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Introduction:

Cold winds and horny hearts
(First verse) On top of old smoky; All covered with snow; I lost my true lover; By courtin’ too slow.

(Revised version) On top of old smoky; All covered in snow; I found my true lover; As the cold winds did blow.

On Top of Old Smoky

Eastern Kentucky Hills 1935

Melissa Merryman knew she was in trouble, perhaps deep, life-threatening, perilous trouble. Snowflakes had begun falling even before she’d left the train station. The old Model T Ford she’d bought was a sturdy, reliable vehicle, but M’lissy had never expected to be driving through an unpredicted, late-spring blizzard. She should have known better than to invoke the Lord’s wrath by traveling on Sunday. Here she was now with her ox literally stuck in a ditch!

Despite her hazardous predicament, M’lissy smiled and softly chuckled at the biblical irony. As a church orphanage survivor, this woman knew her bible frontward and backwards. She recalled the passage where Jesus said, “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and Brax not straightaway pull him out on the Sabbath day?”

The smile faded from M’lissy’s face as the severe reality of her dilemma hit home. Sunlight was dimming as the golden orb of the sun rapidly raced toward the western horizon. The temperature was plummeting to below the freezing mark. Blowing snow was already drifting nearly a foot deep on the single-lane dirt road she’d been traveling on. This rutted, rugged, ridge-top lane was the only direct passageway into Red Bird Valley and the nursing outpost she was intent on reaching today. M’lissy was to be the valley’s youngest and newest nurse.

As a city girl, M’lissy had underestimated the harsh realities of traveling into the backwoods Appalachian Mountains. Here, there were no well-paved roads and no road crews to maintain them. Yet, memory reminded her of the fact that many of this country’s highways and byways were suffering from neglect due to the economic miseries gripping the nation. Newspapers were calling these times The Great Depression.

M’lissy shivered. Cold, fear, and uncertainty threatened to bring tears to her eyes. Yet, this woman was young, strong, resilient, and not easily cowered by adversity. She’d seen and lived through more than her fair share of misfortune in her twenty-two years of life.

Never one to give up without a fight, M’lissy once more climbed out of the car and turned the hand crank in an attempt to start the engine. Nothing happened. The engine didn’t spark to life and even if it did she knew her tires were hopelessly stuck in a deep ditch.

Stubbornly, M’lissy turned the crank again and again. While working diligently, she bowed her head and prayed, “Dear Lord, I would if I could but I can’t. Please help me get my ox out of the ditch!”

***
Braxton Williams was getting a late start home. Too many town folks had wanted to shake his hand and pump him for news and gossip about the goings-on up in Red Bird Valley. Ordinarily, a sheriff wouldn’t be one to participate in gossipin’ and carrying-on tales. Yet, in many ways, Brax wasn’t what one would call an ordinary man.

Born and raised in backwoods hills of Kentucky, Brax was called to the law in an unusual way. By falsifying his age, he was able to run away from home and join the Army. Unfortunately, the young soldier found himself embroiled in armed combat while his unit was stationed in the Philippines Islands. Becoming an expert marksman, many an enemy combatant fell at his hand.
Ribbons for valor and bravery soon adorned his chest. A wound finally slowed him down.

While recuperating at a veteran’s hospital, Brax’s rough-going nature and quick-witted humor made him a favorite with both patients and staff. He became especially adept at comforting and consoling sick and wounded comrades. When enemy insurgents attacked the clinic, Brax’s .45 caliber pistol and his Thompson’s machine gun saved dozens of his wounded friends. At the same time, the heavy slugs from his weapons ripped through enemy flesh and sent combative souls to Hell.

Brax made a full recovery from his wounds and found himself promoted to the rank of an officer and a gentleman. As a military policeman, Brax proved his leadership abilities by leading a company of men assigned to the protection of the base headquarters.

After his stint in the Army and a few years studying criminal justice at a university, Brax returned to the hills of home and assumed the duties of Sheriff in the Red Bird Valley community. For three years now, he’d faithfully served as the sole lawman in the valley. At the age of twenty-six, this hero lawman was beloved and respected by country folks and town folks alike.

Brax was finally able to pry himself from the grasps of well-wishers and exit the big Clay County general store. His truck was heavily laden with mail and supplies destined for Red Bird Valley. This trucking lawman stepped on the starter and the throaty roar of a powerful engine came to life. Without any muffler to dampen its sound, the muscular motor growled menacingly.

Snow had started falling and Brax knew what this would mean for the journey ahead. He pulled over at the LAST CHANCE service station, filled his two gas tanks to the brim, and let two friends help him put chains on all four wheels. Like its driver, this truck had no ordinary life. Born with the capabilities of four-wheel-drive, this ex-military vehicle could go where other automobiles would fear to tread. Brax had affectionately named the truck The Ridge Runner.

After pulling out onto Red Bird Road, Brax saw the tracks of a car that had left town not long before he did. He silently prayed for the safety of its occupants. He knew they would certainly need heaven’s help if this weather worsened.

***
The weather was worsening. M’lissy felt the threatening, cold bite of bitter wind gusts coming in from the north. She snuggled deeper into the heavy, woolen Navy pee-coat she was wearing. Her arm turned the starter crank one more time. She prayed.

So attuned to her task and her prayer, was she, that a distant rumbling sound went unnoticed. Yet, deep in the subconscious recesses of her worried mind, a silent voice begged her to open her ears and listen. At last, she heard the unfamiliar noise.

M’lissy’s legs trembled as the sound came closer and the threatening tone intensified. She’d heard stories told about the mysterious people and animals inhabiting the hills and hollers of this place called the Great Smoky Mountains. Which stories were true and which were not, she didn’t know. Her city-girl fear and curiosity questioned aloud, “Was this some form of mountainous monster which preyed on unwary wayfarers? Is it coming for me?”

By its ominous sound, the beast was near enough to pounce and hungrily devour its prey. Through a foggy haze of blowing snow, M’lissy’s eyes peered warily. Clarity of consciousness hit the young woman as sharply as the dinging dong of a gong striking a church bell on Sunday. She screamed elatedly, “Why, it’s a car!”

M’lissy’s fears were immediately expelled. She leapt to her feet, ran out into the road, and began waving her arms frantically. Words of praise and thanksgiving were blurted aloud, “Thanks for the blessings of answered prayer. I’m so thankful for sending this rescuer to me!”

Rescuer…? Perhaps so, or was this vehicle sent to send her soul straight to its heavenly home? The advancing automobile was not stopping. Why, it was not even slowing down!

Fear returned. M’lissy’s legs were rooted in place. She couldn’t flee. To no avail, she begged her mind to allow her to jump out of the middle of the roadway. Her eyes closed tightly and her body steeled itself for the inevitable impact of hardened metal striking defenseless human flesh.

