Authors: Caryn Moya Block
Tags: #romance, #holiday, #paranormal, #christmas, #werewolves, #russia, #siberia, #shapeshifter, #esp, #lycans, #alpha male
Slava rose and waited to take both
Illarion and Maggie’s hand as he ushered them outside. Several of
the men at the counter frowned and one of them growled. Kolya
quieted them with a look and followed Maggie and Slava outside.
“I’ll walk with you. I need to speak to Dmitry at the
Slava kept his senses on high alert
and hurried Maggie down the small road to the path into the woods.
Illarion ran ahead. Kolya followed a few steps behind.
“My packages at the toy shop?” Maggie
asked as they hurried by.
“Vikenti will bring them to the lodge
tonight when he closes the shop,” Kolya said.
Maggie looked over at Slava, a
question on her face. He smiled in reassurance and squeezed her
hand. He hated that their trip had been ruined this way. But he
understood how dangerous the situation could have become. To the
others, Maggie was unclaimed. All of them wanted to touch her and
see if the mating bond could be triggered. Finding a mate was their
only chance at having a family.
The pain in his head increased, and he
shuddered. He needed to run as the wolf before it incapacitated
him. He stopped on the path and turned to Kolya. “Forgive me, I am
not feeling well. Could you return Maggie to the lodge and Illarion
to his mother?”
“Of course, is it a headache?” Kolya
asked his gaze concerned.
“Yes. Maggie, please forgive me for
not returning with you to the lodge. I will see you soon.” He
brought her gloved hand up to his mouth and kissed it. How he
wished to take her into his arms and kiss her goodbye. Her eyes
looked so sad and confused. It killed him to leave her. But if he
didn’t, he could end up in bed, unable to function at all. He
reached over and brushed her hair off her cheek. “I hate leaving
you like this.”
“Go. Take care of your headache. I’m
sure Kolya will see me home. Today was perfect, I’m sorry we had to
cut it short due to the weather. But I understand.”
Slava nodded, and before he could come
up with an excuse to stay, walked away.
Maggie stared in the mirror and ran
her hand down the emerald green velvet dress she’d chosen for the
Christmas Ball. She sighed and slipped on the matching pumps.
Tonight was the big Christmas dance, and all she wanted to do was
see Slava again. It was silly, but butterflies swirled around in
The last few days had flown by with
arrangements for the Christmas Ball and preparing food baskets for
the elderly in the village. Even when Slava came over to help
deliver the baskets, she was never alone with him. He would look at
her and then quickly look away. One moment he made her feel hot all
over, not to mention their kisses, and the next he ignored
Illarion reported that his uncle
worked with the horses. Maggie didn’t know the village owned
horses. Sighing again, she paced back and forth in front of the
window. Violet had tried to warn her about Slava. But every time
she saw him, her heart caught on fire. Warmth would spread
throughout her body until she feared she might melt the snow around
her. His eyes would turn a molten gold, and she knew he felt the
same heat, the same passion.
“Are you ready? It’s time to go,”
Violet’s voice came muffled through the door.
“Yes, I’m ready. Come on
Violet opened the door. “You look
beautiful. I love your hair down, and that emerald brings out the
color of your eyes.”
“That’s all well and good, but one
step outside, and I’m going to freeze without my boots,” Maggie
“No you won’t. We aren’t walking to
the party. Come on, our ride is coming. Can’t you hear
Maggie stopped and listened. Off in the distance,
she could hear a chiming sound. “Bells? What is it?”
“A surprise. Now come on.” Violet
grabbed Maggie’s hand and pulled her out of the room.
A young man and girl stepped out of
the twin’s room up the hall. Violet dropped Maggie’s hand and
hurried over to the couple.
“Okay, remember, only one glass of
milk before bedtime. If you give them more, they will need to be
changed and will wake up crying in a couple of hours,” Violet said.
“I can’t thank you enough for babysitting tonight,
“Isabelle will help. The twins will be
fine.” Alain smiled at the girl by his side.
“I know they will. Call me if you have
any questions. . .”
“Violet,” Dmitry called
from downstairs. “Come,
. Your carriage
Violet hesitated, and then grabbed
Maggie’s hand and pulled her to the stairs. “Time to
Maggie looked down into the lodge’s
living room. All attention swung their direction. But the man
standing by the door made her breath catch. Slava wore a black
great coat and gloves. One hand rested on the door handle. His gaze
captured hers, and Maggie moved forward.
Everything else dropped away except
the man staring up at her. A part of her mind heard the surrounding
conversations as Violet descended the stairs in front of her. But
everything within pulled her toward the man eating her with his
gaze. She felt captured, drawn forward to possible heartache and
pain. Nothing could have stopped her as she came down the stairs
and walked over to stop in front of Slava.
“Hi.” Her mouth dried out. He could
crush her with one word.
“You look lovely.” His look caressed
A hand fell on her shoulder. Maggie
looked over and noise descended upon her. Yelena handed out coats
and dumped Maggie’s huge white down jacket into her arms. Dmitry
helped Violet slip on a purple cloak. Kolya stood laughing and
talking with Vikenti, one arm wrapped around his wife.
Maggie swung back to find Slava
looking at the merry group and then sighing and lowering his head.
She touched his arm, knowing he must be missing his
His eyes rose to her, pain reflected
in their depths. Then he blinked and his face showed nothing of his
inner thoughts. “Let me help you with your coat.”
“Thank you.” Maggie handed the item in
question to him. She slipped one arm in and then turned to slip in
Slava drew the edges closed and began
to snap them together. Maggie stiffened, and her cheeks grew hot as
his hand brushed against her breast. He looked at her, the light in
his gaze warming and seeming to grow brighter. Then he turned
abruptly and opened the front door. A blast of cold air flowed into
the house. Maggie blinked, and Slava was already down the stairs
and striding away into the snow.
