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The bustling New York street corner was crowed that morning, the air cold and snow crunching underfoot. It had fallen only the night before, but any New Yorker would tell you that after the morning rush hour, the snow would be a dingy gray slush. For most of the people out that day, nothing could ruin the Christmas spirit, as many rushed around doing their last minute Christmas shopping, the holiday being only two days away.

It was just his luck that Conner McDermott lived a block outside of the biggest shopping district in the entire city. That, at least, was the center of his thoughts as he pushed his way through the avenue that blustering morning. His apartment building was just two blocks away from the record company he was working for, so he was walking to work as he did every morning.

It was funny. A few years ago, when he was back home in El Carro, Christmas had been his favorite holiday. It was one of the few times he ever let his guard down and let himself have fun. Not anymore, he didn't ever bother to celebrate now. He'd left all that behind, five years before. The day after they'd graduated, he'd left for New York City, and never looked back. That was the rule that he'd lived by for so long now, he couldn't imagine not. After trying for years, he'd finally been able to sell some of his songs to a record company in the city, and they were working with him to record and later release some of his music. It was finally the break he'd been trying to get since he'd left.

Pushing open the door to the music office, he walked over the Daisy, a plump blonde girl in her mid twenties that was the secretary. She lived in the same apartment building as he did, and Conner considered her a friend. The office wasn't busy at all, he was the only one waiting. He'd be working with a Jen, a songwriter who'd been set to improve some of his lyrics and set them to a background apart from his guitar. Fifteen minutes later, Jen appeared in her usual outfit of a long, hippie-style skirt and a gauze skirt. Her hair color of the week was a bright red with sparkles.

"Hi McDermott!" she greeted him perkily, and led him up in her studio, and kneeled down to the Japanese table she did her work on. Conner followed, not really minding her slightly out of it ways. She was a pretty cool person. "So, which of your songs are we going to work on today?"

"Lie Awake." Conner said simply, taking it out of his portfolio, and setting it down on the table. He really liked this song, as it was different then many of the other songs that he'd written. The song was about a guy who'd left the girl he'd loved without a word, and regretted the decision that he'd made. He'd written the song years before, the summer he'd been eighteen, and had only been in NYC for a few months. It was one of the many songs that he'd written about her, but she'd probably never know. After all, he'd been the one that left her, not the other way around.



"I love Christmas time!" Jessica Aames sang out, ensuing weird looks from those around her. She ignored them, her feet crunching the snow underfoot.

"Jessica, shut up!" her sister, Elizabeth Wakefield hissed, "Someone might think that you're me, and I don't want my friends to think that I'm crazy."

"Spoilsport!" Jessica pouted, but stopped skipping through the snow. "Where'd your Christmas spirit go? When we were little, you had as much of it as me!"

"Call it the New York factor," Elizabeth grumbled. "I think that it's gone down since I moved here."

Jessica sighed, rolling her eyes at her sister. "You need to get in the Christmas spirit! This is Alyssa's first Christmas." The year after they'd graduated from high school, Jessica had gotten pregnant and married her boyfriend, Jeremy Aames. They'd had a son, Matt, who was almost four, and just six months ago, had had their second child, a little girl they'd named Alyssa. They still lived in Sweet Valley, California.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, had remained single for the last five and a half years since graduation. Her boyfriend at the time, Conner McDermott, had taken off without a good-bye right after graduation, and she hadn't heard from him since. It didn't stop her from going on to college, and graduating with honors, though, or from landing a high paying job as a journalist for the New York Times.

"Just because I'm not skipping around and singing doesn't mean I don't love Christmas," Elizabeth chided, crinkling her nose, which was red from the cold. She'd lived their for three years now, and she still wasn't used to the cold of the New York winters. "Besides, have you noticed that everyone around you is looking at you like you're a tourist? Real New Yorkers don't act that way."

