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     “It’s nice to see them all together isn’t it? This could be a great beginning. I hope you’re okay with this.” Rod held up his glass as a secret toast for them.

     Jenna tapped her glass to his. “I am. Just the fact that now they all know each other and know we’re seeing each other, a future looks good for us.”

     “I’m glad you think so. Let’s join them.” Rod pulled over an extra chair to the table for Jenna and soon they were both pulled into the conversations.

     Rod’s mom announced dinner would be in half an hour and she’d set the table shortly. Happiness nearly made Jenna giddy, like a school girl, and found herself thinking back on high school. Would things have been different if they’d dated back then? So much wasted time but it was done and over. Now is what she had and would make the most of it. They’d gotten off on the right foot and had discussed their long distance relationship, which she didn’t want to think about.

     Rod would fly back in a week and she hoped they would get time to talk more in private.  She had a lot of questions and if she fell hard for him, what then? She had her store here and he had a good job there, which definitely brought in more money than her tiny store. Would she be willing to move?

     She wasn’t sure.

     When Connie got up to start dinner, Jenna and her mother helped and Rod joined the guys around the fireplace. Jenna jumped in to mash the potatoes and her mom set the table with Jamie’s help. It felt good to have her parents included in the Christmas dinner and tomorrow would be more of the same.

     After dinner and more chatting, Rod put Jamie to bed. He’d worn himself out with the excitement of Santa in the morning and had fallen asleep in Rod’s arms. When he returned to the family room, he had their coats in his arm. “I better get you home so you can get some sleep.” He helped her into her coat and kissed his mom. “I’ll be back later, don’t wait up.” He winked at everyone and Jenna was glad to leave their laughter behind.

     Jenna’s cheeks burned just thinking what all of them were thinking and she couldn’t leave fast enough!

     In the car, Rod started the engine and buckled his seatbelt. “I’m glad you don’t live far. It’s freezing out here.”

     “I don’t have a fireplace but I can turn up the heat when we get there.”

     He turned to her as he adjusted himself in the seat. “Maybe we can warm each other up.”

     “Don’t tease me and get my hopes up.” Jenna laughed but that’s exactly what she’d been thinking. He’d left to soon for her last night. Maybe tonight they would get better acquainted. She crossed her fingers as they headed home.

     Once at her place, Toby and Sheba greeted them and soon calmed down to settle back in their beds. Jenna hung up their coats, she slipped off her boots, as did Rod, and she started some hot water for buttered rum drinks to get them started. She’d thought about what it’d be like to make love to Rod and what kind of a lover he’d be. His gentle demeanor told her that he cared about others, which was one of the things that drew her in. How he treated his mother was another reason. Men who treated their moms with respect spoke a lot about how they treated their women. So far, Rod topped all of her lists.

     As she stood at the stove, Rod came over to wrap his arms around her. He moved her hair so he could nuzzle her neck. “I couldn’t do this at moms. She would have kicked me out of the kitchen.”

     His warm lips kissed the side of her throat but when his tongue made a trail up toward her ear, Jenna’s knees nearly gave out. She flattened her palms on the sides of the stove. Her heart pounded against her chest and she hoped he couldn’t hear it. When he pressed his hips against hers, she arched her back and took in a deep breath as his hand cupped a breast. Her nipple puckered when his thumb caressed it.

     He whispered in her ear. “Tell me to stop if this is too much.”

     Instantly her inner muscles tightened. “And if I let you continue, does that make me a hussy?”

     A deep laugh rumbled in his chest. “You could never be a hussy.” Rod turned her in his arms and his fingers laced behind her neck, his thumb caressing her cheek. He met her gaze. “I think we’ve both been alone too long, ignoring our own needs because we weren’t looking for love.”

     Blue eyes hypnotized her. His lips closed in and his mouth took hers, his tongue sweeping the sensitive skin inside. Their tongues tangled and her fingers ran over his back. His kiss was demanding and she gave it right back since he’d basically said he wanted a reaction from her. She’d not hold back tonight.

     This is what and who she wanted.

     Rod pulled from the kiss, as breathless as she, and touched his forehead to hers. “I feel myself falling too fast, Jen. It’s only been a week since I first saw you again…but it’s not like we’re strangers.”

     She touched his lips with her fingertips. “I know. I feel the same way. Are we moving too fast? We should make our drinks and go talk some. I’ll bring them in. You go turn the tree on.” Excited and happy, Jenna reluctantly let him go, watched him walk into the living room and turned her attention back to the buttered rum drinks. How far would she let them go tonight? If she didn’t stop them, would they end up in her bed?

     Rod stepped into the living room that smelled of her pine candles. He turned on a table lamp so he could see to plug in the tree. The twinkling took nearly a minute and while he waited, he looked for the bulb Jenna had touched the other night. When he saw a pink one, he turned it to see the writing - ‘Baby’s First Christmas’.

     A tremor walked through his heart.

     Jenna didn’t have children…or did she? She’d not made mention of it when she talked about her divorce at dinner the other night. He’d think she would have gotten custody had there been a baby.

