Escaping from the craziness of the city after a breakup, the last things she expects is to find romance, but when she becomes lost in the countryside of the North, she takes refuge from the snow in a cozy pub where she (literally) bumps into a local guy. He seems like the perfect guy, and when he kisses her in the snow, she knows she can’t leave it there…
It should have been a journey filled with anticipation and excitement, finally I was taking the retreat that I’d dreamed of for years, a whole week to myself in a winter wonderland of the Peak District with only my muse and my imagination to keep me company. Paradise.
Well, that was the dream, anyway. The reality was unfolding a little differently. Instead of driving along with a grin on my face, marvelling at the beautiful countryside and singing at the top of my voice like a scene out of a cheesy chick flick, I was seething with anger and cursing everyone and everything under the sun, from my best friend Jenny who’d clearly suggested the most ludicrous place possible for my perfect week away, to my Sat Nav which apparently had gone on strike as soon as we ventured more than 20 miles from London, because an hour after I was scheduled to arrive at my little cabin in the hills, I was still driving aimlessly along ridiculously narrow and windy roads, my car low on petrol, my stomach growling with hunger, utterly and hopelessly lost.
Maybe I’d been so busy seething that I’d missed a turn, or maybe the villages around here were too small for my stupid Sat Nav to even recognise them as villages at all. I didn’t know what had gone wrong, but I did know that I’d taken so many turns and backtracked so many times it was entirely possible that I was in the wrong county by now, and at nearly 4pm, darkness was descending on this winter afternoon, which only added to my mounting frustration.
Of course, the real source of my anger was 200 miles behind me in London, probably enjoying his new found freedom.
There’s just no spark… my mind betrayed me again and replayed a snippet of our conversation, causing my eyes to well up with tears again. I banged my hands down on my steering wheel and tried to push the thought away, as I had every time he’d crept into my mind. I couldn’t think about what he’d said, it was too painful. I knew he didn’t mean it anyway, so his words were unimportant – just a lie, a defence mechanism. He was probably just scared, I reasoned. Maybe I’d been moving too fast. A week away would do us both good, he’d miss me and realise what a mistake he’d made, and when I returned I would convince him to take me back for sure. In the meantime, I could not let it ruin my retreat.
I’d been dreaming of this week for years now, my little fantasy, but something had always stopped me from actually doing it. Maybe an inner fear about stepping into the unknown, going for my dreams, who knows, but with Greg’s encouragement, I’d finally gone ahead and booked myself a week alone in the country. A writing retreat. I smiled briefly as I said the words to myself. Every day at work for the past three years as I wrote more boring celeb gossip columns for the magazine, I’d promised myself that one day I would go on a writing retreat away from all the distractions and demands of everyday life and finally finish my novel. Then my dream life could truly begin.
Ha, what a joke. Now I had to wonder about the real intention behind Greg’s persistence in encouraging me to go away.
You’ll have more space and inspiration to follow your dreams babe, he’d said, and I’d truly thought he really cared about me, about my passions. Now I suspected he’d just been trying to get rid of me.
You’re so clingy. Was I? Was I that bad?
“Arrghhh,” I let out a yell of frustration. Why couldn’t I let it go? I’d only been dating the guy for a few months, as Jenny had pointed out during our tearful conversation earlier. Well, tearful on my part, Jenny had been surprisingly unsurprised by Greg’s revelations. Apparently she’d been able to tell from the beginning that he wasn’t that into me, that he wasn’t playing for keeps, that he was just playing for fun. And you’re not even that fun, had been his final insult before I’d stormed out. Why couldn’t I just get over it? And why was I still bloody lost in the middle of nowhere?
Just as I had that thought I rounded the corner of a huge hill that I’d been skirting for some time, so huge I wondered if it was actually a mountain, and ahead of me lay a cluster of buildings. Civilisation! At last! I’d really started to think that I might be about to find myself in some kind of The Hills Have Eyes horror situation – it would certainly have been a fitting ending after the day I’d had! The settlement that that my little car was trundling towards wasn’t exactly a vast metropolis, maybe just about big enough to be considered a village, but all I really cared about in that moment was that I could see lights in the growing darkness. Lights meant people, and warmth, and food! It would also offer me the chance to get out my map and figure out where the hell I was, and how to get to where I was supposed to be going. If I could remember how to use one, that is. I was suddenly aware how reliant I was on technology and GPS to guide my way.
