WINTER’S THAW

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Copyright © 2012 Mari Carr & Jayne Rylon

Daniel lay on his back, staring at the ceiling. He refused to look at his clock again. At last check—no more than five minutes earlier—it had been midnight. He’d ticked off every hour since he’d crawled into bed at nine and he was still no closer to finding sleep.

Eventually, sheer exhaustion was going to have to win out. God knew he couldn’t keep going at this rate. It had been a week since he’d kissed Sienna in the stable. He would have tried to steal more than a few heated kisses from her, but Sienna pulled away when they’d heard someone enter the stable.

Daniel shuddered to think how close Seth had come to catching them. Even though they were standing a proper distance away from each other when Seth approached, he still sensed his boss was suspicious. For one thing, Sienna’s face had been flushed, her gaze roaming everywhere to avoid her father’s questioning stare. She may as well have stamped the word guilty on her forehead.

Since then, Seth had kept a very close eye on where he was and who he was with. Not that Seth had needed to be on his guard. Sienna was doing a good enough job staying away from him without her father’s interference. He hadn’t caught more than a glimpse of her when she came home from work each day. She’d stopped eating dinner with the family and even eschewed riding her beloved mare, Maria.

According to Doug, Sienna was depressed over Josh. Daniel knew that reaction was natural, but it didn’t stop him from wishing she’d open her eyes and see him as a suitable replacement.

“Screw that,” he muttered. He didn’t intend to replace Josh. He wanted to erase him from Sienna’s thoughts forever. He wasn’t sure when his intentions had changed, but somewhere along the way, he’d stopped hoping to just get into Sienna’s pants. Lately, he’d been thinking it might be nice to find a way into her life, but that didn’t seem possible.

For one thing, she’d just gotten out of a relationship. There was no way she was ready to hop right back into one. And secondly, he’d heard her conversation with Josh. They hadn’t broken up—not officially. They’d just taken a timeout. Daniel didn’t think Sienna would let the idiot come back, but, well, dammit, he wasn’t sure.

He released an annoyed breath and forced his eyes shut. He’d never fall asleep at this rate. He tried to clear his mind of Sienna Compton completely.

A knock sounded on his door.

“What the hell?”

He listened again, wondering if he’d imagined it or if it was the cold winter wind knocking a branch against the trailer.

Another knock. Someone was definitely outside.

He rose and slipped on a pair of sweatpants. Opening the door slowly, he was surprised to find Sienna, wrapped in a coat and shivering.

“Sienna? Get in here. It’s freezing out there.”

She quickly climbed the three stairs, passing him as he closed the door.

“Is something wrong?” He couldn’t imagine there was anything—short of bad news—that would bring her to his trailer at this time of night.

She shook her head. “N-no. Everything’s fine.”

“Okay. That’s good.”

She didn’t bother to explain more. Instead, she shrugged off her coat. Underneath she was dressed in a little slip of a nightgown. He hadn’t realized until that moment that her legs were bare. She’d walked all the way over here in a bit of silk and slippers. Obviously she was paying for the decision, given her uncontrollable shivering.

“Jesus, Sienna. What the hell are you wearing? Or not wearing? You’ll be lucky if you don’t get frostbite.”

She rubbed her hands together, blowing on them for heat. “This was a lot s-sexier when my cousins and I p-planned it from the warmth of my bedroom.”

“Sexy?” Her words hit him like a sledgehammer to the forehead. “Did you come over here to sleep with me?”

Her cheeks were red from the cold, but even so, her blush enhanced the color. “If you h-have to ask, then it’s s-safe to say I’m not doing s-so well.”

He laughed. He couldn’t help it. She was here because she wanted to have sex with him? He’d never been offered such a delectable frozen treat. Unfortunately, she mistook his response.

She reached for her coat, intent on putting it back on. “This was a mistake.”

“Oh, hell no. No mistake.” He pulled the coat away from her and tossed it onto his couch. Then he tugged her into his embrace, trying to infuse her trembling form with some of his own body heat. He rubbed her back lightly.

“You’re warm,” she murmured against his chest.

“And your hands are like ice cubes.”

“Sorry.” She tried to step away, but he stopped her, gripping her wrists. He placed her palms on his chest, holding them there.

“Don’t pull away. Let me warm you up.”

They stared at each other for a few hushed moments, as Daniel allowed his gaze to travel over her silky nightie.

“Say something,” she whispered.

He shook his head. “No. You first. Ask me, Sienna. Ask me to touch you, to take you. I promised I wouldn’t do that until—”

“Touch me,” she interrupted.

Daniel didn’t wait for her to say more.

 

COMPASS GIRLS SERIES ORDER

1. Winter’s Thaw

2. Hope Springs

3. Summer Fling

4. Falling Softly

 

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