***
Brax Williams’s peering eyes strained to see through the misty blur of wind-blown snow clouding his windshield. He was not driving fast, but he was determinedly forging ahead on the treacherous road. Snow or not, the man knew this ridge-road’s path and needed no markers or maps to guide him.

A faint, waving movement just ahead captured Brax’s attention. Almost too late, his bewildered mind recognized a figure standing smack-dab in the middle of the ridge-top roadway!

An instinctive response propelled his actions. His booted foot hit the brakes and his gloved hands jerked the steering wheel around. The heavy- laden truck skidded and scooted sideways in the road.

Evasive action had been taken to avoid hitting the unexpected pedestrian, but a sickening thud let the driver know his efforts had not been successful. The skidding truck had struck the person!

A startling jolt brought the unmanageable vehicle to a sudden halt. Brax had braced himself as the truck impacted a tall, thick-trunked, mountain pine tree. The majestic evergreen had saved his life.

Brax’s eyes focused at the sight just beyond the tree. Here, the roadway traversed a sheer drop-off which led to a cavernous canyon below. If not for the sturdy, forested obstacle, the truck and its passenger would have plunged head-over-heels into the abyss. As it was, the vehicle sat precariously close to the edge of the chasm.

Putting the gearbox in reverse, Brax slowly backed the truck away from its dangerous perch. He prayed that his vehicle would not run over the person he’d hit, but he knew it would do neither of them any good if he did not regain a more-stable footing on the hilltop road.

Brax Williams was a roughhewn, hot-tempered man. He could count the number of occasions when his temper had been inflamed to ire with the fingers on one hand multiplied scores of times over. Now, he was going to have to count using the fingers on the other. His fearful encounter with the possibility of sudden death had passed. In its place, an unreasonable fury arose.

This man cursed. He’d heard cursing aplenty when he was a military man. He opened the door to his truck, jumped out, and strode to the prone figure lying in the snow. Without meaning for his words to be spoken out loud, he irately said, “What kind of dang-fool stands in the middle of the road just waiting to get run over?”

Surprisingly, the snow-clad figure turned over and sat erect. Melissa Merryman’s own ire had been awakened. With a tinge of unbridled indignation in her voice, she answered, “Mister, I’m no more of a dang-fool than a man who would speed along a mountainous road unmindful of stranded wayfarers waiting for help!”

Brax staggered back when he heard the ferocity of the feminine voice. Feminine voice…? Why yes, the voice was undeniably that of a female girl or a woman! The voice was the only indication of her gender. Her body was covered head-to-toe in heavy, woolen winter wear.

In the next two seconds, Brax’s eyes absorbed the sights before him. Despite the windblown snow, he saw the car in a ditch. There was no evidence of any other passengers. Curiosity compelled him to question, “Are you the driver of that old Tin Lizzie stuck in the ditch? Why, females don’t drive cars! Where’s your man?”

M’lissy’s mother had been Irish. From her mother, this young woman had inherited red hair along with a fiery temper. Temperamental outbursts could be inflamed with a single innocent spark. A deliberate insult would most certainly offer sufficient fire to ignite an explosive eruption. Infuriated words burst from this offended woman’s mouth, “Mister, women most certainly do drive cars! Why, I’m a woman and I’ve been driving for years! And Sir, I don’t have a man, I don’t need a man, and I don’t want a man!”

Before Brax could defend himself, M’lissy’s tirade continued, “Sir, if I were a man who had just ran down a stranger with a vehicle, I believe I might inquire as to whether or not the person might have sustained an injury!”

Properly chastised and berated, Brax took no offense. Instead, his natural, rough-natured humor asserted itself. A chuckled turned into a fit of laughter. This woman had spunk. He liked this quality in a woman. Taking charge of his untamed merriment, he belatedly inquired, “Alright Miss, I’ll ask. Are you hurt? I won’t admit fault because you were standing in the road, but I surely do hope you’re not injured badly!”

Instead of immediately answering, M’lissy bounded to her feet and began to briskly brush snow from her clothing. Her efforts were becoming an exercise in futility. As quickly as the snow was removed, it was replaced by a pristine layer of new-fallen white, flaky precipitation. Finally, she gave up, looked up, and answered, “I don’t think I’m hurt very much. The wind was knocked out of me. What bothers me most is that I’m freezing to death! If I don’t get out of this cold pretty soon, I’m going to become an icicle!”

Brax’s protective instincts took charge. He spoke in a no-nonsense voice which demanded unchallenged obedience, “Get what you need from your car and come climb into my truck. I’ll take you down to Red Bird Valley.”

Without hesitation, M’lissy ran and grabbed her suitcases and medical kits. Brax had not expected the woman to have such a big load, but he made room for it in the cargo bed of his truck.

M’lissy’s eyes took one last look at her vehicle in the ditch. Without stopping to pick and choose her words, she blurted out, “What about my ox…I mean my car? I can’t go off and just leave it stuck here in the ditch! I prayed for God to help me get it out.”

With his obedience challenged, Brax’s words came out firmly, “Forget about your ox in the ditch! I believe God is more concerned with protecting your life than saving your ox! Now, do as I said and get in my truck!”

Despite M’lissy’s heavy clothing, she was shaking and shivering from the cold. Brax had seen people with the chilblains before and he knew this woman was approaching the first stages of this condition. The unseasonably cold weather bore the brunt of the responsibility for her predicament. The frigid wind had picked up in strength. The temperature was well below the freezing mark. Snow was blowing more fiercely.

Brax opened up the driver’s door to his truck. He took the woman’s hand to help her step in. Yet, that first step was a tall one. This vehicle was built for work not comfort. She was not a tall lady. In fact, she was short and petite with legs not long enough to reach the step. She struggled. While she took a handhold on the steering wheel, Brax put both his hands on her backside and pushed her up.

It was not her back his hands actually touched. His hands found a hold at a location a little lower on a female’s anatomy. In spite of the multiple layers of clothing, a shapely, rounded derriere had presented itself. Normally, this was a place strictly reserved only for the touch of a female’s husband.

Brax had no idea as whether this woman was married or not. It would not have made a difference. Shapely derrieres don’t fall into his hands every day. Knowing that what he was about to do was highly inappropriate; he did it anyway. While holding this young woman’s ass in his hands, he squeezed, he pinched, and he massaged.

Bitter cold and a protesting woman ended the impropriates. Finally, the female was thrust up into the truck seat. Brax was tired of standing in the cold blustery wind and snow. He’d done what was necessary to get his passenger into the truck. He did have one simple, silent thought, “God forgive me, but to the Devil with the proprieties!”

His passenger and he had quite a difference of opinion about proprieties. M’lissy’s Irish temper burst into flame and fire danced in her eyes. As the man settled into his seat and closed the door, she assaulted him with virulent words, “How dare you put your hands on me like that! I’ve never been touched like that before! Don’t you dare to even think about touching me again! I’ll…I’ll tell God and have him unleash his holy wrath on you!”

