The Hacker Pushes Her Luck (Moonchuckle Bay 6)(13)

By: Heather Horrocks

She raised a finger and pointed. “What about this?”

The others looked over her shoulder. Jareth was the first to speak. “We totally missed that. What software are you running?”

“I haven’t used one yet.”

“Impressive.” He whistled. “Do you mind if I look at this?”

Sugar stood. “Be my guest.” Glad to step back from the limelight, she leaned against the cubicle wall.

She caught Walter’s gaze. He was looking at her like he thought she was brilliant.

She blushed and looked away.

Jareth whistled again. “This is it. The hackers were definitely hunting for the security codes on the incubator.”

Incubator? Was that another software?

Feeling like he couldn’t breathe, Walter stepped from the room. In the hallway, he twisted his wife’s ring on his little finger, catching the glint of quartz set in silver.

Sugar Monroe charmed him, even without remembering who she was.

She could bake.

She could beat him at chess.

She could look at lines of code and identify a breach. In a world of nerdish computer experts, she was a refreshing surprise.

But he had to step back because, as far as he could tell, Sugar was human. A fragile mortal human woman.

And, instead of heeding his better judgment — and his prior experience — instead of keeping his distance, the urge to take her in his arms and keep her safe was overpowering.

But he couldn’t do that again.

He’d already married a human. In 12th Century Scotland. Aigneas ingen Gille-Míchél. Agnes, meaning holy, daughter of Gille-Míchél.

She’d been beautiful. Dark-haired, flashing eyes, a girl two years younger than his own age of twenty when they’d handfasted.

His pack had advised him against the union  , telling him werewolves needed to marry their own kind, but he’d ignore those warnings.

He could handle it, he’d assured everyone. And he had. During their twenties, while she gave birth to two children who had not survived the horrible diseases of medieval childhood.

And then he’d learned the wisdom of the pack.

Aigneas had grown older while he never looked over thirty. But she hadn’t gotten too much older. She’d died in her late thirties, as did many of the humans in 12th century Scotland. Not of disease, though that had been prevalent back then. No, she’d died of neglect and war. He’d gone to war and their village had been attacked while he was gone.

He’d purchased the ring for her because she’d fallen in love with it. She’d worn it one week when he’d gone off to a battle. She was dead when he returned. And he’d never gotten over it.

Her friend had survived and brought him the ring, and he’d kept it all these centuries, even had it resized so he could wear it, as a reminder that humans were not for marrying. Not for loving. It was too painful for the human and too painful for the werewolf.

He felt that he’d failed her by not being there when she’d died. It had taken centuries to nearly forgive himself.

But he didn’t dare forget.

He glanced back at the room where Sugar still sat.

He had to stay away from her.

Been there, done that, never doing it again, as people these days were fond of saying.

She’d Just Remembered Something!

WHY HAD SUGAR EVER CHOSEN computers as her profession? That hit on the head must have really changed her interests, because she was bored, bored, bored. Of course it didn’t help that she couldn’t remember any of it.

Instantly, Walter was by her side. “Are you all right?”

She looked up into his concerned eyes and smiled. “My brain is full right now. I need a break.”

He nodded. “I can take you back home.”

“I’m not ready to go home. I just need to walk around a little.”

“Okay,” he said, watching her warily. “I’ll walk with you.”

She liked Walter, but she was starting to feel smothered by his concern. “I’m okay. I’d like to walk around by myself for a few minutes. Please.”

He smiled, though it looked a little forced. Was he all work and no play? Wanting to get to the bottom of the hacker problem? Or concerned about her? Or possibly both? He said, “All right. If you need me, I’ll give you my phone number.”