Authors: Mac Flynn
Marked By the Wolf #1 (Werewolf Romance)
Serial 1 of the MARKED BY THE WOLF Series
Contemporary Romance / Paranormal Romance / Romantic Comedy / Fantasy Romance
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I lay on the bed my naked body squirming atop the silk sheets. Over me was the dark form of my lover, a man as handsome and strong as any other. He covered me with his warm, muscled body and wrapped his arms around me. I grasped his shoulders and sighed as he kissed my neck. He raised his head and his brilliant blue eyes stared into mine.
"Danny, wake up! Wake up!"
I yelped and fell forward out of my chair. A pair of strong arms caught me, but they weren't the arms of my lover. I had been in the arms of my work chair and now was in the arms of my fellow inmate at this paid penitentiary, Johnny Miller. That meant I was in my cubbyhole cubicle at the office and again bored out of my mind so bad that I fell asleep.
As always after awakening from a wonderful dream I was my usual perky self with energy, vigor, and-hell, who am I kidding? I was a zombie low on brains and with not much prospect of getting one around that office. Well, except for Johnny. He was smarter than me which probably explained why he was the only one I could tolerate. He was also kind of cute, sort of my boss, and very tolerant of laziness. Everything worked out well except the cuteness. That only went as far as friendship would allow. I felt bad about friend-zoning him, but I just didn't feel that way about him.
"Wha? Huh? What happened?" I mumbled.
"You fell asleep, that's what happened," Johnny replied.
I shrugged off his hands, sat back in my chair, and stifled a yawn. "Oh, is that all?"
"Is that all? That's the third time this week I've had to wake you up. Some day I won't be able to save the day," he scolded me.
I sighed and ran my hand through my hair. "Yeah, I know, I'm just so bored with all this paperwork." I gestured to a pile a foot tall at the end of my desk. It was an inch tall when I arrived that morning. "These piles breed faster than rabbits, and are twice as annoying."
"Three times more annoying, but who's counting?" he laughed.
I slumped over my desk. "I am. This job is so boring my mind gets rusted just thinking about it."
He patted me on the back. "We all feel like that, but what are you going to do about it? Go choose your own adventure?"
I squared my jaw and straightened in my chair. "I could do that. I could leave right now and-"
"-and you should because it's almost five," Johnny told me.
I glanced at the clock on my computer screen, realized I'd been asleep long enough for the screen saver to come on, woke up the computer, and checked the time. There was only four minutes left. I hurriedly prepared myself for the evacuation.
"Going somewhere, Miss Lyman?" he teased me. My name was Danielle Lyman, but everyone, when they weren't being sassy, called me Danny.
I glanced at my watch. "I will be in three minutes. Did you need something that takes only three minutes? Well, besides saving me from a wild supervisor, that is," I returned.
"No, but there was something I've been meaning to ask you for a couple of months." He slid into the extra chair in my little dungeon and his hands fiddled with each other.
"I hope it's something about a raise because my two-year anniversary is coming up," I quipped.
"Not quite." He scooted his chair closer to me. His face looked so serious while also being so nervous.
"You okay? You look a little sick," I asked him.
"I'm fine. I was just wondering if you were, well, if you were doing anything tonight."
I stiffened and blinked. "Nooo, why?"
"Well, I thought maybe you and I could-well, do something together."
My face drooped and I patted him on the shoulder. "I appreciate what you're trying to do, but I don't think I'm ready for an affair with my boss. Not when I'm about to get a raise."
He snorted and leaned back. The serious expression was gone and there was a smile on his face, but I didn't miss the pain in his eyes. "Can't blame a guy for trying."
"No, but this is the fifth time this month, and that makes it the tenth time this year," I pointed out.
I'm sure you're wondering why I wouldn't take my cute boss out for a date. It's because I wasn't ready for commitment, and it was against company policy. One of us would have to quit our job, and I knew it wasn't going to be him. With that sort of ultimatum, it would be a hell of a commitment on my part. I'd be taking all the risk and he'd reap all the benefit of me. If things went south so would my bank account balance, and with student loans to repay from a college degree I still hadn't found a use for I just couldn't take that risk.
"I figure if I play the slots long enough I'm bound to win," he commented.
I stood and patted him on the shoulder. "Maybe, but I gotta go. See you tomorrow." I walked out as the clock struck five and didn't look back. If I had I probably would've stopped myself from leaving and thrown myself into his arms. If I'd known what trouble lay ahead for me I definitely would have thrown myself into his arms.
Since I wasn't a psychic and didn't have spider senses, I walked out of there and left the building and work behind me. My favorite place to relax was a nice pub five blocks off the busy part of the city. That was where the electronic billboards advertised flashy clothes and designer breast jobs. The first I didn't look good in, and the second I had covered with my curvy body.