     Did she lose one?

     Rod would never ask, but instead, wait for her to bring it up. If that were the case, she’d tell him when she was ready and he’d patiently wait for her to do that, knowing all too well how hard it was to discuss something that delicate. But it made him wonder what happened. Losing his wife had been hard, but if he’d lost Jamie too, could he have dealt with that at the same time as his wife’s death?

     He stepped away from the tree when he heard Jenna moving in the kitchen. Pulling the blanket from the back of the couch, Rod was ready to cover them up once she brought in the drinks. She sat his on a coaster and sat down with hers and took a sip. “Mmmm…this hits the spot.”

     Taking a seat next to her, he covered their legs after they put their feet on the ottoman and then grabbed his drink. It smelled buttery sweet and tasted even better with the rum in it. “I’ll have to pick up some more of that mix. This is really good.” He enjoyed a few more sips, as did Jenna and thought about how to approach the long distance aspect of their new relationship. “I don’t want to discuss this but we need to. I have to leave after New Year’s and for me, that’s going to be hard this time. Last year, I couldn’t wait to get back to the station.” Rod looked into her sultry amber eyes. “Since I’ve met you, I don’t want to go back this year.”

     “I’m sorry. I don’t want to be the reason you don’t want to go home. The guys at the fire department need you back.”

     Rod turned toward her and put his elbow up on the back of the couch so he could see Jenna while they talked. “After I got home last year, I found myself thinking what it’d be like working at the station here but I never did anything about. Now…I find myself considering what it’d be like to move back to Jackson Hole, to work here close to mom where she and Jamie could spend more time together.”

     “You’d have to take a huge cut in pay, I’m sure. I don’t want to get into your finances but I’d think New York pays top dollar.”

     “They do and I’ve been able to put a lot of that into savings. Jamie and I don’t live in a huge house. After my wife passed, I couldn’t stay in our home without her. It was easier to make a fresh start in a home where I didn’t think of where she used to sit, or hope to see her in the kitchen…” Talking about Cindy was more painful than he imagined but he wanted to. He wanted Jenna to know his heart and that he was ready to move on. “She wouldn’t want me to raise Jamie alone, I know that. I also know it’s too early for us to discuss that, but he seems to have taken to you faster than I thought he would.”

     “It’s probably a good thing you two moved to a different house.”

     “He’s adjusted well. Being so young has helped but I don’t let him forget his mother. If we lived closer to mom, I think he’d like that, too. Cindy’s parents take him for the weekend once in a while but as time goes by, those weekends are less and less often. Not that they don’t care, but her parents are old. She was the youngest.”

     “Your mom would be thrilled to have you back home.”

     Rod finished his drink, sat the glass back on the end table and turned out the light. Only the twinkling tree lights lit the room. Jenna handed her empty glass to him, too. He set it down and then pulled her close, with her back against his chest. Her hair smelled like sugared vanilla. “This feels right to me. Like I’ve found a part of me that was lost. Thank you for that.” He hoped she felt the same.

     Jen took in a deep breath and rested her head against his shoulder. “It does feel good, doesn’t it? The last few days have been fun. The sleigh ride was a blast.”

     “And we still find ways to keep warm.” When he caressed her soft cheek, he’d not meant to kiss her again yet it happened so easily. She turned in his arms and they nearly lay stretched out on the couch in the dark, tongues tangling, hands touching, getting to know one another. His fingers threaded through her long silky hair as he cupped her head, pulling her deeper into the kiss.

     When Jenna’s fingers clawed at the muscles of his chest, his groin tightened, wanting to take her right here on the couch. Her arm moved beneath his side for comfort as her palm flattened on his chest and he was sure she could feel the rapid beat of his heart. No woman had made him feel like this since Cindy, yet Jenna had quickly filled in the holes of his heart.

He pulled from the kiss and moved his hand beneath her sweater to cup a breast and his thumb moved over the swell of it above her bra. So soft and warm. A moan slipped from her throat, tearing at his senses. He wanted her right now but that would be moving too fast. “Jenna…” He whispered her name, afraid to say more at the moment and he had to hold his breath for a second, along with her breast in his hand. “You’ve touch me pretty hard, woman.”

     “Rod…” She sounded out of breath too.

     He held her hips, slid her on top of him as he lay on his back on the sofa. This position was better in one way, but not in others as her weight pressed against his hips and his arousal. Cupping her ass, he squeezed gently. “God this feels good. I’m comfortable with you, like we’ve been together for months.”

     She gazed down at him and in the dim light he could see her face. “I didn’t want to be the one do say that first. It does feel that way. I’m comfortable with you and it feels good.”

     Pulling her hips tight against his, he groaned. “Yes….it does feel good, babe.”

     Jenna laughed and he laughed with her. “It’s not funny. It’s a good thing you’re dressed but I could take care of that, too.”

     She began to unbutton his shirt, glancing up at him with each button she undid.

     “Don’t start something I can’t finish.”

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