Eligible Billionaire: Alpha Mated #1 (Alpha Billionaire Werewolf Shifter Romance)
Text copyright 2016 by Mac Flynn
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission in writing from the author.
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Who knew a werewolf billionaire playboy would fall for Plain-Jane me? Or that werewolf billionaire playboys even existed?
But that’s starting at the almost-beginning of my story. I’ll rewind a little ways to get you guys caught up on my sensual dealings with a certain handsome devil, and our little pleasure adventures in the paranormal world.
It all began one late-winter day not too long ago. The world was awash in holiday colors provided by the twinkling lights, the glistening snow and the cheery faces walking on the streets. It was a pity I was trapped in my cubicle far from any window. The only view I had was the one on the calendar, and that just showed me a bunch of adorable kittens playing in a field.
I leaned my elbow on the desk and stared at those happy kittens. A sigh escaped my lips. “Lucky dogs-er, cats,” I whispered to myself.
A head popped over the top of my cubicle wall. The red-haired cranium belonged to my best friend, Ruth Reid. She had her usual wide grin on her face as she slung her arms over the top of my wall and leaned over.
“You talking to yourself again?” she asked me.
I leaned back in my chair and smiled. “I’m always guaranteed to have an intelligent conversation.”
She set her chin on her crossed hands and furrowed her brow. “You sure you were talking to yourself?”
I studied the wall and my friend. “Are you sure you should be up there?”
Ruth grinned. “So it’s ‘no’ to both those questions?”
I rolled my eyes and slid my chair closer to the wall. I placed my palm against the wall and gave it a soft shake. “Come on, get down before you-”
“Miss Reid, what are you doing up there?” a voice barked.
I groaned and Ruth winced. She slowly slid out of view. I rolled my chair to the opening of my small prison and peeked around the corner. A wide, short man stood in her doorway with his arms crossed. He wore a blue suit that did nothing for his figure, and only seemed to accentuate his increasing baldness on the back of his head. The man was our portly supervisor, John Bulla.
He glared at my friend as she sat cowed in her chair with a nervous smile on her face. “Miss Reid, I’ve warned you time and again about climbing on the walls.”
She nodded her head like a bobble doll. “I know, Mr. Bulla, but I was just-” He held up his hand and shook his head.
“No excuses. If I catch you one more time you’re out. Do you understand?”
Ruth cringed. “Yes, sir.”
“Good.” Bulla turned to me and pursed his lips. “Was there something you wanted, Miss Combes?”
Combes was my last name. My other handle was Dakota.
I shook my head. “No, Mr. Bulla. If you’ll excuse me I’ll get back to work.” I pressed my heels in the thinly carpeted floor and pushed myself back into my cubicle.
Bulla’s heavy footsteps retreated from our little domains. After five minutes of typing madly away at a report I barely understood a head peeked out from the side of my cubicle entrance.
Ruth studied my typing fingers. “How can you do anything on a Friday?”
I didn’t look away from the screen. “Because I’m paid to do stuff on Friday.” She pulled herself in her computer chair into my cubicle until our arm rests bumped together. I stopped my work and glared at her. “You’re going to get us both fired.”
She leaned her cheek on my shoulder and smiled up at me. “Then we can look for new jobs together.”
I pursed my lips. “What do you want?”
She started back and dramatically pressed her splayed fingers to her chest. “Moi? Want something?”
My face fell and my eyes narrowed. “You only give me those brown eyes when you want something.”
Ruth dropped her hand and shrugged. “Well, there is a little favor I wanted-”
“He’s here!” a voice in a neighboring cubicle giggled.
“Oh my god!”
Ruth jumped to her feet and looked over my cubicle wall. Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. “It’s really him!”
I raised an eyebrow. “Who?”
She clasped her hands and her eyes sparkled. Her voice resembled the squealing of tires on a hard corner. “He’s so handsome! I wonder if he’s still dating?”
This was going nowhere. I rolled my eyes and stood up. I followed her gaze and my eyes fell on a handsome man with short black hair. His face was perfectly sculpted and he wore the custom-made suit like a glove. Or a suit. Anyway, he was about six feet tall which is a head taller than me, and he had smiles for all the employees who ogled him.
This was Mr. David Dives, the billionaire playboy who owned and played with the company, and some of its employees. He stood near the elevator on the far side of the room in the hall that ran between the rows of cubicles and the wall. A gaggle of supervisors and women stood around him, many of them with starry eyes.
Several of our fellow female employees peeked over the tops of their cubicles, and their whispered conversations floated over to me.
“I heard he has a girlfriend for every day of the week.”
“I heard he has .”
I snorted. I could just imagine him paying out to have a woman for each arm, not that he needed the money. He was handsome, to say the least.
“I heard he bought another yacht.”
“Doesn’t that make three?”
“Something like that.”
“How does he run the business and have all this fun?”
The first woman snorted and waved her hand at her friend. “He doesn’t run the business. The board does that, and all the slave drivers on the floors.”
“Then what’s he doing here?”
Her friend rolled her eyes. “Don’t you know? He always makes a yearly scouting of the place, just to pretend he’s in charge of the company he inherited.”
The other one sighed and they both looked back to their idol. “I wish I could live like that.”
Ruth tugged on my sleeve and nodded at Dives. Her voice was a ghost of a whisper. “I want you to get me a date with him.”
I rolled my eyes. “ can’t even get the time from him, much less you a date.”
Her shoulders drooped. The figure of worship was joined by Bulla, and the pair walked down the walls of cubicles and into our supervisor’s office. Ruth sighed and dropped into my spare seat close beside my desk.
“Damn. . .” she mumbled.
I slipped into my chair and shook my head. “None of us has a chance with a guy like that. We may as well be hoping to meet a mythical creature.”
A nervous smile slipped onto Ruth’s lips. “Speaking of mythical creature, I kind of have a date after work tonight.”
I raised an eyebrow. “You were just asking for-” She rolled her eyes and nodded her head.
“I know, I know, but a girl can dream for better things, can’t she? I mean, Barney can’t exactly give me a yacht, can he?”
I snorted. “You’re going out with the front desk man?”
She put her hands on her hips and wagged a finger at me. “He’s nice, and he knows how to greet a girl.”
“He knows how to greet ,” I quipped.
Ruth sighed and slumped back in her seat. “Anyway, he’s going to take me out for some Unicorns, but I-well, I haven’t really got my work done today.”
I frowned. “You want me to do you work so you can go out on a date?”
She gave me a wide smile and clasped her hands together. “Please? Perdy please with sugar on top?”
I pursed my lips. My eyes fell on the dwindling stack of papers beside me. They were data sheets to be typed in. The clock on my computer screen read fifteen minutes till five which was when we were all released like schoolchildren to run amok through the city for the weekend.
I closed my eyes and massaged my forehead. “Let me see the paperwork.”
Ruth’s face lit up and she nodded. “Sure! Sure thing!” She hurried to her cubicle and returned with a pile twice as large as mine.
My face fell and my eyes flickered up to her face. “All right, but you owe me big, especially since we don’t get paid for overtime.”
She dropped her pile onto mine and saluted me. “I promise you won’t regret doing it.”
Oh boy was she wrong. At least at the beginning.
The clocks struck five o’clock and a human wave swept towards the two elevators. They chatted, laughed, threw paper airplanes, and looped their arms over one another’s shoulders in celebration of another week of their lives swallowed by the tedium of the required occupation. The floor was cleared in five minutes, and I was left alone with only the sound of the keys to comfort me.
I, however, remained diligently at my post. The paperwork beside me was paper-thin. Another minute more and some furious typing, and I’d be released into the wilds of the streets.
That’s when I heard a door open. I stood and peeked over the top of my cubicle. Bulla stepped out of his office and behind him came Dives. My supervisor was all smiles while the one on Dives’s face looked strained.
“Now could I interest you in some dinner? My treat,” Bulla offered.
Dives held up his palm and shook his head. “No, that’s fine. I wanted to look over the floor for a while.”
My supervisor set his hand on Dives’ back. “Then I can show you around.”
Dives slipped from the shaky grasp and shook his head. “No, I think I can manage.”
Bulla laughed and nudged Dives in the side with his elbow. “All right, but don’t keep the janitors waiting.”
Dives’s smile grew more strained. “I won’t.”
Bulla patted him on the back and strode over to the elevator. Dives turned away just as Bulla stepped into the lift. My supervisor turned and his smile slipped into a scowl that was directed at Dives. The elevator doors shut before the billionaire noticed the look of disdain.
Dives swept his eyes over the area. I ducked down and cringed. If Dives caught me here he might find out about Ruth giving me her papers. That was a big no-no in company policy, and the prospect of joining the unemployment line didn’t appeal to me.
I got back to my typing, but winced at every clack of the keyboard. Dives’s footsteps came closer. I cringed and furiously typed the last page into the computer. The last entry was finished and the work saved. I grabbed my purse and swung my chair towards the entrance to my cubicle.
David Dives leaned against one side of the entrance with his arms folded and a real smile on his face. “You do know you don’t get overtime, right?”
I pursed my lips and narrowed my eyes. “Yeah, I know, but I had to get this work done.”
His gaze fell on the stack of papers beside my computer tower. “They give out a lot of work lately, don’t they?”
I stood and tried to scoot past him, but the doorway was small and he wasn’t. “I guess, but could I leave?”
He grinned and shrugged. “That depends.”
I frowned. “On what?”
