Claiming Christmas

Page 14

“No, Jess, I’m not going to fire you or Connor. I was going to say that I appreciate you trying to keep things professional at work, but you don’t need to hide the fact that you’re in a relationship. It’s currently the worst-kept secret in the station, and the fact that you’ve been walking around like a lost puppy for the last few weeks just proves how you feel about him.”
I grimace. “I thought I was hiding it well, but I miss him like crazy. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad he’s there for his sister, but—" I stop, embarrassed to suddenly find myself fighting back the tears.
“But it’s tough being away from someone you love,” Drayton finishes, leaning across the desk to hand me a tissue.
“Yeah,” I whisper, dabbing at my eyes. I look up at him. “So, you and Daisy Jenkins, huh?”
Drayton’s cheeks turn ruddy.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to embarrass you. Sometimes, my mouth engages before my brain can intervene,” I say wryly,
“It’s fine,” he assures me. “And yes, Daisy and I are together.”
“I’ve met her a few times at The Hideout. She’s a wonderful person,” I smile.
“That, she is,” Drayton agrees, his eyes softening. He clears his throat. “Anyway, that’s not why I called you in here. I don’t suppose you have a key to Connor’s place?”
My eyebrows rise in surprise. That’s the last thing I expected him to ask. “Uh, yeah, I do. Why?”
“Because he took a file home with him to work on before he left for Houston that I need. I wondered if you could go get it for me?”
I nod. “Sure. I’ll go now if you don’t need me for the next hour or so?”
“Great. I’ll see you in a bit.”
Snow still blankets everything, and there are piles of it on the sides of the roads where the snowplows cleared it after the storm. Although we haven’t had any more snowfall, the temperatures are still below freezing most days, making for icy conditions, which are more of a problem than the snow.
Twenty minutes later, I pull up outside Connor’s place. I park my little VW on his drive and walk up the path toward the front door. I let myself in and head straight for the first door on the left that leads into his study. Spotting the file on the desk, I grab it and turn to leave when soft music reaches my ears.
Is that Let It Snow by Dean Martin I can hear? I shake my head. Probably one of the neighbors getting into the Christmas spirit. Then I remember there are no neighbors.
I follow the sound of the music toward the living area at the back of the house. Lights flicker up ahead, twinkling on and off. I step on something with my booted foot and look down to see rose petals scattered across the floor in a floral trail, leading me closer to the living area.
What the…?
My heart feels like it’s beating in my throat, and my mouth is dry. Has someone broken in? Should I call Drayton? Why would they put up Christmas lights and scatter rose petals all over the floor?
I poke my head through the doorway, and my heart stops completely. The file slips from my hand and lands on the floor with a thud.
He’s standing there in a suit, complete with a crisp white shirt and a bowtie. He’s holding a bouquet of roses, a lopsided grin on his handsome face. He’s the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.
“Connor!” I’ll probably be embarrassed later by my ridiculously girly squeal, but right now, I don’t give a crap.
I sprint toward him with all the grace of a three-legged reindeer and launch myself into his arms, crushing the flowers between us. He catches me with a deep chuckle, and I grab his face, scattering kisses over every inch of skin I can reach.
“You’re back!” I beam at him, running my hands all over his face to make sure I’m not dreaming.
“Did you miss me?” he asks, his striking blue eyes twinkling with mirth.
“Like a squirrel misses his nuts,” I nod enthusiastically. “When did you get back? How is Rosie? Why didn’t you call me?”
Connor laughs and hugs me close. “Two hours ago. Rosie is doing fine. And I wanted to surprise you,” he says, answering my questions in order. “Because…”
He lowers me to the floor and steps back. Dropping to one knee, he pulls a small velvet box from his pocket and opens it.