Driven to perfect his sports news piece, Craig glanced from his laptop to the telephone when it rang. In a way, he was glad for the interruption. The knot in his neck said he’d been hard at work for hours. “Yeah?”
“There are two ladies here to see you,” the female voice on the phone advised.
Since the station operated on a skeleton crew because of the holiday, the call was from the security officer in the building’s lobby. Adjusting the rolled up sleeve of his white shirt, he asked, surprised, “Visitors to the station on Christmas Eve, Donna?”
“They say it’s about this morning.”
Those words commandeered his attention. “This morning?” He slapped down the cuff of both sleeves. “I’m on my way.” Quickly, he buttoned them, pushed back from the desk, then rushed from the office. His door shut with a bang. Craig took the hallway to the elevators, almost running down a coworker when he turned the corner.
“Hey! Where’s the fire, Craig?”
“Sorry,” was all he had time to say as he continued on his way.
The elevator seemed to take a long time to arrive. Finally, the doors opened, and he dashed onboard.
Memories flooded back to him on the ride down. Craig remembered how he recognized the woman was in trouble. Her luminous eyes held a faraway look. Nevertheless, in no way did that obscure their charismatic beauty. He reminisced about the cottony soft skin of the hand he held.
The elevator bell dinged.
Abruptly, he was a bundle of nerves. Big, strong, athletic sportsman, Craig Johnston experienced something he hadn’t in years—immediate infatuation—for a stranger, no less.
Craig exited into the corridor that led to the lobby. Before starting toward the desk, he stopped, and then slid the knot of his tie into place against his snowy white dress shirt. From where he lingered in complete awe, he saw the backs of two stunning women. Admiring the scenery, he recognized the one who captured his attention only hours ago. She swiveled, as if on cue. Just like then, her beauty held him prisoner now.
Chances of a slow reveal passed as the security officer beckoned in his direction. The two pivoted together. Their resemblance was remarkable. Although one appeared slightly older, he surmised a familial relationship. The younger one failed in her attempt to hide what he assumed was pity and alarm, most likely in reaction to his wheelchair. The woman he rescued never batted an eye of surprise. To his amazement, he watched her stroll over. A majestic smile curved her luscious-looking lips.
“I’m Ashley Wagner.” She extended her hands to him. “I believe you’re the one I should thank for being so kind to me this morning.”
Taking her outstretched hands, Craig looked at her. No longer in a rush, he took time to analyze Ashley. A feeling, akin to this morning’s enchantment, zapped him. “Are you all right?”
At that point, Ashley’s action mystified him. Craig watched her close her eyes. But, she never removed her hands from his fingers.
“Ask me that question again,” she urged.
Baffled, he obliged. “Are you all right?”
“That voice.” Her eyes reopened. They seemed to shower him with a joyful gaze. “I would recognize that chivalrous rumble anywhere.” Ashley squeezed his hands as if to impart power to her gratitude. “It is you.” Then, he felt her fingers loosen.
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