“On whether you can give me your name,” he teased.
My frown deepened and I crossed my arms over my chest. “I might work for you, Mr. Dives-”
“David.” I blinked at him, and he chuckled. “Call me David.”
“Listen, Mr. Dives, I really want to get home. It’s-” I fumbled to bring out my cellphone to check the time.
He glanced at his Rolex watch. “It’s five-fifteen.”
“That’s fifteen minutes longer than I wanted, so if you’ll excuse me.” I slipped past him and into the hall.
My feet clacked against the hard carpet, and I heard his follow me to the elevators. I reached for the button, but he beat me to it.
“Going my way?” he asked me.
I turned my face away from him and stared at the closed elevator doors. “That depends on if you’re going to the underground garage.”
He chuckled. “By some strange chance, I am. My chauffeur is sick and couldn’t come in today, so I drove myself.”
“That must have been a traumatic experience for you,” I quipped.
He slipped closer to me and lowered his voice to a sultry whisper. “I get the feeling you don’t like me.”
A wave of heat swept over my body. Here was this rich, handsome man putting the moves on me. He was also a notorious playboy who used women like Kleenex’s and discarded them just as quickly.
I shook the blush off my cheeks and took a half step away from him. “What makes you think that?”
“Because you won’t look at me,” he pointed out.
I was saved by the opening of the elevator doors, and I stepped inside. Dives joined me. As I turned around I noticed the last few rays of sunlight break through the tall, wide windows at the opposite end of the floor. Evening was coming.
The doors shut. Dives positioned himself near the buttons while I took the rear. He pressed the button for the underground garage and looked to me with a smile. “You sure I couldn’t offer you a ride home?”
“You’d have to offer me a ride back to work. It’s the only car I’ve got,” I told him.
He glanced over his shoulder and grinned at me. “I could do that. I wouldn’t even need to pick you up.”
My eyebrows crashed down and I turned to face the doors. The numbers above the doors counted down to the uppercase ‘G,’ but not fast enough for me. “I think I’ll pass.”
Dives leaned his back against the side wall and folded his arms over his chest. He studied me with a mix of admiration and perplexity. “Did I do something wrong? Because you’re giving me a really hard time.”
I pursed my lips and my eyes flickered to him. “You’re not exactly known for your reliability, especially when it comes to women.”
He sighed and shrugged. “I suppose you’re right, but we all can’t be beautiful angels like you.”
That damn blush came back to my cheeks. He was good, real good. A strong, musky scent filled the small space. I breathed deep and regretted it as my body warmed with desire. I tamped down the rising lustful interest in him and shifted feet. The numbers above the door ticked down to the last few floors, and below those was the parking garage. Just a little further and-
Dives pushed off from the wall and dropped his arms. He held out his hand to me and smiled.
I glanced from the offered hand to his face, and raised an eyebrow. “What’s this for?”
He shrugged. “For a good match. I can respect a woman who know who she wants to sleep with, even if it’s not me.”
I ignored his hand and looked back at the numbers. “Thanks. I think. . .” I mumbled.
He dropped his hand. “No problem, but if you-” He winced and clutched at his stomach. I half-turned to him and watch his face scrunch up and his body double over. Dives wrapped both arms around his stomach and fell to his knees. His hoarse, strained words reached me. “Damn it!”
I frowned. “If this is some weird way to get me interested in you, it’s not working.”
He didn’t look up at me before he shook his head. “No, it’s my-my stomach,” he choked out. He leaned over and clapped one palm down on the floor. “Damn it! What the hell. . .is happening to me?”
His face was pale and I noticed sweat form on the side of his temples. I knelt down beside him and grasped his shoulders. They shook like leaves in a hurricane.
“Is it your heart?” I asked him.
He ground his teeth together and shook his head. “No. It’s. . .it’s everything. Ah!” He scrunched into himself and shuddered. I noticed the hand on the floor tensed and his long nails dug into the metal.
“Let me get you to a hospital,” I offered.
He closed his eyes and nodded. His face was a mask of pain and I noticed his clothes were stretched and covered in sweat.
The elevator stopped and the doors opened. The parking garage was one of those dimly lit concrete constructions with thick columns that dotted the urban landscape. The three levels were separated by a railing and a drop of five feet. My breath drifted from my mouth. White puffs of air blew out of Mr. Dives’s parted lips.
I slipped one of his arms over my shoulders and helped him to his unsteady feet. “Come on. My car’s not far.”
The distance was only fifty yards, but it felt like forever. The place was mostly empty except for my car that sat near one of the railings. The light above my vehicle flickered on and off, and cast the area in semi-darkness.
We reached the rear passenger door when two shadows slipped beneath the lower rung of the railing. They were gang-bangers with tattoos, bandannas, and no sense of hygiene. The pair leered at me with yellowed teeth rotted by drugs, and in their hands they each held a long metal pipe.
“Hey, lady, watcha doing here so late?” one of them asked me.
I took a step back. Dives let out another groan. His whole body shuddered. He didn’t seem to be completely conscious.
“Please, I’ve got to get him to a hospital,” I told the pair.
One of the thugs glanced down at Dives and his eyes widened. He looked to his friend and jerked his head to Dives’s wrist. “Look at that watch.”
His friend smirked. “Nice watch. We’ll take that, and your purse.”
I clasped my purse with my free hand. “Fine, but let me get out my car keys first.”
The second thug snorted. “Like we’re that fucking stupid, lady. Watcha got in there, a gun?”
The other one stalked around Dives and me. “Nah, she wouldn’t have a gun. Probably mace.”
His friend laughed. “
Dives let out a horrible, strangled gasp. His body convulsed. I lost my grip on him and he fell onto his stomach. He curled into a ball with his arms and knees beneath him. I knelt by his side and grasped his shoulders and whipped my head up to the thugs.
“Just back off! This guy could be dying!” I snapped at them.
“Then he won’t need his watch,” one of the thugs commented.
He stooped down and grasped the band of the watch. Dives didn’t look up as his hand whipped out and grabbed the thug’s arm. The thug’s eyes widened and he tried to pull his arm away. Dives raised his head and looked at the man. I gasped and fell backwards so that I landed on my hands and rear.
Dives’s face was covered in fur and his nose protruded outward like a snout. His yellow eyes glowed in the shadows and his lips curled back in a snarl.
“W-what the fuck?” his captive stuttered.
The other one stumbled back with his eyes wide and his mouth agape. “H-he’s some kind of fucking monster!”
Dives stood. His tight clothes burst at the seams and thick mats of grayish-brown fur poked through the holes. His fingers lengthened and his nails curved into long, sharp claws. My eyes widened as his shoes close beside me burst open to reveal long furry feet that ended in more sharp nails.
He lifted the thug off the ground and shoved their faces together. The thug screamed and a noticeable wet spot appeared in his crotch.
“Don’t kill me! Please don’t kill me!” the thug pleaded.
Dives snarled, but his face contorted into pain. He stooped and panted for air. The thug grabbed Dives’s hand and tried to pry himself loose. Dives’s eyes flickered up and narrowed. He tossed the thug five yards and over the railing to the lower level, and then turned to the other thug. The man yelped and turned tail. He clambered over the railing and fell over the other side.
I stood on my shaky legs and stumbled backwards until my back against one of the columns. The thugs picked themselves up and ran away. A growl brought my attention back to the matter at hand, namely one terrifying boss.
I whipped my head to Dives. He stared back at me with those bright, illuminated eyes. The pain in his face remained, and he stumbled towards me with one hand outstretched. For a moment his eyes flickered back to their blue color.
His garbled, albeit mostly human, voice called out to me. “Please. Please help. . .help me,” he choked out.
Another shot of pain stiffened his body. He cried out in a mangling of a growl and cry, and dropped chest-first onto the ground. His chest moved up and down from his panting and his eyes were half-lidded.
I took a cautious step towards him. He groaned and shuddered. I froze. His long, sharp claws dug into the concrete floor and left inch-deep scratch marks. My eyes were glued to the marks until I heard a familiar, and unwelcome, sound.
Police sirens, and they were coming this way.
My shoulders drooped and I pursed my lips. Great. Just when I didn’t need them, they arrive. My eyes flickered between my car and the half-conscious thing close to my feet. I still had my purse slung over one shoulder. A few simple steps around the monstrosity and I would be home-free.
I took a couple of those steps, but paused when I came close to his head. One side of Dives’s face lay against the concrete, and the other looked up at me. His half-lidded eye pleaded for my help, and his words echoed in my head. .
My sensible mind told me this was very wrong, and that I should leave. It also told me, in an offhand way, what would happen if any of the authorities found him in this condition. Think ‘science experiment.’
The less-sensible part of my mind reminded me that even transformed as he was, he was still cute. And rich. And in desperate need of some help.
I ran a hand through my hair and shook my head. “Damn it, Dakota. How do you get yourself into these things?”
I hurried the few feet to my car door and swung it open. My purse was tossed into the passenger seat, and I opened the rear driver’s side passenger door. The sirens were getting louder as I hurried back to my fallen boss. I rolled him onto his back and slipped my arms under his. The new fur must have added fifty pounds as I dragged him foot-by-foot to the open door. I leaned his back against the car and scooted into the back of my vehicle. A few long, hard tugs and he was spread out in the back of my seat.
