Lorna fisted her hand around the palm-sized gold medallion hanging from her neck at chest-level. The medallion, given to her when she was twelve by her grandfather, had become a worry stone for her. She would rub her thumb over it, memorizing every bump and ridge with her fingers, whenever she got nervous or agitated.
I’m trusting you. Don’t let me down.
Her grandfather didn’t play fair. Only he could make her drop everything and fly out to Last Chance, Alaska, during one of the coldest months of the year. If not for her need to see her promise through, she would return to the resort and make use of their hot tub. Her feet ached from standing in the snow for so long. She hadn’t felt the cold at first, thinking her many layers of clothing insulated her, but too long in one spot had left her vulnerable.
“One more time and then I’m going back,” she said to herself.
She held out the medallion, extending it away from her chest as far as the chain holding it would allow. A thought made her take the chain off so she could hold the medallion out farther. She used the ring on her right hand to tap the medallion twice. It made no sound, like the first time she tapped it.
Sound or not, she had done what her grandfather asked. She’d walked as far out from the town and the resort as she dared, leaving civilization behind, and tapped the medallion twice to signal her grandfather’s old friend who had promised to answer the medallion’s call. A cell phone number would have worked better.
“That’s it, Granddaddy. Your last wish. It didn’t pan out to anything. Or maybe you just wanted me to see the beauty of this place.” Lorna looked into the distance at the vast stretch of untouched snow. It resembled a glittering white silk blanket. The sight took her breath away, or maybe that was the chill in the air.
She replaced the medallion around her neck before hugging her arms against her chest. The time to head back had come and gone. If she didn’t want to become a Popsicle, she needed to get out of the cold.
Each step hurt. Her feet had gone numb, and the feeling had started traveling up her legs. Faster. She had to move faster. That would generate heat and get the circulation going in her legs, except she couldn’t get her body to obey.
It hadn’t taken this much effort to get out here. In fact, she’d covered the two-mile trip in no time at all. But she had started the trip warm after a nice hot shower. Once she got back to her room and thawed out, a hot shower followed by a dip in the hot tub topped her list of things to do.
She fumbled for her cell phone. She wasn’t too proud to call for help. The resort might charge her for calling them to come get her, but the fee beat hypothermia any day.
She pressed the power button then frowned when the home screen didn’t appear. She pushed the button again. When she pushed it a third time, she noticed the faint dead battery symbol as it flashed twice and then faded away.
The cold had sapped the battery. She knew such a thing was possible but hadn’t expected it to happen this quickly.
“Whatever. Pouting about it won’t do any good. Keep walking.”
She stuffed her phone back in her pocket and continued the trudge back to the resort.
* * *
Voss watched the woman struggling through the snow and shook his head. She shouldn’t have traveled so far from civilization without a snowmobile or a guide. The cold had a way of sneaking up on people who weren’t used to or prepared for it. With thick padding, she looked prepared enough, but the stiff way she moved indicated she wasn’t used to cold.
He kept pace with her, though she didn’t see him. She was too focused on walking, plus his white coat helped him blend with his surroundings. The woman made him curious. She had his medallion, and he wanted to know why, though not enough to make himself known.
When she got closer to the resort and other people, he planned to change to his human form and help her. His presence wouldn’t seem strange then. He would be a passerby who’d noticed her plight and decided to help. Besides, there wasn’t much he could do for her out in the middle of nowhere. She needed heat.
She faltered and then pitched face first into the snow. Voss waited. He inched forward. One step. Two steps. She wasn’t moving. Not a good sign.
He rushed forward and pushed at her shoulder with his nose. She didn’t budge. Definitely not a good sign. A change of plans was in order.
He shifted to human, clothed in jeans and waist-length winter coat that zipped up to his nose. The shifter ability to materialize clothing when they changed from animal to human came in handy at times like this. No awkward nudity to explain away. With a little concentration, he produced a large fur cloak, as well. After wrapping the woman in it, he slung her over his shoulder and started jogging back to the resort. “You better appreciate this, missy,” he grumbled.
His burden remained silent. He ran faster. Once he neared the resort, he paused long enough to find the woman’s room key. The plastic card didn’t have anything on it except the hotel’s logo. He hated modern technology. In the old days, resorts and hotels had used keys attached to tags that stated the room number.
“Have to do this the old fashioned way.” He inhaled deep, catching the woman’s soft scent of coconuts on the wind. He followed the scent straight to her room where he laid her on the bed so he could get her clothing off.
He got no further than removing her jacket before he stopped and stood back, regarding her face. “Well now. Isn’t this a pleasant surprise? Very interesting.”
The black beauty lying unconscious before him was a familiar face. One he’d thought never to see again. He knew her eyes, when she opened them, would be a soft amber color that shone with flecks of gold when she was happy and when she was excited.
Memories of her excitement and its effect on him haunted his dreams. He hurried and removed the rest of her clothing. She hadn’t changed. Breasts that filled his hands and made him want to suck them at every moment. Full hips he knew made the perfect handles to hold his lover steady for his intrusion. An ass he just wanted to bite or smack depending on his mood.
The direction of his thoughts had him hard and heavy, wanting to bury his dick deep and wake her up to his passion. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. But it was very tempting.
He pushed an errant strand of straightened black hair from her forehead before he ran a single finger down her cheek. He indulged a smirk. “Very, very interesting.”
The chill of her skin got him back on task. He removed the rest of her clothing, put her beneath the covers, and then got in the bed beside her. With a thought, his clothes disappeared. He pulled the woman close, holding her against his chest.
“Do me a favor and don’t scream when you wake up,” he said in a low voice, not expecting a response but needing to say the words.
It would be a while before she woke up. He shifted a little, getting comfortable so he could catch a nap until his little burden regained consciousness. Human bodies were too awkward, especially when they were aroused. In his fox form, he could curl up and be asleep in no time. This woman’s explanation better make his stint in this form worth it.