A Lawman's Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

By Linda Lael Miller

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Where are Mrs. ” he asked, hoping he didn’t sound too concerned. ” “Ezra Maddox offered for her,” said another member of the council. ” Clay felt a strange stab at the news, deep inside, but he was careful not to let his reaction show. He felt something for Dara Rose Nolan, but what that something was exactly was a matter that would require some sorting out. “Ezra ain’t willing to take the girls along with their mama, though,” imparted the first man, pouring himself yet another dose of whiskey and throwing it back without so much as a shudder or a wince.

Besides, it was his nature to be restless, and so, in order to keep himself occupied until spring, he’d accepted the town’s offer of a laughable salary and a star-shaped badge to pin on his coat until they could rustle up some damn fool to take up the occupation for good. “There it is,” Edrina said, with a note of sadness in her voice that caught and pulled at Clay’s heart like a fishhook snagging on something underwater. Clay barely had time to take in the ramshackle place—the council referred to it as a “cottage,” though he would have called it a shack—before one of the prettiest women he’d ever laid eyes on shot out through the front door like a bullet and stormed down the path toward them.

Imagining how she must have looked to Clay McKettrick, rushing out of the house, scaring the chickens half to death in the process, she closed her eyes for a moment, then sighed again. Edrina and Harriet watched her from the big rocking chair over by the wood-burning stove, Edrina wisely holding her tongue, Harriet perched close beside her, her rag doll, Molly, resting in the curve of one small arm. The regulator clock ticked ponderously on the wall, lending a solemn rhythm to the silence, and snow swirled past the windows, as if trying to find a way in.

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