I slammed the doors, slid into the seat behind the wheel, and backed out of the parking spot. The garage had two exits. I went to the far one because the sirens were closer to the other one. It was now dark, and the streetlights flashed through the windows as I made my way through traffics and lights. The occasional groan and shadow in my rear view mirror were constant reminders of my hairy problem.
I lived in a small fifth-floor apartment at the far end of town. The twenty-minute drive ended without incident, but I had a new problem. I couldn’t exactly park on the curb and heft the furry load in through the front door. I turned off the street an alley short of my building and bumped us to the wide alley that split the block in two. The area was wide enough for dumpsters, and a car with a suspicious passenger. There was also a back entrance people used only for illegitimate reasons.
I parked the car among the trashcans and boxes, and stepped out. A puddle awaited me.
“Damn it. . .” I muttered as I hopped out of the water. It was too late. My shoes were soaked.
I tiptoed around the other puddles and to the rear door. Dives’s cheek was pressed against the glass and one of his yellow eyes glared at me. A scream escaped me before I slapped my hands over my mouth. The sound carried all the way down the alley. A few people peeked their heads out their windows, glared at me, and returned to their cramped dwellings.
I clutched my chest and took in the picture before me. Dives was now seated in the back. He panted and clutched at his chest. His short hair was changed to the gray mix and had progressed down his sideburns and back. His hard breathing let me see his extra-sharp teeth. Just for that reason did I hesitate to open the door.
“Mr. Dives?” I asked him.
He grimaced and closed his eyes. “I’m. . .I’m still me,” he replied.
I raised an eyebrow. “So you won’t bite me or tear me limb-from-limb if I open this door?”
He tilted forward and shook his head. I hesitantly opened the door. His weight shoved it open and he slipped out. I dove down and caught him before his clothes resembled my soggy shoes.
“Easy there. Come on,” I grunted.
I hefted his arm over my shoulders and he managed to stand. That was an improvement over my dragging him because the floors in my apartment building weren’t too clean and there wasn’t an elevator to take him up to my place. We stumbled up the broken-concrete stoop and through the tattered and half-broken back door. The entrance led down a short, narrow hall to the lobby, and from there up the stairs to the apartments. There was also a fire escape stairwell directly to our right. It was used mostly by druggies and hobos, but Lady Luck finally smiled on us. The place was deserted on that Friday night, and we made our way up the five flights to my floor.
The apartment building wasn’t exactly high living. The wallpaper, what little remained, peeled off the walls in large strips, and sat on the worn wooden floor boards. All the doors to the apartments looked like they saw better days during the Biblical Flood, and the inhabitants weren’t much better to look at. We creaked and groaned down the hall with Dives and the floor alternating with the groaning.
We reached my door, the spacious apartment at the end of the hall. I fumbled for my keys and inserted the right one into the lock.
“Who have you got there?”
I froze and winced. My mind worked on a terrible excuse as I looked over my shoulder at the middle-aged occupant of the room next to mine. She wore a bathrobe over her flowered dress and bunny slippers adorned her otherwise bare feet. Her graying hair was done up in a tight bun behind her head and her small, curious eyes fell on Dives.
“Um, nobody, Miss Ardelio.”
She turned up her peeked nose and wagged a finger at me. “No lying, Miss Combes. I can see you have a young gentleman here, but what on earth is wrong with him? Have you called a doctor?”
I glanced between Dives. “It’s really nothing. He-um, he’s practicing for a play he’s giving. The fur’s his costume. See?” I leaned him against the wall and tugged on some hair that stuck out from his shirt. He winced, but didn’t cry out.
Ardelio waltzed up to us. Her narrow eyes studied his face and posture. “He certainly looks ill.”
I flung open my door and pulled Dives’s arm over my shoulders. “That’s just him staying in character. He’s a-um, a method actor. But if you’ll excuse us.” I pulled him into my apartment and slammed the door in my neighbor’s nosy face.
My apartment didn’t look much better than the hall. The wallpaper was more often on the walls than the floor, but the small kitchen had warped cupboards and a sink with hard-water spots. The furniture in the living room, if you could call the small space in the right-hand corner, was of some ancient vintage, perhaps the Sixties, and was hidden beneath new cloth covers to hide the holes and springs. I hefted Dives over to the couch and plopped him down. He landed on his rear and leaned against the back with a heavy groan.
I sat down in the small chair opposite him and sank into the cushion. It helped that there weren’t any springs left to keep me up. I studied my unexpected, and furry, visitor.
Dives’s breathing was less erratic and his arms hung by his sides. His eyes were still yellow, and it was unnerving to be watched by them. He didn’t blink much.
He shifted on the cushion and winced. “I think one of your springs is broken.”
“It’s probably missing,” I replied. I leaned forward and set my elbows on my legs. I clasped my hands together and set my chin on them. “So do you always get hairy when you hit on girls, or is this a new thing?”
Dives managed a hoarse laugh and shook his head. “No. At least, not until after the first date which is after I’ve learned her name.”
I raised an eyebrow. “So this happened to you before?”
All humor fled from his face. He pursed his lips, but nodded. “Yes, but not this-well, it’s never gotten out of my control before.”
I looked him over. The gray-brownish fur. The increased muscle mass. The sort-of-snout. It all pointed to one unbelievable conclusion. “So you’re a werewolf?”
He sighed and sank deeper into the couch. That, or it was slowly sinking beneath his heavy weight. “Yes.”
I frowned. “After saving your life all I get is a ‘yes?’”
A mischievous smile slipped onto his lips. “I could give you something more, but you already refused my kind offer.”
I leaned back and rolled my eyes. “I don’t think making out with a werewolf is on my bucket list.”
Dives chuckled. “I suppose not, but I guess I could give you some more explanation. That is, if I can trust you with it, and if I can know the name of the beautiful woman who saved me.”
I shrugged. “Would anybody believe an office girl when she tells them the owner of her billionaire-dollar company is a werewolf? As for my name, it’s Dakota Combes.”
He smiled. “Dakota Combes. Not a bad name.”
“Now for the story,” I insisted.
My boss tilted his head back and nodded. “I see your point about the authorities, but it’s a long and strange story.”
“It’s Friday night, and I’ve got nothing to do.”
Dives sighed. “It all started like a lot of regrets, with a girl.”
I snorted. “Figures.”
He shrugged. “I suppose I don’t deserve pity, or even sympathy, but I’d be grateful if you waited until the end of my story to pass judgment.”
I pursed my lips, but nodded. “All right, have it your way.”
He cleared his throat. “Anyway, like I said, this all started with a girl. It was about ten years ago. I was on a cruise to escape some of my more persistent admirers.”
“The ones who kept sending you pics of wedding dresses?” I guessed.
Dives smiled. “The very ones. The cruise sailed around the Mediterranean and Aegean. At a port in Greece we picked up more passengers. One of them was a lovely little Gypsy in a troupe of musical performers. She was the dancer.”
“So you got it on with her,” I surmised.
He shrugged. “What else could I do with a beautiful woman who barely knew any English? Talk philosophy?”
I sighed and waved my hand. “Go on.”
He pursed his lips and sank lower into the couch. “It turns out she didn’t speak very good English, but her troupe leader knew more than enough to get me into some deep shit. It was he who got her to my state room where we had a little fun. Then she bit me.” He pulled down the collar of his shirt. The fur was thinner near the jugular and I noticed a crescent mark made by sharp teeth.
I winced. “That must’ve hurt.”
“Like hell, with an extra dose of curse to give it a good kick,” he agreed as he released the collar. “Her troupe leader knew how rich I was and told me if I didn’t pay him a king’s ransom to teach me how to control myself I’d kill someone.”
I raised an eyebrow. “And did you?”
He smirked and shook his head. “I didn’t give him a dime. All I had to do was point out that if I kill someone I’d reveal their existence to the whole world. They’d be hunted down like rabid dogs and dissected like lab rats. He got mad and then scared, and taught me enough so I could get by. At the next port I jumped ship and headed to an estate my family owned in Scotland. I worked a little longer on my self-control until I was sure I could get through any one-night stand and headed home.” He shrugged. “And that’s it.”
I shook my head. “If that was it than I wouldn’t be sitting here listening to your lame story. In all those ten years you never lost it and wore a real fur suit in public?”
Dives pursed his lips and studied me with those yellow eyes. “I do have trouble controlling myself around the full moon.”
I jerked my head to the right towards a dirty-glassed window. “The full moon isn’t due for another week.”
He tilted his head to one side. His eyes never left me. “I know. It doesn’t make any sense to me, either.”
I furrowed my brow. “I’d say it was the mugging, but you dropped in the elevator.”
A sly smile curled onto his lips. “Perhaps it was in the elevator that something happened.”
Dives stood and walked up to me. He set his hands on each arm and leaned down so our faces nearly touched. I shrank as deep into the chair as the cushion would allow. His yellow eyes studied me with carnal interest. I found my body responding to his attentions in a most pleasant and annoying way. A warm wave of desire swept over me. I was nearly drowned in lust for this strange creature that stood over me. My heart quickened and my breathing deepened. I grasped the sides of the arms and trembled.
He leaned closer so his lips brushed against one of my trembling cheeks. His low, sultry voice slipped into my ear. I had to bite back the groan. “Perhaps it was in the elevator that happened.”
A knock on the door startled both of us. Dives spun around and growled at the door. I jumped from the chair and swept past him to the entrance. “I’ll get it!” I yelled in a squeaky voice. I grabbed the knob and flung open the door.
