Authors: Caryn Moya Block
Tags: #romance, #holiday, #paranormal, #christmas, #werewolves, #russia, #siberia, #shapeshifter, #esp, #lycans, #alpha male
Suddenly a large white snowflake
floated down onto her blanket, then another and another. Maggie
looked around in amazement. It was snowing. It was beautiful. It
It was cold.
Well sitting there, freezing to death,
was a dumb idea. “Stupid horse. Why can’t you take me
Tomorrow was Christmas in America, and
here she sat in Siberia, freezing.
Tomorrow morning, when all of her
friends and their families opened presents and celebrated the birth
of Christ, she would be having a quiet moment with Violet. Here in
Russia, Christmas had been canceled by the communists. So even now
that their government accepted western ways, Christmas wasn’t
celebrated until January 7th.
Shaking herself, Maggie sat forward
and grabbed the reins. Slava made it seem so easy the way he drove
the horse. She wasn’t going to let him get the best of her. “Come
on, horsie, giddy up.” Maggie made clicking sounds like Slava had
done then slapped the reins on the horse’s back.
The sleigh lurched forward, and the
horse bounded into a trot. Maggie smirked in triumph. She’d done
it. Now, which way was the lodge? The snow fell heavier now, and
she could hardly see where she was going.
The music ended, and Slava looked
around for Maggie and Kuzman to return to Violet. The music started
again and they didn’t return. Maybe they’d stopped for something to
drink. Kuzman was a good man. He was related to Slava’s brother in
law—a cousin or something.
Thinking he would wait with Violet for
Maggie’s return, he headed over to where Dmitry held his wife
tucked under his arm.
Dmitry smiled as he approached, while
Violet stepped forward to meet him, a frown on her face.
“You are breaking her heart. How can
you be so cruel? Maggie is my best friend. Don’t you have any
feelings for her?”
“What? Of course, I have feelings for
her. But the mating bond hasn’t snapped into place.”
Dmitry stepped forward as if he would
stop his wife’s tirade.
Violet ignored her husband’s signs of
warning. “Oh, yeah? Did you bother to look? Sometimes it doesn’t
snap, sometimes it grows from a thin thread. If you loved her, you
might have at least looked.”
“I think he is blocking her. He’s too
busy feeling guilty for surviving the mining accident,” Kolya said,
coming up from behind Slava. “Although the reports clearly show no
one was at fault.”
Slava gritted his teeth. Was he
blocking the mating bond? Was it already there like Violet
suggested? Could his instincts have been right all
“That’s not fair, Kolya.” Fanya came
up to join the group with her husband Andrei. “This last week, all
I’ve heard about was the wonderful Maggie and how it would be wrong
to approach her without the mating bond. This is tearing him up.
Where is the wonderful Maggie anyway? Dancing with another man. If
she had feelings for my brother, she wouldn’t be having fun with
all the other men here.”
“Excuse me. Have you seen Miss
Margaret? I seem to have lost her,” Kuzman said as he stood near
the edge of the group with two cups of punch in his
“You lost her?” Slava growled, feeling
the wolf rise from within. He stalked forward and grabbed Kuzman by
the front of his shirt.
“She asked for something to drink.
When I returned to where I left her, she was gone.”
Gone? Maggie was gone?
Slava’s wolf rushed to the fore. Fur
began to run under his skin, and his nails lengthened. Lights
swirled around him, and he was seconds from shifting when he saw
A thin golden thread led toward the
He looked down at his chest. It was
attached to his heart. The beginning of the mating bond.
He pulled back from the change and
started across the hall. He reached the front door and threw it
open. Snow flurried inside, covering him and the floor in a coating
of white. The thin yellow cord led away from the hall and up the
north trail. Why would Maggie go up the mountain?
“One of the sleighs is missing,” Kolya
said, having followed him outside.
Maggie squinted, trying to see through
the snow. The horse seemed to know where it should go, but she had
a sinking feeling it wasn’t to the lodge. The trees grew over some
of the trail so she could see better than she could a while ago.
They seemed to be climbing.
Turning around wasn’t an option. The
trail was barely wide enough to pass through as it was. Maybe she
should stop and wait. Why had she let her temper get the best of
her? Hopefully someone would come looking for her. Slava would want
his sleigh back, even if he didn’t want her. Too bad she didn’t
have a cell phone that worked in Siberia, she could call for
“Whoa, horsie. That’s right, stop.”
Maggie pulled back on the reins, and the horse stopped. “Hey, I’m
getting the hang of this.”
A howl filled the air. Maggie quickly
looked around. Was that a wolf? She sensed somehow that the call
was for her. She shivered and turned to get the other blanket off
the back seat. She needed to stop being fanciful and figure out how
to stay warm until someone found her.
She lay down on the seat and curled up
under the two blankets. Now if only it would stop snowing. She
stared up at the starry sky until a snowflake landed in her eye.
Sighing in disgust at herself, she covered her head with the
Something made a snorting sound.
Maggie’s eyes flew open. Then there was a grunt. She heard the
horse shake his head as sleigh bells filled the air. Confused, she
listened harder. The horse seemed to be growing alarmed, stamping
his foot and shaking his head. The sleigh rocked as the horse
Should she look? If it was a boar, she
might do better by staying under the blankets. Then she heard
yipping and howling. Was there a dog nearby, or a wolf?
Noises of something moving through the
trees and the underbrush came from her right. A sudden growl ripped
through the air. The horse neighed shrilly, and the sleigh lurched
forward, throwing Maggie back against the seat.
