WRR Excerpt From Chapter 3
At Least I Think The Dog Liked Me
Deciding I had giggled over my good fortune long enough, I ordered myself back to work. I still had my writing table to set up, and a couple of things to store in the small attic. Taking a last deep breath of delicious mountain air, I was turning to head back to the cabin when I felt, more than saw, a movement in the woods to my left. I held my breath, expecting to see a deer come out of the trees and move off toward the creek that runs along the western border of my land. Instead, a shaggy gray-black creature roughly the size of a horse stepped quietly out of my woods, not twenty feet away, and stood staring at me with brilliant amber eyes.
For a moment, my mind screamed, “Wolf! Run!” But before my feet could act on that directive, the animal began to move sedately in my direction, tail wagging slowly.
Almost simultaneously, a voice called from my driveway. “Don’t be afraid! She won’t hurt you.”
Tearing my eyes away from what had to be the biggest freakin’ dog on the planet, I saw a man—a really good-looking man—running toward me, empty leash and collar dangling from one hand.
He called to the dog. “Rosheen! Come here, girl!”
She walked a few, slow steps in his direction, then looked back over her shoulder and decided to approach me, instead. Before her owner was halfway across the yard, Rosheen and I were standing nose to nose, for a long moment of species-to-species contemplation. Then the dog, an Irish wolfhound, proceeded to give me a very solemn, but thorough examination, soft breath huffing, as she checked me from head to toe. Apparently satisfied that I was Friend rather than Foe, the scruffy creature sat down by my feet to await the approach of her owner.
He was panting as he neared, and I wondered how long he had been chasing his dog. “She slipped her lead, and was off before I could stop her.”
Shaking his head, he continued. “I wasn’t expecting her to come this way. She must have figured out that someone was living here now. I know she looks huge and dangerous, but she’s really very gentle. You weren’t in any danger.”
I smiled, wanting to relieve his worries. “It’s all right. Honestly. Once I realized it was just a big dog and not a ravenous wolf, I wasn’t really scared. Just startled.”
He raised an eyebrow in surprise, then bent down without comment to slip Rosheen’s collar back over her head, and make sure it was secure. His breathing sounded more normal, for which I was grateful. At least he wasn’t likely to collapse in my yard.
“Well, you’re braver than most, then,” he said, with what might have been a very small smile. It was hard to tell, since he kept his head tilted toward Rosheen while talking. “She’s been known to cause strong men to scream like little girls.” He scratched her head gently and with obvious affection.
I laughed, and stuck out my hand. “I’m Sarah Gray. I just moved in Monday night, actually. Are you my neighbor from across the road? I’ve seen the drive heading up the hill, but I didn’t know if anyone lived up there or not.”
He paused a moment before raising his eyes to mine, then slowly extended his hand. “Yes. I’m MacKenzie Cole,” he said in a serious voice, laced with just a hint of old south. “My house is about half a mile up. You can’t see it from the road. I heard rumors that someone had bought this place, but I didn’t realize anyone had moved in yet.”
He glanced away from me, toward my cabin, with a slight frown on his face. I took stock, while he was looking things over. Tall, maybe 6’3”, with glossy black hair curling slightly over his ears. Equally dark brows over unusually pale blue eyes, and very fair skin. Overall, he was strikingly good looking, with a sense of quiet strength about him. In his faded jeans and soft blue denim shirt, he looked perfectly at home in these mountains, as though he had been here a long time. He turned back toward me again, and I looked away, embarrassed to be caught staring.
“I’m just getting settled in,” I found myself blurting to cover the awkward moment. “Haven’t even finished unpacking yet, really. I mean, the place is still a mess, but if you’d like a cup of coffee, I can offer you that much?” As invitations go, it was a bit lame, even to my own ears. He must have thought so, too.
“No, thank you.” He paused, still not looking directly at me, then added with an almost formal politeness, “Nice meeting you. Enjoy your new home.”
Well. So much for making friends with the neighbors. Way to go, Sarah.
“Another time, then,” I replied, feeling somewhat rebuffed. I gave the wolfhound a pat on the head. “Goodbye, Rosheen. Pleasure making your acquaintance. Don’t be a stranger, girl.”
Rosheen gave my hand a lick, and MacKenzie Cole smiled a goodbye in my general direction, then without another word, turned and headed back the way he had come, big dog in tow. Halfway down my drive, he glanced back over his shoulder, and seeing me still watching, gave a small nod and disappeared around the curve.
All righty, then. At least I think the dog liked me.