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In the Clear (Winter Rescue) (Winter Rescue) by Tamara Morgan - Romance>Action/Adventure
Fletcher Owens is full of secrets.
Few people know he spends his nights volunteering for a Search and Rescue team, saving lives while risking his own. Even fewer know he’s in love with his best friend’s sister. And since he’s not willing to give up their friendship for a chance at something more, that’s exactly how things will stay.
Lexie Sinclair has nothing to hide.
The zany daughter, the wacky sister, the quirky fundraiser for a children’s charity — Lexie couldn’t hide her true self even if she wanted to. So when her brother’s best friend is revealed to be a local hero, she’s determined to stand up and prove she’s ready to be more than just friends.
Reader Rating: 0.0 Not rated (0 Ratings)
Sensuality Rating: Not rated
“I’ll be right there.” Fletcher took her hand and gave it a squeeze, their gloves stealing all the intimacy of the gesture. “You should head home, Lexie. Thank you for helping today, but it’s only going to get colder the longer you wait. And tomorrow’s Christmas Eve. You love Christmas Eve.”
Lexie took a look over the site and bit her lip. She knew it was silly, to want to remain out here where the only thing saving them all from freezing to death were a few subzero temperature sleeping bags and heavy Gortex tents, but she couldn’t help it. She’d rather be here-—with Fletcher-—than singing carols at her parents’ house and worrying the whole time whether or not he was okay.
With a resigned sigh, she turned to leave, shoving her hands deep in her pockets, her head bent low to avoid the stinging pellets of icy wind that were turning her tears into icicles.
“Oh, hey. I forgot to give you this.” She pulled out the compass that had been sitting deep in her pocket, forgotten, this whole time. In a move that was far more practiced than she cared to admit, she held it aloft, wiping her upper arm against her eyes in the process. No tears, and no indication they’d ever been there. See? She was good at some things.
The compass chain dangled from her fingertips, but rather than take it with at least a pretense of gratefulness, Fletcher stared at her, uncomprehending.
She wiggled it a little. “It’s the whole reason I’m here,” she explained. “You know, creeping into unmarked trailers and knocking myself out? It’s your father’s compass, right?”
She’d never seen a man move as fast as Fletcher when he jumped toward her, wrenching the compass from her grasp. The chain had worked its way around her pointer finger, so the movement was painful, her glove ripping off and dangling like a dismembered limb.
If Fletcher noticed, he gave no indication. He was always a stone, but in this case, one that had cracked open and was in danger of spouting lava. “Where did you get this?” he demanded.
She stuck her finger in her mouth-—protection against the cold and the pain. “I told you,” she said, forming the words around the digit. “You dropped it in the car, so I wanted to bring it back.”
His eyes never left her mouth—-or, more specifically, her finger. If it were any other man in the world, she’d say there was something erotic about that glance, about the way he fixated on the in-out movement of her finger between her lips. As though it was the most painful and pleasurable vision on earth.
But this was Fletcher, the staid. The solemn. The...irate?
“Did you open it?” The question was uttered in tones so harsh her finger practically fell out of her mouth. “Did you look inside?”
“Of course not. Why would I do that?”
“You should have left it there.” He shook himself, as if warding her off, but whatever spell was he was trying to conjure up didn’t work. Almost as an afterthought, he muttered, “You shouldn’t be here at all.”
That was it. The next person to tell her what was good for her—-to wrap her in swaddling and pretend she didn’t have two thoughts to rub together—-was getting a compass in the face.
Without a word, she yanked her glove away from him and marched in the direction of the assembled crew.
“What are you doing,” Fletcher called after her. “There isn’t time for you to play games.”
She whirled. “Playing? You think I’m here because I got tired of playing Solitaire on my computer? Because I’m seeking pinball-level thrills?”
“No. I think you’re here because you’re trying to prove a point. But this isn’t the right time for it. And you’re trying to impress the wrong man.”
Shock and anger hit her like a slap to the face. Fortunately, the presence of so many other people kept her from unloading the whole wheelbarrow full of fury that should have been poured, steaming and feral, over his head. He was the wrong man, was he? None of her girly, feminine taint was allowed to cloud his calm judgment?
“Good thing you’re the last man on earth I want to impress, then. Ace, do you think it likely I’ll freeze to death in a place where no one else seems to be succumbing to the chill, or would you like me to stay and add to the numbers?”
“Lexie.” Fletcher’s voice was equal parts desperation and command.
She ignored both, placing a cajoling hand on Ace’s arm. As she suspected, he wasn’t immune to her pleading eyes. She could do pleading very well. She did it for a living.
“Would it be so awful if she stayed overnight?” Ace asked. “We’ve got the room and could use the manpower. And she’s already here. Besides—-I kind of like her company. She’s nice. She’s sweet. She...”
Lexie chomped down on her triumph.
“...she makes you feel good, like you can handle a thousand freezing nights as long as she’s holding your hand.” Fletcher supplied, his voice flat.
Great. Now he was making fun of her.
“Well, she’s already come all this way,” Ace added.
Fletcher didn’t say a word, but his eyes spoke the question that hung in the balance between them.
“Please,” Lexie said simply.
With a grumble, Fletcher nodded once. In low undertones rendered all the more inaudible by the rising wind, he spoke first to Lisa, then to Max. Both seemed to have no problems with the plan. Lexie held her breath for the full twenty seconds it took Fletcher to approach Newman with his request.
Although words weren’t something Lexie usually found in short supply, she would have been hard-pressed to name exactly what it was she was fighting for here. True, the thrill of being present—-of actually helping these people, if only as the sad, self-deprecating clown who provided a few kicks—-was part of it, but those things formed merely the outline of her intentions. The rest of the picture was hazy, but she knew it was linked to the swelling feeling in her chest and that told her to push harder, demand more.
You’re trying to impress the wrong man.
No, her heart said. For the first time in her life, she was trying to impress the right one.
In the Clear (Winter Rescue)By: Tamara Morgan