As I drove along the windy little road into the village, I searched for a name sign but to no avail. Surely the place couldn’t be so small it was nameless? It was pretty though, there was no doubting that. For a moment my anger subsided as I took in the quaint stone cottages set against a backdrop of rolling hills silhouetted against the indigo twilight sky. I passed a spattering of cozy looking homes, a church, a general shop, and a pub. The Moon and Stars looked extremely inviting, not just because of the blackboard outside declaring home cooked winter warmers. I sighed with relief when I noted another sign declaring that there were rooms available for the night. Phew! I would at least be able to hole up here for the night rather than getting myself even more lost in the dark wilderness, and make a fresh start in the morning light after figuring out my whereabouts. I had the number of the guy who’d rented me the cottage, I would just call and let him know to expect me in the morning instead.
I pulled my little car into the small parking area at the front, grabbed my handbag, and climbed out, stretching my aching limbs gratefully after the long drive. The cold hit me immediately. Sure, it had been cold in London, but it felt at least ten degrees colder here, and it was a biting, raw kind of cold. I wrapped my coat around me tighter and hurried towards the front door, noting that there were only a couple of other cars parked outside.
The pub was just as inviting inside as its exterior had suggested.
Traditional but not over-the-top pub décor that managed to look quite fresh and vibrant. Cozy booths lined the edges and mahogany tables were scattered in the main area of the room, just a few of which were occupied. The bar, currently being propped up by a couple of farmer looking types, was straight ahead of me, but the absolute best thing was huge the roaring open fire to the right of the room. I could feel the heat hit me as soon as I entered the room, and was delighted to realise that the table right by the fire was free.
First things first, I needed to book myself a room and order food. I headed to the bar, and a pleasant looking woman in her sixties appeared from the back room as if by magic.
“Hello love, what can I get you?” She asked, her rosy cheeks shining as she smiled.
“Actually I was wondering if you had a room free for the night?” I smiled back. Her face registered surprise for a second, as if she wasn’t used to strangers walking an off the street and asking for a room. Then again, she probably wasn’t.
“Why yes of course duck, no problem at all. You’re very welcome, just the one night?”
“Yes just tonight thanks, I’ve rented a cottage for the week, but it’s a little late now so I’ll finish my journey in the morning.”
“Oh lovely, a holiday is it?”
“Yes, kind of… a writing retreat actually, I’m an author, well, I will be very soon.” I almost blushed as I said the words, but as Jenny kept telling me, I had to own it if I was going to ever make it my reality instead of just a far off dream. Mary’s eyes lit up.
“Well well well, an author under our very own roof! What are you writing? I love a good mystery myself.” You’d think I’d announced myself as royalty the way she reacted, and I had to admit it did feel quite nice. I was starting to thaw out – both on the outside and the inside. She turned to the open doorway behind her before I could answer her question and shouted “Helen, go and prepare room 1 for our guest please,” before turning back to me. “The room will be ready for you in no time dear. My name’s Mary, anything at all you need you just ask. Can I get you a drink? Do you have some bags you’d like taken up?”
“Oh that’s ok, I left my bag in the car, I’ll go and get it in a bit. I was actually hoping to get something to eat first. I’m kind of starving.”
“Well then, let’s get you a menu and we can get you all fed up.”
I ordered lentil soup with crusty homemade bread and a bowl of sweet potato chips on the side. Well, I was hungry! Then I decided to have a glass of white wine to go with it. Well, I wasn’t going to be driving again tonight and after the day I’d had, I deserved it. While waiting for Mary, who’d got caught up in a debate with the two men to my left about whether someone called Annie was going to labour tonight, I pulled my phone out of my bag and turned it on to check for messages. Okay, okay, to check for messages from Greg.
I was diligent about keeping my phone turned off while driving – I’d seen one too many devastating videos on Facebook and the news about horrific accidents caused by the distraction of a text message or notification. It just wasn’t worth the risk. A message pinged in once my phone had fired up and found a signal. It wasn’t from Greg, I noted with a sinking heart. It was from Jenny, asking me to let her know if I’d arrived safely, she was concerned that she hadn’t heard from me. Honestly, I was twenty five years old – did she not think I was capable of finding my way across the country on my own? I disregarded the fact that I evidently couldn’t find my way across the country on my own and that she was probably very justified in her concern. I would reply once I was sitting down by the fire.
