Authors: Shady Grace
Her body shook with nervous excitement. But as quickly as it started, he pulled back.
It took a moment for Mary to open her eyes, and when she did, Terry stared down at her with lust and something else shining in those deep blue depths. “Are you sorry about that, too?”
She swallowed and shook her head. “No.”
“Good. Cause as long as you don’t push me away, I’ll make you not feel sorry every chance I get.”
Mary exhaled a shaky breath as Terry went back to the chopping block, picked up the axe, and set another log on the block.
. She touched her lips and stared at him in shocked silence as he chopped another dozen logs, the sweat slithering down his back, making it harder and harder for her to do something useful.
Why, oh why did I let him come here?
Her body still trembled. She felt ridiculous yet wonderful all at once. How could he make her feel this hot without any effort? Was she so inexperienced that a simple kiss made her soaking wet and ready to lie down right there?
He was dangerous. The son of a notorious crime boss. Maybe he killed people daily and snorted cocaine off of women’s breasts. She knew so little about him except for these scary things that made her nervous, she literally shook like a leaf in a steady wind.
Maybe now was a good time to discover more about this mystery man who’d wormed his way into her life. She needed some answers to ease the crazy thoughts kicking her frazzled mind.
“Do you like your job, Terry?”
He paused with the axe above his head and slowly lowered it. When he turned to face her, the tilt of his brow and straight mouth made him look different somehow. Perhaps angry yet indifferent at the same time, if that was even possible.
He shook his head. “No. I don’t.”
“Then why do you do it?”
He looked toward the trees as if he’d find his answer there. With his back straight and his shoulders square he looked completely miserable at that moment. “I guess it’s kinda like any family business you’re born into. You feel like it’s your only choice. And I would do anything for my father.”
Mary nodded, understanding the need to please a parent. “Have you ever told him what you really want?”
He sighed, his shoulders slouching. He looked completely lost and tired of life. “No. I’ve never told him. I wouldn’t know what to say.”
“You could start with the truth.”
He glanced at her then. “The truth is I’ve always been a little afraid of the old man. I know he loves me, but he expects only the best from me, like I’m just another employee. If I had my way I’d only run the hotel. I’m good at it. I seem to have a knack for knowing what people want.”
“What exactly do you do for him, anyway?”
Like the flip of a switch, gone was his sad and disappointed face, replaced with a sly smile and eyes as deadly as a wolf. “I do anything I’m told.”
She swallowed and looked at the house.
So much for reasonable answers.
“Well, how about some breakfast?” She didn’t want to hear the details of what his job entailed, having seen enough a few months prior. Maybe that was a bad question to start with.
“You read my mind. Let me finish up here first.” And he went back to chopping wood as if their conversation held no weight at all on her fragile soul.
Mary set out scrambling some eggs and bacon and adding slices of bread in the toaster oven. She had just finished setting the table when Terry strolled into the house. He sipped his coffee and stared at her life between these four walls. She tried hard to ignore the sweltering heat his kiss had caused. The house seemed tiny while he was in it.
Terry eyed a bookcase then glanced over his shoulder, his smile teasing. “Historical romance, eh?”
“So you like the damsel in distress and the noble rogue who comes to her rescue? Only for him to steal her virtue anyway?”
She giggled at his poor attempt at a Scottish accent. “Maybe I do.”
“Good to know.” He turned his attention back to the bookcase while Mary sat at the table staring at him, intrigued and surprised by his display of humor.
“Are you a damsel in distress, Mary?”
“Uh, no.” How could she possibly answer without sounding like an idiot? Yes, she was distressed and unhappy but she wasn’t a damsel like in those romance books. She didn’t have long, flowing golden hair and bright eyes with tits nearly bursting from her bodice. She was plain old Mary Billings. Shoulder-length brown hair, brown eyes, and barely a handful on her chest. Nothing epic about that.
Terry approached her at the table and leaned down, so close the heat of his breath fanned the ticklish spot below her ear. “Do you need rescuing, Mary?”
She fought to control the sudden and overwhelming electricity streaking through her. “No.”
“Are you sure?”
“No. I mean, yes.” She closed her eyes and shuddered. “Don’t toy with me, Terry.”
When was the last time she felt this much excitement? She thought he was going to kiss her right there over the toast, and for the love of God, she wanted him to. It terrified her how bold he acted around her. How sensual his words sounded coming from his sexy mouth she should forget about. Why did she feel empty-headed when he looked at her like that?
He was the complete opposite from Tom who was short and stocky with black hair and dark brown eyes, who had no clue how to flirt. Terry was tall and athletic with golden hair and pale blue eyes that seemed to stare right through her into the deepest, darkest depths of her soul. And he could charm the panties right off her over a plate of eggs and bacon.
Maybe she did need rescuing. Maybe she was the poor, hapless girl who needed a strong man to take control.
No more doing what a man wanted her to do. She was the boss of her own life now, not trailing behind, terrified of what to do next.
Confused about this whole situation was an understatement, and Mary knew she needed to keep control of herself with a man like Terry. He was probably used to getting his way all the time. Maybe he was a total player and she should avoid him completely. Let him camp out and rest for whatever time he needs then send him home.
Still, she couldn’t control the war between her body and her mind.
“How about you show me around after breakfast? I’ve never really seen the property before, not in detail anyway. Then I’ll get to work setting up my tent.”
She forked some eggs. “Sure.”
