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Mistress christmas, p.5
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       Mistress Christmas, p.5

         Part #1 of Wild West Boys series by Lorelei James
 
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Page 5

  Author: Lorelei James Holly glanced at the weaselly man who’d snuck along Nick’s right side. Plastering on a fake smile, she said, “Absolutely. I’m in the mood for a change of holiday scenery. ” She didn’t lift her eyes any higher than Nick’s muscular arm. “Excuse us. ”

  For the next ten minutes the computer techie named Bart shifted from foot to foot, blathering on about nothing. Holly nodded in all the right places and moved on to the next paying customer. Through it all she felt the weight of Nick’s stare. Or was it his disappointment?

  When the last stripper stormed the stage, Holly took her leave. She hung up the costume, removed the heavy makeup and dressed in her clothes. Ivy was nowhere to be seen and Holly was grateful for the chance to sneak out the back door and get back to her real life.

  Boring as that life might be.

  Nick parked at the rear door, facing the employee entrance, close enough to catch Holly no matter which vehicle was hers, no matter what time she left.

  Dammit. He wanted to kick his own ass for playing it wrong tonight.

  No you don’t. You went exactly by the book and she didn’t take the bait.

  Why hadn’t she? Something definitely didn’t fit. As his mind raced through a couple of scenarios, a bundled up figure exited and paused under the sodium lights.

  Nick’s breath stalled. The woman took two steps, slipped and fell right on her ass.

  Yep. Had to be Holly.

  He bailed out of his truck and barely kept himself from landing on top of her as he skidded to a stop on the icy pavement. He crouched down and those bright green eyes looked up at him. “You okay?”

  “Nothing hurt but my pride, especially since that’s the second spill you’ve witnessed tonight. ”

  Nick held out his hand to help her. Soon as she was upright, she backed away from him, a hint of fear in her eyes. “What are you doing out here?”

  “If I admit I was waiting for you will you think I’m a stalker?”

  “Probably. So I’ll warn you I have pepper spray and I know how to use it. ”

  As a cop, Nick appreciated her caution. “Duly noted. I’m here to apologize for being an ass earlier. I’m sure you deal with a lot of jerks on a nightly basis and I’d hate for you to lump me in with them. I’m really not such a bad guy. ”

  “Neither was Ted Bundy, or so he claimed. ”

  He smiled. “So does that mean there’s nothin’ I can do to convince you to have a cup of coffee with me?”

  A long, cold pause settled between them.

  “What?”

  “Why would you want to have coffee with me? I’m not really—” Holly snapped her mouth shut.

  “You’re not really what? Not really thirsty?”

  She shook her head.

  “Not single? Please tell me you’re not married or involved with someone?”

  Another head shake.

  “Then what?”

  “It’s umm…probably against the company rules for me to meet customers outside of club business hours. ”

  Probably? This woman confused the hell out of him. How could she not know company policy? “That spectacular lap dance you performed last night was probably against company policy too, but you don’t see me tattling on you for that, do you?”

  “No. But…” Holly squared her shoulders and got right in his face. “Why are you interested in me? As you can plainly see, I’m pretty plain without the sexy costume and hoochie-mama makeup. ”

  Hoochie-mama? Lord, where did she dig up such terms? “Holly, the last thing you are is plain. ” Nick let his gaze encompass her entire face. “You have beautiful eyes, a beautiful smile and there’s this…glow about you that doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the stage lights. ”

  “Are all Wyoming cowboys such sweet talkers?”

  “From birth, darlin’. And we’re honest as the day is long, too. ”

  That comment brought a genuine smile to her face and he was completely captivated.

  “Fine. One cup of coffee after you tell me your entire name. ”

  “You want my rank and serial number too?”

  “Have a nice life. ” She turned away.

  Laughing at her cheekiness, he caught her forearm. “Sorry. It caught me off guard. My entire name is Nick Lander West. ”

  Holly frowned. “Lander? That’s weird. ”

  “Evidently I was conceived in Lander, Wyoming, and my parents thought it’d be funny as a middle name. I figure it could’ve been worse, considering my brother Blake’s middle name is Thermopolis. ”

  “You’re joking. ”

  “Yes, I am. ” He grinned at her. “And fair’s fair, darlin’. What’s your whole name?”

  She said, “Holly Jolly Christmas,” without batting an eyelash.

