( Silhouette of kissing couple – Depositphotos )
We’ve had a couple of crazy weeks at the day-job, and it occurred to a few of us the other day that we go a long stretch from the end of year holidays (Thanksgiving/Yule/Christmas/New Year) until there is another ‘day off’ holiday. Not that there aren’t holidays–Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day–just that they don’t get work holidays. Our next one is Memorial Day. It’s a long stretch from January 1st until May 25th. I’m kind of glad I have vacation time to fit in all year long, though I’m still going from my long weekend last month until the end of March before my next long weekend. I didn’t plan that well, did I?
This week is Valentine’s Day, the holiday for romance. I have a couple of fun gifts for my husband, things he will appreciate (I hope), because they involve hobbies he enjoys. We won’t be out joining the other people cramming restaurants Friday evening, we don’t necessarily need to do that anymore. Honestly, this is grocery week, so that’s where I will be heading right after work on Friday, before I go home. But we do other things for one another that are more meaningful than a once-a-year holiday. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate a good Valentine’s Day box of chocolate, because I absolutely do–my husband knows where my favorite candy-maker is locally. I’m just saying that after so many years together, there are everyday things that are just as important.
I’m about to go work on some novella things, but I have a snippet of my fifth shifter story for you first.
Piper realized she was staring and dragged her gaze away from Joe’s wide chest, back to the book on her lap, flushing hotly. Holy shit.
He cleared his throat. “Sorry, I didn’t realize you were in here.”
“It’s your house,” she mumbled. She heard a soft sound and hoped it was his shirt going on.
“And you’re a guest here.” He cleared his throat again.
She dared a peek and found him watching her, hands in the pockets of his low-slung jeans, a faded blue t-shirt stretched over his chest. “Don’t be silly. You should be able to do as you like in your own house. And we’re only here for a few more days.”
He exhaled roughly. “Really?”
“I spoke to someone this afternoon at a complex in Auburndale, near the office. They have a vacancy.”
“I’ll go with you to look at it.”
She frowned. “That isn’t necessary.”
His mouth flattened. “It is. Is it a shifter complex?”
Piper narrowed her eyes at him. “That doesn’t matter.”
Irritation sparked in his eyes. “It matters, Piper. You can’t take your child somewhere that’s not secure.”
She clamped her jaw shut. Telling him to butt out of her business would be stupid at this point. Without his concern, she’d be scrambling to feed Keely on tips and less than minimum wage hours at a seedy, dive diner. She forced herself to take a slow breath.
Joe sat on the low table in front of her, and she noted the softening of his mouth. “I just want to be sure you two are okay.”
“Why?” She blinked. She hadn’t meant to ask that.
“Because you don’t have anyone else to do it.”
She looked away, stung.
He touched her knee, and she slanted a wary glance at him. “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. Like I wouldn’t do it otherwise. If I’d realized sooner–”
Piper closed the book and got to her feet. “I’m not your responsibility, Joe. Not the annoying tag-along little sister.” She ignored the burn in her chest and turned away.
He caught her upper arm and swung her back as he stood. “Don’t put words in my mouth, Piper.”
She opened her own mouth to say…something. But she didn’t know what, and it didn’t matter–Joe kissed her. Kissed. Her. Hard, open-mouthed. For a second, she froze, and then realized she was kissing him back.
What are your plans for this Valentine’s Day? Something romantic? Spontaneous? Casual?
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