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The Drifter's New Year's Kiss

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The Drifter's New Year's Kiss

 


 

 

"Guys... Wait..." You stumbled over your words uselessly as the majority of the RAW women's roster excitedly talked over each other while discussing their plans to get you and a certain drifter on more than just friendly terms. They had all but dragged you to the WWE Performance Center under the pretense of you “hanging out with them” and “watching them practice for the next show”. In reality, they were setting their match-making plans into motion—plans to get you and Elias together by the start of 2019.

Merely hours away.

"I am SO excited that we have New Years Eve off," Bayley practically squealed as you all sat around on the ring apron.

"Yes," Sasha agreed with a big smile, and directed her gaze to yours. "Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to have this party tonight, and then Elias wouldn't have the opportunity to see you all fixed up and looking gorgeous."

"Come on... Really..." You sighed, wishing you had never let them badger you into revealing your long time crush on Elias. You rubbed at your temples while the women obliviously chattered on.

"And I know just how to get him over to your apartment before the party starts so he can ask you to be his date!" Natalya was practically jumping up and down in her glee. "So, be ready by about nine, okay?"

"Okay." You finally gave in, slumping a bit against the ring post. There was obviously no stopping your friends.

 

"Okay, so, you should do your own hair and makeup because your work is just stunning," Sasha said.

"And you should wear-" Nia started.

"The purple dress, because it goes great with my coloring," you finished for her. "I promise. I've got it." You exhaled sharply, and lifted your hand for emphasis on your next words. "But I'm giving you all a brutal head's up... You will be sorely disappointed. Elias has no interest in me—I'm sure of it. I'm just the hair and makeup chick for God's sake."

"He won't let anyone but you trim and groom his beard," Bayley argued.

"Couldn't be that I'm just good at my job, huh," you chuckled with a roll of your eyes.

"Of course you are," Alexa said, her blue eyes flashing fire at Bayley. "But, you are missing Bayley's point. Elias could groom his beard himself. He is making an excuse to visit with you."

"Aaannd,” Natalya added, “It's kind of domesticated. It's almost like he's subtly marking you."

"What the hell?" Your laugh literally burst out of you. "How in the world do you figure that, Nattie?"

"Well... grooming his beard is... Well, for instance... Brie does it for Daniel. It's a wifey kind of thing to do. So, its kind of like he has you work on his beard in front of everyone backstage to like... claim you."

"Lord, help me now," you laughed again. "Okay, I'm out of here. Ill see you guys tonight at-"

"Finn's house," Bayley informed you.

"Huh," you asked, wrinkling your nose up in confusion. "I thought the party was going to be at Joe's house."

"Well, it was," she explained. "At first. But Finn just bought a house, and its supposed to be really amazing, and huge. So, the plans changed to his house."

"Finn's it is," you said, grabbing up your bag and giving them a wave. "See you guys tonight!"

"Oh," Sasha exclaimed. "For your makeup, you should totally do that smokey eye cut-crease thing you did on my eyes last week. It looks amazing!"

You saluted her in reply, and with that, you were out the door before they could make anymore crazy demands.

 

}i{}i{}i{}i{

 

You had just finished your hair and makeup, and also had pulled your dress for the party out of the closet, when you heard a knock at your door. Somehow, you just knew it was Elias because when the women of the RAW roster put their minds to something, one could bank on it happening.

After laying the dress across the bed and making a quick makeup check in the mirror above your dresser, you hurried to the living room so you could answer the door. And your nerves? Oh, they were right in tow.

Pulling the door open, you found Elias standing there—looking really gorgeous in a pair of black jeans and a snug, black, short-sleeved, button-down shirt that hugged his muscles like a second skin. He also wore one of his scarves, casually draped over his immense shoulders—not to mention his bracelets and bandannas covering almost half of each of his forearms.

And that man bun. He could rock a man bun like no one else.

Suddenly he glanced at your face and froze—staring. You suspected it was your heavier than usual makeup that held his attention. After all, you took Sasha's advice and did the smokey-eye cut-crease.

Oh, my, you thought, drowning in his ardent gaze. Your heart did a sort of flip flop thing in your chest. He looks absolutely-

And then you noticed the huge wad of pink bubble gum stuck in his beard.

