Wyoming Winter:A Small-Town Christmas Romance

By: Diana Palmer

There’s something about those Wyoming men... New York Times bestselling author Diana Palmer returns to the Cowboy State with a brand-new tale of desire and deception

Cultivating his vast Wyoming ranch is all security expert J. C. Calhoun wants. His land is the only thing the betrayed rancher can trust in after discovering his fiancée was pregnant by another man. But all J.C. holds dear becomes compromised when a lost little girl leads him to Colie Jackson, the woman who destroyed his life.

Colie stops at nothing to protect the people she loves. Years ago she left J.C. for his own good. Now, for the sake of her daughter, she must depend on a hard-hearted man who won’t forgive her. As a band of ruthless criminals tracks their every move through the frozen Wyoming winter, Colie and J.C. will be forced to confront the lies that separated them—and the startling truth that will bind them forever...

Bonus book! In a classic Long, Tall Texans tale, a hard-hearted rancher falls for an innocent beauty under the mistletoe in Christmas Cowboy.





Dear Reader,

Some books start in awkward ways. This was one. I had a snow scene in my mind. A man and a little girl. She was hiding and crying. Her jacket had blood on it.

From that scene came a whole book. This one is very character-driven. I did get caught up in the lives of the hero and heroine, and I felt equally sorry for both of them by the middle of the story. But it was fun to write, if something of a challenge.

It’s dedicated to my niece, Betty, who died recently. She was an avid reader of my books, like her daughter, Amanda. My first sight of her was when our late nephew, Bobby, brought her by the house early one morning to meet us. They’d been swimming in the river, and her long, black hair was wet. She looked so young and so beautiful. I have kept that image of her all these years. She never looked older than that, to me, ever. She was kind and sweet and forgiving, and the whole family loved her. We will miss her very much.






CHAPTER ONE

COLIE THOMPSON WAS in a mild panic. Her brother, Rodney, was bringing over his friend J.C. Calhoun. J.C. was thirty-two, pretty much at the end of his Army Reserve service—the cutoff age was thirty-two. He and Rodney had met in Iraq, almost four years ago. Both men were with the same Army unit. Rodney was serving his first tour of duty. J.C.’s Army Reserve unit had been called up for limited duty, and he was assigned to the same area as Rodney. In one of those wild coincidences, they started talking and discovered that they lived in the same Wyoming town, J.C. having taken a job with another Catelow resident, Ren Colter, whom he’d met during his first tour of duty. Rodney looked up to J.C., who was a little older. The older man had been a police officer before he went into the Army the first time, almost twelve years earlier.

Rodney left the Army before his tour of duty was officially up, never saying why. He’d been home for several months. After J.C. finished his overseas duty, he came home with him sometimes, although they’d grown apart since Rodney started a new job. They still went around together, but not often. One memorable visit to the Thompson home was on Colie’s birthday, when J.C. had unexpectedly given her a cat. It was the high point of her recent life. She named the huge Siamese cat Big Tom and it slept on her bed every night.

Even though he didn’t come home with Rodney much, Colie often saw J.C. around Catelow, which was a small and very clannish town. There were only a couple of restaurants, and Colie, whose real name was Colleen, worked as a receptionist and typist for a law firm downtown. Inevitably, she saw J.C. from time to time, occasionally with her brother. And since he was single, and handsome, and mostly avoided women, he was the subject of much gossip.

He always made time to talk to Colie if he saw her. He was polite, teasing, friendly. He made her glow inside. Once, when he brought Rod home after his car had quit, J.C. had helped her into her jacket when she was going outside to get the mail. Just the touch of his hands was like an explosion of pleasure. The more she saw of him, the more she wanted him.

Rodney had invited J.C. to come to supper before this, but he’d always had an excuse. This time, he accepted. It had been just after Colie had started walking back to the office, in the snow, and J.C. had stopped and given her a ride the rest of the way. Sitting with him, in the cozy warmth of the big black SUV he drove, she’d been hesitant to get out again. They’d talked about the upcoming presidential election, the state of the country, the beauty of Catelow in the snow. He’d teased her about wearing high heels to work instead of sensible boots, with snow already piling up, and she’d retorted that boots would hardly complement the pretty pantsuit she was wearing. He’d pursed his lips and looked at her, long and hard, and said Colie would look good in anything. She’d gone inside the law office, reluctantly, flushed and beaming after the unexpected pleasure of his company.