Authors: Honor James
He recalled the first time he’d seen her,
their school days were long done.
been the one to trip over his own feet and nearly face-plant on the
She had turned, just at the
perfect moment, the wind catching her hair and the sun hitting her
If he’d believed in such
things, he would have said she was an angel fallen from heaven.
Unfortunately, with the mouth on her, he
doubted she’d ever reach that status.
But looking never hurt, as long as she never
once caught him.
Which she hadn’t yet, and he’d looked … a
She had the perfect heart-shaped
ass that was accented perfectly by her jeans and the skirts she occasionally
Her chestnut colored hair was the
perfect backdrop for her honey-kissed skin and her sinfully rich brown eyes.
Eyes that had just the
tiniest flecks of bronze to them.
Eyes he rarely got close enough to see in such detail, but when he did
they mesmerized him.
Frowning when she didn’t pull out of his yard,
Grant pushed open the screen door and stepped out onto the porch.
Holy hell, it was getting cold! Shivering, he
moved to the edge of the porch and frowned. All he could hear was a slight
click-click of her truck ignition.
God, that didn’t bode well at all.
Jackie hit the steering wheel with her fists
as she felt tears pricking her eyes.
“Please don’t do this to me,” she said, begging karma, the universe,
whatever she could come up with.
“Seriously, I can’t be stuck for goodness only knows for how long with
him.” She would be far too tempted to do something, far too much and too many
somethings with him actually.
bounced her forehead on the wheel in frustration.
A soft knock on the window had her jerking her
She looked over to find Grant
peering in, frowning.
She stared at him,
and when she didn’t move, he pulled open the door, letting the cold air
She thought in dismay that it was
even colder now than it had been just a few minutes ago.
“Sounds like your starter
crapped out on you, Ms. Hunter.
aren’t going anywhere until that’s attended to, which, given the current
weather, won’t be until at least tomorrow.
Now, you can come into the house and have a hot drink, or sit out here
and freeze to death.
really don’t want to explain to Bradley why your frozen corpse is in my
Not exactly the warmest of
Could her day get any worse?
thought to herself.
Then she looked up.
The snow was
falling faster and faster.
Living on the wrong side of the mountain range was once more reminding
them all that while they might live in Texas, they still were subject to Mother
Nature in all her fury.
Sighing she looked to Grant and nodded.
“Okay, fine.” She should be more thankful,
but dammit she wouldn’t be out if not for him.
Only because I know how much of an asshat he would be to you.”
The idiot sheriff still thought he might have
a chance in hell with her.
Grabbing her purse, she got out of her truck
and walked around to Grant.
she said, her voice muffled by the jacket as she huddled for warmth.
As she walked back to the house with him, she
began to think,
might be good.
I can leave the check there for him.
She smiled then.
Yep, this might actually work.
If only she would be able to keep her heart
from causing her more trouble than it was
At the house, he opened the door and let her
go through before him.
things were ingrained at a level even he couldn’t rid himself of.
The house was warm, so nice and warm
“Jacket,” he said, holding his hand
out to her.
Jackie dropped her purse, turned and took off
her jacket, passing it back to him and then picking her purse back up off of
“Thank you.” She heard
herself saying quietly to him.
around the interior of his home, she was struck by how comfortable it felt, how
“Do you know that this is the
first time that I’ve ever been in here?” It was weird. They had known each
other their whole lives, but this was the first time she had been in his home.
“Even if you had been, you wouldn’t have
recognized it,” he said, hanging up her jacket.
Then, shutting the door, he eased his feet from the boots he’d still
“Come on in, it’ll be
warmer in the back of the house.
having issues with the front since the remodel and
but I’ll figure it out eventually.” He moved right past her, turning so he just
brushed her arm, and kept on going.
“Are you doing the renovations yourself?” she
asked as she followed along, her fingers lightly touching something here and
She was confused by this man, and
she didn’t like being confused.
felt something else for this man, and that was a concern.
A huge concern for her.
She trailed along at his heels until she got
to a photo.
of him, a couple of his friends and her.
She remembered that day, but for him to have it on his wall? “Gran...”
She stopped herself and after swallowing hard, continued, “Mr. Franklyn.
Why did you put this up?” she asked very,
Turning, he frowned in her direction even as
he walked closer.
Leaning in he looked
at the photo and then gave a shrug.
like it,” he said, moving toward the refrigerator once more.
“Do you want some hot chocolate or something
with more kick?” he asked over his shoulder.
“I can also offer up some chili in about twenty minutes or so, depending
on when it’s actually done cooking.”
