Flynn Walker liked a good plan, and today’s was one of his best ever. It was fun and full of surprises. And love.
Tessa hadn’t had enough of any of those in her life. Well, she’d had more than a few horrific surprises. One had nearly killed her.
Flynn would make it his mission to ensure the rest of her life was filled with happy surprises. Fun surprises. And especially sexy surprises.
Today would have all of those.
Once the cabin was set up, he ensured the stove was chugging out the heat on a low setting. It would be a few hours before he brought her here, and he wanted the space warm.
After recovering from dozens of surgeries, Tessa was able to walk and do almost anything with a little extra care. Ensuring she was warm during winter helped ease the aches.
Flynn jogged back through the snow to the main lodge on the Midnight Lake property. When he neared the deck, Graham Buchanan whistled sharply from the garage. He waved Flynn over. “It’s ready.”
Flynn grinned and slapped his buddy on the back. “Seriously? That’s amazing. I wasn’t expecting to be able to use it today.”
Graham closed the garage door against the cold and prying eyes. This was another surprise for Tessa, one he’d planned to use another day. This was better.
Flynn walked over to the latest toy Graham had created from an old fishing boat, some pipe, canvas, and an electric battery. The machine rested on a charging pad. “You really finished it?”
Graham shrugged. “It’s Valentine’s Day and I know you planned to surprise Tessa with something in the cabin. I figured you could use a fun mode of transportation to get there.”
Flynn slapped his friend on the back again and swallowed back the emotion. He’d always had an amazing family. He’d grown up lucky with loving parents on a Texas ranch. He and his brothers had been taught to work hard, play hard, and love harder.
He’d never expected to find the same kind of family in a remote area of Vermont. Not only had he lucked into them, he’d found his Tessa here. A decade after he’d thought she’d been killed in an explosion.
He would be grateful every day for his friendship with the former FBI agents who had created Midnight Security here. Tessa’s friendship with Tansy meant she’d found a safe place to live under her new name. And his friendship with Tansy’s brother and his friends had brought him here as well.
Now, one of his new friends had probably worked through the night to finish this for him.
Flynn swallowed hard as he checked over the machine. “Show me how it runs. I don’t want to tip her over the side.”
Laughing, Graham showed him the controls. “You’d never let her fall.”
“You’re totally right.”
Tessa Flores opened another spreadsheet with a smile. Tracking data with a focus on animal habitats and climate change had never crossed her mind as a career while she was growing up. Her dream had always been to be a Math professor. Numbers were her thing.
Using those numbers to help animals and the planet was far more fun than she’d ever expected. Now she had seasonal data on turtles, snakes, frogs, owls, loons, jays, beavers, chipmunks, and squirrels. She’d add more over the years, but she already had a good base line for future studies. The thought had her happy dancing in her desk chair. Life was so damn good.
The timer on her phone buzzed, reminding her to get up and stretch. Her body had recovered as much as it ever would from the explosion she’d survived as a teen. If she wanted to remain mobile and active, she needed to do stretches and exercises daily.
Standing on her mat, she faced the window in the room she shared with Flynn, overlooking the forest around Midnight Lake. Even in February, beauty filled the view. Snow and ice covered every surface, providing a fabulous contrast to the evergreens.
How thick was the lake ice now? She’d have to get out there one day to take measurements. Having those for yearly comparisons would be helpful. This was the middle of the month, so she should go in the next few days. The wind was moving all the trees, but the sun shone. Today would be a good choice. Maybe once Flynn was finished with his Midnight Security work he’d want to join her. His job for the day had started early that morning, so she hoped he would be finished soon.
As if she’d conjured him, the door to their room opened and he walked in. She straightened from her stretch to find him grinning. “Now that’s a welcome sight when a man walks into a room.”
She laughed and shook her head. He always made her feel treasured. “It’s a very good look from this side of the room as well.”
His smile lit up his face. “Even though the cowboy hat has to wait until spring?”
There was definitely something extra sexy about Flynn when he wore that hat, especially when he wore nothing else. Some of her thoughts must have shown in her eyes, because his heated, and her pulse skittered in reaction.
Then he backed up a step. “Nope. None of your magic, right now. I’ve got a surprise for you.”
She waggled her eyebrows, loving the way he laughed.
“It’s an outdoor surprise, so I need you to dress warm after you’ve done your stretches.”
