Authors: Caryn Moya Block
Tags: #romance, #holiday, #paranormal, #christmas, #werewolves, #russia, #siberia, #shapeshifter, #esp, #lycans, #alpha male
“He is getting worse,” Kolya said. “I
think he wanted to challenge me today. I’m not sure I could beat
him if he was serious. He didn’t back down until you stepped
“Slava is a good man,” Dmitry said.
“Stubborn, but he truly fears for our future. His wolf is strong.
He may need a pack of his own one day. I don’t think he will
challenge me for this one.” He paused, a thoughtful expression on
his face. “He grows restless. Laurel worries about his headaches.
When he was injured in the rockslide at the mine, something went
wrong when he shifted. He still deals with pain every day. Constant
pain can wear anyone down. He has a good reason to be
“Are you sure he is the best person to
send after Maggie?”
“I think he is the perfect person,”
Dmitry said, smiling.
Maggie gritted her teeth and pulled
the luggage cart carrying her three suitcases behind her. Okay, it
was overkill to bring so many, except she needed to layer her
clothes if she was going to handle the cold. After only a mere two
hours, she walked out of the customs area in Moscow’s Domodedovo
Airport and looked around. Shouldn’t someone be here to meet
She looked around for someone she
might recognize or at least someone holding a sign up with her name
A tall man leaned against the wall and
checked his watch with a frown. Maggie’s breath came out in a gasp.
His face looked like a Roman statue, all sharp angles and regal
bearing. His light brown hair flowed to his shoulders in thick
waves, and her hands itched to run her fingers through the silky
He looked up as if he felt her
scrutiny. Their eyes met. Maggie couldn’t have turned away if she
wanted to. His hazel eyed gaze captured hers, and something wild
and dangerous looked out at her. His nostrils flared, and then he
walked up. She wanted to run, whether to him, or away she wasn’t
“You’re late.” Taking her arm, he
dragged her toward the concourse.
A jolt of electricity ran from his
fingertips into her chest. Maggie jumped and tripped over her snow
boots as she tried to stop his forward momentum. “Wait. Who are
you?” she asked, her voice coming out sounding
“I am Vyacheslav Putyatinov. Dmitry
sent me to fetch you.”
“I’m sorry, Vyache. . .” Maggie
blushed with embarrassment. She couldn’t even get his name
The man continued to drag her after
him, and she pulled the luggage cart behind her. He had said that
Dmitry sent him. But she wasn’t a bone, damn it.
“You may call me Slava.” He glanced
sideways at her.
Should she feel honored?
“Look, Slava. I just spent seven hours
on a plane and two hours in customs. I’m tired. You need to slow
down and quit dragging me.”
The man stopped abruptly and turned to
look first at her and then at her luggage cart. His jaw tightened,
and then a flash of pain passed across his eyes before the golden
hazel color sparked at her.
“Do you always travel with three
suitcases?” he asked, his voice going cold.
“No, I normally don’t travel to
Siberia in winter either,” Maggie answered with a huff as she
crossed her arms.
Slava’s lips twitched, and for a brief
moment Maggie thought he might laugh. She glared.
Then she turned her back on him and
continued to drag the luggage cart in the direction they had been
traveling. She wasn’t helpless, and she certainly didn’t need him
laughing at her. A rush of anger flooded her system. It was such a
long trip; her body ached and the luggage cart was heavy. Why
should she care what this arrogant lout thought? He was the one who
had been impatient with her.
A gentle hand on her arm surprised
her, and she whirled around to find Slava’s concerned gaze on her.
He must have moved quickly to follow her.
“Forgive me. I did not take your
weariness from your trip into account. Are you hungry? There is
food on the jet, or if you’d like, we can pick up
“I don’t think I can eat. My stomach
isn’t happy with airplane food,” Maggie said, taken back by the
change in the man’s manner.
“Let me take the cart. There is a car
waiting out front to take us to the jet.”