Jessica stuck her tongue out at her sister, shifting her shopping bag from one hand to another. They'd gone shopping that afternoon, leaving Jeremy home at Elizabeth's apartment to look after Matt and Alyssa. "But I am a tourist."

"Yeah, and that might just get you mugged or something," Elizabeth said, rolling her eyes and cutting her sister short. "Really Jess, act your age."

"I don't want to. You act your age. Go out and get yourself a boyfriend. You're supposed to either married by now, or at least looking for the right one." Jessica explained exasperatedly. "Duh!"

Even Elizabeth couldn't resist laughing at her sister. "Sorry Jess, I'm just not into the whole dating scene. If I find a guy that compares, then I'll try him."

"Compares to what?" Jessica asked curiously, wondering what her sister would say, even though she knew she was referring to Conner. Elizabeth would do that every once in awhile, brief statements she didn't mean to make, but could be traced straightly back to Conner.

Elizabeth paused. "I don't know," she said, finally, "I guess my idea of the perfect guy." Jessica sighed inaudibly. Once again, case closed before it opened.



"Good-bye, and merry Christmas, Conner!" Jen called out as he left her studio that afternoon. The next day was Christmas Eve, and then Christmas, so he wouldn't be seeing her until after the holiday. Once out of her view, Conner rolled his eyes, almost laughing at the prospect of Christmas. The only thing that he would be doing was sitting home alone. Christmas hadn't meant much to him once he was on his own, and had no one to celebrate with him. Not even his sister or mom knew where he was, so he wouldn't even be getting a cheery phone call. Like he cared.

The street was busy when he came out of the building, and Conner assumed that many people were out of the office on their lunch break, or hadn't had to go to work that day. He turned the corner in the opposite direction of his apartment, making the decision to stop at Rosaletta's, a small café, for lunch. His cooking skills were flat-lined, and he usually found himself at the good, but cheap, restaurant every day.

He followed the sidewalk down to the building, feeling comfortable at the sight of the aging sign that had Rosaletta's neatly scripted to it, and now had blinking red and green lights attached to it. On the door, a handmade opening sign was hung in the window.

Conner pushed the door open, to reveal the inside, the familiar red booths, the pristine white counters, the black bar stools, and of course, Rosaletta standing behind the counter, a firm look on her face. Conner slipped into a booth in the back corner, and Rosaletta immediately was over to him, a warm smile now on her face, yet still displayed her no-nonsense look.

"What's a boy like you doing all alone with two days before Christmas?" She reprimanded him, scribbling down his order without asking. "When are you going to get yourself a girl and settle down?" she said sternly, as she did every time that he came in.

"I'll try to find one, Rosa," Conner said, using her nickname, "If for no other reason then to get you to stop asking me if I've got a girl."

Rosaletta frowned at him, as she walked behind the counter to get him a glass of coffee. There was only one other waitress on duty, and she was tending to the only other customer, a bald man with a grumpy expression. "You'd best be getting one, if you're ever going to start a family." she said, setting down his coffee, and looking up as the bell on the door chimed.

Two ladies walked in, arms laden with shopping bags. Rosaletta scurried over to them, and sat them down at a booth on the opposite side of the restaurant.

Conner took a sip of his coffee, looking over in their direction. He'd seen one of the two before, she came in often with a group of people during the lunch hour, usually two or three times a week. His mind drew a blank at the other person

Stifling his curiosity, Conner looked at the dessert menu to see what the dessert of the day was. Once he'd figured it out, Rosaletta was back with his meal, and Conner moved all of his attention to eating it.



Later that afternoon, after finishing their shopping and stopping to eat lunch at Rosaletta's, a small café about three blocks from Elizabeth's apartment, the twins returned home. Elizabeth unlocked the door, and her dog, Reeses, came barreling at them, barking happily that they were home. He was named after the candy, from the tan and dark brown markings that covered his soft fur. Trailing behind him, Matt ambled in, his blonde hair mused and his hands covered in sticky orange stuff.

