Suddenly I’m very, very afraid.
“Well, she’s not here right now. I am,” I say.
“She’s absolutely amazing.” Michael’s eyes light up, and I see that he’s thinking about me.
Tears form in the back of my eyes, but I keep swallowing them down. “Really, why?” I ask, pretending not to care at all, pretending to be annoyed—offended. He seems surprised that I would ask that question, but I don’t care. I need to know why I’m so absolutely amazing.
“I don’t know if I feel comfortable talking to you about her,” he says with a half a smile.
“Oh, please. I’ve heard everything and I won’t be jealous, I promise.” I bat my eyelashes at him. Wow, Samantha is way too forgiving.
Michael’s eyes narrow. “She’s just everything I’ve ever wanted in a woman. I mean, at first I thought she was just an average girl, cute and sweet, but somewhat boring. She just seemed too tame for me.” His eyes go soft.
“And she’s not that anymore?” I ask, squeezing his thigh as I lean in even closer to him.
He takes my hand and gently removes it, placing it back on my lap.
“She never was,” he says. “I just had this image in my mind that she was a certain way, when in reality, she’s so much more. My mother has never approved of any woman I’ve ever brought home,” he continues. “And even though I always thought I wanted the exact opposite of what my mother wanted for me, I don’t. She’s the one, Samantha. She’s the one for me.”
My mouth wants to drop to the floor, but I clamp my teeth shut. Overcome by his confession, I stand up and walk over to the bar and pour myself a drink. He…wants me? Shit—no! We’re not good for each other.
He’s not good for me.
I already decided that.
I can’t go back now.
I drum my fingers on the bar, considering my options. What should I do? Should I come clean? Should I take my mask off? He might just strangle me if I do. I can see the headlines now: Murder at The Black Chapel. News at nine.
I glance back at him and his expression is that of a conflicted man. Could it be that he has finally decided? That he has realized he wants me and is even at this moment, when he has a stripper throwing herself at him, decided to resist?
“Well, I’d be careful marrying someone just because your mother likes her.” I say, as mockingly as I can in my angel voice.
“Of course. But Scarlett is different. She seemed like a prim and proper, and dare I say prude girl at first, but she isn’t that at all. We have a deep connection. It’s like she sees me for who I really am. She knows my flaws, but isn’t afraid of them. And I can tell she loves me heart and soul. Though I’m not sure she knows that yet.”
My breath catches at his words. I want to fling my mask off and reveal to him that I am Scarlett—I am her! But again, he’d kill me.
However, is his heart true?
I need to know how much he can resist a sexy angel, to what lengths he’d go to, to remain faithful to me. How much he cares about me.
“If she’s so amazing, then why are you here with me?” I’m in my stripper mode now, and the seductive side of me takes over full force. I glide over to him, climb onto his lap so I’m straddling him, and grind myself against him. Oh, heaven help me. He still has a hard-on, and rubbing myself against him in this way, I can’t help but feel the need build in the deepest part of me.
He scowls at me, so intently that my heart nearly stops beating.
“I don’t know why I’m here,” he says. “I have to go.” He pushes me gently off of him, and then he stands up.
On the outside I’m trying to look confused, but on the inside, I’m grinning from ear to ear. This might actually work! I’ll have Samantha die a gruesome death, from a new, deadly strain of sexually transmitted disease or something, and only Scarlett will remain.
“I’m sorry I dragged you down here on Christmas Day. I’ll pay Laila for your troubles,” he says.
“You know what?” I lean back into the couch sideways, careful not to crush my wings. “Don’t worry about it. It was a pleasure helping you figure out your life. Good luck with the girl. She sounds great.”
He smiles at me warmly, his dimples playing on his cheeks.
I watch him disappear through the red curtain and I’m left smiling like a kid on Christmas Day.
Then I realize, shit, it is Christmas Day! I’m going to head home and then seduce Michael so thoroughly he won’t know what hit him.
After I’ve showered and I’m back in my normal clothes again, I hop into my car and speed home. Laila will be furious with me for not collecting on the money, but once the deal with Michael goes through, I’ll make it up to her.
Michael’s rejection of the stripper is the best Christmas present I’ve ever received. He has finally realized he wants to be faithful to the real me. Maybe he did all along, but just didn’t know it, like his mother said. Life is just wonderful at the moment. I’m thoroughly excited about my future again for the first time since—I can’t remember, it’s been so long.
I’m very pleased, though somewhat uneasy, when I arrive home to see that Michael is already waiting for me on my front porch steps. I climb out of my car, and walk up the snowy pathway leading to my house, all the while my gaze glued to his.
He stands up and squeezes his hands into his pockets, his breath puffing in clouds around him, his body shivering.
“I’m sorry I showed up unannounced. I just had to see you.” He stares at me as if he hasn’t seen me in a hundred years or as if I’ve just returned from the dead.
“No problem. I just came from—” I was about to say from visiting my father, but there will be no more lies from these lips. “Why are you here?” My breathing has suspended, and now I’m shivering, too. Snowflakes start to fall around me, sticking to my hair and coat.
“Can we talk?” he asks, taking a hesitant step forward, the snow crunching beneath his feet.
My stomach does a summersault. “Is it something serious? Because if it is, I’ll have to make you wait until it’s not Christmas anymore,” I tease.
I see the relief in his eyes at my attempt at humor. “It is serious, but I think it is also very happy.” Michael’s eyes darken and my heart skips a beat.