She didn’t know why she bothered to come, to acknowledge the fact that Christmas existed. All it did was bring bittersweet memories that she would rather forget. Since the death of her parents in a plane crash when she was seventeen, Victoria Davies’ world has been nothing but one disaster after another. When eighteen, back in Colorado, she caught her boyfriend being kissed by another girl she didn’t know, and, heartbroken, had run away, moving to Manhattan, New York to start over.
Now at the age of twenty two, she realized that things had gotten better; not perfect, but then again, nothing ever really was. All she could hope for was the best under the circumstances. Since it was Christmas Eve, the ice cream shop where she worked had closed early. But being at home reminded Victoria of the past, and her heart couldn’t handle it, so she walked the white snow that glittered on the sidewalk, the Christmas lights glowing above like stars in an array of colors that dazzled.
Yet she couldn’t find it in herself to be awed. As a single child, she didn’t know what it was like to have a sibling around, and when her parents died, that loneliness grew into a dark shroud that not even the light had been able to penetrate. Her boyfriend had been the only one to get through to her, but since the night she ran away from him and their future, nothing had been right. Now she was alone, with very few friends, none of who knew of her past.
Victoria realized where she was and looked up, her eyes landing on the huge tree in the middle of the park, glittering and glowing with arrangements of decorations that even she had to admit were beautiful to behold. She raised one gloved hand and touched a pair of turtle doves, wings open in flight.
Warmth flushed away the cold of the night as memories of the boy she had loved came to mind, of the day he had given her one of these little trinkets on a gold chain and telling her that he would always be around as long as she wore it. They had grown up together, celebrating every holiday and occasion, right up until his betrayal caused her to leave. Victoria had left the necklace on his porch and returned home without her aunt knowing to gather some things she would need before hopping into her old truck again.
The night it had all changed, she couldn’t believe how much time had passed. When she had been younger, she thought the world was bright and full of possibilities. More than anything she wished for a chance at a happy ending. It was impossible, what she felt, but deep down that wish burned, even if others couldn’t see it. Victoria had worked hard to pus the pain back. She had not even called her aunt, or anyone else for that matter, feeling like a traitor but unable to stop running.
As she looked up at the tree, tendrils of auburn hair escaping her cap into her blue eyes, a deep voice behind her said, “Beautiful, isn’t it?”
She spun around, wondering if she was about to be robbed or worse. She had been so lost in thought that she had not heard anyone approach. The person stopped when their eyes met, and all of a sudden her mouth went dry and her heart hammered against her rib cage. Those eyes, a hazel color that was more brown than green, looked at her out of a tanned face. She knew he could see her shock, yet he made no comment; only watched her intently. Despite the fact that he was the same age asher, the weary worn look made him appear older than that.
He was tall, at least six feet, with brood shoulders and trim hips. His muscular legs strained against the dark jeans he wore, and his brown hair was slightly in disarray as if he had just woken up. Natural red highlights gave his locks the illusion of fire.
Her body tingled, her fingers ached, her palms started sweating, and all she could think to say was, “What in hell are you doing here, Adam?”
Adam Grant gazed at the young woman he had been trying for years to locate. Victoria Davies was even more beautiful than he could remember. Her long auburn hair rippled in the slight wind that blew through the park, her blue eyes glittered with anger and sadness, and she was fuller in the chest and hips. Her high cheekbones and full lips lent an exotic look to her features, and the lights made her look almost otherworldly.
Despite their years apart, Adam felt as though the connection they had was still there, waiting to come alive again. His hands itched to touch her, to feel that lush mouth under his, begging and demanding, bodies hot and pulsing with need. He had tried to move on when he realized her truck had vanished, but he couldn’t because he still loved her, always had since they were kids.
Now Victoria stood before him wearing a jacket that did nothing to hide her figure and long legs clad in skinny jeans with faux fur boots covering her feet.With her cheeks and nose bright red from the cold, the urge to kiss them almost overwhelmed him.
Fighting it was hard now that he had found her, but he managed. His voice was only a little gruff when he said, “I’ve been searching for you.”
Victoria’s arms went around her midsection, her patterned gray and black scarf shifting when she did. Her eyes finally broke away from his. “You found me, so what do you want?” Her voice was so quiet he had to strain to hear, but there was no mistaking the tremor in it that spoke of fear and heartbreak.
Again he wanted to beat himself up for what had happened, but he knew that wouldn’t do any good. He had to make Victoria understand that what had happened that night had nothing to do with him. It had been a Christmas party that one of his friends had thrown. It had taken a little time to convince her to go because she wasn’t the partying type, but he felt that she needed to get out after studying for so long for finals.
When they had arrived in their trucks, the couple had walked into the huge Georgian house, separated almost instantly.
After almost two hours he grew anxious to find her, only to be stopped by a blond with large breasts and a saucy smile that said she knew what could make a man tick. Though he had politely and pointedly said that he was looking for his girlfriend, the blond only seemed to take that as an invitation, because the next thing he knew he was pushed to the wall and kissed while she grounded against him, trying to get what he couldn’t give.
Adam had tried to push her off, his thoughts frantic, but she only clung to him tighter, her talon like nails biting into his arms as she bit his neck so hard it hurt. His moan of pain was followed by a shocked gasp, and he had looked up to see Victoria with shimmering eyes before she bolted.
He had spent an hour searching for her until he realized that she was gone. And guilt and self hatred had boiled ever since.