Not a Chance (Sweet Nothings)
Author:Carter Ashby

chapter FIVE

On the second morning, sunshine streamed through a crack in the drapes and spilled directly into Travis's eyes. If not for that, he might have slept until noon, like he had the day before. He squeezed his eyes shut and rolled over, the mattress squeaking beneath him. The day before, he and Arden had dragged the queen size mattress down the stairs from the master bedroom. It was a good suggestion on Arden's part and may have had something to do with his grumbling about the floor hurting his back. Thirty-four...surely that was too young to be complaining about bodily aches and pains.

Travis sat up and glanced at the other side of the mattress. She slept soundly, looking profoundly beautiful with the early morning glow of the sun brightening her skin and casting shadows over her face. She had the blanket pulled up to her chin. He might have enjoyed fantasizing about the body underneath, with its soft subtle curves, but he knew that she was fully clothed and likely to stay that way.

The evening before they had played Monopoly and she had drank wine that she found in the kitchen cupboard. She'd asked why he didn't drink and he told her about the alcoholism. She'd surprised him by digging for more information. He wound up telling her way more about his past than he'd intended. He'd watched her the entire time, making sure she was truly interested and that her sympathy wasn't condescending or fake. She'd nodded along and empathized with him. She'd even told of a friend of her father's from out of town who had an alcohol problem.

It was a comfortable visit. Maybe it was because neither of them gave a shit about the opinion of the other. Maybe that's why they were so relaxed and comfortable together. Maybe getting all the sexual teasing out of the way earlier had lightened any tension they may have been dealing with.

He wanted her. No doubt about it. But she knew that and didn't seem to care. And she obviously didn't want him back. So they wound up falling into a companionable acquaintanceship rather quickly. Now she was sleeping and he took the opportunity to appreciate her beauty. She wasn't ice on the inside after all. She tried. But really she was playful and sexy and interesting. Maybe if they were snowed in long enough he could get in her pants.

She started to stir, so he stood and stretched, not wanting her to know he'd been gazing adoringly at her. His breath caught as she stretched and moaned and arched her back. "What time is it?" she asked in a groggy voice.

"Nine-thirty," he replied.

She exhaled and slowly pushed herself up. Then she smiled. "Sunshine!"

"Yes, cupcake?" he replied, grinning.

She rolled her eyes and stood and walked to the window. "Jeez. I've never seen that much snow, before. Look, it's blown in a drift all the way up to the window."

He joined her. It was deep, for sure. The sun would go a long ways towards melting some of it. But there was no way they were making it back to the road and getting the truck out of the ditch today.

She looked up at him and opened her mouth.

"Probably not today," he said, before she could ask.

She closed her mouth and frowned.

"Hey," he said. "If you're missing the warm embrace of your dear lover Nick, I'd be glad to fill his place for a while." He held out his arms.

She glared at him.

He dropped his arms. Okay, she's not in the mood for it, he thought. For that matter, he wasn't either. There was nothing pleasant about wanting a woman you couldn't have. If he could, he'd go up to Rowdy's bar and play pool with the guys and try to pick up a woman there. Lots of desperate thirty-somethings hung out up there. And Travis needed a thirty-something. Or a forty-something. Not a twenty-something with too many life lessons to be learned before she'd be stable enough for a relationship.

Just as he'd decided to turn and walk away, he noticed that her glare was gone, replaced by a rather vulnerable uncertainty. She was gently biting her bottom lip and staring at his chest. That's more like it, he thought.

He took a half step closer and leaned against the window. She looked up, meeting his eyes. She swallowed and he tried not to grin at her. Poor little princess wanted to be held and protected. He could do that. He would love to do that. "You okay?" he asked, reaching out and touching her shoulder. She glanced down at his hand and then back up to him. She nodded.

And then surprise of surprises, she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him. Elated, he wrapped his arms around her waist and took a deep breath of the amazing scent coming off her hair.

She was rubbing his shoulders and back and running her hand up the back of his neck and into his hair. It felt amazing. Sent tingles down his back. Made him achingly hard.

"You're a good man, Travis," she said. And there was something about the way she said it. The certainty and firmness in her tone. So that suddenly she wasn't the one being held and protected; he was. He gasped as his eyes suddenly stung. She kept stroking his neck and hair and back. He squeezed her tight against him. "I mean, a really good man," she said. "I hope you know that."

He cursed himself mentally for feeling so good about her approval. He shouldn't need it. He'd never gotten it from anyone besides Dustin and never missed it. But here he'd gone and spilled his guts to her the night before and she was proud of him. Why should he care that she was proud of him? He should probably be insulted. Except that she wasn't condescending. She was sincere.

He pushed back and held her shoulders. Her expression was kind. She smiled up at him. Nothing to indicate she was anywhere near as hot for him as he was for her. "Thanks," he said. He felt stupid saying it.

"You're welcome. I'm really glad we got trapped together in this snowstorm."

His chest swelled. "Me too," he said. He still held her shoulders. Still stared into her eyes. He wanted her. But now it was different. She'd changed something. And it didn't make any sense, but he knew what he was feeling. He'd been in love before.

He moved his hands to her neck, his thumbs stroking her jaw.

She grabbed his hands and pushed them away. "I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean to seem like I was coming on to you."

He swallowed. Blinked. Nodded. Ached with desire.

She smiled sweetly again and then walked away towards the kitchen. Travis now wondered how he was going to get this girl to fall in love with him before the snow melted. Please, God, send more snow, he prayed silently.