-UP AND COMING AUTHOR-
Never Just Friends
Stopping at the door of their private cabin, Maritzia let Cade go as he leaned against the door jamb and she fished out the card key. With a quick zip of the card, the door's lock made a whirring buzz before signaling green to open. Pushing the door open she reached for Cade again, letting him drape an arm across her shoulders.
"Okay, okay take it easy," she coaxed, looking down worriedly at his right leg he favored. "You're moving too fast. Slow down."
With awkward limping steps, they walked further into their suite. With a full-size kitchen and an open living room, their private cabin, or rather—chalet—what their hotel called it, was decorated in a very modern but warm aesthetic. Warm neutral browns and soft eggshell whites, sleek black glass table tops in the kitchen paired with nude woods, the whole place looked like something out of Architectural Digest.
"If you just pick me up like a blushing bride in your arms and stop hiding your super strength then we won't have to slow down," Cade informed her.
"I'm going to use my so-called super strength to hurt you even further. Now hush and go limp to the couch while I shut the door," she told him, hiding her smile as she rushed back to shut the door from the cold, snowy air.
After a year of working loads of overtime, they finally saved up enough money and time to hit the first place on their list—Switzerland. Maritzia could barely believe she was actually here. Ever since they arrived, she had felt herself grinning like a loon as she popped in and out of the stores in the Swiss village. Everything was so beautiful. It was like a snowy wonderland you read about in books. The streets of the villages were tightly packed with historic wooden architecture that made her feel as if she was visiting Hogsmeade.
Shutting the door and locking the deadbolt she went back into the living room and saw that Cade was sitting on the couch with his right leg outstretched. Worriedly she looked at his blue snowsuit and wondered how they were going to get the thick material off safely.
As if reading her mind, Cade gave her a guilty little smile. "I'm sorry if I ruined our day of adventure on the slopes by pulling a muscle."
She snorted and waved that statement away. "You mean our day of bunny slopes surrounded by two-year-olds and grannies from Texas? Yeah, no worries," she mumbled, thinking of people's laughing faces as they watched them struggle to move in their skis. "Who would have known we'd be so terrible at skiing?"
"I know, right?! It looks so damn easy when you watch it. Dammit, I'm in top physical shape!" Cade moaned, flopping back onto the couch.
Unzipping her own suit, she pulled her arms out and pushed the top of the suit down until it hung loosely around her waist.
"I know, my love. You angrily told a group of giggling toddlers that very same thing," she said, forcing back a laugh.
"Well, I am," he huffed. "I was prepared to show them and their mothers my abs and biceps. They need to know I'm not the loser I look like when I'm trying to ski."
"Well, I did try to tell them that you're normally a badass," she called back from the kitchen.
Opening the sleek stainless-steel refrigerator, she pulled out the carafe of water and poured a couple of glasses.
"Thanks, babe. At least you know," Cade gave her his patented big-eyed pout.
Carrying the glasses back over to him, she placed them both on the wooden coffee table that was shaped like a slice of wood from a tree. Leaning over to him, Maritzia ran a gentle hand through his puffy curls, flicking a bit of snow away as she did, and leaned down to kiss him. She could feel him tighten beneath her and heard the suppressed groan of desire as she pulled away.
Still stroking his hair, she gave him a warm smile. "I'm going to go dig out the muscle liniment from my bag. Just sit there and order us some room service."
His eyes glittered back at her with obvious need causing her cheeks to warm as he answered. "Yeah, I'm not sure I can show my face in the resort's restaurant tonight," he muttered.
Quickly she turned away and hurried to their bedroom. Surrounded by windows their bedroom was filled with the orange and blue hues of the evening sky. Finding their luggage in the closet she stripped out of her thick purple snowsuit he had given her the year before with one hand as she rummaged around the pockets of her bag with the other.
Now in her matching purple long-johns, she walked back to the living room with the tube of liniment in hand. "Okay, we're in business I found the-"
Her words stopped at the sight before her. With the lights now off and the gas fireplace lit the room was draped in a blanket of warm intimacy. No longer on the couch, Cade looked up at her where he kneeled on one knee on the floor while holding out an open ring box with both hands.
"I lied." His eyes danced with emotion as he looked at her.
Still holding the tube of liniment, Maritzia stared at the scene in shock. Her mind was not working. Her voice was stuck in her throat—all she could do was stare at him.
Cade studied her with a smile and continued. "I know it's only been a little over a year sweetheart but if you think about it, it's been since we were kids. I love you with all I have. Will you marry me?"
For a few seconds, there was nothing. The only sound in the room was the light crackle of the fire.
"So, you're not injured?" she finally managed.
"Nope," Cade said evenly, his eyes brightening as he gave her a pointed look. "And babe if the next word out of your mouth is not a yes, I'm going to have a heart attack. So please have a little care and-"
Not giving him a chance to finish she rushed forward and threw her arms around his neck. That night she told him a thousand breathless yesses knowing that for the rest of her life she would spend it with her best friend.
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