As a wolf, Gavin wouldn’t feel the cold like he did as a human. But he couldn’t remove his clothes right now and shift. Besides, as soon as he was in the raft, he had every intention of taking over the paddling so Amelia could strip and shift to warm up.
At least in the dry packs, he had clothes they could wear, two single sleeping bags—in case one got wet—a tent, a tarp, and food, to keep them going until someone came and picked up Amelia. He still had a mission and he wasn’t giving it up for anything. He was damn glad he’d rescued his canoe. He looked back at the plane that could no longer be seen. It could still be just below the surface, but with the roughness of the waves and the darkness of the day, it was impossible for him to tell.
“Gavin, you’ve got to be freezing.”
“The storm’s coming in fast and furious. You know how they are. It isn’t safe out here with the lightning closing in on us. We need to take cover.” He was stuttering a bit from the cold. “How do you feel? Are you sure you’re okay?” She was cut up and bruised. But as long as she wasn’t badly injured, she’d heal quickly with their enhanced, wolf healing genetics.
“I’m good. What about you? You look a little banged up.” Amelia finally reached him and tossed him a rope.
He tied his canoe to the raft and then figured it would be just as difficult to climb from the canoe into the raft as it would be to jump into the water, and use the ladder to climb into the raft. As much as he hated to get into the cold lake again, he opted for showing off his agility skills—which, as cold as he was, were poorly lacking. “Nothing that won’t heal up soon. Besides, I’m roughing it.”
With an arm and leg over the raft, the rest of his body in the canoe, he struggled to make it into the raft as she steadied the canoe.
Once he collapsed in the bottom of the raft, he said, “Go ahead and take off your clothes and shift.”
“No. You’ve been in the water for far too long. You need to shift first.”
He was going to argue, that at the water’s temperature between 68 and 70 degrees, they could last twelve hours if they’d been floating in the lake all that time, but she picked up the paddle again and headed toward shore.
“All right. For a few minutes, and then I’ll take over.” He began to remove his clothes, but he was having so much trouble untying his boots, she set the paddle down, and began to help him. They finished untying them, and she pulled them off. She tugged off his socks, and then helped him out of his life vest.
Her fingers were numb too, and she was having trouble with his zipper. She finally managed to unzip his cargo pants, while he removed his T-shirt. He tugged off his cargo pants. “This life vest won’t fit right on a wolf,” she said.
“I can swim without it if I need to.” He pulled off his boxers. He wasn’t planning on being a wolf for very long. Off in the distance, streaks of lightning struck the ground and thunder boomed only a mile away. “We need to take cover from the thunderstorm. Maybe I should just skip shifting.”
“One of us needs to be a wolf. We can switch off after a while.”
He wanted her to warm up and he’d paddle the rest of the way in. Between the cold-water shock to their systems, the terror of experiencing the plane crash, helping to pull Winston into the raft, and all the paddling she’d already done, she had to be exhausted. He was naked now, and calling on the shift, feeling the heat suffuse every cell in his body, warming him like a nice hot bath deep inside. And then he was a wolf, his thick, double coat of fur able to deflect the water.
“I’m glad you rescued your canoe, but not happy with the way you could have drowned yourself.”
He had to try, but he realized she was right and he hadn’t wanted her to be struggling with this on her own either.
She began to paddle again. “I have to say you’re beautiful, as a wolf.”
He moved toward her, licked her cheek, and settled next to her to share his heat, his head resting on her lap.
“Now, that’s nice.”
He woofed in agreement. He still didn’t like that she was so cold, but he was glad he could help her out in any way that he could. He hoped she didn’t believe she had to save the day now that the plane had crashed. He looked down at his wolf nails and the raft, hoping he didn’t puncture the rubber. He trimmed his nails regularly so that when he was a wolf, they wouldn’t be too long. He glanced at Winston. His were nice and trimmed too. He was sitting up, ears perked, nose sniffing at the wind. He seemed to be happy with the boat excursion now, out in the wilderness, smelling all the interesting scents. Gavin imagined he’d never been out here before and everything would be new to him.
Rain began to fall on them and Gavin wished that it would have held off a bit. It wouldn’t reach his skin, but he needed to shift and take over. Then he had an idea. His raingear was in one of the bags. He could shift, dress in dry clothes, and put the raingear on and then Amelia could shift into her wolf. Why hadn’t he thought of that before he shifted and it began to rain? He was certain hypothermia had messed with his thought processes.
She’d been paddling for some time before he finally shifted. “I’ll take us the rest of the way in now. You need to wear your wolf coat and warm up.”
“All right.” She kept paddling while he dug out some of his clothes.
“Good thing you have raingear.”
“Yeah, but I sure wished I’d thought of it earlier. Rain jacket too, for lighter rains, but you need to just shift and get warm.”
“I will, as soon as you’re dressed. We’re drifting back out because the winds have shifted, so I’m fighting against the wind to keep us going in the right direction.”
“Do you see the cliffs? Where there’s a rock ledge for shelter?” He pulled on some board shorts, at least they would dry out fast and were meant for the water, no shoes, a T-shirt, and the rain jacket and pants, just to keep him warmer in the chilly breeze.
“Yeah. It should give us some protection from the elements.”
“Agreed. Okay, I’ll take over. Go ahead and strip.”
Shivering from the cold, she let out her breath. “I bet you say that to all the women you see.”
About Terry Spear
USA Today bestselling author Terry Spear has written over sixty paranormal and medieval Highland romances. In 2008, Heart of the Wolf was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry also creates award-winning teddy bears that have found homes all over the world. She lives in Spring, Texas with two Havanese puppies.
Stranded in the wilderness, these warring hearts will be forced to work together―or die together.
Gavin Summerfield―an arctic wolf shifter with a fear of flying―has to fly into the vast lakeland wilderness of northern Minnesota to track down his suspect―where his ability to shift will come in very handy. Imagine his chagrin when his pilot turns out to be the woman who tasered him last time they saw each other. Things are off to a rocky start…again.
Arctic wolf shifter Amelia White isn’t entirely displeased to see Gavin again, but priorities shift when their plane is sabotaged and goes down in the middle of nowhere. As their attraction grows, Amelia hopes Gavin doesn’t discover the secret she’s been keeping…she knows he could never forgive her…