by J.P. Bowie
Christopher Fielding has no choice but to spend Christmas with his family in York, away from William MacPherson, the biology professor with whom he has fallen in love. Finding his sister Nan in some distress over her pregnancy, Christopher makes a wish that all will be well with her and the baby, and another that William, traveling by train to his family in Scotland will be safe from the blizzard raging over the countryside.
As Christmas Eve approaches, William’s train is stranded in snow drifts and Nan’s baby is about to arrive prematurely. Cut off by the weather from a doctor’s help, the family is in despair, and Christopher feels that his wishes may not be enough. Perhaps what they now need is nothing short of a miracle.
This excerpt is from when Christopher meets William for the first time.
“Fielding! Fielding, for pity’s sake, will you kindly get a move on? The best of the grub will have long gone if you don’t stop dawdling!”
Christopher ran the backs of his fingertips over the keys of the grand piano in a sharp, angry sounding glissando and closed the lid a little more loudly than he’d intended.
“You’ve been twiddling around on that thing for hours, Fielding.” Percy Sommers-Smythe, not at all put out by his friend’s obvious annoyance, regarded him from across the rehearsal hall. “Are you coming to luncheon or are you not?”
“Coming.” He stood, gathered up his music and strolled across the wooden floor with maddening nonchalance, grinning now at Percy’s impatience. “It wouldn’t do you a bit of harm if you missed a meal now and then,” he teased, pointing at Percy’s ample belly.
“How rude.” Percy sucked in the belly under scrutiny then turned his back on his friend. “I shall not speak to you—for at least thirty seconds.” They laughed together as they walked toward the dining hall. “Have you met the new biology professor yet? Mac something… Macpherson, I think he’s called. Something Scottish anyway.”
“No, I have not. A Scot, eh? I can never understand a word they say. All those ‘cannas’ and ‘dinnas’—and they call it English.”
“A bit high-handed of you, Fielding,” Percy remarked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes, I suppose it is. I’m a bit out of sorts today. That ‘twiddling’ you referred to earlier is a new piece I’m having the devil of a job finishing. I have the melody, but the underlying chords remain elusive. I want it to sound… different, I suppose.”
“I’m sure it will come to you, old chap. Ah…” Percy inhaled the aroma of some fragrant stew as they entered the dining hall. “Lancashire Hotpot, I do believe. One of my favourites.”
Christopher chuckled at his friend’s euphoric expression. “Along with every other dish in the Western hemisphere. I’ve yet to see you turn your nose up at any concoction from the kitchens.”
They took their assigned places at the table and Percy immediately ordered up two plates of his favourite dish without even asking his luncheon partner if that was what he wanted. Unaware and uninterested in what he would be presently served, Christopher looked around, acknowledging the nods and faint smiles of recognition from familiar faces. Then his eyes were suddenly riveted on a completely unfamiliar face. A face, the likes of which he had never before seen.
The man had everything every other man at the table had. Two eyes, a nose, a mouth… dear God, that mouth… a chin, perhaps firmer than most, hair a dark gold red, shoulders, wider than necessary, surely. Christopher found that he had almost stopped breathing and was only vaguely aware that Percy was saying something; was addressing the beautiful stranger.
“I say, you must be the new biology professor. Macpherson, is it?”
“Indeed. William Macpherson.” The beautiful stranger rose and inclined his head in a short formal bow. Then he raised his head and Christopher’s heart stopped along with his breathing.
Those eyes… of the deepest green… emerald pools to drown in…
“Percy Sommers-Smythe.” Percy held out his hand in greeting in his usual amiable fashion. “I’m the dreaded mathematics professor, and this fellow at my side is—” Percy was momentarily put off his stride when he saw the thunderstruck expression on his friend’s face. “Uh… is… uh—Fielding! What the devil’s the matter with you? Are you quite well?”
Christopher felt his face flood with a fiery heat. “Oh… yes…i-indeed,” he stammered. “Quite well. So sorry.” He extended his hand across the table. “Christopher Fielding, s-so happy to make your acquaintance, sir.” He almost swooned when warm, firm flesh enclosed his hand in a lingering grip.
“Very pleased to make your acquaintance, Professor Fielding.”
Christopher was close to collapsing back into his chair when his hand was finally released. Never, never before had another human being affected him in this way. He felt dizzy, nauseous, excited—terrified that another man’s touch could inflict such tumultuous sensations within him. And most embarrassing of all, he was so hard inside the confines of his trousers, he knew he could not stand up even if someone was to suddenly shout, “Fire!”