Authors: Nina Lane
Copyright © 2013 by Nina Lane.
All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Cover design by Hot Damn Designs
Interior design by VMC Art & Design, LLC
Cover photo credit: Sydney Shaffer
Published by Snow Queen Publishing
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Table of Contents
Nobody has ever measured, not even
poets, how much the heart can hold.
— Zelda Fitzgerald
e’re kissing in the coat closet. The
. I’m up against the back wall, his hands are braced on either side of my head, and his mouth is locked hot and deep against mine. My ponytail is slipping from the clasp, my fingers are gripping his shoulders, and I’m lost in the sweet, aching cascade of pleasure.
Dean pushes his leg between mine, moving to pull up my knee-length dress and cup his hand around the back of my thigh. His tongue sweeps across my lower lip. Arousal billows between us, a relief after the simmering tension of the past two hours.
Every time I sought him out amidst the holiday festivities, I found him watching me. Every time our eyes met, sparks of electricity spun through the air. Every time I saw him maneuver through the crowd, my heart beat faster.
We circled each other like prowling cats as we moved through the bright rooms of Langdon House, a historic Victorian mansion adorned with colorful Christmas trees, fresh green garlands, and vintage decorations.
We navigated clusters of people, the women all decked out in sparkly holiday gowns, the men in expensive suits and ties. We drifted in and out of conversations with other guests, then found each other again and exchanged looks of heated promise.
Until he caught me in the foyer beside the walk-in coat closet, curling his hand around my arm as he guided me inside and shut the door behind him. My pulse leapt when he came toward me, backing me up against the wall and penning me into the cage of his arms the instant before his mouth crashed down on mine.
I don’t know how long we’ve been here. I don’t care. My world has distilled to this space. There is only the press of his body, the solid bulk of his chest, the mingling of our breath. The scents of pine, cinnamon, and apples cling to the air. A narrow remnant of light shines beneath the door. Laughter and conversation drift through the walls.
I rub my hands over the ridges of his torso, feel the heat burning through his shirt. He moves his mouth to my cheek, down to my neck. My dress is pushed up to my waist.
Dean grips my thighs, which are covered in sheer nylons. He growls with frustration when he discovers the tight spandex panties.
He lifts his head, his gaze colliding with mine before he grabs the flimsy nylon at the seam and rips it away. My heart throbs.
“Take this off.” He plucks at the spandex with a frown of impatience.
“Good thing they’re not control-top,” I remark breathlessly, pushing the waistband over my hips and halfway down my thighs.
“What the hell is control-top?” He eases his hand underneath my cotton underwear and groans. “Oh, fuck. Never mind.”
His fingers probe deeper into my cleft. I gasp, clutching the front of his shirt, urgency spooling into my blood. He slips his forefinger into me, stroking the heel of his hand against my clit.
“Come on, beauty,” he whispers, his breath a hot trail to my ear.
He slides his lips to the pulse pounding at the side of my neck, then works another finger into my body to stroke my inner flesh.
I arch toward him, straining, my sex throbbing. A cry of pleasure lodges in my throat, poised to escape, when suddenly Dean clamps his hand over my mouth. He pushes me to the right, back through a curtain of woolen coats to the side wall. Light floods the closet a second after I realize the doorknob has clicked open.
I tighten my hold on Dean’s shirtfront. He eases his hand from my mouth, our hard breaths thankfully masked by the sound of chattery voices.
“Did you try those salmon rolls?” one of the women asks. “They’re new on the catering menu.”
“Oh, yes. So light and delicious. I think we ought to hire the same caterers for the spring festival, don’t you?”
I know those women. Members of the Historical Society board of trustees, Florence and Ruth Wickham are two lovely older ladies who wear pastel-colored suits and pearl necklaces and would no doubt be horrified to find me half-naked in the back of the coat closet.
“Do you remember where I put my coat?” Florence asks her sister. “Did I tell you I found it on sale at that little boutique on Dandelion Street? Pure camelhair.”
The air is stifling back here. A fur collar from one of the hanging coats brushes against my neck. I push it away impatiently. I’m still throbbing, frustrated at having my arousal thwarted.
Then Dean presses his knee between my legs, spreading my thighs. I jerk my gaze to his lust-filled eyes. A wicked grin tugs at his mouth as he puts his hand against my sex again.
I seize his wrist, acutely aware of the little old ladies still rummaging around for their camelhair coats… but he twists from my grip and flicks his thumb against my clit. I suck in a breath, melting at my core.
He lowers his mouth to mine again, one hand steadying me at the small of my back, the other working me with deliberate intent. I part my lips beneath his and fall into the cascade again. His touch grows more intimate, sliding deep into my opening, his thumb swirling and rubbing and…
I can’t stop it. I don’t want to. It’s been far too long, and even this furtive, hasty rendezvous in the middle of a holiday party is like gulping cold lemonade on a blistering day. I try to suppress a moan and let my head fall back against the wall as his tongue slides against mine.
One more stroke of his fingers, and bursts of rapture explode along my nerves. He muffles my cries with the pressure of his mouth. I grab his shoulders, my legs weakening with the force of vibrations flooding me from head to toe.
