Fire In The Ice
Katlyn Stewart



Deedra thought her life to be perfect. She was married for years to
a highly respected gentleman in the community, and the affluent
owner of an upscale restaurant named Fireside Inn. He had taken care
of every essential aspect of her life, giving her two beautiful daughters
and an exquisite home in the posh bay-front area of Sarasota, Florida.
Then without warning, that world had come crashing to the ground.
Craig Marlan, the man that sheltered her against all sorrow, was killed
in a car accident, a fact that would alter her faith in “Happily ever
Deedra was not satisfied with simply being the owner of the stylish
restaurant, desperately needing to feel useful and fill the void left in her
life. Craig had made it quite clear shortly after their marriage that she
should stop working at the restaurant. Her life should be in her home,
taking care of the “wifely” duties that a household demanded and await
the birth of children. He also felt that her responsibilities should
include charitable events and social activities. That his wife, a woman
of means, should not be involved in such trivial things as outside
employment. She did as he wished.
However, the hollowness of life without a man to care for, along
with the loneliness of the huge home, forced Deedra to alter what Craig
had commanded of her. Deedra decided to return to the restaurant,
taking over her late husband’s position, and occasionally filling in as
a hostess as well. The work made her feel worthwhile, like it did in the
younger days of her life. Consequently, being at the restaurant
allowed her the opportunity to interact with people and keep the
loneliness at bay.
Her dearest friend from youth, Marcy, also worked at the Fireside,
starting just days before each other. A little over a year after Craig’s
death, Marcy started trying unsuccessfully numerous times to set
Deedra up on dates. Regrettably, it had been to no avail. She hated
watching from the sideline as Deedra put her whole life into work and
children, allowing for no personal life whatsoever. As the time ticked
away, everyone could see Deedra slowly slip away into her cold
detached world.
Marcy was fearful that her dearest friend would never allow her
heart to open, nor allow anyone to love her again. “Go out!” Marcy
would say to her. “Do something besides work and go home. Maybe
have a drink now and again, get a little tipsy, and laugh.” However, no
amount of coaxing would budge Deedra. Still, her friend hated seeing
how closed off Deedra had become. She was still a young woman with
so much life left to live. Marcy held on to the hope that one day,
someday, someone would have the capability to break through the ice
formed around Deedra’s somber heart.
Her still-youthful figure, though hidden under an unflattering
waitress uniform, was a joy for the male patrons of the establishment
to admire. They could envision the supple roundness of her breasts and
hips. Nevertheless, to their disappointment she would turn each of the
potential suitors down.
Several men, over the last two years, tried using their best tactics to
become a suitor for Deedra. Her captivating eyes would mesmerize
them. The soft flowing movement of her body hypnotized them. But,
alas, Deedra would have no part in it.
Over time, the patrons and employees affectionately began calling
Deedra “The Ice Princess.” A bit of a side-bar joke spoken softly when
she was unable to hear. One male patron would warn another male,
“She’s off limits, she’s The Ice Princess, no one can break through her
During the loll between lunch and dinner, Deedra placed a call to
the children’s sitter, Mrs. Baker, to check up on the girls. All was well,as she always knew it would be. Mrs. Holly Baker, “Grandma” to
Deedra’s girls, had been their nanny for over six years, and a true “God
send” after Craig’s death. The children thought of her as their real
grandmother. With Craig’s parents never taking an interest in the
children, and living abroad, Mrs. Baker became their surrogate
grandmother and enjoyed the time spent with the children. Especially
since her own children were grown and living lives of their own apart
from their mother. Mrs. Baker relished in feeling useful again with the
responsibilities of caring for Deedra’s young daughters.
Like clockwork, Monday through Friday she was there taking care
of any necessary chores Deedra could not get to and looking after the
children until she came home. This allowed Deedra the freedom to
handle both the business and financial side of her life.
With the phone call finished, Deedra walked to the kitchen,
stopping to sample the ribs that were so famous to the restaurant.
