In August, 1933, Woodhill, Ohio Fire Chief Jake McCann and the woman he loves, Laura Darvey, have recovered physically from the events of last Christmas Eve, in which Laura's ex-husband, Dan, died. Laura is still recovering emotionally, but she has returned to work as a visiting nurse. With Dan's cousin, Bobby Darvey, in prison, Jake and Laura join the community's concern about the possible closing of the quarry, which employs more than sixty men. The quarry owners hire mining expert, Aaron Chandler, to evaluate the future of the quarry and as Aaron and quarry foreman, Boris Hegerty, work to convince the owners to keep the quarry open they become close friends. Laura is also concerned about Boris's mother, Maudie, who is being treated for cancer by Dr. Jessica Malloy. Jess and Boris become friends as they care for Maudie, but Jess is also friends with the members of the Woodhill Fire Department, especially first-aid officer Lt. Eli Sheffler. As time goes by, Jess finds her feelings for Eli and Boris growing stronger, but she is confused; she's sexually attracted to Boris, but her heart goes out to Eli, whose youth was spent caring for his disabled sister after they were abandoned by their father. Even as Jess finds herself responding to Boris's love, she and Eli continue to grow closer. Reluctantly, Jess gives in to Maudie's demand that Maudie manage her own pain medication. Instead of killing herself, as Jess, Laura, and Boris fear, Maudie improves until Thanksgiving, when depression overcomes her. Jess is out of town, so Boris calls Jake's brother, Dr. Dave McCann, for help. Dave's wife, Clair, a businesswoman, lifts Maudie from her depression by offering Maudie a paying job. After Christmas dinner at Maudie's house, Jess accepts Boris's marriage proposal. Their joy lasts only until the first week of the new year, when the quarry owners announce they're shutting down the operation. An explosion during a battle between the quarrymen and the owners' hired guns leaves Boris seriously injured and in a coma. As Eli prepares to transport Boris to the hospital, he comes face-to-face with his father, Aaron Chandler. The men are shocked by their discovery, and Eli is openly bitter, but they realize that Boris must be their first concern. Despite their emotional turmoil, Aaron salvages what logs and paperwork he can from the quarry office and Eli gives Jess his emotional support as she remains helpless to heal Boris's injured brain or to keep Maudie from taking a fatal overdose of morphine. Yet, even in the midst of her own tragedy, Jess urges Eli to reconcile with Aaron. Boris clings to life but the outlook is poor, so his brother, Robert, asks the Court to appoint him Boris's guardian so he can sell Maudie and Boris's assets, ostensibly to provide for Boris's medical bills should he survive, but in reality to divide the proceeds between himself and other family members. Aaron finds the means to delay Robert, but Boris stops Robert by regaining consciousness minutes before Maudie's funeral. Jess welcomes Boris back to consciousness in the hospital and says a silent farewell to Maudie, while at the church where Maudie's funeral is in progress, Eli takes the first tentative step towards reconciliation with his father.