Tuesday, December 6, 2016

All The Right Moves by Jannine Gallant

Part Three

As they exited the tunnel and pulled into the overlook, Tyne drew in a sharp breath, awestruck by the incredible vista before them. Snow glazed every inch of Yosemite Valley in crystalline splendor as the last of the daylight glimmered through a temporary break in the clouds to shine on the trees below. From the towering bulk of El Capitan’s sheer face to the shimmering beauty of Bridalveil Falls, she could only stare in wonder.
“That view alone was worth the torturous drive.”
She tore her gaze away from the breathtaking panorama to face Aaron. “And it only took us ten hours to get here.”
“Not what we were expecting, that’s for sure.”
He disengaged the brake, and they wound slowly down into the valley on the slippery road. Every time the tires slid, he gently corrected, maneuvering with precision and confidence. Strangely, Tyne wasn’t the least bit nervous.
“Wow, that was crazy.” He let out a long breath when they reached the bottom of the treacherous descent. “I wasn’t sure we were going to make it.”
“You were nervous?”
“Hell yeah? Weren’t you?”
She frowned. “No, I trust you implicitly.”
“Maybe that’s the problem.”
Tyne stared at his profile in the lengthening shadows, all stark angles and tight lips. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing.” He slowed a little as they approached a tight curve. “I’m just tense.”
“Pull over. There’s a turnout just ahead.”
He turned to stare. “Why?”
“Just do it.”
He stopped where she directed, parked the SUV, and turned off the engine. “We should be at the hotel shortly, but if you have to go that bad—”
Tyne grinned. “I don’t need to use the bushes. I thought we’d take a walk in the snow. You know, just chill for a bit.”
“We’ll chill, all right. It’s probably twenty degrees out. A far cry from winter temps in L.A.” He opened the door and stepped out. “But, I’m game.”
She reached into the back to grab their coats. After sliding off the seat to land in knee-deep powder, she handed him his down jacket and shrugged on her parka. “I sure hope I remembered to pack gloves.” She blew into her hands. “For now, my pockets will have to suffice.”
He took one of her hands in his warm palm and held it. “I’ll keep one hand warm for you. Let’s walk.”
They plowed through the snow, side-by-side, leaving a ragged trail behind them. When they were both out of breath, they stopped. Above them, fat snowflakes drifted lazily downward as the storm picked up strength again. Tyne dropped into the snow with a whoop and waved her arms and legs.
“You’re going to get soaked.”
“Probably, but I’m an angel.” When he reached down a hand, she grabbed it, then gave a hard tug to pull him to the snow beside her.
The air left him with a whoosh. “That does it.” Rolling over, he pinned her wrists while she squealed in protest, then straddled her. Bending near, he met her gaze. “You, Tyne Darling, are no angel.”
Her light-hearted laughter echoed through the trees. “Maybe not. What are you going to do to me?”
His eyes darkened. “I know what I should do, but instead…” He scooped up a handful of snow and slid it beneath the collar of her jacket into her sweater.
The shock of icy cold, wet snow on her warm skin stole her breath. “Oh, I’ll get you for that.” She jerked down the coat zipper and dug the melting clump out from under the soft knit fabric, but a trickle of ice water soaked into the waistband of her leggings. Her teeth chattered. “You’re mean.”
“Not always a sweet, trustworthy guy? Imagine that?”
Tyne stopped squirming and narrowed her eyes. “Okay, spit it out, Aaron. Something is bugging you.”
With a snort, he climbed to his feet and grabbed her wrist to pull her up. He brushed off the snow stuck to her hair, and his fingers lingered to wipe away a snowflake on her cheek. “Maybe I’m tired of always being the nice guy who finishes last. Did you ever think of that?”
Confusion swirled in her gut, twisting into a knot. His disappointment was clear enough, shadowing his eyes as he looked for something in her he couldn’t seem to find.
“You certainly don’t finish last. You’re so far ahead of the game in every way that matters, I can’t even begin to catch up. You have strength and integrity and kindness going for you.” She smiled, hoping to ease the tension tightening his lips. “And you’re ruggedly handsome to boot. Rarrrr…”
“A hug-worthy Teddy Bear.” He rolled his eyes. “Isn’t that special?”
“Maybe not a ferocious grizzly…”
“You could be wrong about that.” With a swift move, he scooped her off her feet and carried her toward the base of a massive pine tree.
“Aaron, what the heck?” She clung to his neck. “If you drop me—”
“I’m not going to drop you. I’m going to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now. I’m going to take a risk and just go for it.”
She stared into glittering green eyes as his warm breath touched her cheek. Her voice was slightly raspy when she spoke. “Tie me to a tree and leave me as a snack for the bears?”
“Not exactly. Look up.”
Leaning back with her head against his arm, she stared into the branches high overhead.
“See that big dark ball up there.”
She nodded. “Looks like some sort of strange growth.”
“It’s mistletoe, and you know what that means…”
He bent and kissed her…and kept kissing her, his firm lips exploring hers until her head spun and she gasped for breath. Her heart pounded out a frantic rhythm when he finally lifted his face a few inches.
Amazed delight filled her. “Wow, I guess you really do have all the right moves.”
“Nothing. Just me, realizing how wrong I was.” She touched his cheek. “Why’d you kiss me?”
“Because I don’t want to finish last. Not ever again.”
She smiled as she gazed into familiar eyes that held so much more than simple friendship. “Do you know what? I think we’re both finally going to be winners. Aaron?”
“Hmm?” He dropped another kiss on her upturned lips before letting her slide down to the ground.
“What took you so long?”

* * * *
I hope you enjoyed All The Right Moves! For information and buy links for my books, check out my WEBSITE. Up next is the incomparable Vonnie Davis. You won't want to miss her story beginning tomorrow. Have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


Margo Hoornstra said...

Funny how in twenty degree temperatures, everything feels so warm and right! Nice job.

Diane Burton said...

Very nice ending, Jannine. So glad she finally wised up. And good for him to take the initiative. That story left me feeling warm and content inside.

Jannine Gallant said...

I'm glad I warmed up your morning, ladies!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Natural mistletoe...brilliant! Yes, friendship comes first...and always. Way to tie up the package, Jannine!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Great ending. And loved the setting. I've been there and it's obvious you know the terrain and weather. Authenticity!

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks, Rolynn!

I've been to Yosemite quite a few times but not in years, Brenda. The most beautiful place I've ever seen! But, the no dogs on the hiking trails rule makes it tough with Ginger.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Awesome ending, Jannine. You have such a knack for describing scenery in a few powerful words. Sigh...I loved this story, too.

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks, Vonnie. What a lovely compliment.

Alicia Dean said...

Beautiful! Love the setting and the story. Sooo sweet and heartwarming!

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks, Ally!

Christine DePetrillo said...

Love, love, love! I adore nice guys.

Alison Henderson said...

Whew! What a day. I finally got a breather and treated myself to the ending of this story. Well, you did it again. I knew you wouldn't disappoint me--you never do. I LOVED this one!

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks Chris and Alison. After an entire day spent Christmas shopping in Reno, your comments soothed my rattled nerves!

Leah St. James said...

Great story, Jannine! I love their playfulness (although I would NOT have been so understanding about the snow stuffed in my clothes!).

Jannine Gallant said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Leah. However, I think Tyne deserved the snow...