It was Miss Ardelio’s turn to be surprised. She started back and the pie dish in her hands nearly dropped to the floor. “My goodness, but you frightened me!”
I gave her a shaky smile. “Sorry about that. I thought you were a salesman.”
She pursed her lips and shook her head. “Miss Combes, you know those types of men aren’t allowed in the apartment building.”
I glanced over my shoulder at another type of ‘man.’ Dives had his back turned towards us. “Oh, right, I forgot.” I returned my attention to Ardelio. “But is there something I can do for you?”
She smiled and held out the pie. “I thought perhaps your young gentleman friend there would like this. Actors can have such strong appetites after being under those hot lights all day.”
I swiped the pie from her hands and pressed the tip of my foot against the door to give it a good slam. “Thanks, I’m sure we will.”
Ardelio took a step inside so that shutting the door would involve cutting her into two. Her dream-filled eyes never left Dives. “Perhaps the young gentleman-I never caught his name-might entertain me-us, that is-with some of his acting. What play was it?”
I swept through my old-story recollections even as I inched the door shut. “It was-um, the Hound of the Baskervilles. He plays the dog. But he’s really tired and-”
“The Hound of the Baskervilles?” Ardelio wondered. She grasped the door with one hand to keep me from shutting it. “I had no idea that was a play. He must perform his howl for me.”
I winced. “I really don’t-” A long, hideously accurate howl echoed through my apartment. I whipped my head around in time to see Dives lower his head after his performance.
Ardelio was all smiles as she clapped her hands. “Bravo! Encore! Encore!”
Her distraction gave me a chance to slam the door shut in her face. I locked the knob and turned around to lean my back against the entrance. Dives turned to me with a proud grin on his face.
I frowned. “Did you have to be so loud?”
He shrugged. “It was natural.”
“Yeah, naturally a bad idea,” I retorted as I stalked over to the kitchen table and plopped the pie on the top. “If my manager hears that he’s going to have a fit. Dogs aren’t allowed in the apartment building.”
Dives chuckled. “I’m hardly a dog.”
I whirled around and glared at him. “No, a dog would be better behaved. Now do you think you could lose the fur coat before somebody else sees you like that?”
Dives raised his hands and glanced from one to the other. He furrowed his face. “It doesn’t seem to be working.” His eyes flickered up to me and that smooth, seductive smile slipped onto his lips. Even with all that fur and ripped clothes he was handsome. Or maybe it was because of the ripped clothes. “Perhaps it’s the company.”
“Perhaps it’s because you don’t know as much about this whole werewolf thing as you thought,” I retorted.
A dreaded heavy rap came to my door. “Combes? Combes, are you in there?” growled the apartment building owner, Mr. Dominus.
My shoulders drooped and I hung my head. “Perfect. . .” I mumbled.
I lifted my head when I noticed movement. Dives strode towards the door.
I reached out a hand towards him. “No!” I yelped.
Dives opened the door and revealed my tall, heavy-set apartment manager. Dominus was six-foot six without shoes and was built like a tank if a tank could bench press a bus. He wore a plaid shirt and jeans, and glared down at Dives.
“Who the hell are you?” Dominus snapped.
Dives smiled and extended his hand. “David Dives. Perhaps you’ve heard of me.”
Dominus sneered at him. “No, now where the hell is Combes? I heard a dog howling and I know it came from her apartment.”
Dives dropped his hand, but not his smile. “Miss Combes is currently unavailable, but if you have a problem with animals you can take it up with me.”
My apartment manager narrowed his eyes. “I’ll take it up with whoever I want, now where’s that worthless girl at?”
Dives’s face took a noticeable downturn as his eyes narrowed and a frown graced his lips. “You might want to apologize for calling her that.”
Dominus scoffed and grabbed Dives’s shoulder. “Like hell I’m going to do that, now get out of my way.”
Dominus shoved him to the side, but Dives wrapped his arms around the manager’s thick arm and swung him back into the hall. I stepped into the line of sight from the hallway and watched the giant of a man slam into the shut door on the opposite side of the hall.
“You can’t come in here without permission or a warrant,” Dives warned him.
Dominus pushed himself off the door. His furious eyes fell on me and he pointed a finger in my direction. “You’ve got two weeks, and then you’re outta here! Understand?”
I frowned and gestured to Dives. “But I didn’t-”
“I don’t wanna hear it!” he snarled. He pointed a finger down the hall. It was the middle one. “Get out or I’ll throw ya out! Got it?”
My face fell. “Yeah, I got it.”
“Good! And if you’ve got a dog in there then yer outta tomorrow!” Dominus stormed off down the hall. His heavy boots echoed down the stairs until they faded into the distance.
I plopped my rear onto the arm of the couch and ran a hand through my hair. “Perfect. Just perfect.”
“I don’t see the problem,” Dives spoke up.
I whipped my head up and narrowed my eyes at him. “Of course not. You’re not the one who has to find a new place in two weeks while my manager harasses me about moving. Is this how you repay every girl who saves your furry hide?”
He gave me a sly smile. “No, but I do feel like I’m at fault-”
“Because you are,” I reminded him.
“-and as such, I have a remedy for your problem. You can stay at my home.”
My face fell and I crossed my arms over my chest. “Are you serious?”
I stood and shook my head. “No deal. You’re rich enough to be able to buy me an apartment . Why do I need to stay at your place?”
He shrugged. “For the company.”
I gave his furry body a once-over and frowned. “Yours or mine?”
“It’s to both our benefits,” he replied.
I pursed my lips and glanced over my dingy apartment. The dull and lifeless walls stared back at me. A chance at some luxury. That’s what he was offering me. There was that whole ‘werewolf’ thing to worry about.
My eyes flickered to him. “You’re not going to bite me and turn me into a werewolf, are you?” I questioned him.
He smiled and shook his head. “No. That is, if you don’t want me to.”
I rolled my eyes. “No, I don’t want you to. And I get my own bedroom, right?”
Dives sighed, but gave a nod. “Yes, if you wish.”
“I think that’s required,” I retorted.
He raised an eyebrow and there was a touch of something feral in the depths of his eyes. It excited me more than I cared to admit. “Then you’ll come?”
I nodded. “Yep.”
I packed what few belongings of mine were worth packing in a sheet, slung it over my shoulder, and led Dives downstairs to the rear entrance. We stepped out into the dark, dingy alley to find several unwelcome surprises. Some local thugs stood around my hunk of junk. One of them knelt in front of my car with a carjack beneath my car and another had my car tire in his hands. Two others stood by and watched the proceedings with flashlights. These guys had more class than the garage thugs, so they held wooden bats instead of pipes.
The four of them turned at our exit. The one who knelt stood, and the pair with the bats took center stage between us and my car.
“Get the fuck out of here, if ya know what’s good for ya,” one of them warned me.
I tightened my grip on my bag and glared at him. “Like hell I am. That’s my car.”
“But the tires are ours,” the other bat boy spoke up.
My eyebrows crashed down and I took a step forward. “Like hell they-” Dives held an arm out in front of me. I whipped my head up to look into his face. His stern attention lay on the thugs. “What the hell are you doing?”
“I’ll deal with this,” he told me.
He dropped his arm and walked down the steps. The men took a few steps back and accessed their new foe.
One of them shone their light on Dives’s face and frowned. “What the hell are you supposed to be? A dog? Don’t you know Halloween isn’t here yet?” That got a laugh out of his buddies.
A sly smile slipped onto Dives’s face. “Not quite, but if you know what’s good for you you’ll leave.”
The first bat guy smirked and nodded. “Sure, we’ll leave. After we get the other three tires.”
Dives shook his head and moved within range of their bats. “Sorry. I can’t let you do that.”
The guy laughed. “Like hell you’re gonna stop us.” He pulled his bat back and swung it to connect with Dives’s face.
“Duck!” I yelled.
Turns out Dives didn’t need to. He grabbed the thickest part of the bat before it hit him. The thug frowned and tugged on the bat. “Let go!”
Dives chuckled. “You shouldn’t have done that.” He crushed the wood until the end broke into a thousand tiny splinters.
The thug stumbled back with what remained of his bat. There was a mangled mess at the end. The thug quaked in his boots as he jerked his head towards Dives. “W-what the hell are you?”
Dives dove forward and swung his fist. His hand connected with the man’s cheek and sent the thug into the side of my car. He slid to the ground, but the man’s body left a nice indent in the rear door.
I whipped my head to Dives and glared at him. “You’re supposed to be saving my car, not destroying it!”
“You fucking bastard!” the other bat boy shouted.
He swung his bat, but Dives took my advice and ducked. Dives swung his fist and hit the man in the gut. A wheezing of air escaped his lips and his eyes bulged out of his head. He crumpled to the ground and lay in a fetal position.
Dives turned his attention to the other thugs. “Who’s turn is it?”
The men dropped what they were holding and ran down the alley. Dives turned to me with a smile and bowed. “Your chariot awaits, my lady.”
I crossed my arms and nodded at the missing tire. “The horse is lame.”
Dives followed my gaze and shrugged. “There’s nothing I can do there. I’m a werewolf, not a mechanic.”
I rolled my eyes and tossed my bundle at him. He juggled the jiggly contents for a few moments as I stalked down the stairs and over to my car. I shoved the unconscious man out of the way and pointed at the tire.
“You can at least hand that to me,” I told Dives.
He rolled the tire over to me, and in a few minutes I had the wheel on and tight. I even had a new carjack to toss into my trunk. I stepped back and admired my work.