Surprisingly, Brax began laughing. When he stopped, he looked toward her, shook his head, and laughed again. He saw her just sitting there with her mouth opened in astonishment. She did not speak. At least he had shut her up.

Finally, he stopped laughing and spoke, “Well, Lady that was quite a speech. Maybe now I can make one of my own. I figure you must not be married if you haven’t been touched like that. If you had a husband, I believe you would threaten me with his wrath and not God’s. I think maybe I’d pity the poor fella that had to live with your temperament.”

M’lissy gathered her breath to respond but he didn’t let her. Instead, he continued his speech, “Now, as your threat to tell God. Woman, that doesn’t scare me in the least bit! The Lord and I have been fussin’ and fightin’ over moralities ever since I saw the inhumanities of war.”

M’lissy sat dumfounded and speechless. No man had treated her like this or spoken to her in such a manner before. She wanted to lash out with a maddening response. She could let him have the full fury of her Irish temperament! She most certainly could! She most surely should! And, she most definitely would! But, she didn’t. She didn’t speak at all. Instead, she found her body contradicting her thoughts. Her nipples were hardening and a wetness was moisturizing her vagina. Serendipitously, her eyes glanced at the infuriating man’s groin. She blushed when she saw that the man had a huge bulge straining at the fabric covering his crotch.

Brax stepped on the truck’s accelerator. The engine responded with a deep, husky roar. He put the gearbox in first gear and the vehicle clawed its way forward. The engine and gearbox were built for power. This truck would have no place on a race track, yet it had no equal on a treacherous road.

The hazardous mountain roadway passed behind them. M’lissy was surprised. She had never known an automobile could safely travel on a dangerous road like this. Her car had slipped into the ditch when only an inch of snow covered the ground. Yet, this man’s truck was easily maneuvering its way through more than a foot of the same slick, slippery substance. To top it off, more snowflakes were falling and adding additional depth. Without a single slip or misstep, the powerful vehicle was continuing its forward motion.

A sudden thought came to M’lissy’s mind. It had been growing without her conscious knowledge. This thought was filled with questions which were silently being asked inside her head, “Why did the man take his heavy coat off when he got in and closed the truck’s door? Didn’t he know the temperature was below freezing? Yet, why was it not that cold in here? Why am I not cold? In fact, why am I smothering inside my heavy winter wear?”

M’lissy was angry at the man. He had called her a dang-fool and was treating her as such. Why, she wasn’t going to stand for it! Her mouth closed and she pouted with exasperated frustration. She didn’t dare speak to him. She would never speak to him again as long as she lived! She just wouldn’t! Never, ever would she! No she wouldn’t! But, she did.

Reluctantly, M’lissy mind acknowledged several facts about herself. She was headstrong, stubborn, and possessed a fiery temper. But, she also had a vivid, undeniable curiosity. She hated mysteries and unanswered questions. Begrudgingly, she broke her vow of self-imposed silence. She didn’t dare look toward the insulting man, yet she asked “Why is it so warm in here? It’s freezing cold outside! The wind and snow are dreadful!”

Brax wanted to laugh, but he didn’t. He admired the woman’s spunk. He could feel the seething anger buried beneath her words. He also understood the curiosity which had summoned forth the question. At least she had the courage to put her anger aside long enough to speak her mind.

Yet, Brax just couldn’t resist throwing out a mischievous, teasing remark. This was a man who enjoyed engaging in frivolous banter with persons of the opposite sex. He answered her question with just three words, “Its magic heat!”

Apparently, this was not a satisfactory answer. The woman bristled up again. Her temper was barely concealed as she sternly responded, “Mister, I wasn’t born yesterday and I’m not as much of a dang-fool woman as you have implied! I know there is no such thing as magic heat. Now, if you don’t want to give me a straight answer, then don’t! But, if you have one that makes sense, then I’d listen.”

Brax again looked at the woman with admiration. She definitely did have courage in abundance. She stood up to him with energetic vigor. She didn’t clam-up, pout, or sulk and she didn’t retreat into the feminine refuge of sullen silence. She indicated a willingness to listen to a reasonable answer.

So, he gave her one. When he started, it became a long, rambling speech, “Three years ago it was wintertime and bitterly cold. I picked this truck up at the Army Depot in New York City. There, I met a young mechanic who was tinkering on another truck. We got into a talk about the weather. I told him about how cold it often got out here in the hills. I said I’d probably freeze to death before I got home. He told me he could fix me a heater in the truck. Now, I never heard of such a thing, but I let him have at it. He scrounged around and came up with some metal tubing and some rubberized hoses. Before I knew what he was doing, he had run the tubing and hoses into and out of the motor and radiator and then he ran them into the cab of this truck. He mounted a coil of copper tubing in a box housing here under the dashboard. He ran a belt off the motor which turns a fan inside the box. When he started the motor, the hot water coming from the engine and radiator started flowing through those coils. Soon, the fan started blowing out warm air.”

Brax stopped to take a breath, but then continued, “I was amazed and awestruck by the young mechanic’s inventiveness. I couldn’t believe how warm the air temperature was. It was truly like magic. So, Lady, I suppose I wasn’t too far off the truth when I told you the heat you feel is magic heat.”

This man had one more thought about the subject and voiced it aloud, “It is below freezing outside but I’d guess it’s probably sixty degrees or more inside this truck. I’d say that’s pretty magical!”

Brax had no more to say about the heat. His long rambling speech had accomplished two feats. It had quieted the woman’s voice and had diminished her quick-tempered anger.

Yet, M’lissy’s quietness was short-lived. She just had to speak. Surprisingly, her voice had no hint of anger or hot temperament in it. She spoke softly, “Well, magic heat or not, I’m smothering in all these winter clothes. I’ve got to come out of some of them.”

Shockingly, that’s just what she did! Brax looked on in amazement. The late afternoon sun was well on its way toward setting beyond the towering peaks on the western horizon. His truck was headed in the same general direction. Brilliant sunbeams streamed through the windshield and cast a golden glow within the cab.

Brax’s eyes were transfixed by the sights they were seeing. The woman began by pulling a heavy woolen hat from her head. The hat had been holding hostage a mane of sparkling red hair. Now freed from their captivity, these fiery locks were released in a shower of wildly flying curls. Wave after wave cascaded from their woolen prison. She tossed her head side-to-side and ran the fingers of both hands through the unrestrained strands. Afternoon sunbeams were captured within these flying tresses where they were magnified and then expelled in a rainbow display of radiant reflections.

Awestruck fascination took control. Brax was enthralled by the revolving prism of lights. The cab of the truck was ablaze with red, yellow, and gold. Each sparkling hue competed for supremacy and glory. His eyes beheld every magnetic color. Each mirrored shade was absorbed deep within his mind. Inexplicably, the multicolored illuminations had warmth. For some mysterious reason, this man felt the heat invading his heart.

