A few minutes later, he signaled and steered the Jeep into the east parking area of Government Camp, finding a vacant slot close to the snow-covered slopes and public restrooms. They all piled out, with Bo doing his best to be first.
Tyler was tugging at the zipper on his coat when a snowball smacked him in the side of the head, knocking his cap askew. Holly let out a peal of laughter. Tyler shot her a playful scowl over the roof of the Jeep before he spotted Beth grinning and calmly packing another snowball between her mittened hands.
"You'd better defend yourself," she warned.
"Why you—" Tyler laughed and took off around the front of the Jeep.
Beth half screamed, half laughed when she realized his intentions. She tried to dodge out of his way and tripped over her clunky boots. He caught her in a tackle and they landed in the snowbank at the edge of the parking lot, with Tyler on top of her.
In that instant, Beth knew what it would be like when he made love to her, the weight of him on her thighs and stomach, his thick black hair wild and unruly as he looked down at her, the flush of his face and the shameless gleam in his smoke-gray eyes. The devil was in those eyes.
"That's a pretty good right arm you've got there," he said, his voice low and far too aware. Then he pressed his cold lips to the corner of her mouth.
"Holly—" Beth began.
"Is chasing Bo across the lot. Remind me to buy him something special for Christmas."
Before Beth could respond, Tyler shifted his weight and helped her to her feet.
She spotted Bo Diddley immediately, bounding toward them and dragging his leash with a mitten caught in it.
"Hey!" Holly shouted, running after him and waving a bare hand.
Beth's eyes widened. "Watch out!"
But her warning came too late.
Tyler was sure a freight train had plowed into him when he found himself laying face first in the snow, the wind knocked out of him and what felt like a hundred pounds of dog standing on his back. Before there was time to register fear, Bo began slathering a smooth wet tongue across Tyler's ear and the side of his face.
"Bo, down!" he heard Beth command.
The weight lifted and Tyler rolled onto his back, eyes closed, arms outstretched. He groaned, pretending to be hurt. Soft snowflakes lit and melted on his face. Seconds ticked by. When no tender hands arrived to minister to his make-believe pain, he opened his eyes a slit and peered up. Beth stood over him on his right, Holly at his left. They each had a snowball in hand and were exchanging grins. Realizing his impending plight, Tyler grabbed an ankle in each hand and yanked. Holly and Beth squealed and stumbled back, giving him time to clamber to his feet.
The next several minutes were a blur of frozen crystals and laughter as the three of them threw hastily packed snowballs at each other. Bo barked and leaped to catch the snowy missiles in flight, only to have them explode in his face.
"Time!" Beth yelled. Tyler threw another snowball and she ducked, laughing. "I give!"
He moved in and swung her off her feet in a hug that made him stagger in the ankle deep snow. She opened her mouth to protest and he kissed her. His lips were almost numb from cold, but feeling returned with languorous ease. When he drew back to look at her, her cheeks were flushed and the secret worries that usually creased her brow were gone. Tyler silently vowed to do everything in his power to see that look on her face more often.
"What?" she asked with a hesitant smile.
He shook his head. "Nothing. You just look happy."
"I am." The admission surprised a laugh out of her. She met the warmth in his intent gaze. Because of you, she thought. She considered telling him, but decided from the look in his eyes, he'd already figured it out.
Bo barked and the moment was gone. Beth looked around and saw Holly chasing the big dog again and laughing each time he succeeded in dodging her moves.
"How come he didn't take my head off when I tackled you?" Tyler asked.
"He didn't sense any fear from me." That's what surprised her the most, she decided. Tyler didn't have any hidden agendas. His feelings were right there in his eyes.
She smiled and moved out of his arms. "Let's go rent some innertubes."
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