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December (Calendar Girl 12)

By:Audrey Carlan

Chapter One


Easing out of a bed covered in a massive amount of blankets, coupled with the added weight of my man’s arm wrapped around my waist in a vice grip, is harder than one would think. We’d taken the red eye to Aspen, Colorado and arrived before the sun the next day. Wes led me through his family’s cabin, and I use that term lightly. What little I saw of it was already bigger than our home in Malibu, California. We got to his room where we fell to the bed in a heap of limbs. I would bet we were both asleep before our heads even hit the pillow.

At the moment though, I was wide awake, and from the little bit of light peeking through the curtain, it was probably midday. Doing the inch away, shift, and squiggle out of Wes’s arms, attempting not to wake him, I exited the bed and froze. As in a tank and panties would not cut it. The room was absolutely freezing. Tiptoeing over to the thermostat, I hiked the temperature up to seventy-five. Let’s put the heater to the test!

I walked around, found the bathroom, and did my business as quietly as a mouse before locating my suitcase. I found a pair of yoga pants, one of Wes’s hoodies, and my ultra-fuzzy slippers. Mrs. Croft back home had assured me that I’d need them, and she was right. I’d have to remember to thank her later for her foresight.

Much warmer and suited up, I left our room and walked down the stairs. When I got halfway down, I stopped. Across from the stairs was an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. Beyond that was an endless sea of mountains. Winter white with dots of green and black as rocks and trees protruded through the thick layer of snow covering each mountain. Breathtaking. There was no other word for it. Like a zombie, I walked over to the French doors, unlocked and opened them both, letting a wall of frosted air slam into my body and psyche. Instantly, my breath formed a heated mist as I stared dreamily at what was most certainly God’s doing.

When I looked out over the beach and Pacific Ocean back home, it would ground me and make me feel at peace. Looking out over the vast mountain range was anything but serene. It was majestic, unreal, as if I were staring into a photograph, not the real thing.

Boom!

Mind. Blown.

Out of nowhere, a pair of arms circled my chest, tugging me into the warmth behind.

Wes’s chin nuzzled into the space at my neck and shoulder. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”

I let out a slow breath. “It’s so much more than that.”

Wes kissed my neck, the heat from his skin tingling against mine. “I’m glad you like it, since this is going to be our home for the next two and a half weeks.” His voice was a rumble I could feel through my back and in every pore.

“I will not be complaining,” I said, still awed at Mother Nature’s beauty.

He chuckled. “You say that now. Let us remember how much you like snow in a few days when we’re digging our car out of it.”

I pursed my lips, which wrinkled my nose. Wes loved when I did that. Even now he glanced at me, smiled, and turned to lay a kiss on my cheek.

“How about some breakfast?” he asked.

At the mention of breakfast, my stomach growled. “I’m going to go with a ‘yeah’ on that one,” I quipped.

He grinned and left me to my viewing. “Don’t stay out too long. You’ll freeze your ass off.”

“Hopefully, only the flabby parts!” I turned and smacked his bum just as he was entering the house.

Wes was right, and within a couple more minutes, I was freezing my ass off—figuratively—so I went back inside to help my man make breakfast.

As I entered, I found a chenille throw hanging over one of the cushy chairs and wrapped it around my shoulders.

Wes was busy at the counter, pulling pans out and prepping for bacon. He said he’d called ahead and had the caretakers fill the place with the basics. We’d need to go shopping, but they had taken care of the basic amenities like eggs, bacon, milk, butter, and coffee, which I was supremely thankful for.

I went about making the coffee while Wes grilled the bacon and heated the pan for fried eggs.

“So what do you want to do today?” he asked, waggling his eyebrows.

I rolled my own eyes. “Not that.”

His eyebrows rose.

“Okay, yes, that, but not right now. I’m eager to get a lay of the land. Check out the town, get more groceries, and find out where the local yokels show their art. It’ll help me plan how I’m going to present this piece. Besides, the camera crew will be here in a couple days, so we’ll need to be prepared for a week with them.”

Wes nodded and continued to make breakfast. Once we’d eaten, we showered, where he reminded me I definitely wanted a little of that, before we jumped in the rental car and headed toward the main strip.

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