Holiday Husband by Erin McCarthy

The feeling didn’t seem to be mutual. She tilted her head and said, “I don’t like getting caught in the rain.”

I realized she had not gotten the song reference. At all. Which made me old. Too old for her. It was almost a relief. My thoughts were running in directions they had no business going. Time to find her a cab and return to my originally scheduled boring night. Which sounded like hell.

Yep. I was a hater.

“Too many puddles in New York. Cars splash you,” I told Brandon, my incredibly good-looking rescuer. “Plus I have very fine hair, so it just flattens.” I gestured to my head, to indicate my straight hair.

“I get that. But do you like making love at midnight on the dunes of the cape? Are you into health food or champagne?”

“What?” I eyed him. I felt like there was a joke I was missing, but that happens to me a lot. I get it like five minutes later when the moment has passed for everyone else. “I mean, who wouldn’t like some sexiness at midnight? Unless you have to get up early.”

Brandon smiled. The corner of his mouth just slid up, like he was trying not to laugh. Definitely I was missing something. Whatever. I had learned a long time ago to not worry about it when a joke went over my head.

“Having to get up early wouldn’t stop me,” he said.

Oh, really? I couldn’t decide if he was flirting with me or making fun of me. I decided it was both, which was fine with me. A little harmless flirtation was a mood enhancer. I shivered and held his jacket closed, trying to get warm. “It’s freezing out here.” I didn’t really mind though. I had escaped Dante and that whole surprise wedding bullshit and there is nothing prettier than Manhattan at Christmas.

We were riding down Fifth Avenue and there were holiday lights up everywhere, twinkling with the backdrop of the trees on one side, high rises on the other. The air was crisp but the vibe was magical. “I can’t believe I’m riding in a carriage. It’s beautiful. I’ve never done this before.”

“Me either.” He reached his arm behind my back. “Here, lean against me for warmth until this guy pulls over. Then we can go grab a coffee.”

I didn’t hesitate to obey his suggestion. He was a solid wall of muscle. He had serious body heat potential. His grip as he pulled me into his dress shirt was firm but not aggressive. He smelled like expensive cologne and confidence.

He was probably a decade older than me if I had to guess and he had big feet. I was staring down at his shoes, wondering if that meant what I thought it did. Not that I should even be thinking about his cock, in any way, but I was curious. I couldn’t help it. I’m a curious person. Leap, then look. That’s me.

Except when it comes to getting married, apparently.

Brandon gave off a little bit of a grumpy vibe. The ultimate gentleman, but just a tad grumpy. Hated parties. Pfft. Seriously, that was not normal.

But he was really hot, and that lack of a smile only made him hotter. He kind of smoldered, and that was really sexy. He had caramel colored hair, cut short, and deep, dark brown eyes.

“I’d love some coffee,” I said, because why wouldn’t I want warm bean juice and the company of this tasty man for another twenty minutes? It was taking the sting off of Dante’s nasty texts. “Look at how beautiful the city looks from this perspective. It’s weird. Sometimes we forget to look around us.”

“Yeah. We do.” Brandon wasn’t looking at holiday lights. He was looking at me.

Lady bits alert. It would be a lie to say I was cold everywhere. Certain parts of me were suddenly very, very warm. His gaze was admiring, intense. I had his full attention and that was pretty damn hot. It had been a long time since I’d seen a man look at me like that.

Maybe never. Because I had mostly dated boys, not men. First, because I’d been young myself, then secondly, because I was in a young industry. Dante was twenty-three. My boyfriend before him had been twenty, an enigmatic rapper who had to be the smartest guy I’d ever met but also the most random.

Brandon was a grown ass man looking at me like he thought I was fascinating. Worth listening to. It warmed me up more than his arm around me did. “Have you ever been ice skating at Rockefeller Center?” I asked him, impulsively. “I’ve always wanted to do that but I never had and I’ve lived here ten years.”

“I have not.”

“Let’s go now,” I said. That would definitely take my mind off of Dante’s texts.