First I wanted to speak to Greg.
I’d managed to push him out of my mind for the last half hour, barely keeping thoughts of panic at bay, but now I was here I had to speak to him, I had to be sure. If there was a chance of him changing his mind, I wanted to take it. I moved to the farthest edge of the bar, away from where Mary and the farmers were still discussing Annie, who I’d figured out was probably an animal of some sort, and not a someone after all). Their voices were loud, and the other few groups of people at tables were all engrossed in their own loud conversations – maybe being loud was a Derbyshire thing? Added to that the music playing in the background, I didn’t think my pathetic begging would be overheard.
Finding him in my contacts, I clicked connect, and waited with a pounding heart.
“Hey Prim, what’s up?” He answered. I was too stunned to speak for a second, and I realised that after the way we’d left things, I hadn’t expected him to answer at all, let alone so casually. Maybe the fight hadn’t been as bad as I’d thought. Or maybe he hadn’t meant the things he’d said, just like I’d convinced myself in the car. A glimmer of hope sparked inside me.
“Hey Greg. So I arrived at the place. I just wanted to let you know. I’m just grabbing some dinner in a cute little pub.” See, I can be independent, I’m not scared of being alone was the implication under my words.
“That’s great Prim. Listen, I’ve got to go, I was on my way out. Enjoy yourself.”
“Greg, wait, I just wanted to say, um, I’m sorry about this morning. We can work things out right? After I get home, I mean. We’ll be okay?”
I heard him sigh at the other end. “Prim, are you deluded? I thought I’d made it pretty clear this morning. There is no we, there never was really. We just hooked up a few times for fun.” But you’re not even that fun, his voice added in my head, an echo of his hateful words before I’d left. “But that’s over, we clearly both want different things. I think it’s best if you don’t contact me anymore.”
“But…” I was cut short when I realised that he wasn’t there anymore. Tears stung my eyes as I put my phone in my bag. How dare he? I’d invested six months of my life in our relationship, and I didn’t care what he said… it was definitely a relationship. I’d really thought he might be the one. Good looking, a successful banker, sporty, funny. He ticked all the boxes. He might have seen it as hooking up, but not in my book. How dare he say all those hurtful things about me just because he’d got what he wanted and decided to move on? Well screw him! Maybe I’d had a lucky escape. I wiped tears from my eyes and looked up, noticing that Mary had placed my wine in front of me. Pulling my purse from my bag, I held out a note, forcing a big smile onto my face, though I suspected it didn’t disguise my watery eyes.
“Don’t worry love, we can add it to your bill and sort it all later. You go and get yourself sat down, your food will be ready shortly.”
I smiled my thanks, only slightly embarrassed that she must have overheard my conversation, still fuming with anger and humiliation at Greg’s words. Shouldering my bag, I grabbed the glass of wine, turned and stepped forwards, slamming straight into a solid wall of man in front of me. The glass of wine flew from my hand, spilling all down my front before smashing on the carpet at my feet.
“What the hell! Look what you did!” I yelled at the man, holding my hands up in shock.
“Are you okay?” He asked, and Mary shuffled out from behind the bar, a dustpan and brush already in hand, seemingly unperturbed by the breakage.
“No I’m not okay, I’m covered in wine,” I shrugged out of my wine covered coat and stared furiously at the man in front of me. Wow, he was tall. Not lanky tall but big and strong tall. Viking tall. He was seriously gorgeous, I noted, somewhere in the back of my mind, but I was too rage fuelled to care right then, all my anger and frustration of the day, of my phone conversation, had reached a pinnacle and ripped through me. “What on Earth did you think you were doing walking into me like that? Are you some kind of idiot?”
“I’m sorry love, but technically, you walked into me – I was just heading to the bar. Maybe you should look where you’re going,” he replied, a bemused half smile on his face.
“I’m not your love, I haven’t even met you before,” I responded, irritated that he was right, I had kind of walked into him, not the other way round. I wasn’t ready to let go of my anger just yet. It needed to be released.
