The hike Hudson referred to was more like a twelve-minute walk along a well-trodden trail through a wintry forest. It would have felt longer due to the frigid wind chill but since Savoy had good company in Hudson it felt like half that. Plus, the warmth that wafted from his arm as she clung to it and the closeness of their bodies stopped her mind from focusing on the drop in temperature. Her head rested against his arm, in her effort to keep the whistling wind out of her face as he told her a few facts about the town, what made it popular with tourists during December.
Felicity, Maine was what most people thought of when they thought of a storybook Christmas town with its pristine snow, cute shops, and holiday calendar events that would make Martha Stewart swoon and would make any Hallmark Christmas a tad envious. By the time he told her about the trio of deer that knocked down the Christmas tree in the center of town, they were at his cabin.
“You didn’t have to.” Savoy insisted as she pulled out one of the chairs at the kitchen island. She had been getting her bearings in the guestroom he carried her bag to. Along with fawning over the cozy room with a view of a mountain, she called her mom after texting her a picture of Hudson with his driver’s license and the address of where she was staying.
Don’t get her wrong, Hudson Snow seemed to be a wholesome gentleman, and though she didn’t know of any serial killers named after a form of precipitation she wasn’t hankering to have her own special on the ID channel.
Savoy rested her hands around the mug relishing in the warmth of the ceramic. The modern cabin with its panoramic views of the nature that encompassed the adobe was just as toast as the bakery. Her teeth were no longer chattering nor was she shivering but the memory of the cold was still fresh in her mind.
“You’ve been busy all day. You don’t have to be a host. I’m cool.” She said, moving one hand to the handle. “Plus, I could’ve made my own Swiss Miss. I’ve got practice.”
He chuckled, opening the fridge as the bright blue-eyed husky chowed down on whatever its owner put in its bowl.
“That’s not packaged cocoa.” He said turning his back to her and once he emerged from the fridge he had a serving dish in hand. “Give it a taste.”
She narrowed her eyes at him piqued with curiosity then took a glance at the small saucepan in the sink. She lifted the cup to her mouth and took a cautious sip of the beverage. The rich luxurious chocolate rolled over her tongue hugging her taste buds in a comforting embrace that a package of hot chocolate that sat on a shelf for three months could never pull off.
Savoy swallowed the creamy decadent concoction as he busied himself around the kitchen then said, “Nope. Not Swiss Miss.”
“Not at all.” He glanced over his shoulder with a grin then went back to ladling a reddish substance in a dutch oven. She couldn’t see what it was since his broad shoulders were blocking her view of the stove but she was complaining.
Savoy took another measured sip of the cocoa, peeked at the dog that was finished with its dinner, and watched it’s owner intently. Then she moved her eyes back to the man trying to find the answer to the riddle. How was a man that was as handsome as him, could bake and make homemade cocoa still be single?
Her threaded eyebrows knitted as she thought, what type of witchcraft is going on. As she scanned her eyes around the cabin as he called it that looked more like a millionaire’s winter home she was filled with more questions.
“This is a nice place.” She said with amazement at the exposed beams overhead and the decor that looked like he had a Pottery Barn designer on speed dial. “You must sell a lot of cookies.”
“Some say sugar is just as addictive as drugs.” He spoke turning away from the stove after turning the pot on.
She smirked. “You slinging sugar?”
“Not slinging.” He chuckled prompting her to grin in the process. “Creating happiness.”
“So, Felicity must be popular year-round.” She leveled the mug to her lips.
“It is.” He joined her at the island with a towel slung over his shoulder. “But I send out a lot of orders via my website. A segment with the Today show kind of made Sweet Snow a tourist attraction and a social media trend.”
“You’re that hot. Uh…” She shook her head feeling a little warm with embarrassment although he didn’t seem to catch on. “I mean…your bakery is that hot.”
He nodded, his hand going to his mug. “It’s steady. I can’t complain.” He tossed the towel on the island. “Dinner’s on, what do you want to do?”
“Dinner?” She looked at the pot. “What’s for dinner, again?”
“Chilli.” He said with his chest puffing out slightly. “I made it to last through the holiday.”
He cooks too. What. The. Hell. She thought frantically as she slowly nodded while he listed off the various ways she could have her chili; on top of a veggie dog, over rice, or with corn chips. Something had to be wrong with him. Did he have a foot fetish? Savoy wondered if she could be turned off from the particular fetish. Her feet looked good and she did always had a fierce pair that complimented her outfit.
“So, which one do you want?”
“Huh,” She blinked out of her thoughts.
“Do you want veggie dogs, rice, or chips?” He listed the options again
She shrugged. “Don’t know. Let me think about it.
“Sure. It needs to boil anyway.” He glanced at the pot. “So, what are we going to do while we wait?”
She didn’t need to do much thinking the greenery in the living room grabbed her attention when she entered his home.
“We can trim the tree.”
“I—” He started then paused looking at the tree as if it called up a memory he didn’t want to revisit. “A customer sent that over as a ‘thanks’. I really wasn’t going to decorate it but if you want to then I’ll help.”
She read his face, he didn’t seem all that thrilled about the idea. “If you don’t want to, that’s cool. I can just grab a book…” She said, sliding off of the bar chair. “I need to attack my To-Be-Read pile before the new year, any—”
“It’s fine.” He quickly said before she stood to her full height. “It’s here. It should be decorated. I’ll just go get the ornaments from the basement.”
“Are you sure?” She asked.
A small smile quirked up Hudson’s mouth although dregs of sadness remained in his eyes. “I’d love to trim the tree with you. It’d be fun.” He nodded as if he was trying to convince himself. “Can you watch the food? I’ll be back.”
“Yeah. I got it.” She said. Once he was down the hallway and out of sight she turned to the husky whose name tag she didn’t need to read since he told her her name on the walk there.
“Clover, that was a lie. I burn ramen but we’re going to keep that between us.” She gestured to the dog and to herself. “You have a keen nose and I’m going to stand right here.” She moved closer to the stove and scrolled through her phone waiting for Mr. Snow to return.