The dizzying sights caused Brax’s mind to race with astonishing wonderment. He had no control over the thoughts which fought within his head. Finally, one thought gained dominance and expressed itself silently, “With that head-full of red hair, no wonder she has a fiery temperament!”

Attempts were being made within Brax’s racing mind to become adjusted to the sights before him. Yet, the woman’s next move presented the most astoundingly amazing and startlingly unexpected shock his mind could ever have imagined.

Brax had not seen her face. Until he saw her hair, he knew her gender only from the sound of a feminine voice. He knew not her age, he had not even thought about it. Her face was half-covered with a heavy, woolen neck scarf which was encircled around and around her neck.

The scarf was now being unwound. The woman’s hand had grabbed one end and began circling her head. As each circle passed her hair, those wild tresses were sent flying again. More rainbow showers assaulted his eyes and filled the truck with glowing radiance.

When the last circle was complete, she pulled the scarf free and tossed it at her feet. Her fingers again ran through her hair to untangle wayward strands. She then turned her face toward the driver of the heated vehicle.

Braxton Tyler Williams had several astounding facts presented to his brain for thought and digestion. His eyes told his mind about the things they saw. The woman was not what one would call a raving beauty. Yet, this man’s eyes were mesmerized by a hypnotically alluring feminine prettiness. Why, she wasn’t all that hard to look at all! As a matter of fact, she was stunningly attractive! Her eyes shone with a sparkling, dazzling emerald glow. Her face was lightly tanned, most likely from winter wind and sun. The wildly flying red hair made a perfect frame for the face and eyes. She was literally pretty as a picture.

If indeed the old saying about beauty being in the eye of the beholder is true, then Brax’s eyes were beholding the most beautiful sight they’d ever seen! This mountain lawman depended upon his own good sense for guidance and instruction into how to live. Never once had he become so tempted by fate and the beauty of a woman. Had the love bug struck? Incredibly, he didn’t even know this particular feminine bug’s name!

M’lissy was not unaware of the visual inspection the driver of the truck was giving her. Feminine instinct made her awareness impossible to ignore. She was unsure of what to do about it. Never before had she faced such a situation as this. She’d never been alone in a vehicle with a man. Why, she’d never even been in a house or a home alone with a man! Good girls don’t allow themselves to be put into these highly compromising situations! Silent prayers went out heaven, “Please God forgive, watch over, and keep me safe.”

God must have been having more important things to do this day. M’lissy felt a rough, long-fingered hand surrounding her slender neck. A persistent tug brought her head face-to-face with her male companion. Manly lips begged for and were awarded soft, feminine kisses. Ardent kisses were exchanged while the mountain truck sat idling.

Even though she’d removed her hat and scarf, M’lissy was still stiflingly hot. She began removing other garments. Her heavy Navy coat was the first to go. These coats are made of thick wool and do a fine job of keeping the cold out. But, they can smother you when you get inside where it is warm.

Under the coat she had on a thick, shapeless sweater and a long, blue, ankle-length dress. The starched, wide-lapelled collar of a woman’s neckline peeked out from the top of the sweater. The dress and its collar were the only pieces of feminine attire in evidence to the eye of the man sitting next to her. As far as Brax’s eyes were concerned, the sight of the dress was not necessary as an indication of her gender. Her face, her hair, and even her voice gave ample verification of her femininity.

After removing her sweater, M’lissy ignored the prying eyes of the man beside her and looked out through the truck’s windshield. Her only acknowledgement of his gaze were her subdued, softly spoken words, “Please stop looking at me and concentrate instead on the road ahead. It seems to me like the weather is getting worse.”

Indeed the weather was worsening. The snowstorm had intensified and was now raging relentlessly. Its fury assaulted the powerful truck. This study vehicle would not meekly surrender to the storm’s wrath. With each revolution of its four-wheeled, chain-encircled tires a victorious conquest was achieved. Mile after mile of dangerous roadway was conquered.

Nature proved to be an unyielding combatant. With less than three miles to go before reaching Red Bird Valley, the storm launched a massive offensive. Winds howled ferociously. Trees swished, swayed, and bent to touch the ground. The road became impassable.

Reluctantly, Brax applied the brakes. The overcast sky had lost its light. The sun’s golden glow was disappearing over the western mountains. If not for the darkness, he may have attempted to continue traversing the razorback ridgeline he traveled upon. Without the light of day, it would be a risky, reckless, foolhardy maneuver.

With daylight now only a memory, Brax turned to his passenger. He would not openly admit defeat, but fear tinged his voice, “We’re going to have to wait out this weather. I don’t know how long the storm will rage. I have enough gasoline so we can sit right here and wait all night if need be. But, if worse comes and if this engine quits, we will loose the heater. We will freeze without heated shelter!”

Both occupants of the brawny, well-built truck sat in unspoken silence. The motor’s steady hum offered reassuring comfort. Yet, a distressing question was silently asked inside each inquiring mind, “Would it run until morning?”

Brax broke the silence. He snapped his fingers and spoke hopefully, “Hey woman, I just happen to know where we can find shelter! Why there’s a sturdy log cabin not far from here with a good fireplace! The place is secluded, forlorn, and abandoned, but I believe I can find it.

Without uttering another word, Brax put the truck in gear and turned around in the road. He flipped a dashboard switch and the headlights came on. Two brilliant beams pierced the darkness and illuminated the snow-covered landscape ahead. With squinted, peering eyes he searched for an opening in the trees. He found it and turned into a darkened, narrow lane. The truck’s lights revealed a small clearing just ahead. A lone cabin occupied the center-stage spot.

Reluctantly, Brax turned the key and the robust sound of the truck’s motor died. The headlights went out. Darkness regained control of the night. The silent vehicle’s passengers sat in deep, impenetrable blackness.

Just before the truck’s lights went out, M’lissy saw the man reach beneath his seat. He pulled out a foot-long, cylindrical tube with a wide, glass lens at one end. With her ears attuned to any hint of a sound, she heard a click. She jumped in startled amazement as the device in the man’s hand emitted a brilliant beam of concentrated light. Curiosity begged her to question, “What is that? And mister, don’t you dare say its magic-light!”

The woman stole the words right out of Brax’s mouth. He’d been primed and ready to say them. This man had developed an undeniable, unexplainable infatuation with this redheaded female. He liked teasing her. He liked to incite her temperamental tantrums.

Brax tilted the beam so its light illuminated a pretty, winter-tanned, feminine face. With a twinkle in his voice, he gave an answer to her question, “This is a flashlight. Its power comes from self-contained batteries. The light bulbs in the originals models flashed brightly and then burned out. But, the manufacturer of this model guarantees this flashlight’s bulb and batteries will be ever-ready when called upon.”

