Claustrophobic Christmas by Ellie Marvel - Romance>ContemporaryTravel Queen Survival Tip #23: If you get stuck in an ice storm, find a hot guy to keep you toasty.
Travel agent Darcy Burkell has a secret. She doesn't precisely jet around the world despite what’s implied in her popular newsletter about vacation destinations. When she hires photographer James Jones to illustrate her stories, they become close cyber-friends, comparing notes on exotic locales, vacation spots, and much more.
James is sure that Darcy is the woman for him—someone who’ll travel with him instead of expecting him to stay home all the time. Putting his ideas into action, James shows up at Darcy’s office unannounced and suggests they take a holiday trip together.
Darcy is too embarrassed to admit her phobia and turns him down flat. She knows what kind of woman he wants, and she’s not it. But her resolve is tested when she and James become gridlocked by an ice storm. Impassable roads force them to spend hours together in his vehicle…shivering. And cuddling.
But will the fires still burn between them after Darcy confesses her big secret?
Warning: This title contains dreadful weather, a medium-sized misunderstanding, jelly beans that taste like boogers and coitus interruptus by redneckus.
Reader Rating: 1.0 (1 Ratings)
Excerpt:Copyright © 2011 Ellie Marvel
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Darcy noticed his ass first. It was perfect, cupped in old denims that weren’t too tight or too loose, the faded outline of a wallet in his back pocket. It was an ass that enticed her to drop her papers or beg him to check the pressure in her tires, just so she could watch him bend over.
Of course, she could check her own tires, even change them if she had to. She had a bookcase of nonfiction and how-to books. She never knew when she might need to identify animal tracks of the Southwest or give advice about deep sea fishing.
Yeah. Or change a tire.
Darcy maneuvered around the welcome desk of the crowded Arkansas rest area, hoping for a better angle of the man. As it was right before Christmas, this place was travel central. People milling and gabbing, waiting for bathrooms, watery coffee and the feeling to return to their “sitters”, as her Pop termed it. She tiptoed past a squabbling family to peek around the hotel coupon display at the man she’d spotted.
There he and his butt were. Nice. Very nice. She deserved something nice after the stress of the past couple of days. He was taller than he’d seemed from across the room. His shoulders were broad, and he was dressed for the weather—a thermal undershirt and a T-shirt over that. Dark blond hair brushed his nape. From where she hovered, she couldn’t tell if his front lived up to his back.
The man rearranged the coat tucked under his muscular arm, making space for an old woman who also wanted to read the state map. They exchanged a few comments, too quiet for Darcy to hear. There was something familiar about his posture, about the way he shoved his hair back and tilted his head toward the lady beside him.
She booked a lot of vacations for outdoor enthusiasts. Snowboarders, bikers, hikers, kayakers, wilderness junkies. He had that look about him, a kind of suppressed energy that said he didn’t belong under a roof, growing roots and gathering dust.
And then there was the national park logo on the back of the guy’s T-shirt and his battered hiking boots. She was canny, all right. She’d make a great detective, as long as detecting didn’t involve surprises, small spaces, other people’s germs and confronting suspects.
This guy—this guy was clearly not her type. She could tell just from his tush. But who would it hurt if she ogled him a little longer? The guy, maybe, if he disliked being objectified, but he’d survive. The truth was, Darcy couldn’t bring herself to return to the confines of her car just yet. She could only tolerate it so long before she needed a breather.
When she traveled, she made a lot of stops.
A lot of stops.
Thus she was behind schedule, as usual. Her tardiness was made worse by the fact she’d been delayed at the office this morning. Ironic, considering one of her top travel tips for clients was always set out earlier than you think you need to.
The old lady near the map hurried off, flipping open her cellphone as she went, but Mr. Dream Jeans loitered like he had nowhere to go. Was he not running late like everyone else? Rushing home for the holidays before the grey skies made good on their promise of nasty weather? Darcy’s father was going to chew her out for hitting the road after the all-powerful Weather Channel had predicted record snowfalls for the Southeast.
It didn’t matter that she hadn’t seen a single flake. The Weather Channel had predicted snow and that meant it was going to snow. There’d be drifts over cars. Houses. Drifts that forced the entire Southeast to walk to school uphill both ways.
Come to think of it, snow might liven things up. Darcy hadn’t seen anything in the miles of scrubby terrain other than SUVs filled with fighting kids and the occasional family dog.
Until now. The man-scape was highly preferable to a picturesque snowfall. She wasn’t going over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house anyway, just to Pop’s to join the rest of the Burkell clan.
Darcy feigned interest in the brochures, but her eyes were on the prize. Her heart beat faster, like it did right before she hooked a new client. His ass was probably taut and muscular beneath the denim. And tan. Every inch of him tan.
From behind, she could pretend he was anyone she wanted. But as she’d recently wanted someone very much, someone she couldn’t have, that was probably not what she needed to be imagining.
She mentally added a large, unkempt moustache and chewing tobacco to his image.
He shifted his weight, his hand moving to his face. Stroking his large moustache? Picking his nose? She couldn’t tell. He was focused on the wall map like a new route through the flatlands between Little Rock and Memphis was going to magically appear.
She could have told him there was only one good road out of Arkansas, and the faster you drove it, the better.
She herself wasn’t getting anywhere mooning over his heiney. She had hours to drive before she reached Tallwood. With one last glance at the man’s fine assets, Darcy turned to go.
Which was when he turned too, glancing her way with eyes as blue as the wide Texas sky.
No moustache. No tobacco.
A jolt of awareness shocked through her like lightning. She knew this man. He frowned.
“Holy hell,” he said. “Darcy?”