HER CHRISTMAS COWBOY
The Scott Brothers
HER CHRISTMAS COWBOY
Tule Publishing Group
November 1, 2016
There’s no place like Marietta, Montana for the holidays, and retired Marine Lane Scott has finally, reluctantly, returned home…
…only to run into a sweet and sexy woman from his past, Felicity Danvers, who is running away from her Christmas loving momma.
Lane can’t resist playing the hero and sweeping Felicity out of town. He vows he’ll do everything he can to make this holiday special for her. And as Christmas approaches, they discover that their love can conquer and overcome any obstacle—but can they both trust that it’s not just Christmas magic bringing them together?
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Christmas decorations hung from all of the lampposts on Main Street and as she walked slowly up toward the loft apartment she rented over Sweet Pea Flowers, Felicity Danvers tried to make herself feel something. There was a crisp breeze and it felt almost as if she were in a Currier and Ives print. But the magic of Christmas just wasn’t here…not this year.
Christmas had once been the highlight of her year but now she struggled to muster much more than…well exhaustion. She was busy at the elementary school celebrating all of the seasonal events with her students. And her mom kept texting her about parties that Felicity and her sister were expected to attend. There was a holiday tea with her extended family, that which was going to be held at the Graff Hotel, a Christmas Ball at the Graff, a tree-decorating party at her sister’s, a cookie party that she had to bake three dozen cookies for and of course the Marietta Stroll, the nativity play, and then shopping.
She stumbled on a patch of ice.
She felt her feet flying out from under her as she started to fall. Someone grabbed her arm and they both wobbled and then fell over. She found herself staring up into a pair of eyes that were dark as night.
She knew those eyes. Enigmatic, dark blue with a hint of gray around the irises. There were sun lines around the corners of his eyes and thick, straight brown hair that fell over his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” she said, embarrassed that she might have caused the decorated retired Marine to fall. They’d been in the same high school class and she had no excuses for avoiding him since he’d returned to Marietta three years ago. Except he was a double amputee and every time she’d thought about talking to him she hadn’t been able to think of a single thing to say. Should she mention the injuries? Continue to ignore them?
“Don’t be. This is the best fall I’ve had lately,” he said, putting his arms around her and shifting them both to a seated position.
His strength surprised her. His arms bulged as he lifted her and moved her around.
“You’re really strong,” she said, then mentally smacked herself. This was precisely why she’d avoided Lane. She sounded pitiful.
Giving her a sardonic look from under his eyelashes, he said, “Thanks.”
“I’m an idiot,” she said.
“No, you’re not. Give me a second and I’ll help you up.”
She glanced over and noticed he was adjusting his left leg and then his right. Once he had his feet on the ground, he stood up and offered her his hand.
She moved around until she could stand, took his hand, and stood up next to him. He was tall—well, he always had been probably a smidge under six foot. Glancing down at his feet she saw he had on a pair of western boots. He had probably been working out at the Scott Christmas Tree Farm. All of the Scott family pitched in to help at this time of year—even though Carson owned and ran the tree farm.
“What were you thinking about?” he asked. “You were distracted.”
“Just going over all the things I need to do before December 25th. I’m sorry I fell into you.”
“It’s not the first time.” He grinned. “Want to grab some hot chocolate at Sage’s?”
Did she? She had just been saying how she had no time, but there was something about Lane Scott that had always gotten to her. The fact that he had asked her out in high school and she’d said no, the fact that he was a hero and she was afraid to talk to him. The fact that…heck, she just wanted to say yes.
Why shouldn’t she?
“Sure. But it’s my treat.”
“Done,” he said.
They walked in a sort of amiable silence…well, she thought it might be amiable on his part, but she was trying to find something to say. Her problem was that she was curious about his prosthetic limbs and his life with them. She wanted to ask him about it but didn’t know the polite way to do it.
So instead she was stuck with mundane things to talk about. Christmas. She could talk about the holiday.
“Are you going to the Christmas gala at the Graff?”
He groaned. “It’s not that I want to, but if I don’t I’m afraid my brothers will gang up on me. I have been staying out of town to avoid that kind of thing, but since it’s Christmas…”
“I know exactly what you mean. I really thought about heading somewhere tropical and not returning until January 10th.”
“Why the 10th?” Lane asked.
“Then I’d avoid the aftermath of Christmas. Mom always schedules a brunch to do a Christmas postmortem.”
Lane laughed. “Your mom sounds…”
“Crazy,” Felicity said. “Just kidding. She loves Christmas so much and wants us to have the best holiday every year. But the pressure is too much, you know?”
“I actually don’t know. Mom’s been gone for almost fifteen years now and Dad never made much of an effort. Lately, my nephews have been the focus of the holidays but really that’s homier than a lot of functions. We work, we sled and snowshoe, and then we string popcorn and sing songs. But that’s about it.”
“That sounds perfect,” she said, glancing over his shoulder and noticing her mom barreling down Main with a determined look on her face.
Felicity groaned and grabbed Lane’s shoulders, turning him to block her from view. “Sorry about this but my mom is across the street and it looks like she is on the warpath.”
“Someone probably doesn’t have enough Christmas decorations in their front room,” Felicity said. “I think I might have to take a rain check on Sage’s.”
“How about a drive out of the city? They serve Sage’s hot chocolate at the tree farm,” Lane said.
She looked up at him—those blue-gray eyes of his so sincere—and she knew that she should say no. She had broken up with her boyfriend six months earlier and she’d realized that she liked being on her own. Everyone in town said Lane needed a woman. He needed someone who would be good for him and settle him down. Welcome him back to Marietta for good.
Felicity wanted to stay clear so that one of those marriage-minded Marietta woman could do just that for Lane. But she also really wanted to get out of town and she liked him.