Dani stood under the spray of hot water chasing the chill from her bones. She was warm and safe and thinking about her gruff host, remembering the night Hunter came into Fay’s shop. He seemed like a lost soul, but she’d felt a strong pull toward him. Tall, blond, muscular, all the things that attracted a woman. But she’d seen something else in his eyes. A surge she couldn’t explain, and she’d felt herself drowning.
She’d taken a risk by touching him. Covering his hand in compassion. But she was glad she’d initiated the move. He hadn’t pulled away. At least not right away.
She knew his brusque demeanor must be because of his uncle’s death. And today? He didn’t seem too happy to find her on his doorstep. To be fair, she had been in an accident. Just a spin—a very scary spin—off the road. But she’d been in danger from the cold and snow.
He’d taken one good look at her and acted with real concern and caring.
Yes. There was more to the man than his gruff exterior.
Dani snapped out of her daydream and turned the knobs shutting off the water. All she had to do was come up with something to make him smile.
Hunter Armstrong stared out the window while snowflakes grazed the glass, glistening in the nighttime sky. In the distance, every inch of ground was covered with snow. He hadn’t been here in two years, but nothing had changed. The soft glow of lights coming from various windows and storefronts along Main Street reminded him of everything he used to love. Although he should find comfort and joy in the familiar surroundings, instead, he closed his eyes in anguish.
Wheels squeaked and the engine resounded to a soft hum as the train came to a grinding halt. He regarded the passengers around him and waited as they moved to the aisle, gathered their belongings, and one-by-one, headed for the rear door.
They’d reached the end of the line, Wyattsville, Colorado.
With a heavy sigh, he grabbed his gear and loped down the two steps of the train. Blinking lights lined the roof of the depot, with silver, red, and gold decorations, and pine branches tangling around the supporting poles. All that was missing was a group of carolers. Even with Christmas around the corner, he’d expected the town to be vacant. Empty. Judging by the number of people gathered, either a celebrity was on the train, or some sort of festivity loomed.
God, he hated this. Hated waking up every morning to bright and cheerful people, even worse now that the holidays had arrived. A cluster of people were vying for someone’s attention. Whoever stood in the center of the crowd must be important and well loved. The hugs and tears made Hunter’s own circumstances more real. No one was there to meet him.
He shook off his unease, and put one booted foot in front of the other, determined to forget the party. The circle of people opened as he walked by, revealing a man in uniform.
A hero’s welcome home.
Pain filled memories flashed through Hunter’s mind. Recollections of buddies he’d lost in combat.
He studied each person, wondering which were relatives—friends—maybe a lover. Hunter’s comrades had not been so lucky.
He hefted the duffel bag higher onto his shoulder and plowed forward, making his way through the crowd. As he stepped off the platform, he spotted several teams of horses hitched to sleighs. He guessed it was a special treat to celebrate the soldier’s return.
With one last glance, he turned the corner and headed toward the center of the village. His hide-away for the next . . . however long, he hadn’t decided yet. There wasn’t any place else he wanted to go. In the mountains he could lose himself; no one knew he was here and he preferred it that way. He sure as hell didn’t want to celebrate Christmas.
Once people discovered his whereabouts, there’d be questions. Especially from the lady he suspected had been his uncle’s sweetheart. Had Denny lived, maybe his fourth wife. He remembered the happy glint in his uncle’s eyes the last time they’d seen each other, which suggested maybe the couple shared more than a friendship. After three failed marriages, the man had sworn off women. But Hunter knew better.
For a moment, a smile tried to form on his face, but misery overrode the effort. He just couldn’t be happy; he’d failed his uncle.
His eyes grew misty. He should have come sooner. Of course, he hadn’t had much of a choice. If the military wanted a GI to have a life outside the Army, they would have issued one. He was a Ranger. Dedicated to his profession.
Well, no more. He’d burned that bridge. All he had was time now. A little late, but he’d made a vow, and he intended to fulfill it.
One day she put words to paper creating a story of her own. The more she wrote, the more she became involved with the characters, and they seemed to take a life of their own. She relishes the challenge of penning a story with strong characters, a bit of humor, and active scenes while creating new characters and bringing them together in a romantic tale. It took years of writing, joining RWA, joining chapters, entering contests, submissions & rejections which created the author she is today. By keeping her spirit and turning criticism into drive she has achieved her career as a published romance author.
Twitter: Samanthya Wyatt @ samanthyawyatt
Wordpress Blog: https://smpauthors.wordpress.com/
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