Wolf caught the faint scent of cinnabar and roses.
The girl turned her head and stared boldly at him, her cool demeanor at odds with the fire in her look. And then her lips parted, as if she needed more air. A punch of lust hit Wolf’s groin.
There was pure sin in his startling blue eyes.
The moment hung suspended between them, and then expanded as his feral gaze held hers. Stranger? Not to Alanna. He went by the name of Wolf, and he was a legend in these parts, known from San Francisco to Boston as a relentless tracker of lost persons. His quest to find his mother's killer would lead him to Alanna...and his destiny.
In his arms, she would never be lost again…
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Mrs. Appleton’s eyes suddenly glittered and a narrow smile touched her thin mouth. She raised her glass to her lips and spoke to Martha. “Now there’s an intriguing couple who look made for one another.”
Martha followed Mrs. Appleton’s gaze to a handsome, golden-haired man filled with grace and virility who fairly floated around the room with a raven-haired beauty in his arms. A shockwave passed through her, rippled the liquid in her glass.
Oh, dear Lord!
Wolf swept Alanna in graceful circles, his hand stretched nearly around her slender waist. They were close – too close. He held her lightly as a fragile bird, yet every bit as securely and knowingly in the fire in his eyes captured and held her upturned gaze – a gaze blazing with utter and helpless adoration. It was a though a spotlight shone on the couple as they glided about, its light gleaming off his golden earring and glitter off the brilliance of the diamond and sapphire ring on her hand as it rested on his broad shoulder.
The magnetic strength of him – of the couple – shot right through Martha. Oh, Lord, they looked as if they were born for one another’s arms, and who wouldn’t think they were ecstatically in love?
With her heart knocking against her ribs, Martha tore her eyes from Wolf and Alanna long enough to glance around the room. Everyone stared. Unspoken words hung in the air as people hushed their conversations – some so quickly they forgot to close their mouths.
The music, the other dances only played backdrop to the dazzling couple as they twirled about, holding one another completely oblivious to the electrifying energy they produced.
Martha thanked God when the music ended. A low, savage growl rumbled next to her. She turned.
Frantically, she searched through the couples exiting the dance floor, trying to head Wolf off or capture her husband’s attention, whichever she could manage
“Take your hands off my daughter,” Malone hissed. He grabbed Alanna’s arm and shoved Wolf away from her. “And don’t you ever look her way again, you filth, you…you vermin!”
Alanna gasped. “Father!”
Wolf’s jaw clenched. He stared at her arm, white where her father’s fingers dug deep into tender flesh. “If you want me to leave quietly, release her.”
He stood, unmoving, until Malone eased his grip and the pink in Alanna’s skin returned. Wolf included his head, back into the crowd, and strode onto one of the unlocked balcony doors lining the ballroom. The cold outside was a welcome relief to the stuffy, overcrowded atmosphere within. He set his palms on the cold granite rail, closed his eyes, and breathed deep of the icy winter air.
“God, when will this end?” Every nerve in his body screamed and his chest hurt. He hadn’t wept since he was six years old. This was the first time he’d come close.
Damn it, he cared too much about Alanna.
What was the point of it all? A life with her was impossible. He had to settle his affairs and leave Boston. If he ever gave another thought to a future with her, he needed to remember this particular evening, with its crowd of smooth-talking hypocrites. Had his parents survived, would they have gathered together with these people? Would he, too, have ended up paying homage to such shallowness? How different his life would have been. Worthless thoughts, these – and ones he’d had too many times to count of late.
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