A loud clatter jolted Nicholas Berringer from a sound sleep. He sat up and shoved his fingers through his hair, pushing it back off his face, waiting for any other sound to give him a clue as to what had awakened him. A clunk, definitely from the next room, sent Nick scrambling to his feet. He rushed to the bedroom door and cautiously pushed it open. He fully expected to come face-to-face with an armed burglar.
To his total surprise, he stood gazing at an angel.
He blinked, then shook his head.
The beautiful woman standing in the middle of his living room wore a white gown that glittered in the moonlight, with soft waves of pale blond hair floating to her hips, and wings of downy white feathers that looked so real he could almost swear they were a part of her.
"Who are you?" His voice came out in a whispered tone, full of awe.
What was wrong with him? Bowled over by some woman dressed in an angel costume who had broken into his home!
He drew up his shoulders and demanded, "What are you doing here?"
Her large, luminescent eyes blinked a couple of times.
"I … do not know," she said in a lilting French accent.
Her words, like a half-forgotten melody from his childhood, washed over him in gentle waves. That voice stirred something deep inside him.
Damn. He had to shake himself out of it! She might look like an angel, but Nicholas didn’t believe in angels. In fact, he didn’t believe in much of anything, especially when it came to women.
"What do you mean, you don’t know? Do you always walk into other people’s apartments in the middle of the night?"
Her fingertips grazed the velvet, paisley cushion on the arm of his burgundy leather sofa as she glanced around in bewilderment, then her fingers clutched the back of the couch as if needing the support to keep standing.
"I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude."
He stepped toward her and her eyes widened and she stepped backward and bumped into the tree, which started to topple sideways. Nicholas leaped forward and grabbed it just before it knocked over the stained glass lamp on the occasional table. He set the tree back in place.
She seemed a little inept to be a thief.
Maybe she’d gone to a Christmas party—some costume affair from the look of her outfit—and had a little too much wine.
He retrieved two glittering glass ball ornaments, which had rolled across the taupe carpet and bumped against the raised hearth of the fireplace, then re-hung them on the tree branches.
He surveyed her face—heart shaped, with a pert little nose and full, inviting lips—and the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. Wide and bewildered.
"Do you live in the building?"
"No, I do not think so."
She stepped forward and stumbled on the hem of her skirt. He reached out and caught her elbow so she wouldn’t fall and she leaned against him for support. The warm softness of her body against his sent his hormones into an uproar.
He eased her to her feet and released her immediately, concentrating on reigning in the tumultuous effect she had on him.
Her lips turned up in a delicate smile.
Despite the powerful sexual effect she had on him, she seemed quite fragile. An intense feeling of protectiveness he’d never known he possessed surged through him. Her effect on him certainly was unusual.
He guided her to the sofa. "Why don’t you sit down and I’ll get you a drink?"
She lowered herself onto the couch and he fetched a glass of orange juice from the kitchen. Brandy might have been better, but he didn’t know what, if anything, she’d been drinking already.
He handed her the glass, then sat down on the chair beside her. They sat quietly for a few moments while she sipped her juice.
"You live here alone?" she asked.
"Yes, that’s right."
She rested her hand on his arm. Warmth seeped into him at her gentle touch.
"I think being alone is not something you like." She glanced at him with luminous, blue eyes and their gazes locked.
He wanted to protest, wanted to deny her words to himself, but he couldn’t. It was true. He wanted a woman in his life. A partner who would give his life meaning, give him a reason for coming home at night, but his fear of being hurt overrode that need.
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