Oh, Nattie... What did you guys do to him, you wondered.

"Don't ask," Elias huffed at seeing the shock register on your face. "It was a damn nightmare."

You motioned for him to come in. "Oh, but I have to ask," you said teasingly, trying to get him in a better mood. "Here, sit down at the dining table." Once he was settled in a chair and facing you, you pulled a cape from your cosmetology bag and draped it around him; securing it at the neck. Then you snatched up a pair of scissors and began to work on his beard.

The chunk of gum came out first—Good grief, it looks like someone chewed up an entire pack of gum!—and then you began clipping away and evening up the hair on each side of his face, bit by bit. Lord, his beard is SO soft! You could never get over how silky it was. I wonder if he uses hair conditioner on it. You just barely stifled a dreamy sigh as your fingers combed through it. Lifting his chin with your fingers, to work at an easier angle—or so you told yourself—you gazed into his eyes. "So, you going to tell me how this happened, big guy?"

Elias exhaled softly, and his eyes softened a bit as your fingers brushed through his facial hair. But he did begin unloading. "It's humiliating. I was over at Finn's, helping some of the women hang up decorations and stuff.”

“Well, that was nice of you,” you commented, snipping another few hairs.

He blushed a tad, “Thanks. They needed a fairly tall dude to string up lights and garlands and stuff. Finn's freakin' ceilings are HIGH up. Anyway, out of nowhere, Bayley starts choking on her damned gum, and Nia did the Heimlich maneuver on her. The next thing I know, the gum went flying out of her mouth and strait into my beard! I swear, it was like she aimed it right at me!”

She probably did, you thought, feeling terrible for him. The man loved his beard. And so did you, if you were being completely honest. I wonder what it would feel like brushing against my- "Oh!" You had sidestepped around his legs to check out the other side of his face when your foot clipped his and you lost your balance.

Suddenly, you were sitting in his lap—straddling his muscled thigh; both your legs intertwined with his.

And you didn't want to move off of him.

Instinctively, your hand went up to his shoulder to gain some stability. The muscle twitched beneath your fingertips, and of its own volition, your thumb began stroking the tensed shoulder. Elias' thigh jolted underneath you then and a hard ridge of muscle collided at the apex of your thighs. Pressure swelled within your womb and spread downward like wildfire. Your breath hitched in your throat, and you couldn't stop the soft moan that burst past your lips as you fought the almost irresistible urge to roll your hips against his thigh. You dared lift your eyes to Elias' face, despite the burning of your cheeks.

His gaze had been waiting for yours.

And if the tracing and curling of his fingers over your hips was of any indication, he didn't want you to move off of him either.

Unless he's preparing to lift you off his lap because he is appalled.

That annoying, ever-present and self-loathing voice just had to speak up.

Flustered and beyond humiliated, you finally scrambled from his lap. "Oh, gosh, I'm so sorry. I can be a real klutz," you told him. Then you attempted to get his mind away from the fact that you'd nearly made a fool of yourself. Okay, the fact that you had made a fool of yourself. Your tone brightened, "But, on the bright side, I'm done with the trim and the beard still looks great! Surprisingly, I didn't have to cut too much."

"Thank you, Little Rose. I really appreciate it."

Little Rose.

He had called you that for as long as you'd known him. You had always wondered why. The effect of his rich, velvety voice using the pet name so softly, never failed to leave you a blushing, flustered mess—even now. Especially now. Your legs were like jello and a very vital part of your reproductive system was threatening a nuclear meltdown.

Big time.

And he was still looking at you with that smoldering, sexy look on his face.

"I... I-I..." You stammered like a complete moron as you removed the cape from Elias' neck and began putting your scissors away. "Y-your welcome." With your back to him you sighed and rolled your eyes at yourself, and then turned back around, managing to face him—how, you didn't know. "I should probably go get dressed, and head over to Finn's."

Elias nodded, and with a tinge of pink staining his cheeks, he glanced down at his hands. "I could wait on you. We could... ya know... ride over together."

You nodded. Vigorously.

Stop, you told yourself.

"I mean... It would probably be safer for you—that way."

