Romeo and Juliet never had to worry about being skinned alive.
Sydney Skeller's father is spitting bullets over her reluctance to join the family business as a shifter hunter. The last thing Daddy needs to know is why--she yearns for a lover who's man enough for a relationship but animal enough to give her the wild ride of her dreams. After a treadmill mishap lands her in a tangled heap with Jason Cannon, she wonders if she's finally found her beast, er, man. One session in bed and one bite later, she's sure. Now if only she can keep her father from mounting Jason's head on a wall...
Jason is all man on the surface, but wolf shifter down to the bone. He's more than ready to stop "playing the pack" and find his one true mate, and Sydney of the luscious curves is the woman of his dreams. Finding out that she comes from a family sworn to eradicate his kind isn't a deal-breaker. But her outrageous plan for him to masquerade as the wolf in hunter's clothing, right under her father's very nose, could be asking more than he ever expected to give.
This book was previously published in ebook form only under the title Kissin' in the Moonlight, and has been revised from its original release.
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April 02, 2009
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Excerpt from Howling for my Baby by Beverly Rae
I am not, I repeat, am not going to spend the night in pain and wondering about him. I'll sort this out tomorrow. Rising with a groan, she stalked to the kitchen.
Why weren't the pills working better? She didn't want just partial relief, she wanted knock-me-out-and-wake-up-all-better relief. She frowned at her blurry image in the refrigerator door. Maybe she needed another kind of pain medication. Not to mention something to serve as a memory inhibitor.
Wine. She needed wine. She paused, sending a little prayer out to the gods of the vines and opened the refrigerator door. Saying thank you for their quick answer to her prayer, she pulled out the bottle and popped the cork. Putting the bottle to her lips, she slugged down a big gulp. With a satisfied sigh, she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, snagged a wine glass from the overhead rack, and poured while she returned to the couch.
"Yup, I spell relief a-l-c-o-h-o-l." Syd downed another large drink. Since she wasn't a heavy drinker, the warm calm of the alcohol started flowing through her within seconds.
When the doorbell rang, she giggled, pushed off the couch, and started for the door. Either Charlie had ignored her protests and arrived to take charge, or Skeller had called her mom to come and baby her. Mimicking her mother, she quipped, "Sydney Skeller, you know better than to mix booze and pills. Are you trying to overdose like some pitiful drug addict?" She giggled again and reached for the doorknob.
What if it is Mom? The sobering thought brought her to a standstill, hand outstretched, and she contemplated facing her mother in her current condition.
Oh, crap. You're a grown woman, Syd. Why are you letting your mother's opinion bother you?
Because I know I shouldn't mix booze with pills and she'd be the first to say so. But I didn't drink a whole bunch. Did I?
She shook her head and glared at the door, envisioning her mother's face on the surface. The pills weren't very strong. Besides, she'd taken only enough to help her relax. What harm was there in that? Holding the goblet in the air, she tried to remember how much had been in the glass and how many times she'd refilled it. "Once?" But her memory had decided to go on vacation.
"Do you always talk to yourself before answering the door?"
Syd jumped at the male voice--a voice she recognized--and sloshed wine to the floor. It's him. My shifter--you don't know whether he's a shifter or not--from the gym.
"Aren't you going to say anything else? Or maybe you're working your way up to opening the door? Can't you do both at the same time?"
Irritation struck her at his taunting tone. Tugging the door wide, she prepared to give him a piece of her mind.
The handsome dark-haired hunk of her desire stood at her doorstep holding a colorful bouquet of flowers in one hand while waving a bottle of wine in the other. His eyes, deep and rich, sparkled at her--her dream come to life. Everything she'd planned to say flew out a hole in her head, leaving her gawking at him like a love-sick teenager.
"Is this a game you like to play?" He flashed a grin before adopting a serious expression he didn't hold long either. "I'm only kidding. Seriously, though. Are you okay?" The eyebrow he slanted in question made her want to reach out and stroke its bushy softness. "Or maybe I'm supposed to know a secret password?" He braced the bottle under one arm and reached out his hand. "How about a secret handshake?"
His grin grew bigger and he withdrew his hand. "Sorry. I really need to find a Kidders Anonymous meeting somewhere." He paused and brought back the concerned look. "Okay, let's get down to basics. Can I come inside?"
