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strings attached to this offer.
 Why would you do this? Morgan asked, her expression changing to complete shock and her voice
choking up. Her hand shook slightly as she took the card he d just written his father s number on.
 Because I don t intimidate easily and I think what your former bosses did to you is horrific. If you
want a good job, I ll help you get your foot in the door. The rest will be up to you. He rose to leave
her and her son to their holiday.
Her hand shot out and she gripped his arm. She was silent for a minute while she tried to pull
herself together. Tanner waited, unaware that Kyla was watching the exchange from across the room,
though she couldn t hear what was being said.
 Merry Christmas, Mr. Storm, Morgan told him.  Thank you for this. You have given me and my
son the best gift anyone has ever given us. Even if I m not hired, your kindness has touched me
deeply. You re a good man, she said as a tear escaped.
Her last sentence rang in his head. Was he a good man?
 Morgan, I can t begin to tell you what you have given me tonight, he said through strained vocal
cords. He put his hand over hers and nodded to underline his sincerity.
He turned and walked away, a heaviness in his chest. How wrong he d been about people. He d
always just assumed that those who were homeless were there of their own free will. He d never
taken the time to understand that maybe, just maybe, they hadn t chosen their circumstances.
 What was that all about?
Tanner turned to find Kyla looking at him suspiciously.
 Merry Christmas, Kyla.
Looking up, he noticed the mistletoe right above their heads. He hauled her against him without any
delay and kissed her, a sweet and relatively short kiss that still showed her how much he needed her.
When he released her, the two of them heard a few chuckles, and several people clapped, but his eyes
were for her only.
 Let s go home, he said, and the look he gave her left no doubt of his meaning.
 I would like that, she murmured.
For a moment, Tanner thought he d misunderstood, but as her hand slipped into his, he knew what
she was agreeing to. His heart kicking into high gear, he led her through the dining room and to the
kitchen, where he grabbed their coats and then quickly led her outside.
He needed to get her back to the apartment building before she changed her mind. This was looking
to be the merriest Christmas he d ever had, broken pipes, Santa suit and all.
KYLA HELD TIGHTLY to Tanner s hand. She was a nervous wreck now. Was this a wise path for
her to be going down? Should she climb back into this bed? The clock was counting down on their
time. No, he hadn t told her he was leaving, but she knew he was. Tanner was not a man who lived in
the trenches.
She d told herself she wouldn t regret their night together, and she didn t. It had been too wonderful
for her ever to have regrets. However, she d also told herself she wouldn t join him in his bed again.
To do so, she feared, would lock her to him emotionally in a way that she couldn t reverse.
But Tanner had been so kind to the people at the shelter and to her earlier this evening; it was like
seeing a different man, and it had made her heart swell, knocked down the last of her defenses. Was it
because it was Christmas Eve and she was tired of being left with nothing but ghosts and memories?
Had her thoughts about how alone in the world she was ramped up her vulnerability to an all-time
high? Whatever the reason, she didn t want to change her mind.
As she and Tanner sped down the hall of their apartment building, her nerves were shot, yes, but her
heart was thundering. She wanted this, wanted it desperately. And there was no doubt that Tanner
wanted it even more. He unlocked his apartment door and opened it wide for her to step through.
When he shut it again and put his hands on her shoulders, she jumped and then laughed as he removed
her jacket and hung it on the hook by the door. Not one word had been said since she d agreed to
come back to his apartment, agreed to make love to him again.
 Sorry. I guess I m a bit tense. She looked up and boldly met his gaze, though every instinct in her
made her want to look away and hide from what she was feeling.
 I m not going to attack& though I want to, he said.  And I m good at handling tension.
Somehow the need she heard in his voice calmed her. Her muscles relaxed and she even managed to
smile. They were both consenting adults, and they d already done this once, proved they were more
than suited to climb into bed together. She had nothing to be nervous about, nothing to fear  well,
except for the utter loneliness she was sure to feel after being with a man like Tanner and then being
alone all over again when he inevitably disappeared.
The smell of food filled her nose, distracting her from her morose thoughts and making her stomach
rumble. Though she d spent a few hours serving dinner, she d been too busy all night to eat so much
as a single morsel of bread, and she realized that she was famished. She turned around to see
Tanner s table covered with a lovely and festive red tablecloth, and expertly set with gleaming china
and silver.
 When did you have time to do this? she asked. Going in closer, she found a wonderful Christmas
dinner with all the trimmings sitting on top of warmers on the kitchen counter.
 Why not think of this as a sort of holiday magic? Maybe I really am Santa Claus. Tanner smiled
and held out a chair.
Maybe he was. She hadn t cried this holiday season, and she d decorated a tree, and made
gingerbread cookies. Had Tanner come into her life to help heal her? She didn t know the answers
and she wasn t sure she needed to know. One thing that she had no doubt about was that there was far
more to Tanner than initially met the eye. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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