Authors: Worth Fighting For
All’s fair in love and war.
As leader of a fox skulk, Cody is used to feeling protective.
But when his best friend, Misty, gets attacked, his panic has nothing to do with duty. Suddenly, he’s noticing Misty as a woman instead of the girl he grew up with. But pursuing those feelings would risk their friendship, something he's unwilling to do.
Misty's tried everything, without success, to convince Cody she's not "one of the guys". Yet now that he's looking at her like she always dreamed, he pulls away every time she gets close.
Danger lurks in the background, waiting to pounce. Someone plots against the foxes, leaving them all in jeopardy…especially Misty. Will Cody overcome his fears in time to save the woman he loves?
From one moment to the next, the kiss changed. No longer was Misty the aggressor. Instead, she was hit by the full force of Cody’s dominance. Without thought, she gave up control, closing her eyes and melting into his embrace. Releasing the material in her fists, Misty ran her hands up his chest, feeling the muscles ripple through his clothes wherever she caressed. God, she couldn’t wait to get him naked. From what she’d already seen and felt, the man was gorgeous, ripped in all the right places.
A moan of denial escaped as he pulled away, resting his forehead against hers but holding her hips still as she tried to thrust against him.
“Not here.” He kissed her nose before pulling away. Tease. The fact he was right only made it worse.
Worth Fighting For
By Sondrae Bennett
Worth Fighting For
Copyright © 2012, Sondrae Bennett
Edited by Piper Denna
Book design by Lyrical Press, Inc.
Cover Art by Renee Rocco
First Lyrical Press, Inc. electronic publication: May, 2012
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Published in the United States of America by Lyrical Press, Incorporated
To Jamie, Sarah, Becca, Kaitlyn, and the rest of my Syracuse pack.
Misty took one last look at herself in the mirror, pushing a lock of hair behind her ear before flipping up the car’s visor. With a deep breath to steady her nerves, she opened the car door and stepped out.
Nothing about the small house seemed intimidating, but the closer Misty got to the front door, the tighter her chest felt. She only made it four feet before doubt got the best of her, and she turned around, striding back to the car. She gripped the door handle, preparing to flee as if the hounds of hell were on her tail, but she paused, closing her eyes to try and calm her mind.
After the past weekend, this was the last place she wanted to be.
No, that wasn’t true. She’d always liked coming to Cody’s house. The confession she was about to make terrified her, though. But like it or not, it needed to happen. She needed to know once and for all if there was a possibility, however small, that Cody might return her feelings someday, or if all this time she’d been chasing a pipe dream.
If once she told Cody everything, he couldn’t return her feelings–or looked at her with the same horror she’d seen in her nightmare last night–well, she’d just have to accept reality. At least then she could spend her energy getting over him instead of trying to seduce the man.
Well…maybe she wouldn’t tell him everything. If he didn’t remember last weekend, she wasn’t going to remind him. That memory would go with her to the grave.
What had she been thinking? Even if she had managed to seduce him, there was no guarantee anything would come of it. She’d come close to losing one of her longest friendships because of some stupid plan. But she’d been frustrated and desperate. Desperate because nothing she’d tried budged her from the
category she’d fallen under since the first day of middle school. So when Cody had invited her to come over for pizza and a movie, bringing a bottle of tequila with hopes that he would take advantage of her–or that she could take advantage of him–had seemed like a brilliant idea.
Not one of her finer moments. Even if it had almost worked. Would have worked. Except he’d imbibed a bit too much alcohol and passed out when they were half naked and rolling around on the bed.
Of course, he’d forgotten everything the next morning. Although, that might have been a blessing.
She blamed her fox for the whole fiasco. If it hadn’t been for the sneaky fox inside, she never would have resorted to tricks. That was her story and she was sticking to it. Clearly, it was all the fox’s fault.
Wiping her sweaty hands on her jeans, Misty squared her shoulders. Without taking any more time to second-guess her decision, she strode to the front door of Cody’s house. Best to get this over with. Either she’d spend the rest of the day in Cody’s arms, or she’d spend it in a carton of ice cream. But the sooner she did this, the sooner she could get on with whichever option awaited. Stalling would just make her more nervous and agitated.
She raised her fist to knock on his door, but froze with her hand inches from the wood. A strange scent lingered on his porch, leading straight inside.
She leaned forward and took a deep breath. The faint, but unmistakable, scent of a vixen fox wafted from behind the closed door. The knowledge hit like a blow to the heart, causing her to stumble backward.
Needing to be certain, Misty pressed her nose against the pane and took another breath, picking up traces of both Cody and a woman inside. She glanced at her left wrist for the time. Damn. No watch. How was she supposed to remember something so mundane when she’d prepared to do something so important?
