Authors: Dana Marie Bell
Tags: #shapeshifters, #Poconos Pack, #lions, #werewolves, #wolves
Table of Contents
For her, there’s only one fish in the sea.
, Book 3
Charlie Lowe is going crazy. Why does her mate run from her? Is it her hair? The fact that she’s a Lion to his Wolf? Or are her family connections driving him away? If she didn’t know better, she’d think he was allergic to cats.
Ted Pedrozo loves his fiery Lioness with his whole being. But mating the sister of the Leo? That’s a big hairy deal. What if the Leo—or worse, Charlie—finds out he’s just a dork in wolf’s clothing? Ted never shies away from the tough jobs, but this time he steers clear…until she pounces on him like a catnip toy.
A little flirting, a lot of innuendo, and one dire threat of blackmail later, Charlie has her mate. And, wonder of wonders, he and the laid-back Sebastian Lowe hit it off.
The Leo’s chief bodyguard, on the other hand, won’t be convinced Ted is worthy until he’s passed a few tests. Or made Charlie sorry she chose him.
Warning: This book contains graphic language, explicit sex, and a Lioness going full-on Nala on her Wolf’s furry ass.
Dana Marie Bell
To Mom, who told me she wants to retire in a tiny house. With my father. Forty-eight years of marriage, and she thinks she can live with him in a house the size of my garage. The betting pool will be fast and furious as to which one bumps off the other first, and how.
To my father, who realizes my mother is crazy and loves her anyway. After forty-eight years of marriage, he understands that they need space to get away from each other lest there be a fiery accident. One where someone is shrugging innocently and proclaiming they have no idea why the fire department thinks it’s arson, officer.
And to Dusty. Here’s hoping for forty-eight plus years of crazy together.
P.S.: I wanted to do a special shout-out to Samhain Publishing and Christina Brashear. Without them, I would never have been able to give you these stories. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure working with you.
She stood in front of the full-length mirror in her bedroom, staring at her reflection with an equal mix of hope and trepidation. This had to work, or she’d go crazy and chase a certain Wolf down like the dog he was. She’d go full-on Nala on his furry ass.
He’d never know what hit him.
It wasn’t the way she wanted to do things. She’d much rather he bite her because he couldn’t help himself. But if she had to use…persuasion, she’d totally go there.
She made sure her blonde hair was in the perfect curly ponytail. Her green eyes were made up to highlight their deep emerald color, and her slim jeans hugged every curve. Even her tank top had been chosen to entice, the V-neck showing just the right amount of cleavage.
Her boots, on the other hand, were made for kicking ass, because Charlie Lowe wasn’t the type of woman to get caught without the ability to end shit with the best of them.
Honestly, she couldn’t think of what else to do. Her mate was skittish as hell, and she had no idea why. Maybe he was allergic to cats? But that couldn’t be true. His Luna was a Puma shifter and Charlie had seen him hug her without sneezing or hacking or dying.
Whenever she saw him with the rest of the Pack he was a self-assured man, clowning around with others in a self-deprecating way that made her gnash her teeth in rage. She saw the way he took care of them, how much of himself he invested in the Pack. She’d grown to admire the way Ted kept track of what was happening inside the Pack and silently, cheerfully took care of what needed to be done without a single complaint. He never shied away from the tough jobs Rick or Ben assigned him. As the Marshal’s Second, it was often Ted’s job to protect and defend the Pack, but that protection could be done in such a subtle manner the protected didn’t even realize they’d been in any danger.
That was her Ted. Compliment him and he denied that he’d done anything special. And maybe that had been where she’d gone wrong. The few times she’d managed to get him alone she’d complimented him, on both his looks and his role in the Pack, thinking that he’d appreciate it. Because damn if her man wasn’t sex on two legs. Dark hair with a hint of curl that he kept just long enough to be messy, demanding that she run her fingers through it. His dark brown eyes warmed her through and through. Even his skin was sexy, the color of mocha with hints of caramel. It made her want to lick him all over. And all that delicious skin covered muscles he’d earned as the Pack’s lead enforcer. The man was simply stunning, and he had no idea.
Instead of giving him a sense of how she felt about him, any compliment from her sent him running. In some cases, literally. Now, months later, she was unmated, being driven insane by the mate dreams, and ready to hump her chair if it would give her some relief. Hell, she’d given up a sweet little cabin all to herself to move into a room closer to where Ted was. He lived on the second floor of the Lodge to be closer to his work, so now Charlie did too.
“If he doesn’t claim me soon I’m going to rip something apart, and it won’t be pretty.” Charlie patted her hair, making sure not a strand was out of place. She’d put more into her appearance recently than she had in years, and it still didn’t seem to be enough. She’d tried calling him, thinking that he was shy. It went to voice mail. She’d emailed him, thinking he just wasn’t good at talking on the phone. A lot of men weren’t, so there was no shame in that. There was no response. So now she was down to stalking him, whistling at him to heel and making a general pain of herself in the hopes he’d at least yell at her or something.
Nope. Not a thing. Pretty soon she’d be down to tossing his shy ass a bone. Maybe it would hit him in the head and knock some sense into him.
What drove her really crazy was the fact that, when she was in her room, she could sometimes smell him at the door. By the time she got to it to answer he was gone, running away as if he were being chased by, well, a hungry Lion. In fact, she was pretty sure he was out there right now. The scent was growing stronger by the minute.
