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Copyright © 2011 by Vanessa Gray Bartal


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Chapter 1


An idyllic Christmas in the country sounded like a good idea when Belle made the suggestion. Ethan Prescott had been curious about Montana since his boss first returned from a trip there a few years ago and married a cowboy who owned a massive ranch. He had visions of things he had only ever seen on television—sleigh rides, roaring fireplaces and singing Christmas carols around an upright piano while sipping hot cocoa. But sitting in an airport the size of a walnut was not part of that plan.

“Ethan, when are we going to go?”

Bringing his new girlfriend, Chrissy, had also seemed like a good idea. Now he wasn’t so sure. In New York, she had seemed gung-ho to travel to Montana. Ethan had been surprised because Chrissy was a city girl, through and through. She was the type of girl who had her manicurist on speed dial for nail emergencies. But as soon as he had mentioned the possibility of Christmas in Montana, Chrissy had practically begged to come along. Ethan had been ecstatic. Beautiful, polished, and successful, she was everything he had dreamed he would find. He had no idea what she saw in him, a chatty secretary from Ohio, but he wasn’t about to ruin his chances with her by remaining in neutral any longer.

“I’ve been trying to call the Kings, Chrissy, but I can’t get a signal here,” he explained, frowning at his useless cell phone.

“What kind of place doesn’t have cell service?” Chrissy said, looking around with a sour expression.

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