed. Don’t know how long we’ll be without power; we might as well stay warm.”
“Sounds good,” she murmured. “Do you need help?”
“Nah, got it covered. Just relax.”
Erin stared into the flames and listened as Liam bundled up and went out the back door. Nervousness caused her fingers to tremble as she swept her hair away from her face.
She’d avoided him since that night. Had been so careful never to find herself alone with him since she’d taken their friendship and effectively ruined it. Humiliation filled her at the memory. She should have never come onto him; it made it difficult to just be friends. Though even that hadn’t exactly been easy. On her end, anyway. Only Penny knew how nervous and flustered Liam made her. In fact, it had been Penny who’d urged her to take a chance on him.
Go talk to him, Erin. Seriously, I’ve seen him look at you. He’s interested. Make your move. It’s better than sitting and wondering.
Only it wasn’t better. Not only had she made a fool of herself, she’d lost a good friend in the process. She should have just left things the way they were. Giving herself a mental shake, she decided enough was enough. It was months ago. Surely, the two of them could be around each other without awkwardness.
“Here we go,” Liam announced, carrying an armful of split logs and stacking them beside the fireplace. Before straightening, he tossed another log in, sending sparks dancing.
He disappeared briefly to take off his outerwear then settled himself in the armchair.
“So, why are you here?” Erin resisted smacking her forehead as soon as the words were out of her mouth. So much for avoiding awkwardness. “What I meant,” she hurried to stress, “was this was supposed to be a ladies’ weekend away, so I’m surprised to see you here.”