“This is for you,” I said, holding it out to him and suddenly feeling very self-conscious.
He looked at the box, and frowned lightly as he opened it. The frown smoothed out when he ran a finger against the orchid.
“You’ve had this for days,” he said. “Was it for me all along?”
“So why only now?”
That was the million-dollar question, wasn’t it? And I had no clue what the answer was.
“I don’t know.”
“Is it because of the dress?” he insisted. “You don’t have to, you know. This isn’t a gift exchange or—”
“It’s just a gift, all right? I thought you’d like it.”
He closed the box again, and for a second I thought he’d give it back to me. He didn’t, though, and said almost formally, “I do like it. Thank you.”
‘You’re welcome’ would have been the customary answer; instead, I found myself glaring at him.
“You can be so… so…”
He raised an eyebrow at me and suggested without as much as a smile, “Annoying?”
“Yes! And frustrating! And I should be scared of you, and I’m not, and sometimes you’re a pain and I want to kick you, and sometimes I just want to kiss you and… and…”
And I wanted to do that now. Actually, I couldn’t think of a single reason why I shouldn’t. There had to be reasons, many of them, but at that moment they were all beyond my grasp.
I took a half step closer to Morgan.
And he, of course, took a step back.
“Angelina,” he murmured. “Don’t.”
With just one thought in mind, with my eyes locked to his lovely, kissable mouth, I stepped closer again.
“Don’t what?” I said, licking my lips.
His voice dropped even lower, but he didn’t retreat again. “This is a bad idea.”
He cupped my cheek in one hand and leaned down, whispering “This,” against my mouth before he kissed me.
I closed my eyes, clasped his wrist, raised myself on my toes to deepen the kiss. It was just as sweet, just as hot as every kiss we’d shared in our minds. The difference was, this time it was real. This time his tongue was really stroking mine. My heart was really accelerating. That quiet, sexy sound was really rising from his throat.
Too soon he pulled back and ended the kiss. His hand remained on my cheek, though, and I still clung to his wrist. Batting my eyes open, I asked in a hoarse whisper, “Why is it a bad idea?”
I wish I could say he had some trouble finding a reason. Alas, he answered all too quickly.
“Because soon you’ll leave.”
Leave… Leaving was supposed to be a good thing, wasn’t it? It was what I wanted, what I’d been hoping for. So why did it feel like such a terrible idea right then?
“You don’t know that,” I said. “You don’t know it’ll be soon. Something is happening between us. You know it is.”
“What I know, what you don’t seem to understand, is that I’m not a good man. And I wouldn’t be any good for you.”
“No. You like to pretend you’re not a good man. You’re even very good at pretending you’re bad. I just don’t understand why.”
“What if I am a bad man who’s very good at pretending he’s nice?”
“If that was the case, you’d be kissing me again, and throwing me on my bed, and having your wicked way with me with no apologies. And you know what? I don’t think I’d complain.”
I kissed him again, throwing both arms around his neck, drawing him tight against me. There was no pretending anymore and no restraint as we shared our most heated kiss yet. What was I thinking? I couldn’t say. Mostly, I was feeling. Feeling every ounce of attraction that had accumulated inside me since I’d met him. Every last bit of frustration when he’d been less than forthcoming. Every moment of surprise and gratefulness when he’d shown himself unexpectedly sweet or thoughtful.
Again, he ended the kiss much too soon, pulling out of my arms and stepping beyond my reach. His voice was ragged, even breathless when he said, “Good night, Angelina.”
… continued in Awkward Holidays