Home for the Holidays (Siren Publishing Classic) (4 page)

BOOK: Home for the Holidays (Siren Publishing Classic)


Slowly she became awake. From where she lay, she could see the clock. Not even seven o’clock. Far too early to get up. She yawned and snuggled back against the warm body behind her, enjoying the feel of the strong arm wrapped around her.

Wait. Arm. Body. Uh oh.

She felt the warm breath on her neck and heard his amused voice. “Seems like the walls of Jericho fell.”

She stiffened and tried to pull away. “Just like a man to take advantage of the situation. You were supposed to keep to your side of the bed.”

“Don’t blame me. I didn’t move. You are the one that got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and got back in the wrong side. You even shoved me over so you’d fit. Look around. This isn’t the side of the bed you started on.”

She thought for a minute. She remembered getting up and being more asleep than awake, but needing to pee very badly. The floor was cold in the bathroom, so she’d rushed back to bed, almost throwing herself in it.

“You curled your legs back and warmed up your feet on my legs. I figured that entitled me to a cuddle.”

She coloured. She remembered now. Oh, god. This was so embarrassing. She started to turn, but he held her tight.

“Don’t worry,” he soothed. “It’s cold out there and warm in here. Nothing’s going to happen you don’t want to happen. You’ve got your top and sweatpants on and I’ve got my boxers.”

“Your boxers? Why aren’t you wearing something more? Surely you have sweatpants or something.”

“Yes I do, but I don’t sleep in sweatpants. Actually, I usually don’t sleep in anything, but I thought you might be alarmed if I slept raw. Now we have more than an hour before we have to get up. Go back to sleep.”

He pulled her back against him, spooning his large body around her, tucking her head under his chin. She could feel him hard against her behind, but they had two layers of clothes between them. She felt his warm arm around her and his large hand spread out on her stomach over her tank, holding her tight to him. And she surprised herself by actually falling back to sleep.

When the alarm went off at eight, she jumped, but couldn’t get far. His arm was still in place, but his hand had migrated up under her tank and was grasping a breast. It felt good. She tried to hold herself stiffly, but she could feel her nipples hardening. He could feel it, too, because after he detached his hand to reach over her and turn off the alarm, his hand went straight back up her top to massage her breast. He squeezed it gently, his fingers grasping her hardened nipple, pinching and twisting lightly. She couldn’t hold back a moan.

He took that as a sign and moved, turning her onto her back. He was still on his side. She met his eyes. He pulled up her top so he could see her breasts. She sucked in her breath at the look of pleasure on his face. Her stomach felt like it was being squeezed, and she realized it was lust. She wanted this stranger more than she had any man in a long, long time.

But she didn’t even know him.

All thought went out of her head as he leaned down and kissed her gently. His rough chest hair rubbed her nipples, making them even harder. Then he moved his mouth across her face and down her neck while he continued to massage her breast. When she made a little sound of pleasure, his mouth quickly returned to hers, but this time it wasn’t gentle. He moved over her, kissing her deeply. She could feel his growing arousal against her and couldn’t help her hips moving involuntarily against his.

He continued to kiss her, but his hand left her breast. She made a little whimpering sound of loss, but it was replaced by a moan as his hand slipped down the waistband of her sweat pants. His big finger parted her slit and grazed her clit. She moaned again and parted her legs. He took the opportunity to slide a finger inside her.

Knock, knock, knock.

“Aunt Nelly. Uncle Jack. You are late for breakfast. Grandma said if you aren’t down in a few minutes you have to cook your own breakfast and do all the dishes.” They heard the sound of running feet as her nephew rushed back to his own breakfast.

Reluctantly he removed his finger and slid off her. He reached up to grasp the hem on her tank and then paused. He leaned over and kissed the rosy tip of each breast, sighed heavily, and then pulled her top down before rolling over on his back. She could see the covers tented at his groin and blushed.

