By Ferguson, John
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He had washed every inch that she could see. He smelled of the hard lye soap she’d bought on one of her rare visits to the mainland. Even his fingernails were clean. His golden-yellow hair showed the furrows of his fingers where he’d combed through it, and a crystal drop of water seemed to cling to each curling end. She had the wild and probably erroneous impression that he wanted to groom himself for her, look nice for her, and the very idea made her stomach cramp with nervousness. Over supper, Calhoun had explained how he’d come into possession of the stallion.
She found the picture of the blond man and the dark horse enchanting. Finally, as the sun arched up to high noon, the stallion lay down in the shade of the sweetleaf tree. “I’ll be damned,” Hunter said. ” He stared at her for a long moment with the oddest expression on his face. For no reason she could fathom, she blushed and looked away, holding her breath until the moment passed and he turned his attention back to the horse. She sat on a heartwood stump and watched while Hunter tamed Finn limb by limb, inch by inch.
All right. ” Despite his amusement at sparring with her, he grew serious. ” “The pretending. ” Something flickered in her eyes—fear, rage, distrust—something that reminded him eerily of the stallion. “You’re wrong,” she said in a low, angry voice. She stepped back, wiping her hands on her apron. “Come with me. ” Motioning for the dog to stay back, she led Hunter on a hike northward, perhaps two miles along a narrow, sandy track that wound along the edge of the loblolly pine forest and skirted the dunes.