Irresistible impulses drove Brax to lean closer to the woman and whisper endearingly, “As to magic, well young Miss, this may not be a magical-light, but this is turning out to be a magical-night! Never in my wildest dreams did I suspect I would come across a fiery, redheaded firecracker of a woman stranded on the roadside! I never expected my heart to leap so excitedly in her presence. You may think of me as a godless rogue, but I’ve never been so horny in my life! My cock is about to bust my britches!”

There in the concentrated beam of a flashlight, M’lissy found herself smiling. Her oval-shaped mouth grinned with unexpected giddiness and her face was burning with the heat of a quickly-spreading blush. Her mind rebelled and asked her to tame her feelings. Instead of assenting to this request, her head asked silent questions, “Why am I feeling like this with a man I’ve just met? Why is my own heart beating so rapidly inside my chest? Why is my vagina wet enough to accept a man’s…a man’s…cock?”

Proximity, opportunity, and irresistibility bedeviled Brax’s brain. Citing mysterious ways as the bedeviling force leading him on, this man leaned closer to a winter-tanned face and softly kissed the flawless, soft skin of a feminine cheek. Hands unbuttoned several bodice buttons and slipped inside. Cloth-covered breasts swelled at a man’s touch.

Astonished at the brazen boldness of the man, M’lissy turned her head to give stern admonishment. Too late, she realized her mistake. The warm lips touching her cheek slipped around her face and settled against her own. The man’s lips kissed hers. With her buttons loosened, several inches of her slender neck became exposed. Her flesh was assaulted with kissing lips.

Propriety, good-old common sense, and feminine instinct beseeched this woman to pull away and slap this boldly audacious man’s face. Yet, M’lissy didn’t pull away nor did she strike any part of the man’s anatomy. Propriety was forgotten. Common sense was ignored. Feminine instinct betrayed her. Or, did it?

Despite Melissa Merryman’s adamant mental protests, she found herself unwilling to resist an impassioned response. Shockingly, her lips pressed against those kissing hers! She kissed him, too.

Winter winds and blowing snow were forgotten as two hearts melted into one. Tight embraces and ardent kisses dominated time and space. Why this was happening at this time and place, neither this man nor this woman could have explained. Perhaps God in his heaven knew why, but if so, he was keeping the answer to himself.

Mother Nature’s wintertime fury could not long be denied. She shook the sturdy truck with a vicious blast of artic wind which must have sped across the cold Canadian border without even stopping to ask for directions. Brax and M’lissy were awakened from their amorous reverie.

The truck’s passengers slipped their winter wear back on. Brax grabbed a rucksack from the bed of the truck. With the flashlight’s beam leading the way, he grabbed the woman’s hand and together they made a mad dash for the cabin. He allowed the beam of light to linger for a second on an old thermometer hanging outside the door. It read 10 degrees.

Brax unlocked the cabin’s door, threw it open, and quickly shut it behind the two frantic fugitives fleeing nature’s wrath. Nature’s mother followed the twosome and relentlessly beat at the door. The furies raged to no avail. The two had reached safety.

This cabin could hold a claim to fame as a structure well-suited for permanent lodging. Built by skilled mountain craftsmen, the walls were hand-hewn logs a full-foot thick. The floor and roof were made of heavy beams. A tall fieldstone fireplace could provide ample heat for the twenty-foot by twenty-foot single room.

Brax dropped his rucksack on the floor and let go of the woman’s hand. He knelt before the fireplace and quickly built a fire. Flames flared up offering welcoming heat and light. The stone-enclosed fire pit beckoned to the two visitors inviting them to come closer and feel its warmth. Neither of them resisted the summoning call. They stood in front of the fire with outstretched hands. Just to prove they could, the flames blazed higher and brighter.

The firelight’s glow bathed the room with warm illumination. Two pairs of eyes made a visual inspection. With the eyes of remembrance, Brax gazed at an old, familiar setting. M’lissy’s eyes had never beheld the sight. This cozy cabin had been a home and refuge for a lonely, widowed woman for many years. After her passing last year, the structure had remained abandoned.

M’lissy studied the feminine room. A small, sturdy table with four chairs sat at the side. A tall, four-poster bed and an ornate mahogany wardrobe sat against the opposite wall. An old, well-worn sideboard did duty as a catch-all counter for cooking utensils, pots, and pans. Thick, braided rugs covered the floor and dainty, lace curtains adorned the two small windows. An upright piano occupied a hallowed space in one corner of the room.

Martha Becker had prided herself on her piano playing skills. She’d served the Red Bird Valley church as its pianist for nearly four decades. Her comforting hymnal melodies were sorely missed when Brax presided over her funeral. Known as Mother Martha by most people, the woman was called Grammy by her grandson Brax.

M’lissy’s voice rang with reverence, curiosity, and apprehension, “Oh my, this is a beautiful place. But Sir, how long must we stay here? We can’t stay…we mustn’t stay all night! Oh my goodness, I can’t…I mustn’t spend a night alone in a house with a man!”

The man didn’t answer. He was staring intently at the neckline of the woman’s navy blue dress. The room had become warm enough so that coats and sweaters had been removed. For the first time, Brax noticed the lapel pin affixed to the woman’s collar. He’d seen many pins just like it while a patient in the veteran’s hospital. The insignia indicated that this woman was a nurse.

Dark blue dress…? Nurse’s lapel pin…? This couldn’t be…this isn’t…? Brax’s voice boomed, “Dear me, oh my, Woman are you Miss Merryman? Are you the nurse the Frontier Nursing Service is sending to the Red Bird nursing outpost?”

M’lissy wondered why the man was so perplexed. So what if she was the nurse in question? Why should this fact astound him? And, just who was he to be questioning her? Puzzled, she shrugged her shoulders and answered, “Yes, I’m Melissa Merryman. When I was young, my teachers got tired of calling me Miss Melissa, so I picked up the name of M’lissy. Who are you?”

Dumbstruck, Brax couldn’t speak. He slumped into a chair at the table. His mind was racing a mile a minute. Why, unimaginable as it was, he’d been kissing the nurse he’d been corresponding with for weeks!

As a health professional, M’lissy recognized shock when she saw it. The man’s face had drained of blood. His ashen pallor was an indication of impending faintness. She’d never actually seen a man faint before, but the one before her seemed to be near that point.

Instinctive nature guided M’lissy’s actions. She took a seat at the table and took one of the man’s hands in hers. She briskly rubbed the hand in an attempt to stimulate blood flow. In a soothing, comforting voice, she asked, “Sir, are you alright? Please calm down and tell me what’s wrong. Can you do that for me?”

The woman’s nursing ministrations worked. Brax’s senses began reviving. Unconsciously, his free hand covered his comforter’s hand. Words spilled from his mouth, “M’lissy, I’ll be alright now. I thought I didn’t know you, but I do. I just didn’t expect you to be so young and pretty. I guess I never did ask you about your age and you never mentioned it in any of your letters.”