Dives moved to stand beside me and smiled down at me. “Beautiful, and mechanically inclined. What more could a man ask for?”
“Interest,” I quipped as I brushed my hands on my pants and took the bundle from him. “Now where’s this house of yours?”
“Along River Road, if you know where that is,” he told me.
I looked up at him and frowned. “Yeah, but I know it by a different name. Rich Road.”
He chuckled. “It does have quite a few wealthy occupants.”
I snorted. “Yeah, like all of them. Now come on. I could use a bath.”
We climbed into my car and drove away from my old life and to my new one. The streetlight-lit route took us through the maze of commercial and urban streets and to the south-eastern portion of the city. The Cam River broke the city into two districts and emptied into the bay. The port lay to the south-west of the river, and the wealthiest of the city’s citizens had their homes along the eastern shores of the bay.
City slum changed to commercial, then to the urban areas with their identical homes and finally into the grand estates of the super-wealthy. Large mansions and high stone walls turned their noses up at my old car. The dark autumn night hung over the quiet streets and stars twinkled above us. A waxing moon shone its light on the trees along both sides of the street and cast long shadows across the street. Behind and to our left lay the city, and to our right beyond the lush estates lapped the cool waters of the bay.
My eyes flickered to Dives. He stared straight head in all his furry glory. “So should I be looking for the biggest one or what?”
He smiled. “I flatter my person, not my house.”
I snorted. “So now your modest?”
He shrugged. “It’s a failing, but one of my few. Anyway, my house is the one at the end of the road and on the right.”
I glanced in that direction and saw that the road stopped in front of a wilderness area. A large,faded white sign advertised a wildlife refuge. On the right was a tall gray-stone wall with a long black iron gate. I stopped in front of the gate beside a small intercom. Two columns flanked either side of the gate, and each one had a camera zeroed in on the interior of my car.
There was a crackling sound on the intercom followed by a high-pitched screaming voice. “Mr. Dives! Where in the blazes have you been?”
Dives winced. “Not so loud, Puer. I’m all right.”
The clip of Puer’s words didn’t slow down. “But what happened? Why are you like that? Who is this woman? Why did you leave your car? Why didn’t you answer any of my calls?”
Dives sighed and leaned over me to speak into the intercom. “I’ll explain everything when we get inside, but that won’t happen if you don’t open the gate.”
“What? Oh! Yes! Yes, of course! Right away, Mr. Dives!”
The noise from the intercom stopped and the gate swung inward. A gravel driveway led across a wide lawn filled with ancient trees and to a two-floor, full attic colonial home. The place was a mansion, but not as gaudy as some of the castle-like structures we’d already passed. We drove up to the roundabout that abutted the front walk and parked the car. I stepped out of the car and leaned my head back to take in the full view of the many tall windows with their paneled glass. The white clapboard siding stood out against the darkness of the night, and a few lights poured from the windows and streamed onto the lawn. Nothing moved save for the tree branches in a soft bay breeze. The scent of fresh water came to my nostrils and I took in the tranquility with a deep sigh.
It was not to last.
Dives stepped out and the front door flung open. A man of fifty rushed out and down the concrete path. He wore a black suit with a white shirt, and there was a look of panic on his tense face. The man grabbed Dives’s hands and looked the man over. “What in the world has happened, Mr. Dives? Why are you transformed?”
Dives freed himself from the man’s tight grasp and gestured to me. “It’s a long story, but let me introduce you to someone who possibly saved my skin, and maybe my life. Miss Dakota Combes, this is my manservant and old family friend, Elliott Puer. Puer, Miss Combes.” I waved.
Puer bowed stiffly at the waist in my direction and turned back to his master. He grasped Dives’s upper arms and swept his eyes over the werewolf man. “But what’s happened, Mr. Dives? Why are you like this?”
Dives smiled and shrugged. “I don’t know, but I’m hoping a long, hot bath can fix it.”
Puer bowed his head. “Yes, of course, whatever you wish.” His eyes fell on me. “And will Miss comes be staying?”
Dives turned to me. He stepped to the side and gestured to the open front door. “I would be very glad if you and your bed-sheet bundle would stay a while.”
I sighed, scooped up my bundle and shut my door with my foot. “I’m staying, but don’t forget your promise. My own bed.”
He chuckled and bowed his head to me. “As you wish.”
Puer led us inside and shut the door behind us. The interior of the house matched the outside decor, complete with an elegant eighteenth-century parlor to our right and a large dining room to our left. The stairs to the upper floors covered a wall to our left and deeper into the entrance hall. The stairs and its banister curved around the rear of the hall and out of sight to the second floor.
Dives turned to his servant and me. “Show Miss Combes to her room, Puer, and then I’ll explain what happened. She can have the one beside mine.”
Puer pursed his lips, but turned to me and gestured to the stairs. “If you’ll follow me.”
He guided me up the carpeted wooden stairs to the hall that stretched the entire length of the front of the house. I looked out a window and saw the entirety of the front part of the grounds spread out before me.
Puer stopped in front of one of the half-dozen white doors, one that stood the left-hand side of the house and was the second-to-last on that side of the stairs. He swung open the entrance and swept his hand towards the interior. “This will be your room, Miss Combes.”
I peeked in and noticed a high bed with four posts. On the wall opposite the door hung four windows, two on either side of the bed. Those looked out on the wide expanse of yard behind the house. A dresser and nightstand rounded out the sparse pieces of furniture, and for a finishing touch there was a large fireplace on the left-hand wall finished off the decor.
Puer stepped past me and strode over to the fire. “Allow me to light a fire for you. And there-” he nodded at a door that stood to his left along the same wall as the fireplace, “-is your bathroom.”
I set my bundle on the end of the bed atop a quilt and tilted my head back to take in the large room. “I keep forgetting how rich Dives is, but he keeps reminding me.”
Puer paused and glanced over his shoulder. His eyes were narrowed and his lips pressed so tightly together they were white. “Would you find it impertinent of me if I asked how much you know about Mr. Dives-ahem-personal life?”
I plopped my rear on the foot of the bed and smiled. “You mean his furry problem? He told me all about it.”
A shadow spread over Puer’s face. “And what do you intend to do with this information?”
I shrugged. “Nothing.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Nothing? Then why are you here?”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m here because he got me kicked out of my apartment, so he owes me a room until I find another one.”
Puer’s tense shoulders relaxed and a smile spread across his lips. “Ah, I see. I apologize if I came off as suspicious.”
I waved my hand at him. “It’s fine. I’m sure you’re suspicious of all the women he brings here.”
He turned back to his work. “On the contrary. Mr. Dives has never brought a woman here.”
I frowned. “Never?”
I set my palms on the covers behind me and leaned back. My head tilted backwards and I stared at the white-sheen canopy. “So how long have you known about Dives’s-um, furry problem?”
Puer lit a match and set the flame against the pile of thin sticks and paper. The kindling caught and crept over to the paper until a healthy fire spread over the entirety of the fuel. He stood and brushed his hands together before he turned to me. “I have been in the services of the family for the past thirty years. I was with Mr. Dives on the cruise when the-well, the incident in question occurred.”
I looked him up and down. “So you’re not a werewolf?”
Puer shook his head. “No. Mr. Dives would never pass the curse onto another.”
I flopped down on the covers and sighed. “Finally some good news.”
“Pardon?” Puer asked me.
I shook my head. “Nothing. Anyway-” I sat up and glanced at the door to the bathroom. “I think I’ll clean up and get some sleep.” My stomach took that opportunity to grumble loudly, reminding me that I hadn’t eaten dinner. I clutched my stomach and cringed. “Which way’s the kitchen?”
Puer smiled. “I can have a light snack made for you, if you wish, and leave it on the nightstand for when you come out.”
I grinned. “Sounds perfect. Thanks.”
He bowed his head. “Good evening.”
“Um-” I bowed my head. “-‘night.”
Puer left me alone to the horrible comforts of the large room and private bath. I suffered through the hot, refreshing shower and the fluffy towels. My bath towel-clothed exit from the bathroom was greeted by the small platter of crust-cut sandwiches and fruit that sat on the nightstand. I walked over to the platter and took a grape. The warm fire crackled and cast a long glow across the floor as I tossed the grape into the air and caught it in my mouth.
Long, loud claps followed my epic feat. I spun around to find Dives beside the fireplace. His body was once more human and he wore a pair of loose-fit jeans with a white t-shirt that showed off his muscled chest. He leaned against the mantel and his appreciative eyes swept over my scarcely-clad body. The wall behind him was opened to reveal a hidden passage from my room to the adjoining one.
I clutched he towel close to me and glared at him. “What the hell are you doing in here?”
Dives pushed off the mantel and strode towards me. The secret passage shut, leaving no trace it was ever there. “I’ve come to sleep in my bed,” he told me.
I took a nervous step backward, but my retreat was stopped by the side of the bed. “Y-you said I’d have my own bedroom,” I reminded him.
He stepped up to me and grinned. “I did, didn’t I? But did I forget to mention that as owner of the house the beds are technically mine?”
That strong, seductive odor, the same from the elevator, enveloped me in its luscious scent. I shuddered and turned my face away. “Y-you really should leave.”
He grasped my upper arms. I looked into his face. His eyes glistened with need as he studied me. “I should, but I don’t think either of us want it.”
He was right. I wanted him to stay. All night, if that’s how long we could last.
