Home > Christmas Kisses (Winter Kisses #1)(9)

Christmas Kisses (Winter Kisses #1)(9)
Author: H.M. Ward

I stay like that for a minute or five, I’m not sure, but the engine is still cold and I’m covered in goose bumps when there is a knock on my window. I startle and sit up. Ryan’s standing there. I lock my jaw to keep from crying. The tears dry up, but my face is still wet. I grab the gear shifter and throw the car in reverse, ready to lift my foot from the brake and floor it.

“Holly, please.” Ryan’s voice is muffled through the window, but I hear it. I hear something fragile there too. Even in all my distress, I hear the way his voice warbles slightly when he says my name. Again, he says, “Please.”

How do I want things to be? The thought flashes in my mind before I act. The only thing I know for certain is that I don’t want things to end like this. I throw the car back into park and press my finger to the window button. It screeches as it slides down at a god-awful pace.

It’s barely opened a crack when Ryan grumbles something and reaches for my door. He yanks it open and pulls me out of the car carefully, gently. It’s not like his desperate movement in the elevator last night. His touch is firm, but gentle, like he knows he’ll never touch me again. Then, Ryan takes both sides of my damp face in his palms and says, “I need to tell you something and I suck at this. It scares me to death.” He breaths like he’s been running, like he put on clothes and chased after me. His blue gaze lowers and he speaks to me through his lashes, like he can’t bear to say the words. “I wouldn’t trade last night for anything. I’m glad it was real, that it really happened. I’ve wanted you for so long, but it never worked out. Then last night came and I saw you there. It was like I had a second chance and I didn’t want to lose you again, even if it tore me apart, even if you didn’t feel the same way about me.” His eyes flick up. He swallows hard and says, “Holly, I just want you to be happy, even if it’s not with me.” His hands slip off my cheeks and I stand there, half frozen, with my jaw hanging open. Did he really say that?

Sniffling, I ask, “You have feelings for me?”

Ryan looks at my shoulder, not my face, and nods. “It’s why Greg tries to keep me away from you. I act like an intoxicated idiot when you’re around, according to him anyway. You’re the only person who I couldn’t get over, and I never even kissed you before last night. I can’t image how hard it will be now.” His voice sounds strained, but he smiles as he says it, like it’s inevitable.

I’m startled into silence. I stare at Ryan and feel like I’m caught between dreams and wake, and that there is no way this can be real. Despite the snow, I no longer shiver. I’ve gone numb. I hear the car engine behind me. I can leave. I can leave this behind and never look back, but I don’t want to.

I find myself speaking before I know what I’m going to say, “I can’t imagine how you didn’t know, how you didn’t see it. I was certain everyone knew.” Ryan half looks like he wants to hear, but he cringes away waiting for the hammer to slam into him. I reach out for his hand. “I’ve kind of had a thing for you for the past three years. I tried to stay away from you, because I didn’t want to get my heart squashed and I obviously wasn’t your type. You don’t like this,” I lift the ends of my very brown hair and then gesture to the rest of me.

A hesitant smile spreads across his lips. “Actually, I prefer this type. I prefer you. You’re the one who made me have a type in the first place. But, I dated girls who were the opposite to try and get you out of my head. It didn’t really work.” Ryan smiles sheepishly, his hand pushing through the back of his hair. Looking me in the eye, he slips his hands into his pockets. “For the past three years, the only girl I wanted was you. I’m sorry I hurt you,” he kisses my cheek lightly, his voice even lighter. “I’m sorry I didn’t answer fast enough,” he kisses the other cheek and looks down for a second. “The only thing I could think about while you were asleep in my arms was that you were going to wake up and regret last night. I didn’t think you felt that way about me.”

I lift my hands to his face and feel the stubble on his cheeks under my palms. I feel brave. Heart pounding, I say, “I do feel that way. I like you. I want to be with you. You make me feel so much. I tried to avoid you because you get into my head and I can’t manage it. But when you’re gone, I miss you. I miss your voice, the way you talk, and…” I take a deep breath, “I’m crazy about you. Completely and totally insane about you. Practically committable.” The corner of my mouth twitches and before I can prattle on, he leans in and kisses me. Ryan’s body pushes against mine and I back into the car. The cold metal makes me jump, and he takes me into his arms, laughing, and swings me around. The sound is perfect. He’s truly happy and so am I.



The rest of the day feels like a dream. I’m afraid I’ll do something stupid and ruin it, but after we say how we feel, we ease into each other the way we always do. Except this time, when the endless flirting blazes like an inferno, I don’t have to keep my hands to myself. I can pull her to me. I can kiss her. I can taste her and feel her breath fill her chest as she hugs me back. The scent of her hair and the feel of her nak*d body burns in my mind. I can’t stop smiling. This is perfect.

