Dear Readers and Fans:
First Chapter Friday has come early. Today, we feature the work of the talented, Selena Illyria, and the first chapter from her new novel, “Engaged to The Lone Wolf”. Do enjoy!
“Come on, honey. Give us a smile? Sweet thing like you should smile more,” one of the drunks at the bar called out.
“And we need something nice to look at with Moving Day coming.” Both drunks roared with laughter.
Valerie rolled her eyes and concentrated on reading her book. She had to bide her time before her room at the little inn was ready. Only two more hours. No big deal, right? As long as Drunky and Lushy didn’t come over here and get handsy, she had nothing to worry about.
Her wolf, on the other hand, growled and licked its chops. The magic of the change slithered along Val’s skin in sparks. It focused on Drunky’s thick neck. Even a gentle nip might cause a deluge of blood that would bathe them both in ichor and liquid heat before they got down to the business of eating the meat off the bones until nothing remained of Drunky’s throat.
Val gave her wolf a mental shake. Can’t do that, she thought to the animal. The wolf had feasted the last time they’d shifted with their pack. And the full moon was only two weeks away. The lure of the silvery orb could only be felt in a pulse just behind her heartbeat.
“Nah, she can’t smile.” Lushy nudged his friend. “She’s too deep in bitch mode. Maybe she doesn’t care about those government bastards getting closer to our little haven.”
Val narrowed her eyes at her book and clenched her jaw. No. I refuse to go to jail for beating morons to death. But the idea to switch to wolf mode and rake her claws along his torso appealed to her. Her sharpened fingertips ripping through delicate tissue and layers of fat, all to get to the prized organs, made her quake with bloodlust.
She bit down hard on her bottom lip. No, we don’t have time for this. Get out of this no-name town and get back home. No detours, no get-out-of-jail-free cards, and certainly no attention drawn to this place. But she did keep an eye on them just in case they tried to start trouble. She’d already passed two state troopers on the way into town, and she was sure they were there to watch for unusual activity in the area. She’d heard rumors of government agents close by doing a “census.” Ha! More like looking for shifters to catch and send off to those camps for testing. At least that’s what the conspiracy websites were saying.
Drunky snort-laughed. “Bitch mode.” His body shook so hard he slipped off the stool.
Lushy caught him and yanked him back onto the chair. “There ya go.” He swiveled on his chair to face her. “Now, come on, dearie. We’re just being funny. Come sit with us. We’ll buy you a drink. Give us a little something before we shifters have to move on from here before the Feds get onto us, hmm?”
Val picked up her glass and took a slow sip of her sparkling water. She set her cup down and made a show of checking her watch. Five minutes had passed. When the hell would the inn call?
Drunky blew her a raspberry. “No fun at all. And I hate no-fun dames. Wouldn’t touch ’em with a ten-foot pole for a hundred grand, even with Moving Day coming on Friday or not.”
“Me neither.” Lushy tittered.
She turned her head and eyed them both. Maybe clawing them to ribbons wasn’t such a bad idea. It would at least get them to shut up and she’d be able to pass the time in peace.
“For a hundred grand, I’d do more than touch her, but only if she wanted it, and you two morons would be offering up the money. And I wouldn’t use Moving Day as an excuse,” a velvety, deep voice murmured. “And if you keep harassing her? Well, I’ll do more than touch you, understand me?”
The tone of his voice reverberated around her body, pinging her organs and inciting fires in every inch of her. The timbre slithered over her skin, raising goose bumps in its wake. Her breath caught in her throat. Who is this man?
Only alphas have that kind of power in their voice.
She focused her attention beyond her two tormentors behind the counter. The bartender stood in the shadow with his back to the group. She stared at him. Turn around. Turn around. Turn around, she urged silently.
Whether he heard her or not, he did move to face the group, pausing, and with a free hand reached up and tucked a stray hank of shoulder-length, wheat-blond hair behind his ear. His dark-brown eyes glimmered in the low light. He focused on the two drunks, but his voice and attention were all on her.
“Do we have a problem, Smythe? Dudley?” Authority threaded his words. He glanced from one man to the other.
