After a reasonably cool August, this last week has been humid and hot. When I was a kid, I used to think Mother Nature was taunting all the school kids preparing to go back to school after the Labor Day weekend. This week’s temperatures aren’t exactly high, they’re in the mid 20s (Celsius, so high 70s, low 80s for you Fahrenheit followers) but the humidity is cloying. Unfortunately the air conditioners don’t measure the humidity, only the actual air temperature so we’re suffering the steam bath. (Yes, in four months I’ll be complaining about how freaking cold Canada is. It’s those wild temperature swings that make the highs and lows so much tougher to deal with.) But for now, to cool down, I decided to post a winter scene from I Need You for Christmas. Modern day blacksmith Ryan is welcoming home Megan, the love of his life, after a prolonged separation thanks to her job with the RCMP…

I Need You for Christmas
Copyright © 2012 by Leah Braemel

The snow whipping into drifts by the open fields, Ryan breathed a sigh of relief when they passed the “Welcome to Porter’s Mill” sign. They’d need to change it once Amy delivered, since she’d tip the population over the one thousand mark.

I Need You For Christmas400x600The street lamps dotting the single block main street of the town cast a fairy tale look over the snow-covered street. Megan craned her neck as they drove past Taylor’s Hardware Store. “Oh my, it looks like someone went wild with the Christmas decorations this year. Was there a sale on red ribbon?”

“It’s a contest the council set up—part of a drive to keep tourism up through the Christmas season. Then there’ll be a Valentine’s Day contest, followed by the annual maple syrup festival. Got to give the tourists a reason to drive three hours away from their malls in the winter.” Not that the winter had been bad the past few years, but compared to the summer months, all the businesses hurt in the lull. Still it was part of living in cottage country.

But Megan was right, between the hundreds of yards of ribbon and dozens of decorated pine boughs bedecking not only the hardware store, but the other buildings too, it looked like there’d been an explosion in a Christmas factory.

As they approached the mill he wondered if she’d see the beauty he did. Last time she’d seen it, winter had receded and while spring was threatening, the world had been brown—the ground, the trees, everything bland. The trees ringing the pond sparkled in the bright light of his headlamps, their trunks black compared to the white snow coating the ground. Laden by their burden of both ice and snow, the pines at the far end of the pond arched over until their tips hit the ground.

“It’s like a picture postcard,” Megan said softly. “The trees are gorgeous with all that snow on them. I’ve missed them up north.” She studied the mill, its outside spotlights highlighting the eight-foot-wide wreath he and his students had created. “You did it. I couldn’t imagine how it would look with all the scaffolding around it last time I was here, but you’ve made it so it looks like we’ve stepped back into the nineteenth century.”

“I told you it’s been featured in a few travel magazines lately, right?” Keeping in touch by email and Skype left him confused some days as to what he’d told her and what he hadn’t. Thank heavens those days were done. “The town council said it’s one of the tourists’ main reason for visiting Porter’s Mills these days.” Thousands of both dollars and man hours had been poured into it, but given the point was for the renovations not to be apparent, he took satisfaction in Megan’s simplification.

“I’ll take you on a tour tomorrow.” He turned off the ignition and opened the door. A blast of frigid air chilled the wet clothes that had just started to warm from the truck’s heater and he shivered. “Come on, let’s get inside so we can get out of these wet things.”

“This is not just another erotic hot Christmas story, but much much more…A must read…”  ~Jeriha, Coffee Time Romance

After hefting Meg’s massive suitcase from the back of the truck, Ryan wrestled it along the path between the mill parking lot and the stairway leading to his loft over the mill. A double set of footprints left by Derek and Sophie, judging by their treads, were already half-drifted over.

“We’re around back and up the stairs.” He juggled Meg’s suitcase to the other side to dig his keys out of his pocket. As he pushed the door open, his stomach rumbled at the scent of whatever Amy had sent over.

Whoever had delivered the food had thoughtfully left a light on in the kitchen, and the Christmas tree lights twinkled in the far corner. Compared to the decorations Amy had put up at her house, his were meager, but it still had a welcoming feel. Someone—most likely Derek—had set wood in the fireplace so all it needed was a match set to the kindling. And someone—probably Sophie on Amy’s orders since Derek’s and Noah’s idea of cleaning were no different than his own—had tidied the kitchen counters, swept the floors and shoved his skates and hockey equipment he’d dumped by the door into the closet.

Meg stamped her feet on the matt outside before stepping in. She took off her hat and banged the snow that had gathered on it against her thigh as she examined the rough wood beams they’d left in the ceiling. “It’s gorgeous. They’ve done a wonderful job—you got so much done so quickly.”

Welcome home, he wanted to say, but the words caught in his throat on the onslaught of lust pulsing through him, tinged with sadness that this wasn’t her home, and probably never would be. His home would be wherever she was, and they could always stay here whenever they visited.

*HARLEQUIN COVER ART: Cover Art Copyright© 2012 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. © and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

Buy the book:
Order it from Carina Press, ~ ~ ~ Amazon UK
or from Barnes & Noble ~ Apple ~ Kobo
If you like “hearing” your books, Audible has the entire Red Hot Holiday anthology as an audio book.

Don’t forget to visit the other Snippet Saturday participants:

Lauren Dane
Caris Roane
Eliza Gayle
Lissa Matthews
McKenna Jeffries
Shiloh Walker
Taige Crenshaw
Delilah Devlin
HelenKay Dimon
Myla Jackson
Shelli Stevens
Jody Wallace
Felicity Heaton
Mari Carr

Snippet Saturday – Author’s Choice