So, he isn't wanting this to be a date. He's just being chivalrous.

You hid your disappointment the best you could. "Sure. Let me go put my dress and shoes on and we can go."

You hurried back to your bedroom and snatched up your phone shooting a group text to the RAW women's roster:

 

Nattie? Bayley? You are both dead.

 

You were pulling on your dress when your phone alerted you to a text.  Nattie, you saw, as you opened the message.

On behalf of all of us: You are welcome sweetie! ;-) P.S. If you aren't in bed with him by the end of the night I will denounce my throne as the matchmaking queen.

 

Minutes later, you had the vibrant purple dress on, and a pair of silver, strappy pumps. You quickly swept your hair to one side and situated it at the front of your shoulder so that the backless part of the dress was exposed.

You grabbed up your phone and little silver clutch, then you went back to the living room to meet Elias.

"Sorry, I took a bit longer than I meant to," you said, placing your phone into your tiny purse and snapping it shut. "I-" You halted when you heard nothing within the room but your own voice. Afraid, he'd left you after the way you'd behaved, you shifted your gaze up and spotted him sitting on the sofa.

And his eyes were glued to you.

"What," you asked, beginning to feel self-conscious. "Is this too much?" You indicated the dress. Embarrassed, you scooted back a few steps. "I can go put on something a little less showy..."

"No." Elias finally spoke, standing to his feet. "Don't. It's perfect. Its just that..."

"What is it?"

He moved closer to you till he was standing close enough to touch you. "I can't remember really ever seeing you in a dress,” he said softly, reaching out and running his index finger over one of the silky long sleeves of the garment. “You're usually dressed casual—jeans and things like that."

You smiled, relieved that he didn't think you looked ridiculous. "I work behind the scenes, big guy. There's not a big call for me to glam myself up very often."

"There should be," he whispered softly, avoiding your eyes. "Because you do it really well."

You were taken aback. It was the first time he had ever said anything remotely flirty to you. And it was made all the sweeter because he couldn't maintain eye contact when he said it—he seemed almost shy. You had no idea what to say, so you settled for a whispered: "Thank you. That is really sweet of you."

He still seemed a little bashful as he spoke again. "I know it's a bit early to be asking. But... Do you think you might like to go to the Hall Of Fame ceremony this year? With me?"

Now, you gasped. You couldn't stop it. You could only hope he hadn't heard it. Maybe he's interested after all. "I'd love to."

He smiled then. And looked right into your eyes when he did it. "I'm glad." Then he placed his large hand on your shoulder and started gently steering you to the front door. "How about we get going? I'm sure the party is-”

You almost giggled at his sudden silence because you realized he must have noticed the exposed skin of your back then.

"Good Lord, woman," he drawled appreciatively. "That is some dress."

"I'd hoped you'd like it," you confessed as he shut the door behind the both of you and then checked the knob to make sure it did lock.

"I do," he replied. "A lot." Then he was leading you over to his huge pickup truck, and you immediately wondered how you would ever be able to climb into the thing in your dress and heels. But you didn't have to ponder for long. As soon as you both reached the vehicle, Elias not only opened the passenger door for you, but also proceeded to stoop down and lift you up into a bridal carry before gently depositing you into the seat.

“Thank you,” you said softly, gazing in to those beautiful eyes of his—which was much easier to do now that you were up on the truck's seat.

He smiled with a wink at you, and then replied, “Buckle up, sweetheart.” Then he shut the door after making sure you were safely inside.

The ride to Finn's house was not awkward as you were afraid it would be. In fact, the two of you seemed to be a bit more open and comfortable with each other while you chatted and small talked.

Before you knew it, Elias was pulling up to Finn's home and killing the truck's engine. You couldn't lie. You were a little disappointed the ride was such a quick one. You were having fun talking and joking with Elias, and just having some alone time with him.

He got out of the truck, and hurried around to your side as if he was afraid you might try to vacate the vehicle before he could reach the passenger door.

He's so sweet, you thought. He came across as this obnoxious, big-mouthed vagabond on Monday nights, but he was actually just a great actor because there was so much more to him than the drifter persona.

