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Wolf Fur Hire(3)

By:T. S. Joyce

“I never met Buck. And don’t say that,” Link said, glaring. “She’s not hideous.”

“Oh, she’s got a body to be sure. But that face. You’d have to be drunk, desperate, or in the dark to bone her.”

Link stopped breathing and swallowed hard to soften the snarl in his throat. Choking each word out, he said, “I need nails. Six boxes.” And then he needed to get the hell out of here because Wolf was plotting ways to bleed Jack slowly for talking about Nicole like that.

Back outside, supplies hanging heavy in a bag at his side, Link stared at the winter outfitter store and sighed, his breath freezing in front of him. He already knew what he was going to do for Nicole. He owed her.

Ian would have to put him down soon, but the last thing Link would do is repay her for the father who had been stolen from her.

His brother was the reason Nicole was here in an unforgiving stretch of Alaska that would eat her up and spit her out, but Link was going to be the reason she made it out of here alive.

Chapter Two

Nicole Brand stepped carefully onto the icy walkway, but her new boots held, and she didn’t slide. “Okay,” she murmured, pleasantly surprised as she held her plethora of bags out for balance.

Rubbing her cheek against the sleeve of her new jacket, she inched the scarf up higher to cover her face from the passersby. She’d run out of the double-thick make-up she used to look normal, and neither the grocery store nor pharmacy near the medical clinic carried anything that would work. She would have to slather on regular foundation and deal with the discoloration until she got Buck’s cabin sold and went back to Kansas.#p#分页标题#e#

The thought of facing everything back there settled a cold, curdled feeling in her gut. She didn’t belong there. She didn’t belong anywhere.

Inhaling the frigid air, she looked discreetly around for the handsome man who’d rescued her from smashing her head onto the concrete earlier. She couldn’t help herself. Never in her life had she met someone like him. He was a strange sort, who said things that didn’t belong, and he’d seemed reluctant to share even his name. She supposed any person who lived out here in the unforgiving wilderness would have to be a little strange, though. What had triggered him to settle at the end of the world?

He’d smelled good, like masculine body wash or perhaps a subtle cologne, and when he’d helped her, he’d been so solid, so strong. Capable. Lincoln McCall was probably married. She’d checked for a ring, but his heavy winter gloves had covered any chance of figuring out if he was available. Available? She was not here to meet someone. She was here to explore the place she came from, and discover who she really was.

There were townies talking in twos and threes, and several of them shot a curious glance her way, so she ducked her head, angled the birthmark away from the staring public, and crunched across the ice toward the truck she’d found abandoned in front of Buck’s dilapidated cabin. She’d got it working, barely, but it was better than her little two-wheel drive car that sat in Mom’s driveway in Mission, Kansas. That little gas-efficient speedster wouldn’t handle the snowy conditions here at all.

Slamming metal drew her attention, and she frowned at the tall figure that stood with his back to her, right beside her truck. Link was holding a half-empty jug of blue wiper fluid, and there were chains lying on the snowy ground behind each wheel of her truck.

“What are you doing?”

Link startled, his shoulders tensing upward, and he turned slowly. When she stopped in front of him and looked up into his stoic face, her fingers itched to remove his sunglasses just to see how beautiful his face really was underneath. From what she could see, he belonged on a billboard. Strong jaw dusted with short stubble, as if he hadn’t shaved this morning. Dark hair the color of raven feathers peeked out from under his charcoal gray winter hat, and he had sharp cheekbones that would’ve had her friends in Mission falling all over themselves. His Adam’s apple bobbed down into the neck of his jacket, and a muscle jumped in his jaw. “Consider it a welcome-to-Galena gift. Back your truck onto the chains, and I’ll hook them up.”

“How did you know this was my truck?”

“It smells like you.” He jerked his head and a soft, strange sound came from him. “Just kidding.”

“Okaaay,” she drawled out.

“Small town. Everyone knows everyone. I guessed on the truck. Don’t recognize it.”

“Oh.” That made sense.

“Back it up. Please.”

Stunned, Nicole nodded and made her way over the high strip of snow that lined the street to the passenger seat of the truck. She startled hard when Link suddenly appeared at her side and opened the door. He hadn’t even made a sound, which was inconceivable since she’d crunched across the snow like a moose on tequila. Alaskans were probably just better at snow than she was. Sure, Kansas had snowy winters, but not like this, and the streets were plowed and salted immediately. She’d thought she was prepared for the weather here. She’d been so ridiculously wrong.