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Wolf Fur Hire(4)

By:T. S. Joyce

Link hoisted the bags into the passenger’s seat, then stepped back, far away from her with his arms behind his back.

“Thank you,” she said. Her words came out breathless, but whether that was from how surprised she was at him being so gentlemanly or from the frigid air freezing her lung tissue, she didn’t know.#p#分页标题#e#

Link twitched his head. “Hurry.”

“Oh! Okay.” She had definitely been staring. Ripping her gaze away from him, she made her way around the back of her navy Ford and pulled herself behind the wheel. The engine roared to life under the turn of her key, and she manually rolled down the window. “Tell me when to stop,” she said to Link, who had made his way to her side.

He nodded.

When she threw it into reverse, the truck lurched backward, skidded for a second, caught, and then rolled.

“There,” he said.

She slammed on the brake, which was harder to manage than any vehicle she’d ever driven, and glided to a stop. She needed to get used to driving a big old clunker truck in these icy conditions, and fast. According to a book she’d read on the plane, the snow wasn’t going to disappear until April.

Link bent down at her front left tire, and just to ogle him, Nicole leaned out the window. His long, lean legs were folded under him, and in a few seconds, he had the chains on her oversize tire. His jacket covered his torso, but he looked like he had a fit body tucked under there. And when he stood with that sexy, smooth grace of his, she was awed again by how adept he was to the uneven footing here. By the time he made his way to the fourth and last tire, her heart was drumming against her breastbone. She should ask him out to dinner. To thank him. Yep, just to thank him. That would be the polite thing to do.

Reaching over, she rolled down the other window. “Hey, Link?”

The jingle of the chains met her ears, but nothing more. When she opened her mouth to call out again, he popped up in her window.

“Aaah!” Nicole clutched her chest in an effort to make sure her heart didn’t eject itself outward. Good God, he was as fast as a snake strike.

Link stood there frozen, hands resting on the open window, and for the tenth time since she’d met him, she wished she could see his eyes. Right now, all she could see was her startled expression reflected in his sunglasses.

“Have a nice life Nicole Brand,” he murmured softly.

Ew, burn. He used her last name, distancing her like a pro.

“Do you live around here?” she asked, desperate not to say goodbye to the first person who had actually been nice to her since she’d come to town.

Link angled his face away from her and stared in the direction of the hardware store. He clenched his jaw and let off a quiet sigh as if debating whether to stay or bolt. She was waiting on bated breath, scarf fallen completely to her neck, lips parted with the question she wanted to ask. Will you go out to dinner with me? Say it. But when he dragged his attention back to her, his sunglasses were aimed down, as if he was staring at her birthmark.

Swallowing hard, she pulled up her scarf. “They don’t have the make-up I need here.”

“To hide your face?”

She nodded, cheeks flushing hot with embarrassment. Hardly anyone had seen her like this—bare. Mom had trained her from an early age to hide this part of her, and today, she’d had to go out in public without make-up, and exposed. Of course she would meet this sex-pot man today of all days.

Slowly, Link reached in the window and hooked his finger on the scarf. Pulling gently, he slid the soft shield from her face. He let the scarf drop, his face still an unreadable mask behind those damned sunglasses. “You don’t need to cover your face. Alaska—she don’t care. Those boots are more important than vanity.”

“People stare.”

“Let them.” But he’d said it more like “Fuck them.”

“You’re staring.” Which hurt in ways she didn’t understand.#p#分页标题#e#

Link shrugged one shoulder. “So?”

“Says the man hiding behind the glasses.”

His mouth curved up into a sly, breathtaking smile. “Goodbye, Nicole.”

“Thank you for the chains and for…whatever else you did to my truck.”

Link clapped his hand once on the window frame and nodded, then turned and waved over his shoulder without looking back.

Nicole scrunched up her face as he got into a green Bronco with lumber hanging out the back window. When he’d disappeared in a plume of exhaust down the main drag of town, she rested her cheek onto the cold steering wheel and sighed.

It had been a long time since she’d gotten butterflies in her stomach over a man, and it was clear and obvious that he didn’t find her as compelling. He wouldn’t have been able to walk away so easily if he did.