Basically, she was muddling around the Inn to find something to clean
to pass the time away. Today would be another slow one. Tourist
season was at a halt, with spring in full bloom. During these sluggishly
hot summer months, most of the customers that came in were the old
regulars that lived in the surrounding area, with the busiest period
being on Friday and Saturday nights..
Stopping near the grill, Deedra shared a joke with the head cook,
Mark, and was still smiling to herself as she walked back to the front.
Out of the corner of her eye, Deedra saw the door open, and then heard
the chimes ring, signaling to her that a customer had come in.
Back to work, finally! Making a brief stop to check her appearance
in the mirror, with a quick smoothing to the uniform and checking to
be sure her make-up still looked fresh, she hurried toward the front
counter to greet the awaiting patron.
At first, she did not pay much attention to the man standing there
waiting for someone to seat him. When she did look in his direction,
the exact moment her eyes met with this stranger’s, a shiver came over
her entire spine, her face was instantly hot. This was no ordinary man.
Indeed, he was something that one would see on a G.Q. magazine.
Without realizing it, she was studying him head to toe.
Had she seen him somewhere before? Perhaps met him? No, No,
she thought, unable to place him or his face.
Standing before her was this extremely well-built man, she guessed
him to be somewhere around 6’5-6’6 or so. The largest frame on a man
she had ever seen. He dwarfed her small frame from where he stood.
Without consciously meaning to, her eyes followed the chiseled
powerfully built definitions of his arms. They seemed to ooze out from
his tight black t-shirt. Her eyes wandered from the shirt to the way the
faded blue jeans fit his body as though they were made of liquid. Her
mind’s eye could almost imagine the hard edges of his thighs.
Allowing her eyes to move back up the wide dimensions of this
man, she focused in on the deeply bronzed skin and well-weathered
face, only adding to the allure of this stranger.
The hair, the gorgeous full mane of long, black silky hair, with a
white cowboy hat, was a marked distinction to his deeply tanned face.
This only added to the extraordinary beauty of this man. Deedra’s
mind continued wandering with no concept of time or the fact that he
might be watching her. She explored the strong points of his
appearance. The solid curve of his jaw line. The way his long hair lay
to either side of his well-developed neck. The broad shoulders. He was
a like a dream, a beautifully built specimen.
Even more so than this, Deedra was taken by complete surprise that
her skin felt like little needles pricking away at her skin. Her heart was
beating wildly, as though she were a young schoolgirl seeing a famous
rock star for the first time.
Deedra tried quickly to regain her composure, unaware of how long
she had been standing there staring at this man. Secretly she was
praying he had not noticed her stare. Taking in a deep slow breath, she
walked closer to the man.
“Good afternoon, sir! Could I see you to a table or a booth?” she
asked nervously, realizing her voice was cracking. Her mouth was as
dry as if cotton were in it. What is wrong with me? she wondered,
clearing her throat so that it seemed as if she had a bit of a cold.
His reply caught her off guard even more than she already was.
“You sure can, darlin’, make it a booth—for two!” He smiled, his voice deep, husky, with a distinctive slow southern drawl. A flirty
smile pursed across his large expressive lips.
“Will someone be joining you, sir?” she asked innocently, her
voice still not up to par.
“No, lil lady, just you!” he replied.
If he had not made her nervous enough before, she was literally
shaking now, being putting on the spot this way. In her silent words to
herself, she decided the best way to handle this awkward situation was
to pretend she did not hear him. Besides, at this moment, words seemed
to be eluding her anyway.
“Right this way!” she said, using her best manager-trained voice.
Deedra turned to walk in front of him, leading him down the middle of
the aisle, guiding him between the tables on either side of them. As
soon as they reached the booth she was to sit him at, she stepped to the
side and laid the menu down on the booth’s Oak wood tabletop.
Rapidly, as though in a hurry, Deedra went into the spew of
information about his waitress and the specials of the day. She wanted
to leave as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, she was not able to
finish before being interrupted.
“Well, honey, you never answered my question, are you gonna sit
with me, or not?”
