A Match Made in Mistletoe(9)

By: Anna Campbell



And the lunatic truth was she absolutely believed that.

Giles leaned in slowly, she suspected to give her time to back out of their arrangement. But curiosity remained her most powerful reaction. She was desperate to discover what a kiss was like.

No, it was worse than that. She was desperate for Giles Farraday to kiss her.

His breath brushed across her lips, awakening tingling sensations all over her body.

When still she didn’t shift away, his lips skimmed hers with an inquiry that shuddered through her like cannon fire. She closed her eyes, and a hum of welcome escaped her.

Giles’s lips settled and moved on hers. Gradually the shock faded, and Serena became aware of details beyond his overwhelming nearness.

His scent. Fresh as snow, although no snow had yet fallen. The touch of his hands on her head. The strength he held in check. His beckoning warmth.

That intimate, unforgettable contact of mouth on mouth.

She started to sway, and the world turned red at the edges. But when Giles withdrew at last, she ached to call him back. Her hands fisted in her skirts as she fought the urge to grab him and haul him close. She prayed that her rubbery legs would hold her up.

“Breathe, Serena,” he murmured. “For God’s sake, breathe.”

She opened dazed eyes to find him regarding her with a quizzical expression. Through her giddiness, she realized she hadn’t drawn a breath since the kiss began. When she inhaled, the pain in her lungs and the thickness in her head eased.

“That was…interesting,” she stammered.

“Only interesting?” He released her and stepped back. “I must be losing my touch.”

“Nice,” she said quickly, although that was an inadequate description of those turbulent seconds when his lips met hers.

He burst out laughing. “Is that the best you can do?”

She’d imagined thunder and lightning, something to change her life forever. Kissing Giles had made her blood swirl with muddled longing, but it hadn’t set her world alight. “Enlightening?”

“Hmm.”

“Inoffensive.”

He groaned theatrically. “My vanity will never recover.”

“Look, I know you’re doing me a favor.” Serena glared at him and remembered why she’d spent much of her girlhood wanting to shove Giles Farraday into the nearest puddle. “I’m grateful. Of course I am. But I expected…more.”

Her fumbling explanation didn’t meet with his approval, she could see. He returned to studying her as if she belonged to some unidentified species. “What kind of more?”

She hissed with frustration. Frustration with him, and with the dissatisfaction curdling her stomach. “I don’t know. You’re the blasted libertine. You tell me.”

“Perhaps the fault lies with you—I’m unaccustomed to kissing ladies who do their best to imitate a block of wood,” he said lightly.

Stabbing hurt prompted an incoherent protest. “That’s not fair. I told you I’d never done this before.”

With unconcealed displeasure, he folded his arms and surveyed her down that long, crooked nose. “I hoped some natural instincts might kick in.”

“Perhaps my natural instincts only work when my affections are engaged,” she retorted.

Those fearsome brows lowered over glittering dark eyes. If she hadn’t been so het up, she might have been afraid. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

She put her hands on her hips and drew herself up to her full height, frantic to claim every inch she could against him. “If Paul kissed me, I’m sure I’d get into the spirit of things.”

Chagrin flashed in his face, and if he’d been a different, less self-sufficient man, she might wonder if she’d hurt his feelings as he’d hurt hers. “If that’s so, by all means go and kiss Paul. But remind him to bring a muffler and some thick socks so he doesn’t get frostbite.”

She faltered back with a cry. “That’s cruel.”

He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “It was. I’m behaving like a brute.” The anger drained from his face. “I’m sorry, Serena. For your first kiss, that was a creditable effort.”

She frowned, her own anger receding. Grudgingly she admitted that she’d been ungracious first. “No, it wasn’t.”

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