The moment I crack open a new book, I always rush through the beginning, the budding relationship between the hero and heroine, and anticipate that spontaneous moment when one of them makes their move. The First Kiss. The first turning point in every story.
Every week here on the blog, I’ll be sharing First Kisses from my books and those of other authors.
This weeks Friday First Kiss comes from, Wolf Christmas by C A Nicks.
“Go back to your bed, Rowena. My wolf is still up. It can’t be trusted.”
She leaned back slightly, gazing into his eyes as if she’d forgotten she was holding a beast. A beast on the verge of ravaging her at the slightest encouragement.
“You would never hurt me, Christopher.”
This close he could see every tiny blemish on her skin, every fleck of colour in her hazel eyes. Every pore, every hair.
“Hurting you is the last thing on my mind.” He let out a long breath. “What you’re feeling is a combination of the fear, the disorientation, the fact that you’re here, cut off from the world. It plays with the mind. Makes a person do things they might later regret. And you will look back and regret this, Rowena. Believe me, you will.”
He couldn’t make it any plainer to her. With his hands on her shoulders, he pushed her gently away from him.
“Your father paid me to save your reputation. Not add to it.”
“I think I may be beyond saving.” She picked up a lock of her hair, inspecting the tangled strands. “Mama would expire on the spot if she could see me now. I look a fright.”
“You do.” He tried to inject a little humour into his tone. No point in telling her the dishevelled appearance only added to her allure. “I’m sure your mother will understand.”
A sad smile curved her lips. “She will try, and fail miserably. I should be looking forward to going back. But the thought fills me with dread.”
“And yet, you must go.” He wanted to reach out, stroke her cheek. Give her the comfort she’d offered him. Would it be so wrong? Rowena seemed very much to be her own woman, capable of making her own decisions. There would be no taking advantage.
“I must.” She spoke without conviction, staring at the quilt, tracing the outline of one of the embroidered flowers with a finger. “I shall have need of friends, Christopher. Friends who understand. Would you allow me to be your friend?”
He shrugged, a little thrown by her request. Friends were a somewhat alien concept to a mercenary, Lone Wolf.
“I could call on you, perhaps? Here at Hadon House?”
His bark of laughter made her jump, visibly. She lifted her chin in response, some of her earlier spirit returning. “I’m twenty-one years of age, I’ll have you know. Quite old enough to manage my own visiting schedule. Granted, before all this, I would never have contemplated visiting one of the Different, but I am no longer that woman.”
“What? Because you met me?”
“Yes, because I met you. You’ve shown me that not all creatures of the night are the same.”
“How very good of you to notice.” He shouldn’t be angry at her condescending tone, the glib words that sounded charitable but meant very little.
Dipping his head so he was level with hers, he caught her gaze. “Easy to say that when I look like this. But just because I’m back to what you’d call normal, it’s still there. Take a good look. It will always be there. Will you send a card? Come calling with your mother for afternoon tea? I’m a Lone Wolf, Rowena. I don’t have friends.”
She listened more patiently than he deserved to his tirade. Damn, but having her here filled a gap in his life. Whether she stayed or left, things would never be the same again.
He had been about to shift again. To fend her off by inducing revulsion that would have her running from the room. To remind her once again of what he was because she seemed determined not to see it. Before he could, she’d moved, closing the distance between them. Soft lips pressed against his cheek and when she spoke, close to his ear, he actually trembled.
Christopher Hadon never trembled.
“Forgive me if the words came out wrong. Just know that they were sincerely meant and that you do have a friend, Christopher. You have me.”
* * * *She’d kissed him. A chaste kiss, yes, but now she wanted to do it again. She wanted his hands on her hips, his hair soft on her cheek. Cheeks that were heating at the wicked thoughts coursing through her mind. A small movement and her lips would be on his. Would he taste of the wine they’d taken earlier? Would he think her a brazen hussy for being so forward?
If someone asked her to account for her present feelings, Rowena knew she would be hard pressed to give them an answer they would understand. She didn’t know herself why this man or should she call him creature, drew her to him like no other.
All of his arguments made perfect sense. Alone and trapped here by the storm, bonded by the rescue and escape, she’d unsurprisingly formed an attachment to him. Invested him with virtues and come to rely on him.
And still she wanted to kiss him again.
Perhaps she was even hoping that a kiss would be enough for him to want to keep her here so she never had to return home. What a terrible thought. She chastised herself. Opinionated and domineering he might be, but Papa loved her and would have paid any sum to have her found. Of that she had no doubt. He merely had a strange way of showing his love.
Once home she would never again experience the exhilaration of racing across snow-covered moors in the dark and cold in the arms of a wolf-man
That made these last few hours of freedom all the more precious.
Christopher stiffened all over when she slid her lips to his and pressed lightly. He tasted not of wine, but of something completely indefinable, which she supposed was simply him. She tried again, feeling his lips move ever so slightly under hers.
Groping for his hand, she placed it on her hip, since he seemed to have fallen into shock at her bold move. The wind outside had reached a deafening crescendo, further increasing the sense that here, she could do or be anything she wanted to be. Even if only for a short time.
“Are you sure, Rowena?” Christopher found his voice at last, grasping her elbows with his strong grip. “I’m giving you one last chance. Dammit, you’re still recovering from the abduction. You should go back to your room. If you stay, this doesn’t end with a kiss.”
December 1889. Werewolf Christopher Hadon rescues young women kidnapped to work the brothels of industrial Victorian Manchester. But when he meets Rowena Rothwell, he might just have found the first woman he doesn’t want to give back. Rowena knows she must return home, but she needs a little time to come to terms with her ordeal. When she begs Christopher to wait a few days before sending her home, at a time dangerously close to the full moon, her life will never be the same again.
Neither of them have known the joy of a real Christmas, but secluded from the world, at Christopher’s remote, moor-top home, that might be about to change…
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About C A Nicks
I live within sight of the Lancashire moors (where this story is set) with my family, cats and vast collection of musical instruments. Saturday nights are likely to find me in some spooky mansion or castle indulging in my hobby as a paranormal investigator. I love to write romance that’s tightly focused on the main characters and their emotional journey.
I write under two pen names, Alexandra Marell and C A Nicks.
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