Christmas Cheer Day 21, part three from A Place Called Home by Janet Lee Barton

Scene three
It hadn’t. It was a short note. . .from Jeb’s boss. . .telling him his job was open and the children were welcome. Beth’s heart twisted in her chest. Was Harland right? Was Jeb fixing up the house only to sell out and go back north?

Well, there was only one way to find out. Beth ran though the house, down the porch steps, and around to the ladder leading to the roof. She clambered up it as fast as she could in her long skirts and holding the offending letter in her hand.

Jeb’s back was to her when her head cleared the roof line. “Can you tell me the meaning of this, Jeb Winslow?”

“Beth?” Jeb whirled around. “The meaning of what? What’s wrong?

She waved the paper in her hand. “This is wrong! Have you been planning on taking this man up on his offer? Are you leaving here? Fixing up the house just to sell out? Are you taking the children with you?”

Jeb got to his feet and stared down at her. . .his mouth opening and shutting at first. Then he found his voice. “How could you think that? I just asked you to help me decorate this house! Why would I be working this hard. . .trying to get this roof finished before the first snow. . .the house ready before Christmas. . .if I didn’t plan on making a home here?”

“You said that Mr. Snow thought it would add more value to the property!”

Jeb shut his eyes and shook his head before meeting her gaze again. “Beth Morgan—can’t you see. . .I’m trying my best to get this house finished by Christmas to answer your challenge. And why would I be doing that?”

“I don’t know. Why?”

“Because I—” Just as the words were out of his mouth, Jeb slipped and started sliding down the roof.

“Jeb!” Beth yelled, but there was nothing she could do except watch him fall. She didn’t know if she heard or felt the thud as he hit the ground, but her heart seemed to stop beating as she saw him lying on the ground. Jeb didn’t move. No! Tears streamed down her face. It was all her fault. Had she killed the only man she’d ever loved?

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