[Siren Classic: Erotic Contemporary Romance, HEA]
When Panthea Snow loses her family in a horrific car crash, she needs something to keep her going. She decides to replace one family with another and signs up as a mail-order bride to a man living in the far north in Alaska. When she arrives, however, she realizes she can’t go through with it but is stuck in River Ice, Alaska, until the snow melts in a few weeks. She meets Paden Winters and is drawn to him despite his moodiness and ill temper. As she gets to know him, she realizes they are both dealing with issues of healing and concealing pain. Only Paden deals with it by cutting himself for sexual satisfaction. Can a woman who has an abnormal fear of blood and a man who cuts himself ever find happiness? Or are some pains too deep to overcome?
Note: This book contains cutting for sexual pleasure.
A Siren Erotic Romance
And then déjà vuhappened. The door opened, a gust of cold wind came in, and all of Thea’s nerves came instantly alive. She knew, without turning around, that the man from the night before had just walked in.
“I’ll be right there, Paden,” Miki called out.
Paden. His name is Paden.
“You gonna be back tomorrow to keep me company?” Miki asked her, jolting her back to her senses.
“I’d love to. How much do I owe you for lunch and the pot of coffee, Miki?”
Miki waved the offer away. “It was nice to have a girl in here to talk to.”
“Then thank you.”
Thea hopped off the barstool. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, but I will insist on paying.”
“Very well. If you hold on for a minute, let me take care of Paden and then I’ll walk you to the hotel,” she said as she wiped her hands on a towel and poured a cup of black coffee.
“You don’t have to escort me,” Thea protested. “It’s not that far.”
“Yeah, but it’s dark. Just wait.”
She tapped Thea’s hand before walking to the back corner where the man, Paden, sat. She watched as Miki sat the mug of coffee before him and then nodded as he gave his order. Though his face was turned toward Miki, those grass-green eyes stayed focused on Thea.
“Hello,” she said turning toward him after Miki had walked into the kitchen.
“Hello,” he answered, though his tone wasn’t engaging.
He eyed her up and down, pausing on her hair and her Ugg boots. A mocking sort of smile twisted his lips, and he took a drink of his coffee.
“You don’t like my boots?”
“Let me guess. You saw the word boot and thought it seemed appropriate for minus-thirty-degree weather.”
“It’s not that cold out,” she protested, stung by his disdain.
“It will be. Didn’t you read your Alaskan Frommers Guide, Princess?” he taunted.
Thea frowned at his derision, wondering why such a handsome man was so rude. She decided she didn’t like him. He made her extremely uncomfortable. He simply stared at her, making her nervous for some reason, so she jumped off her seat and headed for the door. She grabbed her coat, hurrying out of the diner and into the icy wind. She struggled to put on her coat, scarf, and hat before she froze. Unused to such frigid wind, Thea came to realize how quickly hypothermia could settle in.
“You little fool,” came a harsh voice. Gloved hands came out of nowhere to bundle her up. “You can freeze to death in minutes out here!”
Thea’s teeth were chattering too much for her to say anything. She looked up through her lashes at Paden, very aware that the strange reaction she’d had while looking at him in the diner hadn’t dissipated with the cold.
“Come on,” he growled and took her arm.
Through the blinding, swirling snow, he led her back to the hotel. Though it wasn’t far, it seemed like forever as she took step after step in the glacial wind, glad that she had Paden leading the way even if his presence threw her off-balance.
Truth be told, Thea had no idea how she would have made it back to the hotel if this man hadn’t come out to rescue her, even though the hotel was only a five-minute walk away.
After what seemed like hours, Paden marched her up to the hotel and into the lobby. Warmth engulfed her immediately, and she moved instinctively toward the fireplace where a roaring fire generated lifesaving heat. She stretched out her hands and closed her eyes in bliss. Little by little, her shivering body calmed as dizziness swirled through her mind.
Paden came to stand next to her. She opened her eyes and looked up at him, smiling her thanks languidly.
“You little fool,” he said again, contempt dripping from each syllable. Her smile disappeared in an instant. “Don’t you realize how dangerous this weather can be?”
