Instant Attraction Read online

  “Good enough.” Stone gave him a little shove back and then hunkered down to continue separating the gear again. “So since when do you have a problem with a pretty girl wanting to go climbing?”

  “She’s a temp.”

  “And you live your life like a temp. I repeat, what’s the problem?”


  Stone took his gaze off the gear and eyed Cam. “Nothing has you two sniffing at each other like a pair of horn-dog teenagers?”

  “Hey.” Cam paused. “Maybe it’s true, but hey.”

  “You two have a certain chemistry going on.”

  “It’s called irritation. We irritate each other.”

  “Well, if that’s what you kids are calling it these days.”

  “Fine. She doesn’t irritate me. I don’t know what she does exactly, though it feels something close to bashing my head against the wall repeatedly.”

  “And you’re going to ignore that, too, like everything else?”

  Cam shrugged. “That’s the plan.”

  “That’s a really dumb plan, Cam.”

  “No regrets.” It didn’t escape him that both he and Katie had been through hell, though they’d appeared to come out with opposing mottos. His was better. Easier.


  Over the next week, Katie did her best to buy into Cam’s whole no regrets thing, but the problem was this: She didn’t buy it.

  Not that it mattered. He was gone a lot, during which time she learned a whole new meaning for the word winter. The nights were dark and mysterious, and yet oddly enough, not as terrifying for her as they’d been in Los Angeles.

  She still had the nightmares, but they came more sporadically. Every other night instead of every single one.

  She could get used to that.

  The mornings were different from Los Angeles, too, in that the temperatures hovered right at zero, boggling her mind. Temps in the mid-70s seemed a far distant thing of her past. Nick showed her the trick of tucking her pants into her socks before walking from her cabin to the lodge, which while not at all fashionable, at least kept her feet from getting packed with snow on the walk. She’d asked him what other tricks there were to surviving the wild Sierras, and he’d told her it was a lot like the TV show Survivor—outwit, outlast, and outplay, only the opponent was Mother Nature.

  She didn’t mind that.

  But Mother Nature could be finicky. There was no predicting the weather accurately, or making definite plans. So when a storm came and dumped four feet overnight—four feet!—she was the only one surprised.

  Sitting at her desk, she looked out the window at the endless conifers and pines, the valley lows, the mountain peaks, all covered in a soft, thick blanket of white.

  Cam was out there clearing the front path. He wore snow gear that fit his long, lean frame, and he worked endlessly, with the wild mountains behind him and the snow all around him.

  He belonged.

  A nameless yearning built up within her, for that same sense of belonging.

  He stopped working to pull off his cap and unzip his jacket, limping to the porch for his bottle of water, and she pressed her nose to the window for a better look, telling herself she was only worried about his leg, that it had nothing at all to do with needing to see more of that body—

  “You looking for the UPS guy?” Annie came up the stairs and tossed the day’s mail onto Katie’s desk. “It’s too early.”

  Katie whipped guiltily around, trying to hide the fact that it wasn’t the UPS guy she’d been drooling over, but Annie’s beloved nephew. “Gotcha. Too early.” When Annie left, she turned back to the window.

  Cam was gone.

  “You have a problem with the oven?”

  Katie looked over her shoulder at Nick’s voice, but she was alone in her alcove.

  “No,” Annie said. “Why?”

  Katie looked around again. Why were her walls talking?

  “Your muffins this morning needed less time in it,” Nick said.

  “Yeah?” Annie responded coldly. “Well, my air needs less of you in it.”

  Katie looked over the railing. There. The soon-to-be-divorced couple stood nose-to-nose on the far end of the great room below, but the acoustics of the high ceilings had their voices carrying as if they stood right next to her.

  “You’re impossible,” Annie told him.

  “Ditto.” He nearly plowed Stone over as he passed him on his way out.

  Stone raised a brow at Annie, who glared at him.

  “I didn’t do anything,” Stone said, lifting his hands.

  Annie sagged against the wall. “I know. Nick’s driving me crazy, my cookies burned, the UPS guy asked me out, and Cam’s looking at her.”

  Stone blinked. “Her who?”

  “Katie who.”

  Katie went still.

  “And she’s looking right back, Stone. He’s not ready. Who’s going to tell him?”

  “He’s fine.”

  “That’s what you said after I took him away from your father so he couldn’t beat the shit out of him anymore.”

  “I said that because you had him,” Stone told her. “He had you. He was fine with you.”


  “Look, we just need to back the hell off him and let him be.”


  “No, no buts. The accident was a long time ago and he’s getting over it. He’s been getting into some of the expeditions, looking like he might stick around for a while. Leave him be, Ms. Doom and Gloom. Don’t stir it up.”

  “I’m going to stir you up,” she mumbled. “Doom and Gloom my ass.”

  They moved away, but Katie stood there long after they were gone, unable to go back to work. Her mind wouldn’t let her. It was locked on the image of Cam, big and bad and oh-so-tough Cam. Apparently that toughness had been hard earned, starting from early childhood and ending with some mysterious accident.

  The sound of a loud engine had her turning back to the window, where Cam now straddled a huge snowmobile, revving the engine.

  To her, the snowmobile seemed as terrifying as the Sno-Cat, but Cam turned his head and looked up at her, and she forgot to feel the kick of nerves. Like her, he’d been through hell and survived—many times apparently. She couldn’t see his eyes or even his expression, but something about his body language told her he was on edge.

  She definitely wasn’t the only one fighting demons.

  He lifted his hand off the handlebar, then lifted his head.

  And just like that, her face heated, her glasses fogged, and her body reacted pretty much in the same way it had when he’d had his hands on her while ice-skating. She had no idea what he was thinking, but she knew what she was thinking, that even though he thought they were a bad idea, her body didn’t think so at all.

  He cocked his head, then crooked his first finger at her in an unmistakable “come here” gesture.

  Oh, God.

  She looked at the dangerous snowmobile, as dangerous as the guy astride it. She’d come here for a baby step, the first in a series of adventures. Going outside with him right now would be exactly that. Her next adventure, right there in front of her.

  On a snowmobile.

  Looking at her.

  With a surge of adrenaline, she whirled to stare at her desk and the work on it, chewing on her thumbnail. Everyone deserved a quick break, right? Not every minute of every day had to be scheduled and analyzed, and oh my God, now she was standing there micromanaging the fact that she used to micromanage her time while Cam was outside on a snowmobile.

  Hello, adventure waiting to happen.

  Grabbing her jacket, she went running down the stairs to catch up with it.

  Chapter 7

  Cam watched Katie come flying out of the lodge, her clothes all neat and tidy, her hair perfectly pinned up on her head, all pretty perfection except for the jacket she’d left open in her hurry.

  In the week and a half he’d known her, she seemed to be un