Claiming Christmas

Page 2

I shrug. “I…guess I don’t realize I’m doing it.”
“You need to stop that shit, Jess. You’re a beautiful woman. Any man would be lucky to have you.”
I swallow hard. “I—You think I’m beautiful?”
“Beautiful, kind, intelligent. Sexy.” His blue eyes darken as they hold mine, and my breath gets stuck somewhere between my lungs and my throat.
Oh, fuck!
I can’t look away. It’s like he’s staring into my soul. Like he sees me. Really sees me. Not the overweight woman with body image issues but the sexy AF vamp that wants to lick his dimples and ride him bronco-style.
Weird things are happening between my thighs, and if my nipples get any harder, they’ll poke someone’s eye out—namely, Connor’s, who’s right in nipple-poking range. That thought leads me down another rabbit hole that requires both of us to be naked.
Before I can formulate one of my usual witty comebacks, someone calls Connor’s name, and he takes off to deal with their query.
Nervous perspiration prickles over my skin, and I stand and make my way to the ladies' room. I take a few deep breaths as I splash cold water on my hot cheeks. Grabbing some paper towels, I pat my face dry, staring at myself in the mirror. Hazel eyes stare back at me from a rounded face in its frame of light-brown hair. Nothing exciting there unless you consider freckles sexy. My eyes slide down. Big boobs, thick thighs. I’m no one’s idea of a femme fatale—as my ex-boyfriend liked to remind me regularly.
I’m twenty-three years old, for God’s sake, and practically swooning because a man told me I’m sexy. Not just any man, though. Connor Banks—the man I’ve been secretly lusting after for months. But I can’t go there, even if, by some miracle, he did reciprocate my feelings. I’m sure he was just being kind. After all, we work together. I’m just the colleague who greets him with a mug of coffee every morning and tells him to be careful every time he goes out on patrol.
“Pull yourself together, Monroe,” I tell my reflection.
Once I’ve composed myself, I head back to my desk and call the local garage, who promise to send someone over right away to add the snow chains to the sheriff’s and Connor’s cruisers. True to their word, they get them done in record time, and Connor heads out on patrol.
I spend the next hour catching up on paperwork and answering the phones, which are particularly busy today due to the incoming weather and queries from concerned residents.
I call the local radio station and ask them to put out an announcement advising the residents to head home before the snowstorm hits town. This storm is going to unleash a ton of snow, so it’s better to cover all avenues to ensure everyones safety.
I’m just finishing the call when Drayon appears beside me. “All done,” I say, handing him his keys before he has the chance to ask. “I, uh, I think I’ll stay here tonight. Be good for Connor to have an extra pair of hands on the phones in case it gets busy,” I blurt, feeling warmth hit my cheeks at Drayton’s knowing smile.
I hadn’t planned to stay. My mouth seems to have momentarily disengaged from my brain. Somehow, I’ve just volunteered to spend the night at the station. With Connor. Just the two of us.
Drayton glances at the clock on the wall, which shows a little after 3 PM. “I won’t be back unless you need me. I’m going to take a drive around town to make sure everyone is shutting up shop and heading home.”
“Okay, boss. Connor left on patrol about an hour ago, but he should be on his way back now. You be careful out there,” I say with a worried frown.
“Always,” he replies, lifting a hand in farewell.
If anyone can take care of themselves, it’s Drayton Saunders. Years in the military prepared him for any kind of emergency. Rumor has it, he was shipped home after being caught in a bomb blast in Yemen, but he doesn’t speak about it. I know his father, Danny, who owns The Hideout—the only bar in town, and he’s incredibly proud of his son.
Feeling a headache coming on, I press the pads of my fingers against my temples and sigh in frustration. I need coffee. It’s going to be a long day.