A blizzard. A cabin. A cup of hot chocolate.
The perfect mixture to fall in love.James Brennen is nothing but a screwup. At least, in the small town of
Mulberry, that’s what everyone thinks of him. As a recovering alcoholic,
he’s trying his best to turn his life around, to be a better man. All of
his hard work comes crashing down when he’s fired from his job at the
hospital—accused of stealing drugs. Nothing ever changes and he’s done
trying to prove himself. Needing time alone, his friend’s cabin in the
middle of the woods provides the perfect escape. He knows he’s found deep trouble,
not only when he gets stranded during a brutal snowstorm, but that he’s
stuck with the one woman he’s wanted since the first day he laid eyes on
her. The passion burns bright between them, but it doesn’t matter, as soon
as Christmas is over, he’s leaving for good.
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The thought of warmth, of sitting by a fire—if she was lucky—forced her
to increase her pace. And like a miracle sent from heaven, she was within twenty
feet of a small cabin decked out with a short porch, just enough room to fit a
Her steps slowed.
She was freezing. Maybe to the point of hypothermia. Okay, probably a
little exaggeration on her part, but she was bone-deep cold.
Yet, she walked like a snail, taking her time to the front door.
What would she say?
Better yet, what would he say?
Well, James wasn’t a cruel man, he wouldn’t turn her away. He’d let her
in. Let her warm up.
But would he accept her apology? Could they go back to their easy
camaraderie? Could they still be friends and hang out even if he didn’t work at
the hospital anymore?
Only one way to find out.
Moving faster, she walked right up to the door and knocked loudly. No
hesitation. No thinking about his reaction.
Shivering, more than she had when she had been walking, she wondered if
she didn’t knock hard enough. She thought she had. But why wasn’t he answering?
Raising her gloved fist again, she swung it forward, nearly tripping on
her feet when the door swung open. Losing her balance from the surprise, her
fist knocked into his chest instead of the door.
James caught her around the waist, holding her steady.
The shock in his eyes mesmerized her. A mixture of confusion, surprise,
“Erin? What…” His brows puckered low. “What are you doing here?”
That long treacherous walk she just completed, she had all the time in
the world to come up with something good to say.
And nothing. No words came out. Not even her apology she wanted to
Although she couldn’t feel anything through her large winter coat, his
soft touch, his sweet hands on her waist was rendering her speechless.
She had never been in his arms before. Not even in a small hug.
Right now, right here, in this moment, she wanted to be completely in
his arms. She wanted to close the distance and soak up his warmth, his
kindness, his sweetness. Let him know in that one big gesture how much she
cared about him. Because no matter what anyone said or thought about him, he
was a sweet, kind, thoughtful man.
When was the last time someone other than his sister told him how
important he was in their lives?
Without a word, she dropped her fist from his chest, stepped forward
and wrapped her arms around him.
(Copyright © 2019 Amanda Siegrist)
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