tagRomanceOut of the Cold

Out of the Cold


They say no two snowflakes are alike, that each is unique. But as the wind whipped flakes into a blizzard-fueled frenzy, each felt like the same sharp-edged blade, ripping through the air to slice into my skin. I huddled further into my oversized coat, shivering as cold air slithered under its edges. Massachusetts winters are not for the faint of heart, and here in the western part of the state, weather is compounded by lake effect from upper New York.

I hurried across the yard, eager to escape Old Man Winter, more than willing to trade wicked snowflakes for the placid, though scented, air of the barn. Struggling to close the heavy door against an insistent wind, I cursed soundly as it finally slammed shut, the heavy wood knocking me back a few feet. Lunging for the door as Winter threatened to open it again, I slid the wooden bar into the lock and huffed out a breath of frustration. Although I was mostly glad that no one else had been home when this nor'easter had decided to turn blizzard, it was a cold, lonely walk from house to barn to make sure the animals were settled in for the storm.

Flicking on the light switch, I reached over and ran my hand down Lady's back. A sturdy young Herford, she was the symbol of our return to farming, and, we hoped, the start of our own herd. Stepping up beside her, I scratched between her eyes, chuckling as she butted against my hand, looking for the treats she'd come to expect from me. Rolling my eyes, I gave her one of the apples I'd slipped in my pocket. When she reached for another, I shook my head and backed away, reminding her she needed to eat her hay and grain before she got any more treats. She snorted, tossing her head in derision, and I laughed aloud as I crossed the aisle to check on the pig.

Cleaning stalls and brushing down Lady had made me pleasantly warm, and I stripped off my coat with a sigh of relief. Although effective, I resented its bulk, finding it easier to do chores in my shirtsleeves than bundled up in layers of sheepskin and corduroy. Tossing the coat over an empty stanchion, I strode toward the far stall, where once we'd had even more cows, but now stored the hay and sawdust we used for bedding.

Swinging around the end of the stall, I stopped dead in my tracks, a squeak of surprise passing my lips before I could clamp them shut. Stumbling back, I leaned against the worn wood wall, scrabbling for a pitchfork, a hoe, even a broom. The only thing that came to my fingers was discarded twine from a used bale of hay. Not much use against the dark-eyed, tousle-haired stranger staring up at me from the nest of hay he'd made in the corner of the stall.

Cheeks flushed, eyes narrowed, and heart pounding, I darted for the shovel I'd left leaning against the pigpen, only to come to a stop when his hand covered mine at the top of the chest-high stall door. It was the coldness of his fingers, as much as the warmth of his eyes, that made me hesitate. Looking closely at him, I took in his sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers. Definitely not cold-weather gear, as evidenced by the abrupt chatter of teeth as he shivered. Pulling myself away from the warmth of his brown eyes, I shivered as awareness zinged through me. Although I had no reason to trust him, yet, I felt safe...even protected.

Shaking off the fanciful notion, I pulled my hand from under his and hurried to my discarded coat, conscious of his dark eyes following my every step. Wordlessly I handed it over to him, watching as he gratefully pulled it on, chafing his hands together and blowing on them before sinking down onto a bale of hay.

"Thanks," he mumbled, cheeks pink.

"No problem," I shrugged. Leaning against the wall, I crossed my feet. "Who are you?"

"Oh." He stood up, extending his hand. "Sorry. I'm Darren." He flashed a quick grin, and I felt my knees tremble. "And you are...?"


He kissed my hand in a courtly gesture, one that made me wish for things I could never have...and oddly enough, this man became the center of those dreams.

Tightening my lips into a frown, I straightened up. I didn't even know him, so how could he have such an effect on me? Rolling my shoulders, I leaned forward to accept his hand, shaking off my hyper-sensitive nerves as just an overly-active imagination. I fought the tingle that raced from my fingers to my stomach, though mentally locking his hands into the "oh yes, please touch me" category. I avoided his eyes, however, knowing that if I looked into them, I'd be lost.

Sighing at my fanciful thoughts, I wondered if I shouldn't have spent more time trying to get laid, these last few months. Obviously I was in dire need of a good roll in the...

