The Wolf Who Loved Her
By Kasey Moone
Frumpy bookstore owner, Joni Watson, can't seem to catch a break. Business is bad. Her love life sucks. And a customer is seriously stressing her out with his bad attitude. Fortunately, he's gorgeous and sexy and willing to protect her from rogue werewolves bent on murdering her.
To werewolf Ian McNeal, Joni is a mystery he can't solve. She's talkative, clumsy, and human, not his usual style, but her scent is intoxicating. Why not seduce the mocha beauty? No doubt she'd satisfy his lustful cravings...in more ways than one.
Jonalle Watson grunted at the pressure. The book weighed a ton. Why did she always have to find the most difficult places to stash her large antique books? Shouldn’t they be lower? The Dewey Decimal System be damned! She was the owner of Magick Books, so she could place her books wherever she wanted, gosh-darn it. She nodded her head and lifted her chin.
She secured the book, walked down the ladder, reached for another in the cart, and headed back up the steps. It was going to take all night; this re-shelving business. And it was already only thirty minutes until closing time. She growled. It was a never-ending story. Tomorrow, she’d have to get up and start the tedious process all over again. That was her life: a series of predictable events that left her longing for excitement. Her friends were right. At twenty five, she was too young for spinsterhood. She needed to experience danger and adventure. She needed to kick her cautious life to the curve—for good.
Joni craned her neck back and studied her store. She had tried to give her establishment a down to earth feel with warm beige and green color schemes, but now she wondered if it was all too much. Maybe she was trying too hard.
She rolled her eyes at the morose thought.
Pity parties ain’t your thing, honey.
With one deep breath, she worked to gain her composure. Though she’d been open for a month in the quaint Milwaukee square, only a handful of business came her way. Mostly from teenagers who thought books about the supernatural were “rad.” Though she appreciated their business, she needed new clients. Preferably ones with full time jobs. Kid money would only get her so far.
She flicked her micro braids out of her face. She just had to remain optimistic, is all. Business was bound to pick up. Staying positive was the only way out of this mess. The chiming of the front doorbell yanked her from her pep talk.
“Be with you in a sec,” she yelled over her shoulder, wrestling with another difficult book. On the verge of securing its location, she groaned when it toppled from her hands and fell to the floor with a loud thud. Her potty mouth reared its nasty head.
Suddenly she felt eyes boring into her. Great. She just had to lose her cool in front of a customer. A potential paying customer. Real professional, Joni. She pasted a bright smile onto her face and turned around slowly. And blinked. And blinked again. Below her stood the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen. He stared up at her with mossy green eyes that looked shockingly bright against his smooth, pale skin. Shoulder-length, inky black hair curled at his temple. He had a chiseled jaw, with a purple bruise on the side as though he’d been in a recent fight, and sensual pink lips. Broad shoulders and tight biceps made up his tall lean body. He must’ve been at least 6’2. A giant, really. A leather bomber jacket, gray sweater, and dark jeans did little to hide his impressive package. He looked like one of those rock hard soldiers from the movies, except he was the real McCoy. Hubba hubba.
Heat rose on her face...and between her legs.
Joni moved her mouth in an attempt to form intelligent syllables, but her vocal chords were on strike. It was a first for her.
The man continued to stare at her, waiting. She suddenly wished for tight bootylicious jeans and a cute top. Not the baggy corduroys and dingy sweater she sported. She looked like a child.
“Hi,” she offered. “Sorry about that.”
She watched the man retrieve the book. He handed it to her and grimaced. Didn’t he know how to crack a smile? He was wound up as tight as a clock.
“Um, thanks.” She pushed the book back in place and looked back at the hunk. He still eyed her with that emotionless expression. If he thought to intimidate her with his stoicism, he had another think coming!
“Can I help you?”
“You can come down the ladder for one,” he snapped.
Joni sucked in a breath. So, he was going to be a nasty customer then. No problem. She had her share of difficult patrons. Lifting her chin, she glided down the ladder, attempting to illustrate her composure, but her foot got caught in the last rung. A screech escaped her as she fell. Strong arms enveloped her before the impact. She clung to bulging biceps, mortified at her clumsiness, as black stubble scratched her cheeks.
The scent of cologne and cinnamon filled her senses, and something else, something wild and earthy that made her sniff him like a cat in heat. The man smelled good. She righted herself quickly and looked into his light green eyes. Noticing for the first time that his nose was crooked, and that the purple bruise on his jaw was nastier up close, Joni stared, her hand hovering above the mark.
“Did someone hurt you?”
He said not a word. Just gazed at her, deathly silent. She stiffened. What was his deal? Was he upset about the fall? She was not going to apologize for her clumsiness.
“Do you need ice?”
“No.” He nodded towards the ladder. “Do you?”
She grinned. “I’m okay. I fall all the time. What about ice for you?”
“Sure about that?”
“’Cause I keep First Aid behind my desk.”
“’Cause it looks like—”
“I heal fast.”
She frowned. What an odd thing to say.
“Well, thanks for catching me then,” she mumbled, eying the bruise, absently wondering who’d have the courage to plant this man with a punch. He looked dangerous, unpredictable, muscle-ripped to the core. Shit, he’d probably made a ham sandwich out of the other man. Her eyes locked with his. To keep from groaning, she swallowed. Hard. God, he was fine.
Confused as to what to say and do next, she stood there awkwardly, sequestered between the bookshelves. They were closer than she remembered. One step forward and she’d be pressed against him.
He finally spoke. “I need a book.”
Joni mentally slapped herself. Of course he needed a book. She could help him with that!
“Contemporary Magic 101. Got it?”
Joni put on her game face and tried to make a sell. “Yes, I have that. I have everything that deals with the art of magic and clairvoyance. Don’t be fooled by the size of this establishment. I keep all of the best books here, so if you ever—”
She snapped her mouth shut. The nerve of the jerk! So she rambled on when she was nervous, but who could blame her in this situation? And who did he think he was barking orders like he was Captain Hero? More like Captain Zero. Annoyed that she found the rude man irresistible, she sucked in a patient breath. Don’t let this statue of a man get under your skin, girl. You need to make a sell. You need to make a sell.
She pointed towards the front. “Just wait up there, sir, and I’ll be right with you.”