I almost set ‘Comfort and Joy’ as the title of this post, but I don’t want to confuse the seasons for anyone. I’m just thinking about the things that comfort and make us happy today. Now that it’s fall, the soup pot is getting a workout, which makes me happy. Right now, there is leftover potato soup from yesterday’s dinner in the fridge. Today, it’s some of my favorite tea and movie soundtracks while I work on rewrites and laundry, and I am seriously considering one of my favorite movies as a treat before starting the work-week, since it will be a long work-week that extends into the following week without much of a break. Who else loves Love Actually? My husband laughed at me the other night when I said I haven’t seen it since July, but that’s kind of a long time between viewings of a movie I love. Honestly, I could probably watch it once a month and still love it. Kind of like The Princess Bride, or Practical Magic. Or maybe the Harry Potter movies. They make me happy. Last night we watched another favorite, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar.
There is nothing wrong with a good rewatch of a movie that makes you happy, or rereading a book you love. (I have Linda Howard’s Death Angel on my desk right now, waiting to be reread. Again.) Sometimes it’s for comfort, sometimes just the pleasure.
For me, along with the chores, today is for catching my breath a little, and that requires some comfort. Before I start my movie, though, I have a snippet of my first shifter story to share with you.
“We don’t want to make waves bigger than we can deal with right now. Let’s just concentrate on keeping Tessa safe. Then we can kick somebody’s ass later, once we get this contract issue settled again.”
Harley took a sip of his beer, studying his father. “I’d rather just go kick their asses now.”
Boyd smiled. “I know. But you’re patient, and smart.” He took a longer drink of his own beer.
Harley didn’t like that assessment very much at the moment.
“Besides, I think you have more important matters to deal with.” He winked.
Harley’s brow shot up. “Really?”
“I may not be around all the time, but I pay attention.” Boyd tipped his bottle toward his son. “Now I need to go make nice with my wife.”
His father’s words stuck with him the rest of the night, and again the next day. Boyd was right. Dealing with Tessa would take all his attention.
Now if only he could cross paths with her.
He got lucky the next evening. India had left a note in the kitchen that Tessa was stopping by after work to pick up some books, just in case India wasn’t back from New York on time.
He grinned to himself as he made his way to where he knew she’d go when she arrived. India was, indeed, still in New York, so she wouldn’t be there to meet Tessa.
But he would.
He heard the front door, and her laughter reached his ears along with his brother Joe’s voice. Joe’s heavier footsteps continued up the stairs, and Tessa’s slower, lighter ones came along the hallway. To the library. To him.
Harley lounged in his chair, deliberately not letting her know he was there. How long would it take her to notice his presence?
She dallied for a few minutes in front of the shelves that housed the African cat books even though he knew she’d read all of them at least twice. He took the time to admire her toned legs beneath the hem of her khaki skirt. The shape of her hips as she leaned her weight on one leg. Then she meandered past the native plants of New England shelf, her fingers trailing along the spines as she went.
He imagined what her fingers would feel like sliding over his skin that way, and his body came to attention.
She stopped in front of the garden design area, head tilted. After a moment, she pulled a book out, then another, then several more, and lugged the whole stack to the wide worktable several steps away from him.
He held his breath.
She dropped the books loudly, and then froze when her gaze landed on him.
“Hello, little Tessa,” he said softly.
Panic flitted through her eyes, and her pulse beat madly in the hollow of her throat. “Harley.” It came out strangled.
“Planning a garden?” He stayed where he was, hoping she wouldn’t flee.
She lifted a shoulder jerkily. “Someday.”
He stifled his grin. She was still poised for flight. “What kind of garden?”
She blinked at him. “What?”
“What kind of garden?” he repeated evenly. “Formal, cottage? Something in between?”
A tiny frown line appeared between her eyebrows, as if she were trying to decide his intent. “Probably cottage style,” she said at last, dropping her gaze to the stack of books in front of her. “Formal gardens are pretty, but require more work than I have time for.” She glanced at him again, wariness clouding her eyes.
He leaned forward in his seat, watching her tense still more. The first hint of her arousal scented the air. “I haven’t seen you for a couple days, Tessa.” He pushed to his feet.
She swallowed hard, blushing. “I’ve been busy at work.”
Liar. “I thought maybe you were avoiding me.” He moved to the work table, standing opposite her so he could see the way her eyes darkened.
“Of course not,” she murmured, dropping her gaze to the books again.
“I’m glad to hear that, since I was hoping to kiss you again.”
Her gaze jumped to his face. “We agreed that wasn’t a good idea.”
Harley shook his head slowly, holding her gaze. “I never agreed to that.” He took a step toward the corner of the table, then another, until he rounded the table and stood beside her.
Tessa’s prey instincts were good. She was fairly quivering with the need to run. But she held her ground anyway. He touched her arm lightly with his knuckles and watched the goose bumps lift along her soft skin.
“You said it would be a good idea not to kiss again, but I’d never agree to something like that when I know it’s a fat lie.”
Her eyes widened a little more. “I disagree.”
“Liar.” He slid his hand higher, until he could catch her warm nape against his palm.
She set her hands on his chest when he turned her. “Whatever happened to leaving siblings’ friends alone? Or not screwing with the humans?”
He’d been bending toward her and it was his turn to freeze. “That’s Adar’s opinion, Tessa. Not mine.” He pulled her slightly closer. Now it was his turn to lie. “And all I’m talking about is a little kissing.”
Her gaze landed on his lips and her tongue darted out at the corner of her mouth, almost too quickly for him to see.
Almost. He stifled a groan and bent to kiss her, quickly. Lightly. And again. Again. Until she opened her mouth, her fingers curling into his shirtfront.
One kiss turned into two, into five, until he lost count. The taste of her was addicting.
I’m going back to my novella revisions for now. What things are your favorites for comfort? Foods? Books? Music? Movies?
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