SNOWFALL AND SECRETS by Kierra Quinn
Tess escapes from Florida with a secret as big as Miami. She needs to find someplace to lay low and be on hide from her overbearing family. Mackinac Island, Michigan, should be the perfect place to hide out. However, her timing is a little off, it’s the dead of winter and she’s never been in temperatures below fifty degrees.
Just her luck, her landlord, Lukas, is as hot as the sun. He’s also moody and hiding secrets as well. Which suits Tess fine. A man is the last complication she needs. A Michigan blizzard leaves them trapped in the same house together and things heat up, fast. Tess finds herself falling for Lukas, in spite of the secrets that could ruin everything before it even begins.
By the time Tess got home, she had a terrible thumping headache between her eyes, and her neck ached. The kids were great, but it was such a different style of teaching and her encounter with Chris weighed heavily on her.
Sara suggested steering clear of him. What kind of a solution was that? Tess didn’t want to make waves and seriously doubted there was much of a sexual harassment policy. She was supposed to be starting a new life, not rocking this tiny school on its heels.
After dropping her keys on the coffee table, her bag hit the floor, and she headed straight for the kitchen, anger boiling her stomach. Food. She needed to eat. Then maybe she wouldn’t feel like finding a lit teacher and going all Shakespeare on him. Normally, she wasn’t so angry. She might’ve liked the attention back in Miami. In her current predicament though, the last thing she wanted was unwanted male attention.
She dug the peanut butter out of her cabinet, and a knock came at her door. Her new landlord stood there in his snow gear and his hair curled over his forehead. The tips of his ears were red from the cold, and he grinned rather sheepishly. Great. Just what she needed. A sexy representative of the currently hated male gender, who she wouldn’t mind getting to know better.
“What?” she growled. His brown eyes widened.
“Bad day?” He leaned against her doorframe like he owned the place. Which, well, technically, he did. She wanted to push him into the snow. “Doc won’t like that. You should talk to him about it.”
Yeah, Tess got the impression from Sara that Doc knew he had a problem with Chris, but as long as he could decipher the iambic pentameter, it was all good.
“Can I help you?” She licked her spoonful of peanut butter, and Lukas coughed.
“Making sure you’re comfortable and everything is working okay.” He nodded to her gas fireplace. “That thing giving you any trouble?”
“Where’s Dio?” She peered around him. There were only his footprints in the snow though.
“I haven’t been to the house yet.” He shrugged. “I wanted to check on you.”
“I’m fine. Not such an empty-headed beach bum I can’t figure out how to turn on the heat.” She left him there at the door, figuring he knew how to shut it when he left. Grabbing a blanket, Tess curled up on the couch, boots and all.
Instead of taking the hint, Lukas invited himself in and pushed the door closed. He took off his coat and tossed it over a chair. Tess ate another spoonful of peanut butter as she watched him kneel down and check the fireplace. The view of his flannel shirt pulled tight across his shoulders was the best thing she’d seen in a while, and that irritated her more.
“I said it was fine,” she grumbled.
“Spoiling for a fight, huh? Must have been a bad day.” He didn’t even look at her. “Did you not like the kids?”
It took every ounce of discipline she had not to chuck her jar of peanut butter at his head. Not get along with the kids? He must not have gotten the memo from Doc that she was the best teacher to hit this island in the last decade. Then again, Doc kept that disgusting Chris employed. Doc’s expectations must not rise above warm bodies that stayed past September.
Another bite of PB kept her from saying something inappropriate.
“Seems to be working fine.” He stood and dusted off his hands. “Everything else working?”
He looked through to her kitchen.
“Yeah, I’ll let you know if the fridge spontaneously combusts,” she said, and he snapped his gaze to her. She closed her eyes for a second and took a couple of deep breaths. She was angry, but that was Chris’s fault. She shouldn’t be taking it out on Lukas. But he was here and didn’t seem to realize she was not fit for company.
When she opened her eyes, he was staring at her.
“What?” She asked and dished out another spoonful.
“Nothing, I just, never mind.” He turned and reached for his coat. He put it on and shoved his hands in his pockets.
“You know, I hate it when people say stuff like that. If you have something to say to me why don’t you just say it?” She wanted to chuck a vase at him. If he was going to intrude, he could at least include her.
He withdrew his hand from one of his pockets.
“Here.” He handed her a small box with a red ribbon tied around it. That was it. Tess had enough male assumptions today.
“What is it with the men on this island?” Tess slammed down her peanut butter and shot to her feet; her blanket fell away. “I didn’t ask for any of this attention, and yet none of you can seem to keep your comments and your unwanted presents to yourself.”
“This…” Lukas lifted the box and shook it. “Is from Estelle. She felt bad for the rose petals.”
He slammed it down next to her peanut butter.
“Oh.” Tess sucked in a deep breath. Well, maybe she shouldn’t have projected her anger onto him after all.
“So who are we talking about?” Lukas demanded.
“No one.” Tess waved to dismiss the whole thing. She just wanted a shower and her bed now.
“Tess?” Lukas stepped in close to her. Too close. She could smell sugar and pine on him, a strange scent that was all his own. And the heat rolling off the man nearly knocked her over. Her fireplace could be broken for the rest of the winter and all she had to do was stand near him.
She put her hand on his chest with every intention of pushing him out of her personal space. His muscles were firm, and her intentions slipped away. Her fingers twitched.
“Nothing. It was a long day.” She pulled her hand away and rubbed her forehead. There had to be a way to get some air between them. He could move.
“Is there someone who wasn’t welcoming to you?” he asked quietly, his voice husky.
She snorted. What a small town thing to say. Chris had been welcoming alright, too welcoming.
“Can we drop it, please? I’m sorry I was so irritable.” She curled her hands into fists to keep from grabbing him, and she definitely wasn’t going to look at his lips. Funny how two minutes ago, she wanted to bean him in the head, and now she couldn’t think about anything but kissing him.
“Are you sure?” he demanded.
“Positive.” She raised her eyes to his and melted. She sat down rather than lean into him. He didn’t bring her a gift, she repeated in her head. His housekeeper did.
He grabbed his coat.
“I’ve got to let Dio out.” He shoved his arms into his sleeves. Tess hated that he was leaving angry. “But if you need anything…”
“Yes, I know. Call you if the furnace goes out.” She watched him as he left.
He stood at the door. He looked as if he was about to say something, or was having a private conversations with himself.
“Yeah,” he said finally and left.
With shaking hands, Tess opened the small box from Estelle. Fudge. More delicious fudge.
love to travel the world together. From the hills of Scotland to the beaches of
Thailand, their wanderlust takes them on adventures all over the world. But
their favorite corner of the Earth is their home on Nova
Scotia, that they share with their two Dobermans, Calcifer and
Turnip. Kierra dyes hair by day and at night she loses herself in the worlds of
her romance novels. She loves to cook, binge watch Netflix, and cuddle up with
her boys and watch storms roll in over the ocean.
I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl