Welcome to Climax Creek, North Carolina
"Built on Tradition, Moving Toward the Future"
Climax Creek is a small, quaint town situated between Greensboro and Sanford in North Carolina. Bordered by I-85 and three North Carolina state highways, it's occupied by less than sixteen hundred people. Climax Creek is the kind of town where you won't find a Starbucks, but you can get a great cup of coffee from Paulina down at Cool Beans. Watch out for Paulina- she'll talk your ear off if you let her. Down at Phipps Pharmacy, Quinn Phipps has got a cure for whatever might be ailing you. Say the wrong thing to your significant other? Minnie Hughes has got an "apology special" running down at her flower shop- she'll fix you up. Feel the need for some spiritual guidance? Climax Creek has four churches- take you pick. If you're looking for something fancy and pretentious, this isn't the place. But if you're looking for a little Southern comfort, the kind that you can't get out of a bottle, then stop on by.
Home for the Holidays...
Sheridan Cole works hard as an accountant and financial planner- so hard she's barely had time to sleep, let alone date. She's looking forward to a relaxing Christmas at her parent's home, in the tiny North Carolina town of Climax Creek. But a chance encounter with a handsome man from her past changes everything.
An Unfulfilled Desire
Nick Dunn has spent the last several weeks trying to keep his family's business from being taken over by a large corporation. As the eldest of the four Dunn children, keeping his family legacy intact is important to him. That situation holds his entire focus...that is, until he runs into his high school crush at the local coffee shop.
Two Feuding Families
Ever since Sheri and Nick were children, their families have been embroiled in a bitter dispute. Neither of them knows the root cause, but the Coles and Dunns businesses are in direct competition, and that hasn't helped heal the rift.
A Burning Passion
The heat between Sheri and Nick is palpable, undeniable, and inescapable. Before Sheri can even get a sip of her coffee, she's on her way home with Nick. But is this just a sexy holiday fling? Or is Nick using his sexual prowess to convince Sheri to enter a business deal with him?
Or could he be after her most guarded possession of all...her heart?
Eying Sheridan Cole, Nick was suddenly very glad he'd stayed later than he intended to grab a hot chocolate. He'd spent the last hour or two sitting in the shop with his younger brother, Dalton. They'd been discussing possible courses of action to take now that Purcell Foods, Incorporated was chomping at the bit to buy out his family's grocery store. He and his brother acted as manager and assistant manager, respectively, and the surprise offer on the store had put quite a damper on their holiday. No one in the entire Dunn family seemed to agree on what to do about the offer. As the eldest child, and designated voice of reason, his stress levels had been high for the last two weeks from to get everyone to a consensus.
But now, looking at this tasty morsel of femininity that fate had seen fit to drop in front of him, he thought his Christmas spirit might be returning in full force. Wearing a pair of skin tight, dark denim jeans and an emerald green sweater beneath a black leather jacket, she looked like the best gift he could ever hope to unwrap. The clothes clung to her in every place they should, showing off the womanly curves she'd acquired. They'd known each other since childhood, but now, she was all woman and looked every bit the part.
She'd come a long way from the math genius in glasses he'd known in high school, and even from the recent college graduate he'd seen on her last visit. He watched her stand there, trembling like a Chihuahua in a freezer, and waited for her to answer his question.
"I...uh....just got in. Decided to stop off for something warm on the way home." Her hand went to the straight, dark locks of her hair, hanging over her shoulders, and she twirled a few strands around her fingertips. Watching her do that just made him want to run his hand through the silken tresses.
He smiled, reaching out for her hand with his free one. "Welcome home. It's so good to see you. How long has it been...three, four years?" Her hand was shaky as he captured it in his larger one.
She nodded. "About that long, yeah." As if she realized she was playing in her hair, she stuffed the offending hand into her jacket pocket. Still gazing at him, those chocolate eyes wide, she asked, "How have you been?"
"Good, good." He took a sip from the cup of cocoa, through the tiny hole in the plastic lid. It was scorching hot, but somehow not as hot as Sheri. "Still managing the store. How about you?"
Her gaze flickered, dropped for a moment. "Still working at the firm."
"Well, you look fantastic. Whatever you're doing up in Pennsylvania is obviously working for you." He lifted her hand up to his lips, and kissed it.
The sound that slipped from her mouth may not have been intentional, but it was audible. He heard her sigh, loud and clear. Hearing her utter that throaty, pleasure filled sound made his pants feel about two sizes too small in the crotch. At this point, he had two options. He could either go stand in the corner, cross his legs, or think about last year's ski trip to Aspen, or he could invite her home with him. Right away, he knew which one he preferred, although, it would be quite a feat to drive in his current condition.
Paulina cleared her throat, and they both turned in her direction. "Don't hog Sheridan, Nick. Come on over here and tell me how you've been doing, girl!"
Releasing a long breath, Sheri excused herself and went to the counter to converse with Paulina. He watched her round hips swaying from side to side, then moved to a nearby table and sat down, covering his lap with his trench coat before he embarrassed himself.
He sat there and waited for the two women to finish their conversation, all the while wondering what Sheri would say when he asked her to come home with him. They were well acquainted, so she probably wouldn't slap him in the face, but he knew what he was about to do was still more than a little forward. Back in high school, she completely ignored him, preferring to spend time with her math books over dating. He hoped to God she'd changed her mind, because what was throbbing between his legs told him that if he didn't have her, he'd never get to sleep.
He waited what seemed like hours for her to finish chatting with Paulina and order her drink, while he shifted back and forth on the hard wooden seat. There just wasn't any comfortable way to sit in a chair like that when he was so damn hard. Finally, mercifully, she got her drink and turned back in his direction. "I was on my way home, so I guess I'd better get back on the road."
He stood, careful to close his coat as he did. Rather than announce his intentions now, and risk getting shot down in front of the gossiping Paulina, he offered his arm. "Let me walk you to your car."
She gave him a small smile, linked arms with him, and he pressed the door open with his elbow so they could step out into the cold night air.
Outside, they walked toward her dark blue sedan. He watched her face, and the way she seemed to be avoiding making eye contact. When she made a move to slip her arm out of his, he stayed her.
She looked up at him with those doe eyes. "What is it, Nick?"
He sat his cup on the roof of her car, then took hers and did the same. With both hands free, he cupped her face in his hands. "Sheri, why don't you come to my place?"
The long lashes fluttered. "I...didn't I just say I was on the way home?"
"You did." He dipped his head low, and placed a soft kiss on her lips.
The same sound she'd made earlier, when he'd touched her hand, slipped out again.
She stepped back, pressed a hand over her mouth. "Oh, God. You heard that, didn't you?"
He nodded. "Yeah. Both times." He kissed her lips again, loving how soft and yielding they felt beneath his. Unable to stop himself, he kissed her again, and again, giving her little pecks until his mouth, craving more of her, opened to slide his tongue between her lips.
Her arms wrapped around his neck, and that was his cue to pull her flush against his body, his hands resting on her hips. She relaxed into his embrace, and let the kiss deepen.
The chill of the night faded away, until all he could feel was the heat the two of them were generating. His hands moved around to cup her the full cheeks of her ass, and he gave them a firm squeeze. For the third time, she moaned; this time, the sound was muffled by his mouth covering hers.
He released her lips, pulled back for a moment. Looking down, he could see the desire shimmering in her eyes. "Do you want to stand out here in the cold making out, or do you want to continue this at my house? It's warmer, and much more private."