They ate breakfast in silence. Every once in a while Mary would look up to find him staring at her. She had a million questions to ask but none of them seemed appropriate at the moment. Maybe some normal time together was all she needed to learn the real man behind Terry McCoy, and to discover what he was
doing here. Did he know Gabe offered her money to let him stay here?
He seemed to think she wanted him to be here. Well, she did and she didn’t. She didn’t really know what the hell she wanted.
She took their plates and set them in the sink, still leery about this whole visit, but determined to keep an open mind. After all, having some company was a nice change. Soon she’d be alone again.
A gust of wind blew into the open window above the sink. She looked out to the stand of pines as she’d done many times before. If only those green guards could tell her what her purpose should be in life. If she were to be honest with herself,
honest, she’d want to leave this place, start fresh, make roots in a place where she didn’t feel left out. But she couldn’t tell Terry that, not now. Probably not ever.
They exited the back door and Mary took Terry around the yard. Behind the house was a small clearing where she kept her skinning station, fur shed, and the smoke house. Everything was kept clean to keep the bears away, although at times her efforts didn’t matter. Seven dogs and a gun usually scared them off.
Mary opened the shed door and when Terry stepped inside he seemed surprised at what he saw. “Wow. I didn’t realize you could do all this.”
Wolf, lynx, and beaver pelts hung on the far wall, all ready to be taken in. On another wall hung batches of sinew. Sometimes when Mary had time she’d make purses and small handbags from deer hide, but she usually just prepared the hides and brought them to Byron. He had his price and she had hers. As long as they both walked away happy, where the furs and hides went after meant nothing to Mary.
But lately all she managed to do was take care of nuisance beaver. The trapline held no importance to her now, not with Tom out of the picture. That was his baby.
“This is my life.” She stared at her pelts, proud of her skills yet daunted by her bleak future. She loved the wilderness and the adventure, but many mornings she woke up wondering what else was out there. There must be more to life than this. Sure, she had all the necessities, and sometimes a simple life came by easier, but more and more she became bored of this routine.
Terry walked around and touched the pelts. Watching his hand gently skim the furs made Mary wonder how it would feel if he touched her the same way. But she shook it off and reminded herself that Terry was here as a friend for a quiet vacation. Kissing her as he did shouldn’t mean anything, even though to her it did.
“How long have you been doing this?”
She cleared her throat and tried to concentrate on his questions, not how pathetic she was thinking about how hot it would be to make love to him on a bear rug. “About twelve years, I guess. Tom started teaching me a few years after we were married.” She looked down at the floor. “When we realized I couldn’t have his kids.” He didn’t need to hear that, probably didn’t want to either, but something inside told her it needed to be said.
“A doctor told you that, or Tom did?”
She didn’t answer, but she didn’t disobey her husband and see a doctor in secret even though she wanted to. There were many things she wanted to do but she couldn’t.
When she looked up, Terry was facing her now. She didn’t know what went on in his mind, but he seemed sad for her. “Do you want children?”
She shrugged, embarrassed to answer truthfully. “Maybe. One day.” She couldn’t tell him those motherly urges had bothered her for years now. She wanted to love somebody more than anyone could ever love her. Tom had said it was her fault she couldn’t have children. She must be barren and therefore, not a proper wife.
“I’ll show you the dogs and my horse now.”
Terry nodded without another word and followed her outside. The doghouses were lined up along the side of the house. A few of them were on top of their roofs, others inside their houses. None of them showed any interest in Terry which surprised Mary.
Maybe they were stunned by his good looks, too.
“They’re named after the seven dwarfs.”
“You’re serious?” Terry chuckled. “I like your sense of humor.”
“Thanks.” Mary walked over to pet the first one. “They’re Samoyed’s so they’re not big dogs but they have loads of energy. This is Grumpy. I’m surprised you’re not getting barked at.”
“Maybe he likes me.”
doesn’t like anyone.”
* * * *
Terry stared at Grumpy, feeling like he’d met a new friend. He reached out to pet her and the dog bared her teeth. He pulled his hand back, grateful it was still attached. The memory of Gabe chopping Adolfo’s finger off flashed before his eyes.
“Told you she doesn’t like anyone. She barely lets me touch her. She’s the dominant one here. They all follow her.”
Mary introduced him to Sleepy and Dopey who were, oddly enough, the only others awake and on top of the roof.
“Beautiful dogs. They’re so white it’s almost blinding.”
Mary laughed, walking away from him now. “Not when they get into the muck. It’s a job in itself just cleaning them. Good thing for the river being close by.”
His gaze wandered down to the jeans clinging to her ass too perfectly. Even though she drowned in her t-shirt he still had a lovely view of her round bum. The urge to grab her by the buns, yank her around and kiss her, bore through him like dynamite. But he kept those urges to himself and followed her around the yard. He knew he’d make another move soon, but he wanted to play his cards right.
Next they visited the barn and a huge horse named Blue. Terry rubbed his muzzle and smiled as Blue nudged his chest and seemed to enjoy his attention.
After a few minutes admiring the big steed, they strolled out of the barn.
“What else do I get to see?”
“That’s pretty much it, unless you want to see the equipment. You’ve already seen the woodshed and chopping block on the other side. The rest of the property is bush and river.”
He didn’t want to see anything else, only her naked body lying beneath him on the patch of grass they were walking on. “Where should I set up my tent?”
Mary stopped on a flat grassy surface and turned around. “Right here.”