Your door was opened and then, once you unbuckled your seat-belt, Elias gently helped you down from the vehicle.

Already, you could hear the frisky beat of some rap song booming from the huge house as you both made your way to the front door. The door was opened before Elias even had the chance to knock. Bayley greeted you both with a hug. You noticed she also was in a dress for a change and she'd ditched her trademark side ponytail.

“Oh my gosh, Stephanie,” she squealed over the music. “You look so beautiful!” Before you could reply, she had grabbed one of yours and Elias' arms each and was pulling you into the foyer.

All kinds of delicious smells wafted throughout the large home and all of your friends were scattered about several of the rooms, talking, eating, dancing and drinking to the rapidly approaching new year.

And in an instant, everything was a blur.

You were tugged on until you were within the group of your female friends, and Elias was nudged into a den where a lot of the guys were hanging out. You gave each other an apologetic glance before turning your attention to your friends. Of course, Nattie and Bayley and the girls weren't trying to keep you away from Elias, they simply wanted to know what went down at your apartment and why you were later than expected. They all encircled you in what appeared to be a dining room and bombarded you with relentless questions.

"Did he kiss you yet?"

"What took you so long to get here?"

"Did he ask you out?"

You laughed at the rapid fire of questions and didn't bother to try and hide the blush creeping up your face as you began to answer the questions in succession. "No. Mostly the bubble gum job I had to correct on his beard."—You mock glared at Bayley, Nattie, and Nia—"And... sort of?"

"Sort of," Sasha asked. "How do you “sort of” get asked out?"

"Okay, so I think he asked me out,” you clarified. “He asked me if I'd like to go to the hall of fame ceremony with him."

Nattie jumped up and squealed, "I knew it! He likes you too!"

"Shh!" You quickly shushed Nattie and glanced over toward Elias to make sure he didn't see that you were obviously telling them about your conversation with him. Thankfully, he seemed to be deep in discussion about something with Finn in the kitchen.

But then, his gaze shifted to yours, and a smile broke out across his face.

Your pulse skipped a beat.

Elias smiled so rarely, it seemed. So, when he bestowed you with a flash of his teeth, it was as if your heart took on a mind of its own.

He indicated he'd like you to come to him with a quick motion of his head and a mouthed: "Come here."

You smiled, gave him a nod and began to head in his direction—everyone and everything else in your proximity forgotten but the huge, gorgeous man calling you to him.

"Stephanie!!!"

A pair of arms looped around you and lifted you up, swinging you through the air. Startled, you looked down and saw that Chad Gable was the culprit.

"Great to see you here, sweetie!"

You laughed and ruffled his shoulder-length hair. "Thanks, Chad. It is great to see you, too!" He sat you on your feet and gave you a big hug. "Happy New Year!" Then he was off and hugging up to a few other of the females.

A tad buzzed, you thought to yourself, chuckling. You continued on your way to Elias, who suddenly looked somewhat perturbed. Your steps faltered a bit, and your head angled; confused as to the look on his face. When you reached him however, he seemed completely back to normal.

"Do you... Do you like to dance," he asked quietly, setting a bottle of beer aside on a nearby table.

You nodded with a slight smile. "I do. How about you?"

He grimaced teasingly and looked down at his feet for a second. "Not usually, no. But for special occasions... I can be persuaded. Only slow dances, though. I can't dance to fast songs to save my life." He looked into your eyes then. "Would you like to dance? Finn has a room set up like a club—has a big dance floor."

"Yes," you replied softly. "And I don't much care for dancing to fast songs either, so that is something we can definitely agree on."

A chuckle rumbled up from his chest as he took your hand and laced his fingers with yours. Then he was leading you down a hallway, deeper into the house. You followed him through a door and down a short set of steps, and then you were in the club room he'd mentioned. The room was dimly lit save for a few strategically placed decorative lights. A disco ball twirled from the ceiling and you noticed that there also were a few tables and chairs set up for anyone who wanted to sit down and chill for a bit. Music boomed through several large speakers—some pop song you hadn't heard before. Which wasn't a surprise. You weren't all that into the newer music. Your taste was on the eclectic side, and was more old school than modern.

