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Authors: Deborah MacGillivray

Tags: #Fiction,Romance

A Wolf In Wolf's Clothing (9 page)

BOOK: A Wolf In Wolf's Clothing
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Then the darkness fell again. Raven’s heartbeat thundered in her ears.

Trevelyn was close. Too close. She could smell the faint woodsy notes of his cologne, interlaced with a mysterious, earthier one underneath, the combination guaranteed to fry her mind. Coupled with the heat off his body, it left her intoxicated. The moment lengthened as he merely stared at her, his warm breath fanning her lips, forcing her to inhale and almost taste him. In the dim interior his features were shadowy, but the low parking lights illuminated those hungry eyes. He wanted to kiss her. She wanted that, too, her body twisting into knots with a craving so intense that her womb spasmed with need. It overrode all logic and self-preservation clamoring within her mind. Nothing else mattered but this man.

Mortifying, infuriating, he knew full well how he was affecting her. With a slight lift at the left corner of his mouth, he pulled back. He opened the sports car’s strange, futuristic door, and then pushed outside.

Raven almost collapsed against her plush seat, aflutter with pulsating sexual tension. Lifting the hood of her cloak she grumbled, “Stop acting like a blethering teenager. He’s a wolf. A bloody wolf. A Red Riding Hood should never trust a wolf.
Never be stupid enough to trust a wolf.
Maybe if I repeat it one hundred times it’ll sink in.”

Through the windscreen, she watched him walk around the front of the car and come to the passenger door. It opened, and Trevelyn extended his hand for her to take. She looked at it, the beautiful long fingers, the broad palm, fearing if she accepted there’d be no turning back; she’d be giving a piece of her soul to the devil’s keeping,
and something told her Trevelyn Sinclair wasn’t the kind to return what he claimed.

“Then again, learning by rote has never been my strong suit.” She swallowed hard and put her hand in his.

Chapter Nine

Rain sheeting down upon them, Trev followed steps behind Raven, who hurried to the front of the cottage and onto the roofed porch. Twice she tried to pull her hand free from his grip, but he held tight, sensing she was in full retreat and tossing up barriers to avoid inviting him inside. An old Scottish adage was: It’s easier to leave a cat out than put him out. He had a feeling this fey Scots lass was applying it to wolves as well.

Yes, Raven was resolute in keeping him outside so that she need not confront
putting
him out. In frankness, she had admitted she did not deal well with conflict. This Tolkien world she had built far away from everything was a testament to that. Only, this time, circumstances would force Raven into meeting her hidden desires head-on.

If he’d stayed in the car as she pointedly suggested, she could’ve escaped without having to handle him.

Well, too bad, Red. I checked that little maneuver.

She was now attempting another gambit. He watched her stop on the small stoop, turn and block him from coming any farther, deliberately leaving him on the steps in the pouring rain. Silly wench, she hoped denying him shelter from the storm would hasten him back to his car. But, pitiful drops of water wouldn’t keep him from this woman. Bloody hell, a whole herd of fire-breathing dragons couldn’t deter him from Raven. He smiled, and then realized the expression was a first—a smile that seemed to go soul deep.

Standing in her old-fashioned cape with its huge floppy hood, the stoop hardly stopping the slashing rain
from soaking her, Raven appeared ethereal, a sorceress, more than a simple being of this world. She was the Fairy Queen, weaving enchantments to trap poor Tamlin’s mind, and just like that besotted Scottish fool Trev suddenly welcomed her witchy lures. He would slay all the orcs in Isengard, duel blue-eyed Gypsies, and topple kingdoms for her. He would—

Feeling ridiculous, he closed his eyes and tried to exorcise his mind of these alien thoughts. This night was making him loopy. Fairy tales, wolves and Riding Hoods were morphing him into a blethering moron! Long ago he had accepted that he didn’t have a romantic bone in his body—or so he’d thought. If he suddenly cried out, “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks!” he was going home to soak his head.

Oddly, ludicrously, wonderfully, he didn’t feel the rain. It was beyond his explaining, but there was some quality about this night that was so elemental, nearly supernatural, that the storm merely seemed part of its extraordinary enchantment. Opening his eyes, he put his foot on the top step and then slowly raised himself up, his stare never leaving Raven’s face, cosseted inside that red velvet hood. She was tall, around five seven, and with her on the porch and he on the step, that put their gazes on the same level.

Letting go of Raven’s hand, he curled his fingers into his palms to keep from seizing her. He sighed in frustration. It was friggin’ tough for a wolf to be gentlemanly.

“Well…um…you should get out of the rain. It’s pouring. Thank you again for everything.” She managed a tight little laugh, naively thinking escape was in sight.

But words seemed outside Trev’s grasp. Struck a mindless tomfool, he swallowed hard and then slowly reached up with both hands. The moment lengthened, spun out to where the world ceased to turn on its axis. His heart slowed, beating painfully. His fingers took hold of Raven’s
hood and slowly pushed it off her head, allowing slanting spray to mist upon her long hair. Spellbound, she stared back.

