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“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you can take that piece of tin and give it to your next girlfriend. Consider yourself dumped, Mayor Prescott!” Hazel turned on her heel and stomped off toward the kitchen.

“Hazel!” Jasper began, walking after her.

Paige reached out and grabbed him by the arm. “I think you’ve done enough. I’ll go after her.”

Ruby jumped up from her seat. She looked at Liam. “I’m going to go check on Hazel. She didn’t look so good.” She shook her head at Jasper. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Jasper threw up his hands and looked at Liam and Cameron. “What’s wrong with everyone?”

Liam shook his head at his grandfather. “At the risk of asking a dumb question, are you crazy?”


bsp; “What? What just happened?” Jasper asked.

“What just happened?” Cameron roared. “Surely you can’t be serious. You just hurt one of the most amazing, wonderful people in the world.”

“Hazel shouldn’t be hurt. She knows me. I’m not the sentimental sort. I’m not the type to get down on my knees and propose,” Jasper muttered. The expression on his face showed that he was beginning to realize his huge misstep.

“Well, maybe just this once you should have done something to allow Hazel to live out her dream. It wouldn’t have cost you anything, would it?” Liam pressed.

Jasper’s face crumpled. “’s not my way. Hazel knows that.”

“Really? Well, how’s that working out for you right about now?” Cameron asked, his face a cold mask of fury.

Of all the Prescott siblings, Cameron shared the closest relationship with Hazel. She was his surrogate mother, employee and close friend. He was very protective of her.

As the band came back from their break and the intermission ended, Cameron left so he could resume his work duties. After a few minutes of sulking, Jasper got up and left the establishment. His shoulders were slumped, and he looked beaten. Liam couldn’t help but feel a little badly for his grandfather. He suffered from a sort of blindness that wouldn’t allow him to see his own faults and flaws. The way he had treated Hazel was shameless. And he didn’t even seem to grasp what he had done wrong.

Liam felt a chill sweep over him as he realized something huge. He didn’t want to be anything like Jasper. His grandfather was digging in his heels and refusing to acknowledge how wrong he had been. But what did his pride get him? He had lost Hazel and, from what Liam had seen, he would have an uphill battle getting her back.

Had he been walking in his own blindness? Refusing to even consider that Ruby’s career was a calling rather than a threat to his family’s stability? Protecting his heart rather than doing the brave thing—opening himself up to love. Putting oneself out there wasn’t easy and it didn’t feel totally comfortable, but Liam knew that Ruby was worth all the risks.

* * *

In the aftermath of her date night with Liam, Ruby found herself settling more and more into family life at the Prescott household. Things between her and Liam were good. More and more, she was imagining a permanent place for herself here in Love. With Liam and Aidan. With each passing day, Denver became nothing more than a blip on her radar. It was shocking how quickly she had shed her life in Colorado. And with each and every day, returning to Denver seemed less and less appealing.

Christmas was rapidly approaching. Ruby was getting really good at hiding presents all over the house. Some of her hiding places were so good she was beginning to fret that she might never find them. She had discussed with Liam the idea of buying Aidan a puppy for Christmas. Rita’s litter hadn’t been born yet, and they would need to stay with their mother for a few weeks after delivery. Aidan wanted a puppy so much, and since Liam was in agreement, Ruby wanted to make her son's dream come true.

Last night they had stayed in as a family and decorated the Christmas tree. Liam had brought her to tears by pulling out a box of antique ornaments that had been in her family for generations. Ruby had lovingly fingered them, admiring the stunning detail and the intricate craftsmanship. It made her sad that neither of her parents was alive to see Aidan or to help her navigate through life. No matter how old you were, there was always a yearning for a mother. She was no different. And she did have memories of the woman who had been her best friend and motivator. Most of her recollections were sketchy, but she had memories of a round-faced, cheerful woman who had loved to bake and shower her children with affection. Ruby could almost feel the tightness of her mother’s hugs.

Her mother had passed on to her a love of the Christmas season. And now Ruby wanted to do something to pass on her family’s legacy so that Aidan could know his heritage. That’s where Kyle could be a big help. She was going to call him later today and invite him to Love for Christmas. Seeing how close Liam was to his siblings made her ache inside to strengthen her ties to her brother. And he could act as her living memory about their family traditions until those memories came back to her. Now, more than ever, she was optimistic about the bulk of her memories returning.

At the moment Ruby was sitting on the living room floor in front of the beautifully decorated tree, wrapping presents. Liam was right next to her, struggling with a tape dispenser and a roll of wrapping paper.

“Is there a secret to this?” Liam held up his hands. They were covered in tape.

Ruby chuckled and reached over to untangle him. “I take it that I used to do most of the wrapping?”

“Pretty much,” Liam acknowledged. “Not that I didn’t try, mind you, but you were way more talented at it than I was.”

“It’s okay. The true gift lies in the giving.” She winked at Liam. “You’ve still got a shot at winning in that area.”

Liam folded the wrapping paper and stuck the tape down. He held up the box. “It may not be the prettiest gift under the tree, but I stuck to it and I did it.”

Ruby clapped. “Nicely done, Liam.”

“I wanted to share something with you... My family has a Christmas tradition of going caroling a few days before Christmas. You used to love it. We go door to door, singing all types of Christmas songs.”

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