Silence Of The Wolf Page 23

’’I\m fine,’’ Elizabeth reiterated, but she smiled, touched that Bertha would be so concerned, having only just met her.

Bertha added, ’’Darien called and said you\ e moving her to his house.’’

’’He just told me,’’ Tom said, not wanting to get into it with Elizabeth again.

’’I don\ need to leave here,’’ Elizabeth protested. Again. She\d tried to talk him out of it on the short drive from the tavern to the inn.

In a consoling voice, Bertha said, ’’Darien told me you might have had a run-in with someone who could be more trouble, and he doesn\ want to take any chances with you staying here since my husband is out of town. Not only that, but Doc Weber insisted Tom stay the night with you. You know, to... monitor you condition.’’ Elizabeth could have sworn Bertha cast Tom a fleeting, conspiratorial look.

’’That\s not necessary. I\ll be all right here. Alone,’’ Elizabeth said.

’’All right. Come on,’’ Tom said. ’’We\ll proceed as planned. You can rest in your room. I\ll apply ice packs for a while. I\ll call Darien and tell him I\ll bring you out there for dinner.’’ He wouldn\ get into the issue of tonight right now. He knew Darien wouldn\ agree with him about not leaving right away, but Tom really wanted to please Elizabeth.

That was a first going against his brother\s orders to satisfy a woman.

’’I really don\ need to stay there after dinner. We can eat and ’’

’’Pack leader\s orders.’’ Tom smiled when he said it, but he was serious as he preceded her to her guest room. He would allow her to rest here, but after that, they would stay at Darien\s. As he hesitated at her bedroom door, he felt a cold breeze seeping from beneath it. He glanced down at the carpeted floor and took a deep breath of the winter-chilled outdoor air. Instantly, he had a bad feeling about this.

Before he opened the door, he said, ’’Window\s open. Did you leave it ajar?’’

Elizabeth frowned at him. ’’In this weather? No.’’

Senses on high alert, Tom listened for any movement in the room and tried to discern anyone\s scent, but he didn\ smell anything other than Bertha\s and Elizabeth\s feminine scents. ’’Go back and stay with Bertha, if you don\ mind. Ask her if she opened the window.’’

Elizabeth made an irritated huff under her breath but retreated down the hall toward the kitchen. ’’Did you open the window in my room?’’

’’And lose all the heat in there? I should say not,’’ Bertha said. ’’What\s the matter?’’

’’The window appears to be ajar,’’ Elizabeth said.

Tom shoved the door open and stared at the broken glass that littered the carpeted floor next to the window and covered one corner of a bedside table. Otherwise, the room seemed untouched.

’’Hell,’’ he said under his breath. As he entered the room, he yanked his cell out of his pocket and called Darien.

’’What\s happened, Tom?’’ Elizabeth called from the hallway.

Tom peered out the window. Two men\s boots left tracks in the fresh powder. ’’Darien, we\ve got more trouble.’’

He heard footsteps and turned to see Elizabeth staring at the room. ’’I hadn\ unpacked my bags. While we were gone, the airport was supposed to deliver them.’’ Immediately, she went to the closet and opened the door. ’’My bags aren\ here.’’

’’What\s going on, Tom?’’ Darien asked.

’’Elizabeth\s room at the B and B was broken into. We\ e checking to see if they stole anything.’’

’’Bertha? Did the airport deliver my suitcases?’’ Elizabeth called out.

’’Yes, dear. I rolled them into your room when they arrived.’’

’’Whoever broke in took her bags,’’ Tom relayed to Darien, studying Elizabeth. She looked so pale, her eyes tearing up, and he felt terrible for her. Talk about one hell of a horrible vacation. Or... business trip. He wanted in the worst way to make it up to her.

Elizabeth pulled open a drawer and found it empty. She got a wide-eyed look of panic and quickly reached into the breast pocket of her jacket, then took a shaky breath of relief and zipped her jacket back up. Tom looked at her quizzically, but she only gestured back at the drawer and said, ’’I I\d left a few things here from my carry-on that I didn\ want to take up to the slopes. Plane ticket receipts, driver\s license. My laptop\s gone.’’ Her lips quivered and she looked on the verge of bursting into tears.

’’I\ll call you right back, Darien,’’ Tom said quickly, the sight of Elizabeth\s distress making him feel like he\d been punched in the gut. He ended the call and took her gently in his arms, trying to avoid hurting her.

She said through her tears, ’’I don\ cry over just anything.’’

He didn\ know what to say to make her feel better. Not wanting her to think that he saw her tears as a weakness, he leaned down, took her face in his, and very lightly kissed her mouth.

He hadn\ planned to. But he wanted to stop her crying. No, that wasn\ it at all. He\d wanted to kiss her again since the moment he\d done so on the slope. And before that. When he\d laid eyes on her in Bertha\s kitchen, the cinnamon sugar sparkling on her lips. He\d wanted to lick off the spicy granules, taste the sweetness in her mouth, and feel that soft and curvy body pulled up tight against him.

He separated his lips from hers, expecting her to be horrified or shocked but certainly not smiling.

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