A perplexing frown took residence on M’lissy’s face. It was now her turn to be dumbstruck. Stubbornly determined to get to the bottom of this man’s mysterious ramblings, she sternly inquired, “What letters? Why Mister, I have no idea in this world who you are! Therefore, I have most certainly never written you a letter!”

M’lissy wasn’t yet finished. One question remained. She steeled her nerves and asked it, “Sir, I appreciate that you’ve most likely saved my life today. But, who are you?”

Brax’s answering voice reverberated throughout the room, “M’lissy, I’m Brax Williams. You’ve been calling me Sheriff Brax in our letters and correspondence. I’m the one who asked Mary Breckinridge at the Frontier Nursing Service headquarters in Wendover to recommend a nurse for our community. She sent me your name. M’lissy, I’ve been trying to get you to come up here for two weeks! Why didn’t you let me know you were coming?”

M’lissy sat back with confounding bewilderment plastered on her face. Faint-headedness threatened her mental faculties. Through a haze of bafflement, she answered, “But Sir, you can’t be the Sheriff Brax I’ve been writing to! The man I wrote to is much older and more mature than you are. The man I’ve been corresponding with wouldn’t. . .wouldn’t take advantage of a stranded wayfaring stranger in a way you have. No sheriff or lawman would. . .would kiss a woman he’d only just met!”

Brax’s responding words tittered with merry mischievousness, “Miss Merryman, if I recall correctly, I believe you kissed me, too! Now, I was led to believe the nurse I was sending for was a woman of high morality and spiritual strength. I most assuredly wouldn’t question the fact that you have these honorable traits. Therefore, I must conclude, if it’s permissible for you to kiss me, then it’s permissible for me to kiss you!”

A vivid, red-faced blush raced from M’lissy’s heart and covered her neck and face. At first, her mind considered responding to the man’s teasing reprimand with an outburst of temperamental fury. Yet, on second thought, temper was set aside and a smile took its place.

Despite M’lissy’s resolute efforts to prevent it, the smile widened and gales of laughter pealed from her mouth. She covered her face with her hands, yet she couldn’t still the uncontrollable mirth which had stolen her senses. Her body shook with irrepressible amusement.

This young woman’s infectious merriment was contagious. Brax’s close proximity to the carrier caused him to catch it. He too lost control and allowed his own fits of laughter to join with M’lissy’s in a rhythmic chorus of harmonious glee.

When at last the spirited gaiety subsided, Brax reached a hand across the table in a gesture of introduction. A bit of mischief still tinged his voice, “Hello Ma’am, I don’t believe we’ve been formally acquainted. I’m Braxton Tyler Williams. I’m the sheriff in the Red Bird Valley. And, you are…?”

Surprising herself, M’lissy played along. Her hand shot across the table and firmly gripped Brax’s outstretched hand. Her voice sang giddily, “Hello Sir. I’m Melissa Mae Merryman. I’m the new nurse for the Red Bird Valley nursing outpost. Glad to meet you, Sir.”

Teasingly, Brax refused to relinquish the hand he held. He devilishly winked at the woman attached to the hand and lightheartedly whispered, “Miss M’lissy Mae, now that we’ve been formally introduced, don’t you think the proprieties of kissing are no longer in question? How about we try it again?”

Brax’s muscular hands wrapped around the waist of the extraordinarily feminine woman. He tugged a little more forcefully than he’d intended, but he plopped her ass into his lap. The woman nearly lost her balance as she fell forward. Just in time, she caught herself.

Good sense told M’lissy to resist temptation. Yet, this was the same good sense she’d ignored when she gave in to undeniable impulses while sitting in this man’s truck. She’d given in then and had gotten kissed because of her weakness. Well, she wasn’t going to give in again! Was she? Why, she could confront and ignore the hypnotic power this man had over her feminine inhibitions! Couldn’t she?

Apparently, she couldn’t. Once again, reticent inhibitions were disregarded. This woman’s lips were again pressed against a man’s. If this was forbidden wickedness, then she didn’t care! Oh, but yes, she did! She was in absolute fact a good girl! Why, she’d never once been kissed before today! No man had ever touched her breasts! Yet, at this very moment masculine hands were unbuttoning her bodice. They pushed aside her thin camisole and, one at a time, were lifting, groping, and playing with her mammary fruit.

Brax found a way to extricate each rounded orb from within M’lissy’s dress. Hungrily, his lips kissed each inch of flesh on their way to encircling the mounds. Elatedly, he suckled each nipple until their pinkness became red.

M’lissy gave Brax one last adoring kiss and then abruptly pulled away. She stood and walked to the fireplace. She busied herself with stirring up the embers and adding more wood. Guilt threatened her composure. Yet, the woman made no effort to re-button her dress.

Brax lit a kerosene lamp and sat it in the center of the table. He dug into his bottomless rucksack and pulled out tins of food and coffee. He built a fire in the old cast iron kitchen stove, heated his eatable bounty, and set the table. With very few words, he spoke to the woman he’d recently kissed, “Hey, you’d better come and eat. It’s going to be a long, cold night.”

The two ate in silence, each lost in a world of quiet remembrance. Each began recalling words written and received over the last few weeks. The accumulation of information given and received was staggering. Through written messages, the two had poured out their hearts and souls to unknown strangers.

M’lissy’s recalled memories told her about the mountain lawman’s birth and youthful years in these Appalachian hills and forests. The search for adventure had carried him far from home and had taken him to war. A calling to serve the law had given his life new direction. After a few years of higher education, he’d answered his hometown’s call to come home and serve his home and hills as sheriff. The man had confessed to not yet finding a woman to share his love for his hills and his home.

Tears threatened to stain M’lissy’s eyes as she now put a face with the memories. She had to admit to being smitten with the unknown letter writer without ever meeting him. She had half-heartedly fallen in love with the man in the letters. Now that she’d met him face to face, she had unquestionably fallen victim to the spell of his masculine magnetism. The feelings of affection his letters had induced were now intensified. Her heart was enlightening her with the fact that her feelings for him were no longer half-hearted. Implausible as it was, she was falling head-over-heels in love!

Brax’s recalled memories told to him of the story of a woman seeking a new life and a home to call her own. The great influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 had orphaned the child at a young age. With no other family, she’d been raised in a church orphanage. Long years of despair and loneliness followed. Her only comforting solace was the uncertain faith in God instilled in her by her minister and teachers. With guidance, she’d excelled in school and had received a nursing scholarship. Trained in children’s healthcare and midwifery, she’d become the perfect candidate for the fledgling Frontier Nursing Service founded by Mary Breckinridge in the Kentucky mountains.

Although the nurse he’d corresponded with had not admitted her age, Brax knew he should have deducted that she was relatively young. In truth, the facts of her age mattered little to him. His community suffered from a lack of skilled healthcare givers. He had searched high and low to find help. Finally, an answer came with the availability of a professional nurse named Melissa Merryman. With high expectations, the mountain sheriff had looked forward to meeting the nurse.

