An excerpt from a work in progress, the prompt is “holiday,” and this passage is for mature audiences.
“Stupid!” muttered Anna under her breath as she yanked open her closet door. She reached in, shoving dresses and blouses back and forth without really seeing what she was touching. Her hand closed over a hanger and she pulled a dress out, then made a face when she noted it was the bright pink one she had worn to the holiday party at the youth center. Quickly, she shoved it back into the closet toward the back and well out of sight.
She flipped more hangers, finally slowing down enough to see at least the colors. When she came upon the gray dress Monica had rejected the day before, Anna hauled it out to hold it up, considering its potential for the funeral. It had a tendency to be figure-hugging, and it was short but tastefully colored, in gray, black, and white. Probably something her brother’s hot-hot partner wouldn’t be caught dead in, even for a funeral. Not that it mattered. What did she care if James—no, Garrett, she corrected, as bile prickled the back of her throat—ogled the voluptuous Gina?
“Anna.” His voice from the doorway was low and calm.
She froze in place, drew a steadying breath, then turned to regard James—Garrett as he leaned on the doorjamb watching her, his eyes dark and intense.
“When I first met you, telling you anything about me was the last thing I wanted to do,” he said, pushing away from the door and limping across the threshold. “You knowing my name wasn’t important. It was better if you didn’t know so much.” He hesitated in the center of the room, only a few feet away. But he might as well have been on the other side of the world with the emotional distance he’d created between them. “I didn’t think I would be here long enough for it to matter.” Garrett heaved a long sigh. “For you to matter.”
Anna continued to glare at him but he didn’t move, didn’t turn away. Her resolution faltered first, and she tore her eyes from his to look over his shoulder, seeing nothing but the pale pink wall behind him.
“I just realized I have to find something to wear to Courtney’s funeral,” she said, her voice choked with tears. “I don’t really have anything black.” She laughed bitterly. “Monica says my clothes are scary.”
“Anna.” He took a step forward, holding his hands out, palms facing upward. “I’m sorry. I should have told you I reversed my names.”
“You didn’t trust me.” Anna slapped at his hands but he didn’t flinch and she took a step backward. “Hey, I get it.”
“At first I didn’t trust anybody,” Garrett admitted softly, the words seeming to be wrung from somewhere deep inside him. “Then I didn’t know how to tell you…or when.”
“Oh, really? You don’t think maybe when you were telling me about your life would have been a good time?” she asked pointedly, slashing her gaze back to his. “Or maybe when we were kissing—” She stopped, blinking back more tears. Damn him. “It’s okay, I get that too. It didn’t mean anything to you—none of it—meant anything to you. I—didn’t mean anything to you beyond my ability to provide a place to lie low and hey, what’s wrong with a kiss or two between friends? Oh that’s right.” She narrowed her gaze. “I’m not your friend, I’m an asset. Don’t worry, I’m over it. No big deal.”
Anna turned away, striving to salvage her pride with feigned indifference she was far from feeling, as she shoved the gray dress back into the closet. She flipped through the clothing again, chose another hanger, and began to pull it from the closet when she felt him behind her. His arms were not gentle as he placed them around her, covering her hand with his own and shoving the hanger back into the closet before it was even fully out.
Without saying a word, he grasped her by the shoulders and turned her forcefully, so that she faced him. Hurt and anger made a dangerous combination and the storm brewing inside of Anna erupted in the form of her fist to his jaw. When she connected instead to the palm of his left hand, she followed quickly with her left, only to find that hand imprisoned as well, leaving her with only her feet, but even that option was gone when he backed her up against the open closet door, pushing his right leg between her knees.
Anna turned her head away from him, hating the way he felt, hating the way his closeness was making her feel.
“Anna.” His voice was raw with an undefined mix of emotions. “Look at me.”
She closed her eyes tightly, breathing heavily, wanting desperately to be anywhere but in the arms of this man with such a complicated life. But flames erupted at her center and spread outward.
He released her right hand and brushed his fingertips along her jaw. She flinched, not certain of his intent, but his touch was gentle as he turned her face to his.
“Anna. Look. At. Me.”
It was a command she was helpless to ignore and she opened her eyes.
He pinned her with his heated stare. Anna searched his eyes, unaware of what she looked for or what she expected to see. Kindness maybe, or understanding, even remorse.
Certainly not the brilliant burn of desire.
Her eyes widened, her lips parted in surprise.
With a groan, Garrett’s lips closed roughly over hers. Anna backed up against the closet door when her legs went weak. Then he buried his face in her neck and dragged his mouth along her shoulder, pushing her lacy white peasant blouse aside and off. Garrett ran his hands down her arms to her waist, seeking and finding the edge of her blouse and running his hands up underneath to cup her breasts through the satin fabric of her bra. When thumbs teased her nipples, Anna moaned and raised her own arms to twine around his neck.
The sound of panting breaths mixed with the whisper of cloth as he pushed her blouse up then stepped back slightly to pull it over her head. Tossing it behind him, Garrett bent to stroke the skin between her breasts with his lips. He murmured her name against her heart and Anna trembled inside and out as she arched into his touch.
Garrett stood up and looked her in the eyes again, still not saying anything, waiting for something, Anna realized.
Waiting for something from her.
No words formed, only whimpers from deep in her throat. And she didn’t want to push him away. She stopped thinking of the past, no longer thought beyond the exact instant.
Anna leaned forward and pressed her lips to Garrett’s, gently at first, then harder, shaking violently with the force of a need she had never in her life experienced. He stepped back but only to one-handedly push her bedroom door closed. Then he maneuvered them toward the bed, walking her backward until her knees struck the mattress. With just a gentle shove from Garrett, Anna’s knees gave way and she sat.
He used his body to nudge her back and down until he was straddling her, supporting his weight on arms that rested either side of her head. Something bunched in the small of Anna’s back and she twisted awkwardly until she nudged it out from beneath her. With a start, she recognized the red and green holiday afghan her mother had crocheted for her to cover up with while she waited up for Santa every year. The reminder of her mother, her childhood gave her pause. What the hell am I doing?
Then Garrett bent to capture her lips, as the pent-up energy that always clung between them exploded into full-blown passion. Nearing fever-pitch now, thoughts of caution abandoned, Anna found the edge of his dark T-shirt and pushed her hands beneath the hem, skimming her fingers across the sensitive bit skin just above the waist of his jeans. Impatiently, she pushed his shirt upward, needing to feel more, to see more. Anna struggled to breathe through her excitement, the lack of oxygen giving her a dizzying head rush.
Garrett helped her dispense with his shirt, and then reached for the clasp of her bra between her breasts. He paused. Were his hands trembling?
She tested the sound of his name with a whisper, “Garrett.”
He responded with a sharply indrawn breath and a twist of his fingers and then he was pushing the bit of satin aside. His eyes darkened as he took in the sight of her, then he dipped his head to capture one of her nipples between his lips. When he moved upward, his lips blazed a trail toward her lips again, and he slid his body slowly along hers. The hairs on his chest tickled Anna’s sensitized skin, sending electrical currents racing to all her happy places.
With a sound that was half sigh and half cry, Anna cupped Garrett’s face with one hand, lifted her head from the pillow and guided his mouth toward hers. He hovered maddeningly, holding her just at the edge of torment. Finally his lips captured hers again in a hard kiss that shattered every barrier between them as Anna opened her heart and welcomed him in.
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