Maggie nodded and stepped aside to let
Slava take possession of the cart. Instead of pulling it, he turned
it around and pushed. As he came up beside her, he stopped and
reached for her hand. He placed it on the cart and then covered it
gently with his before once more heading toward the front of the
airport at a slower pace. Warmth flowed into her body where his
hand touched hers. She peeked up at his face, but he stared
intently ahead. She looked away quickly, suddenly embarrassed. What
was wrong with her? Was it jet lag?
Slava tried not to look at the woman
walking beside him. He didn’t know why he had been so rough. His
irritation at this assignment had nothing to do with her
personally. The electric jolt when they touched confused him. Her
scent softly enveloped him. She smelled of vanilla and
Her red curls glinted in the overhead
lights as if flames ran through them. When she’d stood up to him,
her pert little nose rising in the air, he’d found her adorable.
Then she’d turned her back and walked away, dragging the loaded
luggage cart behind her. If she was pack, he would call her an
His wolf rushed to the surface—not
surprising given she’d challenged him. Except his wolf didn’t want
to challenge the woman as much as chase after her. Then he caught
the smell of salty air, and her scent deepened, losing its light,
mouthwatering fragrance. He’d hurt her.
His wolf raged, looking to bite the
offender. No one could hurt this woman, not while Slava lived.
Nonetheless, he already had. Shame shook him. His late mother had
taught him better.
He wanted to make up for his mistake,
wanted to bring a smile to Maggie’s face. He was drawn to her,
almost against his will. She was a beautiful woman, small and
petite with creamy white skin and fiery red hair. However, he had
seen other beautiful women. Why did she have this effect on him?
What was it that made him forget the pain that constantly pounded
in his head when he looked at her?
They finally arrived at the main
entrance, and Slava led Maggie outside. A black Mercedes 4x4 waited
by the curb. Zhora jumped out and took possession of the cart.
Slava kept Maggie’s hand in his and opened the door to the back
seat so she could climb in. She scooted over, and Slava climbed in
Zhenya turned to the back, a smile on
his face. Slava leaned forward, blocking Zhenya’s view. His lip
curled, and a low growl rumbled from his throat. He didn’t want the
other men looking at Maggie.
Zhenya frowned and glanced at his
brother when he climbed into the front passenger seat. They both
looked at Slava, and then shrugged their shoulders before facing
forward. Zhenya put the car in gear and headed for the side of the
airport that housed the private jets.
Slava sat back. Why was he reacting
this way? He reached over Maggie’s lap to secure the seatbelt for
her. With dark circles under her eyes, she looked exhausted. He had
been so taken with her beauty he’d failed to see the signs of her
fatigue before this.
“It should only be about fifteen
minutes before we arrive at the jet. Once on board, you can rest,”
Maggie groaned and dragged her eyelids
open as the car pulled in front of the gangway leading to the small
Cessna jet. The two men in the front seat jumped out and started to
unload her suitcases. Slava leaned across her and undid her
seatbelt before opening his door and sliding out. He quickly walked
around to her side of the car, opened the door, reached in, and
gripped her arm.
“You don’t have to treat me like an
invalid. I’m tired, not crippled.” Maggie pulled her arm free and
climbed out of the car, irritation coloring her tone.
“Forgive me. I mean no disrespect.
Don’t American men help their women from a vehicle?” Slava asked,
“Yes, except perhaps not so
forcefully.” Maggie decided to give the guy a break. His
manhandling might be nothing more than a difference in culture. She
was tired, perhaps she was over-reacting.
She led the way up the stairs to the
plane’s door and peeked inside. She’d never been on a private jet
before. Leather swivel seats sat next to a table attached to the
wall. Across the aisle was a light gold couch, and next to that sat
a bar with a cabinet over the top. Through the glass doors, Maggie
made out bottles of alcohol and crystal glasses.
