|Daisies in the Wind|
Wolf Bodine looked like he was in the mood to pick a fight with someone. Why shouldn't he target me? she wondered wearily. But his next words came as a surprise.
"It looks like I'm the one beholden to you, Miss Rawlings."
His tone was soft. Downright pleasant.
Caught off guard, she nearly dropped the cups. Hastily she set them in the sink and spun to face him, suspicion darkening her violet eyes. What was he up to now? "Not at all," she said warily. "It was nothing."
"You're wrong." Wolf had been trying hard not to notice how pretty she looked in her yellow-and-white calico dress, her cheeks flushed from the excitement of the night, her eyes overbright in her lovely, pale face. Every instinct told him to stop thinking so much about Rebeccah Rawlings. But she seemed to be haunting him these days, and he couldn't figure out why. Frustrated by his own weakness, he nevertheless couldn't keep his mind off how fresh and angelic she looked, how like summer flowers she smelled, how her slim eyebrows drew adorably together when she was thinking hard about something. And about how her feet fidgeted when she was nervous. They were fidgeting right now, Wolf noticed, and wondered with half amusement and half consternation if he made her nervous.
Lightning flashed beyond the window. Wolf stepped closer to her and saw her foot wiggle.
"You went out into the storm to rescue Joey, and you kept Billy from catching pneumonia," he said, keeping his voice even and dispassionate even when she turned those intoxicating eyes on him. "You took care of them both. You kept them warm and dry. I'd say that's something."
"Don't argue with me. I'm trying to thank you."
"It isn't necess-"
"Rebeccah," he cut her off. "Just say, 'You're welcome.'"
Confused, Rebeccah only gazed at him, feeling ridiculous. But it was hard to think when he was staring at her like that, hard to protect herself against his steady, powerful brand of charm.
Suddenly he grinned. Rebeccah's heart turned over. He closed the distance between them with one stride, and before either of them seemed quite aware of what he was doing, he seized her with a firmness that would not be deterred and stared intently down into her face.
"It's easy," he continued, his tone more patient now, his vivid gray eyes glinting into hers with hypnotic warmth. She noted that his chestnut hair was damp, and this made it look even darker in the lamplight. He smelled of autumn rain and crisp leaves and good polished leather. His dimples deepened as he smiled, and he looked almost boyish, Rebeccah thought, her heart melting -- yet not like a little boy at all.
"You're welcome," he prodded her gently. He sounded amused. His mouth curled in a slow smile. His face was only inches from hers. "Say it, Miss Rawlings."
"Wolf," he corrected swiftly.
"Wolf," she murmured. A dizzy sense of unreality gripped her.
He leaned toward her. What the hell am I doing? Wolf wondered at the last moment, and paused. He told himself to pull away. But a force stronger than his own common sense kept him rooted to the spot, holding Miss Rebeccah Rawlings firmly by the arms, gazing directly into those brilliant eyes.
Then his lips touched hers. Lightly, tentatively.
"Wolf," she breathed again, and her hands crept against his chest.
That slight movement, the softness of her touch, was his undoing. Casting reservation aside, he deepened the kiss and his warm, rough mouth captured hers. His powerful arms locked around her slender form before either of them realized what was happening. He inhaled the fresh, flower scent of her as he drew her close. Held her tight. Tasted deeply.
Rebeccah felt her senses swooning. Her full mouth clung eagerly to his. From her temples to her toenails she suddenly quivered all over with hot, glowing pleasure. Was this a dream -- one of her many thousands of dreams since that night years ago when she'd stared into the jeweled heart of a campfire and hungered for him?
No, it was real. Real. His hands at her waist were strong, hot even through the fabric of her gown. His lips deliciously imprisoned hers, and she clung to the warmth of his mouth as if to sweet life itself.
"Sheriff," she gasped when he stopped for breath.
"Wolf," he corrected her roughly, and kissed her again.