First some housekeeping. On Wednesday morning I am leaving Fargo to drive to West Chester Ohio for Lori Foster’s Annual Reader & Author Get Together. I have been CRAZY busy getting ready for it, and as a result, the snip this week is rather short. And I will have just gotten home from RAGT next week so there won’t be a snip on 6/10. Sorry about that! I promise to make it up to you!
Also, you may notice some gaps in the story or it seems rushed to you. A reader emailed me to ask about that, so let me explain. You are not getting the entire story. For instance, at the time of this snip, Sand has been courting Amanda for about three weeks. Amanda has taken Sand home to meet her father and her young cousin, who has come to stay with him for a few years. Some things I’m leaving out because they could be spoilers for Wolf’s Vengeance, and because I don’t want to reveal some things for Wolf’s Princess yet. But I promise you’ll get to read the whole thing for free by the end of the year. I’m going to polish it up and post it on the blog in its entirety before Wolf’s Princess comes out.
A knock sounded on Amanda’s door and Cayla poked her head in. “Hey,” the younger business woman said. “Some of us are going shopping. Want to join us?”
No, she didn’t. She wanted to hear what was happening to Sand. But it could be hours before he and Sky returned from the mayor’s house, so she might as well keep herself occupied. “Sure. Give me ten minutes to change.”
When the ladies of Sky’s House went out en masse on what Sky called an assault on Omaha’s shops, men on the street took notice. Knowing they would draw attention, and thus more business, Amanda and the other ladies always dressed for it. Not sluttishly, no. They left that for the women who worked at Gabe’s Girls. Instead, they wore pretty clothes and made their faces up in a more dramatic style than Omaha’s married ladies did. Amanda put on one of her favorite prairie skirts and a loose top with a low scoop neck, some jewelry, a little more lip gloss and mascara, and went downstairs to join Cayla, Helen and Tasha.
Amanda walked down the road to the bus stop, Tasha and Helen in the lead, laughing and talking, with Cayla beside her, putting a comment in now and then. Amanda tried to join in, but her thoughts kept circling back to Sand. Cayla noticed. She was a loud woman, with a boisterous laugh and an off-color sense of humor, but a strong streak of empathy ran through her too.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Sure.” Amanda forced a smile. “What are you shopping for today?”
“I heard that a new shipment of winter dresses has come in from Lisa & Hannah. I’d like to get a few more things from that company. Everything they put out is so pretty. What about you?”
“I think I’ll just browse,” Amanda said vaguely. “Maybe something will catch my eye.”
Cayla’s smile was just a little wicked. “You should buy something for Sand. He looked good enough to eat in Sky’s suit this morning.” Her voice fell into a fake southern drawl. “Lawdy, Mr. Wolfe, you can huff and puff and blow my house down any old time you please.”
A tiny shaft of jealousy shot through Amanda, so she laughed to brush it away. “He does look good in a suit.”
Cayla tucked a lock of her brown curly hair behind her ear. “You could buy him a suit for your wedding,” she suggested in a very innocent voice.
Amanda sucked in her breath, imagining Sand waiting for her at the front of a church while she paced up the aisle, dressed in her mom’s wedding gown. A part of her was startled by how appealing that image was. The rest of her just felt comfortable with the idea. Very comfortable, like she felt when she walked into her dad’s house and knew she was home.
Cayla broke into her thoughts with a snap of her fingers. “You are going to marry him.” Her voice lifted in a teasing lilt. “Put the poor man out of his misery? Aren’t you?”
A roar heralded the approach of the bus. Amanda hitched the strap of her bag higher on her shoulder. “Yes,” she said firmly, peace and happiness flowing through her. “I am going to marry him.”
Ignoring Cayla’s dropped jaw, she mounted the bus with a flip of her hair over her shoulder. Now she knew what she wanted to buy. She needed a negligee for her wedding night. It had to be new, something no other man had ever seen her in, something for only Sand to see. She settled into a seat on the bus, smiling. She could hardly wait until Sand came back so she could tell him she would marry him.