Catherine Cowles is taking us back to Wolf Gap with an age gap, forced proximity romance, featuring a broody, reclusive horse whisperer and a heroine who’s standing on her own for the first time after being kidnapped as a child, and I have a sneak peek for you.
Something was wrong. I felt it before taking in anything by sight or sound—that subtle change in the air. I’d become attuned to it over the years. Felt the shift in energy, the hair on my arms lifting with it.
I turned my focus from the mare in front of me to the guest cabin porch. I’d known the second she emerged from the house—before Kai had barked in happy glee. Because I had a radar for Shiloh Easton. The existence of it made her dangerous for me, but I’d given up giving a damn.
My gaze zeroed in on her. I could see her trembling from here, a piece of paper fluttering in her hand. I was moving before my brain gave my legs the command—pure instinct.
I ducked between the rails on the fence and picked up to a jog. Kai whined as I approached, nudging into Shiloh’s side.
She had her hands clenched into tight fists like the talons of a bird wrapped around a branch. She didn’t even seem to register my presence, her chest rising and falling in shallow, rapid pants.
She blinked a few times, but her breathing only came faster. No words came at all.
Hell. I recognized the signs of a full-fledged panic attack.
I lowered myself to my knees in front of her and took her hands in mine. The grip was an iron vise around nothing but air and the corner of a paper. “Focus on one thing. Me. My face.”
Her eyes were glassy and unfocused, but I saw the struggle to zero in on me. She blinked rapidly, her breaths still jagged and shallow.
I pressed my fingers against her pulse. Her heart beat in a rapid, chaotic rhythm. Shiloh wavered in place.
My hold on her hands tightened. “It’s just you and me. You’re safe. You think Kai would let anything happen to you?”
That seemed to register, causing a flare of something in those ice-blue depths.
“That’s it. Look at me. Pick one thing.”
Her eyes tracked over my face, stopping to lock with mine.
“What color are my eyes?”
Shiloh let out a noise. It wasn’t a word, exactly, but it was something.
“Think about that color. What does it remind you of?”
Mud eyes. That was what my stepdad had always called them. But that wasn’t the point. I had to get Shiloh thinking about something other than what had sent her into this state.
“Beautiful,” she croaked.
The vise around my chest loosened a fraction. I’d never been happier to hear a single word.
I squeezed her hands. “Tell me more.”
“Your eyes. They’re beautiful.”
The kindness of her words burned my gut, but I forced it down. “Careful, that could go to my head. What else do you see?”
That vise around my ribs tightened right back up.
“So much I could drown in it.”
I didn’t want to take Shiloh into that darkness with me. Didn’t want her to even be able to see it. “Didn’t think pain could be beautiful.”
“It is when it makes you feel not so alone.”
She blinked a few times as if coming out of a stupor. Her pulse and breathing slowed. Her gaze traveled from my face to where my hands were locked around hers.
“You’re touching me.”
There was wonder in her tone that had my brows pulling together. “Would you rather I didn’t?”
Shiloh’s gaze flew to mine. “Don’t let go.”
“I promise. I won’t let go.”