1. She glanced over at him from the corner of her eye. He was definitely thinking of something, and it wasn’t pleasant. His lips were pressed into a thin line, and that little vein in his forehead was prominent and pulsing. She wanted to ask him about what was going on at work. Maybe get him to open up and get it off his chest, but Burke Shavet wasn’t one to share his thoughts. Never had been since she’d met him three years ago. Yes, there were moments when he could be gentle and loving, but that side of him hadn’t shown itself these past few months. The best she could do was to leave him alone, stay out of his way, and hope everything would eventually work itself out.
2. What would she like to spend money on, or do with it, now that they had the funds? Hers was to own a ranch. Not necessarily a large working ranch, with cows and goats and horses and the lot. A small one where she could raise a few chickens and maybe own one horse. She’d like to learn to ride. And a dog. I’ve love to own a dog. Find a place way out in the country, away from the hectic pace of city life, where their kids could run and play ball in the yard. Ever since she could remember, it had been a deep-seated wish on her part. One she never thought possible.
3. Sulbin nodded. “If this man has done what you claim he has done, then it is in her best interest to find the nearest authorities so it can be investigated. We must remain out of the scope of their search for the truth in that matter.” He looked pensively down at the ground. “Let us hope she can be trusted to keep our secret safe.”
4. “No!” She held out a hand to stop him from saying anything for the moment. “Let me finish while I have the courage. I…I know…I mean, I think I know what you’re going to say. That I’m still getting over the trauma of what Burke did to me. And because of that, I’m especially vulnerable emotion-wise. But, Thann, these past few days, I’ve never been happier in my life. You’ve treated me with respect. All of your people have. And that’s something I’m not accustomed to. Your kindness, the way you talk to me, the way you tease me. You’re never condescending. You don’t make fun of me just to hurt my feelings. You don’t think my questions are stupid and berate me for asking them. And then, back there, when I never wanted anything so badly than for you to kiss me, and you did… Thann, I’ve fallen in love with you.”
5. Thann advanced an inch at time. His feet made no sound on the patchy ground. He knew the moment he changed, one of two things could happen. The cougar could attack her, hoping to drag away Maren’s body with him in pursuit, or he would scare it away. One thing, however, was certain. The closer he got to her before he switched bodies, the better the chance he’d have of protecting her.
6. Thann reached over, taking her cheek in his palm, and held her face steady for him to plant his mouth over hers. It took her a stunned moment to realize what was happening, and another second or two to accept what he was doing. In front of her father. In front of everyone.
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