She started to nod and froze. Wait. Don't invite him in. She frowned, trying to force her fuzzy thoughts to clear. No, wait. I'm wrong. It's a vampire you're not supposed to invite inside. Was there something she was supposed to do if a shifter knocked on her door? Run? Hide? Jump his bones?
Her gaze slipped from his eyes, down his tight stomach outlined by his form-fitting shirt and lower. She suddenly wanted to stroke something other than his eyebrow. "I want to--" Oh, crap. Shut up! Did I almost say I wanted to fuck him out loud? Ripping her gaze up to his face, she cringed at his look of comprehension. Heat swept from her toes to her face in record time and she knew she'd gained a new skin hue.
"You want to what?"
Like he doesn't know. "Never mind." Forget defense. Offense is the best medicine. Huh? No, wrong again. Giving up on sorting out her mixed-up thoughts, she opted to answer his question with one of her own. "How did you know where I live?"
The smile returned, faltered, and immediately brightened. "My company owns the gym and I asked the manager for your information. I hope you don't mind." His eyes matched his smile. "You do realize I'm here to apologize, right? Unless you think I should do something else?"
Catching his gaze lingering on her breasts, she grumbled a few choice words and crossed her arms the way she'd done in the gym. Talk about d�j� vu. "You should." After his eyebrows shot skyward, she added, "Apologize, I mean. But I'm not interested."
"Even though I bear gifts? See? I have flowers and wine." The wrinkles at the corners of his eyes called to her. "However, I see you've already taken care of the drink portion of the apology."
The tip of his tongue peeked out between those wonderful lips, causing her to wonder why she wasn't yanking him into her home--and into her bed. After all, she'd dreamed about him in her bed, so why not take advantage of the opportunity? Still, the scene at the gym made it hard not to feel uncomfortable around him.
Him and everyone else who'd seen her headlights.
"Huh? Uh, yeah." Oh, come on, Syd. Can't you think of a better comeback? At least let the man know you've got a few working brain cells. She took another sip of her drink and considered whether the dizziness sweeping through her was a result of the pills and booze, or the magnetism of the man in front of her.
"I also have your contract, which I'm ready to tear up and replace with a year's free membership." He patted his shirt pocket. "Plus, we have a charity drive going at the gym for the non-profit Help-A-Child organization and I've made a donation in your name. It's my way of saying sorry for the, uh, unfortunate incident."
Syd frowned and tried to force her mind to work. But the fuzziness only grew stronger. "Never mind. I, uh, I won't be using the gym any longer. You understand how awkward it might be, don't you? Which means your offer isn't much good to me." Yet she had to admit at least something good had come from her accident--besides meeting him, of course. "The donation was a nice thought. Thanks."
"You're welcome. Besides, I'm a co-founder of the organization, so I guess you could say it's kind of selfish on my part." His eye color deepened, growing impossibly darker. "Still...I hope you'll reconsider staying with the gym." The frown morphed, however, and changed into a lopsided leer. "I know a lot of the other customers will miss seeing you."
Oh, no he didn't! She narrowed her eyes, focusing on him to make sure he'd said what she thought he'd said. "You've got a lot of nerve, Mr...."
The laughing twinkle in his eyes intensified. "Jason Cannon. But forget the mister part." Winking, he slipped past her, ignoring her feeble attempt to protest, and marched into the living room. "And yes, I do have a lot of nerve. Among a lot of other attributes. But please believe me. I'm truly sorry about what happened." After scanning her apartment, his penetrating gaze came to rest on her.
"Well, damn, make yourself at home why don't you?" She watched, intrigued by his gall, yet annoyed that his sexy saunter had mesmerized her.
"Thank you. I usually do."
"Jason." He placed the bouquet in the crystal vase on the end table. "After what we went through, I think you should call me by my first name, don't you?"
"We didn't share the experience. I'm the victim here, not you. Your crappy treadmill machine malfunctioned and nearly ate me alive." Oh, shit. Insert foot in mouth and shut the hell up. His knowing, slightly wicked gleam latched on to her, ratcheting up the heat in her face another ten degrees. "Don't. Don't even go there. In your mind or with your mouth."