Wow. My eyes shot to the bale he'd sat back down on, and I felt a flush burning my cheeks. Shivering at the direction my thoughts had so easily taken, I yanked an armful of hay from the nearest bale, and strode to Lady's trough. As my hands mechanically shook the hay out for her to eat, my mind flashed back to Darren. All too easily I could see the bits of hay stuck in his dark hair, the curve of his smile, the way those faded jeans clung to his thighs....

"Do you always do that?"

I jumped, smacking my head on the crossbar for the stanchions. My flush felt permanent now, and I cursed the light skin that made it so visible. Rubbing my head and wishing the floor would just open up under me, I turned to see Darren perched against the edge of the grain barrel. I gulped and did my best to avoid looking at him, to avoid visually tracing those legs, that tight butt, his chest visible where my coat was unbuttoned.... With a groan, I shifted my eyes...and met his, brimming with laughter and lined with an equal awareness.

I whipped around, sending my braid flying, feeling like a complete fool...and worse, a sex-starved idiot.

"Do what?" I snarled, feeling my ears burn with mortification.

"Hand-feed your cow," he responded, laughter mixing with curiosity as he tipped his head to indicate my apple-filled hand, and Lady's tongue as it curled around the treat.

I gulped, grateful he wasn't pointing out my less-than-subtle appreciation of his charms. Rubbing behind Lady's ears, I smiled. "Well, I do tend to spoil her," I admitted with a shrug.

Just then the wind shrieked, beating at the doors, trying to break them open. Shivering, I looked out the window. With a sigh, I grabbed some old horse blankets we still kept in the corner, shaking out dust and debris. Tossing the stack into the hay stall, I shot Darren a quick, apologetic smile. "Hope you're not planning on going anywhere in a hurry...we're in a complete white-out now."

"White out?"

"Yeah. Blizzard," I explained. "The can't-see-a-foot-in-front-of-your-face type stuff." I cocked my head. "Just where are you from, anyway?"

A quick grin made his eyes dance. "Cher...can't you tell? I'm just a good ol' Cajun boy," he drawled, sweeping into a low bow.

I cursed the butterflies that had taken up residence in my stomach, and busied myself making a nest out of loose hay and dusty cotton. Stretching across the blankets to smooth out the corners, I thought I heard a low masculine growl, but when I spun around, Darren was standing next to Lady, stroking his hands along her back and murmuring to her softly. I kicked myself for being jealous of a cow.

Standing, I leaned on the stall, watched, and lusted. I must have made a sound at some point, because he turned, and his eyes arrowed straight to mine. I felt my pulse start to pound at the deep, dark look in his eyes, and I pressed my throbbing nipples tight against worn wood, wondering how they would feel in his mouth. I felt my face flush again, but couldn't force myself to look away, mesmerized by the gentle stroke of skin on fur.

Holding my eyes, Darren slipped around Lady's backside, now facing me as he stroked his hands over her dark red coat. My eyes narrowed and my back arched as he touched, caressed, stroked. I couldn't turn away from the dark promise in his eyes, and my body began to respond as if it were me he was touching, as if it were my skin under his knowledgeable hands.

Desperate to break his spell before I shivered through an orgasm without even being touched, I blurted out the question that had been rolling around in my mind. "What on earth are you doing up here?"

A laugh rumbled out of him, dimpling his cheek, but still he refused to unlock our gaze. "I'm TDY at Westover. Y'all roll up the sidewalks early 'round here, so I decided to see what" his voice deepened, "trouble...I could get into on my own." He shrugged, tipping his head to the window. "I sure didn't expect this," he admitted wryly. "So, when the rental car breaks down, and the dark starts turning white...I head for the nearest lights. I happened," he grimaced, rubbing his knee, "to stumble into your barn. Looked like the best place to hide out for a while...."

"Uh huh. Westover, huh?" I grinned, feeling more at ease. "Air Force, then." It was a statement, rather than a question.

"Mmm hmm," he murmured, still stroking Lady's coat, smoothing and soothing it, running his fingers through the curls and making me ache. "Twenty-two years and counting."

"Wow." I was impressed. "I only did seven."

That sly grin slid back over his face. "Too bad, maybe we coulda ended up stationed together."

"How do you know we didn't?" I laughed.

"Oh, I'd'a known," he said, molten molasses eyes sliding over me in a visual caress.

I gulped.