“No,” she said. “I mean, yes. I mean, not until now.”
He snorted. “It only takes moments for hypothermia to set in, and if you get disoriented and wander off the road we won’t find you till it’s too late.”
“I’m sorry,” she whispered.
“It’s September, winter is settling in fast,” he told her. “I suggest you find someone to walk you back to the hotel every night.”
He went to leave, but for some inexplicable reason, she didn’t want him to go. She must have a masochistic streak she had no idea about. Thea grabbed his arm, halting his retreat. He glanced first at her small hand resting against his large arm before piercing her with his grim stare.
She cleared her throat, yanking her hand back like he’d scorched her. “My name is Panthea Snow. Thank you.”
He didn’t say anything. He just stared at her as if she were a bug he was inspecting. Thea fidgeted, not used to such scrutiny. He turned abruptly and walked away, leaving her staring after him.
He hadn’t even introduced himself.
“I wanted to let you know,” he whispered, “that it’s not you. I’m still not right, Thea. Something is dark and hateful inside, and it makes me do hurtful things. I just want you to know that I…care about you, but I’m not a very nice person.”
His face was turned away from her, his jaw locked in place, as if afraid he’d say something more. He looked so lost to her, so defeated that it broke her heart. Without thinking, she reached up to grab his face and bring it back to hers. She stood on tiptoe to make sure he saw her as she spoke.
“I’m not scared of you, Paden,” she whispered. “Whatever darkness is inside you doesn’t scare me.”
She kissed him on the lips, softly, once and then twice, pressing her mouth against the seam of his. Then she rubbed her cheek against his, and his composure broke. His arms came around her and he pulled her into him, almost crushing her as he found her lips with his.
She opened for him, and his tongue swept in, allowing him to take from her whatever he needed. His kiss was possessive, dominant yet tender, a heady combination that sent her senses spinning. She slipped her arms around him, hugging his waist, feeling the strength rippling through him, and a little moan escaped her throat.
Immediately, he swept her up into his arms, not breaking the contact with his mouth. He carried her, though she was hardly aware of where they went. She was half conscious to going up to his loft, where the only light came from the glow of the fireplace below. He laid her in the middle of his bed, falling upon her, cradled between her legs.
His hands roved over her body, not giving her a chance to protest even if she wanted to. But she didn’t. He unzipped her pants and his hand slipped inside, under her panties, to find the slickness of her pussy. One finger slid in and she moaned, lifting her hips to help him ease in further. His thumb rubbed her clit, teasing the nub while another finger also pushed in. In and out he rubbed, up and down. Her body tightened, and she panted, her hips bucking against the fingers driving her crazy.
Then he pulled back, finally breaking his kiss to trail over her cheek, down her chin to her neck. His hand left her slit. She moaned in protest and shifted her hips higher, pressing against his hardness. But he tugged at her shirt, hurrying to unbutton it to reveal her thermal undershirt. For the next few moments it was all about getting her naked.
Once she lay before him, exposed, he took a moment to stare at her while running a hand over her skin, over her breasts, teasing the nipples to pucker. Thea shifted restlessly, arching her back to get him to touch her more.
His fingers trailed down, over the concave contour of her belly, into the red curls hiding her femininity. He shifted lower, and his fingers parted her folds as his mouth settled on her aching clit.
She arched with a screech of pleasure, bucking hard against his mouth. He sucked her deep, his tongue probing into her opening and licking it. Her hands clutched uselessly at his hair, either urging him on or trying to make him leave, she wasn’t sure. She wanted more, she wanted to feel all of him but wasn’t quite sure what to ask for.
He seemed to know, however, and moved off her. She reached for him. She may not have known exactly what she was reaching for, but she knew she didn’t want him to go away. He moved, his clothing shifting off, his skin hot against her touch. She touched his chest, his hips.
“Do you have a condom?” she whispered.
He blinked, confused.
“I have one,” she told him. “I thought, you know, just in case.”
She reached for her jeans and took out the little foil from her pocket. She heard the tearing of a wrapper, and then he was lifting her hips, settling them over his shoulders. He rose up between her legs, holding firm to her thighs. In one thrust, he entered her.