Then he closed the door and she heard him heading down the stairs. Knowing they’d be outside meant a few more minutes loosening up her limbs, but she smiled as she moved through the exercises. What did he have in store this time?
Flynn grabbed Tessa’s measuring equipment from the garage and brought it down to the new toy Graham had set up at the edge of the lake. It boggled Flynn’s mind how quickly the huge lake had frozen up once the temperatures had dropped. It had been safe enough for human traffic for well over a month.
His gaze shifted back to Graham’s invention. “What are we calling this thing?”
Graham stood up and crossed his arms over his chest. “No idea. It’s not really a windsurfer. Or a sled. Or a boat. It’s kind of a combination of all of them, except it’s got a VW engine that is now electric.”
Flynn grinned. “Definitely has some of that Buchanan flair thrown in. How about Bucky? Speed Racer? Millennium Falcon? Firefly?”
Graham laughed. “How about Herbie?”
Flynn shook his head. “Herbie? Where did that come from?”
Graham shrugged. “An old show my folks used to watch. It was about a little VW bug. Herbie the Love Bug. It is Valentine’s Day after all.”
They looked at the machine and Flynn nodded. “Herbie it is.”
Graham nodded and looked up at the lodge. “Here comes your lady. Have fun.”
He planned to. Tessa grinned as she moved down to the edge of the lake. “What have you got planned? And what is this?”
He shrugged. “Apparently it’s from an old TV show. We’ll have to look it up sometime.”
Tessa smiled. “Okay. Hi, Herbie. What do you do?”
It wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility that some of Tansy’s creations would reply, but he didn’t think Herbie had that capability.
“We’re going to take Herbie for his first ride.”
Her eyes widened and she looked at the machine again. “We are?”
“Graham helped me create it. Well, that’s not quite true. I told Graham what I had in mind and then I followed orders as he created it. If we unfurl the sail, it’ll power us across the lake. And if there’s no wind, the motor will do the job.”
She laughed. “Are you sure it’ll work?”
He climbed into the boat part and held out his hand to help her in. “Not even a little. Come on, it’ll be fun.”
It took a while to figure out the controls and he nearly toppled the damn thing twice, but soon they were moving around the front part of the lake to the cheers of the crew watching from the shore.
Tessa laughed so hard, tears rolled down her cheeks. When she took a turn driving, they flew down the lake so fast it felt like Herbie was galloping. When the wind suddenly stopped, they were around the corner of the lake and more than halfway to the cabin.
Tessa turned to kiss him. “This is awesome. Herbie is a great surprise.”
He gestured to the floor. “I brought some of your tools and your tablet in case you want to take some measurements while we’re out here.”
Her eyes lit up and he knew he’d guessed right. Tessa’s brain was always revving and she loved her work. They spent an hour learning how to control Herbie and taking measurements of ice thickness, temperature, and humidity.
When she finished collecting her data, her cheeks were flushed and he worried about her getting cold. “Have a seat, we’ve got one more destination.”
Tessa caught her breath as Flynn steered Herbie to the far section of the lake, the cabin where they’d had their first meeting after more than a dozen years apart.
Their initial meeting had been awkward and uncomfortable, but they’d worked hard to put the past where it belonged. Now, she could look at the cabin and be happy. They’d had several spectacular days out there to reclaim it for themselves.
It was also where she’d first spotted Ginger. The cat she’d named after a horse on Flynn’s ranch where she’d experienced the best day of her youth.
Far more good memories than bad.
Flynn drove Herbie up onto the bank and then helped her to her feet and out of the machine. They walked up the stairs and he decoded the lock with the app on his phone. After a few scary incidents, all the lodge properties had locks with changing codes.
When Flynn ushered her inside, the air surprised her. “It’s warm in here. And look at the flowers.” Small jars and pots blooming with flowers filled the room. There was at least one example of each of her tattoos.
He grinned as he closed the door. “I was out here earlier to set it up. I didn’t want you to be cold.”
She leaned up to kiss him. “You’re a pretty special man, cowboy. Thank you.”
“You ain’t seen nothing yet, Contessa. Happy Valentine’s Day.”
Her heart sank. “Is it? I forgot. I didn’t get you anything. I didn’t even think about it. I’m not used to thinking about those things yet. I’m sorry, I’m the worst.”
He laughed and his drawl thickened. “You couldn’t be the worst at anything if you tried, darling. I don’t usually buy into the commercial nonsense that’s built up around these kinds of days, but I thought of some fun stuff for us to do today to celebrate. It’s not about stuff, it’s about spending time with you.”
