In the Texas Panhandle, the winters are long, the storms fierce--and the Yuletide nights are sizzling. New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas along with Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda and DeWanna Pace, bring you one tempting holiday delight...
On the eve before Christmas a blizzard arrived, transforming a small Texas town into a night to remember. Four ladies desperately in need of saving, four hard-ridin' cowboys who aim to please... When a lone farmer strides to a pretty store owner's rescue, their deepest wishes just might come true... A brave heiress can't believe a rugged angel is riding out of the night to save her and her fellow train passengers--until she gets him under the mistletoe... A quiet loner wants to help a stranded widow have a holiday to remember... And a female saloon owner tired of being scorned by respectable folk gets some very naughty help from a handsome greenhorn...
"Readers couldn't ask for a finer quartet of heroes..." --Romantic Times on Give Me a Texas Ranger
"Will warm your heart and bring a smile to your lips." --Love Western Romances on Give me a Cowboy
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October 04, 2011
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Excerpt from A Texas Christmas by Jodi Thomas
Kasota Springs, Texas
Sam Thompson stood in the blackened corner of the alley silently watching the mercantile across the street. Wind blew against his back as if trying to force him to move from the shadows. He needed to be heading home, but the woman inside the store kept him rooted in place.
She moved now and then past the windows, sometimes looking out as though hoping to see someone coming to shop. Her slender form drew him now just as her green eyes had the first day they met.
Sam shoved his hands farther into the pockets of his worn coat and prayed no one walked through her doors tonight. Margaret Allison had no idea of the danger she was in, and he had the feeling if he walked across the street to tell her, she wouldn't believe him.
He was a Thompson, and in this town that usually meant he was one step above the wolves who came down from the north on cold nights like this to hunt. Thompsons lived out along the southern breaks near the Palo Duro Canyon, not here in town among the civilized folks. Thompsons kept to themselves and minded their own business.
If Sam walked into the mercantile, Maggie Allison would be more likely to think he'd come to rob her than help her. He didn't much care about whether she lost money or not. Everyone knew that her parents always had money. After all, they sent her to a big school back East to grow up. They must have left it all to their only daughter. She could weather a robbery, but he didn't like to think about what the drunken gang of outlaws, now building courage by the mug, would do to her when they found her alone.
She had no one to protect her, but Sam was a man who didn't have the time to be her hero. If she'd just lock the door and go up to bed, he could get home before it started snowing. He stomped his feet to keep them from freezing and tried to talk himself into leaving. Maggie Allison hadn't said more than a few words to him in twenty years. He didn't even think she remembered meeting him when they'd been six. It wasn't his job to worry about her. The town had a sheriff and plenty of upstanding men. She didn't need him. So why didn't he get on home to his responsibilities and leave her to her fate?
The memory of Maggie in pigtails crossed his mind. Even at six she'd been prim and proper in her starched dresses covered with a white apron, her red hair always in place, her manners perfect, her green eyes wide open as if she was afraid she'd miss one moment of life if she wasn't alert. "I'll never tell you a lie, Sam Thompson," she'd said the day they'd met. "And I promise never to be mean to you, if you promise never to be mean to me."
He'd been six, but he swore she'd won his heart that first day of school.
When the teacher told her to sit next to him, she didn't hesitate. However, she did spend the morning telling him he smelled bad and his fingernails were dirty and he needed new shoes and she didn't like the color orange.
Sam smiled remembering how she'd split her sandwich in half and shared with him that first day. Maggie Allison was different from anyone he'd ever met, and she fascinated him. She did everything right, learned everything first, said exactly what the teacher expected her to say. The only thing he had in common with the proper little red-haired girl was that no one liked her either. She didn't seem to mind. She read or stayed in with the teacher while other kids played, but Sam tried to join in and he'd been given more than one black eye to show for it.
It had taken him three years of walking four miles to school to figure out what his grandfather had told him all along: he didn't belong in town. Only, unlike his relatives, Sam had learned to read, and he'd impressed the teacher enough that she always packaged a few books for him and left them by the schoolhouse door. He'd walk to town on the first of every month and drop off the last books before he picked up the next set. Then, in the midnight hours, he'd sit by the fire and read. Over the years he sometimes thought of Maggie sitting beside him that first year encouraging him as she pointed out the words with her thin little finger.
In the shadow's cold, Sam saw her step near the window once more. Proper as ever, with her hair now pulled back in a knot behind her head. Her parents had sent her away to school after that first year. Folks said it was because she was too bright to stay here. Most said she'd probably never come back to a small town in the middle of nowhere, but she had. She came back to bury her parents last year, and to Sam's surprise, she took over the mercantile.
He studied her now, knowing he needed to go home, but not being able to stomach the thought of her being hurt or killed. The drunks he'd overheard talked of what they'd do to her, how they'd make her scream even after they'd taken all her valuables. They'd joked about how she was probably a virgin, and virgins don't tell what happens, so they could probably use her the next time they passed through town.
Sam forgot about the cold. He'd wait until she locked the door.