Page 38 of Let It Snow...

“Then I will wait. I’ll wait until your soul comes out of       lockdown. Hopefully, that’s not years and years because I’d like for us to talk       about a couple of rugrats before I’m too old to teach them to fish and       cross-country ski and all the things we like to do together.”

  She pushed her hand uncertainly through her hair. “Knox, don’t       do this to me.”


  “Honey, the only thing I’m doing is giving you time...and       asking you not to burn it all up before we’re too old. Now, for the second order       of business, are you going to help me take down this tree or what?”

  She latched on to the subject change like a drowning man to a       life raft. “I’ll help with the tree.”

  An hour later the tree had been packed away, the cabin tidied       and their luggage was in their respective vehicles. He walked her to her car.       “Drive safe. And hey, do you mind if I still show up for Christmas dinner       tomorrow?”

  She wrapped her arms around him and leaned her head against his       shoulder for a moment. “Of course not.”

  “I love you, Trudie.”

  She hesitated and then with a nod got in her SUV and was       gone.

  * * *

  TRUDIE WALKED the last part of the trail with hope swirling through her.       Christmas Day. She’d texted Knox, asking him to meet her at the park. She hadn’t       planned to head over to her parents’ place until early afternoon so here she       was. Snow crunched in the distance and she looked up.

  Jessup and Knox crested the horizon. Love the man, love his       dog. And she did. Both of them.

  Silently they walked toward one another until they met       halfway.

  “Merry Christmas,” she said.

  “Merry Christmas,” Knox said.

  She handed Jessup a dental chew, which he promptly took and       curled up with. He hated the snow, but he loved the green bones. She figured she       owed her favorite pooch that much for dragging him out in the cold.

  “Suck-up.”

  She shrugged. “I figured I owed him...ya know...the snow.” She       put her gloved hands in her coat pockets. It was a darn cold Christmas Day but       she’d needed privacy and a neutral place to say what needed to be said and she’d       rather foolishly and romantically always considered this to be their place. She       fisted her hands in her pockets, fingering the ring through her gloves.

  “I...uh...did a lot of thinking on the way home...”

  “For goodness sake, Trudie, it’s freezing...well, it’s even       more freezing than it usually is and you always just spit things out so just       spit it out.”

  “I changed my mind. Well, my mind was convinced. I changed my       heart. Well, I guess my heart was—”

  “Trudie,” he interrupted her. “Are you saying you will marry       me?”

  “Yes. Exactly. It’s just you were rushing me.”

  He swept her up and pressed a hard kiss of promise on her lips       and then released her. “I am one happy man, but let’s walk and talk at the same       time and carry this to the truck.”

  Her teeth were beginning to chatter in her head. She’d just       wanted, needed, to tell him on this spot and she kind of sort of had.

  Hand in hand they jogged lightly down the path back to where       he’d parked his truck next to her SUV. They climbed into his cab and he started       the engine.

  “Say it,” he demanded.

  She thought about teasing him by saying how cold it was out       there, but hearts on the line weren’t teasing matters. “I love you, Knox. I       think I’ve always loved you. I’m sure I always will.”

  “Body and soul?”

  “Body and soul.”

  The dog between them, they kissed until they kissed the cold       right out of their lips.

  Jessup bumped them apart.

  “I’m going to have to work with that dog,” Knox said with a       happy grin. “I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth, but what happened on       that drive home yesterday that brought you around to my way of thinking?”

  “I was just outside of Anchorage when the car ahead of me       skidded out of control and hit a telephone pole. Luckily they weren’t going too       fast, and no one was hurt, but I thought it could’ve been me. Then I thought       about the way I get in the car and drive almost every day but the odds are that       I’m not going to skid out of control. Then I thought what if that driver never       drove again because he was afraid he might get in an accident because it did       happen to him once. You know what I mean?”

  “I think I do. I hurt you but it would be pretty dumb to miss       out on something that was wonderful because you were worrying about something       that might, but probably won’t, happen in the future.”

  He knew her, understood her in a way she didn’t think anyone       else ever would.

  “I love you so much, it frightens me, Knox.”

  “I know, Trudie. I feel the same way.”

  She sighed and leaned in for a kiss. “On the twelfth day of       Christmas my true love gave to me...”

  He cupped her face. “Everything that’s mine to give. All of       me.”

  Joy, peace and goodwill flowed through her. So did desire.       “We’ve got a little bit of time before we have to head to my folks’. If I trade       places with Jessup, we could fog up your windows.”

  * * * * *

  Keep reading for an excerpt of Just One           Night by Nancy Warren.

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                        1

  “SICK LEAVE?” Rob Klassen yelled, unable to believe what he was hearing from the editor of World Week, the international current affairs magazine he’d worked for as a photojournalist for twelve years. “I’m not sick!”

  Gary Wallanger pulled off his glasses and tossed them onto his desktop cluttered with Rob’s proof sheets documenting a skirmish in a small town near the Ras Ajdir border between Tunisia and Libya. “What do you suggest I call it? Shot-in-the-ass leave? You damned near got yourself killed. Again.”

  Gary didn’t like his people getting too close to the action they were reporting on and his glare was fierce.

  Rob put all his weight on his good leg, but even so, the throbbing in his left thigh was hard to ignore. “I was running away as fast as I could.”

  “I saw the hospital report. You were running toward the shooter. Bad luck for you. They can tell those things from the entry and exit wounds.” In the uncomfortable silence that followed Rob heard the roar of traffic, honking cabs and sirens on the Manhattan streets far below. He hadn’t counted on Gary finding out the details he’d have rather kept to himself.

  “You want to be a war hero,” his editor snapped, “join the forces. We report news. We don’t make it.”

  Another beat ticked by.

  “There were bullets flying everywhere. I got disoriented.”

  “Bull. You were playing hero again, weren’t you?”

  Rob could still picture the toddler cowering behind an oil drum. Yeah, his boss would have been happier if he’d left her scared and crying in the line of gunfire. But he was the one who had to wake up every morning and look himself in the mirror. Truth was he hadn’t thought at all. He’d merely dashed over to the girl and hauled her to safety. Getting shot hadn’t been in his plan.

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