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Excerpt from “Crafting Christmas”
by Christine Hartmann
The temperature outside took her breath away. Her feet halted for a moment, as though shocked and unsure which way to turn. Then the world went black.
She fought against hands that pulled a hat over her head. “Hey…”
“Use these.” Familiar fingers wound a scarf around her neck and pulled it tight.
The tug threw her off balance. She tottered on unsteady heels.
Rayne caught her. His arms wrapped possessively around her. “You mean what you said? About how you’re done fantasizing?” His lips brushed the back of her neck. “I’ve been wanting you back so bad.”
His possessive touch sent a thrill down her spine. She spun in his arms, her expression eager and expectant. Then, without knowing how it happened, whether she raised her face to his or he pressed his to hers, their lips met. And her world transformed from cold to heat, as though a summer breeze eddied around them. She leaned into the steadying, warm, and grounding kiss.
“I need you, Rayne.” She mumbled endearments as Rayne nibbled her neck. The tension of his longing forced itself against her.
He lifted her from the ground, squeezing her body until she gasped. His mouth lifted at the corners. “Need you too. And know just how to warm you up.” He swung her toward the door.
But as her candy cane-thin heels hit the cold ground with the force of her weight, they snapped. Her legs careened sideways, slithering on the icy sidewalk like a dancing rag doll. She clung to him, laughing.
“Wanted you out of those anyway.” He half carried, half dragged her into the store.
In the dull light of the darkening winter afternoon, the string of multi-colored Christmas bulbs behind the counter glowed a festive welcome as Rayne deposited her on the counter. She wiggled her feet out of her shoes, watching them drop to the floor like broken Christmas tree ornaments. Her lips still tingled from the kiss. They wanted more. She reached for him. But he patted her on the thigh and avoided her grasp. Instead, he marched to the master switches and shut off all the lights, leaving the room lit by only the rapidly deepening dusk that filtered in from the street. Brooklyn watched misty figures slouch by the window. Only moments before, she had been one of them, cold, lonely, and directionless. Now a familiar warmth rose from her stomach and flowed with radiant coils through her limbs.
She jumped when Rayne encircled her from behind and spun her around like a top so her legs dangled into the prep area. He tugged her to him. With a grin, she shoved him away. “I thought customers weren’t allowed back here.” “New rules.” His hands skimmed her face as though reassuring themselves she was his.
She closed her eyes and sighed…