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Facing the Future

Vignette 1: Takhini Wolves Vignettes

This vignette features Caroline and Tyler Harrison. The very human Caroline grew up amongst the Takhini wolf pack, so it seems only right she’d end up the partner of a growly, grumpy bear shifter who only has eyes for her.

They’ve just been chosen as the leaders of the northern bear clans, but before they dive into their work, a honeymoon is in order.

Now if Tyler can only get her to actually relax…

Timeline: The scene takes place about two weeks following the end of Diamond Dust, during the adventures of Moon Shine.

Enjoy!

***

It was far too tempting to let his fingers wander.

Fortunately, Tyler’s not so subtle grope only netted him a soft laugh as his mate peered over her shoulder, amusement in her eyes. “Haven’t you had enough?”

He innocently poured a little more tanning lotion into one palm and rubbed his hands together, ignoring for a moment the sweet swell of her ass that had tempted him to be a very naughty bear only a moment earlier. “Had enough what?” he asked. “Coffee? Breakfast?”

“Sex. And you know very well what I was referring to, Mr. Grabby-hands,” Caroline teased, but she still leaned eagerly into his touch as he went back to rubbing every exposed inch of her skin with the lotion.

Happily, she had a lot of exposed skin.

Under his hands she’d gone all soft and warm, a light tan already turning her usual fair colouring a shade darker. Her blonde hair had ivory white highlights, and the lickable bronzed tone of her skin was highlighted against the buttery-yellow of the scrap of material she wore that was masquerading as a swimsuit.

“I like your bikini,” he managed to get out, his voice all growly and low without him intending it to be.

“You like it because it’s nothing more than three tiny bits of material and a whole lot of string.”

“That’s what I said—I like your bikini.”

She rotated toward him and he didn’t pause, moving his attention to the undersides of her breasts and the lean line of her waist. Farther downward yet to where her hips flared wider. The two of them had been together for just a short time, yet he didn’t think he’d ever satisfy the hunger he felt right now. It wasn’t just a physical connection between them, although they had that part down pat.

It was the way that even while he teased her, her eyes lit up with mischief, as if there was nothing he could challenge her to do and not have her fully on board for the adventure.

For a human caught up in the shifter world, Caroline was one in a million.

Then she took a deep breath and the motion all but mesmerized him. Definitely distracted him from his deep thoughts, but somehow he managed to peel his gaze upward enough to pass her smirking lips and lock onto the deep blue of her eyes.

She winked before launching into an agenda. “I thought that after I’ve gotten in a little tanning time, we can go for a walk on the beach. I’m very pleased you found us room at a shifter-friendly resort, so if you want to shift to your bear form, you’re more than welcome. And then there’s the lunch buffet, and this afternoon I understand the resort is organizing a scavenger hunt—”

Tyler slipped his fingers over her lips to interrupt the steady flow of words. His inner bear had grown far too lazy in the heat. The beast had no interest in making an appearance until the ghastly sand and sunshine turned into something more tolerable, like sub-arctic temperatures. Only he had no intention of telling Caroline that. They’d flown to a tropical paradise for her sake—and both sides of his shifter psyche wanted her to have a wonderful time.

“You don’t need to arrange a schedule for every minute of the day. We can just wing it. Spontaneity is fun.”

“Yeah, right.” Caroline arched one eyebrow. “As if you don’t have Justin arranging every bit of your day back when you’re working.”

“But I’m not working now,” Tyler pointed out. “We’re on our honeymoon, and we’ll have more than enough work to do once we get home. Relax. Let me take care of you for a change.”

Caroline snuck her hands over his shoulders, her breathing picking up pace. “You take very good care of me.”

The innuendo all but leapt up and beat him on the head.

Hmmmm. Nice. “I try my best.”

It was a good thing he wasn’t wearing more than a pair of boxers, or he’d have been covered with tanning lotion as she pressed intimately close. Of course, the fact that he was only wearing a pair of boxers meant it was pretty damn obvious he was willing to take very good care of her anytime she said the word.

Her eyes sparkled. “You know, the sun isn’t in quite the right place yet. Can you think of any possible way to help pass the time so I’m not bored?”

Tyler clicked his tongue in sympathy. “I would hate to have you sitting around being bored. And of course you can’t suntan until the sun is in exactly the right spot.”

“Of course.”

They grinned at each other, the heat in her eyes rising as he swung her up in his arms and carried her into their bedroom. He pushed aside the mosquito netting and tossed her on to the king-size mattress.

And proceded to neither bore her, nor let the itty bitty, yellow polka-dot bikini interfere with his agenda…

~*~

Caroline sighed happily as she pulled on her bikini and tucked things back out of sight. Through the window of their private cabana the ocean moved in slow, undulating waves, the crystal-blue waters of the Caribbean in sharp contrast with the glistening white sand. She’d been kidnapped away to paradise, and she’d never been happier.

After spending years with the wolf shifters in Whitehorse, this was the first time she’d had a holiday in forever. But more than that, it was the first time she had someone as intent on making her as happy as she usually was for everyone around her.

