Page 38 of A Wanton Woman

“You’re sure?”

She nodded, then met my eyes. She wasn’t meek now. The pain was something she could control, that she had power over. Unlike her husband’s usual overbearing demeanor, this was her choice.

“All right. I’m going to pull on your finger so that I can turn it, realign the bones and put it back into place.”

I didn’t delay, didn’t give her a chance to change her mind. I didn’t count. Just did as I said and quickly reset her finger. She hissed out her breath, but held herself still.

“All done.” I let out a breath I’d been holding. “Luke?”

“Yes?” he replied instantly.

“I need some strips of cloth to bind her fingers together.”

He turned and left the room.

Agnes was pale, her lips thinned with pain and sweat dotted her brow, but she was calmer.

“Your finger should be sore for a few days; keep it immobilized.”

Luke returned and handed me a thin strip of white cotton. I smiled at him and went about gently wrapping it around her injured finger and the one next to it, tying them together.

“There.” I offered her a small smile. “That should keep the finger still. Have your husband assist you while you are on icy ground to keep it from happening again.”

While it sounded as if I were scolding her for going outside on her own, it was a direct barb at Mr. Thomkins for not being a gentleman.

Agnes stood and held her injured hand with the other in front of her chest. “Thank you, Celia. Welcome to town.”

Thomkins made a funny sound in the back of his throat. “We are late for dinner.”

With a backward glance, Agnes offered me a small smile as she was led from the house.

“At least he’s got hold of her arm now,” Walker said, watching them from the window.

I moved beside him to watch them and he put an arm about my waist. “That is not a nice man.”

“That not nice man wants to be mayor,” Walker countered.

I looked back at Luke, realized he was mayor to keep Mr. Thomkins out. “You have the job solely to keep him from the role?”

Luke shrugged.

“You were forced to marry me because of him?”

I couldn’t help but feel panicked knowing the real reason for our union      . He’d told me before, but being in Slate Springs made it so much more real.

“Yes,” Luke replied honestly. He came up to stand on my other side, surrounded once again by my two men. “What Thomkins will never know is that I owe him a thanks.”

I frowned, confused.

“I wouldn’t have you otherwise.”

“We,” Walker clarified. “We wouldn’t have you otherwise.”



We woke up to snow. Lots of snow. Just like the blizzard at the top of the pass the other morning. It had been so cold and windy as we crossed and I’d been thankful for being in Walker’s arms. I’d never seen a storm like it before. And now, another. I knew before the season was over, I’d be accustomed to such snow in Slate Springs. Fortunately, I was safely inside and once the banked fires were filled with wood again, the house would be quite warm. I stood at the window as I tugged on Walker’s shirt. Neither man allowed me anything more than socks in bed, but when I did not have to dress fully, I enjoyed the comfortable feel of wearing their clothes. Their shirts smelled like them, their scents reminding me that I belonged to both of them. Ridiculous, yes, but it was comforting.

“Snow,” Luke muttered from bed. He couldn’t miss the sound of the wind or the whiteout.

“It’s hauntingly beautiful,” I replied, glancing over my shoulder at my men.

Luke was on one side, sprawled out on his stomach. An empty space was between them where I’d slept, and Walker was on the far end on his back, his arm over his head. Both men’s bodies were covered to their waists and I reveled in the sight. Only I was the one to see them unkempt like this, to know the real men behind the gentlemanly facade. While they were gentlemen, they were also quite wild and wanton themselves.

“If we hadn’t heard yesterday the pass was closed, I could confidently say it is now,” Walker added, rubbing a hand over his face. The rasp of his morning whiskers was unmistakable.

Yes. How could anyone travel in this? If it was this blustery in town, much lower altitude than the pass, then I could only imagine the conditions at the top.

“I’ll need to go and ensure everyone is following the snow plan.” Luke climbed from bed and pulled clean clothes from his dresser.

“Snow plan?” I asked, running and hopping back into bed where I knew was still warm from Luke’s body. I pulled the blankets up to my waist as he looked at me over his shoulder and grinned.

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