Unconsciously, Brax’s eyes strayed to the young nurse sitting at the table with him. His thoughts rambled silently, “Who was the fella that said ‘be careful of what you wish for’? Why wasn’t he told the nurse was coming today? Why wasn’t he warned that she’d be so pretty? Why did she allow me to kiss and fondle her? And, why was he falling in love with her?”

M’lissy looked up and gazed into the eyes staring at her. She smiled and then blushed, but she insistently voiced questions of her own, “Brax…I mean Sheriff Brax, can we leave here soon? How much further is it to Red Bird Valley? Oh Brax, we can’t stay here all night! Can we? It just wouldn’t be proper! Would it?”

This was no time for mincing words, so Brax answered bluntly, “Young Miss, we are not going anywhere tonight! Proper or not, we’re stuck until this storm blows over! Now, I trust in God as much as any man, but he’d prematurely call our souls to their heavenly home if we challenged the snowstorm blowing outside!”

Refusing to concede to the realities of her perilous predicament, M’lissy tenaciously inquired, “But…but Brax, what will people think? I can’t have people thinking badly of me or of you either. The two of us can’t spend the night here alone! We just can’t have people wondering about…about…!”

M’lissy’s voice trailed off. Stubborn, prideful, Irish temperament couldn’t stop raging snowstorms. Neither could denial. Reluctantly, her hesitant mind began accepting this incontestable fact. In one final act of rebellious defiance, she pleadingly implored, “Oh my goodness, Brax, what can we do? Please help me pray for guidance to find an answer!”

In an attempt to console and comfort the worrying woman’s mind, Brax took her soft, feminine hands into his work-toughened grip and held on tightly. Together, they prayed. Adding their own soothing ambience to the atmosphere of hope and faith, relaxing firelight flickered and flames crackled reassuringly in the cheery fireplace.

Although no immediate answer to heaven-sent prayers was forthcoming, the weighty worries seemed to lift from M’lissy’s shoulders. Leaving the answers in the hands of God, the young woman relaxed. She smiled as she silently recalled an oft quoted saying. “Let go and let God.”

Brax was smiling, too. Once again, mischievous merriment had entered his heart. Devilish exuberance impelled him to snap his fingers and speak teasingly, “M’lissy, an answer has just come to me! If worse comes to worse and circumstances demanded, I suppose I could be compelled upon to stand beside you in a House of God and be joined to you in the bonds of holy matrimony! To put it more bluntly, I guess I could marry you, if I had to!”

M’lissy recognized frivolous teasing when she heard it. She was becoming accustomed to this man’s bedeviling sense of humor. In truth, she was discovering the fact that she liked it. Why, she didn’t mind being teased by him at all! Consequently, she wasn’t surprised when her heart spoke to her head and silently whispered, “Well Sir, two can play this beguiling game of devilment!”

With her hands clasped firmly in his, M’lissy repressed her heart’s glorious glee. Her sparkling emerald eyes danced playfully. Without betraying her teasingly mocking intent, she allowed her words to run wherever they would. She merrily intoned, “Why Brax, that’s a fine idea! Why didn’t I think of it? I would feel proud to stand beside you and be joined to you in wedlock! Thanks for asking me! But Sir, I wouldn’t want you to be put upon unduly. There is no sense in you marrying me unless you had to! We’d best wait and see what happens. Is this alright with you?”

Unable to contain herself any longer, M’lissy’s laughter pealed out jubilantly. Brax’s mouth opened and let loose with a hearty string of hilarious, unrestrained chuckles and hoots. Gales of mirth resonated throughout the one-room house.

Enchanted contentment settled in just as if it might want to stay for awhile. M’lissy and Brax talked the hours away. Teasing and playful banter came as easily as if the two had known each other for years. Serious talk came just as effortlessly.

Brax was reminded of the fact that while he had a plentiful abundance of home and family, M’lissy had neither. The young woman had not had a home or close family since childhood. She longingly yearned for the blessings she long been denied.

While much had been teasingly said about the subject of a matrimonial union between these two, Brax knew in his heart that no seriousness was intended. Or wasn’t it? Was it all a joke? Remembrance recalled a work of literature in which a fella called Shakespeare wrote, “Many a truth is said in jest.”

Popcorn was on the menu for an evening snack. While M’lissy shook the popper over the fireplace coals, Brax dug into a spacious cedar trunk and came out with an armload of his grandmother’s patchwork quilts and several blankets. Under the watchful eyes of the young woman at the fire, the man prepared comfortable sleeping quarters in the bed .

“Oh my goodness!” M’lissy silently screamed. “This man surely doesn’t expect me to share his bed!”

Surprising even himself, Brax found a packet of salt and a tin of butter inside his well-stocked rucksack. The two stranded wayfarers sat on the floor and gorged themselves on the tasty, salty, butter-topped, popped treat. Neither said a word until the oversized popcorn bowl was emptied.

Brax again pulled the pretty, young woman into his lap. He had an idea for a treat he had never had before. Expecting resistance, but finding none, Brax unbuttoned every button on M’lissy’s dress. He pulled the dress and camisole down to her waist. Reaching for the popcorn bowl, he coated his fingers in a salty, buttery mixture. This recipe was transferred to naked, heaving breasts.

M’lissy lay back and wondered what devilish being had invaded her body and turned her towards wickedness. Salt and butter were being licked and sucked from her breasts. Unfettered joy and pleasure raced through her body and soul. Never had she experience such bliss as she did now at every suckling moment she spent with Brax.

Brax dared to test M’lissy another step further. Salting and buttering his hands once again, he slipped one long-fingered hand beneath the woman’s dress and under the cotton waistband of her pantaloons. Finding a curl-framed vagina, he transferred his tasty concoction there.

Lifting M’lissy’s hips, Brax forced her blue nursing dress down to her ankles. The woman’s face may be wind-burned and tanned, but the flesh beneath the dress was nearly as white as the snow outside the cabin. Not caring, Brax played with the delightful dessert. Vaginal lips swelled and juices ran freely.

Brax maneuvered himself so his mouth had proximity to the juicy vagina. He licked the salty vaginal folds. He pulled at the buttery curls. At last he found a wet clit and he attacked it with voracious lips, teeth, and mouth. Brax used his fingers and tongue to explore the depths of this moisturized depression. A firm, virginal hymen limited his exploration.

M’lissy exhaled a deep moan, and then another, and more. Sin this surely was; so sin it must be. This young woman kicked off the dress that was pulled to her ankles. She was now completely nude except for her socks. M’lissy spread her legs open to allow Brax’s hands and mouth more room to man-kiss and man-suck her steaming vagina. M’lissy now knew she could deny this man nothing…even to the ultimate sin of fornication.

