All right, it was official—her date had stood her up.
Honestly, it shouldn’t surprise her. Seriously, who took someone on their first date to a bar?
And not even a nice bar. Howl was anything but swanky. With wooden floors that looked like
they hadn’t seen polish—or a broom—in a decade, posters of couples in crude positions all over
the walls, and the stench of sweat, beer, and sex in the smoky air, it looked like a gigantic
version of a man cave.
Speaking of men, there were entirely too many rough-looking individuals here. Admittedly, it
made her pause when she drove up and discovered there were more motorcycles than cars parked
outside. She loved chrome and fast wheels as much as the next girl, but all the, er,
“decorations”—animal skulls, hides, etc.—adorning said motorcycles gave her the heebie-
She took another long sip of her beer. What the hell had she been thinking, agreeing to meet a
total stranger at a place like this?
Because you’ve been lonely since Seth broke up with you and moved away.
Being the only person left in her high school town, the only one in her old circle of friends
who hadn’t gone to college or gotten married, Danica had started to feel pretty damn unwanted.
That definitely showed in the extra pounds she’d packed on since the “Epic Breakup.” Since the
only people left in the small town of Moonstruck, Arkansas, were either the young or the old, it
was sparse pickings for friends, and even slimmer prospects for dating. And since her empty
bank account said moving was not an option, she’d turned to online dating.
“They worked,” the advertisements said. Countless people on the commercials preached, “I
met my soul mate online, and we got married, like, instantly.”
In hindsight, she should have known better. If history had taught her anything, it was “Karma
isn’t going to make it easy for you.”
She smiled wryly. “Karma, fifty, Danica, zero.”
Taking another swig of her nearly empty beer, she looked around. For the most part, the men
had watched her with curiosity, but they hadn’t come over yet. People seemed to be keeping their
distance, which she found odd. She thought she looked damn cute in her tight jeggings, black
ankle boots, and a black see-through tunic that showed off her black lace bra. The bra alone
should have at least earned her a “get-to- know-you” beer from somebody. But alas, here she was,
sitting by herself at a bar, waiting for a date that obviously was never going to come.
Shouting erupted from across the room as one burly man threw down his pool stick and
shoved another man, nearly spilling beer all over the pool table.
From the dais near the table, a tall man stood from the shadows, his silhouette suggesting
broad shoulders and a lean torso. The dim lighting revealed dark jeans, a button-down shirt, and
a dinner jacket—not the typical biker bar garb the other men wore.
He also wasn’t nearly as stacked as the two guys about to go at it in front of him, yet they
took one look at the man and instantly backed down.
Huh. This place was getting weirder by the second.
Danica felt her arms prickle with the sensation of being watched. She looked up to find the
mystery man had stepped into the light—and was looking right at her.
Her breath caught.
Okay, the lighting in here sucked, but she could definitely see a defined jawline, a straight
nose, and light brown hair that had been styled with a bit of gel. Despite his Adonis looks and
more fashionable wardrobe, he didn’t look any less masculine for it. If anything, it made him
Danica sighed, feeling heat building below her navel.
She blinked. Wow, this was an all-time record for her. She’d gone from falling head over
heels for a man in a few weeks—i.e. Seth, who’d been a jerk—to lusting for one at first sight.
She blamed the fact she hadn’t had sex in six months.
But she wasn’t about to bring a man home with her tonight. She didn’t want a one-night stand.
She wanted romance, flowers. She wanted “the fairy tale” as Julia Roberts had said.
And something told her she wasn’t going to get that with any of the guys here. Might as well
cut her losses and bail.
She’d started to take another sip of her beer with the intent to finish it when that pleasant
tingling sensation went up her spine. Unable to stop herself, she turned around.
The handsome stranger smiled at her.
And dammit if she didn’t smile back.
Gage’s inner wolf grinned as the luscious blonde tried covering the smile she’d flashed him.
Normally, human women didn’t do it for him, but this one had a sense of spirit about her that
was incredibly alluring. The fact her top left little to the imagination in regards to her plump
breasts only made him harder.
God, he was so freaking horny. Ever since the mating heat had taken hold of him at the
beginning of the month, his cock sprang to life at the mere sight of a little cleavage. It was like
going through puberty all over again, a hell he never wished to relive. The heat had only
intensified as the month drew to a close. In exactly one week, the Blood Moon would rise,
sealing him forever with his mate the first time they made love.
Now, if only he could find his mate.
His best friend and bodyguard—as if he needed one—came up beside him. He was also his
brother. The slightly older wolf wasn’t wearing as much metal tonight as he usually did. His ears
were only partially lined with studs, and he’d taken his tongue piercing out. Ink crawled up the
wolf’s massive arms, which he showed off in a black tank top, despite the chilly autumn weather.
Since werewolves ran hotter than humans, due to their animal nature—and especially during
mating season—they rarely worried about the change of temperature.
His bodyguard, Nikolas, nodded in the direction of the bar. “You’ve been eyeing that female
since she walked through the door.”
“And?” Gage raised a brow in challenge.
Nik shrugged. “And I can’t blame ya. She’s hot for a human. Got soft curves too. Wouldn’t be
like banging one of our she-wolves, all hard muscle and bones.”
Gage’s cock throbbed with desire at the thought of feeling the woman below him, of his hands
moving over her soft, smooth skin. He’d never been with a human before. He wasn’t the type to
hold back during sex, and the she-wolves were tough by nature. Humans were fragile. Breakable.
He’d feel guilty if he injured a woman during love-making.
Yet the thought of making her dizzy with pleasure never left his mind as he watched the
woman down the rest of her beer and snag the bartender to cash out her tab.
Nik chewed on his lip ring. “So I take it you’ve had no luck with the last were-princess I
brought you, Your Highness?”
Gage scowled. He knew Nik was aware he hated being called that, which was exactly why
Nik did it. Sometimes, he was as childish as a pup. “I’ve… met with all the princesses you’ve
brought me, but alas, I have yet to mark any of them.” Saying it aloud like that, voicing the
possibility he might lose his pack because of some stupid law, turned his blood to ice.
He swallowed past the lump in his throat.
Nik studied him, then elbowed him lightly. “Think nothing of it. You’ll find your mate before
this month’s Blood Moon sets.”
“I have to,” Gage muttered darkly. An unmated packmaster was not worthy of calling himself
a King of Wolves. After at last claiming the position of Alpha over Malachite (a.k.a. “that
sadistic son of a bitch”) only this past month, Gage couldn’t afford to be demoted for the sheer
fact he couldn’t find a worthy female to be his mate. But he didn’t get to choose—the magic in
his blood did.
His attention snapped forward as the woman, casting him one last look, donned her jacket and
purse, then started walking toward the exit. His blue eyes trailed her, unblinking, his heart
speeding up. He took a step forward, and Nik grasped his arm.
“Best let that fish return to the sea,” he said. “Your efforts are better spent on courting other
royal she-wolves going through their Fevers, considering the circumstances.”
Still, he found himself leaning toward the woman, wanting to go with her.
What was the matter with him?
A dark figure moved within the shadows, detaching itself from the wall and following the
woman out the door.
Gage’s hackles rose. “Excuse me,” he said, shoving Nik’s hand aside as he stepped off the
dais and toward the door.
Nik swore then rubbed his temples. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
Following a gut instinct and feeling half-mad for it, Gage continued his deliberate pace
toward the exit, senses wired for danger.
Then he heard her scream.
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