Deedra paused for a moment, taking in another deep breath. Yet
again, his question caught her off guard. Feeling her face returning to
red like it had been just minutes before, the only thing she could think
to do was look down at the floor, staring at the dark black well-used
cowboy boots, and try to find words to articulate.
Where were the comebacks she usually had with other flirting
customer’s? Where was her self-assuredness? Always before, she
could find something quick to say to ease the situation. This sudden
inability to speak her mind had her dumbfounded. After all, this was
her domain, never had she shown fear of going toe to toe with anyone
here. This place offered her protection.
Yet, something about this man made her overly anxious and unable
to utter anything without sounding absurd. Finally, in one last attempt
to muster up what little bit courage she could find, Deedra turned her
face up to meet his. “Sir, can I please bring you something to drink?”
she asked, jaw squared, without so much as an acknowledgment to his
“Yeah,” he answered in a tone that sounded perturbed for not
getting the answers he was looking for. I’ll have to try this again, he
thought. “How ’bout you bring me the biggest jug of tea you got, sweet,
sweet tea!” He snickered to himself. “Oh, and sweeten it with your
fingers, darlin’.”
“Yes sir, sweet tea it is,” she answered. “Your waitress’s name will
be Marie and she will be with you shortly.” She stammered the words
out swiftly, nearly running the sentences together.
She hoped that her aloofness would get the point across to him that
she did not want to be bothered by someone such as himself. She
expected that because of the lack of dialogue on her part, he would stop
asking questions that she did not dare try to answer. What crossed her
mind at this moment was the need to run. Get away. For some unknown
reason, the mere sight of him made her extremely nervous in her own
Nervous perhaps because she knew he was watching every
movement she made, every word that formed from her lips. Now that
she had been able to get his drink order and tell him about his waitress,
she could quickly turn and walk away. Unfortunately, she was not
getting away fast enough—she heard his voice loud and clear.
“Hey. Tell me your name, lil lady,” he requested, his voice strong
and loud.
For a moment she stood there, feet frozen to the floor, swallowing
the hard lump in her throat. She did not have the nerve to look around
the room for fear that other customers overheard and were watching
her reaction.
Why can’t he just leave me alone? When I didn’t answer him that
should have told him something. Arrogant Jerk! Why must he be so
This man should not be any different, she should be able to just flit
about and walk away without feeling the least bit apprehensive. She
had accomplished it a million times before. So then, why was her
stomach so full of butterflies that she thought she might be sick?
“Deedra,” she quickly muttered aloud to him, without turning back
to tell him. She quickly walked away before he could ask anything else
of her.
The stranger watched her walk away, the same devilish smirk
planted across his lips, very pleased with himself that he had gotten
under this woman’s skin. He could tell she was intrigued the moment
he entered the restaurant. She liked what she saw. He observed the
flickering of her eyes as they moved over his long frame. No way to
denounce the nervousness in her voice.
This woman wanted to be a challenge, she was pretending to be
standoffish. He liked this new game, if she wanted to play. After all,
Challenge was his middle name. It was what made him who he was. He
enjoyed the idea of keeping people on their toes around him. It thrilled
him to make people nervous. Especially a woman, someone as unique
as this waitress was.
He had surveyed her as well. What man would not? The manner in
which the black shiny fabric hugged the full supple curves of her short
frame. The ringlet curls of golden strawberry blonde hair that framed
her face and the wisp of curls that spiraled wildly from outside the
loosely fitted bun atop her head. Hard not to notice the shapely legs
barely hidden from view by sheer black stockings.
Yes, a perfect challenge, an unexpected dare. He chuckled to
himself. Though he should stop thinking about her and concentrate on
the menu in his hands.
Disappearing in the foreground of the kitchen, Deedra told Marie
she had a customer waiting. Never had she remembered being this
easily annoyed in her life, but in some way, he had gotten to her. A man
she did not even know, making her this nervous and apprehensive.
Especially someone with the ability to make it difficult for her to speak
in a normal tone.