“Please enter,” Slava said from behind
her. “Take any seat you like.”
Maggie walked down the aisle and
removed her white, ankle-length, down coat before sitting on the
far side of the couch. She held the coat on her lap, not knowing
where it might be stowed. Besides, if it got cold, she would want
to cover up with something.
Slava stood near the door, watching
her. Once she was seated, he made his way into the cockpit. Maggie
could hear the murmur of voices as he talked to the
The two men from the front of the car
walked in laughing. Maggie hadn’t been able to make them out
clearly and only caught a sense of large males with dark hair. From
their faces it was apparent they were twins. Both possessed
twinkling blue eyes. Although, where Slava’s brown hair was light
with highlights of gold, theirs was coffee-colored.
As they noticed her sitting on the
couch, they both playfully rushed forward, pushing on each other,
trying to be first. The winner of the race wore a huge triumphant
grin and bowed low in front of her before reaching for her hand and
bringing it up to his lips for a kiss. Maggie’s cheeks
“Welcome to Russia, beautiful Maggie,
friend to Violet,” he said, still holding her hand, his eyes
twinkling. “I am Zhora, and I am at your service.”
“Thank you.” Maggie pulled her hand
gently from his. “It’s very nice to meet you.”
The other brother pushed forward. “I
am Zhenya.” He bowed and also reached for her hand. He didn’t seem
to be as practiced as his brother. “Anything the beautiful Maggie
needs, she has only to ask,” he continued before also placing a
kiss on her knuckles.
Maggie tried to hide the chuckle
wanting to escape and hoped her smile didn’t come out a grimace.
The brothers were potent with their broad shoulders and handsome
faces. She would bet her last dollar that they could charm any
woman with just a look. Too bad she didn’t feel any attraction, not
like when she first saw Slava.
A low growl sounded behind Zhenya, and
a hand suddenly reached forward and grabbed his wrist. He
immediately released hers and stepped back, dropping his gaze to
the floor. Slava stepped forward, his look cold and completely
focused on the twins. Maggie shivered, a sudden feeling of danger
washing over her.
“Prepare the cabin for takeoff,” he
directed, his words clipped. An aura of power filled the
Both men stepped away from him before
hurrying to do his bidding.
“You must forgive their enthusiasm.”
Slava turned to look at her, his gaze warming. “They are
His stare searched her face, and
flames licked Maggie’s skin. She looked away, afraid he would
somehow know his effect on her, and clasped her hands together.
“There is nothing to forgive. They are very charming. I found their
behavior…complimentary.” Maggie stared out the window over the back
of the couch. Looking anywhere except at Slava. Feelings of
confusion and desire warred with self-preservation. There was
something wild and untamed about this man.
“Indeed? Complimentary?” Slava sat
down on the couch beside her and faced her.
“Uhm, yes. I guess women like the
whole kissing your hand and bowing kind of thing. American men
don’t do things like that any longer, if they ever did.”
“I see. Then you must allow
“Allow you to what?” Maggie turned to
look at him, suddenly confused.
“To kiss your hand,” Slava said, as he
slowly lifted her hand from her lap and brought it to his
His eyes stared into hers, and she
shivered but couldn’t look away. He held her hand below his lips,
and his warm breath whispered against her skin. Maggie’s breath
caught. He touched his lips to her knuckles in a fleeting caress,
so faint she wondered if anything could ever compare. Then he
pressed his soft lips to her knuckles. Even as he lowered her hand
back down to her lap, tingles raced under her skin, as if somehow
he’d marked her in a way that would never come off.
She covered her knuckles with the palm
of her other hand, all the time unable to look away from Slava’s
face. He mesmerized her. She didn’t know whether she wanted to hold
onto his kiss or rub it off.
The sound of someone clearing their
throat finally worked its way into her consciousness. Slava turned
to look at the person intruding on their moment and suddenly she
was free. Maggie blinked. What had just happened?