This mysterious island hermit
managed to avoid entanglements …
until she walked into his cabin
With a major storm rolling in, Dane secures his cabin on the island and takes to the ocean in his shifted form of an Orca.
Mira is in trouble, she made a delivery and thought she had time to get safely back home. Now she’s in the middle of it and trying to contact someone, anyone for help. She also knows that even the Coast Guard wouldn’t attempt a rescue in these waters. She’s sure she’s going to die as her boat capsizes.
Dane’s Orca isn’t sure at first what has gotten his attention, he does know that it’s unwise to ignore its senses though. His Orca pushes Mira to a rock that is somewhat scalable and is relieved when she’s able to pull herself up, while he shifts. She does however pass out right after and is unconscious as Dane gets her to his cabin and settled.
Mira wakes before him and sees him asleep on the floor next to the bed. She’s startled and her she tries to remember how she got there. Dane wakes from the scrutiny and immediately introduces himself. It’s a bit awkward at first but they manage to get to the point of him showing her to his facilities to get cleaned up.
When she returns to the cabin, Dane has opened it up and was clearing some of the storm’s debris, outside.
This is a favorite scene.
She found Dane out in the yard. To her regret, he had put a shirt on, red and blue plaid, identical to her borrowed one. He had left it unbuttoned with the sleeves rolled up, so it served more to accentuate the flat planes of his chest and stomach than to hide them. He had washed the salt out of the rest of her clothes in a bucket of water and draped them over some branches to dry in the sun. When she arrived, he was dragging the pine tree out of the way of the door.
Mira stopped and stared. She had guessed that he was strong, but she hadn’t expected he was that strong. It wasn’t a huge tree, none of the trees on the island grew very tall, but it was definitely a full-grown tree and he was dragging it like it weighed nothing.
Seeing her, he stopped in mid-drag and just stood there for a moment, looking at her. She had the same feeling she’d had back in the cabin, as if he was absolutely captivated with her. Mira had no idea what he could possibly be looking at, since she was wearing borrowed clothes with straggling wet hair that hadn’t seen a touch of shampoo or conditioner.
“Hi there!” she said brightly. “Your shower is great. I love it.”
Dane let the tree fall with a crash at the edge of the yard. “It’s not much.”
“No, but it’s incredibly charming.” She ran her fingers through her hair in lieu of a comb. “I feel much better.”
“Do you want lunch?”
Her stomach immediately decided that it was a hollow cave that had never been fed ever in its entire life. “Yes,” she said enthusiastically.
Dane rinsed pine sap off his hands in the laundry bucket and led the way inside.
He had been busy, she discovered. The bed was neatly fixed, and he had uncovered a window over the table, which she hadn’t even noticed before, flooding the cabin with bright sunlight that brought out the warm golden glow of the natural wood colors. The table was fixed up with a chair on one side, a crate to sit on at the other, and two plates and cups. The cabin smelled wonderfully of coffee, perking in an old-fashioned coffeepot on the stove, and of hot bread.
“It’s just stovetop biscuits and camp food,” Dane said.
“That sounds amazing.”
It actually was. Dane dished up the two plates with beef macaroni, probably cooked up from a freeze-dried mix, but in her current state of hunger she would have been ready to eat pine needle soup, and this was full of rich salty flavor. The biscuits were perfect, crumbly and hot and fresh, with butter that Dane said he kept cool in the spring water.
Mira wolfed down two helpings and licked her spoon clean. Two cups of strong black coffee helped clear the remaining cobwebs from her mind.
Dane hadn’t spoken while they ate, just got up to get her more of anything she wanted as if he was reading her mind. There were a couple of moments when she wondered nervously if he could read her mind, but then she realized that it was simply because he was extremely attuned to the tiniest changes in the environment around him. She could see it in his constant vigilance, the way that his intelligent gaze took in everything, his face registering tiny changes of expression as he catalogued everything that he saw.
It was a quality she had seen before in people who worked closely with their environments: soldiers, pilots, hunters, fishermen. People like that became intimately aware of their surroundings for survival’s sake. It was a quality Mira had always found very appealing.