Giving Lady one last pat, he walked toward me. I stood frozen, some small part of my mind screaming that this is how the deer felt as a car hurtled toward it. His eyes never left mine, both of us speaking volumes in the silence.

Placing a hand on either side of my elbows, he leaned forward over the stall. As I braced myself, his lips slid past mine, just a whisper away, his soft chuckle mingling with my sharp gasp. Humor mixed with hunger as he began to whisper things in my ear, soft, sexy words whose meaning my mind couldn't decipher, though my body could – and did.

My legs shook and my pulse throbbed. My bones turned to water, and as I started to slide down the wall, his lips grazed my temple in the briefest of touches. With a soft sigh, I sank to the blankets, leaning my head back and struggling for breath. Flushed and aching, I watched as he came into the stall. I felt my pulse match his every step, lost myself in the dark whirlpools of his eyes. And as my body hummed with awareness, I decided that for once, I was going to live for the moment and let tomorrow take care of itself.

Lifting my hand, I beckoned him to join me on the blanket. Reaching out, he twined his fingers in mine, slowly sinking down beside me, a slow smile gracing the sexy curve of his lips.

Rising to my knees, I met him halfway, holding tight to his fingers. I lifted my other hand and sifted my trembling fingers through his short, dark hair. My lips parted on a moan, and cupping the back of his head, I pulled him to me, aching to feel his mouth on mine, groaning in frustration as his rich chuckle washed over me, a hairsbreadth from my quivering lips.

"Slow down," he whispered. "Enjoy. Don't rush...."

He nibbled me, teasing little bites that peppered my lips, my jaw, my ears. As my eyes drifted shut with pleasure, he murmured for me to open them, reading every emotion as it shivered through me.

After what seemed an eternity, he settled his lips on mine. I shuddered, pleasure slamming through me, my breath raspy and harsh to my own ears. I rocked forward, leaning into him, aching to feel his full length against me. My nails scraped against his hairline as my hunger overwhelmed my senses. I wanted this man like I'd wanted nothing else in my life, and I poured every ounce of that hunger into my kiss, begging, demanding, pleading with soft mews and panting breaths.

He pulled me to him with a deep groan, sliding his hand into my hair, tangling it there, holding me still and giving as good as he got. He wedged our joined hands behind my back, arching me into him, slipping his fingers under the hem of my shirt and gently caressing the soft skin of my back.

His tongue tangled with mine, his fingers holding me tight as I exploded, ecstasy ripping through me with the same ferocity as the blizzard that had trapped us in the barn. Crying his name into the depths of his mouth, I was flung apart at the seams, only to be rebuilt again by his soft murmur and gentle touch.

When the shudders wracking me had subsided to mere tremors, he hugged me close. I yearned to understand the words rolling off his tongue, but was still too dazzled to ask for a translation. Some part of me mentally cursed the eight years of Spanish I'd studied, wishing now that I'd taken some French, instead. The rest of me just sighed in pleasure.

Brushing a hand through my hair, he tipped my head back and smiled at me. "Wow," he grinned.

I blushed. Granted, it'd been a while since I'd been with anyone...but to explode just from a kiss? True, it was a phenomenal kiss that had rocked me to the core...but still. Certain that he'd want nothing more to do with me now, I shifted, intending to pull away, babbling a senseless apology.

He refused to let me go. Stroking a hand along the length of my back, slipping back up to rub my neck before stroking my length again, he resettled me against him, soothing me in a way I'd never before experienced. Feeling me sigh, he shifted until he was sitting on the blankets, never letting go of me, until he had me settled against his shoulder, curled up into him, his legs bracketing me on either side.

"No, sugar, just sit. That's it, there you go." His breath stirred the hair at my temple.

Taking a deep breath, I peeked up from under my lashes. "I'm...uh...well, please don't think I go off like that all the time," I blurted out, nearly tripping over my own tongue.

Tucking a finger under my chin, he forced my eyes to meet his. Easily reading my mortification, he swallowed his grin. "Sugar...trust me, that my kiss could do that," his hand squeezed my hip, "that was a compliment." His grin broke through, and he kissed the tip of my nose. "In fact, feel free to...ah...'go off' like that whenever I touch you."

Flushing, I tried to bury my face in his shoulder, but he'd have none of it. He touched me, his eyes darkening to that molten molasses color, brushing his hand over me in light strokes that I felt down to my toes.