I pull back and stare at him, my blood pulsing. He’s still fully clothed, his heavy erection pressing against the front of his trousers. Though the coats block the closet light, I can see the burn of his eyes. His dark hair is a mess, a thick swath falling over his forehead, his sharp cheekbones flushed. We’re both still breathing hard, and neither of us moves.
“Oh, here it is! Look, isn’t that Shirley’s coat?” Florence’s voice grows distant as she moves back toward the door. “She said it was lynx fur. Can you imagine? Heavens, but it is soft, isn’t it? Feel it.”
Ruth murmurs her agreement, then finally the light turns off and the door closes.
“We should go,” I whisper.
“I’ll go first.” Dean touches my cheek. “I’ll let you know if the coast is clear.”
We wait a few more minutes to give us both time to compose ourselves. We straighten our clothing, then fumble around to find my purse and his suit jacket, both of which have fallen to the floor. I manage to get my nylons back around my hips, concealing the rip beneath the swirl of my dress, and reach up to smooth Dean’s hair away from his forehead.
“Wait here.” He presses a kiss to my lips and ducks out of the closet. A second later, there’s a quick knock at the door.
I hurry out, unable to prevent a smile as our gazes meet fleetingly in the foyer. I feel like we’re a couple of horny teenagers sneaking out from under the bleachers.
It’s a good feeling and not one I’ve experienced much—the pleasure of a sneaky rendezvous, furtive groping, secret kisses—all so blissful now because I can share them again with my husband.
I cross the foyer to the bathroom and do a quick primping to straighten out my very disheveled self. I comb my long hair back into its ponytail, splash water on my face in the hopes of dimming the heated flush, reapply my lipstick, and try to smooth the wrinkles from my dress.
Dean is gone from the foyer by the time I emerge, likely to deal with his own rumpled appearance. I head for the refreshment table that’s been set up in the living room and pick up a bottle of mineral water.
“Oh, there you are, dear.”
I look up and find myself face to face with Florence Wickham, belted into her camelhair coat and tugging on a pair of leather gloves.
“I didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye and wishing you a merry Christmas, Olivia,” she says. “We’ve so appreciated all your volunteering with the Historical Museum and the preparations for the holiday festival.”
“I’ve greatly enjoyed it.”
Florence peers at me through eyes adorned with beige eyeshadow and mascara. I hope to heaven that my cheeks aren’t still overly flushed. Or that Dean didn’t leave a hickey on my neck.
“Don’t forget to take a present from beneath the tree in the parlor,” Florence continues. “All the gifts were donated by local merchants, and there are some lovely items.” She pulls at the wrists of her gloves. “Where is that handsome gentleman you came with?”
“I think he’s talking to someone in the kitchen.”
“Is he your husband?” Florence arches a delicately plucked eyebrow, her gaze skirting to my left hand.
“Yes.” I extend my hand to show her the antique cameo on my left ring finger. “It was my engagement ring.”
I wear the cameo alongside my wedding band only on special occasions, but no other symbol in the world could serve as a more meaningful declaration that I belong to one man alone.
“I love cameos.” Florence peers at the ring. “It’s beautiful.”
“If I may be so bold, Olivia…” She leans closer and lowers her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Your husband is quite dashing, but his adventurous spirit is… well, it makes him just irresistible.”
“I… I beg your pardon?”
“My dear, I’m seventy-three years old,” Florence says. “And in fifty-two years of marriage, I wish that my husband had even
shagged me in a coat closet.”
She winks at me, then turns and walks away. Through the burn of embarrassment, I can’t help smiling.
I picture myself at seventy-three, thinking back to all the sexy things Dean and I have done over the years.
Remember that time in the coat closet during a holiday party…?
Heck, we might even still be going at it, for all I know. Certainly we have a lot of time left… I’m almost thirty, he’s thirty-eight… which gives us plenty of years to indulge.
Provided we can fix everything that’s broken in the past four months.
Tension winds through me. I press a hand to my belly.
“Come home with me.” Dean’s deep voice rumbles across my skin.
Home with me.
Where I belong.
I turn to face my husband. Aside from his wrinkled suit jacket, he looks unruffled with his hair gleaming under the lights, his black eyebrows and thick-lashed eyes emphasizing the angles of his jaw. His usual air of self-possession surrounds him, like a suit tailored just for his lean, muscular body. As his gaze meets mine, his eyes fill with warmth.
I know that look. A new tingle of pleasure sparks down to my toes as he takes my hand and we head back to the coat closet—this time to actually retrieve our coats. I take a wrapped present from beneath the gift tree. We say our goodbyes to the various members of the Historical Society before heading out into the late-afternoon dusk.
The town of Mirror Lake is sheathed in a fresh layer of snow. Fat, jolly Santas, Christmas trees, and happy reindeer plaster the windows of the downtown shops. Strings of multicolored lights twinkle around lampposts, windowsills, and awnings. Wind gusts from the frozen lake, which sits like a huge, porcelain platter at the base of white-capped mountains.