Dives leaned down and captured my lips in a passionate kiss. My body tingled with tantalizing heat that soaked my senses with lust.
I broke us apart for some much-needed air. My cheeks were warm with a blush and my body was hot with desire. I looked at him through the bleary eyes of lust and my voice came out in a hoarse whisper. “What’s. . .what’s happening?”
David gasped for air and his dark eyes swept over my face. He shook his head and his own voice was deep with his own need. “I-I don’t know, but I want you.” He brushed his hand over one side of my face and cupped my cheek. “I. . .I’ve never wanted anyone this bad before. I-” He closed his eyes and shuddered. When he opened them they were a bright yellow and his voice was more growl than human. “I can’t stop myself.”
A wave of his feral musk swept over me. I closed my eyes and shuddered. The lust inside me tripled and images of us together-in bed-rose to the surface of my hazy mind.
He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me against him. His hard, pulsing member pressed up against me and told me of his need for me. He left a trail of deliciously slow kisses down my neck. Each one was like a small fire that kindled the larger flame inside me. The wonderful heat pooled between my legs and demanded satisfaction. I craved his scent, his attentions, his touch. Everything about him drew me to him like a moth to a hot flame.
I clutched his arms and opened my eyes. His cool yellow ones stared back at me and there were shades of gray hairs in his temples. One of his hands slid down to massage my rear. I leaned back my head and groaned.
His eyes widened and he panted. I barely recognized his gravelly voice, but the word sent a thrill of excitement through me. “Mine.”
I could only dumbly nod. My body ached for him, and for that I would be his. “Yours.”
He possessed my lips in another hot, passionate kiss. My towel fell away beneath his strong hands and sharp claws. The rest of me fell into his wonderful touches as his hands groped and massaged my body. I was delirious with the smell of his scent and the feel of his rough skin against mine. Every touch, every slide of skin against skin drove us onward into a delicious oblivion of lust.
He tore away his own shirt and pants, leaving us pressed naked against one another. My pert nipples rubbed against his hard chest and sent ripples of delight through my body. I groaned into our kiss, and he growled back. The possessive sound thrilled me. I was his and his alone, and I knew he would take me and pleasure me all night long.
He broke our kiss and swept me into his arms. We were soon spread on the bed with his hot, heavy body atop mine. He pinned me to the sheets and covered my body in hot kisses. His hands touched me and took in all of me. My body eased into his touch and my lust-filled mind was trapped in my longing for him. All of me was possessed by him, and oh god did I enjoy it.
I groaned and shivered beneath his attentions. My soft purrs filled the bedroom and mingled with his grunts. Our soft love-making increased the tension inside us. The need for the union we both craved reached a fever-pitch.
I parted my legs and wrapped them around his waist. He pressed his thick, throbbing manhood against my entrance and paused. His yellow eyes stared down at me with such love and possession that I whimpered.
A crooked, fanged grin slid onto his parted lips. “Mine forever.”
He slid into me. My hot, wet walls stretched to meet his demands. I gasped and shifted my hips. He grunted and thrust deeper into me. Every inch of him stroked my sensitive nerves and sent small waves of pleasure through me. I leaned my head back and groaned.
We began our dance to a tortuously slow tune. Every thrust and push was matched rhythm for rhythm with my rocking hips. Our sweat-soaked bodies slid against one another in increasing friction. My hands swept over his back. Small hairs poked out from his flesh and lengthened with each push.
His breathing quickened. Our tempo moved faster. I grasped his head and moaned. My mind floated in a haze of musky scent and lust that consumed me, and I reveled in it. Every push, every delicious slide of his manhood brought to me an aching hunger that only he could satisfy.
I tangled my fingers in his growing locks of gray and brown hair. My parched lips murmured sweet words. “Oh my god. Oh god, please don’t stop.”
He growled and his wolf hair burst from his back. I groaned as his thick manhood swelled and pushed against my tingling pleasure nerves. His pace quickened. I clutched onto him as he took me faster than I could follow. Every fiber of my tense body craved this dominating attention as he wrapped his arms around me and pressed me close to him. His sharp teeth nipped at my neck. The pleasure inside of me mounted.
I shuddered and squirmed. Our panting sounds mingled. Faster and faster he went. Closer and closer I came until I was on the precipice of pleasure. The tension and lust inside of me was too much. I needed satisfaction, I needed .
I leaned my head back and stroked his hair. My soft words reached his pointed ears. “Yes. Oh god, yes. Take me. Please god, take me. Make me yours.”
“Mine,” he growled. The word was human, but not the voice. It was deep and feral. Ever syllable was a lustful growl.
That sent me over the edge and into an oblivion of pleasure. I screamed to the heavens his triumph as he took me with his swift strokes. My body shivered and shuddered beneath the waves of bliss that washed over me.
My lover penetrated me again and again until he, too, fulfilled his carnal lust. He stiffened for a moment before his body relaxed and fell onto the bed beside me. He pulled me into his arms, and for a long while we lay there together panting.
He pulled the quilt over our naked, cooling bodies. I snuggled against his warm, firm chest and closed my eyes. A contented sigh escaped my lips, and I slipped into a deep, peaceful sleep.
A terrible light pierced my eyelids. I groaned and groped for a blanket. My hand pressed against something more firm and definitely fluffy. I forced my eyes open and blinked into the bleary face of David Dives.
I yelped and shoved myself away from him. Unfortunately, that also shoved me out of the small quilt that lay over us. The morning sun drifted into the windows, but the autumn season chilled the air. The cool draft of the large room swept over me, as did his teasing eyes.
“Good morning,” he greeted me.
I grabbed the corners of the quilt and pulled the blanket over me. That slid them off body so it was my turn to take in the full view of his naked, godly form. A light coat of fur covered his arms and legs, and his hair trailed down his back like a mane. My eyes inadvertently moved down his body to the most interesting parts. A blush spread across my face and I rolled away from him.
“Aren’t playboys supposed to be gone in the morning?” I scolded him.
He leaned his cheek in one palm and smiled. “That’s the usual act, but you’re in my house.”
I shrank into the quilt. “Well, could you at least put on some pants?”
He shifted closer to me and one of his hands slid onto my hip. That familiar hot thrill raced up my body. He leaned forward and his whispered words ghosted over my ear. “You had no qualms about my lack of pants last night.”
I shuddered and closed my eyes. “T-that’s because you put some sort of a spell over me.”
Dives chuckled and his hand slid closer to my hot core. “Or perhaps it’s because you wanted me as much as I want you now.”
A knock on the door ruined our-I mean, his fun. “Mr. Dives?” Puer called out.
Dives sighed and his hand retreated from my inner thigh. “Yes?”
“There was a phone call for you from Mr. Cotio. He wished for you to know that Latro has been asking questions about you again.”
Dives growled and sat up. “Did he tell you what kind of questions were being asked?”
“He wouldn’t say anything over the phone, sir, only that he would answer any of your inquiries if you came to see him,” Puer replied.
The bed shifted. I glanced over my shoulder and watched Dives slip his jeans on. “All right. Tell him I’ll be there in an hour.”
“Very well, sir. Should I get breakfast for two in bed?” Puer wondered.
A crooked smile slipped onto Dives’s face. “Not today, Puer. Just the usual fare at the table.”
“Very good, sir.” Puer’s footsteps retreated down the hall.
I looked to Dives. “What’s going on? Who’s Latro?”
He slipped his arms into his shirt and pursed his lips. “Some humans aren’t content to leave well-enough alone. This person is one of them.”
“But who he?” I persisted.
Dives stooped and gathered up my bundle from the floor. “Latro is a self-styled monster hunter, and I one of the monsters. How many changes of clothes do you have?”
I wrapped the sheet around my upper body and raised myself to a seated position. “I’ve got a few, but what’s that got to do with this monster hunter?”
“Cotio’s shop is downtown, and I thought I might buy you some new clothes as a thank-you for last night,” he explained.
I frowned. “And who’s this Cotio guy? He’s the one Latro’s bothering, right?”
Dives sat at an angle on the side of the bed and nodded. “Yeah. Cotio’s my paranormal guy. He gets me what I need. Info, hair tonic, talismans. If it exists, he either has it or knows where it can be bought.”
I tilted my head to one side and furrowed my brow. “So he’s some sort of paranormal broker?”
Dives chuckled. “Something like that. He’s got a lot of clients, and Latro would love to get those gloved hands on the list. My name especially is a prime target.”
I raised an eyebrow. “And why’s that?”
Dives shrugged. “Let’s just say Latro and I go back a ways, and if we don’t hurry our eggs will be cold.”
“I’ll be there in a minute,” I promised.
He toyed with the knot atop my bundle. “I could help you dress.”
I jerked my head towards the door. “Out.”
Dives sighed and stood. “All right. I’ll meet you in the dining room. It’s to-”
“On the left of the entrance hall as you enter. I saw it last night,” I reminded him.
He chuckled. “Smart girl. Anyway, see you in a while.”
He left me to dress, and I was downstairs in a few minutes. The smells of a delicious breakfast wafted from the dining room, and I peeked through the archway to find two places set at the long, wide table. One was at the head and the other on the left. Dives was seated at the head and in front of him were plates filled with a variety of pastries, meats, and fruits.
Dives stood at my coming and pulled out the other chair. “There’s nothing finer than fine food in the company of a beautiful woman.”
“Flattery won’t get you far,” I warned him as I slipped into the chair.
