I resisted a sigh. It was all very well for someone who looked like a glamour model to say that. With her silky hair and tanned skin, hourglass figure and great sense of style, Dawn could have any guy she wanted, and frequently did. Finding romance and all the yumminess that went with it wasn’t a problem for her.
Okay, so I should be more confident. I should wear more “hip” clothes and get myself out there looking for a man. And I knew I should follow her well-meant suggestions about makeup and chat-up lines, but it was just so difficult to leave my mousy comfort zone. I liked it here, it felt safe in my little hole, and my stories distracted me from the man drought in my life. “I know,” I said, hoping we weren’t going to have the same conversation we’d had a million times already. “I really should.”
Dawn opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. Instead she tugged at her bottom lip with her teeth, studied me for a moment then turned and walked away.
“Dawn,” I called when she reached the door. “Have a great Christmas.”
She smiled over her shoulder as if she knew something I didn’t. “You too, Ashley, but right now you have to get going. You’ll be late. And don’t forget your bag.” She pointed at my navy holdall lying beneath the coat hook. “I’ll see you in the New Year.”
My stomach lurched as I glanced at the clock. Damn, it was gone five. It was always the way once I got involved in a Margaret Rider book. Time stood still for me but kept ticking for everyone else.
I pushed back my chair. Zipped my laptop into its case and dragged on my thick winter coat. It would take three hours to get to The Fenchurch Hotel in Lower Creaton, maybe longer if the traffic was bad—which it was bound to be heading toward the Cotswolds on a Friday only a week before Christmas.
I had to go to The Fenchurch. I didn’t want to, I had no choice. My workmates thought I was lucky, a night in a posh hotel and a slap-up meal all at the company’s expense. But for me it was torture and it was the second year running I’d been the most productive non-sales employee. In other words, I’d handled the fitting of the most security systems, and so this was the second year running I’d won the Christmas treat.
Quickly I scooted past empty desks—some lay tidy and ordered, others littered with paperwork and potted plants. My overnight holdall was heavy as was my laptop case, and I struggled with the elevator buttons. I made it down to the foyer, said good night to Samantha the receptionist, and stepped out into the office parking lot. Cool wetness brushed my cheeks. Floating down from the dark sky were hundreds of sparkling white snowflakes.
Great, now it would take me even longer to get to the Cotswolds.
Climbing into my faithful neon-blue Volkswagen Beetle, I whacked up the heating and navigated through the London traffic. After an hour I hit the M4, turned on the radio and was soon singing along to Wham’s Last Christmas. As snow danced in the red taillights of the car in front of me, I dreamed of a log cabin and a handsome man—Tobias would do me just fine. I could get snowed in with him quite happily.
I imagined a roaring log fire at my side and a thick fur rug beneath my naked back, pictured his rugged, unshaven face hovering over me as he promised to take it slow my first time. His dazzling blue eyes would be glazed with lust as he pushed into me, stretching me with his thick manhood, taking me to a place of ecstasy I’d never been to before.
The song ended and I shivered out a breath even though the car was quite hot. My nipples had tightened beneath my sweater and a pulse beat a steady rhythm in my pelvis. Just thinking about Tobias had me aroused. It felt sweet, it felt nice. I took a slug from my water bottle. If these feelings were good in my imagination, what would it be like for real? I was twenty-three and I knew one day I would find out what sex was like. Sooner or later I would come out of my shell and grab myself a hunky hero to shag senseless. Dawn always talked about me finding love and romance. It wasn’t that I didn’t want love and romance, I did, but I also just wanted to do the deed. Get down and dirty, naked and sweaty with someone who knew what he was doing and would get it just right.