Born In Ice PDF Free Download


She simply stood there, staring at him, her lips still parted in shock, her eyes huge with it.
'Wait a minute,' he murmured and moved to her again. 'Wait just a minute.'
She couldn't have moved if the roof had caved in. She could barely breathe as his hands framed her face again, gently this time, like a man experimenting with texture. His eyes stayed open, the expression in them not entirely pleased as he leaned toward her this time.
She felt his lips brush hers, soft, lovely. The kind of touch that shouldn't have kindled a fire in the blood. Yet her blood heated. He turned her, just enough so that their bodies met, tipped her head back just enough so that the kiss would deepen.
Some sound, distress or pleasure, hummed in her throat before her fisted hands went limp.
Hers was a mouth to savor, he realized. Full, generous, yielding. A man shouldn't hurry a mouth such as this. He scraped his teeth lightly over her bottom lip and thrilled to the low, helpless purr that answered him. Slowly, watching her eyes glaze and close, he traced her lips with his tongue, dipped inside.
So many subtle flavors.
It was wonderful, the way he could feel her skin warm, her bones soften, her heart pound. Or maybe it was his heart. Something was roaring in his head, throbbing in his blood. It wasn't until greed began to grow, with the crafty violence that mated with it, that he drew back.
She was trembling, and instinct warned him that if he let himself go, he'd hurt them both. 'That was better than I imagined it would be,' he managed. 'And I've got a hell of an imagination.'
Staggered, she braced a hand on the counter. Her knees were shaking. Only fear of mortification kept her voice from shaking as well. 'Is this how you always behave when you come out of your cave?'
'I'm not always lucky enough to have a beautiful woman handy.' He tilted his head, studying her. The pulse in her throat was still jumping, and her skin was still flushed. But, unless he was off the mark, she was already rebuilding that thin, defensive wall. 'That wasn't ordinary. There isn't any point in pretending it was.'
'I'm not ordinarily kissed by a guest while I'm making bread. I wouldn't know what's ordinary for you, would I?' His eyes changed, darkening with a hint of temper. When he stepped forward, she stepped back. 'Please, don't.'
Now those dark eyes narrowed. 'Be more specific.'
'I have to finish this. The dough needs to rise again.'
'You're evading, Brianna.'
'All right, don't kiss me like that again.' She let out a choppy breath, drew another in. 'I don't have the right defenses.'
'It doesn't have to be a battle. I'd like to take you to bed, Brianna.'
To occupy her nervous hands, she snatched up a towel and rubbed at the dough clinging to her fingers. 'Well, that's blunt.'
'It's honest. If you're not interested, just say so.'
'I don't take things as casually as you, with a yes or a no, and no harm done.' Fighting for calm, she folded the towel neatly, set it aside. 'And I've no experience in such matters.'
Damn her for being cool when his blood was raging. 'What matters?'
'The one you're speaking of. Now move aside, so I can get back to my bread.'
He simply took her arm and stared into her eyes. A virgin? he wondered, letting the idea circle around and take root. A woman who looked like this, who responded like this?
'Is something wrong with the men around here?' He said it lightly, hoping to cut some of the tension. But the result was a flash of pain in her eyes that made him feel like a slug.
'It's my business, isn't it, how I live my life?' Her voice had chilled. 'Now, I've respected your wishes and your work these past days. Would you do me the same and let me get on with mine?'
'All right.' He let her go, stepped back. 'I'm going out for a while. Do you want me to pick up anything for you?'
'No, thank you.' She plunged her hands into the dough again and began to knead. 'It's raining a bit,' she said evenly. 'You might want a jacket.'
He walked to the doorway, turned back. 'Brianna.' He waited until she'd lifted her head. 'You never said whether or not you were interested. I'll have to assume you're thinking about it.'
He strode out. She didn't let out her next breath until she heard the door close behind him.
Gray worked off excess energy with a long drive and a visit to the Cliffs of Moher. To give them both time to settle, he stopped in for lunch at a pub in Ennis. He walked off a heavy dose of fish and chips by wandering along the narrow streets. Something in a shop window caught his eyes, and following impulse he stepped inside and had it boxed.
By the time he returned to Blackthorn, he'd nearly convinced himself that what he'd experienced in the kitchen with Brianna was more a result of his joy over his work than chemistry.
Still, when he stepped into his room and found her kneeling on the edge of his bathroom floor, a bucket beside her and a rag in her hand, the scales tipped the other way. If a man wasn't dazzled with sex, why else would such a picture make his blood pump?
'Do you have any idea how often I come across you in that position?'
She looked over her shoulder. 'It's an honest living.' She blew her hair back. 'I'll tell you this, Grayson Thane, you live like a pig when you're working.'
He cocked a brow. 'Is that the way you talk to all your guests?'
He had her there. She flushed a little and slapped her rag back on the floor. 'I'll be done here soon if you've a mind to get back to it. I've another guest coming in this evening.'
'Tonight?' He scowled at the back of her head. He liked having the place to himself. Having her to himself. 'Who?'
'A British gentleman. He called shortly after you left this morning.'
'Well, who is he? How long's he staying?' And what the hell did he want?
'A night or two,' she said easily. 'I don't interrogate my guests, as you should know.'
'It just seems to me that you should ask questions. You can't just let strangers waltz into your home.'
Amused, she sat back and shook her head at him. A combination of the scruffy and elegant, she thought, with his gold-tipped hair pulled back piratelike, those lovely eyes of his sulky, the pricey boots, worn jeans, and crisp shirt. 'That's exactly what I do. I believe you waltzed in yourself, in the dead of night, not so long ago.'
