“Anita, we’ve got a group of visitors arriving this afternoon,” Saber said when Anita answered the phone. “I wondered if you could help London wrangle them. Emily is short-handed at the café. Agnes is sick, and Valerie is still visiting family in the North Island.”
“No problem. What do you want me to do?” Anita asked, pleased to have a task. Any job to fill her mind instead of that thoughtless, self-centered, no-good wolf.
“Act as hostess and introduce the visitors to locals. We’re starting at the town hall before we give them a tour of the area. We’ll take a group tour each and finish at Storm in a Teacup. Emily might want you and London to serve food there.”
“Happy to help. What time do you need me? Should I dress in anything special?”
“Wear your normal clothes,” Saber said. “Meet us at the Town Hall at one.”
When Anita arrived at one, voices rippled from inside the hall. She locked her car and walked to the entrance, a smile fixed on her lips. Mentally, she crossed her fingers and prayed she had the fortitude to keep the smile natural for the entire afternoon. Her phone rang.
“Are you almost here?” Saber asked. “We’re running early.”
“I’m in the car park.”
“Great.” Saber hung up.
Anita inhaled and came to a screeching halt. Wolf musk. That wasn’t unusual since they had three wolves in the area, but these scents indicated strangers.
Her eyes widened, and she fumbled her phone. She blinked hard, convinced her mind had conjured a mirage. She took two steps. Halted. “Rory?”
In that instant, she understood she’d been lying to herself. She’d desperately missed Rory and wasn’t functioning without him. At least she’d pried herself from bed and had taken a shower and changed clothes. She’d stopped crying, but sleeping had become a problem. Now he was here…
Anita found herself running, sprinting across the uneven ground. She hurled herself at him, and his arms wrapped around her. His wild wolfish scent surrounded her, and everything wrong in her world clicked into the correct place. Their lips met, and they kissed hungrily. Finally, she pulled back and stared up at him.
“What are you doing here?”
“Home is where you are,” he stated. “You’re my mate, Anita. I’m only half a wolf without you.”
“What about your grandmother?”
Rory’s face twisted, and pain slashed across his features. “I’m not making excuses, but she wasn’t well. Wild Highland felines attacked the pack and killed her family when she was a child. She and her mother received severe injuries. No one expected Grandmother to survive, but she recovered. She seemed fine until you declared you were my mate. She hated felines, and it was only my grandfather who persuaded her to give your parents a chance. When you insisted we were mates, memories played with her mind.” He held up a hand. “Not an excuse. I’m merely explaining what happened. She got rid of you and your parents, and I didn’t notice problems within the pack. When I attended the gathering and started paying attention to you, it snapped her mind. She murdered innocents. Pack.” He swallowed, his voice turning bleak. “I had to execute her.”
Anita stared at him, a wave of sympathy curling through her chest. She placed her hand on his shoulder. “I’m so sorry. That must’ve been horrid.”
“None of this is your fault or mine. My grandmother was responsible.”
“What about your pack?”
“While I was at the gathering, several families left to join relatives. I contacted Saber and asked him if there was room for wolves in Middlemarch—those who wanted a fresh start. He agreed, and twenty wolves came with me to New Zealand. Saber has found us accommodation and jobs and arranged the relevant visas. Those wolves who wished to stay did so with my blessing.”
“That takes months. The visas, I mean.”
“Saber told me one of his cousins works in the department and could fast-track the process.”
Anita swallowed hard and met Rory’s gaze. “You’re truly staying?”
“Aye, if you’ll have me.”