It was a dark and stormy night.
The wind had been blowing most of the day and the snow had made driving nearly impossible, drifting over the roads, bringing traffic to a standstill, and stranding holiday travelers. She had shoveled the porch three times since dark and still the snow fell, blanketing everything in a dense layer of sparkling white that now reached the top step.
Inside her house was warm and cozy, candles flickering on the mantle, and the pine scent of the tree wafting about to mingle with the smell of the wood burning in the hearth. The tree was decorated now, all the ornaments hung, the colored lights sparkling, and the star at the top a bright beacon.
He wasn’t coming, she thought. Stranded no doubt, like everyone else.
Her dark eyes went to the gifts she had so carefully wrapped that afternoon. She had used the special glitter tissue paper she’d been saving. She sighed.
The champagne should be put away, and the shrimp cocktail, and the lovely salad with the pine nuts and cranberries that had taken her forever to make. The chocolate mousse was still chilling in the refrigerator but the whipped cream had probably fallen a bit by this time.
The dog looked over at her from the matt by the door, his eyes sad. He gave a huge sigh and began to settle, reluctantly.
Then his eyes popped open and his ears perked up.
He jumped to his feet and barked at the glass.
Not a warning bark but an excited bark.
She ran to the door and opened it, peering out into the snowy night and her heart skipped a beat.
He was coming up the drive, covered in snow.
She ran out to meet him, not caring how cold it was or that her boots would get wet. He opened his arms wide and she flew into them, wrapping herself around him. He held her tight, kissing her hair, her face. She walked him inside and took his heavy overcoat, laying it over the sofa, smoothing his damp hair back away from his blue eyes.
She got the champagne out and they drank before the fire.
“Are you hungry?’” she asked, “I’ve got…”
“No food,” he said with a smile, “Just you.”