Home > Asher (Wolves of Winter's Edge #3)(8)

Asher (Wolves of Winter's Edge #3)(8)
Author: T.S. Joyce

Disproportionately angry, Ashlyn stomped down the porch stairs toward her rental car. She slipped twice and barely caught herself on the black ice, and by the time she reached the passenger side of her car where she’d shoved all her luggage, she was crying. And true story, crying in frigid temperatures like this was miserable. Her tears were freezing on her cheeks.

She wrestled her pink luggage out of the tiny car, and immediately, a wheel popped off when she dropped it on the ground. The stupid little cylinder went rolling away like it was a professional escape artist. Ashlyn looked dejectedly after the wheel, urged on faster by the wind, and then shouldered her two duffle bags full of shoes and began dragging the suitcase across the ice.

Movement caught her attention on the edge of the woods near the cabin, but when she scanned the trees, there was nothing there but shadows. Still, the fine hairs lifted on the back of her neck as she got the distinct feeling she was being watched. She forced her legs to move double time, nearly slipped again, and then bullied the broken suitcase up the porch stairs to the big cabin. Her noodle arms were shaking by the time she reached the front door, and Ashlyn swore to goodness she would try harder in yoga when she got back home. No more slacking off to watch the hottie who liked to do his perfect-form downward dog in the front row. Time to build up her own muscles because she would never turn into a lovesick, doe-eyed boy-chaser. Boy-chasers joined cults, apparently.

Ashlyn shouldered the door open and frowned at the empty living room. Someone had built a fire in the hearth, but the room was empty. “Hello?”

No answer. Clearly, everyone left through back doors around here. More weird shit, yay. The broken wheel was going to scuff the wood floors, so Ashlyn picked it up, cursed her need to overpack for a one-day trip, and wrestled the luggage up the stairs. First bedroom on the right looked like the guest room. The bed was made and the drawers empty. Blaire had been wrong about the twin bed, though. This was definitely a queen. Score.

She didn’t bother unpacking. She was staying optimistic that Blaire would see the light, and they could leave by mid-afternoon tomorrow. Goals. That, Ashlyn could do. Set short-term goals, reach them, make more goals, reach them, repeat for infinity. That can-do attitude had gotten her far in life.

She readied for bed and felt watched again when she was brushing her teeth. She scanned the room behind her through the open bathroom door, but there was nothing there. Asher had put her on edge with his “you’re standing in a ghost” comment. Creepy McCreeperson.

Creepy but hot. Asher was even hotter than Yoga Andrew. Asher would look glorious in some little tight tights in the downward dog position, mmmm. Ashlyn smiled to herself at her naughty thoughts, jumped into bed, bullied the covers, and fluffed the pillows until she had the perfect nest.

The room had an old-fashioned clapper light, so she clapped twice and grinned when the lights turned off.

Now she was in the dark, like Asher enjoyed. He’d almost kissed her earlier. She’d felt his hand on her cheek, his nearness, his intent. And when the lights had come on, he’d been close, his gaze focused on her lips as if he’d been able to see in the dark. There had been a split second when she saw his eyes before he pulled away. Pretty eyes. A really light, silvery blue.

It had been months since she’d been kissed, and she’d be lying if she said she hadn’t wanted him to. How exciting to kiss a stranger who looked like Asher.

Asher and Ashlyn. Hmm. Maybe she would doodle their names together in her sketchbook tomorrow just for funsies. “Ash and Ash,” she murmured into the darkness.

So grumpy, so mysterious, so sexy and utterly kissable. His hand had been gentle on her cheek. Ashlyn brushed her fingertips across her cheekbone to remember the feel and the warmth of him.

Too bad she was leaving tomorrow.

With a sigh, Ashlyn rolled onto her side and hugged a pillow.

If she wasn’t on a rescue mission, Asher would’ve been fun to play with.

Chapter Four

Crouched down, head canted, Asher watched Ashlyn’s sleeping form in the dark.

His Dark Wolf was hunting. The Taker was hunting. Asher couldn’t stay away from her. The blue color around her, the scent of her shampoo, the shade of lip gloss she wore on her lips. Did he want to kiss her or consumer her? He didn’t know yet, but there was this desperation in his middle to find out.

Earlier, he’d circled back to the inn and watched her cry as she took her luggage out of her car. He’d watched as she set down her blinding pink suitcase on the ice, only for the wheel to pop off and roll across the slick surface. He’d watched the defeat in her eyes as she tracked its progress across the icy asphalt. And then he’d watched fear consume her face as she’d listened to her instincts that she wasn’t alone, and she froze right there in the middle of the blustery parking lot.

He’d seen that same fear a thousand times. It filled men’s eyes when they got too close to him and recognized him as other. It filled mothers’ eyes when they walked too near and had to hustle their children farther away because their protective instincts told them he was monster. But seeing it in Ashlyn’s eyes bothered him in a way it hadn’t ever before. If she saw him—really saw him—saw the black wolf with the silver eyes, she would run in fear.

But why the fuck did he care? She was a stranger.

Ash and Ash. He’d been sitting right outside her room when she’d uttered those words, his back against the wall while he’d listened to her get ready for bed. She’d put their names together. Well, at least she’d put nicknames together. No one called him Ash. He was Asher. Except when he and his brothers were kids, they’d called him Basher when they deserved to have their faces pummeled and he obliged them. Which had been often.

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