The drunks shifted on their stools and shook their heads.
“Especially since she’s not bothering you. How’d you feel if some jackass told your sisters or wives to smile? Or join you for a drink, huh?” He growled out the words.
“I’d skin ’em,” Drunky or Dudley muttered.
“And you, Smythe?” The bartender’s eyes narrowed at Lushy.
Lushy murmured something that even her sensitive hearing couldn’t quite catch.
“No, say it to her,” he growled and nodded toward her. “Not to me.”
A flush broke over her face and ebbed down her throat. Her ears burned and prickled from the attention.
The drunks turned to the side and, without looking at her, whispered, “I’m sorry.”
“They really are.” He still hadn’t glanced in her direction. “They’re just keyed up about Moving Day. Rumors are floating around town that the Feds are closing in on us here and we all have to find somewhere else to hang our hats.”
She couldn’t shake the sensations he evoked her, even without directing his power at her. Electricity burst around her and filtered through the air. Words fled her brain. All she could do was stare at the man she’d dismissed when she’d walked in to get out of the afternoon heat. Not even his explanation of the drunks’ behavior penetrated the spell he’d managed to weave around her.
He put the glass down, picked up another, and began cleaning it. His stare was still on the two patrons on the stools in front of him but his power was directed at her.
She felt a magnetic draw to him. Every inch of her body yearned to get up and go to him, touch him, be enveloped by all that he was. She couldn’t understand what was happening but didn’t fight it. Instead, she became intrigued by this stranger who’d flipped a switch and forced her to sit up and take notice of him.
The drunks turned back around. Any humility they’d felt from the bartender admonishing them fled after a second.
“Aw, come on, Gunman. You’ve only been here three months. You don’t know what it’s like. And the women in this town hardly come in here. They’re high-maintenance broads. All they do is cause trouble. Like that one over there.” Drunky tipped his head in her direction. “Too good to come over and thank us for the attention we’re paying her. We could be rude and ignore her all together,” Drunky whined. “And I always tell my sisters to not be rude. You never know who you’re dealing with.”
Valerie glanced around. With the exception of her, the bartender, and the two drunks, there was one other person who was male and had been asleep when she’d slipped in here to wait.
Who the hell else would they pay attention to? her wolf asked.
Valerie fought back a snicker.
Now the bartender… The wolf’s voice became gruffer.
Val gave him more attention than before. He moved closer to the tabletop. The overhead light illuminated his features. A golden beard cover his jaw and cheeks—trimmed short but could still cause a burn if you got too frisky—but it didn’t disguise the prominent bone structure underneath.
I wonder what all that scruff would feel like against my skin? Her thighs tingled, and her vaginal walls contracted. Liquid desire dampened her panties. Her gaze wandered up to his eyes.
His soft-brown eyes were framed by long, thick, pale lashes and dense but neat eyebrows. He glanced in her direction.
She stared back at him, taking in the intensity that softened in his look when turned on her. They stayed that way for a few more seconds. She looked away first and focused on his neck. Various necklaces and chains hung down, contrasting against his dark tan. She wondered how his throat would look with patches of love bites covering the well-crafted column. Her scrutiny continued on to the tight T-shirt that left nothing to the imagination. The thin, long-sleeved top outlined his pectoral muscles and gave a hint at his trim waist. The counter blocked her view of the rest of him.
He wore a leather bracelet with tool marks she couldn’t make out, but a small patch of skin showed a hint of black ink work. His fingers were long and tapered to neatly trimmed nails. He held the glass and rag with a firm, easy grip. Completely confident to not drop it.
She tried to recall if he’d worn jeans when he’d served her or not. A vague memory rose of tight denim covering thick thighs and scuffed work boots that had seen better days. After that she’d focused on her book and keeping her head down and out of trouble.
I wonder what it would be like to pass the time with him? She couldn’t stop the thought, nor did she regret it. Her wolf just watched him, a different kind of hunger in her amber eyes.
