This story is connected to the Cascadia Wolves series but is completely stand-alone.
Layla Warden had a ten-year plan and it sure as heck didn't include a mate. She had her flashy car and her corner office and all was right with the world until Sid Rosario sat down at her table and turned her life upside down.
Sparks fly as the two werewolves flirt over dinner and it's no surprise to either of them when they end up back at his hotel room, naked and sweaty. But Sid is her mate, and they don't figure it out until the bond is sealed. Layla, driven by confusion and fear, heads out of contact while a frantic Sid looks for her. What comes next helps a reluctant wolf find her way to acceptance.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Reluctant by Lauren Dane
Across the room, Sid Rosario watched the tall, very busty redhead enter the room and sit down. Her hair was tousled around her shoulders like she'd just rolled out of bed and very big china-blue eyes took in the room around them. And damn, but the woman did leather pants well enough to make him want to lick her like a giant ice-cream cone.
"Who is that?" Sid asked his cousin Adam.
Adam peered around Sid's shoulder and smiled. "The tall one with the red hair is Layla Warden. The petite one is Tia Mathers. Layla is Pack royalty. She's the oldest daughter. Tia's just smoking hot."
"I'm not interested in her pedigree. But I'd sure like to get to know her better. You know either one of them?" Sid could not take his eyes from Layla Warden's mouth with that shiny red lipstick painting it. His cock throbbed in anticipation as a picture of red lipstick marks at the base of it flashed through his mind. Lipstick kisses on his cock, yeah, that worked.
"Ah, it's like that, is it? Well, many have tried and failed. She's a bit cool. But yeah, Tia and I dated a few times. Let's go. I'll introduce you." Adam stood up and Sid followed.
"Ah, so soon?" Tia murmured to Layla. "Adam Rosario. I have very fond naked memories of him. And who is that with him?"
Layla looked up from the menu and locked gazes with tall, dark and dangerous. The man just oozed rebellion. Short black hair, a row of earrings in his right ear. Nautica had a strict dress code but despite the black jeans and the button-down shirt, she was sure the guy lived in ripped jeans and Clash T-shirts.
So utterly not her type. This thought seemed to escape her as she looked into those big hazel eyes.
"Tia, gorgeous. Long time no see."
Tia smiled up at Adam and batted her lashes a bit. "Hi, Adam."
"Hey, Layla. You look great too. Can we join you?"
Tia accepted before Layla could speak. But she wouldn't have refused anyway. Mr. Rebel made her all tingly. And it had been a while. Four months to be exact.
"This is my cousin, Sid. He's visiting here for a few weeks. Sid, this is Tia Mathers and Layla Warden."
Sid shook hands with Tia and smiled at her, but it was fleeting compared to the full-on, deep, soul-shaking look he gave Layla. Taking her hand, he kissed the knuckles and the warmth of his lips shot straight to her pussy.
"It's very nice to meet you, Layla. I like that name. Is it..."
"Yes. My parents were big Eric Clapton fans when I was conceived. Let's speak of it no more."
Her smile was flirtatious and Sid smiled back.
"So what are you doing while you visit? Where do you call home?" Layla felt like she couldn't get enough of looking at him.
The server came and took their orders and Sid watched as she sipped her drink.
He cleared his throat. "I'm doing a mural--I'm an artist. I live in Tucson. And what do you do?"
"I'm in financial services. I do portfolio planning."
His eyebrows rose.
"What? Too Yuppie for you?"
He laughed. "No, not at all. I love smart women. I'm impressed."
All through dinner she felt herself pulled under his spell. Each time he reached out to grab the salt or his beer, he'd touch her in some small way. His total attention was on her at every moment. His voice was low and seductive, an aural caress. When she spoke, he listened intently, clearly interested in what she had to say.
And she couldn't deny she was fascinated by him. Watched his hands move expressively while he talked about his work. Saw the delightful light in his eyes, making it clear he loved what he did. He flattered her and made her laugh.
There was no doubt for either of them that they'd end up in bed. She liked that his surety wasn't smug or smarmy. He was a sexy guy in town for a few weeks--the perfect fling. She certainly had no plans to stop the inevitable.
Walking out to the cars, he pulled her aside. "Can I give you a ride home? Or would you like to come back to my hotel?"
The salt air of low tide tickled her senses along with his scent. Male werewolf did indeed smell hella good to her, and nary a mullet in sight.
"Where are you staying?"
"Let me just tell Tia. I'll be right back."
He watched as she walked over to her friend and hugged her goodbye. Tia winked at her, and amused, Sid saw Layla give her friend the finger.