By Anne Kane
Genres: Fantasy, romance, druids, magic and mayhem
Sexy Druid meets sassy Selkie with a fear of commitment.
When Nikki’s sister sends a modern day Druid to warn her about impending danger, the attraction is instant and mutual, but the Selkie is having none of his silly talk about destined mates. Her animal form is a free-spirited otter, and she fears the call of the wild might be too strong to allow her to settle down and raise a family. Her greatest fear is that the call of the ocean will lure her away from her family, and her children will suffer as she did when her own mother deserted her.
But when the danger becomes all too real, Nikki’s link with the sexy Druid is her only comfort, and she realizes some risks just might be worth taking.
Wolfe lounged against the split-rail fence, a slow sexy grin curving his lips. “You ask a lot of questions for a rescued damsel in distress. Aren’t you supposed to throw yourself at my feet in gratitude?”
Nikki bit back a curse. She was so not in the mood for this. “I don’t do damsel in distress, and I definitely don’t throw myself at men’s feet. I could have escaped just fine by myself.” Which was the truth. She felt just as comfortable in the forest as she did shopping on Robson Street in Vancouver.
Wolfe seemed to take the hint, holding up a hand in a conciliatory gesture. “Okay. Sorry, I didn’t introduce myself better back there, but I thought we needed to get moving. Those guys looked like they meant business, and I’d prefer not to find out just how proficient they are.” He paused as if deciding exactly how much to tell her. “Yes, I really am a friend of Trina’s, actually more of a friend to her husband Jack than Trina. And yes, they really did send me to warn you. I just didn’t expect the danger to arrive before I did, hence the single horse. My original intention was to warn you of the danger so you could quietly slip away before the bad guys showed up. Luckily, Fred here is a gelding and quite gentle, which is a bonus because I’m afraid we’re going to have to ride double.”
“Is your name really Wolf?” Now, why did she ask that? His name was totally irrelevant.
He nodded. “Wolfe with an ‘e’. My mother was a bit of a flower child and I was born during one of her ‘let’s get in touch with nature’ phases.”
“Wow.” Nikki gave him a reluctantly sympathetic look. “A name like that must have gotten you some ragging as a kid.”
“Some,” he agreed. “It wasn’t all bad. I learned a lot growing up. Mostly I learned not to judge myself with other people’s yardsticks and that’s stood me in good stead over the years.”
That same crooked smile curved the corners of his mouth and Nikki felt her heart do a curious little flip. With that curly dark hair and those eyes, he must have been an adorable child.
“So you are friends with Jack?” That made a little more sense.
“Yes. We’re working on a research project together when I manage to drag him away from your sister. She doesn’t usually come with him so I admit I don’t know her all that well.” He stroked a hand absently down the gelding’s neck. “Last Tuesday, she and Jack showed up on my doorstep and she was really upset. She said she’d had a premonition her big sister was in trouble and she wanted me to warn you. Fast. She was adamant that the danger was imminent. She said she’d tried calling you, but your cell phone wouldn’t connect, or you just weren’t answering. She didn’t settle down until I promised to come straight away.”
That certainly sounded like her little sister. “Trina knows I’m on holidays and I have a really bad habit of ignoring the phone. Plus, cell phone reception is sketchy in the mountains. A couple of years ago, she actually sent the Royal Canadian Mounted Police looking for me when I didn’t respond to her calls for a solid week.” She felt a wry grin curve the corner of her lip. “They weren’t impressed when they found me happily sunbathing by the lake.”
She gave him a reluctant smile. “I’m sorry for being so prickly. I haven’t even thanked you for coming to help me. I’ll feel better when I can talk to Trina and find out what she knows. I left my cell phone at the house when I decided to take a swim, so I guess I’ll have to wait until we get to town. Unless you have one I can borrow?”
Wolfe pulled a cell phone out of his pocket, holding it up so she could see the display. “And as usual on the lee side of the mountain, no signal. Town it is. We might as well get moving.” He tucked the phone back into his shirt pocket.
Straightening up, he checked the saddle girth before gesturing for her to mount. “I suppose I should have asked if you know how to ride?”
“Yes.” Nikki pushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “We always had horses when I was a kid.” Putting the toe of one foot in the stirrup, she swung herself onto the gelding in one graceful motion and held out her hand. “Need a hand up?”
“Nope. I can manage.” He ignored her proffered hand and sprang into the saddle behind her. Holding the reins in his right hand, he used his left arm to draw her back against him, molding his body against her. His warm breath teased her neck.
Pulling the gelding’s head around, Wolfe guided him down a well-worn path to the south. “So what is it that you do? Your sister said that you worked on contracts in various parts of the world, which is why I’ve never seen you at any of her performances.”
Nikki tried to shake off the unsettled feeling, not sure if it was caused by his proximity or fear of her unknown stalkers. “I’m a forensic accountant.”
Wolfe whistled softly. “Now that sounds like an interesting job. What does a forensic accountant do? I thought forensic implied something dead.”
Nikki shook her head, picturing an old-fashioned paper ledger gasping its last breath while she tried desperately to extract information from it. “I go into companies, usually ones that are experiencing trouble or are suspicious of their staff and go through the books with a fine-toothed comb. I look for anything out of the ordinary, anything that might imply something is wrong. I’m impartial so I don’t have the bias that an insider might have.”
“Sounds like fun.” Wolfe’s tone implied it would be anything but.
“It’s all about patterns.” Nikki screwed up her nose. “Accounting is a very simple form of mathematics. One plus one always equals two. When someone gets creative or makes an honest mistake, the pattern is off. I’m good at seeing patterns. So what do you do?”
“I’m a forestry consultant.” The gelding settled into a smooth rocking gait, and Wolfe gestured at the trees and bushes surrounding them. “This is my office.”
“Oh.” Nikki hesitated, but it was just too tempting. “How does the forest manage to pay you?”
“Nuts.” His serious tone belied the silliness of the banter. “Exchange rate’s down a bit due to the squirrel coup last year, but I do okay.
Nikki shook her head, feeling the knot in her gut relaxing just a tiny bit. “You’re crazy.”
She could hear the smile in his voice. “Yeah, but you started it.”