"Wow, this is awesome," you said, taking in the ambiance. The room was fairly full with dancing couples. "Finn did great with this house!"

Elias nodded in agreement and then scoffed, "Yeah, but this pop crap has to go. Why the hell didn't someone put a stop to this?"

"We couldn't figure out how to work the damn thing," AJ Styles, who'd been dancing with his wife in the corner of the room called out, motioning with his head to a customized jukebox.

"That's no excuse, Styles!" Elias shot back, then steered you over to the guilty-as-charged jukebox where he promptly stopped the current song—and had the rest of the dancing couples cheering in the process—and searched for another one to play. "Do you like Johnny Cash?"

"Absolutely," you replied.

No sooner than you spoke, than he was punching a couple of buttons on the jukebox and with a soft smile, led you over to the dance floor as "Rose Of My Heart" filled the room. You almost stumbled. He calls me Little Rose, and he just put on "Rose Of My Heart" for us to dance to... Maybe the girls are right. Maybe he actually does have feelings for me.

You gasped suddenly as Elias playfully yanked you up against his massive frame, wrapping his arms tightly around you. You giggled, enjoying this flirty side to him. He usually seemed so reserved.

Being in his arms felt nice—natural, despite the butterflies fluttering around in your stomach. You only hesitated for a second, then shyly moved your arms up to band around his neck and began swaying to the soft beat of the song with him.

"I didn't come out and say it earlier, but you really look beautiful."

"Thank you," you said softly, avoiding his intense gaze. "And I think you look very handsome."

His cheeks tinged pink and you couldn't resist the urge to touch him. "Why do you blush whenever I compliment you, big guy," you asked, brushing your thumb over his cheekbone. "You can't possibly not know how gorgeous you are."

"I guess I blush for the same reason you don't maintain eye contact when I compliment you, Little Rose."

But, I can't make eye contact because I'm crazy about you. "I doubt that," you sighed, absent-mindedly playing with a tendril of his hair at the back of his neck. You felt goosebumps sprout along his skin and your heart's rhythm sped up at the notion that you had caused them.

"Two can play at that game, honey," he said softly, trailing the tips of his fingers up the bare skin of your back and down again. And then it was your own skin prickling and flushing. Your breath caught in your throat for an instant and then expelled with a very audible whimper. And your eyes had to be playing tricks on you because it appeared as though Elias' pupils dilated—drastically.

"Stephanie!" You heard Drew Gulak's excitement-filled voice boom out from behind you and nearly jumped out of your skin. Elias tensed up, and his fingers ceased their playing at your skin.

And just like that, the magic was gone.

Mental note: Must kill Drew.

You gave Drew a small smile, hoping your murderous thoughts were not registering on your face. "Hi, Drew. Happy New Year."

"I'm glad you're here!" He smiled at you and then glanced up at Elias. "Mind if I cut in, Samson?"

It was no secret that Drew had a bit of a crush on you. He was constantly following you around backstage like a love-sick little puppy.

Why does a man always ask the other man if they can cut in on a dance, you wondered. Does the woman not have any say, for God's sake? What if she doesn't want to be cut in on?

But Elias—God bless the man—looked Drew square in the eye and replied, "Only if Stephanie is okay with it."

And then Drew's puppy dog eyes were on you—practically begging. You sighed inwardly, and vowed that murder was most definitely in Drew's future. "Sure," you replied, not wanting to hurt Drew's feelings.

You reluctantly moved toward Drew, and let him take your hand. As he led you away from Elias, you turned to give the drifter an apologetic glance, but he had already disappeared into the crowd of dancing couples. You sighed again and began swaying to the music within Drew's embrace, hoping that in sparing his feelings, you hadn't hurt Elias'. Surely, he knew you would've rather stayed with him?

"I've been wanting to get to know you better," Drew said, yanking you from your thoughts. "And now I can. This is perfect."

"Um... Well, Drew... Actually, I... I came here with Elias," you spoke up finally, horrified at the thought of being tied down to Drew for the rest of the evening. He seemed like a nice guy, but he was just so... bland. Afraid you needed to say a little more in order to get your message across, you began to pull out of his arms. "I really like him. A lot. I have for a long time."

