Wild child Chloe Thompson can't believe how much things have changed. She still can't get enough of her sexy husband Sawyer, but he seems to prefer working to impending fatherhood. So tonight, a very pregnant Chloe is escaping her troubles at the town Christmas party.
Sheriff Sawyer Thompson hopes surprising Chloe at the party will give him a chance to set things right. But as the snow begins to fall and the wind rages, he wonders whether he can make it back in time. While mother nature conspires to keep Sawyer and Chloe apart, an unexpected arrival will require them to kiss and make up . . . and ring in the happiest holiday Lucky Harbor has ever seen.
“It’s only a week,” he said, and Chloe jumped.
He was at her side again, all lethal stealth. He set her fast-acting asthma inhaler on the nightstand for easy reach and then her cell phone, which he’d no doubt charged for her since she’d forgotten. His bag hung from his shoulder, and he watched her from those fathomless eyes. If she looked closely she could see the gold flecks in them. Sometimes, when he laughed, those flecks danced.
But they were still now.
As still as the man watching her.
“I know,” she murmured. “Just a week. You’ll be back for the town Christmas party. You promised to take me.”
His jaw went a little tight. Parties weren’t exactly Mr. Social’s thing. “We talked about this,” he said.
“Yes, and you agreed to take me.”
He shook his head. “I said it wasn’t a great idea, you exerting the energy to dress up and go to a crowded event.”
“I’m not a piece of china,” she said.
“No one would ever mistake you for one,” he responded, and she was pretty sure it wasn’t a compliment.
“But,” he went on in that voice of steel, “you’re eight months pregnant and suffer debilitating asthma. Give yourself a damn break.”
“I’ve had one,” she said. “Maddie and Tara won’t even let me work at my own spa. I need to get out, Sawyer. I need to see people.” Before her life changed forever… “I’m going.”
“I’ll be back,” was all he said.
“And the party?”
Not exactly a promise, but then again he was careful never to promise anything he couldn’t deliver. His word, when he gave it, was good as gold.
He lifted her chin and looked into her eyes for a long beat. “Dr. Tyler is only a call away,” he said. “Your sisters are close by. Jax and Ford are in your speed dials and are on standby for anything.”
Chloe’s obstetrician was wonderful, and so were her sisters Maddie and Tara and their husbands—Sawyer’s BFFs Jax and Ford. But if there was an emergency, it wasn’t any of them that Chloe wanted.
It was the tall testosterone and attitude-ridden man standing in front of her, already long gone given the look on his face.
“I want you to take care,” he said.
“You heard what Dr. Tyler said the last time we were in her office for false labor.” She patted her belly. “The Bean’s in for the long haul.”
“I meant you,” Sawyer said. “Take care of you.”
Coming from him, the words were tantamount to a shouted vow of love, and they moved her as only Sawyer could. “Always,” she promised, softening. “And what about you?”
“I haven’t had any labor pains, false or otherwise,” he deadpanned.
That got a laugh out of her.
He smiled but it faded quickly. “You know you can text or email me, and that I’ll call when I can,” he said. “And if anything happens—anything at all, Chloe—I can be back here in two hours.”
“Anything?” she asked playfully, trying to lighten the mood, using a voice that once upon a time would’ve made him kick off his shoes and strip and crawl back into bed with her, the hell with obligation and responsibility.
“I’ll be here.” He met her gaze, his own serious. “Always.”
An alarm on his watch beeped. He turned it off without taking his eyes from her.
She blew out a breath. “You’ve gotta go.”
He touched her face. “Chloe—”
She closed her eyes and turned her jaw into his touch. “I know,” she said. “And it’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.”
She just hoped that was true.
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill's bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.
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