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<span style="line-height: 1.6em;">Travis stood on the edge of Sarah Frenchâ€™s ranch and sniffed the air. Shit, he could smell her sexy-as-fuck scent from here, would recognise it anywhere. In his wolf form, despite the night cloaking him, he risked being spotted or shot, but hell...what heâ€™d heard earlier had spurred him into visiting her now.</span>
Seemed local asshole Clark James was intent on making Sarah his woman tonight, regardless of whether she wanted him or not.
That wasnâ€™t an option.
Travis narrowed his eyes, cocking his head to listen for hunters. They roamed this area freely all year round, even though they shouldnâ€™t be on Sarahâ€™s damn property.
A lone womanâ€™s requests were easy to ignore.
He looked up at the moon, the big silver ball obscured by thick grey clouds pregnant with rain. He reckoned thereâ€™d be a downpour before the hour was up, maybe a storm tagging along for the ride. The autumn weather had been all kinds of crazy latelyâ€”warm one minute, teeming with rain the next. The different aromas the rain threw up messed with his sense of smell, obscuring those he would have caught with no trouble at all in the dryer seasons.
Deeming it safe, he loped across the grassy field surrounding her white house, keeping his eyes keen to any movement in the shadows. A line of trees stood to his right, their trunks like thick bodies topped with an abundance of hair. The leaves hadnâ€™t fallen yet, and in the daytime they were a riot of reds, yellows, browns and oranges. Wouldnâ€™t be long and those branches would be laid bare, skeletal arms and fingers stretching into the winter sky.
Heâ€™d wanted to make love to Sarah beneath them for the longest time. Since last summer when heâ€™d first rolled into town looking for work. Heâ€™d found it, right here on her ranch, and, hell, heâ€™d found the woman of his damn dreams as well.
He reached the picket fence separating her house from the fields and paused. Sniffed again. All he smelt was her.
He slunk low and crawled under the fence and, on the other side, scoped the area again. You couldnâ€™t be too careful around these parts. One wrong turn and you were fucked. Those hunters, Clark James and his cronies, didnâ€™t give a shit what they killed. Travis had heard tales of them killing a man once, some hiker kid who had wandered into the mountains at the back of Sarahâ€™s place. Denial had come quickly, as though theyâ€™d got their stories straight before news had hit the town of a dead body on the banks of Gordonâ€™s Creek, but Travis had known better. Had known by the glint in Clarkâ€™s eyes that something was amiss, had been able to tell by the scent of blood coming off him in waves. Yeah, he might have washed it off, but it had still lingered. A wolf could smell itâ€”no problem.
Baring his teeth, Travis padded towardsssssss Sarahâ€™s house, heading for the French doors to her living room. Heâ€™d keep out of sight, wouldnâ€™t want to frighten her, but he had to see if Clark was there. He couldnâ€™t smell the man, but Travis wanted to check just the same.
He stared through the glass, seeing Sarah curled up on the blue velour sofa, legs tucked beneath her, a book on her lap. A baby-pink nightgown covered most of her body from his view, and he was glad of that. Wouldnâ€™t feel right watching her if she was exposed, unaware he was out here. He was no stalker, no freak.
The fire to the right of her blazedâ€”long licks of yellow and orange flame that pranced frenetically. What he wouldnâ€™t give to be in there with her right now. She was beautiful, no doubt about it, the kind of woman every man wanted. Trouble was, most single men around here did want her, hanging around the way they did, asking if she needed help with this or that. Apart from Travis and a couple of others, Sarah only employed married men. A sure-fire way of keeping safe, sheâ€™d said. Heâ€™d asked why sheâ€™d taken him on to groom the horses and give them exercise.
And that was all heâ€™d got out of her.
It churned Travisâ€™ guts when he thought about one of the other men touching her. Made him see red every time. So why hadnâ€™t he told her how he felt? Why did he stannednednednednednedd on the sidelines, just being her friend and employee? Simple. Because what woman would believe he could shift into a wolf? What woman in her right mind could accept that? Sarah was level-headed, strong and independent, saw things in black and white. Anything grey didnâ€™t figure with her. It was a frustrating trait, one that had led to many heated discussions between them, ending up with him walking away allowing her to believe she was right and he was wrong.
But with Clark fucking James, he wouldnâ€™t be swayed. That man was bad to the marrow. Travis would just have to make sure Sarah saw it, that was all.
She shifted in her seat, flicking over a page in her book. He wondered what she was reading this time. Maybe one of those horror novels she enjoyed so much, or a thriller, perhaps. He should have known she wasnâ€™t the romance type. No hearts and flowers for this girl. She liked it as real as it could get, true crime being her favourite read, so sheâ€™d said.