Sunday Snippet: Zambonis and Mistletoe by Melody Heck Gatto

I LOVE holiday romances. Add in a zamboni machine and what can go wrong? Nothing as far as I’m concerned. I’m excited to share this snippet from Zambonis and Mistletoe from Melody Heck Gatto.

Zambonis & Mistletoe_eCover_FinalRylee has sad things in her life that she needed to overcome, she’s put it off for too many years. Holding on to a past love and missing her Grandfather was making the holidays harder than she expected. The enchanted spirit of Christmas plays a part in helping her find what she needs to finally move on. From Saint Nick to reindeer and jingle bells, Rylee’s story is one magical tale.

Nick is the General Manager of the Renegades. He’s tall, dark and handsome. His looks were not lost on Rylee and his impeccable manners intrigued her. The holiday season had her wondering if what she thought was an accidental meeting wasn’t really a gift from Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick?

Excerpt

Nick is the General Manager of the Renegades. He’s tall, dark and handsome. His looks were not lost on Rylee and his impeccable manners intrigued her. The holiday season had her wondering if what she thought was an accidental meeting wasn’t really a gift from Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick? 

Looking over Rylee, he wanted to run his hand down her snug yoga pants. Her curves screamed for his touch, and his jeans grew tight. He reached up and moved a piece of auburn hair away that had fallen in her face, tucking it behind her ear. He wanted to taste her plump lips. He wanted to see more of what was under that sweatshirt jacket.

But he was a gentleman, and that would be moving too fast, not to mention she was injured. She might be the nurse, but he wanted to be the one to take care of her.

Slowly, he backed a step away from her, even though he didn’t want to, and tightened his hold on her arm. He smiled, still desiring those lips. “Well…” He cleared his throat, hoping he could still walk to the door in his aroused condition. He looked from her to the door, not wanting to leave.

“Well,” she answered back. “Thanks for a nice evening, Nick. It was fun having company. I’m really glad you stayed.” Her eyes hovered with his. They were deep blue and he wanted to get lost in them.

Taking a deep breath he tried hard to get himself under control. He had the feeling that her inviting him to stay to eat and watch a movie with her was not something she afforded to just everyone, and he wasn’t about to push his luck. Nodding, he helped her hop to the door. He enjoyed the evening more than she knew. Then he handed her the crutches so she could make a safe return to the couch once he left. “I’m glad I stayed too.”

Glancing up at the picture frames on the wall, he saw that all the photos looked like they were of her family. Pointing to them, he asked, “Your family?”

Rylee blushed. “Yes. That’s Gram and Pap, and me and Paige.”

The photos ranged from posed holiday portraits to the girls playing and laughing at a playground. They all looked so happy. Looking over at her to say something he noticed her eyes had misted. She looked like she was going to cry. He wanted to say something, but he wasn’t very good at this kind of thing.

He reached up and caught a single tear with his thumb, wiping it away. “You miss them?”

Rylee nodded.

Taking her in his arms seemed inappropriate, even though that’s exactly what he wanted to do. The light was gone from her eyes, and he needed to do something. “Do you need a hug?” I hope that didn’t sound creepy.

Rylee stared at him for a moment and he thought he was going to get slapped, because it really did sound creepy. But instead she nodded as her bottom lip pushed out into a small pout.

“Aw, c’mere.” Nick pulled her into his arms and could feel her warm tears on his shoulder. This was not exactly the way he wanted to end the evening, but she felt so right in his arms. He couldn’t resist running his hand down her hair, loving how it was full and soft, and her body warm. Could she feel his heart racing? Because he was about two seconds away from trying to kiss her. And seeing as how she was close to tears, that wouldn’t be at all appropriate. Not knowing what else to say, he whispered the first thing that came to mind. “Don’t be sad.”

“I’m sorry.” Rylee pulled away and wiped her eyes. “I didn’t mean to do that. I don’t know what came over me.”

“It’s fine. You miss your Pap.” As soon as she stepped back, his arms felt empty, and he wanted to pull her close again.