“Thank you. That would be nice.”
He was quite the surprise.
She was reeling from his casual statement of,
I like it.
Now she found herself trying to figure
out this man that she had been so sure she knew everything about already.
Obviously, she had been wrong.
“Hot chocolate would be lovely, perhaps if
you have some liquor to put in it as well?”
Okay, so she typically didn’t drink, but she found herself tossing just
about every reservation she had out the window and simply grasped on to the
first things she caught.
“You have a choice then.
I have some rum or even a bit of brandy left
over from Christmas.” He pulled the bottles down from a shelf and set them on
Collecting a pot he rinsed
it a couple of times under the tap and then poured in a healthy amount of
“If you are hungry, there should
be some cookies left in the dish on the counter there.” He pointed blindly to
his left as he dug through a drawer.
“Brandy would be good,” she told him
“I don’t like cookies, but thank
you.” She really shouldn’t do the cocoa, but she couldn’t seem to turn it
Chocolate was one of her weak
points; she loved it, but it hated her.
That had him looking her way. “You don’t like
How is that even possible?” he
asked, dropping a spoon into the milk.
Moving to the crock pot on the counter, he lifted the lid and stirred
the chili, spreading amazing smells through the kitchen.
After tasting it and adding a little
something to the pot with another stir, he covered it once more and moved back
to the stove to stir the pot of milk.
“It’s not cookies so much as chocolate.
It doesn’t like me.
If I have too much of it, I will become very
I get the shakes, stomach cramps
and throw up like crazy.
I’m not that good with lots of chocolate.
Didn’t you wonder when we were kids why I
would give you my bags of candy? Silly man,” she said, her tone teasing.
He looked at her and then moved the milk off
“Then you’re definitely not
having any hot chocolate.
have said so right off,” he said quietly.
He got two glasses down from the cupboard and slid one across the
counter to her, as he nudged the brandy her way.
“You want ice?”
“Please.” She shrugged and told him, “I like
hot cocoa, I really do, and a mug of it here and there won’t hurt me.
But thank you for the straight brandy.”
She couldn’t seem to do anything right around
No wonder he hated her.
“I’m not feeding you anything that’s going to
hurt you. That’s just wrong.”
He went to
the fridge and came back with a tray of ice.
Twisting it in his hands, he dropped a couple into her glass but none in
He poured a couple fingers of
rum into his glass as he settled on a stool next to her.
She took a drink and looked down at the ice,
swirling the amber liquid with the ice.
Lifting her head, she looked out the large window and saw the snow
falling faster and harder.
happened?” she asked quietly.
caused us to hate each other as much as we do?”
She didn’t hate him though.
Weird how she just realized that.
She had kept her distance at his request, but
she didn’t hate him, never had.
She felt him look her way, but didn’t turn her
His glass came down onto the
countertop gently; she could just see it from the corner of her eye.
“I haven’t in the past and don’t currently
Never have, doubt I ever
But,” he moved into her peripheral
vision and leaned on the counter with a sigh.
“Hell, I don’t know.
My mom used
to say that we were too much alike, we caused friction, and when it got hot
enough we sniped at one another.
theory anyway, but it sure seems to fit the situation if you think on it.”
She smiled and nodded.
“Mom always said that you and I were like oil
and oil and all we needed was a match tossed in around us so that we would
She shrugged and took another
“It wasn’t always like that.
I remember when I was five, you and I played
together that whole summer.” Before he realized he was older than her and that
he was a boy and she was a,
He snorted at that. “I remember that.
Every now and again, when she comes to visit,
and we’re sitting around drinking the good stuff she’ll pull out that photo
me, I really need to move that sucker to a new location so she can’t do it on
the next trip.
Same summer I
broke my arm the first time, two days before back to school.”
I cried when I saw you at school with a cast.”
And from then on he had shut her out.
“I didn’t know why you shut me out after
that.” She admitted it with a slight shrug of her shoulder.
“But that’s long in the past, isn’t it?” She
walked to the sink, rinsing out her glass and putting it in the
“Now, did you want help with
dinner? I might not look it, but I have some crazy skills in the kitchen.”
He just watched her for the longest time, not
doing more than occasionally
Finally, he threw back the
last of his rum and stood.
All I need to do is throw
the French loaf into the oven to warm, and we can probably eat.
If you want to set the table, I won’t
Plates are there, silverware in
that drawer and glasses are right behind you.” He pointed to each spot.
“There’s also a salad in the fridge and,
hopefully, some dressing that hasn’t grown legs in the door.”