One Snowy Seduction
by AC Arthur
Part of the Stories that Stand Alone
‘Tis the season for getting great gifts and Teesha Palmer just won the trip of a lifetime to the French Alps. The only pitfall to her holiday vacation is the appearance of her distractingly sexy friend-turned-enemy, Kendrick McLaughlin. An unexpected blizzard that traps them in a mountain-side cabin might be exactly what they needed to face the past…and one snowy night is all it takes to convince Teesha and Kendrick that they’re better together.
**Make sure you check out the rest of the books in the Baes of Christmas series!
Ten Christmas Shots by Elle Wright
Nine Frosty Nights by Kimmie Ferrell
Eight Naughty Notes by Aja
Seven Peppermint Kisses by Tiye Love
Six Sensual Wishes by Nicole Falls
Five Mistletoe Moments by Sheryl Lister
Four Stocking Stuffers by Kelsey Green
Three Sexy Elves by Angela Seals
Two Dirty Santas by Sherelle Green
One Snowy Seduction
Part of the Stories that Stand Alone
One Snowy Seduction
Chalet Beau Cadeau
This was going to be the best Christmas vacation ever.
It had to be, ‘cause there was no telling when Teesha would ever get the chance to stay at a fancy ski resort in, of all places, The French Alps, again. This was a dream come true, one of the top three items on her bucket list that she’d never actually thought she’d get to scratch off. But thanks to an online auction that she’d found a month ago while randomly searching “dreams”—when she should’ve been working on her new gaming pitch—she’d just opened the door and stepped into an exclusive chalet.
Light poured in through a wall of windows across a huge living room with ivory colored fur rugs covering thick-planked wood floors. Snow-capped mountains and white-tipped trees provided a magnificent panorama to what she’d already assumed would be a fantastic chalet. Charleston Mariana Properties, the development company who owned this and several other resorts, was nationally renowned. She’d looked them up right after receiving the email notifying her that she was a winner. It didn’t matter that she was the runner-up—the first winner had missed the seven days allotted to respond in early December and Teesha’s bid had been the second highest.
It’d been a total fluke that she’d found the auction. Yet, the decision to bid the moment she saw this six-night, seven-day all-expense paid trip to the inclusive resort, had come quick. She’d bid the entire eight hundred and twenty-three dollars she’d managed to save in her Christmas club account. Of course, that money had been earmarked to purchase gifts for her parents, brother and cousins, but after the year she’d had, Teesha decided that she deserved to treat herself. Besides, the proceeds from the auction were going to a good cause—The Christmas Dreams Do Come True non-profit organization granted wishes and provided gifts to children nationwide. As a former youth leader at her church and the favorite big cousin in her large family, there was no denying her love of children. Even if she’d pushed the dream of having her own kids to the farthest corner of her mind, locked the door and tossed the key down the same dark hole she’d put the key to her heart.
She set her bags down and turned to close the door, but a sound from behind had her quickly jumping and turning back to face the windows. While she loved to ski, the great outdoors wasn’t her favorite place. Especially not wooded areas which she could clearly see through the large windows. Trees that stretched toward the sky, snow that sparkled, both had her itching to get out on the slopes. What she wasn’t in the mood for was whatever might be lingering behind those trees once the sun went down.
Easing down the two steps into the sunken living room area, she tiptoed through the space, looking around for what could’ve caused that sound. Praying whatever it was, wasn’t inside this place with her. She moved past a sectional that could easily fit eight people, which made sense considering the chalet had five ensuite bedrooms. This place was clearly designed for group accommodations, but for the next seven days it would be all hers. That pleasant thought had her momentarily forgetting about any sounds, other than her little squeak of glee as she started doing a little two-step. She was on a week-long vacation in a French resort and all it had cost her was a charitable donation. Merry, merry Christmas to her!
Teesha’s dance of joy at that thought took her into a circle, her arms going up in the air the way they did whenever she heard music—albeit in her mind this time—because she’d always loved to dance. Even if most times it was to her own rhythm. Nevermind that, there was no one in this chalet to see her stiff and uncoordinated moves so she felt free from judgement and embarrassment. In fact, she just felt free. Swaying her hips as she turned again, she was just about to drop it low when she saw…it…
A scream died in her throat as her two-step moved her back until she bumped into the circular coffee table. And her eyes remained transfixed on the mostly naked man standing across the room.
“What the—” she tried to choke out the words, but her gaze kept dipping down to where a beige towel hung low on his hips, down to the undeniable bulge beneath that towel and…and she coughed because that bulge was so…so…
“Who are you…wait, Teesha?”
She blinked, her gaze shooting back up to the just about naked guy with the big…and stared into familiar gray eyes. “Kendrick?”
“What are you doing here?”
“I can ask you the same and why are you naked?” Not that she was complaining about the view because, damn, she so wasn’t complaining. When did her ex-college bestie start looking like a whole caramel-toned snack?
“I thought there was a damn intruder down here and I came to check it out.” Was his voice deeper? Had the sound of it always run across her skin like warm oil?
