It’s Christmas time, and Eriah Jameson has returned home to restart his family’s business. Due to his wild child past, no one is friendly or welcoming to Barrow Haven’s black sheep.
Aylin Myers lost her job when Eriah’s father took ill. She knows Eriah needs her help getting his business up and running again, but she doesn’t trust him. If he fails, she knows it will dishonor his father’s memory. And Aylin knows that at Christmas, it’s the right thing to help your fellow man—no matter how wretched he might be.
As Aylin gets to know Eriah, she sees a side of him Barrow Haven never saw. That perhaps the black sheep has changed for the better. Still, can she be sure this side of Eriah is real, and not just a facade he’s perfected over time to get his own way?
He took her hand firmly into his, and looked down into her eyes, his own blue eyes almost transparent in the light of the streetlamp above them.,
“I want to walk you home,” he insisted.
“Okay, let’s walk then.”
As they trudged through the newly fallen snow, Aylin held tight to his hand. The ice beneath her feet was absolutely treacherous. She’d never thought to put on winter boots before she left home that afternoon.
Most of the houses on both sides of her street were gaily decorated with multicolored strands of blinking lights. In the windows were wreaths or other festive decorations. It was truly a beautiful sight.
There were so many things she wanted to ask him as they walked, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answers, so she kept silent until they reached her front door.
She pushed the key into the lock, and turned it until it snapped open. As she turned the doorknob, there was a sudden bang, almost like a gunshot, and everything went dark around them.
The shock was so acute, she grabbed on to Eriah in the darkness, and felt his arms close around her. Her heart beat double time in her chest.
“Power’s out,” he said.
Of course. It was just a power outage. Probably from the winter storm that besieged them. Her heart began to slow to a more normal rhythm, her face still pressed against his shoulder.
After a moment, she stepped away, stomped her sneakers clean of snow, and stepped inside the warm house. Eriah remained on the doorstep. She couldn’t allow him to try to find his way home in complete blackness, and she did agree to talk with him. “Come on in.”
“Thanks, that’s nice of you.” She could hear the gratefulness in his voice, as she closed the door behind them.
“I guess this is one time I’m glad I’m in the candle business.”
She groped in the darkness until she felt the edge of her worktop and felt around the various objects until she came upon a lighter. She flicked it on, and her eyes adjusted to the dim light. A medium-sized snowball candle sat nearby. Quickly, she lit the wick before the lighter had a chance to burn her fingers, and a soft glow grew from the candle.
When she turned around, his lips came down upon hers. Soft, searching, her hand went to his cold cheek. Almost instantly, she reminded herself of what transpired between them the day before. But her heart her heart…overrode her mind’s stern warnings, until her mind won out and broke the kiss, and turned away from him. “I’m not starting this all over with you. I won’t get hurt again.”
He gently turned her face back to him. “We started something really good, and I screwed it up. I know that. I just want a chance to explain.”
For a few moments, her mind whipped back and forth, trying to decide what to do, what was right for her, what was right for him.
With no answer in sight, she finally conceded. “Let’s go upstairs. I’ll hear you out, but I won’t promise you anything.”
Natalie-Nicole Bates is a book reviewer and author.
Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian and Edwardian era photography. Natalie contributes her uncharacteristic love of hockey to being born in Russia.
She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos.
Visit Natalie-Nicole Bates Online!