“You can have the bathroom first, but you have to hurry. I’m starved.”

She almost ran into the bathroom. She shut the door behind her and locked it and then looked at herself in the mirror. Her hair was a mess, and she was flushed and her lips looked well kissed. She could still see her hard nipples poking out through her tank. Oh, god. What had she almost done? Or maybe damn, if only her nephew had been twenty minutes later. She was so confused. She didn’t normally sleep with almost strangers, but she’d been attracted to Jack from the moment she had seen him. What would be so wrong with enjoying this brief time with her “fiancé”?

She didn’t dawdle. She hopped in the shower but didn’t wash her hair and was done in five minutes. She put back on her tank and sweats, took a deep breath, and walked into the bedroom.

“All yours.”

Her eyes nearly popped out of her head when he threw back the covers and stood up. He was still heavily aroused, and she couldn’t take her eyes off his boxers. He looked huge. She had to force herself to turn away, but not before seeing his mocking grin. She used the bathroom mirror to watch him walk into the bathroom and close the door behind him. His ass was fine. His long legs were fine. She felt her heart give a flip. She barely knew him. It was lust. Just lust, she told herself firmly.

She heard the shower turn on and realized she only had a few minutes to get dressed, so she hurried into jeans and a high-necked sweater. Then she brushed her hair out and tied it back, fleeing the bedroom just as she heard the bathroom door open.

Jack watched her flee, feeling both disappointed and relieved. She was beautiful, and he was surprised at how much he genuinely liked her after knowing her such a short time, but maybe now wasn’t the time or the place to start something.

He sighed heavily, resigned to taking care of things alone in the shower, but he’d definitely be thinking of Nelly.

Chapter Six


The day passed relatively quickly. She had a quick breakfast, and then she was able to avoid Jack as the rest of her family arrived early and she helped them all get settled. Jack fled with her dad into the garage to tinker with the car some more.

She decided that some exercise would do her good, so she went out with her nieces and nephews and their parents to the big hill behind the house and went tobogganing. At noon, Jack, who had obviously been pressed into service to round up the hordes, walked to the bottom of the hill.

“One hour warning,” he shouted. “Your grandmother says you have to be in by one p.m. and at the dinner table by two or you are missing Thanksgiving Dinner.

Once he got acknowledgement from all the adults, he turned to walk back to the house, and the kids went back to playing. Nelly realized she was probably the only one watching as he turned back to the hill, watching the kids play. There was something about his body language that spoke of pain. Nelly contemplated going to him, but he abruptly turned and walked away, not back to the garage as she expected, but out to his truck. Her heart was pounding. He wasn’t leaving, was he?

Suddenly he was running, and then she was running after him. And when she crested the hill, she saw that one of the kids was making his way toward the main road. Jack scooped him up just before he hit the road and hugged him tight. She could see Andy squirming in Jack’s arms, so he put the little boy down and pointed in the direction of the house.

Jack looked up and met Nelly’s eyes. Then he had to grab Andy again as the little boy tried to make a break for it. Nelly laughed and Jack laughed, too, but there was sadness in his eyes as he swept the little boy into his arms.

Nelly looked back toward the hill.

“Shawn, you lost something” she shouted, seeing her sister-in-law cresting the hill, clearly looking for something.

Her sister-in-law came rushing forward to take the stubborn little boy.

“Thanks! I don’t know how he slipped away from me or where he thought he was going.”

“I was just going to the store. I need some candy.” The little boy looked up and smiled angelically. All of the adults laughed.

“The store is much too far away for you to walk, young man. And besides, it is almost time for Thanksgiving dinner. We need to go in and get you out of your snow suit.” She tried to take him from Jack, but he clung tight. “I want Unca Jack to help me.”

Jack just shifted him to a comfortable position and headed up to the house. When they got in, he made quick work of the snow suit, and Andy ran run off to see his cousins. He was sitting on the bench with a faraway look in his eye when Nelly sat down beside him.