"I like that this arouses you," he whispered, stroking me again, "and this," and again, "and this." I whimpered, my blue eyes burning with a fire of their own as I helplessly rocked against his hand.

Shifting, he lay me down on the blanket, spreading my thighs with his knee, tucking our bodies tightly together. Bracing himself on his elbows, he cupped my face in his hands, leaning down and kissing me. I moaned and surged up against him, fighting to get more of him onto me, shoving my hands under the coat, under his sweatshirt, up his back onto his shoulders, even as my legs tightened around his.

With a husky groan, he fisted one hand in my braid, and the other slid under my hips, pulling me hard against him, letting me feel his own need, his mouth crushing against mine.

I couldn't get enough. No matter how much he gave me, how deeply we kissed, how many times he made me tremble through orgasm, I wanted more. I needed him inside of me, on top of me, surrounding me. I needed him to be my world, my thought, the very air I breathed. I needed to bring him as much pleasure as he brought me, needed to make him as crazy with passion as he was making me, needed to feel himself lose himself in the pleasure I offered him.

Crying his name, I writhed against him, both offering and demanding, desperate with desire. Burying his face in my neck, he rolled us over, letting me straddle him, his hands holding my hips tight as he ground up against me. Settling me back, he clenched the neckline of my shirt and tore it open, exposing my lace-covered breasts to the cool air. Sliding his hands under the straps, he tugged me down at the same time he bared me to his gaze. Putting his hands on my shoulders, he held me above him, mesmerized by the soft wobble of creamy white skin. At my whimper of frustration, he softly, gently pulled me down, caressing me with his hands, mouth, tongue and teeth. I burrowed my hands into his hair, pulling him closer, offering him more, rocking my hips against his in a silent plea.

Wrapping his arms around my back, he carefully shifted, until I was once again beneath him, his control and tenderness making me feel like the finest spun glass. Feasting on my breasts, my neck, my ears, he worked his way up until I refocused his attentions on my trembling lips. Yet it was with a sigh of complete acquiescence that I surrendered to his downward journey as he nibbled and licked the length of my torso. It came as a complete shock when I realized that he had, somewhere along the line, finished removing my clothing, leaving me bared and quivering before him.

He shifted back onto his heels, hovering over me, smiling at me with a look of hungry pleasure. With a wicked smile, he slipped a finger inside of me, lightly caressing my heat even as he made me clench and gush around him. Muffling my cries against his shoulder, I heaved and thrashed, determined to feel him inside of me, driven to the brink of madness in my need for him.

Rolling us over, I lifted myself over him, teasing us both with my wetness but withholding my heat, until I saw his eyes darken and felt his hands clench on my waist. As I lowered, he lifted, sliding deep into me, my slick response easing his passage as my body stretched to accommodate him. Groaning, he shifted us yet again, until I was once more beneath him, but now balanced both legs against his shoulders as he plunged deep, and kissed me hard.

We lost ourselves in the smooth rhythm of our lovemaking. We moaned, whimpered, kissed, and whispered lovers' words to each other while the blizzard raged on outside. The rest of the world had ceased to exist – all that mattered was the here and now, our lovemaking, and each other.

His attentions had made me slick, and now his sweet, gentle motions made me complete. Lowering, I spread wide to feel all of him, even as he pushed deep to complete himself in me. Pulling me forward, he kissed me, again and again, mimicking with his tongue the same smooth movement he used to thrust into me. My body wept with pleasure, coating him in my excitement as he became my only awareness, my only need.

As he emptied himself into me, I convulsed in my own rapture, unable to breathe at the sheer perfection of our joining. I held him tightly to me, welcoming every drop. And when he dropped back beside me, both of us breathing hard, I looked at this man, this intimate stranger, and knew I was his. Neither of us were able to speak, yet without a second thought we curled up together on the blankets, in the dusty barn in a raging blizzard. He threaded his fingers through mine, and rested our joined hands low on my belly. As I drifted off too sleep, I wondered if he would mind my insatiable greed for his touch, and wondered what other positions we could find out here in our haven. And my last thought, as I listened to his breath grow slow, was to wonder if our lovemaking, having been unexpected and unprotected, would bear any fruit. With a soft sigh of contentment, I pressed our hands tighter to my belly, then tumbled off to sleep, safe in Darren's arms.

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