Instant Attraction Read online

  Annie looked at her. “What? How hard is it? I’m standing right here.”

  “I know, but sometimes guys need to be hit over the head, so to speak. They’re visual creatures.”

  “Oh, Christ on a stick. Don’t say I need a damn makeover or some such shit like that.”

  “How about new clothes?”

  Annie looked down at herself. “There’s nothing wrong with these.”

  “No, not if you’re a six-foot, two-hundred-pound teenage boy. You have such a great figure, but you hide it.”

  “I’m chunky.”

  “You’re curvy,” Katie corrected. “And if you dress for something other than the rumble in the parking lot, you could show it off a little. And—”

  “Ohmigod. There’s an ‘and’?”

  “A very little one. Makeup.”

  “I’m getting hot flashes these days. I’ll just sweat it all off.”

  “Just a swipe of black mascara. And maybe some gloss. That’s it. Maybe pick his favorite flavor.”

  “Peach.” Annie sighed and went back to washing dishes. “His favorite flavor is peach. The damn skinny fool.”

  “I have some peach gloss, I’ll give it to you. But it’s not just the clothes and the gloss.”

  “I’m not doing anything crazy like Botox. I want to be able to look pissed off.”

  “I was going to say it’s all in the attitude. And not a bad attitude.” She nudged Annie’s shoulders back. “Stand like you’re worth something. Walk the walk, talk the talk.”

  “But I want him to see me without all the bullshit. The UPS guy manages to see me just fine.”

  “Because you smile at him,” Katie pointed out. “You flirt. You don’t do that with Nick.”

  Annie took that in a moment. “Well, hell. You just might be right about that.” Her eyes narrowed. “Are you using this technique on my nephew?”

  “Honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing with your nephew.”

  Annie’s brow crinkled in worry. “You’re only here for another two weeks.”

  “I know.”

  “Are you going to want to stay, and then eventually either run him over or screw him over?”

  “Run him over?”

  “Crazy ex. Don’t ask.”

  “Okay,” she said slowly. “A big negative to running him over, and also on the screwing over. I have my next adventure to get to.”

  Annie nodded, but her brow remained crinkled.


  “I’m just wondering what a guy who’s done nothing but take a risk all his life is going to do with a woman who’s never taken one until now, except get hurt.”

  A most excellent question. “No one’s going to get hurt,” Katie said, wanting to believe it.

  That night, Katie finished up her work for the day and headed out of the lodge, where she found herself swallowed up by the night. No streetlights, no city lights, no tall buildings for landmarks, nothing but the glowing snow and the black outline of towering mountains and the even blacker night sky.

  As she always did out here, she felt like the only person on the entire planet. Just her and the wild animals.

  When the now-familiar rustling sound came from a snow-covered Manzanita bush, she was not too proud to whirl to run. She might have fallen if not for the hands that grabbed her and pulled her up against a hard, warm body.

  “Just me.”

  That voice alone brought body parts to life, parts she’d almost forgotten existed. And let’s not forget her handy-dandy trusty fogging glasses. “Cam.”

  “Expecting someone else?”

  “Big Foot.”

  “Ah. So the bushes are rustling again.”

  “Probably hungry. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I probably look good enough to eat.”

  “I can vouch for that.” He took her hand and started walking with her, looking tough and yet somehow gentle—an intoxicating mix.

  “I forgot to mention something earlier,” she said.

  “You mean other than you think that I’ve quit my life?”

  “I said I wasn’t going to quit my life. The thing I forgot to mention was that after going to the bank, I ended up in a bakery. Wishful Delights.”

  And those eyes of his shuttered right up. It made her stomach drop, because up until that reaction she’d managed to hold out hope that she’d been mistaken about the emotion she’d seen on Serena’s face. “Serena wants you to go see her.”

  He said nothing to that. Shock.

  “You two were together,” she ventured. “Which I guess had me wondering if you still are. Together.”

  At that, he looked at her, his eyes unfathomable, as dark as the night. “Do you think I’d have kissed you the way I did if I was with another woman?”

  “I kissed you, remember?”

  “Oh yeah, I remember.” That dark gaze heated and so did all her good spots. “And then I very nearly took off all your clothes right there on the snowmobile and had my merry way with you.”

  “Yeah,” she said, knees knocking. “That was my very favorite part, actually. Look, I’m fishing, okay? You’re a puzzle, and I’m missing a lot of pieces, apparently one named Serena.”

  “Let’s play a different game.”

  “I don’t want to play games at all. Did you break her heart, Cam?”


  “She break yours?”

  His silence spoke for him.

  Dammit. Dammit, Serena had hurt him. “Did it have anything to do with your accident?”

  He shot her a look.

  “Sorry. I tend to fill silences with chatter.”

  “Well, that explains a lot about you.”

  “Funny. What happened with Serena?”

  He offered a shrug that was meant to be noncommittal but felt like a lot more. It had her throat tightening for him.

  “She left me.”

  “Because of your mind-blowing conversational skills?”

  “Ha. Yeah, that’s not how it went.”

  “How did it go?”

  “Guy traveled a lot. Girl got lonely.”

  “Guy was a famous ski champion,” she pointed out. “Travel was par for the course.”

  “Didn’t matter. She got tired of being alone and got herself laid. Then I got all butt hurt, crashed, lost my endorsements and entire future.”

  Her heart cracked for him. “Oh, Cam.”

  “Don’t. Jesus. Don’t pity me. I pitied myself plenty, all year long. And as you’ve ever so helpfully pointed out, I’m apparently still at it.”

  “Not all women cheat.”

  “True. The woman I dated before Serena tried to run me over with her car when I declined a third date.”

  She gaped at him. Annie hadn’t been kidding. “Did she hit you?”

  “Just nicked me. Luckily I’m fast.”

  “My God.”

  “Yeah, the woman before her took off after MTV’s special The Bad Boys of Winter. She was in it for the long haul, but after seeing my segment, she decided a Wilder was a bad risk for her investment. I told you, Wilders are bad news, Goldilocks.”

  “The Wilders were all pretty badass in the past,” she agreed. “But how about in this century?”

  At her mocking tone, he slid her a glance. “I’m trying to scare you off here.”

  “Then tell me something scary.”

  He let out a low breath. “You are the oddest woman I’ve ever met.”

  “So I’ve been told.” The dark, dark night continued to cocoon them, giving a sense of intimacy that Katie couldn’t tell was real or her own hopeful imagination. The trees swayed in the wind, accompanied by the occasional hoot of something wild that she didn’t want to know about. “Serena made a bad error in judgment, Cam, and the women before her were idiots. So your ancestors raped and pillaged the landside. Duly noted. Now tell me how that makes you bad?”

  “I disappoint the women in my life.”

  “Not Annie.”

  “Serena is a