"Hey mommy!" he called, running toward Jessica as she set down her bags. She scooped him up in her arms, and he looked over to Elizabeth. "Daddy burnt macaroni and cheese to the bottom of one of your pots."

As if on cue, Jeremy walked into the living room, looking sheepish. "Sorry Liz. It was almost done, and Liss started crying, so I kind of forgot about it."

Elizabeth laughed, walking over to the storage closet and putting away her bags. "No problem. I'll tackle clean up later." At that point, Matt had squirmed out of Jessica's arms, and made his way over to his aunt.

"Look what I taught Reeses to do!" he exclaimed. Upon hearing his name, the puppy bounded over to him, sitting down at his feet. "Shake!" Matt commanded him, and the puppy lifted his paw, and he shook it. "See?"

"Very good Matt!" Elizabeth exclaimed, smiling at him. Although they didn't see each other often, Elizabeth was close to her nephew. Matt smiled happily, sitting down on the floor. It hadn't surprised Elizabeth he'd taught the dog a trick. He was already beyond the thinking levels of most three year olds, and Jessica and Jeremy had been told he was very intelligent.



Conner finished lunch, and taken the time to leisurely walk home afterwards. It was about three when he arrived home to his apartment building on Centennial Boulevard. The wind had began to blow, and it had started to snow again, so he was glad to be back in his apartment, turn up the heating, and kick back in a chair to read over the editing he and Jen had did to his song.

Surprisingly, Conner actually kept his apartment fairly clean and tidy. It really wasn't hard, considering the few things he had in there besides furniture. Sparingly decorated, he had a few colorful rugs and a throw pillow on his coach, and a few pictures adorned a shelf on his bookcase. There were only three, and they were one of the few things that Conner kept from his life five years before.

The first was one of him, and his half sister Megan on her sixteenth birthday, she'd been in pictures all day, and his mom had finally made him take one with Megan, since she was almost out of film. The next was of him, Tia, and Andy during their freshmen year. Funny, how he'd lost contact with both of them, so quickly. And the last one was of him and his ex- girlfriend, Elizabeth Wakefield, together at the party after graduation. Conner knew why he kept it, though he hated admitting it. He missed her like crazy, but he'd never admit it.

After allowing time for a short remembrance of the past, Conner sighed, and set to finish looking over it. He and Jen had made fast progress, and had already picked out and improvised some background music. Once he'd made a few slight changes, he put it away, and walked into the kitchen, digging through the scarce pantry for some bread and peanut butter.

Getting out some grape jelly, Conner looked out the window to the street below. The wind was howling, and snow was practically coming down in sheets. The weathermen had been predicting heavy snow, and it looked like they'd finally be right. Conner couldn't help smiling, standing there for a moment, the freezing temperatures outside causing for the windows to fog up, the window-pane freezing to the touch.



"Come on, Matt, you need to eat dinner." Jessica said, trying to get the little boy to focus his attention away from the window of Elizabeth's apartment. This was the first time he'd been awake to see it snowing, and was mesmerized at the sight.

Matt turned around, a grin on his face. "It's snowing!" he called cheerfully, his brown eyes dancing with excitement.

"I know it is, but it's also time for dinner." Jessica reasoned, but Matt's face fell.

"I want to watch it snow!" Matt said, pouting, and scrunching up his nose. Elizabeth looked over at her nephew and sister in amusement.

"Tell you what, Matt, why don't you come eat dinner, and afterwards, we'll bake some Christmas cookies. I do believe that we have the supplies." She said, setting plates on the table. Matt bit his lip, as if debating the situation.

"Okay." he said, finally, getting up off the window sill. "Can I help you set the table, Aunt Liz?" Elizabeth smiled, handing him some paper napkins to sit at each place.

"Sure." Elizabeth said, smiling across the room at Jessica. She'd always thought that Matt had good manners, and he'd just proved it again. Jessica, on the other hand, insisted her son was a little pig, and made more messes then anything.

