'TIS THE SEASON FOR SECOND CHANCES...
There's nothing like a Christmas wedding to warm a girl's heart—or to distract everyone else from the fact that one particular bridesmaid intends to quickly skip town. Julia Noble's accident was years ago, and she's tired of being overprotected. She needs to be on her own. But before she flees Aspen, Colorado, Julia wants to make sure her brother has the perfect wedding and all her ducks are in a row. Yet duty soon turns to pleasure when three days before the big day Julia runs into the only man she ever dreamed of marrying.
Fresh out of the navy, Isaac Nash just wants to feel normal again. But starting his new life means winning back the girl who captured his heart years ago. Isaac didn't know the truth behind the tragedy that changed Julia's life forever, and he can't stop blaming himself for not being there for her. After all this time, he knows that Julia is what he wants, this and every Christmas. Now Isaac just has to convince her that she's earned a miracle, too.
Sara Richardson grew up chasing adventure in Colorado's rugged mountains. She's climbed to the top of a 14,000-foot peak at midnight, swam through Class IV rapids, completed her wilderness first-aid certification, and spent seven days at a time tromping through the wilderness with a thirty-pound backpack strapped to her shoulders.
Eventually, Sara did the responsible thing and got an education in writing and journalism. After a brief stint in the corporate writing world, she stopped ignoring the voices in her head and started writing fiction. Now, she uses her experience as a mountain adventure guide to write stories that incorporate adventure with romance. Still indulging her adventurous spirit, Sara lives and plays in Colorado with her saint of a husband and two young sons.
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Julia didn’t scare easily. Having seventeen surgeries makes a person pretty tough, but being trapped in an elevator with Isaac Nash made her hands tremble. She struggled to push the button for floor 3 under the watchfulness of his eyes.
When he didn’t move, she glared up at him. “Let me guess. You’re staying on the third floor, too?”
He only grinned. “Sure am.”
The doors rolled closed and she had this sense of the walls pressing in on her. He had such a commanding presence. The elevator didn’t have enough space for him and her inflamed heart.
The contraption started to grind up, up, up, but then Isaac reached across her and slapped the Stop button. The elevator shuddered, then halted, lurching her stomach into her throat.
“What are you doing?” she squeaked, her heart taking off and orbiting around her chest again. She couldn’t be this close to him. Couldn’t stare into those eyes.
“Who was on the phone?” he asked casually.
“That’s none of your business.” She tried to sound outraged instead of nervous. Because he had her body in total disarray. Mercy. She had to get out of here. Before he realized how much he made her squirm. She raised her hand again, but he blocked her access to the number buttons.
“Why’d you tell them you have a husband?”
“Like I said. None of your business.” She considered shoving him to the side, but the man was as solid as an oak.
“Tell me who was on the phone and I’ll get the elevator going again,” he taunted.
A cloud of heat closed her in. Okay. She had no choice. She had to get out of here. ASAP. “It was a woman who breeds dogs.”
“Dogs,” he repeated.
“Yes. They breed golden retrievers and train them to assist people in wheelchairs. These dogs are very sought after.” If he must know. “I’ve been hoping to get one for months.” Ever since she’d first had the idea to leave. She knew she didn’t want more hired assistants. She truly wanted to be on her own. While doing research, she’d found out about these specialized mobility assistance dogs that were trained to turn on and off lights, to get things off the counter, to retrieve shoes out of the closet. They could even help you get dressed. She knew that was exactly what she’d need in Dallas.
“So you’re getting a dog?” Isaac leaned against the doors as though settling himself in.
“The woman called and told me they selected my application.” She eyed the number buttons. If she moved lightning-fast, she might be able to hit one before he could react. Though he had been trained as a SEAL. Sighing, she gave in to her fate. “She said I can pick up the dog in Leadville tomorrow.”
“Great,” Isaac said, as though genuinely happy for her.
Yes. It was. Almost. “Except they assumed I was married. Apparently it says on the application they only adopt their dogs out to couple or families. In case something happens to one of them.” So single people need not apply…
Isaac’s head slanted as though considering that. “So you and your husband are supposed to go pick up the dog tomorrow.”
“I don’t have a husband,” she reminded him. Though she supposed Theodore Mosley was available on short notice….
No. No. She did not need a man to help her with this. “I’ll just take Mother’s car service over there. And I’ll tell them I’m not married.” Though the woman had sounded adamant. We can’t wait to meet you and your husband, she’d said. He is coming, isn’t he? We like to know our dogs are going to wonderful homes…
“I’ll take you.”
She flinched, sending the wheels of her chair bumping into the elevator’s back panel. “What?”
“I’ll take you to Leadville. Pretend to be your husband,” he offered with a shrug that said it was no big deal.
Had he lost his mind? It was a huge deal. The way her heart fell all over itself, you’d have thought Bono was asking to accompany her. “No.” Her head shook until her hair covered her eyes. “You don’t have to do that.” He really shouldn’t do that. Because what kind of complications would that cause for her right now?
“It can’t be more than a two hour drive, right?” Isaac asked, finally pushing the button for floor number three, thank the good lord. “We’ll drive over there, charm the pants off of those people and get you your dog. Then I’ll drive you home. It’ll take us six hours. Tops.”
Six hours. Six hours of doing her best to avoid his eyes so she wouldn’t get sucked into the infatuation zone again. Six hours of smelling that appetizing manly scent. Six hours of clenching her lady parts to make them behave.
“Really, Julia.” His hand rested on her shoulder.
When had that area become an erogenous zone?
“Let me do this for you. I’d like to help. What other option do you have?”
As much as she hated hearing those words for the better part of her life, she knew he was right. She couldn’t refuse him. She needed this dog.
Which meant she needed Isaac.
In a halleluiah moment, the bell dinged and the elevator doors rolled open.
“Fine,” she said as she wheeled herself out of the elevator, hands shaking like she’d just pushed herself five miles. Uphill. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning. Nine o’clock in the dining room.”
“See you then,” he called while she booked it down the hall.
Once safely inside of her suite, she locked the deadbolt and sat staring at the door.
Well, wasn’t that nice? She’d found herself a husband. Wouldn’t Mother be ecstatic.