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Authors: Jaci Burton

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BOOK: Melting the Ice
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“Nothing’s open.”

He laughed. “There are tons of places open today. I know the perfect place. And they have pie. Come on.”

“Drew. I have to work.”

“Not today, you don’t. It’s Thanksgiving. And I promised your mom.”


“Come on. We can go get a sandwich and pie. And by the time we get back, it’ll be late, the day will be over, and you can sneak in some work if you feel you need to. I won’t even tell your mom.”

She gave him a look, as if by glaring at him she could get him to back down.

Not likely.

“I cannot believe I’m agreeing to this,” she said.

“It’s because you’re hungry.”

“No. It’s because of my mother. She was disappointed that I wasn’t going to be with the family for Thanksgiving. And she’s worried that I’m working too much.”

He leaned against her desk and crossed his arms. “Probably because you are?”

“No, I’m really not. I’ve got some very tight deadlines. I should be working today.”

Her gaze scanned the sketches.

“One day won’t matter that much, will it?”

With one last lingering look at her desk, she lifted her gaze to his. “I suppose it won’t. Let’s go eat.”


THE DAY HAD NOT TURNED OUT LIKE CAROLINA expected. Then again, she should have known Drew would be a force to be reckoned with.

So was her mother. Even from afar, Loretta Preston was formidable. It didn’t surprise her at all that she’d enlisted Drew’s cooperation in getting Carolina to take a day off. Considering she’d done no work today, she could have flown down to D.C. and had Thanksgiving dinner with her family. She could have flown out tomorrow and still had the rest of the holiday weekend to dig in and work on her designs. She’d at least have had some family time, instead of spending the holiday with Drew.

Though she had to admit, instead of spending Thanksgiving alone working, this had been a great day. She’d loved giving out meals at the shelter today, and ice skating had been fun. She just wondered what it was going to take to get rid of Drew, who didn’t seem to want to take no for an answer.

Her mother would be proud of him.

They ended up at the Gotham Bar and Grill, which sur-
prised her.

“We’re never going to get in here. You do realize that to eat at a restaurant on Thanksgiving, you have to make reservations in advance.”

He gave her a smile as they exited the car. “Don’t worry. I know people.”

She knew people, too, but it didn’t matter what connections you had on a holiday. You weren’t getting in.

He walked them right past the front door and entered through the side, by the kitchen, waving at the staff, who all waved back as if he did this on a routine basis.

“I suppose you eat here a lot.”

“You know, there are a lot of hockey fans in New York.”

She rolled her eyes as the waiters waved at them, too.

“Hey, Drew. Are you here to eat?” asked one of the guys, whose name tag read Heath, as he shook Drew’s hand.

“Yeah. I know you’re busy today, and we only want a sandwich and some pie, so we won’t take up a table for too long.”

“No problem. We’ll make room for you.” They followed along as Heath found them a small table in the corner that a couple had just vacated. He cleaned it up and they sat.

Drew looked at her. “What do you think? Turkey sandwich and some pumpkin pie?”

“That sounds perfect to me,” Carolina said, not wanting to inconvenience the staff or the patrons who’d made reservations. Obviously, Drew didn’t, either.

“Great,” Heath said. “What would you like to drink?”

“Iced tea for me,” Carolina said. Drew ordered a cup of coffee.

“Not a beer?” she asked when Heath was gone.

“Nah. Got a game tomorrow, which means warm-ups and practice early. I need my head clear.”

“So I can come disrupt your day tomorrow?”

He gave her a smile. “Sure. Come on by. You’re also welcome to come to the game.”

“Not a chance. I’ll be buried in fabrics tomorrow.”

“But you’ll watch the game, won’t you?”

“Uh, sure. Wouldn’t miss it.”

He laughed. “You weren’t planning on catching the game. I can tell. Now I’ll be sure to quiz you about it the next time I see you, so be sure to watch.”

The next time he saw her? Did he plan on making this a regular thing? They weren’t dating. They weren’t . . . anything. She had no time for a man in her life, especially not now. She was going to be knee-deep in designs and fabric and fittings until after Fashion Week.