After eating dinner, Elizabeth kept her word, getting out the ingredients for ginger bread cookies. The next hour was spent making the dough, and then helping Matt decorate each one. Once he was done, Jessica helped clean him up as Elizabeth put the cookies in the oven to bake. Jeremy had put the baby to bed right after dinner, and then come in to help the twins and Matt in the kitchen.

By the time the cookies were out of the oven, Matt was already in his pajamas, and had time enough for a few cookies before Jessica put him to bed. Once she was done, she and Elizabeth sat down with some of the things that they'd bought that day to wrap. Jeremy had conked out on the coach, a result of the kids wearing him out early, so Jessica and Elizabeth had run of the apartment, and plenty of room to spread everything out for their needs.

"I'm really glad that you guys were able to come for the holidays," Elizabeth said, slicing into a sheet of wrapping paper. "The one thing that I regret about taking the job here instead of coming home after college is not getting to be near you guys, and watching Matt and Alyssa grow up."

Jessica nodded. "I don't like that, either. I really wish that you could live closer, so that we could see you more often. Matt loves visiting, but doesn't get to do it that often because you live so far away."

"Hey!" Elizabeth exclaimed. "Don't make me go on a guilt trip. I was stating a fact, and I do believe you were doing a slight amount of accusing. Besides, I feel bad enough that Alyssa is already six months old and this is the first time that I've seen her!"

Jessica smiled. "But you can't get away from work as easily, and I wasn't ready to take her on a trip when she was only a month or two old."

Elizabeth smiled, know how good of a mom her sister was. "I don't blame you in the slightest. So, did you have fun shopping?"

"Yes! You are so lucky, Liz!" Jessica exclaimed, "Living near all the shopping! That rocks, if you ask me. And you were right about lunch at that Rosaletta's or whatever place. It has really good food!"

Elizabeth laughed. Every time Jessica came into the city to visit, she always had some display of wonderment, or excitement, about things that Elizabeth took completely as normal. "I knew that it would. I go there for lunch two or three times a week."

"Well, you're lucky, if you ask me!" Jessica said, finishing tying a bow on a package she was wrapping for Jeremy. She looked over at her sister in disgust. "How come your presents always look better then mine?" she complained loudly, sighing.

Elizabeth laughed, finishing curling some ribbon on the package she was wrapping for Matt—a cute little outfit that Jessica had fallen in love with and knew that Matt would really like. "I think that it just comes down to, Jess, is that I'm more sophisticated then you are. Face it." she teased.

"As if!" Jessica laughed, sliding the present under the small Christmas tree.

"I know that your just jealous, don't deny it." Elizabeth said, ducking as Jessica tossed a pillow at her head. She loved the holidays, and she knew that except for one thing, this was a nearly perfect Christmas.



"Well, folks," the annoying radio announcer drowned on, "It snowed, if you couldn't tell! New York City and surrounding areas got 10 inches overnight. If you're going outside today, it'd be advised to bring a warm coat, as the temperature is only in the low…" He didn't get to finish his thought, as Conner hit his alarm clock as hard as he could. Ironically, no matter what time he set it for, he never got music when it went off, just annoying weather reports and stupid advertisements.

Sighing, Conner rolled out from under the quilt on his bed, and slipping on a T-shirt with his boxers. He padded into the kitchen, the flooring freezing to his bare feet. He shivered unintentionally, and looked out the window. Even from six floors up, he could tell the ground was absolutely covered in snow. It was only six o'clock, and usually, the snow plows had been through by then, but they must have been over worked today, because the corner of Centennial and Tracy was still covered in snow.

"It's a good thing I don't have to go anywhere today," Conner mumbled, walking back to the bedroom, and throwing on some sweats, and walking back to the kitchen. Usually, he go get breakfast somewhere, but there was no way in hell he was going to walk anywhere in the mess outside. Searching through the refrigerator, he grabbed a few eggs and his skillet, and in a few minutes managed to make himself fried eggs for breakfast. That was about the boundaries of his culinary genius, so he was praying for cleared roads by lunchtime.

