Claiming Christmas

Page 8

Connor smiles wryly. “Not really. I was put on administrative duties and offered therapy. But the whole experience made me question everything. I took an oath when I joined the force. How the fuck could I sit at a desk pushing papers around when a woman and her baby died in my arms, and the man who did it is still walking around a free man?”
“It wasn’t your fault, Connor,” I whisper, tilting my head back to look up at him. The pain in his eyes makes my chest ache and has the tears I’ve been holding in spilling down my cheeks. “You did everything you could. At least she wasn’t alone when she died. You gave her comfort in her last moments.”
Connor frowns as if he hadn’t considered that. “I couldn’t face going back out on the streets. I went on a downward spiral for a few months and started drinking too much and not sleeping enough. My captain eventually took me to one side, told me his cousin was the sheriff here, and the position of deputy had come up. He didn’t give me much choice, said I either transferred here for six months, or he’d declare me unfit for duty.”
My stomach drops. “For six months? But…you’ve already been here that long. Does…does that mean you’re leaving?”
Connor shakes his head, weaving his fingers through my hair and tilting my head back. “No. Turns out my captain did me a huge favor. He’s a good man. I think he knew coming to Garland would be good for me. I’ve become fond of this little town and the people in it. And one of those people has managed to worm her way under my defenses and into my heart,” he says, his intense blue gaze holding mine.
My heart stops. Literally stops for an entire beat. When it picks up again, it feels like it’s going to beat its way out of my chest and into Connor’s to find its mate.
I search his eyes. “I don’t understand. Why would you want someone like me instead of the Adeline’s of this world?”
Connor’s mouth tightens in anger. “I could strangle your ex-asshole for ever making you doubt yourself, Jess. For not seeing you the way I see you. Because when I look at you, I see a woman with a beautiful soul and a gorgeous body I want to lose myself in. The second I kissed you, you were mine. And I’ll never leave you in any doubt about how fucking sexy you are. How fucking hard you make me. You’ll never doubt how much I want you, in and out of the bedroom. Grief brought me to Garland, but you’ve given me a reason to stay. If you’ll have me.”