Christmas is approaching and Phil is a girl out to get what she wants—the life of her choosing. She wants it all: a good looking man, his money, and the respect he commands. She just needs to throw her lot in with her criminal cousins for one day. Long enough to pull off a theft and come to the attention of the man she desires. But the job goes wrong.
Bastian is a man on the run—from a lifestyle he never chose and can’t seem to escape. One last favour before he disappears for good, and then he can start afresh somewhere new. But the favour balloons into more than he anticipated, and suddenly there are two of them on the run, and two of them snowed in and hiding out in his one last safe place.
Can a woman who thinks she knows where she belongs help a man who has never really belonged anywhere?
He shrugged her off his shoulder and stood her close to his body, hand clamped firmly across her mouth.
“What are you doing?” She’d get them both discovered, and the boys after him left Joe looking like a pre-schooler who’d missed naptime.
She shook her head and he loosened his grip as her teeth grazed his skin. “My mother told me stories about you.”
“Well, well. I didn’t know I was quite so widely known to have become part of London lore. That must put me in the same league as legends like the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas. I’m honoured.” He kept his arm wrapped around her waist.
“More like Wee Willie Winkie or that thing lurking under the bed.” She bent her leg and stamped on his toe.
“Try harder,” he whispered into her ear. “Not only do I have boots with superior grip, they have steel toe caps. And, if you recall, you have bare feet.”
She wriggled, grinding her body against his. He looked into her eyes, focusing on the confusion he found there.
“If you do that again, I’ll kiss you.”
She stopped, and he would have plucked his words from the air to shove back down his throat…but the thought of her lips teased him, still. He let his hands fall away from her as sudden need pulsed through him.
“You’re free to go. Tell your mother you met her bogeyman, her personal Pitch Black, whatever. You won’t see me again. And I won’t hurt you.” He turned to go. “Or kiss you, so don’t worry.” His last words were a regrettable afterthought.
“I…I can’t. I don’t know how to get home. My cousins brought me.”
He held his sigh in his chest and faced her. “There’s a bus stop over there, and busses stop at it all day long.”
She cast a glare in his direction that almost had a look of Rosa, and huffed out a determined breath. “Well, good. I didn’t want you to carry me about, anyway, like some abducting, murdering, debauching Neanderthal. Yet, now you expect me to conjure a bus to get home, in a strange place, when it looks like we’re expecting snow. Some gentleman you are.”
“I never claimed to be that, JB.”
She closed her eyes and let out a low groan. “Stop calling me that stupid name. Phil. I’m Phil.”
He swallowed hard and took a small step away before recovering himself. Bollocks, and shit and bollocks again. Of course, Rosa didn’t have son. She had a daughter…with eyes so full of fear as they peered out from her darkened bedroom, until Rosa noticed her watching the adults talk and sent her back to bed, that the memory haunted him when he slept. He’d always lurked in the shadows of Rosa’s life, unwilling for anyone but Rosa to see him, especially anyone so scared. But…he juggled his thoughts. Time had moved on. He’d grown older…so had Rosa’s daughter. Twelve years had passed. She wasn’t eleven anymore, that much he could tell from her bad attitude, with no need for some of the more appealing visual cues. His gaze took her in once more, lingering a little longer than necessary on her curves. Rosa’s “beautiful” comment made a little more sense with the new information. He clenched his hands into fists, counting off the reasons not to embroil himself in the situation furthertoo young, Rosa’s daughter, and he’d think of a third.
He reached for her again, drawing her back into his arms and cradling her against his chest. “Well then, that changes everything. I thought you’d stood me up.”