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A Night by my Fire

A Night by my Fire

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"With her signature blend of raw primal passion and emotion, Addison Cain brings us a hot read guaranteed to warm up anyone’s winter night!” –Zoe Blake, USA TODAY bestselling author

He’s never known a woman, but her? He’s going to learn every last inch of River before the storm breaks.

Main Tropes

  • Hero Under Vow Of Chastity
  • Forced Proximity
  • Forbidden Romance
  • Blizzards, Heat Between The Sheets
  • He Cannot Resist Her
  • All The Smolder
  • A Strong, Independent Woman
  • Bareback Kink
  • Wrap Yourself In A Soft Blanket And Enjoy!


"With her signature blend of raw primal passion and emotion, Addison Cain brings us a hot read guaranteed to warm up anyone’s winter night!” –Zoe Blake, USA TODAY bestselling author

An assassin’s vow of chastity must never waver. To crave the flesh is to be distracted. To fail.

Yet desire takes hold of reason each time he looks at River, his uninvited savior—the crass woman offering him shelter through a raging blizzard.

Stranded together in her cabin, it’s impossible to resist. The way her lips part as she sleeps, those soft brown eyes gazing at the fire… and a tongue sharper than any blade he’s buried in a target’s ribs.

He’s never known a woman, but her? He’s going to learn every last inch of River before the storm breaks.

Intro into Chapter 1

A slap of water crested her upper thighs, forcing a reflexive hiss past pursed lips. Straining forward through the slosh, River traversed the half-frozen lake shore, her hiss replaced with creative profanity once icy water saturated her belly. The subsequent cramp stole her breath, but she was close enough to reach forward and fist her hand in the clothing of the massive body floating by.

Fingers losing feeling, the woman pulled, yanking whoever he was from the bracken he’d been tangled in.

And boy, was he damn lucky she had seen him drifting while she was fishing... that was, if the floating behemoth was still breathing.

There was no time to check. Dead or alive, she needed to get out of that arctic water. Hardly sparing him a glance, she hooked her arm around his chest and tugged her cargo to the lapping shore. The man was massive, his clothing waterlogged, and dragging him out of the tide took a feat of pure will.

Flopped on his back, he was tangled in layers of clothing. River tore at his hood, finding the fuzz of a military haircut, the man’s nose and mouth covered by a flap of cloth.

There was no time for delicacy. 

She ripped the fabric away, scratching his face in her haste. It got a reaction: the male jerked.

He was alive.

Numb fingers pried apart his jaw. The man twitched again. Panting, she rolled him onto his side, certain by his garbled wheeze the giant’s lungs were full of water. She stood, and kicked the bastard square between the shoulder blades.

The instant gush from his mouth confirmed her suspicion.

Pressing his back to the rocky shore, angling the man’s thick neck, her lips went to his. She gave him her breath. There was hardly a need for compressions before he spit up another wave of water. After clearing his mouth, she breathed for him again.

When she puffed air into his mouth a third time, the man’s eyes flew open. An inhalation, rattling and unhealthy, was sucked deep even as she tried to turn him to his side so he could vomit up the rest. Shifting her feet, loudly cursing him to high heaven, she kneeled, fisted her hand, and began to vigorously rub his chest in hard, brutal circles.

With each retch, his color slowly went from purple to an unnatural shade of green. Jerking movement became erratic, panicked. A series of racking coughs pushed out the last bit of lake water, but the man, the great beast she was trying to tend, was far more obsessed with fighting her off than spitting up the fluid.

It was such a strange thing to witness, a powerful man gagging, shuddering, and wielding a muscled arm so big it seemed it could break her in two, yet so weak he could not move her an inch.

Batting his flailing arm away, she kept him on his side and helped him cough up the last of the lake water. But the way he watched her—the hatred in that glower—she almost hesitated, unsure if she would be safe once she’d fully revived him.

But integrity mattered.

She met a wide-eyed death glare with a squinted warning of her own. A huge noisy breath was immediately sucked deep. Then another, expanding a rib cage so massive, she felt the need to back away. 

It was not a sensation she humored. Instead, she stood and offered a hand. “You lost your footing, stranger.”

Bowed over, clearly struggling, he loudly cleared his throat, hacking as he got to his knees and shoved her back.

Her ass hit the ground, the rocky shore digging into her butt. Cold, sopping wet, and pissed off, she barked, “If you want something to panic about, it should be the coming dark, not abusing the woman who saved your life!”

She knew he was in shock. It was clear from the way he trembled and the settling confusion in his bloodshot eyes. Not that it made him any ounce less an asshole.

Her muddy boots came into his line of sight. There was hardly any time for the stranger to snarl before River had the nerve to strike him in five concurrent blows on his back. His body reacted and he spit up again, the liquid flowing past his lips and landing right on her feet. He wheezed, sputtered, and then the bastard had the audacity to look up and actually growl at her.

“Yeah, fuck you too,” she said, cocking her chin once toward the frozen river. “You think I wanted to wade into that shit? Now, get on your feet or freeze to death and waste the life I just gave you.”