She definitely did not have time for Drew in her life. Though she’d drawn him into her life by asking him to be one of her models, hadn’t she?

Or rather, her brother had. Damn Gray for doing that. She could have selected another model. She could have been alone today. She was already thinking about all the work she could have gotten done.

Then again, as she leaned back and assessed Drew, his angular looks and athlete’s body, who would be a better showcase for her work? She could already picture him in some of her designs. His body was perfect for them. Not too bad a sacrifice to make for one day’s lost work.

“You’re staring,” he said.

“I was. I was picturing you in my clothes.”

The corners of his mouth lifted, a sexy half smile that sent a jolt to all her female parts.

“I would look terrible in a bra and lace panties. But I’d like to see
in them.”

She laughed. “Not
clothes. My designs for men.”

“Oh, those. Got anything for me to try on?”

A thought hit her. She hadn’t put any clothes on her models, hadn’t brought any of the designs to life yet. That might really spark her creative juices . . .

“Actually, yes I do. Could you stop by my place tonight before you go home?”


“I have a few things I’d like you to try on. They’re not exactly finished, but if I could get your measurements and fit you, it would help propel me forward in the process.”

“Happy to do anything I can to help.”


Heath brought their sandwiches and they dug in. Suddenly in a hurry, Carolina wasn’t even embarrassed about wolfing hers down. One, she hadn’t realized how much time had passed since they’d last eaten, and two, with the promise of inspiration on the horizon, she was eager to get Drew into her designs.

Unfortunately, he seemed to savor every bite of his sandwich. After that, there was the pie, which he seemed to delight in slowly sliding into his mouth bite by bite, while she tapped her foot and looked around the room.

“We should probably hurry so Heath can give this table to people who have reservations,” she said.

“You just want to leave so you can get me back to your place and out of my clothes.”

She gaped at him, then scanned the tables nearby to see if anyone had heard. Thankfully, the people at the other tables were too engrossed in their families to eavesdrop. “You do realize we’re in a packed restaurant.”

“So? Did I say anything that wasn’t true?”


“What did I say? Aren’t you going to get me out of my clothes when we get back to your place?”

“I am not going to be taking your clothes off. You’ll be taking them off.”

He took a sip of coffee, then gave her a sidewise smile. “So, you want a striptease, huh?”

She rolled her eyes. “Now you’re being ridiculous.”

“Am I? Or is this just some nefarious plan of yours to see me naked?”

“Are you sure there isn’t alcohol in that coffee?”

“Why? Do you think I need to be drunk to tease you?” He wiped his mouth and signaled to Heath. “We’ll take the check.”

“Let me pay.”

He gave her a look. “Why would I do that when I’m the one who invited you out to eat?”

“You’ve been paying every time we’ve gone out.”


And . . . she had nothing, other than him buying all the time made it seem very much like they were dating. Which they weren’t. At all. And never would be. As far as she was concerned, Drew was nothing more than a mannequin.

A very hot, extremely sexy, breathing, human mannequin.

Heath brought their check, Drew paid, and they left through the front door. The car pulled up and they climbed in.

“This poor driver has been at your beck and call all day. What a terrible Thanksgiving for him.”

“Jason has been very well paid for it, too, haven’t you, Jason?”

“Yes, sir. Making all my Christmas money off you today, Mr. Hogan.”

Drew laughed and leaned back in the seat.

When they got back to her apartment, Carolina took off her coat and stared at Drew, pondering what she’d like to see him in.

“I suppose the first thing I need to do is measure you.”

His eyes gleamed and she could read the dirty thoughts in his head as if he were telegraphing them from his brain directly to hers.

“No, not that. Already seen it.”

“Yeah, but one, you haven’t seen it in a very long time. And two, have you ever
it?” He waggled his brows.

He was such a . . . guy. “Not necessary. But you could strip for me.”

“Now you’re talkin’.” He undid his belt and reached for the zipper of his pants.

