For elementary school teacher Regan Price, Christmas is a big bah humbug. Alone, all she has to look forward to this holiday is a drink and an empty apartment. Then Cian St. John comes home. The hot-sex-walking brother of her best friend has returned to Boston with a tantalizing proposition that awakens her every fantasy. Now it appears Regan may have more than a pink slip in her Christmas stocking. All she has to do is reach out and claim it…
I'm burning up. I'm burning up. The three words seemed to resonate and grow louder, as if the bar had suddenly transformed into the Grand Canyon. She closed her eyes and wished for the earth to crack open and suck her into its depths. Maintaining her senses in front of this man was proving to be as impossible as ever. Even more so since she'd discovered how he looked when he came. How his face tightened. How the dark fan of lashes lowered over his bright gaze and his full lips firmed into a taut line.
A tremulous breath passed her parted lips as she lifted her lashes and met his penetrating stare. Again she averted her eyes. No doubt her thoughts were reflected in her gaze. Along with the desire curling through her veins like a sprawling vine. For ten years she’d watched and wanted her best friend’s brother… and that’s all she’d done. Cian St. John had been like the rock star on the poster tacked to her bedroom wall—sexy and unattainable. As much as she desired it, Regan acknowledged that having sex with Cian was as likely as Flavor-Flav being voted number one in People's "50 Most Beautiful" issue.
"Carrie didn't mention you were home," she stated. "I thought you were in Milan or Paris or some other exotic city." As a financial consultant for companies in fiscal trouble, demand for Cian's expertise and services carried him all over the world for months at a time.
"Why, Rae. I didn't know you cared." He raised the dark brown beer bottle to his lips and took a long sip, his contemplation of her never wavering. He lowered the bottle, and it dangled between his strong, elegant fingers. "You never call. You never write."
And say what? Hallmark made cards for every occasion, but even they would've been stumped creating a sentimental message for interrupting fellatio.
"Well, this year has been a little busy." She hunched a shoulder, reaching for nonchalance. "You know, becoming engaged, breaking off said engagement, and then dealing with Principal Dearest at work."
Cian arched an eyebrow. "I knew about the engagement, and Carrie filled me in on the breakup, but what's this about your job?"
Rae sighed. "Long story short, my principal is the ex's mother, and she's personally offended that I don't want to marry her rat-bastard son anymore. So for the past six months, she's been making my life hell at school, with one imagined infraction or another. But after tonight, instead of being on the top ten of her 'Shit List,' I just zoomed to number one…thanks to the fourth grade."
"Oh yeah," he agreed with a nod seconds before he let out a bark of laughter. "The remix of 'Jingle Bells.'"
"You were there?"
He nodded. "I met Carrie at the school. My favorite part was when that kid mimed the Batmobile losing its wheel."
Regan slapped her hands to her face and peered at him through spread fingers.
They stared at each other. She wasn't sure who snickered first, but it was like jerking the plug from the dam. Great guffaws of laughter between them. By the time their hilarity died down, Regan clutched her aching stomach, and Cian swiped at his eyes. Damn, it felt good, like an albatross had been hefted from her neck. It had been months since she'd laughed that hard, and it felt…cleansing.
"Thank you." She wheezed. "I needed that."
"You're welcome." His grin softened to a smile. He tilted his head to the side and reached out to cup her nape. She shivered. From the hardening of his jaw and the flare of heat in his eyes, Regan realized he hadn't missed the telltale shudder. "Tell me something, Regan."
"What?" she whispered.
Cian leaned forward until the barest of space separated them. The scent of the beer he'd drunk and that flavor belonging to him alone bathed her lips, and Regan wanted to swipe her tongue across them to taste him. She drew back, alarmed by the power of her hunger. But his hold tightened and refused to allow her the distance.
"Why did you get engaged to Charles when you wanted me?"