For fuck’s sake, she was part Alaska Native, and she knew nothing of her ancestry, nothing of her people, and nothing of where she came from. Mom had told her she looked different from her siblings because she was just a genetic anomaly. Nicole was special, and Mom and “Dad’s” genes had just mixed in a unique way.
Mom had lied.
Nicole’s eyes burned with the same stupid tears that had been trying to escape since Mom’s sister, Aunt Rita, told her Buck was dead, but like always, she blinked them back because she would not spare another tear for her mom’s betrayal. She was here to figure herself out and become stronger while she fixed this place up to sell. Not to turn to a puddle of emotion every time she thought about the mess her life had become.#p#分页标题#e#
Movement along the tree line outside held her frozen, mid-wipe of the fragrant, chemical-covered cloth. Wiping her hands on the dirty apron she wore, Nicole padded over to the window. She gasped when she saw the wolf for the first time.
He was huge—much bigger than she imagined. He loped toward her, a fish in his mouth. A fish? Did wolves fish? Apparently. A dark gray saddle of color covered his back, his points as white as the snow he trotted across. His paws were enormous, and one of his long canines was visible around the head of the giant fish. Ears alert, he lifted his gaze directly to her, as if he knew she was there, but he didn’t shy away or even slow down. Those eyes. Perhaps he was part husky because they weren’t the brown or gold she’d expected from pictures she’d seen of wolves in the Alaska books. His eyes were light silver like the moon, and absolutely breathtaking to look at. Even if he was here to eat her, she couldn’t deny his powerful beauty. As he disappeared around the house, she grabbed a rifle and bolted for the front window, just in time to see him gently lay the fish beside the bunnies. He canted his head and stared at his pile of lures. Slowly, he lifted his blazing gaze up to the window that separated them, and locked eyes with her.
And there was a moment…
She couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe as she stayed captive to his striking gaze. There was no hostility or hatred, only curiosity and something more. Concern?
And then he broke their connection and turned, jumped off the porch with the scratch of nails on wooden boards, then trotted off toward the tree line without a single look back until he reached the woods. And there he sat for a few minutes, watching her.
Ten minutes ago, she would’ve sworn he was waiting for her to come out so he could attack her, but now she wasn’t so sure. Not after that look they’d shared. Maybe he’d been Buck’s pet, if wild wolves could really be called such a thing.
With a long, steadying inhalation, she gripped the barrel of the rifle and cracked the door open to test him. The animal sat just where he’d been, eyes steady on her, but body relaxed. Okay. She stepped one boot out onto the porch, then jerked her body back inside the door when he twitched. The wolf lifted his hind leg and scratched the back of his ear languidly. If he was waiting to attack her, his body language wasn’t giving him away, that was for sure.
Limbs shaking from nerves, she stepped out of the safety of the cabin and scuffed the thick soles of her boots as she sidled toward the fish. It was so fresh its gills still moved, poor thing. She bent down slowly, carefully, then picked up the large fish by the toothy bottom lip and bolted back into the house. Feeling rude, she opened the door a crack again and called out, “Thank you for the fish! And for not eating me!”
The wolf turned and disappeared into the light snowfall like a ghost in the woods while Nicole stood by the front window, astonished, heavy fish dangling from one hand and her rifle solid in her other.
As she stared into the forest where he’d disappeared, she realized something incredible.
The bright-eyed wolf wasn’t trying to eat her.
He was trying to feed her.
Huh. She frowned and leaned the gun against the wall with the others. She didn’t know much about Buck’s death, but she knew one thing. He was killed by a wolf while he was out trapping some distance down the Yukon. This wolf might seem friendly enough, but she could never forget their brutal nature. Whether he brought her fish or not, that animal was a natural-born predator and not to be trusted.
For some reason, Nicole wasn’t using her generator, and if it was broken, Link couldn’t use his paws to fix the damned thing. But the thought of actually talking to Nicole again in his human form was terrifying. She felt big. Important. She felt like Elyse, Lena, and Vera to him, but more.#p#分页标题#e#