“Oh, dammit.” Georgina Grant was anything but organized. Her house was a mess, and she kept stubbing her toes on boxes full of crap she had no idea what to do with.
After moving out of her brother Jack’s home six months ago when he and Nadia started trying for a baby, she was lucky to find such a steal of a house in Surrey. It was more like a large cabin than a house, but for it worked well for her.
She was one tiny person that didn’t own a lot, or so she had thought. So, having a dozen boxes still unpacked drove even her frazzled mind nuts.
Diagnosed with ADHD when she was thirteen made Gigi more self-conscious than she already had been. There had never been a doubt that she was different than her classmates but having it confirmed left a scar.
She was lucky to finish college with the grades she did and land such an amazing job that kept her from having to sit for too long as a youth counsellor. Working primarily with kids similar to her, Gigi found she actually had been helping the youths she worked with at the Boys and Girls Club in White Rock.
Some of the kids were more difficult behaviourally-wise, and others were so closed off that she had a hard time making eye contact with them. The reward from every smile, every successful homework session, made it worth the effort, though. She was making a difference in those kids’ lives, and that’s all she cared about until Sonny Powell came along and shattered her confidence. Now, she was left picking up the pieces and struggling to keep from showcasing it to the kids and her brother. Jack was overprotective. Even with a wife and new baby on the way, he’d always been her warrior.
Moving out was supposed to be a good thing. Now, she was just lonely and miserable with all the damn boxes strewn about.
Just as she was about to pour a cup of her favorite vanilla tea, a loud banging on the door shocked her, and she spilt the boiling water on her hand instead.
“Son of a bitch!” Clenching her teeth, she turned the cool water on and called out, “I’ll be right there,” to whoever was making such a ruckus.
Wrapping her hand in a towel, she stumbled over a large box on the way to the entrance. As she opened the door, she was startled by two things at once: there was a smoking hot man dressed as Santa standing there and about a foot and a half of snow on the ground—the precipitation so heavy, it spilt in the door as Santa walked through it.
“I don’t think we’re going to be going to that party today,” Santa grumbled behind the white beard covering his face.
It took a minute before the voice registered, and she was left even more surprised. “James?”
His gaze narrowed on her as he shed the bright red coat and shook it off outside before closing the door and hanging it on the hook on the back of it. “Who did you think it was?” He was grouchy. The man should be dressed as the Grinch and not Santa.
“Well, no one, honestly. The party was called off last night because the forecast had been calling for all this snow,” Gigi explained as she walked back to the sink.
“What do you mean, last night?” he snapped.
“Why are you dressed as Santa? And why are you here?” Ignoring his question, her own curiosity heightened. Gigi had crushed on James for a long time and seeing him here when she was already feeling defenseless wasn’t good for either of them.
“Seriously, Gigi?” Why the heck did he sound so pissed at her? It’s not like she controlled the weather.
“What, James? What did I do to offend you this time?” As much as she liked him, he continuously seemed annoyed with her, so she was perpetually trying to move on from her feelings for the stubborn man.
“You had Jack ask me to do this, even knowing snow was coming. You couldn’t have called me, at least, so I didn’t waste my time?” He blew out an irritated breath as she tried to figure out what he was talking about. Gigi had never asked Jack to do anything. “That’s inconsiderate, even for you, Gigi.”
She flinched at his words. He didn’t know what Sonny had called her before he walked out so he couldn’t understand the hurt. She turned away from him, not wanting him to see the emotions on her face.
“I didn’t ask Jack to do anything, James. This entire thing was his idea.” Her words were solemn, and she felt every bit the flake that everyone called her even though this wasn’t her fault.
“Why else would he ask me then? And why couldn’t you have called him to tell him it was cancelled. You wasted everyone’s time with your foolishness again.”
Kick a girl while she’s down.
“Look, James, I get it that you don’t like me. You don’t like my personality, and you think I’m a ditz. I can’t help any of those things any more than I can help why you’re here. I never asked Jack to recruit you to help me out. In fact, I told him that I was going to do it on my own. Not once did he inform me that he was going to ask someone to help, so I had no reason for telling him the party was cancelled.” Taking a deep breath so the tears she’d been struggling to hold on to didn’t fall, she finished with, “I’m sorry you find me to be such an annoyance, but for once, I did nothing wrong.”
Why did him finding her to be so odd hurt so much? Sure, she’d crushed on him for a long time, but he’d never been all that nice to her.
Turning her back to him, Gigi returned to running the cold water over her burn. What she had expected to happen was for the front door to slam shut and James to be out of her life again. The man got under her skin unlike anyone else she’d known. What actually happened was that he quietly walked up behind her, his hands gripping her elbows as they slowly slid down to her hands.
“What’s the matter here?” His whispered question in her ear did things to her body she hadn’t felt in far too long.
“Your knock startled me, and I spilt my tea water.” Her tone matched his.
“I’m sorry.” The hot puff of air on her neck froze her in place. “I’m sorry I’m such a dick, Gi. I’m sorry that dick of an ex didn’t treat you right, as well.”
“How do you know about that?”
“Pepper told me.”
Damn her friend. “She wasn’t supposed to.”
“I’d have found out anyway.” There was something to his voice she couldn’t decipher. Almost like he was angry that Sonny was a jerk.
Shrugging, she tried to play it off like no big deal. “It’s fine. Everyone treats me the same.”
The words barely passed her lips when James spun her around and crowded her into the sink with his big frame. “They shouldn’t, though. I shouldn’t have. You’re special, Gigi, and you should be treated like it.”
What the hell was with this guy? In the fifteen minutes he’d been at her house, his attitude went from volatile to comforting, and she was left reeling.
“What’s going on, James?” His stare kept darting from her eyes to her lips, and a warmth ran the length of her spine.
“Things change, Georgina. Feelings grow,” he murmured, leaning into her. Their eyes held until his lips covered hers, and she couldn’t help the way she responded.