New Year’s Kisses
Released December 10, 2012
ISBN – 9780857990051
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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COPYRIGHT © RHIAN CAHILL 2012
Emily Warner threw another skirt back into her closet and cursed Wade Johnson. The man had her questioning every decision she’d ever made right down to the clothes in her wardrobe. Indecision was not her thing. She was a take-charge-get-it-done kind of woman. Except when it came to Wade. Her shoulders drooped and her head fell forward as all the air left her chest. How had one man managed to shake her confidence with such profound effect? If only she hadn’t needed that favour. But she couldn’t put on a Christmas concert for the children without a Santa. Refusing his offer of help to avoid a date hadn’t seemed fair.
She’d met Wade months ago, their attraction mutual and obvious, but Em had a five year plan and nowhere was there mention of a man, least of all one who made her stomach drop and her mind wander through a white picket fence and down the garden path. With her plan firmly in place, she’d rejected every advance he made in the hope he’d give up and move on to greener, more amenable pastures. She should have known better. A man like Wade couldn’t be brushed aside so easily. He was like a dog after a bone and now that he’d finally sunk his teeth into her, she doubted either of them would come out unscathed.
Cursing the man and his rotten timing – and her treacherous libido – Em dove back into her closet with the determination to wear the first thing she put her hands on. Whatever she pulled out next would be it. No more waffling. The black dress she came out with was the sexiest piece of clothing she owned. Wasn’t that just typical of her current off-the-track life plan that it would be the outfit she’d grab?
“Dammit.” Emily tossed the dress across the end of her bed and stared at it, muttering. “Dammit, dammit, dammit.”
She didn’t have to wear it. Except she’d made a decision and she would stick to it. She’d be damned if Wade Johnson was going to make her second guess one more thing. Head high, she spun on her heel, and stomped to the bathroom. He’d arrive in less than an hour and she needed every second of that to pull herself together. Heaven forbid he see her flustered. The man would pounce on any weakness she showed and Emily Warner never showed anything but calm, cool certainty. Her shoulders drooped slightly. Until Wade.
Steam from her shower still hovered in the bathroom and she had to swipe a towel across the mirror to clear the fog. Emily studied the face in front of her, but only saw the same woman she’d seen every day for years. Nothing had changed outwardly, but internally… Inside something was different. Cracked. It didn’t matter how much she denied it or fought it, there was no way to hide from the impact Wade had on her. He made her think of things she’d put aside years ago. Made her remember what it was to yearn for something she didn’t have and thought she didn’t want. Not yet anyway. And now he had her questioning the plan.
With a sigh, Em pulled the towel from her head and picked up her comb. Her short hair was practical for work and the natural curl gave her a feminine look, but if she were being honest she’d have to admit the style was quite boyish. The robe she wore hung off her slender shoulders, emphasising the less than curvaceous body beneath. More proof she didn’t live up to the image of most men’s fantasies. With another sigh, she began to run the wide-toothed comb through her tangled curls. It didn’t take long to remove the knots and fluff the waves into place. Reaching for her make-up bag, she pulled out her meagre supply and set to work on her face. She may lack curves in the places men lusted after, but her face was her saving grace.
She’d been called classically beautiful. What that meant Em wasn’t sure, but her deep blue eyes and long lashes were often called bedroom eyes, and drew more than a few compliments. Her full red lips had been described as kissable by a number of guys she’d dated over the years. Personally she thought they were over-large and took up too much of her face. To counteract her large mouth, Emily emphasised her eyes and down-played her lips. The one place she didn’t worry about make-up was at work; she never knew when one of the children would plaster a paint covered hand on her cheek, so it was best to not have to worry about cosmetic repairs at all.
The old cuckoo clock that had been her grandmother’s whirred to life out in the living room. With a squeak of hinges and a time-worn voice, the little cuckoo sprang from his house and chirped seven times. She was down to thirty minutes before Wade arrived. He hadn’t told her where they were going or what they were doing but considering it was New Year’s Eve and he’d asked her to dress semi-formal Em expected to be attending a party or perhaps an upscale restaurant. Her stomach fluttered at the thought of spending hours with him. From the few conversations they’d engaged in over the last few months she knew he was intelligent and didn’t doubt he’d be a charming companion for the evening. It was how charming he’d prove to be that had her worried.
Slicking on a coat of lip gloss she rolled her lips together to spread the layer evenly. She bypassed her foundation and blush and opted for a single swipe of mascara on her lashes. The temperature hadn’t lowered a great deal and she’d learned not to risk melted make-up disasters long ago. Sydney’s summers were best dealt with naturally and today was no exception. If the weathermen were to be believed there’d be no relief from the heat in the next few days and her car’s climate control system had registered a stifling thirty-eight degrees when she’d arrived home at five o’clock.
Emily checked her reflection one more time. Happy with both her hair and face, she made her way back to the bedroom and the black dress awaiting her. She pulled a matching bra and panties set out of her top drawer while she eyed the slinky material draped over her quilt. The fabric shimmered in the low light and Em couldn’t help but wonder what Wade would think when he saw her. A smile tugged at her lips. She’d never be a traffic stopper with her overly slender body, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t look good. Knowing how to play up her best assets had served her well in the past.
Not that she was out to impress him.
She slipped the belt of her robe free and shrugged out of the satin negligee she’d spent far too much money on last birthday. It wasn’t often Em spoiled herself, the plan didn’t allow for it for a start, but she’d never been one to indulge in frivolous things. While she hadn’t needed a new robe Em had found it impossible to pass up and consoled her practical side by saying it was a birthday gift to herself after exceeding the first year’s goal in her five year plan.
Stepping into the lace underwear Em thought about how far she’d come. From high school drop-out to business owner in less years than it took most to get their degrees. Years spent with her nose buried in books earned her not only a high school certificate, but a degree in early childhood education and a business degree with a minor in accounting: all things necessary to make her childcare centre such a success that parents put their children’s name down on the waiting list before they were born. By most people’s standards she’d already made it. But Emily wasn’t quite done yet.
Two more years and she would have achieved her goal a whole year ahead of time. Then she’d be able to step back and enjoy the results of all her hard work. Until then she couldn’t afford to be distracted by a good looking man, no matter how he made her insides churn. She’d go on this date and make it perfectly clear that she wasn’t interested in anything more. Emily chewed her bottom lip as she bent forward to fit her breasts into the cups of her bra properly. The delicate lace hugged her size-A mounds, barely covering her nipples. She didn’t normally wear such a low-cut undergarment, but the dress’s scooped neckline made the risqué underwear a necessity. And Emily excelled at doing what was necessary.
Emily reached for her dress and lowered the zipper. Carefully, she lifted the fabric over her head and shimmied until the soft material floated down her body. The silky caress of cool cloth sent a shiver down her spine. Twisting, she managed to get the zip up to her shoulders before contorting herself like a pretzel to close it the rest of the way. With another small shimmy the dress rippled and slid into place. Satisfied with her outfit if not precisely comfortable, Em searched the cupboard for her black sandals then headed for the living room.
She checked her phone in the hope of finding a message from Wade telling her he had to cancel, but there was no little envelope icon on the screen. It was probably best if she just accepted she was going on a date with Wade Johnson no matter how much she’d fought against it. Resigned to the inevitable Emily sighed and sat on the couch to wait for him to arrive.
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