As if reading her mind, Brax scooped M’lissy’s body up in his arms. He stood and then carried her to the quilt-covered bed. Stripping his own body naked, he joined his young lover in his Grammy’s bed. Much like wildings in the woods, the two came together in a war of passionate love and lust. Grunting, growling, and groping, the two kissed and sucked uncontrollably.

At last, these beasts in the bed came together in carnal lusts. Brax’s engorged cock slipped into a virginal vagina. M’lissy’s hymen ripped, yet she felt no pain. Frictional fornication added heat to burning loins. Brax fucked by viciously ramming his cock deep into M’lissy’s moisturized hole. She responded by violently thrusting her hips upwards. This woman’s vagina swallowed the whole length of her lover’s enlarged cock.

When the inevitable explosions came, the four-poster bed shook with orgasmic earthquakes. Male and female loins became soaked as a cock and a cunt spurted their cummy fluids. Brax gave no thought of impregnation. M’lissy cared not because impregnation by this man was a hope, a dream, and a prayer.
***
A cuddling couple paid little thought to time and place. Cocooned bodies enjoyed warmth and passion. Sleep was not yet welcomed.

Cold winds howled. Brax slipped out of bed to feed fuel to the fire. M’lissy sat up to watch. Flickering firelight danced in the tangled, shimmering curls of M’lissy’s fiery-red hair. Brax bounded over to his grandmother’s trunk and delved inside. He came away with a bristled grooming device in his hand. The hairbrush he found had been one his Grammy’s favorites.

Without asking permission or giving advance warning, Brax took a seat behind M’lissy and wrapped his legs around her. He grabbed a handful of her tousled tresses and began vigorously brushing. The rat’s nest of tangles did not easily yield their grip upon the woman’s head. More than a few times, she whimpered as the brush was pulled too hard.

Finally, after a mighty struggle, the cascading mountain of wild-red curls was tamed. Brax recalled his Grammy’s habit of brushing her hair with exactly one hundred strokes each night. Having forgotten to start counting while brushing M’lissy’s hair, he started over again at one.

M’lissy was meekly surrendering to this man’s manual manipulations of her hair. This may be a forbidden intimacy, but one she would allow. Forbidden or not, she relinquished all resistance and let him brush away. Her mind silently prayed, “Forgive me God, but I love this man’s touch. Dear God, I love…I love this man!”

Whistling winds sang a sing-song tune as they rattled window panes. A mixture of sleet and blustery snow fell on the roof with a rhythmic, melodious, pitter-pattering sound. Crackling flames chased away nightmare shadows and added their synchronized harmony to this symphony of cheer.

Brax continued brushing the long strands of hair in his hands without saying a word. M’lissy spoke no words, either. Time passed while this man and this woman listened to Mother Nature’s songs. Finally, softly spoken words sprang out, “Ninety six, ninety seven, ninety eight, ninety nine, and one hundred. Lady, that’s it. One hundred strokes and your hair is now shimmering shiny and free of tangles. Goodness gracious, it’s beautiful! ”

M’lissy turned her head and glanced at the gentleman who’d taken such intimate liberties with her feminine crown. Her face beamed with an undeniable womanly pride. She knew she ought to be ashamed of herself and she should be blushing with disgraceful embarrassment. But, she was neither ashamed nor blushing! Instead, she gloried in this man’s praises. Memory called forth a biblical quote to justify her feelings, “But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given to her for a covering.”

High-spirited, teasing merriment had not yet abandoned Brax this night. A wink and hurriedly spoken words conveyed his enthusiastic mischief, “M’lissy girl, I think it’s time for the two of us to be getting some sleep. We may have a hard day tomorrow, what with the weather, the marrying, and such!”

This time, M’lissy did blush. It seemed to her like this man wasn’t going to let up on the lighthearted matrimonial jesting. Before she could give a spirited retort to his repartee, the man was speaking again, “Woman, there’s one more thing needing to be said. I believe we are now far enough along in our nuptial endeavors to make a goodnight kiss mandatory. I suppose, if I had to, I could kiss you goodnight! Do you think you might be able to persuade yourself to kiss me, too?”

Bashful inhibitions fled from M’lissy’s mind. Her racing heart fluttered with unrestrained anticipation. Instead of coyly dismissing this man’s playful banter, she unconditionally surrendered to it. Shrugging her shoulders, she faced him head on and daringly answered, “Well, Sir, if a goodnight kiss is absolutely necessary, then I imagine I could compel myself to participate in the antiquated courtship ritual. I’m saying, yes I can kiss you goodnight, if I must!”

The ferocity of Mother Nature’s raging snowstorm was forgotten as M’lissy’s lips touched Brax’s. God’s mysterious ways were leading each heart to find love and happiness in the heart of the other. Goodnight kisses were given and received. Peaceful contentment prevailed.

Brax’s softly spoken whisper intruded on the silent serenity, “Miss M’lissy Merryman, when you marry you will take your husband’s name, but he won’t take yours. However, if I were that man, I believe I’d be a very merry-man indeed!

Peaceful tranquility once more dominated time and place. After a while, Brax stood and stirred the fire’s dying embers again. He added fuel and banked the flames so they would burn through the night. Still un-clothed, M’lissy disappeared into the cozy cocoon of her man’s quilted bed.

M’lissy watched as Brax checked the heavy door to make sure nature’s wrath would not intrude during the night. The man ran and dove head-first into bed. He snuggled deep into the sheltering comfort of multiple blankets and quilts. His comfort was multiplied by the warmth of his nude lover’s body.

Sleep did not come quickly. Too much had happened this day. Excited hearts do not easily settle into peaceful slumber. Tempestuous minds need time to wind down from visiting the lofty highs of heavenly bliss.

Restlessness inspired Brax to speak to the quilt-covered woman in his arms. With no hint of mischievousness, his voice softly uttered, “M’lissy, I know you’re still awake. I want to ask you something. We’ve been doing a lot of teasing and kidding about this subject of marriage. But lady, let me tell you, I’ve been studying on it a lot since I met you today. I think I’m pretty well stuck on you! There’s not a thing about you I don’t like! So, here’s my question; M’lissy, do you think the prospect of really marrying me someday is something you might consider?”

For an eternity of time, M’lissy didn’t speak. Her heart and mind were caught in a turbulent turmoil of emotional exhilaration. When words finally came, they were spoken so softly as to be almost inaudible, “Oh my goodness, Brax! Why, I’ve been thinking about really marrying you ever since you said this was a magical-night and then kissed me!”

Sleep finally claimed victory over the two weary wayfarers. A few seconds before slumber overtook them, M’lissy and Brax each quietly prayed, “Dear God, thank you for the wondrous blessing of love and hope you’ve given this day!”
1 comments

Anonymous readerReport

2014-05-20 20:59:06
Long but worth the reading time

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