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Tuesday Teaser, Wolf’s Lady Part 14

Sorry Amanda and Sand’s story is a little late this week. I worked on the Final Line Edits for Wolf’s Vengeance over the weekend and completed them last night. In about a month, I’ll send out a contest through my newsletter for someone to win an ARC of Mel and Snake’s story. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, the sign up form is on the right.

 

The entrance to the gardens came in sight. She grabbed his hand. “I don’t want to talk about that anymore. I want to show you my favorite spot in the gardens.”

She rushed Sand through the profusion of blooming beds of flowers to a small open area. There weren’t any colorful blossoms here, only ornamental grasses lining gravel pathways. There was a fountain in its center, a collection of logs and stones for the water to pour over, but it was dry now. Amanda pulled Sand to one of the benches scattered around the clearing.

“Sit down,” she invited, settling herself on the bench.

He sat, leaving a few inches between their thighs. It surprised her; she’d expected him to plaster himself against her. “This is your favorite place?” he asked, looking around.

Maybe he thought it was plain here. Just a few yards away from where they sat the gardens blazed with the heavy blooms of gold chrysanthemums and red asters. She loved that too, but this was her special place. She was surprised by how much she wanted to share it with him.

“Yes. When I come here I feel close to my mom.”

New interest brightened his dark eyes. “Your mom comes here?”

The grief, dulled by time though it was, stabbed her. “No. She died when I was seven, but this is where I remember her.” She drew the edge of the shawl higher on her neck. “On Sunday afternoons me and my mom and dad would come here. I would run around on the grass while mom sat on a bench with my dad. She always had her knitting with her.”

Amanda brushed a hand over the stone bench, remembering her mom’s knitting bag on the ground under this very bench, a colorful strand of yarn rising from the bag to the needles flashing in her hands, on its way to becoming a sock or a sweater or a shawl. Her parents leaned toward one another with loving smiles, speaking quietly to one another and glancing over at their cavorting daughter from time to time. The love between them was something the seven-year-old girl didn’t totally comprehend, but she recognized it as something that made her feel safe. Even today, the twenty-five-year-old woman looked back on it as something beautiful, the goal of all marriages.

Sand touched a hand to hers. “Is it a good memory? You look sad.”

Looking sad was a thing she didn’t allow herself, so she took her hand away from him with a smile and changed the subject. “What do you have to offer me if I marry you?”

He didn’t look surprised by the abrupt change of topic, only thoughtful. She considered that a point in his favor. “I’m not rich. I don’t live in a fancy house. I don’t wear pricy clothes or talk in big pretty words.”

“Are you trying to talk me out of considering you?” she laughed.

He didn’t laugh. “No. Just trying to be honest with you. If you accept my mate claim I promise to take care of you. You’ll always have enough to eat, and we’ll have our choice of places to build our house in the Clan’s land. I’ll do everything I can to make you happy.”

“You haven’t said anything about love. Don’t you believe in love at first sight?”

“No.” His eyes were solemn. “Lust at first sight, yes.” Now a corner of his mouth kicked up in a quick grin, that settled immediately back into solemnity. “Love is something different, though, something much better.”

She could agree with that. “You’re right. But you said your picked me at first sight yesterday.”

“My wolf chose you to be my mate,” he corrected.

“So it’s your wolf that fell in love with me at first sight?”

His chuckle was soft. “I guess you could put it that way.”

She glanced sideways at him, trying to understand how that lean, slimly muscled body could house a wolf. “What if the man doesn’t want the same woman the wolf wants? Does that ever happen?”

“No …” He trailed off, frowning at the grass at their feet. “Maybe. One of my cousins sent his mate away. They were unhappy together, but they’re just as miserable apart.” He focused his gaze on her face. “We can be happy together, Amanda, I know it. We can learn to love one another. As long as we are honest with each other and talk things out we can make it work. Please, promise me to always tell me how you feel. If I do something wrong, talk to me about it, okay?”

She tried to imagine one of her clients saying that to her, especially in that gentle, earnest tone, and failed. “Okay, I promise. I’ll start by saying I’ve never brought any other man here to my special place. Only you.”

His smile beamed light as well as any lamp. It turned him from a handsome man into a gorgeously appealing one. She leaned closer to him, wanting to kiss that smiling mouth.

He flowed to his feet with such smoothness it almost didn’t seem abrupt. His crouched posture was that of a wild animal protecting something. “What?” she began.

“Sh,” he hissed. “Someone’s coming.”

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