Tree of Life Series Branch 3 : Willow by Holly Bargo
Can an ancient warrior learn to love? Can a young, untried sidhe find her strength?
This is the third and final book of the Tree of Life trilogy.
Willow politely covered her mouth as she yawned and surreptitiously glanced at her watch. Only another two hours to go and then she could quit for the night … er … morning. She took another long drink of lukewarm tea from her thermos and smiled pleasantly at the convention attendees who drifted by the North American Vampire Association’s exhibit booth. She’d already registered fourteen new members and six new donors that night. Sales of member directories on CD were brisk. And she’d heard that the legendary weretiger Dane Karl was present, serving as bodyguard for one of the more paranoid vampire attendees. She’d heard him spoken of in awe, seen him from afar, and once caught his scent when he strolled through another conference exhibit hall a year ago and hadn’t noticed her at all.
He commanded respect, even from vampires who were utterly convinced of their own superiority over all living beings. He fascinated her, the sidhe who had not been able to get the memory of his scent from her mind. She’d scavenged the Internet and colleagues for information on him, information which was scarce. Incomplete tales whispered of a mighty Viking who’d bonded with a sidhe woman. As to what happened to the woman, no two versions agreed. But all versions concluded with the rise of an immortal weretiger—a weretiger with a sidhe soul.
She glanced around again, keeping that pleasant, meaningless smile on her face even though her cheek muscles ached and she wanted nothing more than to go to bed and sleep for the next twelve hours. But she continued to concentrate on staying awake, on doing her job, on hoping that he would see her.
Ah, there he was. Willow’s breath caught in her throat and she grew very still as she watched him, admired him. A tall man with straight shoulder length, dark blond hair, massively built of long, thick bone and hard muscle and no fat, he prowled slowly along the aisles of exhibits. She watched him pause beside the booth occupied by Night Life Magazine. He desultorily flipped through a few pages, exchanged a few words with the publisher’s staff person who manned the display, and moved on. His gait was slow and gliding, predatory. His heavily lidded eyes appeared sleepy until one took a second look and realized that they were sharp and hyper-watchful.
She concentrated, delicately calibrating her body and releasing the tiniest amount of tigress pheromones into the air.
A convention attendee stopped to ask about membership benefits, commanding Willow’s attention. She smiled pleasantly, showed him the list of membership benefits and explained them, and described the membership fee structure.
Dane stopped in front of a booth promoting eighteen karat gold fang caps, with and without gemstone embellishments. His nostrils flared and the back of his tongue tingled, detecting the stimulation of pheromones almost too faint to detect. He inhaled more deeply through his mouth and followed the whisper of scent to a slender brunette who seemed to be completely unaware of his presence as she addressed an attendee’s questions. There she is. A tingle of awareness shivered through his body as he studied her from across the aisle. He watched her thank the attendee for his interest, press some literature in to his hand, and slowly realize that someone was staring at her.
Willow grew very still, not having anticipated that the weretiger’s attention would be quite so unnerving. Since distress attracted a predator’s attention, she froze like a rabbit with metaphorical whiskers tasting the air for impending danger. She’d hoped to catch his attention and make his acquaintance and find out what this strange fascination meant, but she’d not thought that doing so might be detrimental to her health.
She watched his broad chest expand as he took a deep breath, inhaling her scent, tasting it on the back of his tongue. His eyes focused on her, greenish gold and luminous like a tiger’s. The flat gleam concealed his thoughts, but she felt the powerful throb of his awakened interest. He didn’t stare at her with mild curiosity, but with heated hunger. And suddenly she regretted the crazy desire to make his acquaintance. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it, caution whispered through her mind.