  Which caused Nick to roll his eyes. “Everyone’s a comedian. I deserved that, I guess. Since it’s getting colder, I’ll allow the sleight of name until we’re at the restaurant. How about if we meet—”

  “Huh-uh, cowboy. I get to pick the place we meet. ”

  Bossy little thing. “Deal. Where?”

  Holly gave him a considering look. “IHOP on the north end of Spear Boulevard. ”

  “Sounds good to me. ”

  Neither one budged as they stared at each other amidst the swirling snow and flashing neon lights from the club.

  “Aren’t you gonna get goin’?” he prompted.

  “Not until you leave. ”

  “Why? Are you planning to stand me up?”

  “No. But since I have your full name I also want to write down your license plate number so if something hinky happens to me the cops know who to look for and what vehicle you drive. ”

  Nick laughed. Hard. If she only knew. On the back of his truck was the discreet sticker that allowed him to park in the police department’s private garage. “To show you I’m trustworthy, I’ll oblige you. But be warned, if you stand me up, I’ll chase you down, ’cause, darlin’, I know where you work. ”

  He thought he heard her mutter, “Don’t be so sure,” but it was probably a trick of the wind.

  True to her word Holly did jot down Nick’s license number. When she reached the IHOP parking lot she also peeked inside the window. If she saw rope, handcuffs, or duct tape, she was outta here.

  But in all honestly, she wouldn’t have agreed to meet him if she hadn’t felt some semblance of trust when it came to Nick West. She wasn’t naïve. Maybe she was a fool to fall for his “aw-shucks” Wyoming cowboy routine. She’d suffered through plenty of blind dates with less personal information and less chemistry.

  Plus, she’d already had an orgasm with him, fully clothed, in public. How mind blowing would sex be completely n**ed in private?

  Talk about coming unhinged. One minute she scoped his truck for signs of kidnapping supplies and the next she patted her pockets for condoms? She really needed to get out more.

  Nick had chosen a booth against the windows in the middle of the restaurant. He stood when he saw her and helped her take off her coat.

  “Thank you. ”

  “No problem. I didn’t order coffee because I wasn’t sure whether you liked it. ”

  “I live on it in my line of work. ”

  “Me too,” he admitted and signaled for the waiter.

  After the coffee was poured, Holly leaned back against the fake leather booth. She steered the conversation away from her supposed job at the strip club and went on the offensive. “So, what do you do for a living?”

  “Paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork. ” Nick sipped his coffee. “You gonna tell me your real name?”

  “My first name really is Holly. My middle name is Anne. My last name is North, which is ironic considering yours is West. ”

  “That is ironic. You from around here originally?”

  “No. I’m from Connecticut. ”

  “Wow. That’s a ways away. You have fam
ily there?”

  “Yeah. I hardly ever see them. ” It’d be safe to assume Nick attributed the estrangement to her occupation. Which in a way was exactly right, as she had nothing in common with her family any longer. “What about you?”

  “Most of my family lives in Wyoming. My dad and my brother Blake raise sheep and my mom’s job is to keep them from killing each other. Blake isn’t married, although an epidemic of weddings has broken out in the last few years amongst my McKay cousins. ” He cocked his head. “What about your family?”

  “One sister, one brother. Both married. Both living on the East Coast. Both popping out grandkids for my parents. So I’m the pariah out here in no man’s land. They can’t imagine why anyone would want to live in Denver and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to live anywhere else. ”

  “I hear ya. I love to visit the homeplace, but I don’t see myself ever goin’ back to Wyoming to live permanently. ”

  “Not even because you miss your horse?”

  His bad-boy grin was a thing of beauty. “Not even because I miss my horse and my hat. ”

  “I’ll admit I’d like to see you tricked out in chaps, spurs, a hat and boots, swinging a lasso. ”

  Before Holly’s chagrin for her suggestive comment set in, Nick grabbed her hand. He dragged his mouth across the inside of her wrist and the feel of his warm, soft lips created a swoopy sensation in her belly. “I notice you didn’t mention me wearing pants of any sort. ”

  “Nick—”

  “Say my name again, all soft and breathy like that,” he demanded.

  “Nick, I don’t know what I’m doing here. I’ve never done anything like this. ”

  “Like what?”

  “Meeting up with a man like you. ”

  He frowned. “What do you mean, a man like me?”

  “A man who is hot as sin, built like a Bronco’s defensive end, and is confident enough to make me take risks I never had the guts to before. A man who can get me off fully clothed in less than five minutes. A man who makes me wonder…”
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