Mary tugged on my arm, pointing me towards the fireplace. “Come on love, you go and sit down, I’ll sort this out. Ethan, show the lady over to a table won’t you,” Mary instructed, her familiarity with him indicating that clearly he was a regular.
“I can make my own way, thank you very much,” I said, directing my response to Ethan, and smiling at Mary to apologise for my extreme reaction. She didn’t seem bothered, to be honest.
“Here, give me your coat, I’ll have it washed and ready for you before you leave tomorrow,” she held out her hand.
“Oh thanks, but really there’s no need, it’ll be fine.”
“No no, I insist, can’t have you smelling like a brewery while you’re on your writing retreat can we? I don’t want you looking back when you’re a bestselling novelist and remembering the Moon and Stars as the pub that let you walk around stinking like an alchy!”
“You might as well do what she says,” Ethan added, holding his hands up as if to defend himself from any backlash I might be tempted to whip him with. “She’ll just keep persisting until you do.”
I handed my coat over to Mary with another smile of thanks, and then stormed to the table by the fire, not waiting to be shown by the man. Putting my bag on the floor beside me, I leaned towards the flames and let them warm me, closing my eyes and letting out the tension in a sigh.
A few seconds later Ethan walked in my direction with a glass of wine in one hand and pint of beer in the other. He placed the wine on the table in front of me, looking at me sheepishly.
“Thank you,” I said, feeling slightly embarrassed about my outburst, “but I should really be buying you a drink, after all, it was my fault. I had no right to lay into you like that. It’s been a hell of a day,” I offered in explanation.
“Apology accepted, and let’s just say I’m buying you a drink because it’s not often a beautiful mysterious stranger walks into this place, and because you clearly need one,” he said, and sat down in the chair opposite mine, without waiting for an invitation. “How about we start again? My name’s Ethan.” He offered his hand across the table.
I looked at him for a second with raised eyebrows, smiling despite myself, feeling flattered by his compliments even though I knew they were probably nothing more than a cheesy chat up line. I reached out to shake his hand, feeling slightly silly. The moment our skin connected I felt a buzz, and almost jumped with surprise. I wondered if he’d felt it too.
“Hi Ethan, I’m Prim, and I bet you say that to all the beautiful mysterious strangers who walk into this place,” I replied, surprised at myself for flirting so naturally just moments after being devastated by Greg’s harsh words. I blushed. “And thank you for the drink by the way, but I’m really not good company at the moment, it’s probably best if I’m alone right now,” I smiled to show there was no malice intended by my rejection of his company.
“Well then that’s exactly why you should have company right now. Alone, you’ll just fester. Plus, I’m a good listener.” Looking into his honest face, I could imagine that he was. He had this look about him – open and honest, straight forward. And oh so very gorgeous too. His square jaw and chiselled cheekbones looked manly and capable, his clear blue eyes and messy blonde hair added and edge of boyishness that was doing something funny to my insides.
“Talking about it is really the last thing I want to do right now,” I laughed. “It’s tragic really.” I took a sip of my wine. Crisp and cool, it was the perfect contrast to the heat of the flames, warming me nicely.
“Tragic, and clearly you’ve been crying, so I’m guessing there’s a man involved then?” he asked.
“Is that your version of not talking about it?” I asked, though surprisingly thinking of Greg didn’t evoke in me any anger or sadness right then, as it had done all day, I was too fascinated by this beautiful man who seemed to know nothing of boundaries, who seemed to be charmingly invasive, yet not threatening at all. This man who was making my heart beat go wild every time he smiled at me. Was I crazy? I’d been crying over Greg just a few minutes ago.
“Well I find that out in the open is the best place for it. Kept inside is where it can do the most damage,” he took a sip of his beer. “Go on, try me. You’ll probably never see me again so you can use me as a sounding board with no embarrassment and just let it all out.”
I just looked at him for a moment, transfixed by the way the muscles in his forearm twitched when he lifted his glass. Then I remembered myself.
“Um, okay. Well, let’s just say, we wanted different things. I thought we were going somewhere, but apparently I was wrong. End of story.” Even though it was only a clipped version of events, I actually couldn’t believe that I’d said even that much to a complete stranger. But there was something kind of refreshing about it. He was right, I would never see him again. I could say anything I wanted right now. I could be anyone I wanted right now.