“You looked like a pro getting him changed.”

He shrugged. “It comes back to you.”

“Oh.” She was surprised. “You have a child?” And then she had a thought. If he had a child, maybe he had a wife. She grabbed a quick look at his ring finger. It was bare as she’d remembered, but that didn’t necessarily mean anything. Maybe he wasn’t one of those men who wore wedding rings. Or maybe he wasn’t married to his baby mama.

He looked at her. “Had. My son died. He was Andy’s age.” For a moment, the pain flashed across his face, and then the shuttered look came down again and he walked away.

The rest of the day passed in a whirlwind. She didn’t have the opportunity to talk to him, no matter how she tried. He was never alone the rest of the day. If he wasn’t helping her mother in the kitchen, he was talking cars with her dad or watching football with her brothers.

During dinner, he managed to be seated at the other end of the table from her and clearly charmed her sisters. Damn him! She wanted him to charm her.

And she had to dodge all the questions from her family about how long they’d known each other and if they were talking marriage. Because they hadn’t had time to settle on a story, she was flying blind and terrified of saying something that would contradict what he said, so she would just mumble something non-committal and stuff more food in her mouth.

By the end of the meal she was so full and just a little tipsy, as she kept washing down her food with wine. She wasn’t much of a drinker, and the two glasses made her bold. And she had worked herself into a fine temper.

After the meal, she marched into the family room where the ball game was on. He was her fake boyfriend, dammit, and she was going to get some quality time with him. He was sitting in the lounger. Her dad must really like him. Her brothers never got to sit there when their dad was home to see them, and she couldn’t even remember any of her sisters’ boyfriends, other than the ones they’d eventually married, sitting there. It was like the Edward O’Malley stamp of approval.

She could see that he’d just finished a beer and put it down on the table. This was her chance. She grabbed two cold ones and made her way to where he was sitting. She walked up to the chair, stood beside it with her back to the right arm of the chair. She hopped up on the arm of the chair and waved one of the beer bottles. When Jack reached around her to grab the bottle, she let herself slide backward until she was in his lap with her legs hanging over the arm of the chair.

His look of surprise turned quickly to amusement. He removed both bottles from her hands set them down beside the chair. Then he settled her more comfortably in his lap. He picked up one of the bottles, removed the top, and took a long swallow. Then he held it up to her mouth and let her have a sip.

“Hey, I want some more,” she demanded, trying to grab the bottle back. “And one of those was mine.”

“You, my dear, are tipsy.”

“Am not.”

“Okay. You aren’t. Now sit still and watch the game.”

“Give me back my beer.” He gave her the almost empty one and took the full one for himself.

A few sips later, she curled around him and went to sleep.

Jack looked down at the woman sleeping in his lap. It felt good.
felt good in his arms.

He put his own bottle down and then took her empty bottle and put it on the floor, tilted the chair back, and held her tight while he watched the rest of the game.

Chapter Seven


Jack glanced up at the mantle clock. It was 10:00 p.m. and he was starting to drift off. He righted the chair and stood up with Nelly in his arms. All the faces turned toward him, smiled, and turned back to the game. Carefully he made his way up the stairs to their room. He set Nelly down on the bed. She was sleeping deeply. He couldn’t let her sleep in her clothes, although it would serve her right. He pulled off her socks, then her jeans and sweater. The panties were okay for sleeping, but the bra didn’t look comfortable.

He shrugged out of his own T-shirt. Then he reached under her to unclip her bra. Quickly he slipped his tee over her head. Then he stripped off his jeans and climbed in with her. He pulled the covers up over the both of them, and snuggled her close, spooning behind her. Within minutes, he was sound asleep.


* * * *


Slowly, Nelly came awake. It was still dark. A sound had woken her. She could feel Jack behind her, holding her tight. And he was sobbing. She turned in his arms. He was having a dream or maybe a nightmare.

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