Holiday Wishes Read online

  floor behind him, along with the sheet.

  His smile was badass wicked and filled with trouble as he put a knee on the bed and began to crawl toward her with nefarious intent in his sharp gaze.

  With another squeak, she started to scramble to the edge of the bed but then stopped. What was she doing? She wanted him to catch her. So she waited until he was close and then she pounced on him, pushing him down to the bed and claiming the victor’s spot.

  His hands at her hips, he smiled up at her. “You think you’ve got me?”

  She took his hands in hers and flattened them above his head, stretching herself along the length of him. Still holding him down, her gaze locked on his, she lifted up and took him inside her body. “I know I do.”

  “Oh fuck, Lotti.” He arched up into her, his neck corded, his face a mask of intense pleasure. “You do, you’ve got me. Do with me whatever you want.”

  So she did.

  Chapter Eight

  A few hours later, Sean stood in the large living room of the B&B, taking in the room with a narrowed eye. Christmas on crack, check. Candles everywhere, check. Chairs pulled from every room in the house arranged with an aisle for Pru to walk toward Finn, check. Music softly playing from a wireless speaker that was Bluetoothed to his phone, check.

  There was no electricity, but they didn’t need it. Outside, rain drummed steadily against the old Victorian, adding to the ambiance.

  “What do you think?” Lotti asked at his side, sounding nervous.

  He turned to her and shook his head with a low laugh. “I think it’s perfect.”

  Her smile was warm and relieved, and the vise that had been around his heart since this morning when he’d realized the craziest thing—that he was falling for her all over again—tightened.

  The roads were being cleared even as they stood here. Estimated time of opening was tomorrow morning. This meant that at best he had twenty-four hours to make her start to fall too.

  “It all looks good,” she said. “You pulled it off.”

  “We pulled it off.”

  She turned to him, her smile fading, but before she could speak, Finn came up the makeshift aisle. He was in dress pants and a slate gray button down—the same that he’d worn to the bachelor/bachelorette party. Looking uncharacteristically nervous, he fussed with his tie until it was crooked.

  “Here,” Sean said and knocked his brother’s hands away. “I’ve got it. What the hell’s wrong with you?” he asked when he realized Finn was sweating. “You wanted this.”

  “Still do,” Finn said. “More than I want anything else in the entire world.” His serious gaze met Sean’s. “This is the most important thing I’ll ever do.”

  And that was why he was nervous, Sean realized. “Hey man, you got this. And I’ve got you. So no worries.”

  Finn let out a long, shaky exhale and nodded. “Thanks.”

  Sean turned to Lotti and found her studying him with a look he’d never seen before, like maybe she was proud of him. He had to admit, he didn’t hate that.

  “And shouldn’t you be the anxious one?” Finn asked Sean. “You’re the guy who has to marry us. All I’ve gotta do is say ‘I do.’”

  “True,” Sean said.

  “I mean it’s you who has to make sure it all happens here today,” Finn went on. “That nothing goes wrong, that it’s absolutely perfect. So . . . are you? Nervous?”

  Well he was now. “How hard can it be?” he asked with what he hoped was a calm voice. No need to share with the class that he was shaking in his boots. “Take this ring, I thee wed, cherish and obey, yadda yadda, right?” he asked.

  Finn laughed. “Dude, if you put ‘obey’ in the vows, Pru’s going to kill you where you stand.”

  “Oh, I had it for your part of the vows, not hers.”

  Finn grabbed him in a headlock and they tussled for a minute, like old times.

  And then, less than a half an hour later, Archer was walking Pru down the aisle toward Finn. Seeing the love shining so brilliantly between the two of them after saying “with the power invested in me by, Finn, kiss your bride!” Watching as they laughed and Pru jumped into Finn’s arms while everyone hugged. Sean knew he’d never forget a minute of this trip.

  Lotti came up to his side and he looked at her. Huh. She was proud of him. “You were amazing,” she said.

  He didn’t quite feel amazing. He felt . . . something he couldn’t quite define. Not that there was time to think because they all moved back the furniture, kicked up the music, danced, drank, and ate.

  And then danced, drank, and ate some more.

  Watching, feeling oddly enough a little bit like he was on the outside looking in, Sean realized what was wrong.

  He was lonely, even while surrounded by the people who meant the most to him in the world. How that could be the case, he honestly had no idea. He picked up the bottle of Corona in front of him and took a long pull. It’d been years since he’d been intoxicated, but tonight was definitely the end of a long dry spell. He smiled as Finn and Pru made their way around the makeshift dance floor. He’d never seen Finn so happy.


  They made a great couple, appreciating and recognizing what they had, what they’d worked so hard for. It was their night and no one deserved it more.

  Sean’s eyes searched out Lotti for the thousandth time. She wore a midnight colored dress, short and molded perfectly to her soft curves and showing off some gorgeous legs that he wanted wrapped around him. She’d started out the evening with her hair carefully twisted at the back of her head. Some of it had escaped. Tendrils framed her flushed face and fell over her bare shoulders and back, teasing her skin.

  She was so beautiful she made his chest hurt. But ever since the ceremony, during which she had adorably teared up, she’d been different. Holding herself back.

  The rancher from next door had showed up a few minutes ago with another case of beer that he’d found in his back refrigerator. Lotti was talking to him, thanking him, a soft smile playing at the corners of her mouth.

  It didn’t matter how many times Sean saw her smile, he still felt the pleasure from it like it was the first time, back at that football game . . . He’d had no right to touch her that night, but he had.

  He had even less right to touch her now. He’d had his chance and he’d walked away from her.

  Man, he’d been such a stupid sixteen-year-old punk.

  But God, he hoped like hell that second chances were really a thing as he finished off his beer and made his way over to her. This wasn’t going to be on the top ten list of the smartest things he’d ever done, but at that moment he didn’t care.

  Archer stepped into his path. “Whatcha doing?”

  “Nothing,” Sean said.

  “Nothing, or you’re about to go interrupt a really great woman from getting a dance invite?”

  Sean met Archer’s gaze and Archer went brows up. “We’re leaving here soon enough,” Archer said.

  Like Sean didn’t know. “And?”

  “And . . . don’t needlessly complicate things for her.”

  Sean looked over at Lotti, who was smiling up into the rancher’s face. “Archer?”


  “Remember when you needlessly complicated Elle’s life?”

  Archer sighed.

  “Just tell me this—what would you have done if I’d tried to stop you?” Sean asked.

  Archer conceded gracefully. “Probably taken out a few of your front teeth.” He backed up a step, hands in the air, signaling that Sean should carry on as he planned.

  So Sean once again headed toward Lotti. He’d made his life about freedom and no complications. But he’d been fighting a restlessness, an aching loneliness for a while now. He hadn’t known what to do about it, but he knew now.

  He walked up to Lotti and the rancher just in time to hear the guy ask her to dance. “Can I cut in?” Sean asked, not that he was going to take no for an answer.