“Do you love him?” He asked, probably the most personal question of all. I was stunned. Did I love him? Did it matter? Just a bit of fun, Greg’s words haunted me again. I’d been so bothered by how Greg felt about me, I hadn’t stopped to consider how I really felt about him. On paper, he had it all, everything I thought I wanted. In reality…
“Erm, well, yeah,” I answered, taking a sip of wine to cover my uncertainty.
“Why did you think you were going somewhere if you didn’t even love him? Why did you want to go somewhere if you didn’t even love him?”
“I said I did…” I looked away, looked down, looked at the fire. His gaze never left me. This was getting too intense.
“Your eyes said otherwise.”
“Well, I don’t know okay? It’s all a bit fresh right now.”
“I’m sorry, I know, I have a tendency to go too far. I’m just interested by people, I’m interested by you.”
“It’s okay, just, like I said, let’s talk about something else.”
“Okay, let’s talk about your beautiful black curls and green eyes. Celtic?”
“Let’s talk about you instead,” I demanded. “What do you do? Who are you?”
“Now there’s two very different questions. What I do, that’s surface stuff. I build, I fix, I work with my hands,” he looked up at me as he said that, and for some reason I felt a pang between my legs and my heart sped up again. Geez, this guy was having some effect on me. “I run, I ride my bike through the hills, I paint beautiful things, I avoid reading newspapers because I prefer reality than fiction, I come here for my dinner most nights because I’m a terrible cook. But who am I, now that’s a much bigger question. I’m a man who wants to understand this life, to really experience this life, to explore this life and make the most of this life. I’m a man who right now wants nothing other than to keeping talking to this extraordinarily beautiful woman in front of him and be lost in this little world we’ve created.”
Wow. He was right though, we had created our own little world. I’d almost forgotten where we were I was so lost in the buzz of energy we were generating. Right at that moment, before I could respond, the magic was broken by a bowl of soup being placed in front of me.
“Here you go love, one lentil soup, bread, and a bowl of sweet potato chips.”
“Uh, thanks,” I said, slightly embarrassed by the amount of food I’d ordered now that I had a witness. “I was hungry,” I said in explanation to Ethan, though he hadn’t asked. I was slightly less embarrassed when Mary returned with a massive plate for Ethan bearing steak and chips, with an extra side of chips, which I don’t recall him even ordering.
“My usual,” he explained, without embarrassment. “And hey, I like a girl who eats food. Since when did eating food, one of life’s most basic needs and most simple pleasures, become such a sin?” He had a good point. Greg had always looked disapprovingly when we’d eaten out together if I’d ordered anything more than a salad, as if I was some kind of a glutten. He claimed I was no fun, but he’d been pretty uptight about stuff like that. It was a relief to be able to enjoy my food. We ate in companionable silence, both appreciating every bite of our meals. It really was amazing home cooked food, and just what I’d needed. Once finished, Greg took our plates to the bar and returned with another round of drinks for us, despite my insistence that it was my turn.
“You can buy the next two,” he said with a cheeky smile, and I felt a warm buzz that he wanted to spend even more of the evening with me. What the hell, I could be anyone I wanted to be right?
“So how long have you lived around here Ethan?”
“All my life, in this very village. Though I’ve travelled round the country quite a bit, working on construction projects and painting, and around Europe too. I always come home though, I love it here. It has real heart.” I could feel that, I thought, the heart of the place. It felt like home.
“How about you? London born and bred?”
“No, not at all. I grew up in a little village not much bigger than this, in the West Country. Went to London for university and never went home. London is where all my dreams were, it’s where my career was, and there wasn’t much to go home to, to be honest.” A glimmer of sadness struck me as it always did, thinking of my disjointed family, too lost from each other to ever really be found again.
“Do you love your career?” He asked, perhaps sensing that this was the safer aspect to ask about, rather than my family.
“I did, at first, Writing a column for a glam magazine, what writer wouldn’t be delighted with that opportunity? But it soon grew old, gossip and bitching, empty nonsense. I have for years longed to write what’s in my heart,” I was growing more open now, after my second glass of wine, more honest. Never had I shared so much with anyone, let alone with a complete stranger. He already knew more about me than Greg had in six months of dating, far more than Greg had ever cared to ask. Ethan seemed to possess a power of some kind, to make me lose all inhibitions.