He pushed me close to the table and resumed his seat. His smile never left his cute, kissable lips. “Perhaps not, but I have a terrible stubborn streak in me.”
I rolled my eyes and piled food on my plate. “Did you have that before or after the cruise ship?”
“Both. It’s a family trait,” he replied.
I picked up my fork and tapped it on the table. “Speaking of family, and traits, does anyone else beside Puer, me and half the city know about your fur coat?”
He chuckled. “Only a few others, but we go to see only Cotio today.”
Puer appeared in the doorway that led to the entrance hall. “I’ve informed Mr. Cotio of your arrival. Would you like me to get the car warmed?”
Dives shoveled some food into my mouth and nodded. “Yes. We’ll be there in a few minutes.” Puer bowed and left us.
My eyes flickered to Dives. “What’s all this ‘we’ stuff?”
“I would enjoy your company,” he commented.
I raised an eyebrow. “What about your allergic reaction to me? You break out in fur, remember?”
He paused and lifted his human hand to his face to study the fingers. “Much of the ‘allergy’ was exercised from me last night. We shouldn’t have any problems, at least not until night.”
I ate until I was full and set my fork down. “You know, I only agreed to be your house mate because you owe me a room. I didn’t say I’d be your tag-along for your werewolf chores.”
Dives smiled. He set down his fork and leaned back to dab the corners of his mouth with his napkin. “Why can’t you do both?”
I frowned. “Because I already lost my apartment because you’re a stubborn-ass werewolf. I don’t want to lose something worse, like a limb or my car.”
“But you gained a fine room here, and I did save your car,” he pointed out.
I snorted. “Yeah, it’s a nice room, but it’s a little crowded, and the neighbor won’t stop pestering me.”
My host chuckled and stood. “Think of last night as a formal greeting. I promise I’ll try not to take so much of your nightly attentions for the remainder of your stay.” He held out his hand to me and grinned. “Besides, I don’t think you really found my greeting so horrible.”
I sighed and tossed down my napkin onto my plate. “No, I suppose not.”
I took his hand and he pulled me out of my seat and against his chest. He stared into my eyes with his and there was a tinge of yellow in their depths. His soft, quiet voice was as smooth as velvet and left me with a hot feeling of lust in my body.
“I’m glad to hear it because I intend to do the same to you every night.”
I rolled my eyes and pushed him away. “Come on, before the car runs out of gas.”
I led the way outside where a black limo awaited us. The windows were so tinted I wondered if they were one-way mirrors. Puer himself opened the door, and I followed Dives into the dark interior. Lush leather and a small fridge awaited us. I took the seat opposite Dives, and in a few moments we traveled down the road.
I leaned back and looked to Dives. “So how does this Lasco person work, anyway?”
“Latro, and in a flashy manner,” he told me. “Latro’s main objective is to tell the world that the paranormal is real.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Why?”
He shrugged. “I haven’t asked for motivations, but Latro probably had parents or a second cousin-twice-removed killed by a death maggot or were-rabbit, and is seeking revenge.”
My face fell. “Those things don’t actually exist, do they? And what the hell is a death maggot, anyway?” Dives opened his mouth, but I held up my hand. “Wait, on second thought I don’t want to know. The less I know the more I like.”
He leaned back and stretched his arms across the top of the seat as he studied me with that evil yellowish twinkle in his eyes. “Actually, the paranormal world is quite interesting, and lucrative. Cotio makes quite a killing on the items he sells.”
I snorted. “After seeing what you could do last night I don’t doubt killing is involved, and I’d rather not have my hands in that stuff. Blood’s too hard to wash out.”
He chuckled. “Perhaps you’re right, but I forgot to tell you about the rules for Cotio’s shop.”
I raised an eyebrow. “What rules?”
He held up three fingers and dropped them with each rule he listed. “First, no touching . I would also avoid looking at any of this books, otherwise you might find them staring back at you. Second, don’t go wandering through the store. His shop is full of booby traps for those with a lesser purse than me.”
I snorted. “Like everybody.”
There remained one finger, and he held that out to me. “And finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t make any sudden motions. Cotio is friendly with people he knows, but he’s very nervous around strangers.”
I frowned. “So what happen if I tried to scare him?”
Dives grinned. “Have you ever wanted to know what it felt like to have a vial of acid thrown in your face?”
I cringed. “Point taken.”
Puer drove us through urbana and back into the commercial districts, but not the sections with the high-rises and skyscrapers. We drove to the older district where four-floor brick buildings still reigned. The ground-floor windows were wide and showed off the merchandise. Back-alleys with rear doors delivered the goods, and some of the buildings sported apartments on their upper floors where air conditioners hung out the windows. Parking hadn’t been on the minds of the street architects at the time of construction, so Puer parked us in a public parking lot and we stepped out.
Puer opened the door, and Dives and I stepped out. “Stay here. This shouldn’t take too long,” Dives assured him.
Puer bowed his head. “Very well.”
Dives led me onto the sidewalk and down the street. Ancient streetlights hung over us as we walked down the cracked brick sidewalks. Shoppers passed by us holding bags filled clothes, jewelry, and the occasional tin of cocoa for these long autumn nights.
We reached one of the older three-floor brick buildings. There was a large window on one side that showed off cheap jewelry, and to the left stood the wooden door with a long, tall glass in the center. The worn sign over the front of the building read ‘Cotio’s Curiosities.’
Dives paused in front of the door and half-turned to me. “You remember the three rules?”
I rolled my eyes and nodded. “Yes, Mommy. No touching, no running, and no sneezing.”
I was surprised when he frowned. “This is serious. What are they?”
I raised an eyebrow, but counted down the rules with my fingers. “No touching, looking, or scaring the owner.”
He nodded his head and a smile graced his lips once more. “And stay close to me. I wouldn’t want to lose you so soon after I found you.”
Dives opened the door and we stepped inside the shop. A bell above the door chimed our entrance. The old musty building smelled like the pages of dried books and herbs. Shelves lined the walls on either side of us and center, and didn’t stop until they reached the wall halfway down the shop. The shelves were covered in jars, boxes, and tins full of food, dolls, kits, and other stuff I couldn’t quite identify. Some of the kits looked like they held dried heads, and some of the dolls stared at us with a little too much intensity.
My eyes caught sight of a familiar tin. The cocoa I’d seen in someone’s bag. I pointed at the tin. “So is Cotio a grocer or a broker?”
“A broker is many things, but I wouldn’t believe every label you read,” he advised me.
We strode through the aisles to the central wall. A long desk ran along half the wall and behind it was the only door to the rear of the building. A mess of fabric, dolls, tins, and what looked like dirt was piled high on the desk. There was also a small silver bell like you’d see in a hotel.
Dives stopped in front of the bell and gave it a couple of rings. “Cotio? I know you’re here. You never leave.”
A head popped up from behind the desk. I started back, but Dives only widened his smile. The head belonged to a short man of some five feet who wore a black suit and red tie. His fine short hair was slicked back and he looked at Dives with piercing black eyes.
“Where else would I be?” the man countered.
Dives shrugged. “Bermuda?”
The man cringed. “And get lost in that triangle?” He closed his eyes and shook his head. “No, not for me. I’m glad to be here in my shop waiting for all my fine customers.”
Dives set his arm on the counter and leaned towards Cotio. “I was informed of a different type of visitor this morning.”
Cotio frowned and his dark bushy eyebrows crashed down over his dark eyes. “Yes, and rather unpleasant, it was. Latro nearly removed my head when I refused to relinquish my client list.”
“Latro isn’t one to take ‘no’ for an answer,” Dives agreed. “But was that all Latro was looking for?”
Cotio pursed his lips. “That hunter was asking questions about you again.”
Dives raised an eyebrow. “The usual ones?”
Cotio shook his head. “No, some other ones. Like how much you spent a month and through what bank. I told that stupid hunter I couldn’t divulge any of that information.”
“But you didn’t give it?” Dives asked him.
Cotio stood to his full five-foot nothing height and puffed out his chest. “Do you think so little of me?”
“No, but-” The conversation was interrupted by a loud, melodious burst of song. It came from the door behind Cotio. Dives raised an eyebrow and looked to the proprietor. “What was that?”
Cotio blushed and shook his head. “N-nothing! Nothing at all!”
The access to the rear of the desk was an opening to our left and on the side. Dives pushed off the counter and strode around to the access. Cotio jumped in front of him and held out his hands.
“You can’t go back there! It’s employees only!” the owner insisted.
“I doubt you’ll be calling the police on me for trespassing,” Dives countered.
Dives pushed past Cotio and through the rear door. I hurried after him and was behind Cotio when I slipped into the back. The rear of the shop was filled with wooden crates and metal boxes stacked to the ceiling. A few cages sat on the old wooden floorboards. Most were empty, but Dives stopped at one at the very back that held a very feathery surprise.
Cotio and I followed Dives, and my eyes widened as I beheld the brilliant creature that stood in the cage. It resembled a peacock, but its feathers were all the colors of the rainbow, and more. Its sleek body and long neck were covered in a soft white down of feathers, and its cylindrical head was topped by a large crest of feathers. A halo of light surrounded the creature and its beady green eyes watched us with more intelligence than the normal bird-brain.
Dives pursed his lips and his eyes flickered to Cotio. “Where did you get this?”
Cotio shrank beneath Dives’s frowned and nervously smiled. “In the Himalayans. It was very difficult to catch, and very expensive.”
“Who bought it?” Dives questioned him.
