Western Kisses – Old West Christmas Romances (Boxed Set)

Free Western Kisses – Old West Christmas Romances (Boxed Set) by Carré White

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Authors: Carré White
shrugged.
    “Exactly!” exclaimed Leona. “I’m so relieved you brought it up, Pa. I’ve been hoping to hear the voice of reason spoken so clearly.” Mother gave her a look. “I’m fair to bursting to marry Benjamin. It’s a relief we won’t have to wait much longer.”
    Mother had closed her eyes. “Lord, give me strength.”
    “Yes, age shouldn’t matter,” said father. “But, in your case, it does.”
    The argument that followed tested everyone sorely, and it wasn’t until after the dishes were taken away that Guss and I had a moment alone. “I’m sorry about my family. My sister especially.”
    “There’s no need to apologize.” He brought his chair up alongside me, leaning in. “I find you all charming.”
    “Now you’re just uttering outright falsehoods.”
    “I’m not, I assure you.”
    Glancing around the room, I noted William with Cybele, and his attention was directed towards us. “I hope we haven’t frightened you off.”
    “It would take a great deal more than that.” He touched my finger with his lightly. “I know we’ve only been acquainted a short time. I would like to hear your thoughts on things.”
    “What things?”
    “On the possibility of spending your life with someone like me?”
    “Is this a proposal?”
    “A pre-proposal.” He grinned.
    “I should be sensible about something as important as this.”
    “What does that mean?”
    “Once I was afflicted with the smallpox, I knew my options were limited. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting me with these scars. It’s been…difficult. Most days I just want to hide.”
    “I’m not marrying you out of pity.”
    “I…know. It’s just that…you’ll have to see not only the marks on my face, but there are more on my body.”
    He blinked, while staring at me. “So?”
    “So…I…don’t know.”
    “I don’t give two figs about your little spots. I don’t even see them when I look at you. I never have.”
    Tears were in my eyes, which was mortifying. I swallowed, but it felt like a lump in my throat.
    “You’re one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen, besides my departed wife. I loved her so very much, Willow. The same feelings are developing—have developed for you. I want to stay in Cripple Creek and start fresh. My brother and his family will arrive next year. I can’t think of anything more promising.”
    “I can’t either.”
    “I’d be fortunate to win you. I’m not exactly cutting a swell these days. If you’re expecting I’ll bounce around and entertain you with my style and wit, you’ll be sorely disappointed.” He grinned.
    I laughed at that moment, as I stared at him happily. “I wouldn’t expect that of you or anyone.”
    “I do hope to hear that more often. Everything about you changes when you laugh.”
    “Really?”
    He touched my face. “Yes, ma’am.”

Chapter Eleven
    “I’ll just get this nail in, and that’ll be it,” said Leona. She stood on a stepstool with one hand around a nail and another gripping a hammer. We had begun to decorate the dining room with garland, as the holidays were fast-approaching. “Ouf! Must it be so difficult.”
    “You’d best hurry,” said mother, breezing into the room. “They’ll be arriving soon for supper.”
    “I know, I know.”
    I stood beneath her, holding a sprig of evergreen. “Goodness, hurry up.”
    “Blasted balls!”
    “Shush,” I warned. “Keep your voice down.”
    “Oh, you’re allowed to be in a fine mood, but not me. I’m without an engagement, without a pretty ring, and, worse yet, I have to wait till spring to declare myself as Benjamin’s intended. There really is nothing fair in this world.”
    Leona had yet to forgive my parents for not allowing her to marry by Christmas. Instead, she would have to stand up for my wedding, which was slated to occur in two days’ time.
    “I’ve got it. Hand me that garland.”
    “Here.”
    “Thank you.” This was the last piece, as the others had already

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