Just the thought of rolling around with him for a bit and feeling all that hard muscle on top of her caused her pussy to contract. She shifted in her seat and refocused on her tablet. No use approaching him now, not with the peanut gallery.
Drunky and Lushy returned to whining about aloof women and the dangers of not being nice to strangers—as if they knew what aloof meant or what it really meant to be polite to outsiders—and what they’d do if they had a hundred grand to spend.
“Will you two shut up!” The bartender’s voice came out like a whip, drawing her attention back to him.
A spark of cobalt lit his eyes, and he growled. “You both wouldn’t know what to do with a woman like her even if she was interested.” He threw the dishrag on the counter, came out from behind the bar, and strode to her. Assurance in each step made her sit up and watch.
Her wolf panted, watching the tight fabric of his jeans and the easy swing of his arms.
Valerie eyed his large hands. Not a speck of dirt to be seen. His scent drifted toward her: soap, musk, testosterone, leather, and man.
She resisted the urge to moan. She loved when guys went simple on the grooming. Too much cologne was like being stuck in a cologne factory. In other words, no fun at all.
He stopped at her table and leaned down. His gaze stoked a fire deep inside her.
She sucked in a breath.
A bright-blue wolf’s gleam flashed in his eyes once more. “I’m going to kiss you. Yes or no?”
That warm, rich, velvety voice wrapped around her, stalling her thoughts and playing havoc on her nerve endings.
It took a few seconds for her to understand what he was saying.
Once she grasped his meaning, she nodded her head like a bobblehead doll.
“No. Say ‘yes, please kiss me.’” He moved a little closer.
The bar around them had fallen silent.
She licked her lips. “Yes, please kiss me,” she whispered in a hushed tone.
He moved his head toward her until their mouths were a spider’s thread distance apart. His body heat pounded against her. His masculinity swallowed her whole. The heavy beat of arousal thudded in her vagina. Her entire world narrowed down to just him.
“Wait! What’s your name?” She had to know who she was about to kiss.
His rose-pink lips curled into a smile that could only described as wolfish. She almost expected to see his canines, but he didn’t show a hint of his teeth.
“Gunner,” he purred.
His voice rumbled around inside her, throwing propane on the leisurely simmer in her veins.
She opened her mouth to repeat his name, but he cut her off. He pressed his lips to hers. The barest hint of alpha wolf power trickled out.
His tongue slipped into her mouth to tangle and play with hers. He tasted of cinnamon and whiskey.
His lips were warm and firm, yet softer than she’d thought any man’s mouth should be. He cupped her chin with one hand while he held her head still with the other. Gunner controlled the kiss, moving his mouth over hers with assurance. She tasted his attraction and desire, a potent mixture that went straight to her head like champagne. Effervescence burst in her blood. She fought back a giggle and a sigh of happiness. Her body flushed with heat, and her head swam. All her thoughts broke apart.
He pulled back, panting, and gave her a slow grin. “Bloody hell. Gotta get back to work.” He pressed one more kiss to her lips and then walked away.
She traced her heated mouth with her fingertips and watched him, enjoying the way the denim molded over his butt cheeks and the way they rose and fell with each step. He had more confidence in his gait than before.
The drunkards let out wolf howls that bounced off the walls and hit her from all directions.
Lassitude slipped into her limbs. Her shoulders slumped, and she rested against the back of her booth, unable to move for a moment. Nothing touched her. Only the lingering tingles of his kiss on her lips mattered.
“Brave man. Glad she didn’t rip your balls off,” Drunky grumped.
She wanted another kiss. But without the audience. If she dispatched the drunks to find another drinking hole, she could have Gunner all to herself. She reached into her pocket and pressed the power button on her cell to check the status of her accommodations. A text message from the inn told her that her room was ready. Thank the goddess.
She put ten dollars on the table even though she’d only had a sparkling water and glanced toward the bar.
He nodded at her. “See you in an hour?”
“Yup, and you better be ready.” She bobbed her head at him in agreement and opened the door. Dry heat blasted her in the face. The aroma of hot garbage, deep-fried food, dead vegetation, and animal musk hung in the atmosphere. An anemic wind tried to bat at her, only to fail. Sweat bathed her brow.
