Chapter 16: Snowed In

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Emma had to admit that Andrew was right. The tree looked beautiful in the corner. Cozy, the lights reflecting off the book bindings and the ceiling. And the best part was that the window, with its cushioned bench seat, was left exposed.

Andrew sat with his back against the frame of the window, and she snuggled between his legs with her back against his chest. They'd shut the lights, except for the lights they'd strung around the tree, and left the music on softly.

She'd warmed when he wrapped his arms around her as they talked, his nose in her hair, his lips by her ear, his shoulder against the window. Goosebumps traveled down her spine whenever he said something sweet or sexy, and when he mentioned how good she smelled, she almost twisted to face him and take his lips with hers.

But she behaved, knowing that Rome wasn't built in a day, and that Andrew, as confident and cool as he seemed that night, may not be a sure thing. She had trouble trusting since Dario, and someone like Andrew maybe wasn't as emotionally stable as she'd hoped her next boyfriend would be. Her next boyfriend would be strong, stable, completely smitten with only her. Devoted. Like Teagan had said, she wanted perfection.

Andrew probably couldn't be those things. He'd suffered a horrible loss, and she might just be a stepping stone to his recovery, not the end game. For that moment though, looking out over the lights of the city, resting in his arms, talking and drinking wine, Andrew Mooney was the perfect boyfriend. The perfect gentleman. The perfect friend. And that was enough for her.

Sort of.

She looked outside, up to the sky. Andrew was mid-sentence when she interrupted him. "Andrew!"

He stopped talking.

"Look!"

The white flakes were huge, falling from the sky like cotton balls. She stood in the window, her hands pressed up against the glass, the buzz from the wine making her gloriously dizzy.

He stood next to her, steadying himself with his palms to the glass like she had. "Snow again?" He groaned. "This has been the worst winter."

She couldn't disagree. "I hate snow. But look how pretty it is." She caught sight of one flake, and tried to follow its path, as far down as she could see. "I'm so glad we moved the tree."

They stood in silence, the Christmas music playing softly as they watched the flakes fall. Then Emma gasped. "I have to show you something!"

His eyes wide, he smiled. "Okay?"

She took his hand and jumped off the bench seat, dragging him behind her. They ran through the giant penthouse, to the northern most corner, to a narrow wooden door. Emma turned the glass doorknob, revealing a staircase.

"There's an upstairs to this place?" Andrew asked.

"Follow me." She led him up the stairs to the door that opened to the roof. The penthouse had its own private oasis. She usually didn't go up there until springtime, but the wine and the company made her warm enough to try.

She pushed open the door, and the cold air rushed in. Ignoring his complaints, she took him by the hand outside.

"Wow," he managed, as they walked to the edge. She looked up, he looked down. "This is your space?"

Emma nodded. "It gets all cleaned up in the spring. I have chairs and little trees." She spun around and pointed. "I never do anything with it in the winter. I bet the girls would love to see it when the weather changes."

He tilted his head, smiling at her. "You think that we'll still be in your life in the spring?"

She shrugged. Had she presumed too much? "I'm overstepping, aren't I?"

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