Another man, another wolf shifter, ambled up to Tate, holding two glass bottles of Coca-Cola. The men bore a strong resemblance to each other; they were clearly related. The man who wasn’t Tate had a gold wedding band on his ring finger; Tate had none, not that Lainey had any particular reason to be checking out his marital status.
“Here’s your soda. Who’s this lovely lady? A member of the wedding party?” The man looked at her with interest.
Tate didn’t answer him. Instead, he popped the top of the soda bottle off and handed it to her. It was ice cold, and the glass was dewy. “You seem a little parched,” he said. “Have a drink.”
She took a long, sweet swallow, and then cleared her throat.
“I’m Lai- sorry, what was the question again?” she said quickly. “I think the heat’s addled my brains.” She’d almost said her real name. Good going, she scolded herself. She made a big show of glancing at her wrist watch. “I, ah, I’m late. To check in at Imogen’s boarding house. My name’s Katherine.”
“Katherine? Very pretty. And you’re a bobcat. I think I’ll call you Kat,” Tate said, drawing the word out slowly. He caressed the word with his tongue, and she suddenly felt light-headed, imagining him caressing her with that tongue.
Kat. She liked it. It sounded sexy and dangerous. It sounded about as far away from a chubby, nerdy wallflower as one could possibly get.
“Nice nickname,” she said boldly. “Maybe I’ll keep it.” Wait, did that make sense, or had she just said something incredibly dorky? She couldn’t tell. Something about this wolf shifter muddled her thinking. All the blood that should be going to her brain had apparently rushed to her crotch. Strange, she’d thought that only happened to men.
He moved a little closer to her, and her heart sped up even more. “So you’re in town for the wedding, Kat?” he asked. “Are you friends with the bride, or the groom?”
“Wedding? Whose wedding?” Those eyes. She could fall into those eyes and drown in them.
He nodded his head at the sheriff and the plump redheaded woman. “My cousin. Sheriff Loch Armstrong, and his lovely fiancée Ginger,” he said. “They’re getting married a week from this Sunday. You really didn’t know? How could that be?”
“Ahh…I…the reservation was made a long time ago. A year ago, actually.” She was desperately trying not to lie any more than necessary. It was true. The reservation had been made a year ago. Just not by her.
“Interesting. What brought you to town?”
A broken heart and parents who’d turned out to be something out of a Grimm’s fairy tale.
“Oh, you know…from time to time, you just want to get away from it all.” That wasn’t even a lie. She really needed to get awayall—for at least two more weeks. Then she might be safe from her parents’ desperate attempts to control her.
He was still staring at her with those intense blue eyes, and when he looked at her that way, she felt as if she were the only woman in the world. Everyone else fell away and vanished, and she basked in the warmth of his attention.
“So will you be staying long?” The way he asked it made it sound as if the answer to that question meant a great deal to him.
And suddenly, she found herself wishing that the answer could be yes. “Well, I—”
“Tate, could you please come here?” the sheriff called out to him, and Tate grimaced, glanced at him and then said apologetically, “Excuse me just a minute.”