All he could think to say was, “You’re beautiful in the rain.” And she was. Sadly, her velvet cape would be ruined, though he deemed that a small price. The image of her haunting face, the power of this point in time was forever seared into his memory. He so wanted to kiss her, to taste the cool sweetness of the rain on her lips. Instead, he simply remained frozen in this crystalline moment, wondering if he’d fallen down a rabbit hole.

Raven’s lashes lowered. He’d seen reflected in her sad eyes that she didn’t believe him—and that made him want to smash Beechcroft in the face all over again.

His immediate goal was to get inside her cozy little bungalow. Only three little steps to the door, they were steps Raven was going to prevent him from traversing if possible. If he could achieve that much, he’d next stamp out the seeds of self-doubt that had taken root within her, would teach her how special and rare she was.

“You are, you know.” His thumbs brushed under her chin to gently lift her head. Once more, the urge to kiss her slammed through his entire being, tensing muscles and spreading a strange tightness in his chest. “Very beautiful.”

Her eyes remained lowered, and she evaded his probing stare, her voice barely audible over the rain pattering down around them. “Please don’t. I told you about me. I’m not the kind of woman a wolf wants. Let me go.”

Her hand shook as she opened her small clutch, frantically searching for her keys. They rattled in her grasp and then slipped through her wet fingers. Before they hit the wooden porch, Trev snatched them midair. Her head jerked up, and she held out her hand. Only, he took that step she didn’t want him to take; she had to back up or their bodies would brush. He offered her an easy smile
and moved past her to the door. Raven had just gifted him with the key to his goal—literally and figuratively.

“A gentleman always sees a lady to the door.”

Recovering a bit of equilibrium, she laughed. “Is that what you are? This night you wear many masks. Devil? Wolf? Gentleman? Which is the real Trevelyn Sinclair?”

Her question hit home, more than she could ever suspect. Yes, he was wearing a mask tonight, and one even he didn’t recognize. The whole evening was a mockery of what he had foolishly envisioned. Instead of sweeping Raven off her feet, he’d been sucked up in a confusing, whimsical whirlwind of emotion, dreams and hopes he’d never imagined. He’d only had two drinks, and that faint buzz had been burned up in his annoying confrontation with Beechcroft. He was stone-cold sober—and yet was drunk from her presence. It scared the bloody hell out of him.

“You might say a bit of all three.” He inserted the key in an antiquated lock, and his mouth compressed into a frown. This was the only defense she employed against the world? It was as if she expected no menace would dare invade the bubble protecting her quaint bungalow on the corner of the vast Colford estate.

He tried to push the door open, but it held fast—and not from the inadequate lock. Behind him Raven suggested, “You have to shove hard. In wet weather it sticks.”

Trevelyn chuckled. “Wet weather? Which is nearly every day in jolly ol’ England.” Putting both hands to the frame, he gave a strong push and the door finally popped and swung inward. Then, in a neat little maneuver he removed the key from the lock and stepped into her warm cottage.

The only illumination was the dim bulb of a floor lamp in the kitchen. The living room was a contrast of shadows and that light. Trev held out his free hand, gesturing for Raven to enter. Poor Riding Hood, she’d have to put
the wolf out now that he had deftly slipped within. And she knew it, too. Instead of coming in, she remained beyond the threshold. Those luminous eyes watched him, knowledge that she’d lost the game reflected in their amber brown depths.

Lightning flashed close by, followed by the earthshaking boom of thunder, causing her to jump. Still, she hesitated outside. “I didn’t show you the cards
I
drew from the for-tune-teller,” she said.

“No, you didn’t. However, I saw your reaction to mine. The Lovers.” He couldn’t help it, the side of his mouth tugged upward. A scared doe, she had yet to step over that dangerous threshold. He entreated softly, “Come inside, Raven.”

She tried to smile. Failed. Desperation…and finally capitulation flashed across her face. “I’m not certain, but it might be safer if I turned and ran.”

Chuckling, he shook his head. “You’d risk pneumonia? A walk in the October rain is a sure way to court it. Come inside, Raven. I promise not to bite.” As she took a step over the doorsill, giving a resigned sigh, he added, “Unless you ask.”

She pulled up short. “All wolves bite, whether you ask or not.” Raven looked at him as if he’d fall on her and gobble her up in two chomps, maybe with a side of fava beans and a nice Chianti.

He couldn’t resist teasing. “My, what big eyes you have, Miss Riding Hood.”

Her mouth pursed as she reached for the doorknob to shut the door. With a lift of her brow she replied, “All the better to see tricky wolves.”

As they were closed inside, muting the sounds of the storm, Trev stepped to take her cape. Raven tensed when he placed his hands on her shoulders. “Relax, Red,” he promised, “I’m just removing your wet cloak—being a gentleman again.”

“I think a gentlemanly wolf is an oxymoron.” She
turned her head to glance over her shoulder and see his reaction.

“Possibly,” he conceded. “But finding out is half the fun, eh?”