Her brows arched. “In a towel…and nothing else?” It was the nothing else that had her swallowing the insta-lust that threatened to choke her. “And again, what are you even doing here?”
She hadn’t seen him in nine years. They’d both been seniors at Virginia Tech then. They’d been friends for three years prior to that, but after the internship debacle, that friendship had ended and she’d never thought about Kendrick McLaughlin again.
That was a big ‘ole whopper of a lie. But he didn’t need to know that. Just like he didn’t need to know how she was reacting to seeing him standing there with nothing but that towel keeping a cordial distance between them.
“This is my place,” he snapped and adjusted the towel so that it appeared tighter around his waist now.
“And you were gonna defend it with what? Your um…” She couldn’t help it, her gaze dipped low again, to that neat V that disappeared below the towel. She licked her lips and then shook her head to clear the wanton thoughts from her mind. “Wait, did you say this is your place? How’s that possible? I won a trip to stay here for the week.”
He took a step forward and she attempted to stand up straighter, but the effort only led to her bumping into the coffee table again. This time she almost toppled backward. She had to do some more feet shuffling to keep from landing on her ass in front of the guy she’d sworn would be her enemy until her dying day.
“Whoa,” he said and came even closer. He reached out like he intended to grab her, but she skirted around the table, until the wide glass-topped circle now separated them. He huffed. “I rented this place for the week as well,” he continued. “At least I had my assistant make the arrangements and I was given a key to this place when I got here.”
She reached into her coat pocket and pulled out her key. “So was I.”
He ran a hand down his face. A finely sculpted face with just a hint of dark hair brushing his chin and a thin mustache. His brow was furrowed as if he were just as perplexed as she was. Familiar and yet, different. That’s what she’d say about his features. There was enough that she’d known it was Kendrick right from the start, but that chiseled chest, those expertly carved and tatted biceps, the six-pack, the bulge, all that was different. And mouthwatering.
“Okay,” he said with a nod before his bare feet moved him across the room. “This is just a mix-up and I’ll get it taken care of ASAP.”
He’d moved into what was the kitchen area of the massive space now and she followed because what else was she supposed to do? There was a long wood-topped table with ten ivory leather-backed chairs around it separating the living room from the big open kitchen. On top of the table was a black messenger bag that he flipped the top open and reached inside to grab his phone.
Teesha watched him swipe his fingers over that phone and then take a couple of steps toward the other end of the table before putting it to his ear. He stood with his back to her now and she marveled at the curve of his ass, the strength in his shoulders. Even his calves were sculpted and sexy as sin. Damn. Kendrick had grown up to be one seriously fine dude. Too bad he was also the spawn of the devil with a devious streak that had sabotaged her career before it had even begun.
What the hell was she doing here? And what was he going to do now that there were no other chalets, or even rooms for her to stay in at the resort tonight.
Kendrick turned slowly, not looking forward to her reaction to what he was about to tell her. For a moment though, when she hurriedly glanced toward the window as if she hadn’t been staring at him the entire time he was on the call with his assistant, he just watched her. Teesha Palmer. The smartest woman he’d ever met and the baddest programmer on the east coast, if not in the entire country. She was a whiz with computers and had a creative spark that put every project she touched over the top in ingenuity and execution. And she was pretty, too. Funny how that thought had always fallen to the bottom of his list of attributes for Teesha.
She wore skin-tight black and white checkered pants with furry black boots that stopped just beneath her calf. Her coat was puffy and white, its hood filled with the fall of her straight black hair. She had the same heavily creamed coffee toned skin, but her cheekbones seemed somehow higher, her chestnut brown eyes a little brighter. Even her lips seemed fuller, more luscious and glazed with champagne toned gloss that he could visualize sliding over…his dick jumped. Shit.
“There’re no other rooms available at this resort,” he blurted out to keep the salacious thoughts in his mind from taking over. “Not at the main building or any of the private chalets.”
“What?” The quick snap to her tone he remembered well. Teesha could be sassy and cutthroat candid. She could also be encouraging and compassionate. She’d been the only one to ever understand how his family dynamics worked for and against him. The only person who’d ever totally gotten why he could never go back to Temptation, the small Virginia town where he’d been born.
“This place is huge. There has to be another chalet or at the very least a room where you can stay.” Digging into her coat pocket she pulled out her phone. “I’ll just call the front desk. Your assistant must be mistaken. Or wait, it’s Christmas Day so they shouldn’t even be working. What’re you some kind of Scrooge? You get to come play in the snow, while your staff works on a holiday.”
She scrunched her face at that last remark, the bridge of her cute little nose wrinkling seconds before she turned away from him to speak into the phone.
He could’ve told her the call she was making was useless, but another thing he recalled about Teesha was that she could be as stubborn as the day was long. Instead, he folded his arms across his chest and waited for her to finish receiving the same news he’d gotten and to turn around and face him again.
Moments later, when she did that very thing, Kendrick found he didn’t like the dejected look on her face. He’d seen it before and a punch of guilt and irritation almost took his breath away.
