Bought for Christmas(40)

By: Doris O Connor

Emilia pulled his head down to kiss him, and the world seemed brighter.

“What was that for?” Hunter asked, and she grinned up at him.

“Just because.”

Hunter grew serious, and she sobered.

“It might not do any good, you know that, right?” he asked, and Emilia fell in love with him a little more right there and then.

“I know, but Christmas is a time for miracles, so I shall choose to believe that it will. After all it brought me you.”

Hunter shook his head in wry amusement.

“Some folks would say getting hitched to the Beast is a punishment, rather than a present, and certainly no miracle.”

“Poppycock. Since when have I ever cared what some people think? But, there is one thing that’s been playing on my mind. I can’t just up and leave my work, and you’re … where are we anyway?” she asked, and Hunter laughed.

“Ah, finally she asks me. We’re in Cumbria, kitten. I own this patch of forest, and this cabin. It’s my hideaway when the world gets a bit too much, and I just need to be my bear for a while.”

“I see, and you work in…”

“London, but then you know that. What are you worrying over?”

“Well, I live and work in Toddington. I can’t just leave, and—”

His bear’s annoyed growl stopped her mid speech, and she swallowed nervously as she looked up into the eyes of his animal.

“Did I ask you to? I’ll relocate. Fuck, I move into your place with you. It’s not a big deal, and Toddington is only a trip up the M1 to get into London.”

Emilia knew her mouth fell open in surprise, and he shut it with one clawed finger.

“You’ll never fit into my tiny little place,” she said, and Hunter narrowed his eyes and gave her that look.

“Are you calling me fat, woman? I’ll let you know I’m in prime condition.”

Emilia smirked at that. “I thought you were a bear, not cattle for sale on the market.”

Hunter grasped her chin and allowed his claws to sink into her skin. Tiny pinpricks of pain they grounded her, and she murmured a hasty, “Sorry, Sir.”

“Better, girl, much better, and if need be I’ll buy a place. I’m sure there must be property for sale there.”

Her heart leapt at that as excitement coursed through her veins, and she dropped her gaze to his neck, lest he read it in her eyes, but she should have known he would notice. He did before they were mated. Now, he could sense her emotions far easier. Sure enough he tightened his hold, and his growl held an edge of demand she was utterly unable to resist.

“Eyes on me, kitten. What is going on in that head of yours? Have you got somewhere in mind?”

Emilia found it hard to breathe under his undivided attention. The scent of something burning registered as he lifted his nose and sniffed, yet he still didn’t let her up.

“If you want any chance of an edible dinner, you better tell me now, or biscuits on string it’ll be for you.”

Emilia giggled at that image, and his lips, too, curved into a smile, but his attention didn’t waver.

“Well,” Emilia lipped her lips and took a deep breath. “There is this cottage. It’s been for sale for a while, but I could never afford it, and—”

“Consider it bought,” he said, and lifting her off him, made his way over to the oven. Smoke billowed out as he yanked it open, and Hunter lifted the rather well done roast onto the work top.

“Ah well, the meat will do. I’m afraid the parsnips are history, and I hope you like your roast potatoes on the crunchy side.”

He winked at her, and Emilia shook her head.

“No?” he asked, and Emilia came up behind him to look at the various trays he pulled out.

“No, I mean that’s not … what do you mean consider it bought? You haven’t seen it. You might hate it for all I know and—”

“Do you like it?” Hunter interrupted her and popped one of the roast potatoes into her mouth when she opened to speak again. The hot vegetable threatened to burn her tongue, and she rolled it around her mouth and sucked in air in an effort to cool it down. Hunter swore and handed her a glass of water, and she eagerly filled her mouth to cool it down. Once she had managed to swallow the thing, she nodded her thanks.