Authors: Caryn Moya Block
Tags: #romance, #holiday, #paranormal, #christmas, #werewolves, #russia, #siberia, #shapeshifter, #esp, #lycans, #alpha male
Shaking the remaining snow from his
fur, he trotted back into the meadow. Now that he was done
releasing some energy, his thoughts quickly returned to Maggie. He
had been wrong about her. She was no more a threat to their
survival than he was.
His wolf urged him to go to her. What
would she do if she found out he was a wolf? What if she rejected
him and went back to America? His parents were gone and his sister
Fanya was married with her own family. Plus, there wasn’t a mating
bond in place. He had no right to approach Maggie without
Sighing, he headed back to his empty
house. His previous joy plummeted until his head hung down, his
heart full of grief. Would he ever find peace?
Maggie sat in her room, staring out at
the forest. The twins would soon be waking from their nap. She’d
enjoyed visiting with Slava and playing with the girls
The world shifted, and her eyesight
changed, showing her a wolf playing in the snow. Another vision.
The wolf stopped and looked toward her. Her breath caught as she
noticed the golden hazel eyes filled with a terrible longing. He
stood majestically, so beautiful that tears welled up. Then he
deflated, his head and tail drooping as he crossed the white
expanse. The form of a man overlaid the wolf, his shoulders
hunched, his hands fisted at his sides. He seemed familiar but the
vision wavered like a mirage and she couldn’t make out his
Her sight cleared, and she was once
more in her room, clutching the quilt in her fists. Her heart hurt
and tears rolled down her cheeks. What did it mean? Why did she
think the wolf was connected to Slava?
The sound of whining caught her
attention, followed by a sharp yip. Was there a dog in the house?
She got up and headed toward the sound. As she reached the hall,
she noticed Yelena hurrying into the twin’s room. Were the girls
playing with a dog?
Maggie walked down the hall and
reached for the handle. The door suddenly opened, and Yelena stood
in front of her, blocking the entrance.
“Are the girls awake? Do they need a
diaper change? I’d be happy to help,” Maggie said.
“Already taken care of, dear. They
need a few moments to finish waking up before we disturb them. Why
don’t you come down to the kitchen and help me with dinner? The sun
will be setting, and the men will be returning soon. They like
their food ready,” Yelena answered, taking Maggie by the arm and
leading her to the stairs.
A little disappointed, Maggie let
Yelena steer her down to the kitchen. Why wouldn’t she let her see
the twins? Shaking her head in confusion, Maggie started peeling
the potatoes as Yelena directed. Didn’t they trust her?
Kolya left the security building and
headed for home. The report on the mine inspection he’d read before
leaving contained some disturbing news he would need to share with
Dmitry. Several of the cross timbers were rotting and needed to be
replaced in the spring. It looked like the accident that killed
Slava’s father had been just that, an accident.
But since the landslide, Slava had
grown more aggressive. Would he challenge Kolya for the Beta
position? It wasn’t unheard of for a pack to have more than one
Beta, especially one this large. Could he accept another wolf
sharing his job?
Humming floated through the air, and
Kolya’s heart filled with love. He put the troubles of the day
aside. Alena must be in the kitchen.
He opened the door, walked up behind
his wife, and slipped his arms around her. Alena giggled and turned
away from the stove, into his arms. Love filled him to
“How was your day?” she asked and gave
him a kiss.
“Miserable without you,” Koyla
replied, realizing it was true.
“I missed you too,
. I think Aleksandr
might be teething. I caught him chewing on the leg of the crib
today. What should we do?”
Kolya liked the way Alena included him
in the decision making. “Do we have any of those rubber bones like
Dmitry got for the twins when they were chewing the lodge up? Or we
could give him a large steak bone to gnaw on.”
“I worry about giving him a real bone.
What if it broke apart? The slivers might be dangerous. I’ll ask
Violet about the rubber bones tonight at dinner. We’ve been invited
over to welcome Maggie.”
“What do you have cooking on the stove
“Soup. Violet said Maggie doesn’t like
the cold, so I thought it would warm her.”
A sudden wailing filled the air. They
both smiled at each other, hearing their son’s voice.
, while you get
the soup ready,” Kolya said.
He kissed his wife once more before
moving down the hall to his son’s room. He opened the door, and his
heart clenched at seeing his child fussing in the crib. His heart
felt so full he feared it would burst.
. Papa will get you ready to
His son quieted immediately upon
hearing his voice.
“Tonight we go to visit with the
Alpha, your Uncle Dmitry, and your twin cousins. Your babushka will
hold you and sing you a lullaby. Would you like that?” He finished
changing Aleksandr’s diaper and dressed him in warm clothes to make
the trek over to the Alpha’s lodge.
Alena came in behind him and wrapped
her arm around his waist as she peered over his shoulder. “How are
my two guys doing?” she asked.
Maggie heard the front door open, and
then someone ran up the stairs. She looked up and over at Yelena,
wondering who it was.
“Violet is home to get the girls up
from their nap. She should be down in a few minutes.”
Violet was finally home? Maybe now she
could go into the girls’ room.
“I’d like to help her. Would you mind
if I go up?” Maggie asked.
“Of course not, dear. Dinner is almost
ready. Go visit with your friend.”
Maggie untied her apron, hurried out
of the kitchen, and up the stairs. The door to the girls room stood
open, and she could hear giggling coming from inside. “Can I come
in?” she asked, standing in the doorway.
Violet turned with a smile. “Of
course. Aunt Maggie is always welcome, isn’t she,
Both girls jumped up and down in their
cribs. Maggie walked into the room and over to Karina. Violet
handed her a diaper and then started to change Katya. Maggie laid
Karina down and got to work.
