Later that evening, everyone piled in cars and headed to Middle Village. The Christmas holiday didn’t stop patrons from gathering at this little piece of winter heaven. Most of the family enjoyed the sleigh hill, but there were some who preferred the ice skating.

Lauren sat alone on a bench as she watched Annie and Morgan skate on the ice arm in arm. After all these years, they were still madly in love. It gave her hope.

Haunted CastleSuddenly, she felt warmth beside her. She glanced over and saw Nick covered in snow. “You look like you’ve been in a tragic skiing accident,” she chuckled.

“I bit the dust a few times,” he laughed.

Turning her attention back to the skating rink, she smiled.

“Let’s skate,” he said as he started taking his shoes off.

“Oh, I can’t skate,” she said lightheartedly.

“You mean to tell me you have been coming here your entire life and no one has ever taught you how to skate?”

“I always refused to learn,” she answered, turning her face toward his.

“Well, you’re not getting out of it tonight,” he insisted as he bent over to tie the laces of the skates.

“Bennette, I really can’t.”

He sat up again. “You don’t know that. You’ve never tried.”

“I don’t… I…”

“It’s no use,” he said. “Go get some skates.”

She obeyed and came back with skates. He knelt and took her snow boots off of her feet. Gently slipping the skates on, he laced them tightly, concentrating hard on making sure they supported her ankles.

He stood and held out his hands. She looked up at him, still refusing to move.

“Doc, don’t make me embarrass you.”

She knew she didn’t want any part of that, so she grabbed his hands and steadied herself.

With fright in her eyes, she looked into his. “I can’t do this.”

He leaned in closely to her and smiled. “Listen to me. Keep your ankles as straight as you can. Take it slow and hold onto me. I won’t let you fall.”

She felt the blood rush to her face and rapidly her body warmed. “You promise?”

“I promise.”


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