The entire slippery, stressful drive back to Buck’s cabin, she replayed in her mind everything they’d said. And the more she thought, the more she regretted not asking him out. She tried to convince herself it was most likely he was in a relationship and not her unbecoming birthmark that had chased him off, but her stupid insecurities had the best of her by the time she pulled to a stop in front of the dilapidated cabin her biological father had called home before he died.
More regret washed through her as she stared out the frosty front window of his old truck at the splintered door and sagging front porch. The chore of discovering who the man was after his death seemed mountainous. Going into Galena had been a fantastic distraction, but now she had to gather her courage and go back into the cabin, into a stranger’s home to try to pick up clues to who he was.
He’d died one year before she’d known about him, and there was deep tragedy in that. Biting her lip, she cut the engine and took her time gathering all the bags of winter clothes on her forearms before she made her way up the rotted porch stairs. She’d made a snap judgment that Buck was a careless man when she’d first seen this place a few days ago, but now she wasn’t so sure. It had been empty since he’d died last winter, and from what she had read about this place before bed last night, Alaska could demolish an abandoned building in little time and with little effort.
At least the roof looked new. It had new shingles and didn’t leak despite the obvious water damage on the wooden floorboards inside.
Nicole set the bags down in the entryway and looked around. She’d cleaned, scrubbed, and swept until this place was as sparkling as it would get, but it needed more improvements than she had the skill set for. When she’d learned of this place, and of Buck, she’d bought the cabin sight unseen in desperation not to lose his belongings to another buyer. It had been in foreclosure and cheap. This old, ratty cabin was the first house she’d ever bought, and she’d made a bad purchase. Who would want to live way out here in the beyond?
Lincoln McCall would.
The thought brushed her mind for no good reason. She didn’t know him, wouldn’t ever see him again, but there was certainty in that thought. A man like him was built to withstand a place like Galena.
Her breath was crystallizing in front of her face, and she looked forlornly at the wood burning stove with the last two small logs sitting ready beside it and the matchbook on top. She needed to cut wood again, but as she pulled her new gloves carefully off her hands, she winced at the pain. Open blisters covered the pads of her hands from swinging the ax, and her stomach turned just thinking about holding that old handle again. She didn’t have a choice, though, and maybe the thicker gloves would help. She hoped.
Because like it or not, she was here for a little while, and she needed wood to survive the harsh cold.#p#分页标题#e#
Link had been right.
Alaska didn’t care about her vanity.
Alaska harbored sympathy for no one.
Link yanked his hand back and hissed in pain. Dammit that hurt, and it wasn’t the first time he’d hammered his finger today. He shook it out to help with the pain. He felt like chucking the stupid cedar log as hard as he could into the woods, but Drake Marshall was sitting in the rocking chair on his porch, watching him like he was afraid Link was going to make off with his hoard of broken-down tractor parts strewn across his front yard. The old man had a bum arm right now, but some of the logs on his cabin had rotted straight through from springtime water damage, and so he’d hired Link to repair it.
“You thinking about a girl?” Drake asked, his eyes twinkling as though he’d just made the funniest joke in the world.
“No,” Link growled out.
Wolf was getting on his damned nerves today, just like every other day. He should go see Vera. Or Elyse. Or even Lena. The girls could calm the monster in him. He would stay saner longer if he spent time with them, but they had their mates now. They didn’t need him. Nobody did.
Pain slashed through his chest, and he grimaced. With a long, steadying breath, he picked up another nail and went back to work. He would have to Change tonight. It had been a couple of days, and Wolf wasn’t patient like he used to be, back before Link had begun his descent into madness. He and Wolf both knew the human side of him didn’t have much control anymore. God, he hoped Nicole left before Ian had to put him down. He didn’t like the thought of her facing the winter without help.
He shook his head and nearly laughed at what epic horseshit that was. He knew what was happening, why he was feeling so protective. He was just trying to find a replacement for Elyse and the girls. He was trying to feel needed again, and he’d latched onto the first woman who’d shown him attention.