Which was wonderful, but she felt terrible that the day hadn’t even registered on her internal radar.
As if sensing her mood, Flynn wrapped his arms around her. “Now I feel like an idiot for making a big deal out of this. Forget that it’s Valentine’s Day. Focus on the fact that we’ve already had some fun and I’ve planned more. Okay?”
Tess took in a deep breath. She wasn’t going to ruin the day he’d planned. And he was right, it wasn’t about stuff, it was about them.
She’d throw herself into whatever activities he’d planned. Forcing away her guilt at not remembering, she smiled up at him. “Bring it on, Cowboy.”
He laughed and leaned down to kiss her. “That’s my girl. Okay, first up is to find a way to take off the layers so we don’t roast in here.”
Her eyes widened. “Why don’t we just take off our coats?”
A sexy twinkle lit his eyes. “Where’s the fun in that?”
Instead, he gestured at the table where he’d set up some board games along with a sketch pad and some pencils. “May I present, Strip Hangman?”
A laugh burst out of her. “Strip Hangman?”
He nodded. “Have you played Hangman before?”
Of course, he asked. He knew exactly how strained her childhood had been. Her family hadn’t been normal and she’d never played a game with a family member in her life. Not until her first Christmas with Flynn and his family down at their ranch. “I think I remember playing in school. Refresh my memory.”
He nodded and led her over to the table. “One of us thinks of a word and puts out dashes for every letter. In the traditional game, you draw a body part for the man about to be hanged.”
She scrunched up her nose. “Delightful tradition.”
He grinned. “A bit on the macabre side, and a weird game for kids. But I’ve got a better twist on it. Instead of drawing a body part, whoever gets a letter wrong, removes a piece of clothing.”
“Sneaky man. You probably wore extra layers just so you’d win.”
“Why don’t we find out? Ladies first.”
Flynn wasn’t sure about Tessa, but his stomach hurt from laughing so much. He was down to his boxer-briefs and a sock. Tessa still wore pants, but she’d lost her shirt and her bra a few rounds ago.
He blamed her breasts for distracting him. And the fact that the woman knew the most bizarre words and was totally kicking his ass at the game.
He put down the eight dashes for his next word. Tessa called out E and he shook his head.
With a sexy smile, she stood and shimmied out of her jeans, making him laugh when he realized she wore long johns beneath them.
Her next letter, A, was also a miss and Tessa made a show of sliding off her last sock like an exotic dancer. He wasn’t going to be able to take much more. She was the sexiest woman he’d ever met. And watching her play like this was the biggest turn on. When they’d met again here at Midnight Lake, she hadn’t had any confidence in her sexuality. Now she simply stretched or shimmied when she wanted to distract him from the game.
She chose T and he filled it the second space with a grimace. It was much more fun when her guesses were wrong. Her guess of O had him waggling his eyebrows as he shook his head. This time, she stood and maintained eye contact with him as she she eased the long johns down, nearly making him lose his mind at the sexy sway of her hips. She’d added a few more flower tattoos to her legs and the sight always made him happy. His girl was reclaiming her scars one by one, just as she’d reclaimed her life and her confidence.
Flynn’s body was hard as a rock and he wanted nothing more than to watch this woman go flying over the edge again and again and again.
Before she could call out her next letter, he filled in the remaining spaces. S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G. “You win. You’re stunning. I want to see you fly.”
She was laughing when he swung her up into his arms and spun her into a circle and then tossed her onto the bed. He landed on top of her and captured that laughter into a kiss.
He kissed his way down her body, and used his teeth to remove her panties. She trembled as he moved back up, kissing each flower on the way. Her sighs and gasps made him mad with desire, so he parted her legs and shrugged one over his shoulder. Finally, he dipped his tongue inside.
Tessa gasped his name and with only a few licks of his tongue, she flew over the edge with a cry.
When her eyes fluttered open to find him still between her thighs, she smiled. “That was amazing. You’re amazing. I love you so much, Flynn.”
He kissed one inner thigh and then the other. “I love you too, Tessa. And I have a new game for us to play.”
She laughed. “I like this game.”
“Me too. Hang on, Tessa. Let’s play.”
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this bonus scene to the Small Town Heroes (Midnight Security) Romantic Suspense series!
The next book in the series, Built Of Illusions, spotlights Nico and Josie.