“That’s where the magic happens. In your heart. When you write from there, you can’t go wrong. I can’t wait to read what you’re writing.” I did blush then, and was pleased when Mary interrupted us once again.
“Here’s your key love, you’re in room 1, right at the top of the stairs. Ethan, be a gentleman and help our guest get her bags from her car won’t you?” Mary asked, though we all knew it was more of an instruction than a question. I didn’t bother arguing this time.
“Sure thing mum,” Ethan replied as Mary toddled back toward the bar, and I felt my mouth drop open. Mum! I looked at him.
“Mary’s your mum?”
“Oh yes, sorry, I thought you’d realised.” It did kind of make sense, the way she’d been speaking to him.
“No, I guess I’m a bit slow on the uptake! So, do you like here?”
“Oh no, just come in for a hot meal and a catch up. I have a place a few miles out.”
“Oh cool, right, I guess we’d better get my bag out of the car. Though I really could manage it on my own.”
“Hey, don’t you dare get me in trouble with my old ma. She might be a foot shorted than me but I’m still terrified of her!” We both laughed as we headed towards the door. Ethan pushed it open and held it for me in a way that didn’t seem condescending or sexist, but actually quite sweet. I walked past him with a smile of thanks, noticing again how tall he was now that we were both standing. I felt a quiver go down my body as I brushed past him.
Then I stopped short as I stepped outside.
“It’s snowing!” I exclaimed in delight. Big fat flakes were falling all around me, and were even starting to coat the ground in a pure white carpet. It must have been falling for a while, and I’d been so wrapped up in Ethan that I hadn’t even noticed. It really was a winter wonderland.
“It’s been forecast for days, finally it’s here,” Ethan was watching me with a grin, enjoying my delight. I stepped out into the car park and twirled in a circle, arms outstretched.
“Here, put this on, you’ll freeze,” He pulled off his big green coat and held it out for me to put on. I hadn’t even realised how cold I was until he said it, I’d been so mesmerised by the magic of the snowfall. In hindsight it seemed like poor planning to have dressed in a thin jumper dress and tights when I was heading to the notoriously cold North of the country.
“Oh don’t be silly, then you’ll freeze, that makes no sense.”
“Look at you, you’re shivering. Unlike you, I’m actually prepared for the cold.” He was right, he had on a thick fleecy jumper and a hat which looked far better suited to the weather than my attire. He stepped towards me with the coat and held it open for me to slide into. I accepted gratefully, slipping in first one arm and then the other, then turning towards him. He zipped it up for me, as if I was a child. My heart beat was quickening again and my breath caught in my throat. When his hand came to the top of the zip he stood still and just looked at me. The world seemed to shrink in that instant. He was so close I could feel his breath as it escaped from his mouth in little puffs of warm air, white in the freezing night.
I looked into his eyes. He was going to kiss me. Or I was going to kiss him. This is crazy, a voice in my head told me, but still I didn’t pull away. Then I didn’t think anymore, I gave in to the urge and opened my mouth as he leaned in towards me, wrapping his arms around my back. His lips met mine with a tenderness perfectly fitting the scene we had set as we stood embracing in the winter flurry. His lips were soft and warm, and as his mouth slowly moved against mine, I felt like I was melting. Kissing him back, my arms reached up and wrapped around his neck, and my whole body began to tingle.
There was an awareness of how absolutely insane this situation was – kissing a stranger I’d known for a matter of hours – but it was a distant awareness that barely registered and seemed unimportant. I felt alive in that moment, really alive for the first time in a long time. This perfect moment, which hadn’t been meticulously planned like every other aspect of my life, which hadn’t been carefully considered and scheduled. I felt his breathing grow heavier. I’m not sure who was leading the way, but the kiss was definitely growing in intensity and a felt myself fall into a delicious haze of lust as he pulled me closer to his body. My hand found its way under his beanie hat, tangling into the soft hair beneath as my other hand roamed down his back, over his buttocks.