After eating, Conner threw his dishes in the sink without bothering to rinse them. He reasoned with himself that he'd do it later, so he went into his bedroom and changed into khakis and a button down shirt. When he was done, he quickly made his bed and tidied up his room a bit, and then went into kitchen to clean things up from breakfast and his late night snack.

Passing into his living room, Conner heard the phone ring. He walked into the kitchen, and quickly scanned the counter for the cordless phone. He picked it up on the second ring. "Hello?" he answered, hearing the static of a cell phone connection at the other end of the line.

"Conner? It's Jen." she said, her voice coming in loud and clear even over the static.

"Yeah, hi Jen. What's going on, anything?" Conner said, reaching for the dirty dishes and placing them in the dishwasher.

"I know that this is asking a lot, but I totally forgot to get a copy of the lyrics to give to the guy that writes the background. He's got a week of vacation he's taking, and needs the tape by tomorrow."

"Oh, well, okay. I'll bring it up to you, then." Conner said, not knowing why she had an edge to her voice.

"No, that's the problem, the office is closed because it's a holiday. I'm in New Jersey with my boyfriend, and we won't be back to the city until late. I'd have to come up there to the building and unlock it. Can you come at eleven, or do you have plans?" Jen said nervously, the static finally faltering.

"Sure, Jen. I'll be there if you want me too. It's not a problem. I'm not doing anything today." Conner said, almost laughing. Jen could be too nice for her own good some of the time.

"So you can come?" Jen said, the hope apparent in her voice.

"Yeah, I'll be there. Thanks for calling."

"No, thank you! They could have my job for this, so you're really helping me." Jen said, then Conner heard the phone click. He looked toward the window. The snow plows had better come through.



"You work too hard!" Jessica exclaimed the next morning, waking up and walking into the kitchen to find Elizabeth fully dressed, sitting at the table and working on her laptop computer. She was working on some sort of an article, and from the length, it looked like she had been working for awhile. "It's Christmas Eve! You're supposed to kick back and relax with your family."

Elizabeth looked at her, rolling her eyes, not bothering to stop typing. "Some people," she started, "have jobs that involve deadlines. And journalists have deadlines, ones that can get us fired if we don't meet them. So, if you really want me out of a job, then I'll stop working on it."

"Fine, I take you had a bad day," Jessica said, wrapping herself tighter in her robe. "How long have you been awake, anyway?"

"Since five, when Bill O'Connor called me and told me that our system had gone down, and that I'd lost all the research and the article I've been slaving over. I have to have it in by noon tomorrow, and tonight, I have to go in at nine thirty to re-validate the computers, because I'm the only one with the network password. Meanwhile, Bill is the only one with a building key, and he's in West Virginia right now. So he's coming home from his vacation just to do this and everything is screwed up. Got that?" Elizabeth snapped, continuing to type.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I won't bother you, then." Jessica said, quietly leaving the room. She knew when it was a good time to talk to Elizabeth and when it wasn't, and she knew that now was not a good time. It sucked that her sister had to work on the holiday, but she knew that Elizabeth had no control over it.

A few hours later, after everyone was awake and had eaten breakfast, Jessica and Jeremy had left and taken Matt to Central Park to play in the snow. Because Elizabeth was already home, working, she'd been glad to watch Alyssa. She'd been secretly relived, as the baby would create enough of a distraction to give her a break from her work.



"Damn ice!" Conner said under his breath, as he made his way down the icy street late that night. He was meeting Jen like he said he would. Usually, he wouldn't walk the streets alone at eleven at night, but there wasn't really a taxi or anything he could call, so he was doing his best tolerate it. It was freezing cold, and the weatherman had said the wind-chill factor was below zero that night.

