A Family for Christmas
Helen Scott Taylor
A heartwarming tale for Christmas.
A lonely career woman stranded in a blizzard, a disillusioned man who has cut himself off from women. When he rescues her from the snow and takes her into his home, the spirit of Christmas and his little girl's love work their magic.
Eve grabbed her coat from the back seat and struggled to put it on in the confined space, buttoning it up to the neck. She pushed open her car door and gasped as the icy wind whipped snow into her face. Quickly, she climbed out and shut the door to keep in the warmth. Freezing water trickled into her shoes and bits of snow stung her skin. She trod cautiously over the slick surface, a hand on her car to stop from slipping.
In the road, a tiny lamb stood shivering, bleating plaintively, wire tangled around its legs. No wonder the poor little thing hadn't moved. Narrowing her eyes against the icy flakes, she crouched and tried to unravel the wire caught in the creature's woolly coat. A spike gouged her hand, but her fingers were nearly numb from cold so she hardly felt it. She sucked away a drop of blood and continued working to untangle the lamb.
Her teeth chattered and she shivered inside her coat. Eventually, she was able to lift the tiny creature out of the twisted strands. After kicking the bunch of wire to the edge of the road, she hurried back to her car with the lamb in her arms. She opened her car door, getting a shoe full of icy water in the ditch, then deposited the small animal on her passenger's seat and followed it into the welcoming warmth.
"You poor little thing." Eve started her car engine and turned the heater up full, rubbing her hands together in the hot air. The tiny creature stared at her with innocent dark eyes, its hooves leaving dirty skid marks on the cream leather car seat. She released a sigh and hoped the animal didn't decide to relieve itself.
Bleating, the lamb pressed its nose against the window. "You're better off inside, little guy. Believe me." Eve stroked its damp curly fur, feeling its bony body beneath. The poor thing couldn't be more than a week or two old. How had it ended up out here all alone? And what was she going to do with it?
The time was only three thirty, but the sky was already darkening. She didn't like her chances of trying to walk to civilization, so it looked as though she would be spending the night in the car. With a farm animal. She smiled ruefully. At least the situation would give her an entertaining story to tell her brother, Connor, at Christmastime. If she saw him.
The sadness she usually held at bay by occupying herself with work welled inside her. If Connor's wife, Lilly, had her way, Eve wouldn't get to see her twin brother at Christmas, or any other time. The family had fallen apart when her parents died. Her eldest brother, Ed, had moved to Germany with his job, but she'd at least thought she still had Connor. She hadn't bargained on Lilly being so possessive and jealous of their close relationship.
For a moment, Eve wondered why she was so anxious to get home for Christmas next weekend when she would probably spend it alone and working. But she enjoyed her work. There were a lot of people worse off than she was.
Huge, bright headlights suddenly blinked on about a half mile away, jolting her from her musings. With a burst of hope, Eve leaned forward, squinting to see what sort of vehicle was coming. A truck, no…a tractor.
Maybe she wouldn't have to spend the night in her car. If the tractor towed her to the main road, she might reach her hotel in Plymouth tonight. She chewed her lip as the mammoth vehicle crawled closer through the snow, the drone of its engine rumbling. It halted a short distance in front of her car. The door opened and a man climbed down from the cab and came towards her.
She was pleased to see him, but it didn't hurt to be careful. She locked all her doors and cracked the window open. He bent and looked inside. "You okay?"
She caught a flash of blue eyes beneath the wool hat pulled low on his head.
"I'm not hurt, but my car's stuck," she said.
He tried the door handle and she quickly made a decision and unlocked it. Caution was all very well, but right now she needed help. He crouched down, so wrapped up with a scarf and upturned collar that all she could see was his nose. "Where'd you find Pickle?"
"Pickle?" Eve stared at the man blankly.
"The lamb. I've been searching for him for hours."
"Ah." Eve glanced at the woolly creature lying happily beside her. "He's what put me in the ditch. He was tangled in some wire in the middle of the road."
"Oh." The man rubbed the back of his gloved hand over his face. "Sorry about that."
"Can you tow me out with your tractor and help me reach the main road?"
"Not now. It's getting dark and the weather's closing in."
Eve thought the weather had already "closed in" but she didn't say so.
"You'd better come home with me tonight. It's the least I can do after Pickle put you in the ditch. I'll tow you out in the morning if the snow stops."
Eve stared at the man's dark silhouette against the glowing white landscape. She wouldn't normally go home with a stranger, and she certainly didn't want to, but her choice was that or sleep in the car. "Thanks, Mister…?"
To her surprise, he extended a hand. She grasped his cold, leather-gloved fingers and shook.
"I'm Eve Scott."
"Well, Eve, you'd better bring anything valuable with you," he said, standing. "It's unlikely a thief will come along, but you never know. Even up here."
While she gathered her laptop bag, handbag, and the small overnight suitcase, Tom went around to the other side of her car, opened the passenger door, and gently picked up the lamb. He unbuttoned his coat and tucked the creature inside so only its head stuck out under his chin. With one hand supporting the animal, he picked up her suitcase and headed for the tractor.
Eve followed him, wading through the snow that had grown a lot deeper, even since she climbed out to bring Pickle into the car. Surely farmers didn't normally name their sheep? She wondered about it for a moment, then turned her attention to climbing into the massive blue tractor. Tom went up the metal steps on the side of the vehicle and stowed her suitcase, then held a hand down. She passed him her laptop bag and purse, drawing a fortifying breath. "Here goes."
She grabbed the icy metal handhold and wedged the toe of her pump on the bottom step, then climbed to the next one. Tom's hand gripped under her arm and she found herself hauled unceremoniously into the small cab beside him. She hadn't realized how big he was until she was jammed in the snug space with him.
He leaned around her to close the door, his coat brushing her front. She came face to face with Pickle who looked snuggly and content cocooned against Tom's chest. She had the strange random thought that she wouldn't mind being snuggled into a warm chest herself right now, but immediately put the idea out of her head. Tom Millington might be her knight in shining armor—or in his case, knight in a wool hat and rather scruffy coat—but she was attracted to professional men. Men who put farm animals inside their jackets were definitely not her type.
GIVEAWAY: Helen Scott Taylor has offered up a copy of this book. To be eligible for this book, leave your favorite Christmas memory of you and your significant other. If you don't have a significant other, leave your favorite Christmas romance movie/book. You must provide an email so Ms. Taylor can email you with your book.
I had this one hidden on my Kindle for a while and finally got around to reading it. I am glad I found this story when I did because I really needed an uplifting romance and one that involved Christmas. There was something about this story that hit my soul to its core. I can't explain it either.
What I love most about this story is how a snow storm, a lamb and a little girl all came together to lead two people to fall in love. This story gave me hope for the future and that sometimes fate has a way of changing how you view your life.