“Too hot for ya, honey?” Lushy guffawed from behind her.
“Better take your pleasure where you can. The Feds are coming, and we have to move on. You’ll never see Gunman again,” Drunky warned.
She ignored them, crossed the street, and entered the inn. The door swung shut behind her with a quiet click. Cold air tickled her body, cooled her face and arms, and seeped past the cloth barrier of her clothing. The person on duty at the front desk waved her over. She went to him once she felt she’d shaken off the last of the outside heat.
“Sorry that took so long, Ms. Archer. We wanted to make sure the room was up to our standards before releasing it to you. Your luggage has already been taken to your room.” The front-desk attendant handed her the key.
“Thank you. I really appreciate all you’ve done. Checkout is at noon, right?” She’d be back on the road before then if the mechanic could figure out what the hell had happened. It better not be something complicated and costly, or I’ll skin him alive, she thought.
She’d been too tired to figure it out herself, and standing in the middle of nowhere in ninety-degree heat with 100 percent humidity in a car whose AC wasn’t working was not her idea of happiness.
“Yes, Ms. Archer. If you want to stay beyond that, you’ll have to make other accommodations come Friday. Moving Day and all,” the desk clerk warned.
“I doubt I’ll be here that long. May the Lady of the Woods bless your travels come Moving Day.”
“The same to you, Ms. Archer. Please enjoy your stay, and if you need any recommendations, let me know. I’ll be happy to help you.” The desk clerk turned to help the next customer.
She headed for the stairs, her gait stiff. Sitting on a hard, wooden chair did tend to make her ass and legs ache.
The trip took no time, with her room in the far corner of the second floor, looking out onto the dried-out garden filled with dead flowers and tall husks of grass. She entered her room and shut the door, thankful for the whole-home AC system in full effect. She heard the faint bumps of people moving around next door but nothing else.
That was impressive. Most inns she’d been in these tiny settlements didn’t take the time to soundproof anything. Just leave it the way it is and let it fall around your ears if you so much as sneeze.
The inn was a run-down Victorian with peeling paint and dirty windows. No one looking at it would think much of it. But beyond the doors, quiet comfort, dignity, and old-fashioned quality and service could be expected. Even if the time the shifters had here was limited, based on when someone would rat them out to the Feds, then Moving Day protocol would be enacted. If they didn’t participate in the shifters’ Moving Day—something that happened maybe every three months if a no-name town was lucky and the Feds hadn’t caught on until then—and remained opened, she would love to stay here again or maybe take a little vacation from her family and her life. She unpacked one outfit and her toiletries and took a quick shower. Rather than go fancy—which she hadn’t packed for—she pulled on a pair of black jeans, a tank top, and sandals, put on a light bit of gloss, eyeliner, and mascara, and headed back out, locking the door behind her.
She jogged down the stairs, walked across the main floor, and paused at the front doors, bracing herself to go back out into the afternoon heat. With a deep breath, she shoved the entryway open and headed out. Sweat bathed her face and soaked her clothes, ruining her makeup and what little the shower had done for her.
She entered the bar and found him leaning against the wall next to the entrance with his arms crossed and wearing a short-sleeved shirt—showing off his massive biceps and the ink work that wrapped his golden skin in glyphs, pictures, and words in various colors from black and white to bright blue, red, and green.
She noted a familiar symbol of a bat, the logo of a well-known superhero. Interesting. She pointed at it. “He’s my favorite.”
Gunner turned his arm this way and that, showing off more logos, a lovely mishmash of symbols from various comic powerhouses. “Mine too. Just a few I got out of boredom. Plus they were free since I was letting a friend test out his skills on me.” He gave her grin. “I’m off shift. Wanna go spend some time finishing what we started back there?”
His brown eyes were the color of the perfect cup of coffee—dark, rich, and close to black without being sludge. A glint of blue showed through all that darkness.
Her wolf answered the tease, rising up. She shivered but allowed the wolf to show through her gaze.
He chuckled. “Gold. What pack are you? You’re covering up your scent very well.”