She struggled to get out from
underneath the blankets and sit up. Looking back down the track, a
boar ran across the trail. Another larger boar charged at a wolf,
or was that several wolves? Wolves and wild boars, what was
She grabbed the seat rest and turned
to look ahead for the reins. The horse galloped at a frightened
pace away from the wild animals. Where were the reins? Her heart
began to pound faster as she realized they must have fallen to the
ground. She couldn’t slow the animal down.
“Okay, don’t panic.” The fact that she
talked to herself only emphasized how terrified she really
They broke out of the trees into
another open area. At least the snow had stopped. Holding onto the
back, Maggie swung her legs forward and down off the seat. Still
wrapped in the blankets, she wiggled her legs, trying to get free.
The horse kept jerking the sleigh to the left and then to the
right. It took all her strength to not fall.
Maggie jump. You’re headed
for a ledge
, came flooding into her
Who was that? A ledge? Maggie looked
forward and froze. The pristine snow ended a few feet in front of
The horse turned at the last minute,
throwing Maggie toward the edge. She screamed as she lost her grip
and flew through the air.
Slava’s heart stopped as Maggie fell
over the edge. The horse stopped several feet away from the ledge,
his sides heaving, but unhurt. Running in his wolf form, Slava
reached the edge and looked down. Maggie lay on an outcropping
about fifteen feet below him, her red hair looking like blood on
She couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t lose
A sudden pain in his chest made him
aware of the mating bond attached to his heart. Instead of the thin
line, it was now the size of a rope.
He reached for her mind and braced
himself for the pain that always came with speaking telepathically.
He encountered a block already beginning to fall apart. Was this
why he had migraines? He slammed his telepathic gift against the
wall, needing to touch Maggie’s mind. The wall crumbled and the
pain gradually disappeared. Maggie’s thoughts gently filled him.
She slowly regained consciousness. Everything ached, and he could
feel the nausea she experienced.
He called the change, willing his wolf
to recede. Lights swirled around him, and his bones snapped and
reshaped. It was over in an instant. He put his leg over the edge,
ignoring the cold and pain from the rocks bruising his bare skin.
Climbing down, he prayed Maggie would live.
He reached the bottom and ran to her
side. She lay in a fetal position buried in the snow. He tried to
buffer her from the pain of her fall by using his telepathic
abilities. She moaned and tried to move.
He stopped her with a hand
to her shoulder. “Don’t move,
. Let me see what you’ve done to
Slava quickly ran his hands over her,
checking for injuries. Except for a cut on her leg and the way she
held her wrist, he was glad to find only scrapes and
She moaned again and opened her eyes.
“Slava, it hurts.”
. Can you move your
“Hurts, cold, so cold.”
Slava frowned. Was she going into
shock? He gathered the blankets that lay near her and covered her
Is she going to be all
Kolya’s voice filled his
Slava stood and looked up to see both
Dmitry and Kolya in their wolf forms peering down at him. Luckily,
the darkness wasn’t a problem for lycans.
I think so. Getting her up
the ledge might be a problem
Dmitry’s voice flowed into
We’ll go get some rope and more
blankets. We’ll make a sling or something.
Bring me some clothes.
Slava sent back.
You should shift back to
wolf. This could take some time.
Hurry, I need to get her
out of the cold.
Change into a wolf? He
didn’t want to scare Maggie away now that he held the right to make
He knelt down beside her, checking her
pulse and breathing rate. She opened her eyes again, and this time,
really looked at him.
“Slava, where are your clothes? You’ll
freeze to death.”
“Don’t worry about
. Do you
think you can move? I know you’re feeling pretty bruised right now.
Try and move your toes. Any pain?” Slava kept his mind firmly
locked with hers. If she suffered pain he would feel it.
“No. I can move. Shouldn’t you put
“Okay, now your fingers and
“My right wrist hurts, but I can move
it. Slava, take one of the blankets.”
“Once I know you can move, I’m going
to climb into the blankets with you. Now, I want you to try and sit
Maggie bit her lip and
tried to sit up. She moaned as Slava wrapped his arm around her to
steady her. “Easy,
. I’ve got you.”
“I’m so sorry, I let my anger get me
in this mess. Is the horse and sleigh okay?” Maggie
Slava sensed every ache and scrape
bothering her, but so far, so good. He scooped her up and carried
her over to a hollow made by an overhang of rock. If it started to
snow again, it would give them some shelter.
“The horse is fine. How are those
gorgeous legs I love to look at? Do you think you can stand?” Slava
brushed her hair back over her shoulder.
“If I had to and with your help,”
Maggie said. “Please get in these blankets. It hurts just looking
at you like that. I’m freezing, and I have a down
“Maggie, I think I am falling in love
She gasped “You want to talk about
this right now? While we freeze to death?”
“We aren’t going to freeze
to death. I wanted you to know before I show you this. I need you
to trust me,
. You know about Violet’s abilities. You have them too, don’t
“I see visions sometimes. I saw a wolf
looking sad in the last one. Too bad I didn’t see anything about
falling off a mountain.”
“Maggie, I have abilities too. I can
speak mind to mind with you or anyone in our village.”
“That sounds like it could be a good
thing. I wished for a cell phone earlier tonight. If I possessed
that ability, I could have called for help before the boar showed
“I can also shift my shape.” Slava
waited for what he said to sink in. Would she freak out?