Chapter One

Relena stuffed her hands into the pockets of her pink down coat, head slightly bowed to the cold, as she trudged through the snow. It was cold in the Alps but not bone chilling which meant her coat, denim jeans and boots offered her more than adequate insulation.

Eyes down cast, she followed the small footprints of the creature she was tracking. The snow created perfect moulds of their feet, her two large footprints versus the four small ones of the animal ahead.

Coordinating a sneak attack was pointless, even with the lightest of steps the snow crunched under her weight, the heaviness of her boots not aiding in her attempt at stealth. Despite the noise being made under her feet the animal still hadn't stirred or made any attempt to escape, so engrossed was it in whatever it had found hidden in the snow. Relena's blue eyes twinkled at the realization that she was about to capture her white whale. With every step, she paused, waited, before making another, trying her best not to spook or alert the animal.

She was focused, her eyes trained on the animal, so much so that she didn't see the small twig in her path. That was all it took. Small round brown eyes turned to meet her and in that second the two just stared at each other. It was a game of cat and mouse and Relena knew that at any minute her prey was going to take off, she just needed to be quicker if that was at all possible. She pulled her hands from her pockets and prepared to pounce. She inhaled deeply, a puff of fog forming as she exhaled, then she launched herself forward, arms spread eagle to grab any of the four limbs that she might make contact with.

Her fingertips brushed against long fur but ultimately it slipped right through them before her face landed in the snow. Above her head, a bark of triumph rang out in the stillness of the mountain. Relena sat up, wiping snow from her face with her hands and getting a little help from a wet nose and tongue. The hunter had become the hunted as the golden retriever launched itself into her lap.

When the attack was over she was left covered in snow and fur, her cheeks sore from the smile she had yet to tame. She hugged her friend tight, smoothing its coat as it relaxed into her embrace. This was the life, a calm and serene environment and woman's best friend. Getting back to her feet, Relena gave the dog, Millie, another pat on the head when a soft rustle behind her caught her attention. The part of the trail she used wasn't known for having any large or vicious wild life, she never would have let Millie off leash if it was, so she wasn't terribly frightened by the noise but she was cautious. She turned her head just enough to see behind her, not wanting to move too much lest she startle whatever it was.

"I didn't mean to startle you."

It definitely wasn't wildlife. The voice was soothing and calm, almost as serene as the landscape itself. Relena sighed inwardly and her shoulders relaxed as she released the tension she had created. The first thing that caught her as she turned to face the voice was the twinkle of a green eye which seemed to pop against the auburn bang that fell just next to it. It was sometimes disappointing to put a face to a voice, some voices should remain faceless to allow the imagination to fill in the blanks. This was not one of those occasions. His voice matched his face perfectly. He was the epitome of calm.

Relena shook her head to stop her thoughts from holding her hostage. "You didn't startle me." She attempted to lie, but the way his mouth tipped upward she knew he wasn't buying it but to her relief, he didn't press. Instead, he walked toward her, his eyes locked onto her intently and she wondered if this was what it felt like to be stalked. Standing inches from her he held her gaze for a full second before he crouched down and scratched the dog's ears with both hands.

Relena released the breath she didn't know she was holding and couldn't help but feel slightly silly for misreading his advance.

"What's his name?"

She watched as the stranger massaged the dog's neck and head. "Millie."

In a silent plea for her to elaborate he tilted his head to the side giving her a brief view of both his emerald eyes. She was staring and she knew it and she was sure he did too. He was handsome, he had to know. When his eyebrows rose she realised she had missed her cue in the conversation. She did a quick replay of the conversation in her mind until she was up to speed. She couldn't help but grin, baring all her teeth in the process. "I named him after my brother." And she delighted in calling the dog by its name whenever said brother was around.

He returned his attention to the dog, nodding his head slowly as if trying to decide if the name fit. Then he stood giving Relena a side long glance and a crooked smile. "Don't you want to know my name?"

Relena wasn't sure what it was about him but she was strangely at ease in this stranger's presence. His quiet confidence and expressive features and his not so obvious but still present sense of humour not to mention how nice he was to look at. "I was hoping you would volunteer instead of making me ask."

"Maybe I'm not feeling generous."

"How about reciprocal?" She held out her hand. "I'm Relena."

He took her hand, his visible brow arched, clearly appreciating her counter. "Trowa."

"Nice to meet you Trowa."

"I should get going." He said as he released her hand. He took a few strides before he stopped and looked at her over his shoulder, his eyes darting between her and the dog. "Maybe you should try for easier game."

Relena was torn between being amused and embarrassed, he had obviously witnessed her futile attempts at dog knapping. Embarrassment was not going to be denied though and it fought and won against any other feeling causing her to drop her gaze and giggle nervously. "Right."

When she looked up again he was still looking at her and she had to resist the urge to fidget under his scrutiny. She was about to ask him what was wrong, when he dipped his head to her and left, her mouth slightly agape with the unasked question.

Relena ran a hand through her hair as she awakened from the trance he had left her in. Trowa. She rolled his name around in her head then chided herself for her adolescent reaction. At her side Millie looked up at her, his head slanted as though he was trying to figure out what was wrong with her.

Relena folded her arms and stared at her four-legged companion. "What?"

The dog slanted his head in the opposite direction, regarding her.

"Just because I named you after my brother doesn't mean you have to act like him." She bent down and gave the dog a quick ruffle before she started back toward the house, dog in tow. She made a mental note to walk these trails more often.