She shrugged and moved closer to him. “I’m in neutral pack territory. Figured I’d rather be Little Red than Goldilocks and start trouble. I’m Valerie Archer.” She held out her hand, which he took. “Nice to meet you.”
He whistled, withdrew his hand, and bowed from the waist. “Pack royalty? Well, I’m honored.”
She chuckled but didn’t acknowledge his question. “And what pack are you affiliated with?”
“None. I’m a bit of wanderer. I’m only in town long enough to make enough money to fix up my bike, and then I’m off.” His features became shuttered.
Surprise stunned her at being shut out when he’d been so open before. His body relaxed, and he allowed emotions to float across his features. “Sorry. Bad past. Don’t like to talk about it much. So, I know a little place that serves the best fried chicken in three counties and has great sweet tea, cold enough to make you forget the heat and humidity. Wanna go?” He held out his hand to her.
Taking his hand, she allowed him to guide her down the street toward a restaurant she’d spotted when entering the town. It looked like someone’s home, with a screened-off front porch and dusty windows and siding that needed repair.
When he pulled the screen door and held it open for her, she stepped into the first floor of what used to be a family house, now converted into a working restaurant. The grand staircase led up to the second floor, where she could see various tables and tall columns of wood.
The main floor was divided into two areas—to her right were three pool tables and some blackjack tables; to the left were booths set up against the wall with padded benches and a few tables scattered about. Every seat was taken, and there were groups of people at the pool tables playing a round. It was surprisingly cooler in the house than outside.
“Wow. Packed.” She sniffed the air: spices, old wood, bread, and fried meat permeated the area along with whiffs of sweat, pheromones, perfume, and cologne.
Her stomach rumbled. She hadn’t eaten since lunch.
“It’s always like this. Come on.” He guided her up the stairs and to the back of the room, where they stepped out onto another screened-in porch that faced out onto a lake surrounded by a garden in various stages of dying. Closer to the house, it was better maintained. The space was empty. Only the lazy creak of the fan spinning overhead and the murmur of conversation reached her. Privacy. She eyed him. He really did seem to want to talk to her, at least for now.
He led her to a table in the corner that gave them a view of not only the room but the lush garden underneath. The buzz of insects beyond the screen could be heard, but thankfully there weren’t any flying around them. He pulled out a chair for her.
“Well, chivalry isn’t dead. Thank you.” She slipped into her seat with a nod at him.
“I was taught manners.” He came around the table and settled down across from her.
A waiter entered into the room, glanced around, and spotted them. He strolled over holding a stack of menus, a huge grin on his face and sweat beading on his forehead. “Welcome to Susanna’s. Here are the menus. What can I get you to drink? The boozy strawberry lemonade and blueberry lemon sweet tea are our drinks of the day. And I can attest that they are both as cool, refreshing, and delicious as they sound.” He handed a menu to each of them.
Val eyed Gunner, wondering how he’d take this suggestion. Most men she knew would jump at the chance to take the lead and impress their date. “I’ll let you order for me since you’re the local. At least for now.”
Gunner gifted her with a megawatt smile that lit her up from the inside out. He took her menu and handed both of them back to the waiter. “Thank you for trusting me, Val. We’ll have two blueberry lemon sweet teas and two chicken baskets with buttermilk biscuits, extra honey butter, and for dessert some strawberry shortcakes.”
The waiter nodded. “Very good. I’ll be back in a few minutes with your teas.” He moved closer to Valerie. “You’re a lucky one. He doesn’t smile that often.” He left the room without waiting for a reply.
“Well, now, where were we?” She thought over the little they’d said to each other. “Getting to know each other…”
He settled against the back of his chair, his shoulders down, arms placed on the armrests and chest area open. “What do you want to know?”
She ran through a list of questions she’d normally ask on a date, only to wave them all away. “How’d you end up here?”
“Was just passing through when I skidded out and damaged my bike. Since I was broke, I’m working off my debt to Davis in the garage by tending bar until the bartender is well enough to go back to full-time and I’ve earned enough to get my bike out of their clutches. What about you?”