Standing, throwing one of her long braids over her shoulder, again she offered the stranger a hand, her eyes warning that if he didn’t take it, she would leave him to die. All the male did was stare up at her, as if measuring her, as if debating some great matter. She knew what he found in the appraisal: a filthy, wet woman. A woman with mud smeared all over, glowering at him, her own return gaze anything but friendly.

She was also shivering, every bit as cold as he was.

She’d been out in the elements too long. But River waited, her hand extended, her glare challenging. A palm came up, gripped her about the elbow. She mirrored his hold and he let her help him to his feet.

He almost fell right back down. One of his ankles was badly damaged.

“Right,” she grunted, frowning at his twisted boot. “Put your arm about me.”

The damn limb was heavy. He gripped too hard when she huddled to his side and rolled her shoulder, shifting the weight of her rifle to accommodate the press of his body. 

There was no time for talk, no need in her mind to make any type of introductions, not with the swell of the sun’s orange disk descending behind the mountains. She took a step, he followed, allowing her to bear a portion of his weight, and together they moved into the dark of the woods.

The scent of cedar, the smell of cold crushed plant life, was sharp in each deep inhalation as she cursed him, barking orders that only earned her another death threat of a glare. “Move your ass! We still have half a mile to hike and you’re never going to make it crawling like a baby.”

The tree line blocked a portion of the biting wind, but the air was icy cold, their breath visible. Yet she sweated into her wet clothing, winded from the labor of dragging the steroid addled idiot up the mountain to shelter.

They crested a rocky summit, the scent of the air took on the fragrance of wood smoke, and she smiled, a thing the man did not see. He did, however, see the small log cabin buried farther up in a copse of trees.

For the briefest of seconds, she felt her companion hesitate, glancing up to find his eyes locked on hers. She met that murderous gaze, suspecting he was thinking of how much bigger he was, how much stronger even injured. Her eyes were black, the pupils almost indistinguishable. It was there he glared, his blue irises lacking everything hers had in abundance.

Life. River was full of life. And she had given a portion of it to him—to a stranger.

Waiting ahead was her home, a small box made of logs that lacked electricity. And depending on where his thoughts progressed, she might never make it those final steps.

As if she could feel him weigh his options, she read the threat under his deeper contemplation. And knew she was not the type of woman he was familiar with.

By the look of him, unfamiliar things were vastly unsettling.

When he flexing the arm around her much smaller shoulders, her cargo sniffed the air, cycling fresh breath scented with the smell of her sweat and the fishy waters freezing in their clothing.

One curve of his elbow, one wrench, and he could snap her neck.

His eyes shined with malicious temptation. Lodging was waiting, River certain he was considering she might possess supplies, first aid necessities… transportation.

Her thin shoulder lurched under his arm, signaling that now was not the time to stop for a chat. Her teeth showed white against the tawny warmth of her skin. “Move!”

An unsteady voice barked, oddly intoned and not at all what she’d expected. “No one orders me.”

She could swear there was an unspoken, not anymore, in his statement. After all, a bruised ego was an easy thing to smell on a man.

When she spoke again, her voice was just as nasty and baiting as the first time. “Move now, or make the way yourself. I’m cold.”

Her boots shuffled forward, he followed in sync, and the stranger did move. A few more minutes and she was jerking the latch and kicking her door inward. There was no lock on her house, nothing to keep the dark things out, and even in his weakened state River could see he marveled at it. That his eyes kept checking to see if what he found was accurate.

The sound of the door banging into the interior wall was nothing compared to her groan as she sagged, exhausted. 

Swallowing, she sucked in a breath and shuffled the pair of them through the miniscule living area to where a basic table and chairs were situated near a small, rudimentary kitchen.

He limped where she led him, leaving a trail of slush and mud on the worn area rug and plank floors. Dumping her ungrateful cargo into a spindle chair, she fell back onto the floor, splayed and panting.

The remnants of a fire were burning, warming the small space, but from the look of ice crusting her guest’s clothing, it was clear more work had to be done immediately to prevent the sting of frostbite.

Stringy strands of hair escaped a pair of long braids and lay plastered to her face. She ignored them, using her teeth to pull off her thick gloves. Spitting them to the side, River rolled up as quickly as she could to tear at the laces of the stranger’s boots. Ignoring the bite of the floor against her kneecaps, she yanked, freeing a huge wet foot, throwing the sodden shoe behind her before reaching for the man’s damaged ankle.

There was no gentleness, no concern for potential broken bones. She took the wet leather, peeling it away to throw it where its partner was marking the floor in a puddle. Next, his jacket zipper was yanked down, the garment parted and shoved over the swell of broad shoulders.

River tugged, pulling, yanking, to get her way and take the damn thing off the motionless brute. She fought him for the jacket. When he did not obey, she kicked his bad ankle. 

Sudden pain halted foolish resistance. Fingers flying, every layer covering his top half was forced over his head, each sodden garment dropped unceremoniously to the floor.

All was too rushed to recognize the state of his flesh before her, to count the scars or the bruising, or even admire that he was pure muscle with hardly enough body fat to keep him warm. Once he was bare-chested, she scurried toward the small couch, snagged a homespun blanket and wrapped it over his shivering shoulders.