I’m not sure what would have happened if the car hadn’t pulled into the carpark at that particular moment, bringing us both back to reality. We stopped kissing and looked at each other, then both laughed. Often on TV shows you see people apologise after an unexpected kiss. Ethan didn’t apologise and neither did I. I didn’t regret it for a second. In those few moments that we’d been lost in each other I’d realised something huge – I’d been so busy planning the perfect life and falling apart at the seams when it didn’t go according to my plan, that I’d completely forgotten to actually live in the moment.
“Well that was, um, new,” Ethan laughed, and I was glad he was as surprised as me by the kiss, that he didn’t regularly snog strangers in the carpark of his mother’s pub.
“All I can say is I’m glad I got lost in this place,” I smiled, stepping backwards from him and pulling my car keys from my bag as we began to walk over to my little Micra. He wrapped his arm around my back as we walked and my heart might have actually skipped a beat.
“You’re lost?” Ethan asked, as I opened the bag door and pulled out my overnight bag.
“Well, kind of, I just got confused by all the hills. But it’s cool. I’ll find my way in the morning.”
“Where are you going? I can help you?”
“Well, maybe you can help me in the morning,” I answered, glancing at him to see if he’d got my meaning. I could barely believe how forward I was being, but I knew that I couldn’t leave it here. His kiss had ignited something in me. Something I wanted more of. His mouth opened but he didn’t say anything, as if trying to find the right words.
“Here, be a good boy and carry my bag, I wouldn’t want you getting in trouble with mumsy now,” I interrupted before he could speak. He took my bag, and took my hand, then led me to the rear entrance of the building, with a second staircase leading directly to the upstairs floor.
“And here’s your room madam,” he announced, stepping aside for me to unlock the door.
It was actually a pretty large room and beautifully decorated, with a large dounble bed covered in a floral chenille throw, a cream carpet and subtle floral wallpaper, perfectly fitting for the country Inn that it was. A large bay window looked out over the hills, and I noticed that the snow was falling even more heavily now, my inner child was squealing with glee. The room felt homely and welcoming, just like the rest of the place. Ethan set my bag on the bed and turned towards me.
“IS there anything I can get you? Or did you want to nip back downstairs for another drink?”
“No, I don’t need any more to drink. Dessert maybe,” I smiled, unzipping his coat and taking it off. The room was perfectly warm, the old building must have a very good central heating system.
“Sure, they do a delicious apple pie.”
“Ethan, I was trying to be provocative,” I laughed. “You’re ruining my attempts to be a sexy mysterious stranger.”
“I know what you were trying to do, and believe me there is nothing I would like more, I just don’t know if it’s such a good idea with your current situation and all. I don’t want you to do something you’ll regret. And, for the record, you are doing an outstanding job of being a sexy mysterious stranger.”
I think I might have fallen in love with him a little bit then. Here I was offering myself to him on a plate, and he was worried about me doing something I’d regret. Your current situation… his words brought Greg to mind and I was shocked to realise I hadn’t thought of him for at least an hour. Wow.
“Believe me, this has nothing to do with Greg.” I moved towards him until I was standing right in front of him. “Ethan I’ve never met anyone like you before, I might never meet anyone like you again. I’ve never done anything spontaneous before in my life. I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me, or next week, or next year. But I know that right now I want you so much that I can barely think straight.”
“Wow, well, when you put it like that,” he grinned, but his gravelly voice gave away his true feelings. I wasn’t one to assume that men would fall at my feet, I wasn’t usually very confident at all. But Ethan seemed like an open book, and I could see in his eyes that he wanted me as much as I wanted him.
He kissed me then. This time it was full on, unleashed passion, as our lips clashed and our tongues danced, our hands roaming over each other’s bodies. I felt like years of pent up passion and need had risen to the surface, ready to be released. I clawed at his clothes, tugging his jumper up until he stopped long enough to pull it over his head. Oh my god. He had the body straight out of my fantasy, standing there like an Adonis in just his blue jeans. I couldn’t stop staring at him chest, his well toned abs…
“Are you sure?” He asked, and I nodded, tearing my eyes away from his body to look into his eyes and assure him.
“Never been more sure of anything in my life,” I answered truthfully, pulling my jumper dress off and slipping out of my leggings so I was standing before him in just my underwear.
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