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Christmas with an Alaskan Man
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She is the woman of his dreams, but she has a secret that could tear them apart.
Clay Drover may look like a mountain man, but he has a few surprises up his sleeve, one being he owns a huge house and is financially set for life. His lonely childhood makes him long for a family of his own, and he knows just the woman to share his life with.
When Jazmine flies out to Alaska for her cousin’s Christmas wedding, she and Clay are thrust together once again. Will Clay be able to convince her to lower her guard? Or will her secret divide them once and for all?
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For as long as I could remember, my mother talked about having grandkids one day. I wanted to give her that—it was a dream of mine—but at forty-one years old, that dream hadn’t come to fruition. Everyone thought I’d chosen not to have children, that my career was the focus of my life and a family would get in the way.
Maybe I was wrong for letting them think that.
Maybe I was wrong for pretending my heart didn’t long for the sound of little feet skipping across the floor.
Maybe I didn’t want people feeling sorry for me because then I would feel sorry too, and I couldn’t let myself go there.
Those were the thoughts running through my head as my cell phone rang and my mother’s picture flashed across the screen. She wasn’t one of those mothers who brought up the subject constantly, but I knew she thought about it a good bit.
“Mom, what’s up?”
Holding the phone close to my ear, I put the last bite of bacon in my mouth and quickly chewed as I headed out the door. The sun was peeking over the horizon, and a hazy pink splashed across the sky. Once in my car, I set my purse on the passenger side and relaxed my back against the seat. I needed to get to work early today to complete overdue paperwork, and I was feeling antsy about getting on the road before traffic got too crazy. Still, I always made time for Mom.
“Hey, sweetie, just wanted to check on you and make sure you’re okay. I know it’s a difficult day for you.”
I frowned and closed the car door, insulating myself against the cool breeze. California was known for warm weather, but it was November and the air was starting to get crisp. “Difficult in what way?”
There was a long moment of silence and then she let out a breath. “You know…the anniversary…” She trailed off as if I would understand her meaning without her finishing the sentence, but I had no idea what she was talking about.
I put my seatbelt on and glanced in the rearview mirror to make sure I didn’t have lipstick on my teeth. “What anniversary are you referring to?”
She huffed as if she thought I was saying that just to give her a hard time. “Jazmin Ruby Campbell, it’s November seventh, the day you and Jared broke up.”
I laughed at her use of my full name before I had a chance to think better of it. “Are you kidding me? Please tell me this is a joke.”
“Why would I joke about something like this?”
“Mom, that was sixteen years ago. Do you actually believe I’m still pining after Jared? Let me assure you…I’m not. Not even a little. I didn’t make the connection until you reminded me. It’s not like I keep track.”
“Oh.” It almost sounded as if she was disappointed I wasn’t thinking about him, but I was willing to bet it had less to do with Jared and more to do with the fact that she wished I was married. “I’m glad you’re not upset.” She cleared her throat, and I heard her moving dishes around in the sink. “Do you ever wonder what happened to him?”
“Once in a while but not often.”
“Why didn’t the two of you stay in touch? He was such a nice guy, and I thought you would remain friends.”
I massaged both of my temples hoping it would prevent the headache that was sure to come. It was bound to be a long day and hearing Mom’s wistfulness only created more sadness in my heart. The unspoken message was simple. She wanted me to be in a relationship.
“We went our separate ways,” I said. “I’m sure he’s married with kids by now.”
“Maybe he never got married. You never know.”
“It wouldn’t change anything.”
She sighed. “I guess not.” When I didn’t reply to that, she continued. “Have I told you lately how proud of you I am?”
I smiled, my shoulders relaxing. “All the time.”
“You’re a smart, intelligent woman, and you’ve accomplished a lot.”
“Thanks.” I knew she believed every word, but there was a slight hesitancy there as if she were reminding herself of my positive qualities so she wouldn’t think of the negatives. The fact that I didn’t have a husband or children. Long overdue milestones that would probably never happen.
“It sounds like you’re about to leave. It’s so early, honey. You’re not working too hard, are you?”
“No, just have a few things I need to get done.”
“All right, well, I’ll let you go.”
We said our goodbyes and then I turned the ignition and waited for the sound of the engine. There was a slight clicking noise, but other than that, there was nothing. My eyes widened at the realization that I’d forgotten to turn my headlights off the previous night. No. No. No. This couldn’t be happening.