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    Mistletoe and Holly

    Video Ingenuity Awards. Smithsonian Channel. Chapter One The sunlight glistened on the snow's icy crust, creating a diamond shimmer that dazzled Leslie's eyes. A frown of irritation crossed her usually smooth features as she made a one-handed search of her purse on the car seat beside her, looking for her sunglasses without taking her attention from the road. The snowplows had cleared the road two or three days before, judging by the melting piles of mud-spattered snow along the shoulders, but there were still slick patches where the plow blade hadn't scraped all the way to the road's surface.

    Skidding on one of those icy patches was definitely not on her list of thrills she wanted to experience. Leslie Stiles had already had her fill of accidents for one winter. Her hand's blind search came up with the sunglasses which she immediately slipped onto the bridge of her nose, her hazel eyes instantly feeling the relief from the sun's glare on the sparkling white mantle of snow that covered the Vermont countryside. A stop sign stood at the crossroads and Leslie slowed the car to a halt as she approached it. Melting snow dripped onto the car roof from an overhanging tree branch.

    The drops made a tinny sound as they landed. A dirty pickup truck that might have been green had the right of way. Her fingers tapped the steering wheel impatiently as she waited for its putting speed to carry it across the intersection. The strain of the drive from Manhattan was beginning to show on her -- the strain and her own physical pain. Leslie attempted to shift into a more comfortable position, but the thick plaster cast on her left leg severely limited movement and position. It was a lucky thing the car had a lot of leg room -- and an automatic transmission.

    There was a steady throb of pain that tensed all her nerves and planted her teeth together. In her purse, Leslie had a bottle of pain pills, prescribed by the doctor, but they made her sleepy so she hadn't taken any, certain she could grit her way through the trip to her aunt's home.

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    It was turning into more of an ordeal than she had thought it would be. The pickup passed and Leslie made her turn onto the intersecting highway. She clung to the knowledge that she only had a few more miles to go. Already she could see the white spire of the church steeple poking above the tops of the trees.

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    8. There was a distinct New England character to the village nestled in the mountain fastness. There was something changeless and nostalgic about its steepled church and village green, and its old houses all in neat repair. Too many artists had captured towns like it on canvas, which gave even strangers the sense of coming home.

      Leslie wasn't a stranger, but neither did she view it as home. When she approached her aunt's two story Victorian-style house on the outskirts of the rural community, she saw it merely as a refuge, a place to recuperate from this damnable broken leg, and avoid all of December's holiday hoopla. No attempt had been made to clear the driveway of snow, although there was a set of parallel tracks going in and out.

      Leslie slowed her car to make the turn, barely noticing the man pulling a red-suited child on a sled in the next yard. The car tires crunched in the crusty snow as she wheeled the vehicle into the drive, stopping short of the side door. Relief sighed through her strained nerves as she removed the sunglasses and smoothed a side of her sand-colored hair where it was pulled sleekly back and secured at the nape of her neck to trail between her shoulder blades.

      As December went, it was a mild day with the temperature hovering above the freezing mark, so Leslie didn't bother to put on the rusty-brown, fake fur jacket that lay on the passenger seat. It would only hamper her movements, and maneuvering her cast-rigid leg out of the car wasn't going to be an easy task.

      Her crutches were propped against the passenger door. She pulled them over, so they'd be within reach once she was outside, then opened her door. Scooting sideways, she managed to gain enough room to swing her left leg around and aim it out the door. The sound of footsteps and sled runners cutting through the snow's crust signaled the approach of the next door neighbor as she edged forward to test the footing before she made a one-legged attempt to stand up.

      The Girl Who Didn't Believe in Mistletoe by Mary Leask

      It was something she hadn't mastered too well as yet, so she regarded his appearance at that moment as ill-timed. Broken legs and graceful movements simply did not go together. Her smile was a bit tight when he hove into view with the sled in tow. Leslie tried to keep the flash of annoyance out of her eyes as she glanced toward him.

      He was tall, easily six foot if not more, which forced her to tip her head back in order to focus her gaze higher. A network of smile lines fanned out from the corners of his icy blue eyes, framed by dark, male lashes. The winter sun had added the finishing touches to the tan the summer sun had started, giving a certain ruggedness to his leanly handsome features.

      Hatless, his dark hair had a black sheen to it, thick and attractively rumpled by a playful breeze. If it hadn't been for the strain of the drive and the nagging pain in her leg, Leslie probably would have found him physically disturbing. But her least concern at the moment was how good-looking he was. She just wanted to get into her aunt's house, take a pain pill, and lie down. His gaze glittered down on her with friendly interest, yet managed to take her apart at the same time. He observed the annoyance behind the polite smile she gave him, the high cheekbones that kept her features from being average, and the rounded right knee where her long skirt had ridden up higher than her fur-lined winter boot.

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      A stretched-out woolen sock protected the bare toes that peeked out of her left leg cast. I'm Tagg Williams and this is my daughter, Holly. We live in the house next door. Leslie wasn't intentionally trying to be rude or unfriendly.

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      She was just tired and plagued by the dull pain of her injury. The little girl had climbed off the sled and waded through the hard snow for a closer look at the white cast on Leslie's leg. She was all of six years old. Her beguilingly innocent face was framed by the red hood of her parka trimmed in white fur. She was wearing a pair of matching red snow pants and white boots, and a pair of white, furry mittens. Her eyes were a darker blue than her father's and blessed with long, naturally curling dark lashes.

      Her mouth slanted wryly. I slipped and fell and broke my leg. Please contact us via the methods available within eBay regarding any problems before leaving negative feedback. Any defects, damages, or material differences with your item, must be reported to us within 7 days of receipt of the item or 30 days from date of shipment. The returned merchandise must be postmarked within 30 days of the shipment notification. Non-deliveries must be reported within 30 days of Shipment Notification.