Tyne settled in the passenger seat of Aaron’s SUV and covered a yawn with her fingers. “Thanks for offering to drive. I’ll admit I’m not at my best this morning. What the heck did they put in that punch?”
“Vodka. Lots of vodka.” He shrugged. “I enjoy driving. Anyway, they’re predicting snow in the high country, so it makes sense to take my car since it has four-wheel-drive.”
“Yeah, we wouldn’t want to get stuck.” Her headache finally started to abate as the aspirin she’d taken earlier kicked in. Maybe trying to drown her sorrows last night hadn’t been the best idea. Lucky for her, Aaron had been her savior like he always was and had given her a ride home after the party.
He drove easily through the early morning traffic, a half-smile curving his lips as he hummed along to Silent Night playing on the radio. Aaron was always cheerful. A glass half-full kind of guy who tried his best to buck her up when she was down. He was the best friend she had in L.A., and the last thing in the world Tyne wanted was to endanger their relationship. Too bad she hadn’t thought of that before agreeing to this long weekend date. Sharing a room might get a little awkward…not that Aaron would expect anything. They were friends, nothing more.
Why not, Tyne? He’s a good looking guy.
She covertly studied him, noting the bump on his nose—probably broken playing hockey when he was in college—, square jaw and shaggy, dark blond hair. Aaron was ruggedly handsome in a Robert Redford sort of way. But she’d always been more of a Paul Newman kind of woman. Suave and sophisticated made her heart beat faster. A man with all the right moves. That wasn’t Aaron.
Heath Northrup epitomized smooth.
Don’t forget two-timing and arrogant.
If she had half a brain, she’d ditch her usual type and go for a nice guy for a change. Not that Aaron had ever expressed any interest in taking their friendship in that direction. When it came to a life partner, he’d choose a woman who was more like him, smart and dependable and not prone to making bad relationship choices. She let out a sigh.
“You can sleep if you want.”
“No, I’ll keep you company.” Tyne shifted in her seat and wrapped her arms around knees encased in her favorite black leggings patterned with snowflakes. “Why aren’t you going home for Christmas this year?”
“My parents flew to Switzerland. They’ve been wanting to take this trip for years.” He flipped on his blinker to pass a big rig. “And my older brother and his family are spending the holiday with his in-laws.”
“Oh. You were going to be alone?”
Aaron glanced her way and shrugged. “Pretty much.”
“Then I’m glad you agreed to come with me.” Turning to face him, she spent a moment building on her earlier thoughts. “You should be married with children, living in a small town in a house with a white picket fence. You would be if you weren’t so picky about women.”
He glanced over again and regarded her for a moment before returning his attention to the road. “Maybe the right lady hasn’t shown any interest.”
“Then she’s a moron. You’re kind and sweet and genuine.” One shoulder hunched. “Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I don’t know what I’d do without your friendship.”
His expression was unreadable. “You’re sweet…usually. You don’t want a white picket fence?”
“Sometimes I do. That’s exactly the type of life my sister will have…a marriage with a good and decent man. Kids in a few years. She already has the dog. I’ll admit to being more than a little jealous.”
His moss colored eyes darkened as he kept his attention on the road. “Men line up to date you, Tyne. Literally. Remember when you did that charity auction? The line to bid on a date with you snaked out the door and down the block. If you want a kind and decent guy, surly you could find one to fill the bill.”
“You exaggerate.” She kept her face straight. “The line didn’t even reach the corner.”
He met her gaze then snorted with laughter. “My point is, you date idiots like Northrup, instead. Men who wind up disappointing you.”
“I know.” She let out a soft groan. “I’m attracted to smooth-talking players. I can’t seem to help myself. It’s a sickness.”
He gritted his teeth. “Then someone should come up with a vaccine.”
“Aren’t you hilarious?” She blew out a breath. “If we’re going to listen to Christmas music the whole way to Yosemite, turn up the radio, please. I like this song.” She belted out the chorus to “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” along with The King.
Aaron rolled his eyes. “Of course you do. Elvis Presley was the original slick, bad boy.”
* * * *
The road wound through snow covered Sequoias towering so high they disappeared into the thick layer of clouds overhead. The forest glistened beneath shifting shadows as a gust of wind shook the car. They drove slowly with the snow piling up on the pavement at an alarming rate. Traffic was non-existent. Unlike the freeway, which had turned into a giant parking lot the second it started to rain earlier. Nothing like wet conditions to jam up the heavy holiday traffic. When they finally reached the gated entrance to the park, Tyne had begged and pleaded, then used every ounce of her charm to convince the ranger to let them through before he closed the road behind them.
Aaron peered past the wipers slapping away heavy flakes as the windshield fogged. He switched the heater over to defrost. “Maybe we should have stayed in Wawona until this storm lets up instead of trying to make in down to Yosemite Valley tonight.”
“Except the ranger said the snow isn’t supposed to stop any time soon, and who knows when they’ll get the road plowed and reopened tomorrow. I can’t exactly miss my sister’s rehearsal dinner since I’m maid of honor.” Tyne rubbed her arms despite the warmth in the car. “The prediction was for a little snow. A gross underestimation if ever I’ve heard one.”
“More like a blizzard.” Aaron gripped the steering wheel hard with both hands as the tires slid before grabbing hold again. “We’ll be a whole lot worse off if we land in a ditch, but I imagine the accommodations in Wawona were all booked, anyway. At least we’ll have rooms waiting for us when we get to the valley.”
She turned slowly to face him. “Uh, about that…” She traced the outline of a snowflake on her leggings and cleared her throat.
He glanced in her direction before focusing his attention on the road. “It’ll be nice to kick back and unwind after this white-knuckled drive.”
“Definitely, but we’ll be doing it together.”
“We’re sharing a room.”
His head snapped around. He took his foot completely off the gas, and the SUV rolled to a stop as their gazes locked. “We are?”
Tyne nodded. “I wasn’t exactly thinking clearly last night. That damn punch…” She drew in a breath and let it out slowly. “Anyway, I called my parents this morning to ask them to book another room, but the hotel is maxed out.”
His heart thumped as visions of Tyne wearing something short and red and silky drifted through his mind. He swallowed hard.
“Not that I’m the least bit concerned about it since I know you’ll be a perfect gentleman, but—”
Aaron lost the rest of her sentence as the dream nighty morphed into a long flannel gown that covered every inch of delectable skin from her neck to her toes. He let out a sigh and caught the end of what she was saying.
“—no big deal, right?”
“Sure.” He pressed down on the gas pedal. Apparently, as a roommate, he was as trustworthy and asexual as a monk. The most irritating part of her assumption was that Tyne, of course, was correct. They both knew he’d suck it up and be her good buddy—just like he always did.
* * * *Stop by tomorrow for Part Three of All The Right Moves! For information and buy links for my books, check out my WEBSITE.