Home > Christmas Kisses (Winter Kisses #1)(2)

Christmas Kisses (Winter Kisses #1)(2)
Author: H.M. Ward

“What?” I whisper, dropping my hand from my face and looking at him like he’s wrong.

He hisses, “You’re thinking about her. Stop it.” Greg doesn’t say anything about it again.

The kid on stage, Matt, is rocking his solos. When they finish for the night, we all stand and clap. I start to look around to see who else is here now that the lights are brighter. Several of the girls from the high school drive out every week, including Mandy.

I’m glancing across the aisle when I see Mandy twisting her way through the crowd and heading straight for the stage. I smile. She has a thing for Matt, but Matt seems to have no clue. I continue to turn, looking to see who Mandy came with this time. My breath catches in my throat. Glee and dread crash into each other inside my chest.


She’s at a table in the back and alone. I know what Greg will say if he sees me talking to her, but I don’t care. Holly can screw with my brain, and any other part of me that she wants. I’d throw myself at her feet if she’d have me, but she doesn’t think of me that way. I’ve been stuck in the friend zone for three long years.

I rise and weave my way to the side of the bar, trying to stay out of sight. I move between people, my eyes staying glued to her the entire time. My God, she looks gorgeous. When I first met her, she was fifteen and cute. Now she’s nearly nineteen—her birthday is on Christmas Eve—and she’s a goddess. Her long dark hair hangs in waves that reach to her waist. She’s wearing a black dress that clings to her curves, showing off her narrow waist, and perfect hips. She’s watching Mandy and doesn’t see me, not yet. I move toward her, like a panther ready to pounce. I wonder what to say, if I can act calm and not drool on her too much.

I bob and weave between people and walk up beside her. Remaining at a distance, I lower my head and let my hair fall in my eyes. She’s a few feet away. Only a hand full of people are between us. Slipping my hands in my pockets, I wonder how stupid this is. Holly gets to me like no one else, but I can’t ignore her. I lift my gaze and look at her. My heart pounds harder. Determination floods through me. This might be the last chance I have to talk to her.

As if she can sense my gaze, Holly lifts her head and turns. Her brown eyes search through the crowd and stop when she sees me. Her pink lips part slightly, like she didn’t expect to see me.

I move toward her. I won’t talk long, just long enough to hear her voice, to see her face again.



Ryan walks across the room until he stops in front of me. “Holly,” he breathes my name. “I didn’t think you’d be here tonight.”

Everything about him is appealing and makes me think of his skin sliding against mine, slick and hot. I’m still standing. I don’t know what to do with my hands. I wiggle my fingers, nervously, and look past him. I nod, half smiling, not really listening. Panicking. Where is Mandy? “Mandy wanted to come.”

Ryan nods and speaks. His voice washes over me in a hot wave that makes my insides twist and my knees buckle. I lift my hands from the table in front of me, worried that he’ll notice that I’m shaking. I fold my arms over my chest to conceal it. Ryan’s blue gaze drifts to my arms, taking in the sweep of my br**sts as they are pushed up. I refuse to move. Mandy will save me. This conversation won’t happen. I keep telling myself that as he talks to me, as Ryan manages to get hold of my hands, as he makes me melt with each passing moment.

“I can’t believe you’re here. It’s been so long and I didn’t think that—”

Ryan’s friends have been shooting him impatient looks. One of them finally calls out, “Ry! Come on!” Ryan turns and looks back at them, saying, “Yeah, give me a sec.”

“You better go,” I say. It comes out way too breathy.

My skin prickles when he looks at me. Ryan’s gaze drifts from my eyes to my lips and back again. His hands are holding mine on top of the table, his thumbs stroking the back of my palm. My heart is pounding in my ears and all I can think is that this is going to mess with me so bad. The entire break and probably three months after, I’m going be analyzing everything he said, everything he did. He’s everything I want, and nothing I can have.

I can’t take it anymore. I look up on stage and Mandy’s eyes meet mine. She sees me talking to Ryan and gives me a weak smile. My eyes widen a little as I realize that she’s already seen Ryan standing here, and didn’t save me like she said she would. A flash of anger blasts through me. Mandy may mean well, but this was so not cool.

Ryan smiles softly, his dark lashes lowering to the floor. When he glances up at me, my heart stops. “They can wait. I see them every day. I haven’t seen you in months. You look beautiful, Holly.” His eyes move slowly up my body, starting at my hips, taking in the curves to the small of my waist, and then drifting slowly up to the swell of my br**sts, and finally meeting my gaze.

There’s no air in the room. Someone stole it all.

I stand there, eyes locked with his, completely brainless. I’m all pheromones and lust. If another guy did that, I would have punched him, but when Ryan does it, it makes me want more. His hands slip up my forearms and before I know it, he pulls me into a hug. Our shoulders brush together, but one of the seats gets between us. That’s the only thing keeping the rest of our bodies apart. He brushes a light kiss against my cheek. When I pull away his eyes are burning like blue flames. He wants me. I feel it coursing through my body, but I can’t.

“Thanks,” I whisper and look up at him.