But his expression told her he already had. "Damn it, I didn't mean... Oh, crap, never mind." Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut the hell up!
"Sometimes ya gotta wonder what comes out of our mouths, huh?"
His comically innocent expression caught her by surprise and she almost giggled at the sight. Here was the shifter--or is he a mere man? Damn, I hope not--she'd wanted, sexy and gorgeous like in her dreams. And, to top it off, he was funny. Not anything like the monsters her father had described throughout her childhood. Sure, she'd known that shifters lived among regular humans, but she'd always imagined them having a maniacal I'm-evil-and-you-can-see-it-so-stay-away-from-me appearance. She certainly hadn't thought of them as charming philanthropists.
Oh, damn. Her father. Why did she have to have the hots for a werewolf? If indeed he was a werewolf. Maybe if she got lucky, he'd be a nice car thief instead. Or a homicidal axe murderer. Someone her father hadn't spent his whole life trying to eradicate. Besides, how could her father ever harm anyone like Jason? She studied the man before her and instinctively knew he wasn't someone her father should kill.
Then Jason threw her another curve. "By the way, we've replaced the faulty machine. So no harm done."
Okay, maybe she did want him dead after all.
"No harm done? Are you kidding me?" How could he stand there, exuding masculinity and overpowering lust, and declare no harm done?
"You look fine to me." Again, he flashed another irritatingly sexy grin. "In fact, you look better than fine. Absolutely delectable."
Delectable? Would he eat her? Literally? The image of a horror movie werewolf tearing apart his victim rushed through her mind right before another image of Jason lying between her legs struck her, shaking her to the core.
Think victim, Syd. It's the safer choice. Carefully--I wouldn't want him to think I'm smashed because I'm not--she snatched up the bottle from the coffee table and crossed to the kitchen counter to refill her goblet. She gritted her teeth, forcing her legs to hold her up. "I'm not talking about bruises and scrapes here. Those will heal. I'm talking about the embarrassment you put me through."
"Don't you think you have things mixed up? I saved you."
"Oh. So you saved me by flashing my boobs at all the gawkers?"
His low chuckle made her wish she could lay her head on his shirt to hear the rumble in his chest. "Well, saving you from getting eaten alive"--she winced at the emphasis he placed on the two words--"was my main goal, but getting a load of your uh, endowment, was an unexpected bonus. I'd call it a reward for a job well done. And thank you for that."
"I'm glad you can be blas� about it. After all, you didn't get hurt, did you? You weren't embarrassed, were you? In fact, you'll probably forget all about ripping my top off by tomorrow morning."
He moved fast. In fact, she didn't know he was beside her until he already was. With measured deliberate moves, he put his wine bottle on the counter. Taking a goblet from the nearby wine rack, he poured the remaining alcohol from her bottle and took a sip. She watched, taking in the way his throat worked and his jaw moved when he swallowed. He turned to face her, his glittering dark eyes fixing on hers. "Trust me. I'll never forget."
Syd gasped, startled by the fire in the depths of his gaze. A long slow burn glowed inside her abdomen, taking over her body. Without being able to stop herself, she raised a finger to his lips. His mouth opened when her fingertip touched his lower lip, closing over half of her finger. Yet, when his tongue swirled over her skin, she couldn't help but let her own tongue escape to caress her suddenly parched lips.
Go for it. This is what you wanted.
The voice in her head whispered to do what was in her heart; what she'd dreamed about for months, years. She paused, tried to consider the consequences, but rational thought was lost in the overload of sensations coming from the rest of her body. Instead, she leaned into him, enjoying the sensation of his hand slipping around her neck to bring her mouth within inches of his.
He released her finger and raised his to her lips. "Yes, you do."
She forgot what she'd started to say and, instead, ran her tongue along the side of his finger. He smiled, a smile all too aware of her emotions, and brought his face impossibly closer. Their warm breaths mingled and she drank in the scent of him.
"You and I were meant for each other, Sydney Skeller. Can't you feel it?"
Yes. "Uh, yeah, I--" She sucked in her breath, unable to say anything more. She wasn't ready for his next words.
"I know you do. We both know it." He cupped her cheek, locking her to him. "I'm here to claim what's mine."