The rest of the morning passes in my dorm room. When we get back upstairs, she’s shivering and I wrap her in blankets. Holly’s hot gaze doesn’t leave mine and before I know it, I’m kissing her and I can’t stop. Her hands are on me, pulling at my shirt, trying to feel my chest under her fingers. Holly’s breath fills my mouth as she presses her lips to mine. It makes my heart pound harder. Her touch sends me reeling. I can’t speak and I don’t want to. I want to show her what she means to me.

I lay her back in the blankets and move my hands over her body, barely touching her. She moans and arches her back, calling my name. I remove her dress, kissing her br**sts as I do so. Her bra is who-knows-where. Probably in her car from when she ran earlier. She gasps and takes my hair in her hands, pulling my mouth down harder onto her chest. I cover her body in kisses, removing every article of clothing, until she’s panting, laying on the floor in the center of a pile of blankets completely nak*d. I look down at her. Sunlight pours into the room and I can’t help but gaze at her body. She’d put a goddess to shame. Every inch, every curve is perfect.

I move my hand across her, feeling her warmth, examining every curve. Her legs fall open for me. She’s breathing hard. Her scent hits me like a truck and I can barely control myself. I want things slow. I want to make her feel everything I feel. I want her to know how much I treasure her, how much I want more than a few days with her, because that’s all I have. She leaves soon and this will be gone.

I push the thoughts away and worship her body until we’re both exhausted and covered in sweat. She screams my name and digs her nails into my hips, as I push into her faster and faster. We both explode at the same time. I feel her fingers relax as her body throbs around mine. I stay on top of her, inside of her for a moment. I kiss her face.

I feel something inside of me and although I’ve denied it for years, I know without a doubt that I love her.

The snow melts as the sun shines on the black roads. The plows cleared the parkways and she drives me home. I change and shower, putting on a clean outfit while she waits for me. I do the same for her, at her house, although I think her father wanted to skin me when Holly ran up the stairs after saying she’d slept at my place last night.

I feel awkward. Her family invites me to sit at the kitchen table while Holly showers and dresses.

“So, did she meet you in college?” her mom asks. Her parents are younger than mine. Her mom has that mom haircut that’s short and curled.

I shake my head, “I’ve known her since high school. We had some of the same classes.”

Her dad has massive arms. He looks like a military man. I’m pretty sure he could snap me in half. His meaty arms are folded tightly across his chest. He stands behind me, staring at my head, probably thinking of ways to rip it off my shoulders.

Her mom nods and makes pleasantries. They offer me coffee and Christmas cookies. Holly’s parent’s house smells like a bakery. Briefly, I wonder what her dorm room smells like. I bet it smells like her, sweet and intoxicating.

“What plans do you have today?” her Mom asks after offering me a cookie.

I pop it into my mouth, surprised that it’s so light and buttery. “These are really good,” I say before I should. I’m still chewing, but her Mom beams. At least that’s one parent who doesn’t want to hit me over the head with a shovel. I swallow and answer, “Christmas shopping. Holly wanted to go to the mall.”

“Good luck with that,” her mom says and glances at Holly’s father. “He was there this morning, and said there was no place to park. They’d plowed and the snow piles took up a lot of the extra outfield parking. It’s a mess.”

“You won’t get near the place.” He mutters. The man hasn’t moved. His lips barely opened when he spoke. He still wants to skin me. There’s nothing I can do about that. I only have a few days with Holly and I’m not going to be chased off by an overprotective parent.

I shrug, “It’s what she wants.”

Holly bounds down the stairs and heads into the kitchen. I swear to God, she’s trying to kill me. She’s wearing a ribbed red sweater that hugs her body and a short black skirt, black tights, and those slutty boots. If she tells me she’s wearing garters again, I’ll die.

Her hair is still damp. She’s pulling it into a pony tail as she kisses her dad on the cheek. He visibly deflates. Holly says, “You remember Ryan, right? He helped me change the flat on my car last year. I couldn’t even find the jack.” Her dad’s eyes look me over again, but are still hard. Holly shakes her head and laughs, realizing what her dad is doing. “Leave him alone. He’s good to me. He’s always been good to me.”

Her father looks at his daughter. “I just want you happy, kid.” He side hugs her and kisses her on the head. He leaves the room without looking back.

She looks at her mom. “Why does he only do that when I am happy?”

Her mom laughs it off, but I know why. It’s because in twelve days, we’ll both be miserable. It’s because he sees what’s coming and there’s no way to prevent it. On January 1st, Holly will be dropped off at the airport, and take my heart with her.


The mall sucks. It’s overflowing with crazy people. I lean into Ryan as he steers us through the crowds. After a few fast turns, he pulls us into a restaurant. We get a tiny booth toward the back. Ryan takes my packages and keeps them on his side. He’s practically falling on the floor.

We order and I feel his foot brush against mine. I smile, rather evilly, and say, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“Why’s that?” he smirks and does it again. His foot brushes the inside of my ankle, tracing over the leather boots half way up my calf. God, I want his hands on me. It feels good to not fight how I feel anymore, to be around him and let him know how much I want him.

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