reluctantly agrees to go to a pack Christmas party, the last thing on his mind
is finding his mate. But fate—and possibly Santa—has other plans…
observed the party with a look of supreme distaste. Crescent Manor had been
decked out in blue and white twinkle lights, silver garland, and sparkly
tinsel. Just looking at it made his eyes hurt. Not to mention the smell. Oh,
God, if he ever had to smell pine, cinnamon, or pumpkin spice
whatever-the-hell-it-was-called again, it would be too soon. Being a werewolf
royally sucked sometimes, mainly the enhanced sense of smell. And this
place—his damn home for the past fifteen years—was doing nothing but reminding
him why he hated the holidays.
here seemed to have found a date or had brought their mates. All but him.
fault he couldn’t find a mate. Hell, he’d tried dating. And rutting. That part
he especially enjoyed. But the Mating Mark, the mystical symbol that designated
his soul mate, had yet to appear on anyone. Which was supremely frustrating.
universe hate him that much? He was thirty-five, for shit’s sake. And he was
beginning to wonder if, maybe, he was destined to be alone for the rest of his
and fellow Moonstruck Pack member, Ryan, walked up to him, interrupting his
scowling. Ryan had gotten a little more into the Christmas spirit, wearing a
red button down and black slacks. Blake, on the other hand, had gone with a
Metallica T-shirt that should have been thrown away ten years ago, a pair of
rugged jeans, and his shit-kickers. Like hell he was dressing up for a party he
didn’t want to attend in the first place. These people had been lucky he’d
shown up to this damn circus. If it were up to him, he would’ve stayed up in
his room, reading. Yeah, yeah, despite appearances and general “don’t give a
shit” demeanor, he loved a good Brandon Sanderson novel.
him with a knowing twinkle in his eye and nudged him. “Someone piss in your
champagne. I hate that bubbly shit. I went to the kitchen and grabbed a
Guinness. Poured it in this fancy glass so Alara doesn’t yell at me.” Alara,
the queen of the Moonstruck Pack and one of the newest additions to their
ever-expanding family, was the only reason he’d deigned to show up to this shit
show. One, because she was a hell of a leader and business woman. In the past
few months since she’d been here, she’d increased profits from the pack’s real
estate business by fifty percent. Blake, loving the shit out of math and money,
could appreciate that. Especially since he was the pack’s accountant.
downright respected Alara. Not only was she smart, level-headed, and beautiful,
she was into epic fantasy. After her mate, Nik, convinced her to binge-watch
the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy
and all six seasons of Game of Thrones,
she was hooked to the genre. Knowing he was a big fan himself, she’d asked to
borrow his wide collection of fantasy books. He’d happily obliged, and the two
of them had become fast friends.
however, this was downright torture. But it wouldn’t be right, for political or
friendships’ sakes, for him not to attend. Alara was one of the few people he
considered a true friend. Plus, he was the pack’s accountant, and he loved his
job. He wasn’t about to spit in their faces by not spending Christmas Eve in
hell, er, at a party.
moment. “You’ve been holding that wall up all night. Gonna come talk to some of
seem too busy sharing pup pictures and dancing with their mates.”
to look ashamed. He’d found his own mate, Stephanie, about a month back. Blake
had been both thrilled for his bud and disgruntled their bachelor evenings were
coming to an end.
eyes, giving Ryan a dry smile. “You don’t have to hide your happiness—or your
mate—from me, man. I’m glad you found Steph.”
seemed to relax, and he looked out at the dancing crowd. They were in the
parlor. The furniture had been pushed aside to make room for a dance floor. A
gorgeous brunette danced with a group of friends. Her face lit up when she saw
Ryan, and she smiled and waved.
grin, one that Blake couldn’t help feeling jealous of, lit up Ryan’s face as he
made small talk after that, with Blake checking the clock every couple of
minutes. God, had time stopped? Shit, he loved his best friend, but he couldn’t
take much more of this. Every second here reminded him of how alone he felt,
and exacerbated his fear that he would never find someone to share his life
conversation about hockey, another of Blake’s true loves, Blake said, “Hey,
man, I’m gonna grab another beer and get some air. Care to join?”
started, and people went for their dates or mates. Stephanie started to
approach. “Nah, man. I owe Steph a dance. Promised her before we came down.
I’ll catch up with you later for that beer.”
that.” He said “hello” to Stephanie before slipping from the room.
another beer from the kitchen, he let himself outside, onto the back patio.
Nobody was out there. One, because it was freaking freezing, even for a
werewolf. Their body temperatures ran hotter than that of a normal human, but
cold was cold. And the air was practically subzero.
fogged as he looked up at the stars, at the open sky, full moon, and silvery
tips of trees in the forest surrounding the property. This place was beautiful.
Always had been, even when it had sometimes felt like a prison during
banishing thoughts about that psychopath to the recesses of his mind. After filing
those bloody, dark memories away in the archive of “Shit He’d Rather Not Think
About,” he took another swig of his beer about the same time a husky voice
said, “Taking a break from the glitter festival, too?”
choked on his beer as he struggled to swallow and inhale at the same time.
Whirling, he could barely make out the curvy figure standing in the shadows.
Then she stepped into a pool of moonlight, and he forgot how to breathe.
gorgeous, like something from a dream. With curves that would make Marilyn
Monroe jealous and long, satiny blond hair that tumbled over her shoulders in
waves, she looked like a siren come to steal him away into the night. Her dress
was black, shimmery, and skin-tight, clinging to her like a second skin. Her
four-inch crimson pumps made her nearly as tall as his six foot five.
made his skin hot, and an assortment of lustful thoughts filled his mind.
throat, he shifted his weight and angled his body in such a way he hoped it
would mask any obvious signs of his growing desire.
mating fever, the time when all a werewolf could think about was sex? Possibly.
Then again, sex was usually at the back of his thoughts, especially since he
hadn’t had any in the past two months. Work had simply kept him too busy.
presence of this dream girl, he found he couldn’t stop thinking about how soft
her skin would feel or what her full, cherry-red lips would taste like.
what he was thinking, she slowly smiled, and his heart skipped a beat.
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