The Winter in Snow Valley anthology will be released December 5. My story is called Starlight Kisses. Here’s an excerpt.
by Jeanette Lewis
All Rights Reserved
When he saw who he was holding, he quickly let go and they both jumped back a pace. Mariah’s heart pounded and she dug her nails into her palms. “Sorry,” she muttered, keenly aware she was blushing. Yet again, she’d embarrassed herself in front of this man.
His glance took in her pin-curled hair, red polka-dot dress with the full knee-length skirt and Peter Pan collar, all the way to her black-and-white spectator pumps. “You look … festive,” he said, a hint of amusement in his voice.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Riker glanced around the hallway at the sea of business suits in sedate blues, blacks, and grays. “Nothing. It’s just a little different.”
“What’s wrong with being different?” Mariah said defensively. “This is how I usually dress; it’s called retro. Besides, you’re awfully critical for someone who tramps around the woods dressed like some kind of wannabe GI Joe.”
He stiffened. “Yeah, I wear camo when I’m hunting mountain lions and it pays to have every advantage. But it doesn’t matter because by the time we got your car out, the cat was long gone.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t plan to get stuck in the snow!” Mariah shot back. “Besides, getting my car out took an hour tops.”
He shrugged. “An hour is a lot of time when you’re talking about wildcats.”
They stared at each other in silence for a moment. He wasn’t wearing a hat today and he’d trimmed his whiskers. His dark leather bomber jacket was worn and smooth and instead of camo, he wore jeans and cowboy boots.
“So what do you do when you’re not pretending to be GI Joe?” Mariah asked. “Are you some kind of cowboy?”
He snorted. “I’m as much of a cowboy as you are. But once you live in Snow Valley for a while, you start to dress the part.”
“Who says I’m not a cowboy?” She put one hand on the black patent leather belt at her waist and fixed him with a challenging stare.
His eyes were gray, like the clouds of a summer thunderstorm, sweeping across the sky bringing a crisp, clean scent. They lit up as he surveyed her up and down again. “Yeah, right. You, a cowboy? You’re more like retro Barbie,” he said.
“Well, I live in Snow Valley now,” she said. “I guess I should start dressing the part too.”
“Cowgirl Barbie?” Riker suggested.
She gave an irritated huff, then caught the twinkle in his eye. He was teasing! In an instant, her animosity dissolved.
“Maybe,” Mariah said loftily, switching tones. “Don’t think I don’t know where to find pink sequin cowgirl boots, because I totally do.”
He held up both hands in a gesture of surrender. “I don’t doubt you. And I’ll bet you’d make the cutest little Cowgirl Barbie ever.”