It was still a shocking realization—that Tyler not only loved her, but wanted more for her than she wanted for herself.

As for the big galoote, he was currently singing in the shower. She caught a glimpse of her smile in the mirror, briefly sticking out her tongue at the gloating expression on her own face. Yep, she was head over heels in love with the grumbly bear shifter, and glad of it.

The fact that Tyler was pulling off a decent operatic tenor only made her happier.

Somewhere in the bedroom a low beeping sound went off, and Caroline jerked upright.

What the heck? They’d promised to turn off all their phones and computers during their stay on the island. She hadn’t even tried to sneak a peek at hers, having shut them down and stored them away on the flight over. But by the continued beeping, it was obvious Tyler’s phone was still on.

She glanced over her shoulder, but the warning buzzer was low enough that the Italian-wannabe in the shower hadn’t noticed. She scrambled to follow the sound, tracking it to his suitcase. She unzipped and flipped the cover open, and snatched up his iPhone.

Incoming message.

It was from Justin, Tyler’s personal assistant and best friend who had stayed behind in Whitehorse to finish a few tasks. He was pretty level-headed, and Caroline wondered why he’d broken the no-work embargo.

She clicked it open.

Touching base. Takhini Alpha has found mate. Situation under control. Scratch that. Situation interesting. Will update when necessary, currently assisting Evan as he deals with the mess.

Her heart rate sped up. Evan was her old boss, and ex-lover, and one of her best friends in the entire world. He’d found his mate and the situation was interesting?

She stared at the phone, tempted beyond belief to return the call and find out exactly what the hell Justin was talking about. She was on the verge, already opening Tyler’s contact list when she snapped to her senses.

Taking care of the Takhini pack wasn’t her job anymore. And while Evan was a good friend, he was part of her past.

Her future? Was now singing a really bad rendition of Frank Sinatra’s I did it my way at the top of his lungs.

Caroline tucked the phone back into Tyler’s suitcase, leaving temptation behind. She headed onto the deck, dragged her lounge chair into the sun and forced herself to lie down.

Evan would be fine.

Justin would help take care of things, but Evan was a strong, determined, charismatic Alpha Wolf. Whatever his issues with his mate, Caroline was confident that in the end, fate and a little hard work would make things go in his favour.

She would just have to trust. And enjoy her nonwork time with her very sexy, and very energetic mate.

~*~

From his postion in the oversized hammock on their deck, Tyler cracked open one eye, tilting his head toward where Caroline was stretched out in the chaise, suntanning. Or where she had been, not even five minutes ago.

She seemed to have vanished.

Tyler dragged himself to vertical to see what all the noise was about, and to look for his missing woman.

He’d gone not more than a dozen steps down their private trail to the beach when he spotted her. She was with a group of humans and shifters gathered on the sand on either side of a net. They were playing an adapted game of volleyball. He folded his arms and watched for a while as the noise from the beach continued to rise. Happy sounds, both human and not, as the teams fought to keep the ball in the air.

Caroline called out encouragement to a smaller sized wolf before diving forward to dig her fists underneath the ball and directing it over the net to the opposing team. Tyler paced forward, counting as the ball bounced a good dozen times amongst the players before finally getting whacked in the right direction.

It wasn’t Olympic rules, but everyone seemed to be having a grand time.

Including Caroline, who laughed as loud as any of them, completely at ease in the middle of a pack of wild animals. Tyler paused at the sideline, waiting for a break in the play.

The instant she spotted him, she threw herself into his arms, wrapping her legs around his hips as she clung on like he was a tree to climb. A chorus of amused laughter rose from the rest of her team.

“You’re awake. Come play with us?” she begged.

“You have room for another on your team?”

“Play for us,” came a shout from the opposite side of the net.

Caroline blew a raspberry in her opponent’s direction. “Forget it. He’s mine, and nobody else gets to have him.”

Right there in front of the entire group she cupped his face in her hands and kissed him soundly. The amused laughter changed to a chorus of wolf whistles and sexual hoots, but Tyler didn’t give a damn.

He’d told her he loved her back in Whitehorse, and asked her to be his. She’d chosen to accept his proposal for many reasons.

But right now? To have her so blatantly call him hers thrilled him from head to toe.

When she broke their liplock and pulled back, her blue eyes glittering with laughter, Tyler leaned in until their noses touched. “I’m yours,” he agreed. “And you’re never getting rid of me.”

“Oh, Tyler.” Still holding his face in her hands, surrounded by shifters who knew exactly what she was, and what he was, and how them being together was damn near impossible, she said it anyway. “I love you. I love you so very much.”

And the crowd went wild…

They were both grinning damn hard when she finally tugged him with her into the middle of the playing area, and Tyler realized that this was pretty much what life was going to be like for the next fifty years or more. Caroline pulling him into whatever excitement and activity she found.

And him, content to follow wherever she wanted to go. Because she loved him.

That was all he needed.


If you’d like to read Tyler and Caroline’s story you can find it in Diamond Dust, the third book in the Takhini Wolves Series.

Buy DIAMOND DUST

Copyright © 2014 by Vivian Arend

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