One final adventure. One long night. One last chance to reveal their true feelings.
An evening at a benefit gala leads Gwen and her friends into trouble as a thief runs off with all the precious jewelery, including a necklace given to her by Fox. The thief also leaves behind a curse on Fox that they have until daylight to lift, or he’ll be trapped in stone forever. As they race against time to catch the thief Gwen realizes how much she’s come to care for the wily fox in her life, and what she’d be willing to sacrifice to save him.
I never thought I would be fighting for the life of William Fox.
The night began like so many others. The sun set signaling my rise like some vampire of old. At the last rays I peeked my head out from under the covers and inspected the room. Empty and quiet.
Also, a little cold. The chill from the draft that blew in from the window frames bit at my nose. A sly smile slipped onto my lips. A perfect time to practice my unique skill set.
It had been a month since the last adventure, the one with the mermaid and me getting stabbed in the heart by Fox. Funny enough, him plunging a dagger into my chest was a relationship booster, at least on my part. It’d shown that, given the first opportunity, he wouldn’t outright kill me. Also, he had great aim.
Because of that aim I was not only alive, but was now able to command my werewolf fur to spring forth from my flesh. In a couple of seconds I wore a fluffy coat.
Unfortunately, there was a slight problem as I tumbled out from beneath the sheets. My pajama top and bottoms were tight against my limbs, giving me a swollen appearance and making movement just a little difficult.
I climbed to my feet as graceful as a person made out of balloons and waddled my way over to the dresser. There were small handles on the drawers with which to open them. I reached for one with both hands.
A loud ripping sound broke the serene silence. I glanced over my shoulder and my face fell. “Just great. . .”
The effort-with my werewolf strength-had torn the back of my shirt wide open. The cloth now drifted like a feather to my feet. My upper torso was naked, sort of. I glared at the wounded shirt one last time before I whipped open the drawers and retrieved my clothes.
I rushed over to the bed only to be rewarded with another ripping noise. A pause at the side of the bed and a look back told me my pants were the latest victims of my brilliant plan. My face fell. Now all I needed to complete my horrible morning was-
A knock on the door. “Miss Rogers?” came Emery’s voice.
The color drained from my face as I looked down at my furriness. Though in-the-buff was the usual attire of a werewolf, I wasn’t about to be caught with my pants down and a few feet away from me. I de-furred and grabbed my pair of pants.
“Yeah?” I replied as I bounced around trying to put first one leg than the other into the jeans.
“Mr. Fox would like to invite you to a benefit gala he is attending this evening,” Emery told me.
“I don’t really have anything to wear,” I replied as I slipped on my bra.
“He wishes for you to wear the new evening gown he purchased for you.”
I paused with the shirt over my head. “My what?” came my muffled reply.
“I took the liberty of hanging it in your armoire while you were asleep,” he told me.
My shirt dropped onto my shoulders and I looked down at my ruffled attire with a frown. “Do I have to?”
“He would be most honored if you would join him,” Emery assured me.
I walked over to the tall armoire and opened both doors at once. There, hanging by a sturdy wooden hook, hung a low-cut evening gown that shown like the color of a young sun. Slivers of diamonds and other precious jewels were set into the fabric to make it sparkle like sunlight catching on a calm surface of water.
“Wow. . .” I whispered.
“May I take that as a ‘yes?’” Emery called from the door.
I removed the dress from its hook and pressed it against my. A perfect-and form flattering-fit. A smile teased the corners of my lips as I lifted my eyes to the door. “Tell him I’ll be down in a minute.”
I hurried out of my clothes, now completely unaware of the cold that still pervaded the room, and slipped into the dress. I found a cardboard box beneath where the dress had hung and inside was a matching pair of high-heeled shoes. A quick slip and my outfit was complete.
A full length mirror stood near the armoire. I stepped in front of its reflective surface and marveled at the way the dress shimmered like a thousand pieces of glitter, even in the dim light of evening.
“Not bad. . .” I complemented myself.
“Miss Rogers?” Emery called from the door.
“Coming!” I replied.
I hurried over to the entrance, and the dress glided along like it was a part of me. The effect made me feel as light as a feather so that I flung open the door and bounced out into the hall.
Emery stood nearby and a smile teased the corners of his usually stoic expression. “Might I compliment you on your appearance tonight, Miss Rogers?”
I grinned. “Compliment away.”
He offered me his arm. “If I may.”
I bowed my head and accepted his arm. He led me down the curve of the stairs to the bottom of the foyer. Fox awaited us there, and he was dressed in a becoming black suit with a white undershirt and black bow tie. His sly smile slipped onto his face as Emery released me in front of him.
Fox took my hand and pecked a small kiss on the back before his eyes flickered up to mine. “You look magnificent.”
I couldn’t stop the blush that appeared on my cheeks. “Y-yeah, not too bad for a bodyguard, is it?”
He straightened and arched an eyebrow. “‘Bodyguard?’”
“Isn’t that why I’m coming along?” I asked him.
He shook his head. “Quite the contrary. I expect the evening to be quite dull, but I expect your presence to make the gala at least bearable. First, however-” his eyes flickered to Emery behind me, “-we must finish your attire.”
My pulse quickened and I glanced down at the long neckline. “Did I forget a shirt?”
Movement in front of me forced me to look up. Emery stood beside us and presented a flat velvet box to Fox. Fox opened the lid and revealed a large diamond necklace. Twelve white diamonds, six on each side and all the size of a half-marble, adorned the centerpiece, a large canary-colored gem that was as large as an unshelled walnut, but of such quality that I could see straight through it
Fox lifted the necklace and slipped behind me to set the necklace against my front. A quick pin and it snuggled into place, a beautiful coldness against my skin. Fox leaned down and his soft breath tingled my ear. “Do you like it?”
I looked down and brushed my fingers over the center diamond. “It’s beautiful,” I whispered.
“That diamond was discovered in one of the deeper mines in Africa over a century ago. The owner manager of the mine named it the Sun’s Beauty Diamond. My father purchased it and the others, and had them set in the gold as an anniversary gift for my mother.”
I whipped my gaze up to his and glanced over my shoulder. “Your mom’s necklace?”
Fox slipped beside me and nodded. “Yes. She was fond of the jewels, but not the weight. With your unique abilities I doubt you will have that same complaint.”
I pursed my lips and shook my head. “I-I can’t wear these. I mean, they’re your mom’s and-”
“And I would have no one else wear them but you,” he insisted.
“But what if something happens to them?” I persisted.
He chuckled as he offered his arm to me. “Then you will be the bodyguard of the necklace for this evening.”
My heart sank, but I took his arm with a forced smile. I had a bad feeling about this as Fox led me to the elevators and the awaiting car in the underground garage.
It turns out I should have listened to my gut.