'That's different.' At her bland look, he shrugged. 'It just is. Look, would you get up and stop that? You could eat off the damn floor.'
'Obviously today's rambling didn't put a smile on your face.'
'I was fine.' He prowled the room, then snarled. 'You've been messing with my desk.'
'I cleaned off an inch of dust and cigarette ash, if that's what you're meaning. I didn't touch your little machine there except to lift it up and set it down again.' Though she'd been tempted, sorely, to open the lid and take a peek at the works.
'You don't have to clean up after me all the time.' He hissed out a breath, stuffed his hands in his pockets when she simply stood, bucket in hand, and looked at him. 'Goddamn it, I thought I'd figured this out. It's not doing my ego any good to know you're not even trying to tie me up in knots.' He closed his eyes, let out a breath. 'Okay, let's try this again. I brought you a present.'
'Did you? Why?'
'Why the hell not?' He snatched the bag he'd put on the bed and handed it to her. 'I saw it. I thought you'd like it.'
'That was kind of you.' She slipped the box from the bag and began to work at the tape that held it closed.
She smelled of soap and flowers and disinfectant. Gray set his teeth. 'Unless you want me to toss you on the bed you've just tidied up, you'd be wise to step back.'
She looked up, startled, her hands freezing on the box. 'I'm serious.'
Cautious, she moistened her lips. 'All right.' She took a step back, then another. 'Is this better?'
The absurdity of it finally struck. Helpless to do otherwise, he grinned at her. 'Why do you fascinate me, Brianna?'
'I have no idea. None at all.'
'That might be why,' he murmured. 'Open your present.'
'I'm trying.' She loosened the tape, turned back the lid, and dug into the tissue paper. 'Oh, it's lovely.' Pleasure lit her face as she turned the porcelain cottage in her hands. It was delicately made, the front door open in welcome, a tidy garden with each tiny petal perfect. 'It looks as though you could move right in.' 'It made me think of you.'
'Thank you.' Her smile was easier now. 'Did you buy it to soften me up?' 'Tell me if it worked first.'
Now she laughed. 'No, I won't. You have advantage enough as it is.' 'Do I?'
Warned by the purr in his tone, she concentrated on replacing the cottage in the bed of tissue. 'I have dinner to tend to. Will you be wanting a tray?' 'Not tonight. The first wave's past.' 'The new guest is expected by five, so you'll have company with your meal.' 'Terrific.'
Gray had been prepared to dislike the British gentlemen on sight, rather like a stud dog, he realized, exercising territorial rights. But it was difficult to feel threatened or irritated with the tidy little man with the shiny bald pate and the snooty public school accent.
His name was Herbert Smythe-White, of London, a retired widower who was in the first stages of a six-month tour of Ireland and Scotland.
'Pure indulgence,' he told Gray over dinner. 'Nancy and I weren't blessed with children, you see. She's been gone nearly two years now, and I find myself brooding about the house. We'd planned to make a trip like this, but work always kept me too busy.' His smile was laced with regret. 'I decided to make it myself as a sort of tribute to her. I think she would have liked that.'
'Is this your first stop?'
'It is. I flew into Shannon, leased a car.' He chuckled, taking off his wire-rimmed glasses and polishing the lenses on a handkerchief. 'I'm armed with the tourist's weapons of maps and guidebooks. I'll take a day or two here before heading north.' He set his glasses back on his prominent nose. 'I'm very much afraid I'm taking the best first, however. Miss Concannon sets an excellent table.'
'You won't get an argument from me.' They were sharing the dining room and a succulent salmon. 'What work were you in?'
'Banking. I'm afraid I spent too much of my life worried about figures.' He helped himself to another spoonful of potatoes in mustard sauce. 'And you, Mr. Thane. Miss Concannon tells me you're a writer. We practical sorts always envy the creative ones. I've never taken enough time to read for pleasure, but will certainly pick up one of your books now that we've met. Are you traveling, also?'
'Not at the moment. I'm based here for now.'
'Here, at the inn?'
'That's right.' He glanced up as Brianna came in.
'I hope you've room for dessert.' She set a large bowl of trifle on the table.
'Oh, my dear.' Behind his polished lenses, Smythe-White's eyes danced with pleasure, and perhaps a little greed. 'I'll be a stone heavier before I leave the room.'
'I put magic in it, so the calories don't count.' She dished generous portions into bowls. 'I hope your room's comfortable, sir. If there's anything you need, you've only to ask.'
'It's exactly what I want,' he assured her. 'I must come back when your garden's in bloom,'
'I hope you will.' She left them a coffeepot and a decanter of brandy.
'A lovely woman,' Smythe-White commented.
'Yes, she is.'
'And so young to be running an establishment alone. One would think she'd have a husband, a family.'
'She's nothing if not efficient.' The first spoonful of trifle melted on Gray's tongue. Efficient wasn't the word, he realized. The woman was a culinary witch. 'She has a sister and brother-in-law just down the road. And it's a close community. Someone's always knocking on the kitchen door.'
'That's fortunate. I imagine it could be a lonely place otherwise. Still, I noticed as I was driving in that neighbors are few and far between.' He smiled again. 'I'm afraid I'm spoiled by the city, and not at all ashamed that I enjoy the crowds and the pace. It may take me awhile to grow accustomed to the night quiet.'
'You'll have plenty of it.' Gray poured brandy into a snifter, then, at his companion's nod, into a second. 'I was in London not long ago. What part are you from?'
'I have a little flat near Green Park. Didn't have the heart to keep the house after Nancy went.' He sighed, swirled brandy. 'Let me offer some unsolicited advice, Mr. Thane. Make your days count. Don't invest all your efforts in the future. You miss too much of the now.'
'That's advice I live on.'
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