Page 14 of Forbidden Stranger

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Gabriel distracted me the entire day while I tried to work.Anytime I would peek his way, he was watching me.There’s something about the way he stares that makes me feel sexy.He does it like he has every right to and then he kissed me the same way.

When the last person is out of the library, I lock the door so it leaves him and me all alone.When I turn around to face him, I don’t see him in his chair any longer.My heart sinks because he was there moments ago.Did he get tired of waiting and leave?How did I miss that?

“Is there anything I can do to help with whatever one does to close a library?”I spin to see him leaning up against my front counter.Relief fills me, and I realize I’m already in deep with the feels.

“No, I’m all set.”Frostie sent someone over to collect the empty trays the cookies were on.“I need to get my purse.”I say this, but for some reason I don’t move.We both stand there for a long moment staring at one another.

“Do I make you nervous?”He cocks his head, and I think he’s studying me.

“Yes,” I admit, and I wonder if he’s trying to mask that my words don’t affect him.

“We’ll be in public, Noel.”He thinks that I’m nervous he’ll harm me.It’s true that I don’t know him and he could be a serial killer, but if that were the case, he’s really bad about it.He’s already been caught by the sheriff kissing me, and he’s been lingering in the library for hours.I’m sure people noticed because Gabriel stands out and not only because of his size.The all-black is throwing people off in a town full of Christmas cheer.

“I don’t mean it that way you think,” I say, and he pushes off the counter toward me.He makes me flustered and it’s both exhilarating and scary as hell.I’ve never felt these kinds of things before, and it’s like little sparks going off inside of me.

“Do you really want to fight this?”He cups my face, and his thumb strokes my cheek.This could end so badly.

“No, but—”

“No buts then.”He leans down and kisses me again.This time it’s only a brush of his mouth against mine, and I want more.The effects of his kiss from hours ago still linger, and all this does is enhance it.“I want to feed you.All you’ve had is cookies.”

“Okay,” I agree, staring at his mouth.

“Your purse.”He fights a smile.

“Right.”I rush over behind the counter to collect it, making sure my phone is inside before I pull my coat on.“I’m not really sure where we should go.”

“There’s a handful of places we can go.I looked them up.”

“It might be awkward,” I tell him.

“And why is that?”He tucks one of my curls behind my ear.

“Everyone is going to talk.”

“Let them talk.”He shrugs, not understanding how a small town works.Especially Troping.

“That’s easy for you to say.I live here, and once you’re…” I trail off, not wanting to finish that sentence.He’s not going to stick around, and I know that.He’s staying at the resort, but it hasn’t really set in until now.

“We’re two people having dinner.”He grabs my hand, and our fingers link together.

“Where are you from?”I ask once we’re outside and I relock the door to the library.

“This place is something at night.”Gabriel glances up and down the street, noticing that the whole town is covered in lights.

Mr.and Mrs.Bells walk past us, and I wave at them.I suppose it doesn’t matter where we eat now that we’ve already been spotted.I just hope I can fend off my mom for at least an hour.

“I take it you’re not from one of the bigger cities nearby?”There are a few that are only a couple hours’ drive as long as the roads aren’t too bad.We’re tucked against a giant mountain with only two main roads in and out.Every so often, they can end up shutting down for a few days.

“New York.”

“Oh wow.”That’s definitely a plane ride then.“I’ve never been.Well, I mean I don’t remember being there.”I laugh.“I was born there, but my adoptive parents brought me here as a baby.Does that mean I can call myself a New Yorker?”

“I hate to break it to you, dollface, but you’re not a New Yorker.”

“Yeah, I’d never make it, would I?I don’t walk fast enough, and everyone would probably think I’m a weirdo because I’d tell people hi and ask how their day is going as we passed on the sidewalk.”Gabriel chuckles, and it warms me all over.

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