Struggling Thoroughbred breeder, Clint King, hasn’t been home for Christmas in five years. This year, his prize mare's due to foal any day, and in the wake of his father’s death, Clint can’t stand the idea of returning. Except, Alex is getting married on Christmas Eve, and their mother’s put her foot down. With his mare in tow, Clint prepares to meet a sister he’s never known, and Alex’s unexpected triplets. The one salvation he looks forward to is childhood companion, tomboy Jesse Saurs. Yet when he reunites with Jesse, he uncomfortably discovers she’s become all woman.
Jesse Saurs has everything she needs – financial security, a home, and a foster child who’s about to become her son. With Ethan’s final hearing scheduled just before Christmas, her dreams will come true. When she learns Clint and his brothers are returning, she anticipates a holiday reunion that’s sure to entertain Ethan. But on the night of Clint’s return, the ‘brother’ she expected leaves her trembling after a hug. Even worse, Ethan makes it clear Clint's not welcome.
Will Christmas destroy hopes and dreams, or will it become the gift they've all been longing for?
Ethan tossed his controller in front of him, his interest in the game lost. Jesse braced herself for the inevitable, knowing full well whatever came out of his mouth next, would hurt.
“Give it up, would you? I don’t want to know him. I don’t have to like your friends.”
He scooted away like she’d cracked a whip in his face. “Enough! Don’t you get it? I don’t give a damn about him.”
“What? Too crude for you, Jesse?”
She flinched, drew in a deep breath and held it. Jesse. He hadn’t called her by her first name for over a year. Exhaling slowly, she set her controller down and slid off his bed. Though she knew in her heart, too many years of pain drove his emotions, the barb stung. On the same hand, she’d pushed. Ethan couldn’t tolerate pushing. He had to come to things on his own time.
Foregoing the lecture, she crossed to the door. “Goodnight, Ethan.”
He said nothing. Merely picked up his controller and set the options back to one-player.
On a heavy sigh, Jesse left his room.
Inside hers, she clicked on the lamp by her bedside and reclined against her pillows. Tears brimmed in her eyes. She closed them to keep the salty flow at bay and curled her fingers into the sheets. In a thousand years, she never would have imagined that the only man she’d ever truly wanted would be Clint. In his arms, she felt safe. Protected. Undefeatable. He lit her up in ways she had only begun to comprehend, and it seemed as if fate determined to work against her.
If she weren’t careful, she’d lose Ethan. Every agonizing step she’d made would crumble under the weight of his fears.