DG took several deep breaths as she made her way back to the sitting room on the main floor of the castle. Her heart was still hammering in her chest. She’d scare Cain off for sure with more stunts like that. She still didn’t know what came over her.
Blame it on the Christmas spirit, DG told herself as she re-entered the highly decorated room.
The crackling fire and the pleasing sights of holiday decorations filled her with a warm glow, which she hoped would chase away the jittery nervousness from before. But no. All the glitter simply reminded her of her Tin Man and his disdain for the shiny particles.
“Hey, kid,” a voice said to her left.
DG jumped about a foot in the air, grabbed the nearest object, and threw it towards the sound.
Cain caught it before it hit his chest, and he stared at it for a moment before giving her an appraising look.
“Nice reflexes,” he said. “But what is this?”
“A nutcracker,” she replied, walking over and taking it from his hands. “For cracking nuts.”
He was giving her the strangest look, and she didn’t know what to do except continue to stare at him.
“Why did you kiss me earlier?” he asked, his voice so low she had to lean in closer to catch the words.
She clutched the nutcracker in her hand and took a deep breath. She wanted to say something sensible, but instead she blurted out, “Because I like you.”
She was so stunned by this that she countered it with a defensive question: “Why do you call me kid all the time?”
Cain’s face was unreadable, as usual, and a muscle in his jaw tightened. “Because it puts…distance,” he said, moving his hand in the air between them and taking a miniscule step closer.
“Why?” DG insisted.
“Because—I might also—like you, too.” His words left his lips as if they hurt him on the way out. But he took yet another step towards her.
Clearly his words were at war with his actions, because he leaned down and kissed her on the lips.
When she could only stare at him, he pointed towards the ceiling.
“Mistletoe,” he said, his breath tickling her cheek.
Her mouth fell open slightly. This was not what she had expected.
Nor did she expect him to put his hands on either side of her face and draw her towards him for another kiss, this time with a lingering, tender sweetness wholly in contrast to the rough callouses on his hands.
“Deege,” he said softly.
“Yeah?” she said, her eyes struggling to open completely.
He released his hold on her and stepped back. “Merry Christmas.”
She had to collect her thoughts before she realized he had exited the room, leaving her wrapped in solitude under the mistletoe.
“Hey, wait!” she called after him, but he was nowhere to be found.
Typical Tin Man, she thought to herself. He was probably slinking in the shadows nearby.
Well, two could play at this game. She darted back into the sitting room, sifted through a box, and pocketed a small cylindrical object before running out the door.
Cain was surprised at her speed. She was not particularly athletic—from what he remembered of their travels together—but she was persistent. And now she ran through the hallways as if she were training for one of those Earth marathons she had mentioned. He wondered if she had given up entirely, but suddenly he realized she was following a familiar route.
When she reached the door to his rooms, she let herself in without any preamble. He quickly relented his surreptitious hiding place and followed after her, immediately suspicious of her intentions. She couldn’t possibly have more decorations up her sleeve.
When she was nowhere to be found in his sitting room, he turned to his bedroom with mounting suspicion.
He found her standing over his bed holding a cylindrical object in midair. He would have taken more time to appreciate the sight of her standing in his bedroom, but the light from a dying fire glinted off of something in her hand.
“Drop the glitter,” he said with an imperious tone, “and no one gets hurt.”
“You want me to drop it right here?” she said, her tone full of faux innocent sweetness.
“Deege,” he warned, stepping forward.
She made a motion like she was going to drop it, but he deftly pulled her arm away from the bed, extricating the container from her grasp in one fluid motion.
She turned to him and put her hands on her hips. “Do I have your attention now?”
“You’ve always had my attention,” he said.
DG stomped one foot and put a hand in his face. “You can’t just tell me you like me, kiss me like that, and then walk away!”
“I recall you started this,” he argued.
“That was a peck on the cheek,” she maintained. “That’s different!”
Cain stared into her direct gaze recognizing what she wanted to hear from him and knowing he couldn’t say it. Not yet.
“I was just—practicing your custom. With the mistletoe.” Even to his ears, this excuse sounded hollow.
DG stepped closer and met his gaze with a clear challenge.
It had been playful and flirtatious before, but now she was asking him to make a genuine decision. The truth was—if he would even allow himself to think it—that DG had worked her way into his heart a long time ago. A heart that he thought was too damaged by the loss of his family to accept anyone else.
He stepped forward and captured her mouth in a kiss, this one filled with renewed passion. His hands seemed to move of their own volition, drawing her closer and wrapping around her waist.
He would have been content to continue in this fashion, but she put a hand against his chest and pulled back.
“There’s no mistletoe in here, you know,” she said.
The corner of his mouth lifted as he let his hand cup the side of her face. “And no glitter, either.”
“Oh, I can fix that—” she turned as if to retrieve the container of glitter, but he gently drew her back to him.
He didn’t have to tell her twice. She twisted her hands into his shirtfront and pulled him towards her. Suddenly, they were a tangle of arms and legs on top of his bed.
He hovered over her with an overwhelming sense of restraint. This was a big step from kissing under some stupid holiday plant. They were making out on Wyatt Cain’s bed. He’d be an idiot if he didn’t admit he had fantasized about this before, but he never really thought it would happen.
She was beautiful in the soft light of the fire. Hell, she was a looker under any light. But now she was staring at him with an expression of deep concern.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“It’s just—been a while,” he said, reaching down to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. “A shockingly long time.”
DG nodded slowly. “I can go, if that’s…”
“Don’t,” he said, the word escaping his lips on impulse. He’d given into too many of those this evening already. It couldn’t hurt to allow himself just this one, small privilege, could it?
His head dipped down towards hers, and the kiss that followed was heart-wrenchingly sweet and full of promise.
“I told you you’d like my Earth Christmas,” DG said against his lips.
He laughed and rolled over so she was on top of him. He didn’t need to verbalize his agreement, as it seemed he couldn’t get enough of her kisses, and his hands freely explored every touchable inch of her. She was reciprocating with surprising heat. A low growl escaped his lips when she leaned over and bit the side of his earlobe. He feared he wouldn’t be able to restrain himself much longer, so he gently turned their bodies so they were facing each other.
The clear desire in DG’s eyes drew him in for one final kiss before he pulled back to catch his breath. They lay there beside one another for a quiet moment. He let his fingers explore the side of her face, allowing himself the small, intimate touches he otherwise would have avoided to maintain distance between them.
Well, that distance was all but gone with her leg resting on top of his and their arms still intertwined.
They didn’t need to say anything in this moment. Something had started in motion between them that would not be stopped. For once, Cain let himself breathe freely as he rested in her gaze. There would be no turning back from this. He was doomed to this fate the moment he met her.
“Hi,” she said, clasping her hands behind his neck and drawing herself closer.
“Hey there,” he replied, grabbing for her waist and meeting her in the middle.
It was the start of something new—and they only had the mistletoe to blame.