Cotio shook his head. “You know I can’t-hey!” Dives had picked him up by the collar and lifted him off the ground so they were face-to-face.
“Who bought the phoenix?” Dives growled. I started back and whipped my head to the bird. It definitely looked like that.
Cotio cringed and turned his face away. “I-it was Fox, okay? Fox!” Dives dropped him to the floor and Cotio landed on his knees. He sat up and clapped his hands together as he looked imploringly at Dives. “But please don’t tell him! I’d lose all my customers if I lost him!”
Dives glanced back at the bird. Its eyes stared back. “What’s he going to do with it?”
Cotio’s eyes widened and he shook his head. “I don’t know. I never ask question. But you won’t tell, will you? It would hurt your trade, as well.”
“Fox?” I spoke up.
Dives dropped Cotio. He half-turned to me and showed off his frown. “William Fox.”
My eyes widened. “You mean William Fox?”
Dives nodded. “The only one.”
I stared down at the floor and blinked. “Wow. William Fox, the billionaire in charge of Indigo Industries, bought a phoenix.” I raised an eyebrow and furrowed my brow. “You think he wants it as a mascot?”
The bell above the door rang. Cotio cringed and slid towards the central door. “If you’ll excuse me, a customer awaits.” He slipped through the door and shut it behind him.
I turned to Dives. “So what’s so special about having a phoenix? Besides home fire insurance not covering its habit of combusting.”
Dives pursed his lips and shook his head. “I’m not sure, but it’s a very rare creature and Fox never buys anything except for a purpose.” He glanced at the bird who continued to stare at us. “Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do. Even if Fox bought the creature illegally there’s no system in the paranormal world to stop smuggling of this nature.”
“I’d hate for normal people to get a hold of it. The thing would be plucked dry,” I commented.
He nodded. “I agree. But we should-” A horrible cry came from the front of the shop.
We rushed to the front and slid to a stop against the desk to look over the counter. A wizened old hag stood before the cowering Cotio. The woman wore a simple black dress, a wide-brimmed black hat, and clutched in one of her wrinkled hands was a large purse. Her other hand was outstretched with the palm facing Cotio. There was a scorch mark on the floor close beside him.
“P-please don’t hurt me! That brew was good when I sold it to you!” Cotio insisted.
The hag sneered at him and her hand glowed with a purple light. “So you’re saying it’s my fault now?”
“I’m saying there’s no refunds,” Cotio told her.
“It didn’t work! It turned my hair blue!” She knocked off her black hat and revealed short, curly blue hair.
Cotio winced. “If you read the instructions-”
“I did! It didn’t get me my true love, so I want my money back!” she snapped.
Dives sprang over the counter and stood between the hag and Cotio so he faced the woman. “I think you’ve made enough noise. You should leave.”
She sneered at him with her false teeth. “Get out of my way, boy, or you’ll get some of this, too!”
Dives’s lip curled up in a sly smile. “You’ll have to hit me first.”
The woman growled. The light in her hands grew brighter and a pulse of energy shot out. I could feel the heat from where I stood. The shot barreled towards Dives. He ducked and rolled out of its path, and the energy hit the floor. The wood boards singed and another black scorch mark remained.
“My floor!” Cotio moaned.
Dives rolled towards an aisle of bookshelves. The witch followed him with her palm and her light charged up. Dives grabbed one of the tomes from the shelf and opened the pages. A large, furry arm stretched from the pages. The witch flung up her arms as the fingers wrapped around her. Her purse clattered to the ground as she was pulled into the book. She disappeared, and Dives slammed the pages shut. The book shook in his hands, but remained closed.
Cotio climbed to his feet and wiped the sweat from his brow. “I think I’ll close up shop early today. Business is too dangerous.”
“Not a bad idea,” Dives agreed. “Here.” He tossed the book to the shopkeeper.
Cotio caught it in one hand and glared at the cover. “Damn witches and their fickle magic. . .” he mumbled.
Dives strode over to me and leaned an elbow on the counter. He flashed his smile at me. “So what do you think of your second taste of the paranormal?”
“I think I’ll never visit an old folk’s home again,” I quipped.
He chuckled and pushed off the counter. “Does make you look twice at everyone, doesn’t it?”
“And think twice about selling those home-made love potions,” Cotio spoke up.
He picked up the purse and walked around to the rear of the counter where he dropped the book and purse into a box filled with various personal items. There must have been a dozen wallets and two dozen purses, along with a few books and candles.
I glanced at him and raised an eyebrow. “Does this happen often?”
He plopped himself down on a stool and sighed. “Very often now. People just can’t admit they made a mistake. They want me to give them a refund, pay for their broken nose, or even buy them a new house!” He shook his head. “Kids these days.”
I studied his middle-aged demeanor. “That last one looked old enough to be your great-grandmother.”
Cotio raised his head and chuckled. “She wasn’t that old.”
Dives smiled. “Cotio here is going on-what was it?”
Cotio puffed out his chest. “Nine-hundred and two next month. A record for my family.”
I glanced from Dives to Cotio. “I can’t tell if you two are joking or not.”
My patron chuckled. “Like I said, look twice at everyone.”
Cotio cleared his throat. “So what were you wanting today? Or did you just come by to bother me like Latro did?”
“Both. I need some books on werewolves and mating,” Dives told him.
Cotio raised an eyebrow. His eyes flickered to me and he jerked his head in my direction. “So she’s the one?”
I pursed my lips and glanced at Dives. “What one?”
Dives shrugged. “Maybe, but I’d like to do some research first.”
“What one?” I persisted.
Cotio walked around the counter to the aisle of books. “Let me see what I have.” He disappeared down the aisle, but his mutterings wafted to us as he read off categories. “Bats. Possessed cows. Demonic dishes.”
I turned to Dives and crossed my arms. “What one?”
He sighed and leaned against the counter. “I’m sure you know about wolves and their mating habits. They take a mate and don’t let her go.”
I raised an eyebrow and pointed at myself. “So you think I’m that mate?”
He shrugged. “You could be. That would explain why I-ahem, we had such fun last night.”
“Here it is!” Cotio reappeared with a large tome in his hand. He blew off the dust and handed it to Dives. “The Definitive Guide to Werewolves and Their Mating. That’ll be two-hundred dollars.”
Dives frowned. “That’s a little steep, even for you.”
Cotio shrugged. “That guide isn’t easy to find, especially outside the Old World. It took me quite a while and a great expense-” Dives held up his hand.
“I get it. You traded in your first born for the book. Just charge it to my account.”
Cotio smiled and bowed. “Very well. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
Dives shook his head. “No, you’ve robbed me enough for today.” He turned to me and offered his arm and a smile. “If you would.”
I took the arm and Dives led me from the strange shop. The warm sun greeted us.
I glanced down at the book tucked under Dives’s other arm. “Mind if I look at that?”
He smiled. “Only after I’ve had a chance to enjoy my purchase.”
We returned to the limo where Puer awaited us. His eyes flickered to the book, but he said nothing and opened the door.
“To home,” Dives instructed him.
We slipped into the rear, but I took the seat beside Dives. He smiled down at me. “Eager for a read?”
“Only if you flip through to the ‘mating’ part of the book,” I told him.
He opened the cover and thumbed to the table of contents. “It would be my pleasure.”
He ran his finger down the list of chapter titles that read like a strange cookbook. There was ‘How to Prepare Your Food,’ ‘How to Keep Yourself Fit in Fur,’ and other self-help references. Dives stopped at one that read ‘How to Spot a Mate,’ and flipped to that chapter. He read the short chapter aloud.
“To identify your mate you must first have intercourse with said human or werewolf-” He turned to me and smiled. “A definite check.” I rolled my eyes, and he continued. “Then you must inspect the right shoulder of the female or male. If the person is your mate then a small crescent moon-shaped birthmark will have appeared on their shoulder.”
We both looked to my right shoulder that leaned near him. I sighed and shrugged. “Here goes nothing.”
I pulled down my sleeve to reveal the flesh. A crescent-shaped birthmark stood out from the rest of my unblemished skin. I blinked at it and looked up into Dives’s smiling face.
I frowned. “So what exactly does this mean for me?”
He tossed aside the book, leaned down and captured my lips in a possessive kiss. We didn’t break away until we needed air.
“T-that still doesn’t answer my question,” I pointed out.
He chuckled. “It means you need to get used to the good life because I’m never letting you go.”
I blushed, but a thrill of heat swept through my body. I shrugged. “I guess I could get used to living the easy life, but I’m going back to work Monday.”
He raised an eyebrow. “But-” I pressed a finger to his lips and shook my head.
“Everything’s happening just a little too fast. Let me ease into this or my head is going to explode,” I pleaded.
He grasped my hand and kissed my finger. “All right, my mate.”
That was music to my ears, and more adventures on my horizon.
For all books by Mac Flynn visit her author’s page or visit Mac Flynn’s website.
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Dakota Combesâ€™s life of paperwork and boredom was about to come to a sudden and romantic end courtesy of her handsome and wealthy boss, David Dives. Heâ€™s the playboy of the floors, a wealthy bachelor with a penchant for female company, but sheâ€™s lost in the crowd of beautiful faces that surround her cubicle. All that changes one fateful full-moon night when she stumbles on his hair-raising secret, and stumbles into his dark, sensual world of the paranormal. The Alpha Mated series is an episodic serial where each book contains a conclusive story within an over-arching tale of sensual fun.