Excerpt of Lucynda Storey's Mistletoe Wish. The complete story is available now from Aspen Mountain Press.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Mitchell pushed the thumbtack through the notice and into the wood frame at eye level outside his office door.  No one could make an excuse they hadn’t seen the notice because the open door prevented their reading of it.  The notice, printed in block style and all caps stated implicitly to his subordinates his feelings about celebrating the upcoming holidays.  

THIS AREA HAS BEEN DESIGNATED AS A CHRISTMAS-FREE ZONE.  THERE WILL BE NO: BULBS, WREATHS, REINDEER, CHRISTMAS CARDS, STOCKINGS, TINSEL, SAPPY MUSIC OR ANY OTHER HOLIDAY TRAPPINGS.  

He didn’t mind the “bah humbug” reputation he’d earned over the last seven years.  In fact, the status pleased him.  People in the office and throughout the squadron left him alone during the holiday season, which was exactly how he liked it.  The “holidays” were for families and cherished warmth with a lover.  Alex didn’t have either and he sure as hell didn’t need an in-your-face reminder. 

Of course, the shocking block letters, bolded so they stood out, drew most readers’ attention away from the tiny print along the bottom edge of the notice.  Preceded by an asterisk were the words: Mistletoe will, however, be considered on a strictly individualized, case-by-case basis.  

Alex entered his office and let the door swing shut of its own accord.  The tiny snick let him know he was alone for the time being with his thoughts. 

In the two weeks since he’d arrived at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado all he’d done was shake hands and attend meetings to ease the transition of leadership in the group.  He was impatient to get his proverbial house in order.  He picked up the phone and buzzed his assistant.  “Master Sergeant Morgan, I want a meeting for the day after tomorrow with all my officers.  No exceptions.  0700.”  

“Yes, Sir.”  

Being a leader meant maintaining authority, as well as demanding, receiving and giving respect.  His subordinates weren’t about to be his buddies, but he didn’t want to be known as a hard ass tool either.  A brunch-style breakfast meeting would help break the ice and set their professional relationship off on the correct foot.  “And Sergeant Morgan, see if you can get the mess to provide breakfast pastries, juice and coffee.”  

“I’ll get right on it, Sir.”  

The latest issue of the base rag, the Mile High Guardian, had his face featured on the cover page.  Everyone on base knew he was here. 

But, not once had she called.  

Major Meredith Wilson Hunter.   

      Disappointment filled his gut like old MRE’s.  He strode to his office window and stared across the tarmac.  Did he really think she’d call after all this time?  Hell yes, his mind bellowed, but his heart knew differently.  He’d hurt her, badly.  He’d left her without a word of explanation and by the time he’d been able to call months later, she’d married his best friend.


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