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Authors: Janelle Taylor

Kiss of The Christmas Wind

BOOK: Kiss of The Christmas Wind
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Table of Contents
Blurb
 

A classic Christmas story by a beloved bestselling author, now in ebook for the first time!

The western frontier. Deadly winter weather. New bride Carrie Sue Jamison wonders if she will be widowed before spending even one Christmas with her husband Thad, a Texas Ranger. He’s left home to track a gang of murderous bank robbers through the wilderness.

Kiss of the Christmas Wind
 

A Novella by

Janelle Taylor

Bell Bridge Books

Copyright
 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead,) events or locations is entirely coincidental.

Bell Bridge Books
PO BOX 300921
Memphis, TN 38130
eISBN: 978-1-61194-077-0

Bell Bridge Books is an Imprint of BelleBooks, Inc.

Copyright © 1991 by Janelle Taylor

Printed and bound in the United States of America.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.

A mass market edition of this story was published in
Christmas Rendezvous,
anthology, Zebra Books, 1991

We at BelleBooks enjoy hearing from readers.
Visit our websites – www.BelleBooks.com and www.BellBridgeBooks.com.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

Cover design: Debra Dixon
Interior design: Hank Smith
Photo credits:
Winter scene - © Elena Pahl | Dreamstime.com

:Mckw:01:

1
 

“I’m sorry, Carrie Sue, but I have to leave at dawn, just as soon as it’s light enough to see their tracks. It’s my job; I’m the marshal of Gates.” Thad Jamison stroked his wife’s flaming red hair, mussed from the cover she’d worn while doing evening chores in the near-freezing weather. He gazed into her violet blue eyes as he continued, “The little Adams girl was shot during that bank holdup; I hope she’ll be all right. And I hope you’ll be all right, too. Lordy, I hate leaving you alone again so soon, but I have to bring those two robbers to justice and get that money back. Folk here depend on me.”

An array of conflicting emotions came and went in her gaze. Carrie Sue’s voice was strained as she replied, “I know, T.J., but it isn’t fair. You’ve hardly shaken the trail dust off your boots since your return. It’s almost Christmas, our first Christmas.” Carrie Sue hung up the thick coat she had removed and draped her wool scarf atop it on the large peg. Her cold fingers tried to straighten her hair, but her husband grasped them between his larger ones to warm them. She looked into his smoky gray eyes. “This is the first holiday season I’ve looked forward to in years. It’s my first home since I was a young girl and my parents were . . .”

Thad lightly pressed his forefinger against her wind-dried lips. “Don’t think about the past again, love; it’s over.”

Carrie Sue moved his finger aside to refute, “Over? How can it be over when we’re still controlled by it? My pardon was based on you taking this lawman’s job and risking your life every day. If that weren’t true, we could be ranching, like we half-do now. I’m sorry I got you into this trap. I’m ashamed of all those years I rode with Darby’s gang of outlaws.”

Thad didn’t want to bring up her dark past again, but he saw how much it was on her mind tonight; her mood had been troubled ever since the rider delivered his shocking news just before dusk. Thad’s first duty was serving as the marshal of Gates and the surrounding area; he’d been appointed by President Grant himself. If he’d been in town at his small office, he could have stopped the holdup and prevented a little girl from getting shot. But, having just returned from helping the law out in Fort Collins—north of Gates—he’d been helping his wife with chores she had done alone for over two weeks. He had been home less than three days, and now this . . .

But he couldn’t let Carrie Sue blame herself for this predicament. He smiled gently and said, “I prefer to think of you as a daring desperado who had no choice in what she did if she wanted to survive. The Texas Flame is dead, love; you’re Mrs. Thaddeus Jerome Jamison now and forever. You were trapped in that miserable life, with no one to help you break free.”

She returned his smile and caressed his chilled cheek. “Until you came along, Mr. Texas Ranger, and saved me from myself and the law. There’s so much I wish I could change about the past. It sounds crazy, but Darby tried to protect our victims from harm. Darby worked hard to hire only men who wouldn’t kill except in self-defense. But he made mistakes where a few were concerned.”

Carrie Sue snuggled into her husband’s arms as she murmured, “I wish I’d never gotten involved with my brother’s wickedness even if we did start off seeking justice. After the Hardings killed my parents and stole our ranch, I was just too stricken with grief and anger to think clearly.”

Thad rested his cheek atop her head, his ebony hair a striking contrast to her fiery locks. “You were young and confused, love. Darby should have known better than to drag you into his bloody schemes, but I guess he was also hurting and too riled to think clearly. It just got out of control, and then it was too late, or almost too late. At least I got you out of that mess alive.”

Carrie Sue Stover Jamison had never imagined she could love and desire any man as she did her husband. He had entered her life and changed it, had changed her, both for the better and for the best.
Almost,
her mind challenged. If only they could live where they wanted and how they wanted, they would be blissfully happy and safe.