Even after five winters in New York, Conner wasn't used to it. There was nothing he wouldn't give at that moment for a warm, nice California Christmas Eve, it was so cold out that night. They'd cleared the streets of snow, but the layer of ice still coated it, and Conner slid as he walked. Even for him, it was hard to keep his balance. Already, coming out of his apartment building, he'd slipped on the sidewalk, and his butt had a hard, icy collision with the ice on the ground.

Moving slowly, it took him almost ten minutes to get to the end of Tracy, where he turned to get to the office. Looking at his watch, Conner could tell it was six minutes before eleven, so he'd have to hurry unless he wanted to be late. It was too freezing cold, so he didn't want for Jen to be standing outside, waiting for him. Quickening his pace, Conner looked up from the snowy ground, seeing the building that housed the New York Times looming ever so closely. The Times office was two buildings down from the music office, but it was bigger, and much more noticeable.

Finally, Conner got to the entrance, and he could see Jen standing their, her petite frame swallowed in a huge winter coat. Not like she didn't need it on a night like this one. "Hey, Jen!" Conner called, walking as quickly as he could up the steps without slipping. Jen turned around, and walked up to the door. Conner followed her, and she unlocked it, wordlessly letting him in.

"Wow! It's cold out there!" She exclaimed, the moment that they were inside. "Okay, we have the song recorded, don't we?"

Conner nodded. They had recorded most of his lyrics to the computers months before. Now, they were taking them off one by one to send to musicians to put them to background music. "Yeah. I think that we need to pull it from the computer."

Jen nodded, shaking her head so a lose snowflake fell from her glittery red hair, and onto the floor. "I think that we can get it pretty fast. You?"

Conner nodded, "Yeah, it's just recording. I think we already did the rough edit on it."

"Good. I want you to get back home to your family, and I want to get home to mind. I really appreciate you giving up part of your night, since it's a holiday and all."

"No problem." Conner said, following her up the stairs, not bothering to correct her, and tell her that he didn't really care, since he had no place to go.



"I can't thank you enough, Liz," Bill said that evening as they finished the last of the computers in the office. "I know that your sister is here for the holidays, and how hard this was for you to plan." He shut the door to the office behind them.

"No problem. We've got all day tomorrow to celebrate. You're the one that flew home from your relatives house to make sure the paper was out on time." Elizabeth said, putting on her coat, and getting ready to walk out the door.

"You've got some ride, don't you?" Bill asked, grabbing her shoulder. "I don't want to offend you, but this is New York, you are female, and it is almost midnight."

Elizabeth shook her head. "Really, I'll be fine. I can get to my apartment in fifteen minutes, so I'll be fine." Bill looked uncertain, but Elizabeth nodded. "I'm really fine. I'll take care of myself. See you on Thursday, okay?"

Bill nodded, locking the door, and disappearing into the night. Elizabeth shivered as she walked out the door, seeing that it had begun to snow, once again. She couldn't help laughing. Matt had written his letter to Santa and listed snow as something he wanted, and it looked like he'd be getting plenty of it.

"It's so cold!" Elizabeth exclaimed to herself, but it came out in words. She bit her lip, rounding the corner and walking back in the direction of her apartment. It did make he a little uneasy, walking outside, alone, in the middle of the night. She'd actually finished early, because Bill had originally though it'd take till one or two to fix the networks and get them running. She'd told Jessica it would be late and to not wait up for her, and Jessica had agreed.

Elizabeth was just about to turn the corner onto Tracy, the street her apartment was on, when she heard footsteps behind her. She quickened her pace, but she heard the person behind her also moving faster. That's when Elizabeth felt someone grab her arm, shoving her to the ground.

Immediately, she screamed, not knowing what was going to happen. Hundreds of thought swam in her head. She could get mugged, or raped, or even killed. Elizabeth tried to pull away, but she could, feeling her attacker shoving her against the snow, wrenching her arm painfully behind her back. If someone else didn't help her, then Elizabeth knew there wouldn't be a way to help herself.



