Howl and Yowl and Happy New Year, shapeshifter lovers.
A BIG THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who participated in the *Baby, It's Cold Outside* BLOG HOP!!!
Here's the sixth installment starring Drey, the wolf rancher, and Korinne, who has escaped to the Montana wilds after her ex-husband stole her most of her wealth.
"I got a rope and a tender touch," he drawled.
Drey cradled his mug of tasty hot chocolate in one hand, while scrutinizing Korinne's expression. She'd been startled some, her gaze flickering. At least, she hadn't said a downright 'no' to his suggestion about a New Year's celebration at the Midnight Stardust Supperclub.
Watching her take another long sip from her mug, then rest her head on the back of the rocker, Drey imagined Korinne on his arm at the fancy doing's. The more he envisioned being with her, the more he surely liked the idea. The Great Above be praised, there was a certain wonderful pleasure in watching a woman strut her beauty.
"I don't know," she softly spoke, returning her gaze to him.
Sadness, regret, fury flitted like early evening shadows in her forest green eyes.
"Even if I accepted your invitation, dressing up would be impossible here at the cabin," she continued. "I'm afraid I'm a spoiled little rich girl when it comes to an elegant event. I want to look my best."
Korinne mocked herself with a small wan smile. She lifted her hot chocolate to her lips, removing her gaze from him.
Faced with a hide and head-scratching dilemma, Drey hesitated. It would seem too forward of him to suggest she dress at his ranch, where he'd be more than stud-hot glad to accommodate her. Then, the recent conversation he'd had at the livestock feed store with Zance, a timber wolf shifter -- mated to the mostly human woman, Sherilyn -- offered him a way out of this ambush to his plans.
"I hear Dante has quite the beauty parlor, like they used to call 'em, at the Pleasure Club. Everything. From gowns to being all dolled up." Drey felt as if pins and needles stabbed his insides as he waited on Korinne's response.
She quirked a grin, obviously amused by his manner of speaking. "Well, there's a solution. The works, huh?" Her tone teased a bit.
"Yep." Drey gave a nod, wondering how he could sweeten the pot. Howls, so he could he could mate with her little honeypot.
"Tempting," she murmured some moments later, after draining her mug.
Drey watched her expression soften, her gaze filled with a woman's dreams. Hope grabbed him by the crotch. Korinne had gotten to him faster than a tick on a huntin' dog.
"Okay," she snapped to attention. "Take a look." She gestured at her surroundings with the mug. "Fairly primitive, wouldn't you say?"
Using a joking tone, Drey drawled, "I've seen more primitive. Lived in more primitive dwellings. Did some logging work once. Though,": he hastened to add, "the ranch house is grand enough for my liking."
"I think I've seen your house from afar... when I was hiking this summer, and gathering dead wood." Korinne leaned forward setting her mug on the small table. She raised her brows in question. "Sprawling, painted white with red shutters?"
"That's the one. Fireplace in most rooms. I got solar and wind power, all set up and workin'. Right cozy inside." Anything to lure the lovely Korinne to his home. As soon as possible, given the unending demand of his cock.
"Point being," she gazed around the cabin briefly, "I can't afford to get 'the works' at this Dante's Pleasure Club."
With another trap about to figuratively snap on his tail, Drey tried to ponder on his next move. If he offered to pay, how would Korinne react? It wasn't as though they really knew each other, and she'd be comfortable with his offering. Hell's last bent nail, they weren't even friends.
But dammit... "I'm asking you out for New Year's Eve, Korinne," Drey paused, fastening his gaze on her, and saw the wariness glinting in her eyes, "I got the funds. I'm in no hardship."
Silence. Long, heavy... then feeling like it was gonna bust the walls down. Drey sweated it out, calling to the Sacred Moon.
"Coupon," she finally muttered. A smile flirted with her lips. "I guess you're not one of those men who'd actually use a coupon on a first date." Korinne shook her lovely hair briefly. "The other night on talk radio, I heard this raging discussion about whether he's thrifty and practical for using a two-for-one coupon... or not worth pursuing if he's that damn cheap."
She gave him an amused smirk. "What do you think?"
"Not a coupon man," Drey twanged after a moment. "Never have been. Like to pay a fair price for a good meal. 'Course, I don't frequent regular restaurants, meanin' the franchise operations. Also, like to know the owner or owners. A man wants to trust who's puttin' the food on his plate."
Drey smiled large, his wide as the Montana sky smile. "Though, I do use Talbies, the local script."
Korinne regarded him, and Drey could see the little wheels spinning as she thought. He observed the troubled shadows in her eyes, too.
"What if I have expensive taste?" she asked silkily, too softly. "Am I going to break your budget?" she continued when he didn't immediately answer.
Drey watched her hands grip the rocker's arms becoming like fists. "Ain't a big spending man, Korinne. Except for quality. And you're quality."
Something tore inside her at that moment, tore at her heart, if he was reading her right. She couldn't suppress her tears, tiny droplets that sprang from her eyes.
Quickly enough, Korinne suppressed them, and rose from the rocker. Drey heard her dainty sniffles as she turned away. The seconds ticked by, ripping at his heart. There was no way she'd let him hold onto her, comfort her. Not yet.
"Quality," he heard her speak above a whisper. Anguish owned the word.
"You're quality," Drey repeated. "Not many women could make it, living here in a cabin -- in the wilds. You got grit. And I respect that."
A sob escaped her before she could stop it. A sob that sucker punched Drey in the stomach.
"Not grit." Korinne heaved a breath. "More like desperation... desperation mixed with fury." Before he knew it, she spun around on him like a wolfess who was about to chase him off for bothering her at the wrong time. "How good are you at handling a desperate, furious woman?"
Drey didn't back down from her challenge, from the pain shaking her body. The pain obscuring her soul.
"I got a rope and a tender touch," he drawled.
Have a Magickal Shapeshifting New Year...
Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance