Sometimes real heroes lurk inside ordinary men.
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A lifetime of polite indifference is all Julianne Spencer sees when she envisions a future with her current suitor, Mr. Terrel Lee Parker. She is looking for someone more passionate, more heroic, who can love her for who she really is, and not the proper young lady she pretends to be. Her future seems hopeless until Christmas Eve, when fate drops a wounded outlaw at her door and she comes to realize true heroes can be found inside even ordinary men.
"I-I don’t hate you, Mr. Parker." In all her nineteen years, Julianne Spencer had never been so ashamed of her actions. She shifted uncomfortably, suddenly feeling as shy and awkward as Mr. Parker usually appeared.
His dark gaze searched her face for just a moment, as though judging her sincerity, then acknowledged her statement with a slight nod.
"I-I am so sorry for my part in that conversation you overheard. Those comments—what Maggie repeated—what I said—I didn’t really mean it. I was just…"
He nodded again.
"I accept your apology, Miss Julianne. And you needn’t worry. I’ll not impose myself on you again. Merry Christmas." Ever the southern gentleman, he politely touched his finger to his hat brim and stepped into the street.
"Mr. Parker, wait!" Anxiety gave her voice an edge rarely heard in her usual dulcet tones. He swung to face her, his brow arched in surprise.
"I wanted to say—that is— You’re a nice man. You have excellent manners. You never swear, or smoke, or drink. You dress well. You are polite and articulate. But after all these months of church socials, dances, and Sunday dinners, I-I’ve never seen you dirty."
"I beg your pardon?"
"I’ve never seen you dirty." Her shoulders rose and fell as she heaved a frustrated sigh. "I mean, I still don’t know your favorite food. I don’t know what makes you angry or how to make you laugh. And I don’t believe you know me any better.
"I can almost see the two of us, ten years down the road, still caught up in this cold relationship of polite indifference. I am sorry, Mr. Parker, but you deserve more than that, and so do I."