The Texan Who Stole Christmas
Once upon a time, Cheryl messaged the Prairie Roses about the Christmas anthologies, then yet unnamed. I had an idea for a story so when she asked if I wanted a story in the sweet one or the spicy one, hey, I went with spicy. Weeks went by and the story took shape in my head as I was busy writing other projects.
Then the day came—Cheryl and Livia announced the titles. The sweet one is Present for a Cowboy, and the spicy one is... drum roll please...
Wild Texas Christmas
Only my story isn’t set in Texas. It’s set in Owyhee County, Idaho, where most of my other stories are set and where I grew up. Ah, but there’s always an answer, and that’s where reading old newspapers comes in handy. The only reason people went to the Owyhee Mountains in the first place was to make their fortunes on gold and (mostly) silver. Gold and silver are nice—beautiful and valuable—but they don’t taste that good and aren’t digestable.
So guess what happened? Texas ranchers realized they could make some money by driving beef on the hoof to the hungry miners. And they did. Many of those Texans stayed. Considering the winters in Fairview (not much there now but foundations), which has an elevation of 6,500 feet, you have to wonder why these Texan cowhands would want to stay there when they could’ve gone back home and had a much warmer Christmas. Many of the current Owyhee County residents are descended from those Texas cowpokes.
Now I have an angle, and the story hadn't actually changed much other than I included the hero's home state. That wasn't a stretch because he was a Texan anyway. Here's a little about it.
About How the Texan Stole Christmas
In my story, Judd Shaw is the foreman of the Rocking R ranch in Owyhee County, Idaho Territory. There’s also a Rocking R in Texas where he and his lifelong friend, Webster Maxwell, have worked since they were old enough to ride and hold a rope at the same time. The two Texas cowpokes are in Idaho because the owner didn’t like how that ranch was being run, so he sent Judd to straighten things out, and Web came along.
|The Owyhees, Idaho - not far from Silver City|
Judd and Web can hardly wait to get back to Texas, especially when their ears are so cold, they might freeze solid. But the foreman has to stay and button down the ranch for wintering, and an early snow prevented the two of them from getting off the mountain. They’re stuck in Idaho for at least two months, and maybe four.
Mrs. Winnifred Spangler is a 21-year-old lonesome widow who has plunged headfirst into community service, along with her friend of many years, Mrs. Lulu Jamison, also a widow. Winnie cooked up community events for the entire week before Christmas. The first, a matchmaking scheme pairs off single men and women in a Secret Christmas Angel game where they all draw names of the opposite gender, then surreptitiously give their recipients a gift each day. Winnie and Lulu have planned at least one social activity every week for the Secret Christmas Angels. The second is for the children. She talked her father into buying a toy for each child in town.
It’s a week before Christmas when the story begins. Here’s a short snippet where Judd and Web are carrying the toys from the store to Winnie’s house. The steep streets are covered with snow and ice, and the townsmen have staked ropes so pedestrians can pull themselves up the hills—and slow the descent going down. Winnie and Lulu have mistaken Judd and Web as volunteers, and the men are too polite to say no. Besides, even though they think the ladies are married, they’re easy on the eyes.
How the Texan Stole Christmas
a short story by Jacquie Rogers in
Wild Texas Christmas
Winnie found the whole situation awkward. She had to hang on to the rope with one hand, the strap of the bag of toys with the other, and hold up her skirt, too. Only problem was, she didn’t have three hands. The men had heavier loads but then they didn’t have skirts to hold up.
Tucker darted back and forth, as dogs do, but even he slid and fell a few times. Winnie slipped a time or two before she figured out how to keep herself upright, hold the toys, and preserve some modicum of modesty. Judd grunted softly every once in awhile, especially when the steep street inclined even more, and Tucker dashed between them, nearly upending Judd, who shooed him away.
Lulu glanced over her shoulder at Winnie. “Isn’t this a beautiful day? It’s cold, but the sun is shining and the air is clear. Last night’s fireplace smoke has blown away. I love days like this.”
Winnie nodded. “Yes, it’s a very nice day—would be even better if I were bundled up by the stove reading the latest Clara Vance novel.”
“What about you, Mr. Shaw?” Lulu asked.
Web laughed. “He said he wants to be called by his first name. He just don’t use a lot of words sayin’ it.” Lulu slipped and Web caught her before she fell. Winnie stopped while the two ahead got set to rights, Judd beside her. She felt a lot warmer when he was near and since she’d been married before, she knew exactly why. To cover her embarrassment, she adjusted her pack.
In an instant, her feet went out from under her and she knocked Judd off balance, too. She landed on her back, the cold hard ice knocking the wind out of her. Judd fell on top of her with his face buried in her bosom. She couldn’t speak for lack of air and she couldn’t move because he pinned her down.
He lifted his head after a moment. “I’m, uh, sorry.”
Winnie wasn’t sorry at all. No man had had his face on her bosom for a long time, and if she had to choose one to be there, Judd’s would be it.
♥ ♥ ♥
Wild Texas Christmas
Release date: November 27
Available for Pre-Order Now!
Other Books by Jacquie Rogers
Hearts of Owyhee series