Mistletoe and Holly

Mistletoe and Holly by Janet Dailey Read Free Book Online

Book: Mistletoe and Holly by Janet Dailey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Janet Dailey
Daddy, there’s more,” Holly protested when she and the dog came running through the snow with the last sprig of mistletoe.
    “We have all we need,” he replied. “Put the mistletoe in the sack with the rest. It’s time we were headed back to the car.”
    Leslie caught something in his tone of voice. Itwas a full second before she realized the flakes of snow drifting in the air hadn’t been blown from the trees. The temperature had warmed up a little and it had started to snow.
    “Daddy, it’s snowing!” Holly made the same discovery, and turned up a hand, trying to catch a flake in her mitten. “What if we get lost? What if it snows so hard we can’t see to find our way back? We should have left pieces of bread like Hansel and Gretel did.”
    “I think the sled made some very plain tracks. If we follow them, I bet we’ll find our way to the car,” he replied dryly.
    “Let’s pretend the tracks aren’t there. It’d be more fun,” Holly insisted, wanting to taste a little thrill of adventure.
    “Okay, you pretend.” He glanced over his shoulder at Leslie. “And I’ll follow the tracks.”
    There was something enchanting and magical about the return trip with lazy flakes spiraling down through the trees. All was quiet and hushed, except for the crunch of footsteps and the slicing sound the sled’s runners made through the snow. It seemed much shorter going back to the car.
    This time Tagg pulled the sled through the gate and right up next to the rear car door. He was breathing hard when he shrugged off the harnessand came back to help Leslie out of the sled. The last stretch had been a steady uphill pull.
    “If I tried to carry you this time, I probably would drop you,” he admitted with a cold-stiffened grin, and helped her to stand up on her good leg, supporting her with an arm around the waist while he opened the car door to the rear seat. “Can you make it, or should I get your crutches?”
    “I can make it.” She grabbed hold of the door frame and made short little hops. Then she slid into the car backward, dragging her casted leg onto the seat.
    Once he was sure she was safely inside, Tagg shut the door. It took a few minutes more to load the dogsled, the robes, and the tree into the back of the wagon. Holly hugged the collie goodbye for at least the fifth time and climbed into the front seat. Shuddering, Tagg slipped behind the wheel and pulled off his right glove to blow on his fingers.
    “Now to get warm,” he declared and started the motor with the ignition key.
    By the time they drove out of the farmer’s lane onto the backroad, warm air was blowing from the heat vents. The heat intensified the scent of pine needles in the air. It wasn’t long before Holly became infected with the smell of the tree and broke into song, a loud if occasionally off-key renditionof “O Christmas Tree.” Tagg joined in, and his voice was a rich baritone. Leslie sat silently in the backseat, feeling alone, unable to take part in this spontaneous joyfest of Christmas carols.
    The singing ended when they turned into the driveway to the brick house next door to her aunt’s. Tagg helped Leslie out of the car and passed her the crutches.
    “Thanks for asking me to come along.” She stood awkwardly on her crutches, aware that earlier she could have expressed herself with more genuine feeling behind the words. But the caroling had taken something away. “I did enjoy myself.”
    “You can’t go home yet,” he stated. “I wouldn’t be much of a host if I sent you home without any refreshments. Come in and have some hot cocoa with us.”
    “I—” She was going to accept the invitation, but Holly seemed to think she wouldn’t.
    “Yes, do, Leslie.” She grabbed at her hand to lend force to her plea. “Daddy makes the best cocoa you ever tasted, with lots of gooey marshmallows melting on top.”
    “All right, I’ll come,” she laughed. Her pleasure in the day had returned. Leslie couldn’t sort

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