Hurt registered in Drew's brown eyes and he glanced over your shoulder at something. "Well, sweetie, it looks like he doesn't share your feelings if you ask me."

"What are you talking about?"

He pointed toward a corner of the room and you turned to see what he was gesturing to.

Instantly, you spotted Elias and Mandy Rose in a major lip-lock underneath a bundle of mistletoe.

And just like that, your evening was destroyed.

You saw as Elias pulled away from Mandy then, and said something to her. It didn't look as though he was being all that friendly with her, but the blonde smiled up at him as if he'd just professed his love to her.

"I'm sorry," Drew said softly, but glancing over at him, you could clearly see he wasn't.

You shook your head. "It's fine. I was stupid to assume he felt the same way."

In truth, you weren't fine. But you were not going to let your feelings show. They'd already gotten you into enough trouble for one night. "I'm just going to call an Uber and go home."

"I can-"

"No, really, Drew," you cut him off. "You stay and have fun." You started to turn and make your exit, when Elias suddenly chose that moment to turn away from Mandy. His gaze caught yours and you could see in his eyes that he realized you'd seen the kiss. You worked up a slight, polite smile at him in hopes he would take it as as a silent apology for eavesdropping on his moment with the buxom blonde. Then you turned around, headed for the front of the house in search of the front door while pulling up the Uber phone number from your contacts list.

 

}i{}i{}i{}i{

 

You hung your keys on the set of hooks next to your door, after locking said door, and then laid your clutch on the entertainment center as you passed it. Feeling incredibly stupid, and hurt, you walked over to your sofa and flopped down on it, taking a few minutes to feel sorry for yourself. It took no time for a tear to spill down your cheek. You ignored it, and refused to let anymore tears fall. This was my own ignorance, you told yourself. I had to know that WWE superstars don't fall for behind-the-scenes employees.

But still... It hurt. Badly.

You had genuine feelings for Elias, and you'd thought he was different from some of the wrestlers who clearly were just players.

But apparently, you were wrong.

A knock sounded at your door. Somehow, you just knew...

"Little Rose, come on. We need to talk."

Huffing out a sigh, and really wishing he'd stop with the endearment because it hurt too much to hear his voice use it on you, you stood to your feet and then walked over to the door, opened it and stared at Elias.

"Can I come in," he finally asked.

You stepped aside warily, and let him enter your apartment. He locked the door back for you and then turned to face you. He ran his hand over the back of his neck in somewhat of a nervous gesture. "I know you saw the kiss."

You nodded. There was no denying it.

"I know it sounds cliché, and shady to say, but... I didn't instigate it, or want it. It wasn't even a long kiss. You had to have seen it at the exact moment it happened, because I put a stop to it instantly."

"It's none of my business, Elias. You don't have to explain yourself," you said softly. You finally gained the courage to meet his gaze. "Really. It's okay."

"Why? Is it because of Gulak?"

Your eyes widened in shock. "God, no. I have no feelings for him- Wait. You think because I danced with him that I like him?"

"What was I supposed to think?"

You let out a quick, bitter laugh. "I was only trying to spare Drew's feelings. I just didn't want to hurt him. I actually wanted nothing more than to-" You closed your mouth, realizing you were about to blurt out how you truly felt about Elias. And you couldn't do that. Not when you saw him and Mandy kissing not even an hour ago.

Narrowing his eyes slightly, Elias stepped closer to you. "Don't do that.” His voice rumbled low in his chest. “Tell me what you were going to say."

You swallowed hard and looked away from him. "I can't. I'm scared.”

His large hand reached out, gave your chin the lightest of touches as he tilted your head back, making you look into his eyes. "Don't be, Little Rose."

You gave a slight nod, too tired to resist him anymore. "I like you.” You rolled your eyes at yourself. “God, that sounds so high school. I care about you. A lot. And... I was thrilled to see you at my door earlier tonight—even with bubble gum in your beard." Tears clogged your throat as you chortled at your sad attempt at a joke. You hated that a couple of tears trickled from your eyes, but there was nothing you could do about it. "And then you suggested that we ride over to the party together... It made me think—crazy as it sounds—that maybe... maybe you had feelings for me, too." You took a breath and hurried on, but it wasn't necessary to rush. Elias seemed to be giving you all the time you needed to express what you were feeling. It was nice on one hand, but nerve-racking on the other. "So, when I saw you and Mandy..." You rolled your eyes again. "I had this instant feeling of... hurt—disappointment. I mean, I get it. I just do people's hair and makeup. I'm not all that glitzy. I feel like I dim in comparison to someone like Mandy..."

