Claiming Christmas

Page 1

Chapter One
I’m sitting at my desk, chewing idly on the end of my pen and staring blankly at my computer screen when Sheriff Drayton Saunders walks back into the station.
“Call Jimmy at the garage and have him add chains to my tires,” he says, making me jump as he drops his keys on my desk.
Drayton has only been in the job a few weeks, but he’s done more for the small town of Garland in that time than the previous sheriff did in ten years. Ex-military, he was the perfect candidate to take over when Sheriff Bailey retired. He runs things firmly but fairly and has quickly earned the respect of colleagues and residents alike.
“Mine, too,” Connor, the deputy, says, appearing around the corner with his keys in his hand. “I’m on call tonight., and I don’t wanna get stuck in the snow. They’re predicting quite a storm.”
I sit up a little straighter in my chair. My heart rate picks up, thrumming against my ribs. Connor’s presence does weird things to me—makes me shaky and hot despite the freezing temperatures outside.
Connor transferred here from Houston six months ago. I’m not sure why he’d want to give up the buzz of city life for our small town, but he’s a great addition to our close-knit team here at Garland Sheriff’s Office. He’s handsome, hardworking, and damned good at his job. I’m pretty sure every red-blooded woman in town wants a piece of his nicely muscled ass.
Including me.
I’m ridiculously attracted to him, but there’s no way I can tell him. What the hell could a small-town, mousy secretary have to offer a man who’s used to the fast-pace and excitement of the big city? I’m just your average curvy gal who lives alone with my cat, Dave. Plus, my one and only boyfriend robbed me of any self-confidence I may have had in the bedroom—which wasn’t much to begin with.
“The storm is moving in sooner than they first thought,” I say, handing the sheriff a piece of paper with the weather report on it.
Drayton scans it over. “Let’s get the schools closed. Put the word out that there’s a weather curfew from 6 PM. I want people in their own homes where they’ll be safe.”
“You got it, boss,” I nod.
I watch as he heads for his office, closing the door behind him. From the corner of my eye, I see Connor sauntering toward my desk, his eyes on the paper in his hands.
I look up at him with a bright smile as he comes to a halt in front of me. "Do you need something?”
He leans on the edge of my desk, and the action pulls his uniform pants tight across his muscular thighs. "Once the chains are done, maybe you should think about heading home yourself,” he suggests, his deep voice oozing through me like warm chocolate. “Most people are leaving early. A few of us are going to stay behind to clear the snow and check the station is secure before the storm comes in.”
“I’m good for a few more hours. Besides, I need to call the local garage to get those chains on your tires. Can’t have you at risk out on patrol in these conditions,” I reply with a smile.
“Not only do you keep me safe, but you also run this office practically single-handed, and you make sure I have a fresh cup of coffee every morning. Is there anything you can’t do?” Connor teases, his mouth tipping up in a smile that creates a dimple in his cheek that I want to lick.
“Oh, trust me, there’s plenty I can’t do. I can’t cook for toffee, and I suck at abseiling.”
His dark eyebrows pop up. “Abseiling?”
“Yeah. I tried it once, and I got stuck in a tree halfway down. I pushed off the rockface a little too enthusiastically,” I say with a grimace. I was dangling upside down for ten minutes with a tree branch lodged in my ass crack before the guides got me untwisted.”
Connor’s mouth twitches and his blue eyes dance with amusement.
I glare at him. “It wasn’t funny. You try hanging upside-down for that long with these babies. I nearly suffocated,” I say, jabbing a finger at my generous boobs.
Connor’s gaze drops to my chest. “They look mighty fine from here,” he says softly.
His deep voice and the appreciation in his eyes send goosebumps skittering across my skin, and to my embarrassment, my nipples harden against the silky material of my blouse.
Somebody kill me now.
“I think you need to get your eyes checked,” I snort, getting the joke in first.
Connor frowns. “Why do you do that?”
I look at him blankly. “Do what?”
“Put yourself down like that.”