“Are you a veteran?” she asked as he collected the plates.
His reaction was a subtle flinch and freeze, so low-key that she wouldn’t have noticed it if she hadn’t, she realized, started to become as attuned to his tiny tells as he was to hers. The plates in his hands gave a brief clatter.
“There’s no need to tell me if it’s too personal,” she said quickly. “I am, you see. I was a pilot for the U.S. Army, flying helicopters. I came north to Canada after my discharge to stay with a cousin in Labrador and fell in love with the coast up here. All of this was years ago now, but I wondered if we had that in common, that’s all.”
Dane hesitated, not quite looking at her. Then he said, very briefly, “Yes. I am.” The way he clipped off the words seemed to close off the topic like snipping a piece of thread.
“Can I help you with the dishes?” Mira offered as a deliberate change of subject.
The tension in his shoulders relaxed a little. “Yes,” he said. “Thank you. After that, I need to check storm damage on the rest of the island.”
“May I come with you? I’d like to see more of your island and perhaps look for some of my things as well.”
“Your things?” he asked.
“Yes, from my boat.” It was disconcerting to talk about it in this bright, sunlit cabin, with the storm seeming to belong to some past country that she no longer visited. She tried not to let the thought of the sunken Merrylegs dampen her mood. All her things, dragged to the bottom of the sea … “I’m hoping some of my stuff might have floated ashore.”
“We don’t have much shore,” Dane said. “But I’ll show you.”
They went out into the sunshine. Mira guessed it was early afternoon, the air warm and balmy despite the brisk sea breeze. The sky was flecked with small, fluffy clouds, as pure white as the fleece of a flock of windborne sheep. It was even more difficult to think about the storm’s towering waves and ice-cold wind in this mild weather, with the sun warming her shoulders and drying her hair.
Dane carried the dishes with him as they walked down a winding forest path toward where Mira could hear waves pounding on rocks. “I wash the dishes in the sea,” he explained. “Salt is a good sterilizer. And then I rinse it off at the spring. That way there are no scraps up at the springhead to attract gulls or other scavengers.”
“That seems very sensible. Do you have animals on the island other than sea birds?”
“A few,” Dane said. “There are some mice and squirrels, and hawks and other small predators that prey on them. Nothing big. The island really isn’t big enough for deer and things.”
They reached the water’s edge, and she saw what he meant about the lack of a shore. It was all rocks here, without anything that could properly be called a beach. Dane crouched on a rock with graceful balance and leaned over to dip the plates in the water, rinsing them.
It looked like a one-person job after all, so Mira walked out to the end of the rocks, picking her way with care since some of them were covered in treacherous, foot-trapping seaweed. She shaded her eyes with her hands and looked for any floating debris that might have come from her boat.
She could see immediately how hopeless it was. The ocean stretched glittering and sunstruck for miles in every direction, a brilliant wind-ruffled plain fading into the blue sky at the horizon. She could see a couple of other rocky islands far off, but nothing else, no sign of the mainland or any large body of land.
It was starting to strike her how close she had come to death. There was no way that she could have survived long enough to float all the way to land in the wind and the waves, and no way that a rescue vessel could have navigated those seas to pick her up.
So how did Dane get to me, anyway?
She turned to look at him. Crouching on the rocks in his bright red-and-blue shirt, with his hair loose and unbound, he looked like he was modeling for a photo. She found herself wishing she had a camera, although that, like everything else, had gone to the bottom of the sea with Merrylegs.
Her memories of the storm were jumbled, but she didn’t think they were completely false. The first clear memory she had of Dane was of him catching her as she fainted on the shore. He had been absolutely naked, unless her dazed mind had made that part up.
Chant, Zoe. Dane (Westerly Cove Book 3) Kindle Locations (348-409). Kindle Edition.
This is only the beginning and Dane finds he has to open up to her, she’s his mate after all. He just doesn’t realize how much danger they both were in until it’s too late.
I love the way this tale unfolds, with plenty of angst, secrets revealed, and of course the romance within all the turmoil.
I really hope Zoe writes more of Westerly Cove I’d love for Tor and Eren’s sister Inga to find her mate as well.