Leona Sharp and Ryan Lee have been friends forever, it seems. Although there’s an attraction between them, they've never acted on it. On New Year’s Eve, Leona finally allows herself to give into the temptation, but she vows that it will only be for one night and as soon as the clock strikes midnight they will put it in the past and go on as if it never happened. Ryan, however, has other plans…
* * * *
“Curiosity killed the cat, you know.”
Leo dropped the folder onto the desk and gaped at Rye. He slouched back in the executive chair, arms folded and legs crossed with that damn eyebrow quirked. He got her all hot and bothered, and it was the middle of winter!
“You know how I like to make sure Hair and Other is a cut above the rest.” Leo smirked and Rye grinned, flashing white, straight teeth.
“No one touches you, Leo.”
His words made her blood heat and her heart quicken. He’s on about the store, you plonker, not you! Leo mentally slapped herself and plastered a polite smile on her face.
“Thank you for saving me from The Jed Meister.” She shivered and Rye chuckled. “I dread to think what kind of party he had in mind.”
Rye bent down to a bag by his chair and she raised off hers a little, curiosity getting the better of her. He pulled a large box from House of Fraser out, followed by an unmarked shoebox. Leo’s heartbeat spiked. Goodness, how she loved shoes.
He slid both boxes across his mahogany desk. “For tonight.”
Leo frowned, but tore into the House of Fraser box first. An Emerald designer dress—sans price tag—was folded neatly in the box. The color took her breath away. She pulled it out and inspected the floor length, silk number with awe. Oh. My. Goodness. It was to die for!
“What do you mean?” she asked breathlessly.
Rye chuckled again. “For the party at the Med.”
Leo let the silk creation slip from her fingers and ripple onto the box. “I thought you were just giving me an excuse to say no to Jed.”
“I was, but I want you to come with me. I’ve missed you, Leona.” His shy grin melted her resistance and made her heart all gooey, like caramel sauce.
“Here.” Rye lifted the lid from the shoe box, exposing the sexiest pair of black stilettos she’d ever seen.
The silver spiked heel made her mouth water, in a way that Rye’s chest often did. Like now, when it was covered in nothing but a crisp white shirt, a dark smattering of hair visible through the thin material. Leo shook away the thought and focused her attention on the glorious contents of the box. Where did he learn to shop like this?
“I took Eileen to the sales, she helped pick these out. Do you like them?” Rye asked.
Oh. His sister helped. Leo couldn’t stop the huge grin spreading across her face. “Love them,” she whispered. What’s not to love?
Rye rose, made his way around the desk, then scooped her up in a hug. She froze in his arms. He never hugged her, not even at Will’s funeral. What was going on?
“You should have come home for Christmas, Leo. Your parents missed you,” he whispered into her ear, but it sounded like he wanted to say something else. Maybe that was just wishful thinking on her part.
The tingles making their way through her body at his touch subsided as guilt hit her like a sucker punch to the stomach. Tears burned her eyes and her limbs unfroze. She wrapped her arms around his neck and nuzzled her nose against his spicy scented chest. She would not cry. She wouldn’t.
“I missed them too.” Her voice, barely a whisper, broke, and Rye hugged her tighter.
Oh, why couldn’t he be the man she needed, the man who wanted to marry her, stand by her side, and give her lots of babies? This question alone was enough to make the tears pour from her eyes, soiling his crisp white shirt.
* * * *
Ryan felt her tears dampen his shirt. His heart squeezed. “Leo, don’t cry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.” He ran his hand up and down her spine.
She tightened her vise-like grip. Christ, his body reacted to hers in a way that one’s body shouldn’t react to a friend. But when said friend was stuck to him like a limpet, he couldn’t deny his attraction.
He cupped her head to his chest and thought of football, his gran, the accounts on his desk. Anything to get his mind off the petite redhead stuck to him like she’d been glued. If the desire heating his blood darted to his groin, he’d embarrass them both.
“Leo,” he whispered and slid his arms down to her hips. “They missed you, but they knew you were booked up with appointments here.”
She removed her hands from his neck and backed away, swiping at her eyes. “I know. Sorry. I’m a mess this year. Spending Christmas alone sucked.”
His heart melted to mush.
Leaning back against his desk, he folded his arms in fear that he might pull her close again. “I know. I’ll make it up to you tonight.”
She blinked. “I’m not your responsibility, Rye. I’m not having this conversation again.”
As her eyes burned green fire, he guessed this wasn’t the right time to tell her she was—or at least that he wanted her to be. But it wasn’t just that. They spent Christmas together every year, and he’d noticed her absence this week more than he cared to admit. For years he’d treated her like his little sister, and it wasn’t because she felt like that to him. In fact, it was because he had thoughts about doing things to her that one didn’t do with a friend’s sister.
He sighed. “I don’t want to argue, Leo. How about I pick you up around eight?”
That would give them both time to finish up and get changed. Not to mention time to pull his sissy-self together in case he blew his ploy for the evening straight out of the water. He’d purposely waited to give Leo her Christmas present until he got home, and planned to give it to her tonight.
* * * *
Make sure you pop over to Kaylie Newell’s Blog tomorrow for the second installment of her story, Winter Break. You can find Kaylie’s Blog here.
And Lacey Wolfe's also posting part two of her story, The Gift Beneath The Tree, tomorrow. You can find her Blog here.
I'll be back Wednesday 14th November for the third installment of Believe in Me!xoxo