Tuesday Teaser 1/28/14: Wolf’s Lady Part 4
I don’t know what it’s like where you’re at, but it’s darned cold here in North Dakota! Here is the next bit in Sand and Amanda’s story to warm us up. I’m beginning about halfway through part 3, because I changed something. At first Sand was going to be ignorant about the position of women in Omaha, but the more I thought of that, the more silly it seemed. Sand’s not a little boy. He would have heard about it years ago.
One of the things I especially like about this snip is the teensy hint we get about Sky’s feelings for Rose at the end.
Do remember that this hasn’t been edited or even proofed. I hope you enjoy it anyway!
As they led their horse down the drive around the house, Sand got a good look at the place. It was huge! Had Sky suddenly become rich? Only a rich man could afford to live in a house like this. It had a fancy porch with white columns, and lots of tall narrow windows with white woodwork around them, and rounded sections Sand didn’t know what to call. He couldn’t believe his little cousin lived in a house a hundred times nicer than the den. Of course, with his business he needed the space.
“He’s got humans living here, right?” he muttered to Snow. “Must be a bitch to heat in the winter.”
“Oh, sure,” Snow agreed. “Most rooms have fireplaces, but with the electricity generated by the river, it’s pretty warm anyway. The ladies’ appointments wouldn’t appreciate coming into a cold room to do their business.
That was another reason Sand didn’t want to be here. He set his teeth together hard to suppress a growl. Omaha was a wealthy city with a strict code of laws, low crime, and a large police force to keep it that way. But all that was paid for by sex. When a woman reached eighteen, she either had to marry, pay a tax to remain single, or go to work in one of the city’s whorehouses. Every cent she earned was taxed.
His dark thoughts were interrupted by a pair of men stepped onto the drive. “Paint!” Snow called joyfully.
Sand hung back a minute, examining the other man. He was a stranger with dark blond hair and brown eyes, his face hard and expressionless. Sand noted the burly shoulders and long arms. He could be trouble in a fight, Sand judged. Then Paint was pounding on his back.
“I’m glad to see you two!” he said. “Now I can head back to the den for a while. I don’t mind helping Sky out, but this place gets to me. You’ll know what I mean after a week or so.”
Sand suppressed a sigh. He hadn’t wanted to come in the first place. Except … His mate was here. In his amazement at seeing where Sky lived, he had almost forgotten that. He had to find her!
“This is Randy Tisdale. He’s one of Sky’s enforcers. Randy, this is my cousin Snow and my cousin Sand. I’ll take ’em in to see Sky. You’ll take care of their horse?”
Randy’s face still showed no warmth. Sand could respect that. They were strangers in his domain. “Sure,” Randy said in a gravelly voice.
Snow grabbed the saddlebag to carry into the house before following Paint up the back steps to a kitchen. Sand looked carefully around, noting the strange appliances, as the three of them passed through the kitchen to a narrow hall that led into an office. Three tall windows were set in a rounded wall facing the door, pouring light into the room. A man in a suit and tie sat at the desk, looking down at a stack of papers before him. His dark hair was short, and his hands looked elegant and pampered holding a pen. Who the hell wore a suit to sit at a desk?
The man looked up, blue eyes narrow under black brows, then he stood. He was as pretty as a girl, Sand thought derisively, before amazement unhinged his jaw.
“Sky?” he yelped.
The man grinned, then, a dimple biting into his cheek beside his mouth. “Sand. I know it’s you by that broken tooth.” The grin deepened. “Breaking that tooth is one of my happiest memories.”
Sky came around the desk to crush him in a hug. Then he did the same to Snow, before lightly punching his shoulder. “You! Snow, you are the reason I was on kitchen duty so much back at the den. Whose idea was it to sit out in the hall outside the Lupa and the Chief’s room when they made love?”
Snow laughed. “That was a long time ago! We were all just kids back then.” He sobered, running his gaze from Sky’s glossy black shoes to his gray-blue slacks with their perfect creases to the matching coat, crisp white shirt and navy blue tie. “You cut your hair. You don’t look like yourself. What’s happened to you?”
Sky’s face retained the smile, but somehow it seemed to Sand as if a door had closed. Sky propped one hip on the edge of his desk. “Like you said, it’s been a long time. People grow up. So, are you here to work with me or just visiting? I can always use more muscle to keep the visitors in line.”
“We’re here for a couple of months. We can help you out. But Sand—”
Sand cut him off. “I found my mate, Sky. She’s here in Omaha, somewhere. You have to help me find her!”
Sky stared for a moment, his level brows pulled low. “Of course.” He looked down at his feet, crossing one ankle over the other and apparently examining the shine on his shoe. “You realize, don’t you, that if she is in Omaha she is probably either already married or working in a house?”
That had been the thought circling his mind like a caged beast ever since he’s recognized his mate. “I know,” he told the carpet softly.
Sky reached a fist to give him a comforting punch in the arm. “But you never know. Maybe her family is well off and they’re able to afford to pay the tax.”
They would have to be very rich to afford the yearly Single Status tax. She hadn’t been middle aged, but she didn’t look like a teenager, either. Sand didn’t know anything about rich women. Had she been wearing rich woman’s clothes? “Yeah, maybe.”
Snow dug in the saddlebag. “Before we get into Sand’s mate, here’s the letters from home.”
Sky took them and leafed through them until he came to the one with Rose’s handwriting on the outside. As far as Sand knew, this was the first letter Rose had written to Sky since she’d found out he was running a House in Omaha. Sky’s hand clenched on the envelope so tightly his knuckles shone white, and that invisible door over his face opened just enough to show the edge of raw emotion before it slammed shut again. “Thanks.” He set the letters casually on the desk behind him. “So tell me about your mate.”