Dire Wolves (multi-author series)
by Sam Cheever
eBook ISBN: 05551-01778
Sinopa Breckenridge is restless. Something is bubbling just under her skin, making her shiver and sweat at the same time. So she runs to Last Chance, Alaska to deal with it in private. But she doesn’t count on Crevan Dakota. His very presence ruins any chance she has of taming the beast clawing for release under her skin. In fact, being with him is about to set the beast free.
Claws raked their way down her chest, ripped across her nerves, and glossed her skin with sweat. She was exhausted, her bones hurt, and her eyes stung from weariness. Something just below the surface of her skin was fighting to get loose. Sinopa Breckenridge had tried everything to soothe what she thought was a really bad case of nerves.
Nothing had worked.
She’d seen doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, holistic healers. She’d done yoga, had acupuncture performed, given up all stimulants, including coffee and tea, and had taken up running in an effort to calm the sizzling under her skin.
The running had helped a little, and she’d been amazed at how quickly she’d gotten into top form. She was able to run about a five-minute mile, and her endurance seemed nearly inexhaustible.
She had no idea where all the energy had come from. But she knew where it was currently lodged. Under her skin, boiling in her stomach, roiling in her chest, and making her hands twitch and her legs jerk uncontrollably when she tried to sit.
Writing her column at Fit Female magazine had become nearly impossible. She was only able to sit for a couple of minutes at a time, so she’d learned to write fast. Her research efforts had been severely slashed until she was almost just making shit up so she didn’t have to sit down and focus on the task of doing the necessary fact checking.
She was at her wits’ end. Which was why she’d taken a leave from her job at the magazine and decided to do the most drastic thing she could think of.
Sinopa leaned on the rusted metal railing and looked out over the icy blue waters of the Gulf of Alaska. The plane ride over had been interminable. Her post college trip to Australia hadn’t seemed as long.
She was returning to a place of wondrous childhood memories, where her grandmother had lived out her final years. Last Chance, Alaska. Her destination consisted of a small cabin deep in the woods, alongside Last Chance Creek.
Her grandmother had treasured the cabin, and its seclusion, above all things. As she’d aged, the family had tried repeatedly to talk her into moving south, to the lower States. But she’d adamantly refused.
She’d died in the woods, under strange circumstances, which Sin’s mother had refused to divulge. Sin had often wondered what could possibly have been strange about Granna’s death. Surely there wasn’t foul play.
Cold and hot at the same time, she shivered while wiping sweat off her brow.
Sin walked around the railing to the bow of the wide, low-slung ferryboat. A brisk wind skimmed across the icy water, carrying the coolness over her heated skin with the efficiency of a high-end air conditioning unit.
She closed her eyes, dropped her head back, and sighed with pleasure.
The scent of the ocean brought memories flooding back. Memories she’d thought were long forgotten. Memories from a much simpler time.
“Penny for your thoughts?”
Sin’s eyes flew open, and she turned toward the deep, slightly raspy voice. The owner of the voice leaned against the railing a few feet away, his golden eyes sparking with good humor.
He cocked his dark head, his grin widening. “You had the most beautiful smile on your face.”
Embarrassment brought heat to Sin’s face. “Oh. Yes. I was remembering my visits to Last Chance as a child.”
The gold eyes widened. “You lived here when you were young?”
She frowned. “How do you know I don’t live here now?” Maybe they didn’t have any black people in Last Chance since her Granna died.
He straightened and closed the distance between them, his stride long and loose. “Because I live here, and I’m sure I would have noticed you before this.” He extended a large hand. “Name’s Crevan… Dakota.”
She clasped the offered hand and felt its extreme heat, the calluses on the long fingers. “I’m Sin…” When his eyes widened she laughed. “Sorry, Sinopa Breckenridge.”
She blinked at him for a beat before realizing what he meant. “You knew my granna?”
“I did, casually. She died a couple of years back, didn’t she?” Something about the way the sexy gold gaze held hers told her he knew exactly when her Granna had died. She got the impression not much escaped Crevan Dakota’s notice.
Sin nodded, noting the slight tightening of his jaw. Maybe he knew what had happened that night.
“My brothers and I used to play down by the creek. The area in front of her cabin had the widest beach, with the cleanest sand.”
Warmth slid through her at the memory. “It did, didn’t it? I remember that.”
“Some of the others who lived out there wouldn’t let us play in front of their properties, but Miss Audra never minded. In fact, she used to bring us lemonade and cookies.”
“I always loved my time in that cabin.”
“So you’re moving back?”
The question shocked her. She wasn’t sure why. It shouldn’t have. “For a while, yes.” She guessed she was having trouble committing to the idea.
A bell started to jangle above their heads, and she realized they were close to land.
Crevan’s gaze slipped over her again and grew speculative. She couldn’t shake the sense he was seeing more than she wanted him to. After an uncomfortable moment he extended his hand again, this time engulfing hers in both of his. “Welcome back to Last Chance, Sin. Despite the name, it’s really a beginning rather than an ending.”
Her cheeks felt tight when she returned his smile.
“Mr. Dakota? We’ll be docking in a few minutes.”
Crevan turned to the man standing just inside the cabin door. The ferryboat captain was small and wiry, with bulging muscles and a weather-reddened face.
The captain inclined his head at Sin, giving her a look that made her shudder. “Ma’am.”
She glanced away, uncomfortable under his scrutiny.
Crevan lifted her hand and placed a kiss on the back of it. Just a tender touch of warm lips that made the skin beneath his soft lips tingly and warm. “I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around.”
She barely managed a nod as he turned away and sauntered toward the cabin. His stride was easy and sure despite the jerk and roll of a docking boat beneath his feet.
And as she watched those long legs, tight round buttocks, and broad shoulders disappear inside the cabin, the beast under her skin rose up and snapped its teeth, demanding release.
Sin groaned and swiped a hand over her clammy brow. She hoped she hadn’t made a huge mistake coming to Last Chance.
She strongly suspected she might have.