I’m about to say that I need to go when his friends all start in on him in unison. Somehow, after that hug, my hands have drifted to his and I’m holding his forearm, feeling the muscle beneath his shirt. My touch is light, as I run my finger back and forth on the back side of his wrist, under the cuff, feeling his smooth skin.

Ryan stands there, his eyes glued to mine like he’s in a trance. His lips part like he’s going to say something, but they call him again. “I better go,” he finally says, and looks down at my hand. When his gaze lifts back up to my face, I don’t know what to do.

So I nod, and say, “Okay.”

They shout his name now, but Ryan just stands there, staring at me. I arch an eyebrow at him and tilt my head. I release Ryan’s hands and he steps back from me, his gaze resting on my h*ps for a moment. “I’m glad I saw you again.” When he looks back up at me, I can’t breathe. “Do you want to get out of here?” Did he mean what I think he means?

I don’t want to smile. I fight it, but the right corner of my lips goes up without my consent. My brain is yelling, Hell no!, but my body thinks it’s a smashingly good idea. I find myself shaking my head slowly, “I can’t. I came with Mandy.” Thank God for that. An excuse that isn’t flimsy. I’m her ride home.

His gaze is so hot that I can’t stand it, but I don’t want to look away either. “You drove her here?”

I nod. “Yeah.” Ryan nods his head gently, like he’s moving in slow motion. His lips part, but before he can speak, Mandy is behind me.

She throws her arm around my shoulder and pinches my waist. I snap out of my lust-induced trace. “Hey, Ry,” she says, barely looking at Ryan. Her gaze turns back to me. “Doesn’t Holly look amazing? Apparently, that college out in the sticks agrees with her.” She grins at me and says, “I’m going to take off with Matt, is that okay?” Her expression is apologetic. Mandy mouths I’m sorry since her back is to Ryan.

I want to say, Hell no, but I say, rather politely, “Yeah, that’s fine. Go ahead. Have fun.”

Mandy asks, “You sure? We came together. I don’t want you to think I asked you to drive me all the way in here and then ditched you. Plus, the snow is bad. I don’t want you driving back by yourself.” I hear her talking herself out of her night with Matt. “Nah, forget it. I’ll just tell him I need to go back with you.”

She turns to leave when Ryan says to Mandy, “I’ll ride with Holly. You go on with Matt.”

“Really?” Mandy turns to me, practically begging me to say yes with that look on her face. Although I’ve known Ryan for years, we’ve never hung out alone. Ever. This is beyond weird. I’m stuck. If I say no, I look like an ass. If I say yes, I’ll be alone with Ryan. Shit. I’ll kill Mandy later. She screwed me twice in one night. I nod that it’s okay. “Are you sure?” she asks me, like I can honestly tell her now.

No, I want to strangle you, I think. But I say, “Yeah. His parent’s house is pretty close to mine. Go on. Have fun.” I smile at her, and Mandy perks up and totally ignores my death stare. She says bounds toward Matt like a Chihuahua jacked up on Pixie Stix.

When I look back at Ryan, my heart is beating harder. Ryan isn’t watching her, he’s watching me. He pushes his dark hair out of his eyes. “Well, that worked out. Let me go tell the guys that they can go on without me.” I nod and watch his lean body walk away, taking in the broad sweep of his shoulders and his rock hard body beneath that tee shirt. It clings to him, showcasing every chiseled curve of muscle. Several female faces turn to watch him as he walks by.

Ugh! Ripping my eyes away, I finally slip down into the seat. My heart is beating, thumping along like a flat tire. I feel so off balance. The last time I saw him, the same thing happened, but the situation never ended with us leaving together. I love being around him, but it’s terrifying. It’s easy to forget how he is because he makes me feel like I’m the only woman who matters. The thing is, Ryan does that with every woman he’s with. I’m nothing special. Not to him.

I glance at Ryan’s back and see him hushing his friends, telling the group to go on without him. I hear a few choice words that make me cringe and wonder what I’m doing. A few minutes later, Ryan’s friends are leaving, shaking their heads like Ryan is an idiot. He ignores them and walks back to me with a sexy smile on his face. Each stride falls in step with my heart beat. It feels surreal. It feels like magic. Something inside my chest swells and pushes back my fear.

Truth be told, Ryan scares the hell out of me. There are a few people that really get me, that understand how I think and what I mean. Ryan is one of them, and he’s intuitive, too. It’s like he can crawl around inside my head and learn every little thing about me. If I spend much time with him, I’ll have no secrets. I’ll be totally exposed, and Ryan will notice how insanely smitten with him I truly am.

I swallow hard, as Ryan takes the seat next to me. When his arm brushes against mine, I nearly jump out of my skin. “Well,” he speaks like he has no clue the effect he has on me, “they’re gone. It’s just me and you, now. Do you really want to go straight home?”

“Yeah, the weather kind of sucks.” I look at his hands and wonder what they’d feel like pressed against my thigh. Stop it. Focus. I scold myself. This is playing with fire, and I’m not a pyro. I’ll get burnt up for thinking thoughts like that.

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