Rylee shook her head. “I do, but I don’t normally break down like that. Especially in a stranger’s arms. Well, I don’t mean stranger, but you know what I mean. I feel like a fool now.”

Stranger, huh? He’d have to change that idea. “No, don’t say that.” He ran his thumb along her jawline. She really was so beautiful, even when she was flustered and sad. “You had a moment; it happens to the best of us.”

“I don’t normally have moments. I’m the strong one. I’m the one who takes care of everyone else, remember?” Then she glanced at her foot.

He knew she was strong, and he liked that. Even when she’d been lying there in pain on the medic’s table at the arena, she hadn’t complained about her injury. And he could tell she was used to doing things for other people and not having to rely on anyone but herself. She seemed so embarrassed about having him do anything for her, which he thought was adorable. But there was something vulnerable about her that made him want to be the one to take care of her. “Well, sometimes it’s okay to let others take care of you.”

“Yeah, stupid ankle. Having to sit in this house I guess it just hit me how lonely it is here now. When Gram and Paige lived here there was always some craziness going on. Like when Paige was just starting to date Tyler. Well, they weren’t dating yet, but this whole living room was filled with flowers and stuffed animals… and I’m rambling. Sorry.” Her cheeks were bright red, and she looked down at the floor.

God, the blushing was so cute, and he could listen to her ramble all night. “Don’t apologize. It’s empty nest syndrome.”

“What? No. That’s what parents get once all their kids leave the house. That’s not what I…” Her voice trailed off and her eyebrows met. “Oh my god, I do!”

The shocked look of realization on her face made him want to hug her again, but he kept his hands to himself. “Hey, you said it yourself, you took care of everyone. Now they’ve moved out. I’d say that is exactly what you’re feeling.”

“That’s just weird.” She shook her head before looking at the door. “Well, enough of this, I’m sure you’re anxious to get out of here. So, thanks again for taking me this afternoon. Hopefully this ankle will heal quickly.”

He didn’t want to leave, but if he stayed a minute longer he was going to have to touch her again, and she didn’t look like she needed another hug, much less the kiss he was desperate for. It was better to make a graceful exit before he did something stupid. “Agreed. But it was a nice evening, Rylee. Goodnight.” He flashed her one last smile and turned into the night to walk to his car.

“Nick, wait!” Her voice cut through the darkness.

He spun around, his heart thumping, and trying not to look so happy that she stopped him. Maybe she felt their connection too?

“Um, uh, thanks for the pizza. And thanks for taking me to get my x-ray. I really did enjoy the company tonight.”

Warmth filled Nick’s chest. “It was my pleasure, Rylee.” Again he forced his feet to walk toward his car. He wanted to see her again, wanted to get to know her, and he got the awful feeling that if he left without saying something, he might miss his chance. He stopped after a few steps and turned to face her at the door again. “Rylee, would it be okay if I called you?”

She looked as if she was taken off guard, and his heart dropped for a moment, but then a smile crossed her face. “I’d like that.”

She’d like that. He wasn’t sure what he expected her to say, but he was glad it was that. He tried to keep his smile under control. “Great.” Nodding, he walked backwards a few steps, resisting the urge to fist pump like he just made the game winning goal before retreating to his SUV. Reaching his door, he paused to take one last look at her.

“Nick?” Her small voice caught his attention.

“Yes Rylee?”

“Why me?”

What the hell? “Why you?” He tilted his head, not understanding her question. Then it hit him what she was asking. That thread of vulnerability hit him hard in the chest and it was all he could to do stop himself from jogging back to her and pulling her into his arms again. What the hell had happened to this gorgeous girl that had made her doubt herself? “Why not you, Rylee? You’re beautiful and funny and kind. I feel like I need get to know you better. Is that okay?”

“Well, yeah, I guess that’s okay.” She didn’t sound too convinced, but he’d take it.

“Good, I’ll call you.” Good thing it was okay, because he wasn’t planning on taking no for an answer.

 

Silver blue snowflake against a shimmering background against a shimmering background

        

 

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