“I was on my way home from a friend’s wedding when my rental stalled. I’m waiting for the garage to fix it. They said they’d get it back to me by tomorrow morning.”
“Davis won’t overcharge you or make you wait. He’s a good man, even if he is a lion shifter. So one night, huh?” He raised a thick eyebrow. The look seemed both questioning and naughty at the same time.
The waiter returned and set down their drinks. “There you go. Your food should be ready in ten. Here are some biscuits and honey butter to tide you over. Enjoy.” He set down bowls of fluffy, golden, big-as-your-palm biscuits and a dish filled with butter swirled with honey.
Valerie’s stomach grumbled in approval. “Those look divine.” The wolf lifted its head and sniffed the air. The beast licked its chops. Her stomach rumbled again.
“And they are. Go on; try one.” He nudged the bowl toward her.
She accepted his offer, picked one disc up, broke it up, and inhaled the comforting scent of buttery bread fresh from the oven. “Mmm. I’ll try one without the butter first.” She took a large bite without hesitation and let out a muffled squeak. “Hawt,” she mumbled around a mouthful of bread.
Gunner chuckled. “Drink the tea,” he urged.
She didn’t need to be told twice and picked up her glass and took a deep swallow before going back to chewing. The sweetness and tartness of the blueberries and lemon burst on her taste buds, chasing way the rich, buttery goodness of the biscuit.
She finished off her first choice and picked up a second one, this time breaking it open and smearing some butter on it. Val let the spread melt and the biscuit cool a bit before taking a bite.
Gunner helped himself from the bowl and to the butter and followed her lead. “Good, right?” he asked before taking a bite.
“Very. I’ll have to remember this place next time I’m passing through. Hopefully, it will not have moved like the rest of the town, come Moving Day.” And get as many of these beauties as they’ll let me have.
They fell silent, each of them making a good dent in the bread and butter until both were gone. The chicken arrived with a second helping of biscuits, butter, corn on the cob, and thick potato wedges fried golden-brown to perfection. Most people would goggle at the sight. It only made Val hungrier.
Not intimidated, she ate with gusto, making sounds of appreciation between bites. The corn was buttery, creamy, and sweet, and the potato wedges had a bit of a spicy kick to them. And the chicken was out-of-this-world good.
“This is so…” For a moment she lost the ability to form words. “The chicken is spicy, but it’s not ‘oh my God, my mouth is on fire,’ kind of hot, and the corn on the cob and wedges are just so damn good.” If her grandmother still cooked, she’d have wanted the recipe to everything. Val wiped her fingers on a napkin, took out her phone, and put in a reminder about this place into her notepad before slipping it back into her pocket.
“No purse?” Gunner asked. He was two-thirds of the way done with his basket.
“Nope. Hate carrying them unless I have to. Besides that, I’m more of a stay-at-home type of person.” She grinned and waited for him to make some sort of disparaging remark. None came.
“I wouldn’t know what that’s like. Home, I mean. I like to keep on the move.” His features became shuttered for a second before opening back up to her.
“I can’t imagine that at all. I like to have my place and nest there. Call me weird.” She laughed. She didn’t add that until recently, she’d been moved around from place to place just like all the other shifter communities to avoid the government or hunters finding them.
He shook his head. “Not weird at all. Some people have their places. I just haven’t found mine.” He shifted in his seat and ducked his head.
Not wanting to make him uncomfortable, she switched gears. “So what kind of bike? I know nothing about cars or motorcycles. I just like to look at them.”
“Not a gear head?” He grinned at her.
“Nope. My dad tried. I know how to fix a flat tire and fill up my own gas, check the tire pressure, and put in antifreeze, but the rest is kind of wasted on me. I take the bus to work most of the time—or a cab if I work late—or walk everywhere. So, it’s good info to know, but I don’t really use it. Poor Dad.” She shook her head. He still tried to educate her on the finer points of owning a car, but it fell on deaf ears.
He gave her a sad smile that tugged at her heartstrings. Why, she didn’t know. “Cars aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Same with bikes. I got it brand new. I know a guy who knew a guy. Anyway, it was a lucky break.”