“I don’t consider sticking my finger in a light socket fun.” Reaching into her clutch she pulled out two cards and held them up. “The ones I drew from the Gypsy. The fortune on the back of each warns me to beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I pulled the same card twice.”

“With The Lovers on the face,” he pointed out. “And since you suspect your brothers stacked the deck, why do you pay any heed?”

“I don’t…I…” Her words faltered as she looked down at the cards.

“My fortune warns the lamb is stronger than the wolf. Perhaps you should put the two together to make one, and take comfort in that,” Trev suggested, finally removing her velvet cloak. Carefully, he hung it on a tree next to an antique umbrella stand. He swallowed against a tightness cording his throat, desire coursing through his blood until it was hard to think. Turning back to her, he flexed his hands to cover their trembling.

He resented Raven’s sway over him, hated how out of control he was. In his mind, over and over he’d played the movie of what would happen tonight. Just before he dropped off to sleep it unfurled in the same manner: dazzling Raven at the gala, them coming home to an evening of hot sex, using that physical attraction to bind her to him in an elemental, primitive fashion. Contrarily, nothing was going as planned. Instead he felt powerless, humbled and needy.

His hands reached out and lightly cupped her bare shoulders, savoring the coolness of her flesh. Raven shivered but didn’t step away. He sensed she was as caught up in this strange magic as he. They remained locked in the moment, the sound of the storm outside enfolding them in a sensual cocoon.

Compelled to break the silence, he asked, “Do you recall the ending to Little Red Riding Hood?”

“Vaguely. Something about two woodsmen killing the wolf. A gory return of granny to the land of the living.”

Trev leaned forward and nuzzled the hair by her ear. “Those Brothers Grimm. I never cared for that ending. Instead I rather fancy Charles Pennault’s version. Perchance you’re familiar with it?”

“I’m not certain. There’s dozens of variations. I never cared for the Grimms’ tales or any of that ilk. A bit lurid.”

“Well, Pennault’s version moved along in the same manner, right up to Red saying ‘Mr. Big Bad Wolf, my, what big teeth you have.’ From that point, the tales diverge.” When Raven was silent he went on, “How, you may ask? The child’s fable is designed to teach little girls to be scared of wolves. Ah, but then there are various kinds of wolves, no? In Pennault’s shorter but more interesting version, Mr. Big Bad Wolf tells Red, All the better to eat you with, my dear.’ And then he does.
Eat
her.”

She stiffened, catching his unspoken meaning. “As I said—lurid.”

“Hmm, you think so? Are you sure, Red? Really?” He whispered against her ear, “Imagine you and me, the thunderstorm raging overhead, me teaching you just how delicious lurid can be.”

In the hushed silence, he kissed the side of her face and then nipped the shell of her ear until he reached the lobe. When she shuddered he smiled. His tongue flicked that tantalizing morsel. Sucking the delicate flesh into his mouth, he rolled her diamond stud earring against his tongue, savoring the sensations like an epicure tasting his favorite meal.

Raven closed her eyes on a sigh and leaned back against him, clearly relishing their contact. The velvet clutch and tarot cards fell to the floor. Almost as though she feared her legs couldn’t hold her weight, her hands
reached behind and grasped the sides of his thighs. Her fingers flexed, sharp nails biting into the fabric of his slacks and the leg muscles underneath.

Trev drew a slow breath to rein in the spiraling emotions pulsing through him. Not succeeding. He needed to go gently with this woman; she was unique, extraordinary, and too delicate. Oh, not physically. He had a feeling she could lock those long legs around him and ride until they both dropped in exhaustion, meeting him stroke-for-stroke, offering all she had and taking everything he could give. No, it was the inner woman that troubled his mind. At this late hour in the game, he wasn’t sure why everything was shifting like quicksand under him. Desmond’s plans were meticulous, years in the forming. But Trev felt like the proverbial fish out of water. His brain was screaming to do a one-eighty, to give Raven a chaste good-night kiss and then politely leave. Not what she expected. He could send roses, call later and invite her for a beautiful candlelight dinner. He could romance Raven as she deserved.

But then the wolf inside him howled; a violent hunger refused to be denied. Twenty-four hours ago it had never entered his mind to be concerned about her, fretful over what would happen to Raven after his revenge. But twenty-four hours ago he never anticipated the power of this dark fire igniting between them.

Need shook him to the core, made him want to toss caution to the wind. But as he placed his hand on her belly and pulled her back against him, letting her feel how hot his passions ran, he was rattled by the thought that she might not be the only one hurt by this affair.

He disliked all these qualms, all this second-guessing; it was too damn much like Jago fussing at him. Bugger all, a conscience was something he’d learn to live without years past. Nothing but a bloody nuisance! Who needed some goody-two-shoes inner voice spoiling all
the fun? Well, he wasn’t going to permit his supercilious superego to rear its head now. Blocking out his odd musings, he focused on the delicious sensation of his palms moving up her rib cage to almost cup Raven’s breasts.

BOOK: A Wolf In Wolf's Clothing
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