Running down a hotel hallway in spike-heeled boots was second in dumbass moves only to breaking into a rock star’s room and stealing his sweatshirt. What the hell was she doing?
“Hold the elevator!” Kat yelled as she rounded the corner.
The doors sealed shut.
Jacob skidded to a halt beside her. “Kat!”
Crap. Seeing Jacob Morey again was a shock. Seeing how fantastic his chest looked with muscles in all the right places was a ticket to a show she wasn’t ready for. A show she might never be ready for ever again.
But he did look good enough to eat, and she could describe herself as… hungry. His black hair hung to his stubble-covered jaw while deep blue eyes pinned her in place. A snake tattoo started on his left pectoral with a detailed head and open jaws flashing fangs at her. The inked body and tail stretched over his left shoulder and coiled around his left bicep. Kat had never thought much about tattoos before, but this one made her insides flutter. She wanted to wrap herself around him in a similar fashion.
No! No, I don’t. She had to go.
With the elevator traveling down without her and the door to the stairs blocked behind Jacob, she was trapped. How was she getting out of this one?
I’m going to kill Fiona.
Jacob reached out a hand and she jumped back, her heart racing.
“Whoa.” He held out both hands. “I’m not going to hurt you, Kat.” He pointed to the hoodie she clenched to her chest. “Just thought I’d get less naked out here in the middle of the hallway.”
Her arm shot out without her telling it to do so, and his hoodie dangled from her hand. Guess she wouldn’t be getting Fiona that Jake Pearson item after all. Damn.
She tried not to be disappointed as Jacob covered all those muscles and that tattoo with the bright red sweatshirt. He didn’t zip it up all the way, and she wondered if he were playing the role of Hot Santa’s Elf for her on purpose or was that just a side benefit?
“I’m sorry I busted into your room and stole your sweatshirt,” she blurted, hoping an apology would get him to move and allow her to leave. Because she wanted to leave. Didn’t she?
“Technically, you didn’t steal it,” he said. “I gave it to you.”
“Right.” She tapped her foot, trying—maybe only half-heartedly now—to formulate a getaway plan. If she stood in front of him as he looked all tall and sexy much longer, she might toss the rules she’d put in place since The Incident, tug him back into his room, and unwrap him like a Christmas present.
Kat never thought she’d see Jacob Morey again. With all the time they’d spent together when they were in school, she’d always thought he’d ask her out. She’d thought he’d liked her. He was always around, making jokes with her, busting her up, but never in a mean way. More like flirty teasing. She wasn’t sure what kept him from taking the next step, but when they’d graduated, she went to college and he went to California.
Then she’d met Marc, French exchange student, who was into art and philosophy and had seemed so mature compared to all the silly college boys littering campus. Turns out she was the one who was silly—silly to believe Marc’s sweet nothings, whispered in French, wouldn’t mean he’d take what he wanted.
Even if she wasn’t ready to give it.
Thank goodness Fiona had been her roommate at the time. Fiona had been studying with some other girls in the common room in their dorm suite, had heard Kat scream, and dashed into their bedroom, ready to kick somebody’s nuts in. She’d literally jumped on top of Marc’s back and pounded him with her fists until he got off Kat and shook Fiona off.
That hadn’t stopped Fiona though. She’d marched up to Marc and punched him right in the nose. Blood had exploded from Marc’s face. Swearing in French and glaring at both of them, he’d left the room. Fiona had hugged Kat, asking if she was okay.
Because of Fiona, she was okay. Physically anyway. Emotionally, Kat had locked everything down since then, too afraid to trust anything that had a Y-chromosome.
But Jacob Morey had never done anything bad to her. In fact, all through high school, he’d been this… this presence. Someone she could count on for a friendly smile, a helping hand, a kind word. Someone who had always been a gentleman.
She remembered a holiday concert they’d played in their hometown. After entertaining parents with Christmas tune after Christmas tune, the student musicians had gathered around the snack table which was piled high with cookies. Kat only had eyes for one kind of cookie though.
The ones she and her grandmother had made for the concert. There wasn’t anything better in the world than Nonnie’s gingerbread cookies. Nonnie always made them in the shape of a heart because “Christmas is about love, Kit-Kat.”
When Kat had reached out a hand to pick up one of the heart-shaped gingerbread cookies, she’d bumped into another hand.
“Sorry,” they’d both said.
Jacob had picked up two hearts from the tray and held one out to her. “These are the best cookies here.”
“My grandma and I made them.” She’d taken the cookie he’d offered, pride swelling inside her that Jacob liked what she’d baked.
“Of course.” He’d smiled, and she’d become a little fascinated with his mouth, hoping for her first kiss.
Instead, they’d both stuffed the gingerbread hearts into their mouths and chewed silently as they stood next to each other.
“You know what I need,” Jacob said to her now.
She blinked out of the concert memory and looked at him. “To call hotel security on me?”
He laughed, a raspy chuckle that made her skin tingle. “No. I need gingerbread cookies.”
The grin on his lips told her he hadn’t forgotten that concert night either. Was it possible he regretted not kissing her then?
“I have a friend who works in the hotel’s restaurant,” she said. “We made gingerbread cookies together last night. I think I can get us some.”
“Heart-shaped?” he asked. “Because they taste better in a heart shape.” He held his hand out to her, slowly as if being careful not to spook her. Jacob may have been rock star Jake Pearson, but he was still the guy she’d known—the guy she’d trusted—when they were younger.
“Heart-shaped gingerbread cookies coming up.” Kat slipped her hand into his and a wall crumbled inside her when he intertwined his fingers with hers.
A loud ding sounded as the elevator doors slid open. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas wafted out into the hallway.
Maybe I will. Kat tugged Jacob into the elevator then turned to face him. “Can I still give Fiona that sweatshirt?”
He brought their joined hands up and pressed his lips against her knuckles. “You’ll have to get it off me first.”
Happy Holidays, my friends and Roses! May you always believe in Christmas miracles. Don't forget to join me at Small Town Hearts on FB for more holiday spirit.
Tune in tomorrow for Alison Henderson's story and continue the holiday fun.