A Match Made in Mistletoe(10)

By: Anna Campbell

“Still, I had no right to be unkind.”

Her arms flopped down by her sides in a gesture of defeat. “Perhaps I’m just no good at kissing.” She started to turn away, misery tugging at her. “I’m sorry for bothering you—and for being so rude. I’m sure with a more promising candidate, your kisses are perfectly lovely.”

“Hold on.” He caught her arm and despite everything, heat zapped along every nerve. “Don’t give up so fast.”

Puzzled, she faced him. “Why on earth would you want to try again?”

“I hate to leave a job half-finished.”

His earnestness summoned a bleak laugh. “Very commendable.”

“I’m game if you are.”

She straightened and narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m always game.”

Serena waited for him to deride her bravado, but he gave her another of those uncommonly sweet smiles. “I know you are. I’ve always admired your courage.”

In all their years of acquaintance, he’d never given her a compliment. Before she could muster a response to that astonishing statement, he set her back beneath the kissing bough.

She twined her hands at her waist and stared at him, troubled. “Perhaps it would help if you don’t rely on my instincts, and you tell me what to do.”

“You hate people telling you what to do.”

That was, unfortunately, true, although she’d never imagined Giles had paid her enough attention to notice. What a day of surprises this was. “Today I bow to your prowess.”

“Thank you,” he said with a hint of familiar irony. He caught her restless hands. “First, let’s put these somewhere useful.”

When he placed one hand on his shoulder, she started to draw away. After the kiss, touching his shoulder shouldn’t matter, but there was something fiercely unsettling about having her hands on him. “Is it necessary to touch you?”

“Definitely.” He replaced her hand where he’d set it. Then he caught the other. “Now where to put this one?”

“Giles…” she said in warning.

He ignored her repressive tone and curved her arm around his back, forcing her closer. “Here, I think, for the moment at least.”

She was painfully conscious of the powerful male form mere inches away. The rest of the church might be bitterly cold, but under the kissing bough, sultry summer ruled. “What do I do now?”

“Stare into my eyes as if it would kill you to look away.”

“I only want to learn how to kiss,” she muttered, directing her gaze everywhere but at him. If she obeyed, he’d guess that her heart raced with forbidden excitement.

“No, you want to learn how to capture a man’s attention and keep it. Kissing’s just part of the game.”

She wanted to argue, but he was right. Blast him. The most terrifying part of this terrifying encounter was that just now, the man she wanted to attract was standing in front of her. And that was completely insupportable.

“Look at me, Serena,” he said in a deep voice she’d never heard before.

This time, she couldn’t deny him. She raised her chin and stared into those dark eyes. Who knew a man’s eyes could be so fascinating? As the silence extended, her head started to swim. After last time, she knew enough to snatch a breath before she lost her balance.

It didn’t help.

For the first time, she saw Giles Farraday in full. And heaven help her, the view was magnificent. Without prompting, her hand slid up his shoulder and around his neck, until his black curls brushed her fingers.

“Very good,” he whispered. “Now move closer.”

He didn’t need to tell her. Already she swayed forward as if he was the moon and she was the tide. When those thin, elegant hands closed around her waist, heat sizzled through her.

“Don’t jump, girl,” he murmured. “None of this should come as a surprise. You know he wants to touch you. He can’t do anything else.”

She barely heard as she tilted her face up. “Giles…”

“Yes, like that.” Impossibly his dark gaze turned darker. “As if you can’t endure waiting one more second for him to kiss you.”

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