The scent of the strange fox didn’t necessarily mean Cody was sleeping with whoever was inside...but it couldn’t be later than nine in the morning. What else would a woman be doing in Cody’s house at that time of day?
Don’t jump to conclusions
, she chanted to herself as her breath hitched. Even if he were sleeping with someone, it wasn’t as if he owed Misty anything. After all, they weren’t a couple yet. She knew there’d been other women in his past, just as there had been other men in hers. But she’d come here ready to lay everything on the line. She’d been ready to confess her love for Cody. Whether he knew her intentions or not, finding him in the arms of another woman hurt worse than she could have imagined.
There she went jumping to conclusions again. Misty backed away from the door and down the porch steps. A strange fox could be in his apartment at nine in the morning for a lot of different reasons. It could be a cousin she had never met, or a long lost sister.
Or he could have found his mate.
The last thought halted Misty in her tracks. Her breath shuttered out. This guesswork solved nothing. All it did was make her feel worse. She needed to find out who that woman was and why she was with Cody.
Determined to learn the truth, Misty snuck around the side of the house to peer in the window. From her vantage point, she saw the living room and the hallway leading to the kitchen. Nothing moved.
As she was about to turn away, ready to seek a different view, the bedroom door off the hallway opened. A woman emerged dressed in Cody’s shirt–the one he’d gotten on his trip to California last year–and a pair of his boxers.
Misty wasn’t sure how long she stopped and stared, her mouth hanging open. The woman wasn’t simply beautiful. With her long white-blond hair and petite figure, she was stunning. There was something…exotic about the woman’s looks, yet at the same time, she looked like the girl next door. Never before had Misty seen a fox with such pale coloring.
Misty didn’t have self-esteem issues. She knew she was attractive, and she stayed fit. But she didn’t hold a candle to this woman. And that knowledge felt like a dagger piercing her chest. Not because the woman was prettier, but because the woman was prettier and wearing Cody’s clothes.
As the woman turned toward the kitchen, Misty quickly rounded the house, hiding in the bushes for cover to stare through the sliding glass doors.
Cody stood at the stove wearing a pair of jeans, unbuttoned at the top. Even from a distance, she saw the line of hair running down his stomach, disappearing behind the waist of his jeans. Her core clenched in desire at the sight. She couldn’t help but stare, mesmerized at the trail, as the smell of cheesy eggs and toast wafted toward her.
The scene looked like something out of her dreams. Except in her dream world, she was the woman walking out of his room wearing his shirt.
Gathering her courage, Misty looked up at Cody’s face. Attraction shone from his eyes.
Despair settled heavily upon her shoulders. The look told her everything she needed to know.
Unable to watch any more of their intimate interaction, Misty picked up the tattered pieces of her heart and crept back to her car. Later, she’d worry about what all this meant. If she dwelled on it now, she’d never be able to stop the tears.
The cellphone trill cut over the music pouring from the juke box in the corner of The Watering Hole. Misty set down her beer. Being the only pub in Vulpes Creek and the cool place to hang out in town on a Friday night, the place was packed. But she didn’t need to look through the crowd to know whose cell rang. That jazzy piano riff belonged to only one man in town.
Sure enough, out of the corner of her eye she watched Cody, Premier of the Vulpes fox skulk, push his way out of the crowded bar. Misty sighed into her beer and tilted her head to the side as he swept past her booth. No denying the man had a great ass.
“Still crushing on Cody, huh?” her friend Jen asked, following her gaze to their skulk’s Premier.
“He’s not a man easily forgotten.” Something Misty knew well. God knew she’d tried hard enough to get over him the past couple months.
Jen reached for her hand resting on the table and squeezed in sympathy. They’d been friends their whole lives, so Jen knew the ridiculous amount of time Misty spent pining for a man who thought of her as one of the guys.
“It’s fine,” Misty lied. “You can’t make someone love you, right?”
She’d tried that, too. But ever since Cody and Misty had met, the first day of middle school, they had become fast friends. Once puberty hit, Misty had developed feelings. Cody hadn’t. And because they were the best of friends, she hadn’t stood a chance. Not even wearing skimpy outfits or dating other guys had budged her position as “friend.” She’d done some stupid things trying to get his attention, but nothing had worked. All she’d ended with were nights full of regrets. She included her get-Cody-drunk-and-take-advantage-of-him night in the regret column. After everything that happened afterward, Misty was grateful he didn’t remember anything.
Or maybe he did and was trying to spare her feelings. He’d been remote since that night, almost as if avoiding her. Her gaze drifted to the exit.