Suddenly, Elias' arms were around you, crushing your slender frame against his burly one.

"Honey, that "glitz" you talk about?... The reason Mandy and all of the other women on the rosters have any glitz, is because of you." You were acutely aware of Elias' hands running up and down your back over and over as he spoke so softly to you. "You are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. You don't dim in comparison to anyone," he told you. "They dim in comparison to you."

"It's a little hard to believe that," you replied, truly stunned by how much he had just opened up to you. And feeling quite breathless at hearing how he viewed you. "I'm so used to being responsible for making others look good, that I feel like I'm neglecting myself. And then I just feel so... plain."

"Why do you think I only ever let you work on my beard?"

His question seemed like a loaded one and you were almost afraid to answer. "Because its my job?" You weren't sure of the answer he was looking for. "And because I'm good at it. Or..."

He cut you off and answered the question for you. "It's not because I don't know how to groom my own damn beard, or that I'm too lazy to do it. And while you are amazing at your job, that's also not the reason either. It's simply because..." He pulled you even closer, if that were at all possible. His hazel eyes burned into yours. "I find you breathtaking. You are smart, and you're kind, and I crave the feeling of your touch on my face. No one else's. Just yours. I wasn't even actually pissed about the gum tonight because I knew it was an excuse to come see you and ask you to go to the party with me." He reached up and brushed the back of his hand down your cheek. "I'm sorry about that kiss, Stephanie," he whispered. "That damned mistletoe was up in the corner because of me. I put it there, hoping I'd have an opportunity to get you under it. And then Mandy went and ruined my plan. That kiss was meant to be yours."

Flabbergasted, you were full of questions. "My God... Where did shy Elias go?"

"I'm only shy till I find out the woman I've fallen for, returns my affections."

Your face flamed, and you had no idea what to say. Nothing seemed adequate. "I-I'm sorry that I danced with Drew," you told him, feeling horrible. "Maybe if I hadn't there wouldn't have been all this confusion."

"There's no need to apologize, Little Rose." He smiled, and let his hand play through some locks of your hair. "Your soft heart toward others is one of the many things I love about you."

You returned his smile. "Why do you call me that?"

"A few reasons,” he replied. “One being, that you are little, but there is a hidden strength and courage about you. Another is because you always—always—smell amazing. And..."

"Because of the color of my cheeks when I blush," you teased, your heart feeling fuller by the second.

He shook his head, a full-fledged grin spreading across his face now. "No. It's because of your mouth—your lips... They look and..." He reached up and ran his thumb over your full bottom lip, and gave a slight nod. "They feel like rose petals."

You kissed the pad of his thumb then, and it was as if you'd set off some sort of detonation sequence within Elias.

The next thing you knew, you were pressed against the door by a huge wall of muscle, and Elias' mouth was on yours.

A sound emerged from your throat—a mixture of gasp and whimper, and he crowded you even more. His tongue darted out and slid past your lips and began tasting every inch of your mouth.

"Elias..." You inhaled sharply as he nipped at your bottom lip with his teeth.

"I tripped you up earlier," he murmured, his voice husky. He kissed you again, swirling his tongue over yours. "So you'd land on my lap. Wanted to see what it would feel like... you straddling my leg..."

Tossing your inhibitions out the window, you reached up and pulled the elastic band from his hair, sending his long, dark curls tumbling over his shoulders. Then you were tangling your fingers into his hair and leaning up to his ear whispering, "I wanted to ride your thigh."

"I'll make that happen for you, sweetheart," he chuckled. "Anything you want."

You smiled up at him. "I want you. Take me to bed, Elias.”

"I aim to please, Little Rose," he teased, lifting you up in his arms. Then he was carrying you to your bedroom.

And neither of you planned to leave it for a long while.

 

The End