“Is Slava married?” Maggie
“No, he hasn’t found the right woman
yet. His parents died six months ago. Both he and his father were
caught in a cave in at the mine. Slava was unconscious for a couple
of days. We feared he wouldn’t make it. Laurel, Anton’s wife, was
able to help him, and he woke up. Unfortunately his mother had
already slipped into a coma. She died the next day.”
“Six months ago isn’t very long. I
know I grieved for my parents for at least a year before I could
face life without feeling horrible. I still tear up occasionally,
and it’s been five years now,” Maggie said.
“Slava also has problems with
headaches. Laurel hasn’t been able to help him with the pain. They
can get so bad he has to go to bed. His sister stayed with him the
“I’m sorry to hear that. He seems like
such a nice man. You should have seen him with the girls this
afternoon. He’ll make a good father someday.”
“Is something going on with you two?”
Violet looked over.
“I just met him.” Maggie’s face
flushed. She did have feelings for Slava. “I think I could fall for
Violet smiled, and then her look
turned pensive. “Be careful, Mags. I don’t know if Slava can think
about love right now. He’s still grieving. You could get
“I’ll be careful. I know what it’s
like to lose both parents.”
“I know you do, sweetie. Come on,
let’s take the girls downstairs. They can play until the men get
home and dinner is on the table. Alena and Kolya are coming over
and bringing little Alexsandr. He’s such a cutie.”
“So, Alena is your sister in law, and
Anton is her twin, right?”
“Yup, Anton and Laurel are in England
right now. I miss them. This will be the first Christmas the family
won’t all be together.”
“Well, instead of your brother in law,
you have me,” Maggie teased, trying to lighten the mood.
“Yes, and I am so glad you decided to
“How do you handle the dark?” Maggie
asked as she sat down at the kitchen table the next morning. They
had all been up late last night with the special dinner Violet held
to welcome her. “I know the amount of sun is limited in the
winter—I guess I didn’t realize how much.”
“Well, I changed a lot of the light
bulbs to full spectrum bulbs. That helps, and if I get to feeling
down, I have my Ott lights. I sit with the light shining on my
face.” Violet got up and walked over to the stove. She spooned some
porridge into a bowl and then sprinkled on a few raisins before
drizzling honey over the top. Then she placed the bowl in front of
“That looks good, thanks. I get
depressed on a rainy day in Virginia. I’m not sure I could handle
these long dark days.” Maggie picked up the carafe of milk and
poured some onto her hot cereal.
“Well, today is the winter solstice,
so it’s the darkest day of the year. The village has a special
celebration. The women have the job of decorating the Yule log and
cooking, of course. Tonight, there will be bonfires and singing and
dancing under the stars. It’ll be fun.”
“It sounds cold,” Maggie
Violet laughed. “You’re such a city
girl, Mags. It’ll be fun, I promise. We could use your
Maggie sighed. “What do I need to
“Well first off, smile. The lack of
light really is affecting you, isn’t it? I’ll put one of my Ott
lights next to your bed. When you wake up in the morning, turn it
on and rest with the rays on your face for five to ten minutes.
That should get you going.”
“I’m sorry to be so out of it. It’s
probably jet lag.”
Maggie snapped her coat closed and
pulled a knit hat over her head. She really did feel grumpy and
helping in the kitchen that morning made her more so. She turned to
watch her goddaughters, who were playing on the floor in the
sitting room. Katya stacked colored cups into a tower while Karina
cuddled her stuffed wolf. Maggie had been surprised to hear that
Slava and his nephew gave the toy to her. She couldn’t help but
grin as she gazed at the two little girls. Her heart lightened, and
a fierce longing rose up. A longing for what, she wasn’t sure.
Children? A family?
Illarion had come over to help in the
kitchen again this morning. He was a rambunctious eight year old
who did more harm than help. Nevertheless, he was sweet and made
all the women smile. Both Yelena and Violet seemed to dote on the
blond-haired cutie. Maggie was hard pressed not to steer the
conversation to his uncle. But when the boy did mention Slava, it
was with adoration.
Illarion seemed to be very aware of
the twins and what they were doing. Maggie didn’t think that was
normal behavior for a boy his age. Still, he was so careful with
the girls and so loving.
“Sorry, I left you hanging.” Violet
walked into the room, her coat on her arm. “Yelena will stay with
the twins while we go help with the Yule log.”
“Sounds good.” Maggie followed Violet
out the door and down a snow-covered path. Good thing she wore snow
boots. At least the sun was out, though its rays seemed weak,
barely making it through the trees lining the trail.
“The men set up a workroom for us.
That way the elderly women of the village will have a comfortable
place to work. You’ll like it too—there’s a huge
“With a huge fire, I
hope.” The cold air touched Maggie’s face. Why hadn’t she brought a
scarf? “Will any of the men be there?”
Will I see Slava?
“I’m sure one or two will be hanging
around. They are so protective of the women in this village. For
some strange reason, they don’t think we know how to stoke a fire
or come in out of the cold.”
“You sound a little bitter.” Maggie
looked closely at her friend. Was Violet unhappy here?
“Not really, just a little frustrated.
When Dmitry plays the big alpha male, I like the feelings of safety
and being cherished. However, when the other men do it, I want to
smack them. I guess it’s not fair to have a double standard. I know
most of the men would give their life for me, if necessary. How
many women have a whole village of men that want to protect
“Wow, I doubt anyone else does. All of
the men feel they need to protect you?”