“There now.” Her voice was softer, River tucking the fabric around him.

She went for his belt. He resisted, shivering, when she yanked at the buckle.

“Shy, hmm?” It was mildly amusing. Cocking her lips, she pinched him until his hands moved out of her way. “I have never met a man who didn’t want to jump out of his clothes when I started to undress him…”

The glare he gave her… it was something to be seen.

“Tough crowd…” she gave a nasal snort, stripping his belt from the loops. “Well, stranger, I have seen a naked man before. To be honest, you all got the same parts, so I promise I won’t act the blustering maiden should I see your dick.”

He was giving her that look again, and she was still smirking, pulling downward on his zipper.

A moment later her upturned eyes found his, but her expression was serious. “If you struggle or kick me, there will be consequences.”

The stranger did not nod, he only held her eyes.

Bunching the wet fabric at his thigh, it took River four or five good yanks to force the wet pants from under his weight. Fisting her hands around the cuff of the garment, she leaned back and pulled until his legs were bare and she was an awkward pile on the floor... again.

Breathless, she looked him dead in the eye, struggling to get up. “Now, since you seem to be the shy type I am tempted to leave you in your drawers… but your balls won’t be coming out of your rib cage anytime soon if you don’t get warm and dry. Your call.”

He didn’t answer, so she stood, reaching for a kitchen towel. Without asking, she began to dry his hair.

“Take the damn things off!” he snarled, batting her hands away.

Unimpressed with his attitude, she tossed the towel aside, reached under the blanket draped across his shoulders, and tugged at the elastic waistband of his briefs. For once he helped her, lifting his hips so she could pull the saturated fabric down his thighs.

Once it was done, River had had enough of him. “I guess I should have mentioned your testicles from the start… it would have made this a lot easier. And I mean this, cold or no, you’re an absolute asshole.”

And like that he was dismissed. Her wet clothes had to go and there was no point in being bashful when she was fucking freezing. Each layer was peeled off before the fire. Standing naked as the day she was born, River reached for another blanket, wrapped it around her, and built up the blaze with her free hand. New wood caught and flames were building. Warmth spreading, the woman went back to where he sat, and she reached an arm around him. Pulling rudely, she took him to the old sofa, sat him before the fire, adjusting the scratchy blanket on his shoulders before adding another to his lap.

She palmed his cheeks, turning his head left to right, persistent when he tried to jerk out of her grasp. “You might have a minor concussion. Your pupils are slightly dilated… Are you in pain?”

“No,” the denial was growled but meek.

His good behavior earned him a soft smile.

Standing, she took the same old wooden chair from the kitchen and set it before him, helping him lift his leg to elevate his injured foot, resting it on a throw pillow. “Let’s hope it’s not broken. Out here you will be in a world of trouble if it is. Not to mention potential pneumonia. Also, try not to die on my couch. You’re too fucking big to move by myself and grave digging in this weather…”

And with that, she left him and went to the kitchen. From the sofa, he heard the telltale click of a gas range igniting. When she reappeared, still wearing that blanket tucked around her breasts, the woman strung a cord from wall to wall, proceeding to hang up their dripping clothes, frowning at the water marking her floor. Glaring at him under lowered brows, seeing him watching her, she made it clear she was not at all happy about the state of her home or his part in it.

And what a bizarre home it was.

For starters, it was very small. Secondly, there were no modern comforts: no television, no washer or dryer, only a gas range for cooking and lanterns for light. For a female in these times, she was very strange. For a young female, she was even stranger.

Mismatched shelves lined the walls of her living room, titles jammed in, spines worn. That was what held her guest’s shaky attention as River puttered around, wiping the mud from the floor and muttering under her breath.

The kettle sang and moments later she reappeared with a steaming cup she tried to press into his hands. When he made no move to take it, her grip came back to his cheek. Pinching his mouth open, caught between balancing the cup and trying to force him to drink, River fought him. He yanked on her wrist.

She yanked back.

A pained noise passed his lips even as she poured the hot liquid into his mouth. It had to burn all the way down. That was the point.

Choking on water heavily laced with honey, he trembled.

She tipped the cup up from the bottom and pressured him to drink more. “Swallow it all. It will help your core temperature rise.”

There was the warmth of water pouring down his face, not only from where the beverage spilled, but from his eyes. Tears.

He would have done almost anything she demanded at that point, falling into the delirium of hypothermia. Lost to her care, every last scalding drop was swallowed. When he was practically convulsing, her fingers gave him what he wanted. She pulled the drink away and let him breathe.

Standing over him, watching the great beast suck in air, she stepped out of the man’s reach.

He was furious even ill as he was, calculating something that made her wish she had left him floating in the lake. 

It was his attention on her hair, the way he studied the two thick, messy braids hanging to her waist. She knew, with just one look that he fantasized about choking her with the ropes.

Almost superstitiously, she stroked her hands down his would-be murder weapon, brushing off some of the collected dirt.

River sneered.

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