Old Mary eased her bony frame out of the chair and slipped off her cloak to hand it to Dawn. "Pull up the hood and hunch yourself over and no one will be the wiser. Go observe from the covering of the big pine by your old cottage. No one pays me heed so you will be ignored. Have your peek and satisfy your curiosity."
A gleam sparked in Dawn"s eyes. She was tempted. She had been secluded in this cottage too many days and while she had savored the solitude, it would be good to get out and feel the crisp bite of the cold and hear the snow crunch beneath her feet.
"Go see, and then hurry back and I will take my leave and no one will ever know."
Why did Dawn doubt that" Cree seemed to know everything that went on in the village, though with the arrival of his bride Dawn doubted he would be thinking of her today. And the thought annoyed her. She wished his mind was as burdened with thoughts of her as her mind was burdened with thoughts of him.
She stood, suddenly eager to sneak out, and draped Old Mary"s cloak around herself tucking the hood down so that it concealed her face. She hunched over and shuffled to the door. She turned and smiled at the old woman then walked out.
Dawn bobbed her drooping head at Neil standing stoically beside the door and wasn"t surprised that he didn"t acknowledge the nod. Old Mary was right; people simply ignored her as if she wasn"t there.
Flurries fell with considerable enthusiasm and children chased them, their small hands reaching up to get them as they hurried with their parents toward the entrance to the village. Villagers were lined up two rows deep and there was a joy in the air and on people"s faces that had long been absent from the village.
Flanna had talked about how busy she had been getting the bride"s bedchamber ready and how Turbett had his hands full preparing for her arrival celebration. There would be food and drink aplenty, music and merriment, and the whole village was looking forward to the festivities.
All except Dawn; she hadn"t been invited, but that hadn"t surprised her and besides she had no want to take part of the celebration.
She made her way slowly to the small cottage she had once called home and concealed herself under the snow-covered branches of the large pine that nearly hugged the side of the house. It gave her a good view of the procession that would pass yet kept her hidden enough so as not to be noticed.
A cheer went up and Dawn tensed. The procession approached the village, though from where she stood she could not see it. Cree no doubt had ridden out to meet his intended so that they could enter the village together. It would not be long before they passed in front of her and her stomach churned at the thought of seeing Cree with another woman.
Her heart pounded in her chest as she waited anxiously. Part of her was curious to have a look and another part of her kept urging her to run… run as far as she could and not look back. Curiosity won out; she kept her feet firmly planted on the ground, though her legs turned weak when she caught sight of the couple who would soon wed.
Cree was strikingly handsome as always and intimidating attired in all black. He sat his stallion tall and proud, though he wore a scowl, not unusual for him. And as expected the sight of him flared her passion. It never failed. All she had to do was lay eyes on him and she grew wet with the want of him. It was sinful how much she ached for him. Never in her wildest dreams had she imagined she would enjoy coupling so much, though never could she imagine making love with anyone other than Cree.
She finally turned her attention on the woman who rode beside him and Dawn felt a catch in her heart that stole the breath right from her. The woman was beautiful. She had long luxurious dark hair that fell in generous waves around her flawless face and down over ample breasts. And she had the most startling blue eyes even at this distance. Never had Dawn seen such beauty.
Dawn gave one last look to Cree before she would turn and hurry back to the cottage, her heart heavy with the thought that he would no longer find her appealing. His scowl had deepened and his eyes searched the crowd anxiously, and she wondered why.
Her eyes widened. Could he possibly sense that she watched" His head turned her way and she hastily moved to conceal herself behind thicker pine branches. It didn"t stop him from focusing his attention there and when his dark eyes narrowed and remained steady on her hiding spot, she felt as if she"d been caught.