“Brandon, come back here.” Ellie couldn’t really blame her six-year-old for being angry. This winter wonderland that smelled of balsam and roasting chestnuts affected her with its magic, too, making her long for everything Christmas could be. But that didn’t change the facts.
“Brandon?” She walked through rows of huge Douglas firs, their branches caressing Ellie’s shoulders with gentle scratching sounds as they brushed against her quilted parka, her boots crunching on packed snow underfoot. She’d thought Santa Sunday at Madsen’s Christmas tree farm would be a way to share some holiday fun with Brandon—without spending money she didn’t have. But between the ride in Santa’s train, the bells, the carols and the tempting gift shop full of bright, colorful toys, she’d only made things worse.
“Brandon!” Where was he? How could he get away from her so fast? Her anxiety mounted. She picked up her pace, moving down one row of evergreens after the next, with no sign of her son.
Jogging around a bend, she tripped and ran smack against a broad, hard chest in a black sweater. She glanced up and her breath caught at the sight of a square-jawed Viking, blond curls framing his face beneath a woolen cap, smiling blue eyes with lashes that would make most women jealous.
His hands gripped her shoulders as he set her steadily on her feet. “I think you’re the one I’ve been looking for.”
Don’t I wish. This buff hunk would be exactly what she’d ask Santa for—if she believed in such things. She shook off the thought. “My little boy ran into this section of trees and I can’t find him. He’s wearing a green parka with a dinosaur embroidered on the back.”
A slow smile formed on the Viking’s handsome face. “And his name is Brandon Dean.”
He knew her son’s name? At first her mom-alarm freaked over this breach of the “no talking to strangers” rule she’d drilled into Brandon. But then she thought about the friendly atmosphere of this place. “You’ve found him? Where is he?”