Father Matthew has taken sacred vows to the Church, and they don't include falling in love with--or making love to--pretty Marlie, the sexy teen who's had a crush on him for years. But when disaster strikes and they're stranded together on a camping trip, sparks explode and the flames of desire burn too hot for them to resist!
~~~~~ Excerpt ~~~~~
«I’m sorry.» When she finally spoke again, Marlie’s voice was strangled with remorse. «This is all my fault, and… I’m so sorry!»
Father Matthew glanced up in surprise, and was appalled to see hot tears brimming in her pretty blue eyes. “I don’t blame you, Marlie! If I hadn’t been in such a hurry…”
“But I was too close, and I fell and knocked you down! If I hadn’t…”
“I wasn’t watching my footing.”
“Marlie.” He cut her off by reaching over and curling both hands around her pale cheeks. Her skin felt as soft and fine as a baby’s. “This is not your fault. I wasn’t paying attention, and I knew better.
“Whenever God throws a hurdle in my path,” he continued earnestly, “I consider it a test. I’m very good at passing tests; I got the highest grades in my class all through high school and then in seminary. I will not fail this one…and I won’t allow you to fail it, either.”
“No, Marlie.” Firmly he shook his head. “We’re both going to come out of this safely, and stronger for the experience.”
She wanted to believe him! “My knee’s feeling better.” Her voice quivered as she told the lie…then she gasped in pain when he casually dropped one hand and rested it on her aching leg. “Well, maybe a little.”
She was so transparent, but trying so hard to be brave, that he nearly smiled. “We have enough food between us to last several weeks,” he assured her, “and plenty of fresh mountain water. The batteries in my flashlight are new, so they should last over a week if I keep the beam on low. And I have a whole pack of extra batteries in my backpack, because you just never know what you’ll encounter in the mountains.”
“So we won’t starve, we won’t die of thirst, and we won’t be lost in the darkness.” She managed a wobbly smile, and wished that she could feel as confident as he sounded.
“That’s right.” He gently squeezed her cold hand. “And once your sleeping bag dries out, you’ll be able to sleep more comfortably, too.”
“I liked it better sleeping with you.” Again she spoke without thinking, then blushed beet-red. “I mean, I…"
Father Matthew fought to ignore the surge of heat that rocketed through his lean frame as he remembered holding her soft, warm body all night long. “I know what you meant. I’m afraid we’ll have to keep doing it for a while longer. It’s so humid down here that your bag may take a long time to dry out.” Pensively he slid one long finger down a glistening rock, and wondered whether his wavering resolve would survive that long.