Charlie picked up her phone and dialed the one woman she knew who could help her. The one woman whose meanness Charlie bowed down to and worshipped at the feet of.
“Hello, Charlie.” Belinda Lowell, the Luna of the Poconos Pack and one of Charlie’s best friends, answered with a smirk Charlie could hear loud and clear. “Is he out there again?”
“Yup.” Charlie glared at the door to her room. “He doesn’t knock or anything. Just stands there and breathes before he runs away. It would be creepy if it wasn’t so cute.”
“Get out there and hunt his ass down, woman.” She could picture Belle rolling her eyes. “You’re the cat, he’s the mouse. Stop playing with him already and eat him.”
“You’re worse than Dave,” Charlie groaned. She flopped down on her bed, no longer caring about the perfect ponytail or whether or not her shirt would get wrinkled. It wasn’t going to work, so why bother? She’d rather be comfortable anyway. “He told me to just lay in wait. Maybe put out some bait, like I should kill a rabbit and lay it at Ted’s door. When he comes out, bam! Bites galore.”
“Don’t you dare. Rabbit guts are hell to get out of the carpets. Besides, that didn’t work on Dave, so he should know better.” Belle hummed quietly. “Do something to ensure he can’t ignore you, then corner him somewhere he can’t get away from.”
“And then bite his ass?” Charlie wiggled into a more comfortable position, pulling the hairband out of her hair and letting it hang loose. She’d run a wide-toothed comb through it later. If she used a brush, all the curls would turn into frizz. “I’d hoped he’d be the one to do it, but if it’s the only way to get the man then I will.”
“Trust me, if Dave had bitten Ben years ago neither of them would have suffered the way they did.” Belle sniffed in annoyance.
Charlie, as Dave’s best friend, felt she needed to defend him. After all, she’d been his Best Woman at his wedding. “Ben should have trusted the mating instinct and taken him.”
“True. Damn stubborn males.”
“Are we talking about Ben or Rick?” Charlie laughed as the Luna snarled. “Let me guess, Rick has been getting on your nerves.”
“Not my nerves, but he is yanking my whiskers.” Belle grunted, the sound filled with pain. “But enough about me. Let’s talk about Ted.”
Charlie whined. “It’s killing me, you know?” She rolled over onto her side, curling in on herself. “What if he just doesn’t like blondes?”
“Then dye your hair red.”
“Then the curtains won’t match the drapes.” Charlie bit her lip. “I thought this whole find your mate, bite your mate thing would be easy, but it’s not.”
Belle sighed. “I bit Rick when I first met him, and not in the mating sort of way.”
“Really?” She hadn’t heard this story yet. “Do tell.”
Belle chuckled. “I’d just gotten out of the hospital and was staying with Adrian and Sheri. Rick was there with Ben, and I was trying to walk after having the pins put in my hip.”
“That had to hurt.” Charlie couldn’t even imagine the agony Belle had been in. As it was, Belle was still in pain on an almost daily basis, all because of Gina Maldonado, Dave’s banished sister.
“It did. Rick was there, and, well, we all know how well he reacts when I’m hurting. And I hurt
that day.” Belle giggled. “He tried to get me to stop moving, so I bit him.”
“I bet he loved that.” She did, too. Rick loved that his teeny mate stood up to him. It showed her strength, a huge turn-on for the Wolf alpha.
“He did, actually, he just couldn’t admit it.”
“Maybe I should try that with Ted?” She thought about it for a moment. “Nah. That won’t work with him. I’d have to nail his ass to a wall or something just to get close enough.”
“Hunt him at night. He’s asleep then. Sneak in his room and pounce on him all naked and oiled.”
Charlie huffed. “With my luck I’d slide right off him and out the window. Then he’d wake up wondering why he had a snail trail over his face.”
Belle started laughing. “Ew! That’s gross. I might never want oral again.”
“Ugh, that’s disgusting!” Charlie was the one laughing now. “Only you would go there.”
“Please, bitch, tell me you weren’t thinking the same thing I was.”
She wasn’t, but she wasn’t about to tell Belle that. “Who’s the bitch, Luna? Hmm?”
“Pfft. If I’m the bitch, I’m the Alpha Bitch, bitch.”
“Then please, Sensei, tell me how to be bitchy enough to snare my mate.”
Belle wasn’t laughing anymore. “I’m telling you, you just don’t want to listen. Corner him like a rat and bite him.”
“It feels like cheating.” And made her feel unwanted. What was wrong with her that her mate ran the moment he saw her?
“You’ve tried everything else. Now’s the time to be the kitty I know you can be.” There was a pause for a moment before Belle added, “Want me to bring the rolled-up newspapers?”
“I think I’ve got this, thanks. If I’m going to do it, I’ll have to do it my way, with my threats of retribution.” Maybe she could chase him in Lion form. He couldn’t be faster than her when shifted, could he?
“Well, good luck with that. How well has it been going so far?”
“God, I hate you.” A total lie, of course. Charlie had never felt more at home than she did at the Red Wolf Lodge and Spa.
“Me too. Plus your ass is fat.”
Charlie stood and went to her mirror, twisting to look at her butt. “Is not.”
“You just looked, didn’t you?”
“Of course I did. My ass is fabulous, after all. Much better than yours.”
“That’s not what your mate said. He said my ass was fantastic. Of course, he was talking about Rick.”
Charlie could hear the Alpha bellowing in the background. “Did he hear you?”