What was that? Conner thought, on his way back to his apartment late that night. It was nearly midnight, and he was more then ready to go home and go to bed. There it was again, getting louder, as he got closer to Tracy. It sounded almost like a women screaming, but it couldn't have been. This was one of the safest parts of town, and nearly nothing happened around there.

As soon as he turned the corner, the scream became completely distinct, and it only took him a moment to pinpoint the source. A man dressed all in black was forcefully holding down some women. From where he was, Conner couldn't tell what he was doing, but it didn't take a genius to figure out that the women wasn't there willingly.

Conner didn't think that he knew the women, but he knew that his conscience would never forgive him if he didn't do something to try to stop her attacker. He quickened his pace, shortening the distance between them. "Hey!" Conner yelled, and saw one of the figures rise from the ground. "What the hell are you doing?"

At that point, the man stood up, looking directly at Conner, who prepared himself to run if he had too. Instead, the man ran off in the other direction. Knowing that his work wasn't over with, Conner sprinted over toward the women, who was trying to sit up. As he neared, he could tell she was about his age, in her early twenties, and with her blonde hair and blue- green eyes, she looked strangely familiar. Conner pushed the thoughts out of his head.



Elizabeth tried to sit up, but her mind felt hazy and her vision blurred. One minute, a man dressed all in black had been on top on her, reaching to remove her coat, and the next, someone else had called out in the darkness, and her attacker had pulled up and left in fear. Now, the stranger loomed over her, and offered a hand to her. She took it, feeling herself being pulled up.

"Are you okay?" the man asked, a slight panic in his voice. Elizabeth tried to nod, but that's when she felt the sharp pain in her arm. Her thoughts began to clear, and she realized that he arm must have been broken, and that the man had also gotten away with her purse.

"Are you okay?" the man asked again, and Elizabeth was able to nod weakly, and her vision began to clear. She took a look at her rescuer, who looked like he was in his early to mid twenties, and had short brown hair and piercing emerald green eyes. Once she could finally see clearly, she realized the face she was seeing could have more then easily described Conner's. Realizing the absurdity of the idea, she pushed it to the back of her mind. Still, she realized, his hand was on her shoulder, steadying her.

"Thank you," Elizabeth said numbly, finally standing on her own. It was true, she knew that if he hadn't called out, then she probably would have been raped, and the maybe even killed.

"It's okay," he said, "Anyway, are you hurt or anything? Do you need to go to the hospital? I'd be glad to help you if you need too."

Elizabeth shook her head. "I think… I think that I'm fine." she said, shakily, holding her arm in her other hand. It still hurt badly, but she didn't want to take advantage of the stranger's kindness.

"Listen, it's really okay." he said, comfortingly, and Elizabeth felt herself calm down slightly. "If you're hurt, I'd be glad to help you out. Is there something wrong with you arm?" he looked at her, the concern in his green eyes real.

"I think that it's broken." Elizabeth said, feeling okay with asking him for help. "But my apartment's really close, it's just over there." she said, pointing to the building. "I'll be fine to make it home."

"Then let me walk you home," he offered. "I only live across the street, it's no extra trip for me. I'd feel more comfortable if I made sure that you made it home safely."

Elizabeth nodded, hesitantly. She knew that Jessica and Jeremy were there, so she wasn't worried about finding a way to get in, since her keys had been in her purse.

She straighten her balance, walking in the direction of her apartment. The man followed beside her, and Elizabeth felt a little better that he was there. She was positive that she could trust him. "By the way, my name's Conner McDermott."

Oh. My. God. Elizabeth stopped dead in her tracks, looking up at him in disbelief. But it was all there. The same slightly scruffy brown hair, the angular jaw, the piercing green eyes. "Conner?" she said, numbly, not knowing what to think.