Marcy was standing near the back room taking her break when
Deedra came through. Inquisitively she asked about the fine looking
man that Deedra had seated. It was apparent that all the female
employees had noticed him. It was hard not to. Each of the waitresses
were whispering wishes about what they could do with a man like that.
In a half handed gesture as if slapping at a fly, Deedra tried brushing
him off as if it had been nothing. Trying her best to make Marcy believe
she really had not noticed much about him at all, she could not give her
any answers.
Nevertheless, typically curious Marcy knew better and kept on
with her questions anyway. Deedra remained silent and blasé.
The questions kept coming anyway, until finally Deedra spoke up.
“Oh come on, Marcy, he’s really nothing more than just an arrogant,
self important man. Thinks he is something special!” Deedra’s words
sounded cold, and a bit on edge from listening to Marcy ramble.
“Really nothing more!”
Instantly, the response turned the inquisitive Marcy’s head.
Typically, Deedra had only the nicest things to say about someone,
even if she wasn’t very fond of them. Her spirit had always been so
easygoing, never a cross word, and seldom an angry look in her eyes.
Even when something got on her nerves, or she was upset at an
employee, Deedra always spoke with tact and grace. So she knew by
what she had said, the aloofness of the words, Deedra did not just see
him as “just some arrogant man.”
The thought brought a wide smile to Marcy’s face, with the
realization that this man could affect her like this. She would have to
see for herself, and check this man out.
Sneaking around the tables to get a good look, pretending to be
cleaning, she watched the movements of this man. She inspected the
long glistening hair and the well-defined muscular features. Marcy
silently watched as he ate, wondering to herself if he devoured a
woman the same way he devoured the barbecued rib he was holding in
between his large fingers. She could hear his voice as he spoke to
Marie; the bass-toned deep sexy southern drawl lured her in even
Huge dark eyes, Marcy guessed them to be a deep brown and
wished she could get closer to see the actual color of them. It was not
hard to notice that he looked rough around the edges. It only added to
the sensuality of this man. The appearance of his face told her he was
an outdoorsy kind of a man. No longer did she have to wonder why
Deedra was acting the way she was.
Even though she was happily married, Marcy could see that
sexuality oozed from his veins. It pleased Marcy that at long last
someone had made Deedra’s heart skip a beat, maybe even chip away
a minuscule piece of ice surrounding her heart. Her friend had kept
herself hidden for so long from any man, shutting down any feeling or
emotional connection to them.
This man, this stranger, was exactly like the man Deedra had
fantasized she would marry someday, when she was a teen. Exactly as
she told Marcy, she had dreamed him to be. However, telling Deedra
that, well, she would never admit to the dreams she had in her past, and
only argue the point.
After all, according to Deedra, Craig supposedly was what she
wanted in a man. That is what she tried to convince Marcy to believe
in when Deedra and Craig started dating. Marcy just never assumed it
for a moment. Craig was nothing like any of the dreams she had.
Deedra did not even know what a real man was when she married
“Maybe, just maybe,” Marcy considered, “Deedra is finally
waking up to the possibilities that there is happiness out there for her.”
Pacing the kitchen floor, Deedra pretended as if she wasn’t waiting
for Marcy to return from her investigation. In being so nervous and
apprehensive about this gentleman, this stranger, she had one of the
other waitresses take over her post. She didn’t want him to see how
uneasy he made her. Like it or not though, her thoughts were on this
man; she hated the fact that they were.
There was no clear understanding as to why she felt like a fool
when she had been near him. Nor could she comprehend why a part of
her was actually waiting for her friend to return and tell her every little
tidbit she had learned about him. Standing in the foreground of the
kitchen, hiding like a child from a monster, she was too fearful to talk
to this man, look at this man. Afraid of her own thoughts.
Oh to be home, safe in her bed at this moment. Strange feelings
were in the pit of her stomach totally unanswered by her own self......



Copyright © 2004 Katlyn Stewart
Published on the World Wide Web by ""