“There’re no other rooms.” She repeated his exact words and thrust the phone back into her pocket. Next, a strangled, but still cute-sounding disgruntled grumble escaped from her and she stomped a booted foot. “This is my vacation! My trip of a lifetime for the low cost of eight hundred and twenty-three dollars.”
Now it was his turn to frown. “Look, this chalet is big enough—”
“Don’t!” She held up a hand after shouting the one word. “Don’t you dare say it. I am not,” she paused and shook her head. “We cannot stay here.” She cleared her throat. “Together.”
“Stop being stubborn,” he said. “We’ve stayed in the same room before. Hell, we’ve slept in the same bed.”
Heat soared through his body at the memory, resting in his now growing erection and reminding him that he was only wearing a towel. He silently cursed and attempted to adjust the fluffy material around his waist again. A glance down confirmed his efforts weren’t hiding any parts of his apparent arousal. The sooner he could get upstairs and change, the more comfortable he’d be. He hoped.
“There’s no reason why you can’t take one of the many rooms in this place and I take another. We can co-exist.”
She was shaking her head. “No. We cannot.” On a huff she rolled her eyes skyward. “Why is shit like this always happening to me?”
He took another step closer to her. “Tee. I wish you’d just calm down. We can do this.”
Her head jerked back in his direction, her cool gaze pinning him to the spot where he stood. “Don’t call me that. And don’t tell me what I can do. We’re not those two people who shared a hotel room because we couldn’t afford to pay the full price on our own and still attend all the events at the Essence Festival. And we’re definitely not the people who trusted each other enough to sleep in that small ass bed without anything sexual happening.”
But he’d dreamed. Kendrick remembered that July weekend well. He was certain his dick had never remained so hard for so long without any hint of relief. At one point he’d actually considered going into the bathroom to stroke himself to relief while Teesha had slept in that double bed. But he hadn’t. Somehow, he’d felt like that would be disrespectful as hell to the person he’d cared the most about at the time.
That summer before their senior year in college had been the first time he’d thought of Teesha in a sexual way. Five months later—three weeks before Christmas to be exact—they’d learned about the Maury Yatlig internship. The biggest argument they’d ever had occurred at the end of January and by the time the winner of the internship had been announced just two days before Teesha’s birthday in February, their friendship had ended abruptly.
Trying to clear his mind of that long ago memory, Kendrick realized that trust was the key word in what Teesha had just said. She didn’t trust him. She’d told him so nine years ago on that cold January night as they’d stood outside her apartment building.
“No. We’re not those people anymore.” And that was a good thing, he was certain. “At thirty-one years old now, we should be much more mature. And two mature adults can certainly stay in this big ‘ole chalet for the night or until another room becomes available.”
“This is not how I planned to spend my Christmas vacation,” she said.
He shrugged. “Same.”
She turned away from him again and a huge part of him wondered if she were going for the door. He couldn’t let her go. Not like this, not again. He’d regretted those last words they’d spoken to each other so long ago but had successfully convinced himself that if she wanted to be angry with him for a clear misunderstanding, that he was going to let her. But a lot had happened in those years. The biggest being that a couple years ago, Kendrick had become one of the thirty richest Black men under thirty when he took all that he’d learned from the Yatlig tech startup incubator internship he’d won and used that knowledge to open his own enterprise software startup. Now, Titan Tech was a thriving company. Kendrick lived in London where his company was based and he had everything he ever wanted.
Well, almost everything.
This time, he went after her, closing the space between them before his mind could process a reason why he shouldn’t. “Teesha,” he said, grasping her elbow and easing her around to face him again. “Stay. Please.”
Yeah, he’d decided to come on this trip at the last minute because he hadn’t wanted to spend another night alone in his big house, especially not on Christmas. He also hadn’t wanted to go back to his aunt’s house in Virginia which would surely be packed with other family members. Cousins, uncles, aunts, all who’d have something to say about his recent divorce.
But if there was anybody Kendrick would want to spend the holidays with, he realized in those moments, it was Teesha.
She blinked and then stared at him as if he were a stranger. The blank gaze was quickly replaced by a tinge of irritation noted in the way the corners of her mouth tilted upward. That, as he recalled, was her barely tolerant look.
“I wasn’t leaving,” she said. “I won this vacation fair and square and I’m not letting anything…or anybody, stop me from skiing on those slopes and enjoying every moment of the next seven days.”
His lips spread into a slow, wide grin. This was the Teesha he knew well. The spirited and resilient woman he’d spent so many days and nights admiring.
“I’m happy to hear that,” he said, just as she eased her arm from his grasp.
He wasn’t ready to end their connection and tried to take her hand, but movement at his waist had him pausing. Before he could think to stop it, the towel had come undone and slid down his hips.
“Shit…” His hands fumbled as he reached for the towel, grabbing one end as the other dangled behind him.
A snicker from Teesha brought his gaze back up to her. She’d folded one arm across her chest, while the opposite hand moved to her mouth. She cleared her throat. “Um, I guess you’re not the only one happy that I’m staying.”