Conner couldn't believe it, but there was no mistaking Elizabeth. She didn't look much different then she had five years ago, her hair was shorter, she looked a little taller, and she'd lost her Californian tan. But she was the same person. "Liz?" he hesitated, not knowing what to do. He wanted her back so much, in those split seconds he'd remembered how much he had loved her, and how much he still did.

"It's been so long," Elizabeth said quietly, and Conner could tell it was attempt of saying something in the awkward silence.

"It has been too long," he said, "Too long. I've missed you." he said, spitting it out, praying she wasn't dating someone new. He didn't want that. All he wanted was her, for her to be his again.

"I've missed you too," Elizabeth said, stepping closer to him. He wasn't sure why or what made him do so, but he quietly wrapped his arms around her, and she hugged him back tightly. Conner tilted her head up, so he was looking into her eyes, and before he knew it, she kissed him softly. Conner returned her kiss.

They stood there together, the snow swirling around them, holding onto each other. What brought them together that night, they didn't know, but it was nothing short of a Christmas miracle.



"Sweetie, do you have anything to eat in your entire apartment?" Elizabeth asked Conner a week later on New Year's Eve. In the last week, they'd become an extremely close couple, and Elizabeth had moved in with him just the day before. They'd been together almost every moment since he'd helped her out on Christmas Eve, and Elizabeth knew it planned to stay that way.

"No, I don't cook!" Conner yelled from his bedroom, coming out the door a moment later, only wearing his pants. Elizabeth laughed, knowing he was in the middle of getting dressed for the day.

"Yeah, well, I do," Elizabeth said briskly. "You're going to have to get used to buying food from now on." she teased, walking over to him and letting him kiss her.

"What," Conner joked, "And have Rosaletta lose her main business support?"

"Fine, I guess I get your point!" Elizabeth said, laughing, hugging him tightly. She was so glad that she'd found him again. Actually, she was glad he'd found her. The day after Christmas, a man had been caught in during a robbery and linked to a series of rapes and murders throughout New York. Elizabeth would have been next if Conner hadn't shown up, which was nothing short of a miracle.

"Look," Conner said, "If you're so hungry, let me finish getting dressed, and we'll go get something to eat. I'm starving, myself." Elizabeth nodded, following him back into their bedroom and watching him slid a shirt on over his firm chest.

"And where are you taking me?" Elizabeth asked as he slid his arms around her, careful not to knock the cast on her left arm.

"Where else do you think that I'd take you, sweetie?" Conner said, helping her into her winter coat. "I think that you're getting a trip to Rosaletta's."

"I should have known!" Elizabeth said, laughing, but followed him out the door of his apartment, his arm around her waist.



"Well look here!" Rosaletta said as she came by to check on her customers, stopping at Conner and Elizabeth's table. "I thought that you wouldn't ever get yourself a girl!" she whistled and gave a little catcall.

Conner looked at Elizabeth over their cozy little table. "Rosa, this is my girlfriend, Elizabeth. She comes in here almost as often as me."

"Well I know! I remember all of my customers!" Rosaletta said briskly, moving their food from the tray to their table. "Especially when they regroup and come with a someone they usually don't. You two have fun!" she said, winking slyly.

"She's nice," Elizabeth said, taking a bite of her pasta, laying her other hand down on the table. Conner took it in his, staring into her eyes.

"Yeah, I guess, if you take her in small doses." Conner said, smiling. "Anyway, I have something to ask you. I was going to weight until another time, but I just want to know now, and it seems as a good as time as any.

Elizabeth looked at him curiously, as he pulled something out of his pocket, setting it onto the table. It was a ring box. Elizabeth felt her breath catch in her throat. Conner popped it open, to reveal a diamond ring. "I love you more then anything, Liz," he said, slipping it onto her finger. "Will you marry me?" Elizabeth knew that there was only one answer.

"Yes." she said, simply, leaning across the table to kiss him. And she knew that it was the right answer, as well as the beginning to her future.