Her present fatigue, the cold and snow outside, and her love’s impending departure pressed down on her as a heavy weight. They brought back memories of the miseries that had ended this past July. “I was so tired of running and hiding, tired of being scared, tired of being shot at, tired of being pursued until I was exhausted or forced into committing violence in self-defense. I was tired of the loneliness and anguish. I hated to see innocent people get hurt. That’s no way for a seventeen-year-old girl to be living, and I never wanted that kind of life. The Good Lord knows I tried to go straight many times, and so did Darby and the boys.”

Thad stayed quiet and still as she went on, “We all wanted normal lives, peace, and safety. I wanted a home, a family, a loving husband. I wanted to ranch again. I wanted to be the Carrie Sue Stover I was before the Hardings destroyed my whole world. Those seven years on the outlaw trail were awful—the hot summers, blinding rains, cold winters, dust, and hunger. Finally I couldn’t pretend to be hard and tough any longer. I wanted real meaning in my life. I wanted friends, not just other bandits. I hated what people thought and said about me.”

She lifted her head to meet his consoling gaze. “Blazing stars, T.J., I was twenty-four and I’d never been in love, never been married, never had a child! I was galloping down the wrong road into a box canyon with the posse on my tail. Surely the Good Lord and fate sent you into my life, even if you did only want to hunt down the Stover Gang and destroy us.”

“I never counted on the Texas Flame being so irresistible,” he teased with hopes of lightening the somber mood in their home. He kissed the tip of her nose, then her forehead. He comforted, “I know how you feel, love, about us having to be apart at a time like this. I haven’t had a home either since my parents died. It’s been strange hotel rooms, or rowdy bunkhouses, or crumbling shacks, or sleeping on the trail. We were on different sides of the law, but we existed in pretty much the same way. I didn’t have anyone special in my life. I was about to kiss thirty without a home, wife, and children. I didn’t think much about them until I met you. Mercy, woman, you showed me how miserable and empty my life was.”

He cupped her face between his hands and said, “It didn’t take long to get to know the real Carrie Sue and to love her too much to see her destroyed. I hate to keep riding off and leaving you with all the chores around here. I hate leaving you alone for days and weeks at a time. Now that I’ve found you and have you, I can’t stand being parted more than a day.”

Carrie Sue read the anxiety in her husband’s eyes. “If there’s one thing you know about me, Thad Jamison, it’s I’m a hard worker and expert shot. I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me so much that you’re distracted on the trail; that’s dangerous, my love.”

“I know you are, but I can’t help worrying about you when I’m gone. Accidents happen. Outlaws roam the country. The weather gets crazy.”

She stroked his jawline, which had darkened with stubble since his shave early this morning. He was so handsome and his gaze so enticing that it always stole her breath when she watched and touched him. How lucky she was to have this special man. As her fingers teased over his parted lips, she said, “I wish a blizzard would lock you in with me. A fresh snow would leave you without a trail to follow.”

Thad captured the mischievous fingers and pressed kisses to their tips. He wanted to lift her in his arms, carry her into their bedroom, and make love to her forever. But he had grave responsibilities staring him in the face and preparations to be made. “You don’t want those outlaws to get away any more than I do. They were smart to hit the bank at dusk; they knew it would be morning before anyone could ride after them. They won’t be traveling hard and fast, and they may doubt anyone will pursue them in this weather and under these conditions. I’ll overtake them and capture them quick and easy. I’ll make it back before Christmas.”

Carrie Sue knew he might not be able to keep his promise, despite his impressive skills. The weather was unpredictable, outlaws were desperate men, and travel over snow-covered landscape was hazardous and slow. “Can’t you take someone with you this time?” she urged.

Thad shook his head. He couldn’t tell her that he didn’t want to drag men away from their families during the holidays or out into the harsh weather. She would only respond that if he could risk his life and endure the hardships to protect their lives, they could do the same to assist him to end the matter swiftly and safely. So he simply said, “I can move faster without anyone to slow me down. I can handle two men alone.”

Carrie Sue knew he wasn’t boasting, just stating a proven fact. “I don’t understand why President Grant insisted you come to Gates as the town marshal. There are plenty of towns and lawmen nearby to handle trouble.”

“Too many of them have conflicts of interest, love. Most of them are battling over mining sites, railway locations, and ranch lands. Me, I’m unbiased, and well-trained with problem situations. With so much gold and silver and timber around, this territory is growing fast. Where riches can be made quick and easy, there’ll always be trouble. Besides, no one knows us here; we’ve made a fresh start far from Texas.”

“You mean, no one here knows me or about my villainous past.”

“You’re still being too hard on yourself, Carrie Sue. You’re free, pardoned. Your past is over, done with, gone.”

BOOK: Kiss of The Christmas Wind
5.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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