Confused, Maggie turned to look for
Violet. She blinked and swallowed. Had she done something
The group moved forward, Dmitry and
Violet in front. Violet wrapped an arm around Maggie’s waist and
swept through the door and down the stairs. The stars sparkled in
the dark sky, and Maggie’s heart eased. It was a beautiful night,
even if it was freezing.
“This way,” Violet said, her arm still
gripping Maggie’s puffy coat.
Maggie followed Dmitry and Violet
around the side of the lodge and stopped in sudden amazement. Slava
stood beside a horse hitched to a wooden sleigh. Another sleigh
stood in front of the first, the horse bobbing his head. Bells rang
in the air as the horses moved.
“A one-horse open sleigh?” Maggie
asked in amazement.
“Yup, do you like the surprise?”
Violet asked. “Come on, you’ll ride with us and Slava. Vikenti will
drive the other.”
“Where did you find them? They’re
beautiful,” Maggie stammered.
“They belong to Slava and his family.”
Dmitry helped Violet into the back seat.
Kolya helped Alena into the other
sleigh. Maggie turned to see Slava watching her. “It’s a wonderful
surprise. Thank you,” Maggie said.
He smiled, and Maggie found herself
short of breath. Little crinkle lines appeared next to his eyes.
She’d noticed them the first time when he played with the twins and
Illarion. He stepped forward, and she couldn’t move.
“Let me help you up. Your feet must be
freezing. There is a blanket on the seat so you can cover
“You thought of
Slava swung Maggie up into the seat
like she was as light as a butterfly. Then he climbed in beside
her. He took the blanket off the seat and tucked it in around
“Everyone ready?” Slava
Vikenti waved from the front sled and
started off. With a click of Slava’s tongue, the horse broke into a
trot, following behind. Maggie gasped as the sleigh lurched and
grabbed onto Slava’s thigh to steady herself. As he looked down at
her hand and then over at her his eyebrow quirked. When she would
have jerked her hand back, he covered it with his own, holding hers
in place. Warmth infused her, almost as if Slava’s spirit touched
“Jingle bells, jingle bells. . .”
Violet began to sing.
Soon everyone joined in.
Slava stood stiffly next to the wall
of the pack meeting hall, watching another lycan whirl Maggie
across the floor. His jaw ached with the force of his gritted
teeth. How many men did that make, eight, nine?
“They make a nice couple.” Kolya
handed him a glace of vodka.
“What’s nice about it?” Slava grumbled
before downing the liquid. He enjoyed the taste and burn as it went
down. Too bad the alcohol wouldn’t affect him.
His fingers curled into his fists, and
he could feel his nails beginning to lengthen. He turned to look at
Kolya, knowing if he kept watching Maggie his wolf would break
free. Every man that touched her offended his wolf. He wanted to
rip the throats out of each one of them for daring to lay their
hands on her.
“Have you danced with Maggie yet?
Alena said she thought Maggie was hurt you hadn’t asked
“No. I thought the idea was to
introduce her to the single males.” He couldn’t dance with Maggie.
If he did, he would carry her out of there and straight back to his
bed, whether she wanted it or not.
“Slava, you are a single
“The mating bond hasn’t appeared for
us. I’ve been around her more than any other single
“Do you want it to appear?” Kolya
asked, looking entirely too innocent. “The bond can be blocked if
one of the couple doesn’t want it to appear.”
Blocked? Did he want the bond to
The music stopped, and Slava couldn’t
help but turn to watch the lycan who was returning Maggie to
Violet’s side. Maggie nodded at the man, and then she looked over
at him. Their eyes locked. Was that longing in her gaze?
Slava handed the now empty glass to
Kolya and started forward as Kuzman, another single lycan, stepped
up and offered Maggie his hand. Maggie looked from the hand back to
Slava, before she put on a strained smile and stepped back onto the
dance floor with her new partner. Slava sighed and slowed his pace.
He’d ask her for the next dance.
That was it!
Maggie was done being passed around like a
favorite bone. She trembled with anger as it coursed through her
system. It wasn’t that the men asking her to dance weren’t nice.
They were all nice. They were even attractive. A couple could have
been models, they were so gorgeous. However, none of them warmed
her with just a glance.
There was only one man who did, and he
had been standing in the corner scowling at her for the last two
hours. Slava hadn’t even asked her to dance. He’d escorted her
inside and then left her. What was that man’s problem? She wanted
to kick him.
When Kuzman danced them to the far
side of the room from where Slava stood with Kolya, Maggie stopped.
“I’m sorry, I’m feeling a little thirsty. Would you mind fetching
me something to drink?” She was leaving. She wasn’t sticking around
to be ignored by Slava.
“It would be my pleasure, beautiful
one.” Kuzman bowed before walking toward the refreshment
Guilt assailed her, but anger quickly
squashed it as she headed into the foyer to where the coats were
stored. Kuzman seemed like a nice man. His feelings would be hurt.
But she needed to get out of there now.
She took her coat off the hook and
quickly slipped out the front door before putting it on. The wind
had picked up, and Maggie paused to snap her coat closed. Her feet
immediately sunk in the snow, letting moisture seep into her shoes.
She looked around, alternately lifting her feet from the cold
surface. Now what? It was too cold to stand there.
Maggie caught sight of the horses, the
sleighs still attached to their harnesses. At least there were
blankets waiting on the seats. She hurried over and hauled herself
into the front seat of the first sleigh. Wrapping herself in the
blanket, she shivered.
Okay, maybe this wasn’t such a good
idea, except she couldn’t bring herself to return to the ball. The
one person she wanted to party with ignored her. If only she could
get back to the lodge. Then she could go to bed and forget this
night ever happened.