If he thought she was going to balk, he was in for a surprise. In fashion, she dealt with naked or near naked models of both sexes all the time.

“I’ll go get my tape measure.”

She went upstairs and grabbed her supplies. As she came down the stairs, Drew was out of his boots and slipping out of his jeans.

She stopped midway down the stairs, a sudden vision of that drunken night at the dorm flashing into her head.

Her on the bed, watching as Drew took off his clothes, and vowing to remember that moment forever as every inch of his skin was revealed.

Just like now, as he pulled off his shirt, revealing a body she had spent hours exploring, and years remembering.

Except now that he’d stripped down to his boxers, she realized how much he’d changed since the last time. He’d been gorgeous then, a young man just waiting to fulfill his destiny.

Now he was the man she’d always known he’d become. His body had filled out, become leaner in spots, more muscled in others. And as she forced herself down the stairs and came closer, she realized he bore scars he hadn’t before, because she still remembered mapping that body all those years ago, touching every part of him, committing every inch of his skin to memory.

The scars only added to his attractiveness, made him seem more grown-up, and so much more a man.

He had a tattoo now as well, on the inside of his upper right biceps. Two hockey sticks, crossed, with a puck in the middle and flames shooting out from the sides. That hadn’t been there before. It added a very badass appeal to a very badass body.

She couldn’t help the sigh of pure feminine appreciation. And as her hand curled over the tape measure, she realized how very much she wanted to lay her hands on him.

Her hands trembled as she forcibly relaxed her fingers and straightened the tape measure.

How foolish she’d been to think she could dress him, that Drew was like any other model she’d measured—like any other man she’d had in her house—and that she could be oblivious to his male form as she touched and turned him in every conceivable way so she could get his measurements.

She could have had him come in for measurements when one of her assistants was here to deal with him, instead of now, at night, when they were alone together in her apartment, and he watched her with that predatory gleam she remembered all too well.

But he was here, and unclothed, so she’d just have to suck it up and deal with it.

She ran the tape measure across his shoulders. For someone whose body was so . . . hard, his skin was smooth as she pressed the tape from one end to the other. She remembered that night when the two of them were in a room alone together, both of them naked, his arms coming around her as he tugged her close.

The tape measure slipped from her fingers.

“Everything okay?” he asked.

She shook it off. “Yes. Just fine.”

It wasn’t fine. It was every memory she’d tried so hard to erase, except she couldn’t move in and press her breasts to his chest. He wouldn’t slide his lips across her neck, kissing his way across her throat. He wouldn’t touch her breasts, awakening her sexuality to raging life.

Not that her sex drive was having any problems at the moment. Her breath came out ragged and heavy as she fought with the tape measure, feeling flustered, this normally easy task taking longer than it should.

Best to get it over with as quickly as possible so Drew could put his clothes back on. Then everything would get back to normal again.

She sized both arms, jotting the measurements down, ignoring that tattoo even though she wanted a much closer inspection. She wanted to ask him when he’d gotten it, and why. But that would be a personal question, and she wasn’t going to get personal. Not now. Not ever.

“Lift your arms out a little so I can measure your chest.”

He held very still, the room so quiet all she could hear was the sound of his breath, feel the rise and fall of his chest as she wrapped the tape measure around him.

She drew in closer, breathing in his scent. Some soap he used that made him smell just as she remembered. It was crisp and clean, reminding her of wintergreen and the outdoors. She wanted to linger, to slide her lips over that spot on his neck that had given him goose bumps that night. She’d spread her tongue over his neck to get a taste of him, and it had made his cock pulse.

And now she was the one with goose bumps. Her nipples hardened, her sex quivering as she recalled how he had surged forward when she’d shyly wrapped her hand around his shaft and stroked him. He’d given her instruction, had told her how good it felt when she touched him, put her mouth on him.

He’d been her education that night.

And her downfall.

Drew cleared his throat. “Everything going okay, Carolina?”

No. It was a disaster. She let the tape fall from his chest. “Just fine.” She wrote down the numbers.

“What’s next?”

BOOK: Melting the Ice
4.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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