“Maybe I’ll show you before you leave town. I need to check on it anyway. Make sure the boys at the shop don’t have designs on her. So, what do you do?” He leaned forward, interest lighting up his eyes.
Small talk. She wasn’t sure whether to be annoyed or to just go with the flow. “I work in Belladonna Grove as a personal shopper, and yes, it really is protected by witches so shifters are safe there, so long as they follow the rules.”
“Okay, that’s going to go over my head. Is it fun?”
She bobbed her head. Excitement sparked inside her. “Oh, yeah, it’s creative, a challenge. I love every second of it, even when I’m frustrated as hell and would love to deck my clients.” She gave a laugh. “But yeah, it’s great.”
“That’s good.” He nodded.
An earlier comment swirled around her mind. “How’d you know who I was? I mean, that I was a pack princess?”
She didn’t advertise that fact. It was a way to keep their progeny safe. Only other pack royalty or those within the pack structure could tell.
He shrugged; all mirth left his face. “I’ve heard rumblings here and there. If you’re a good listener, then you get pieces of valuable information. But don’t worry. I won’t spread it around.”
She let the wolf rise once again and stared at him. “You better not let even a whisper of who I am get out, or I’ll rip your guts out.”
Fire sparked in his eyes, darkening them. “Try it, love. I’ll show you what an alpha can do when provoked.”
Her pussy tightened, and her wolf panted. A fission of heat rushed up and down her spine. “Alpha, huh? Prove it.” She knew she was playing with fire, but what the hell. She was having far too much fun to stop.
He shook his head. “Not here. Later. When we have more privacy.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Scared?”
“Not in the least.” He sat back and relaxed. “Just not into exhibitionism.”
She let out a laugh. “Neither am I, but nothing wrong with PDA.”
“No, nothing wrong with it, but some things should be private. Like what I’m going to do to you later.” His gaze remained steady and unyielding. A challenge sparked in the darkness.
She shifted in her seat. The weight of his stare pressed against her skin. Her wolf grumbled, accepting the challenge. She titled her head to the side. “Don’t start something you can’t finish, alpha.” She didn’t doubt for a second he had the power to lead a pack, but a small part of her wondered why he didn’t have one to begin with. Had the government caught them or had another pack attacked them or something else? Maybe something like what had happened with Alfred, the Blood Breaker?
He leaned forward. “Oh, I intend to finish it all right. Several times.” His voice dropped to a rough whisper that lit up her insides.
She quaked. Her toes curled at the threat. Arousal flared hot. “Let’s get dessert to go.”
He shook his head and settled back in his chair once more. “Not yet.”
She frowned. “Why not now?” Impatience jittered up and down her legs. In need of letting out all that energy, she jiggled one of her legs.
“Because some things are worth waiting for. Like a sexy-as-hell woman, good food, and another kiss.” He picked up his sweet tea and took a slow sip, never taking his eyes off her. When he drew the glass away from his mouth, the pink tip of his tongue darted out to lick up the last traces of his drink.
She wanted to feel that tongue on intimate places on her body. “Fine, but just for this, I’ll go slowly with you.”
He chuckled. “I bet you will.”
The waiter returned, took away their dishes, and promised their dessert in a few minutes.
“It should take me less than ten minutes to eat that shortcake,” she said, hoping to provoke him.
He didn’t take the bait and shook his head. “Nope. Take your time. Savor it. I haven’t let you down yet, have I?”
“Well, you refuse to make out with me right here and now.” She pouted but didn’t really mean it. Much.
His lips quirked in a smile. “You didn’t ask, love.”
Hope bloomed in her chest. “So, you’d—”
“I kissed you back at the bar, didn’t I?” He raised an eyebrow at her.
“That was in front of two drunks,” she pointed out.
He lifted one shoulder and took another sip of his tea. “Still an audience. What I do to you next isn’t for public consumption.”
-Pack loyalty or howling hot passion? What will she choose? #FilthyWerewolves #IRRomance #ParaERom #Werewolves-