I took a taxi to my favorite pub, stepped out of the car, and looked up at the dark night sky. The streetlights kept the stars from shining, but nothing except the buildings could keep that full moon hidden. It smiled down at me and I smiled back. It was an old friend, after all. I'd seen it a lot during my long twenty-five years of living. Soon it was about to become an intimate partner in my life.
I strolled down the sidewalk and stopped in front of the pub. The name of the place was Public Pewter, and the game of the place was to get drunk. I opened the old oak door and stepped into a different world. The establishment was done up in mid-seventeenth century coach inn-style complete with wood paneled walls and a bar made from a single slice of giant log that ran along the entire back wall. There were the modern conveniences of a dance floor, jukebox, and every type of beer in the world on display on the wall behind the bar.
I took my usual table in the far corner. It was a dark spot where I could watch everyone without being watched. I pretended I was an anthropologist studying the mating habits of the local inhabitants. Most were the customers very primitive, and some of the pickup lines were even worse. A minute after I sat down a waitress brought me my usual drink, the caffeinated soda, and left me to my studying.
The night was the usual rambunctious antics. People danced, got drunk, tried to dance, fell down, and laughed out the door with a pretty girl, guy, or both under their arms. I sat in my corner watching humanity make a spectacle of itself, but not all of it was funny. There were tender moments of couples walking in hand in hand and kissing over a plate of salsa and chips. An old couple came in and danced slowly to a rock-n-roll song, but even with the drums and guitar playing in the background the tender magic was still there. It made me regret not saying yes to Johnny.
The old couple just left when a young guy slipped into my booth. He was a little taller than me with a thin nose and a goatee. His clothes were clean but simple, and he constantly played with a expensive-looking old coin in his left hand. I figured the shadows meant he hadn't seen me. "The booth's taken," I spoke up.
"I know, but I thought maybe you'd want some company," he replied.
"Depends on the company," I quipped. I looked this man up and down, and wasn't sure I liked what I saw. He gave off a vibe that rattled me, and I wasn't usually rattled.
He shrugged. "I don't think I'm that bad, and I've got a great party we can go to." The man turned to me with a crooked smile. "It's uptown and you get to rub elbows with a bunch of high-society folks."
I glanced down at my worn blouse and dress pants. "I don't think they'd want to rub elbows with me. Mine aren't exactly clean," I pointed out.
He laughed and waved off my concern. "You look great, fantastic, even. Besides, you're just the person we're looking for."
I raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
The man coughed and gave me more than a cursory glance. "You're, well, how should I say it? Very well filled out."
I frowned. "And that's supposed to make them like me how?" I asked him.
"Let's just say they like to sink their teeth into a new acquaintance who's a little more real than the rubber implanted stick people," he replied. "So what do you say? If you don't like it we can always call you a taxi. There are plenty around at all hours," he offered.
I sloshed my drink around in its glass and sighed. "Why not? What do I have to lose?"
"That's the spirit! Come on, my car's out front." He took my hand, but I pulled it back.
"Wait a second, I don't even know your name and you don't know mine," I pointed out.
"Oh, sorry. It's Stanley Grieg. And yours?" he asked me.
"Danica Lyman," I replied.
He smiled and offered me his arm. "All right, Miss Lyman, if you would be kind enough to follow me I'll take you to a night you'll never forget."
I took his arm and he led me outside to a red sports car parked on the curb. Around us the city was alive with throngs of people, honking horns, and car exhaust. He opened the door, I slipped inside, and he got into the driver's seat. Once the doors were closed the interior was as quiet as a tomb. The whole world could have been in the middle of a nuclear war and we wouldn't have known. I'd never been in anything half as luxurious as this five-star hotel on wheels, and I squirmed in my chair.
"Problems?" he asked me as the car jumped forward into the busy two-lane traffic.
"I think your car's monthly insurance bill costs as much as my apartment," I commented.
He chuckled. "Probably," he agreed.
"So what do you do for a living?" I wondered.
"Oh, I'm an errand boy." I turned to him and raised an eyebrow. "I'm very good at my job," he added.
"What do you deliver? Drugs?" I joked.
"Not exactly. I'm sort of a go-to man for the people I'm taking you to. When they want fresh-um, members, they trust my judgment enough to go out into the city and bring them back somebody like you. Fresh blood, as it were," he explained.
"Well, I've got plenty of that," I replied.
He smiled. "Yes, I imagine you do."
We drove several blocks through fancy boutiques and shops that dazzled the tourists and party-goers. The Bohemian elegance of the small businesses gave way to forests of office buildings and hotels that towered over us like imperious overlords. A few of the buildings had garages beneath them and into one of these Stanley turned. The garage sat below street level and was lit with sickly fluorescent lights.
There were two dozen other cars around the main stairs into the building above us. Many of them were long, black cars with chauffeurs at the wheel reading large books to pass the long wait. There were a few other flashy vehicles, and a group of men stood at the bottom of the stairwell laughing and talking. Stanley helped me out of the low vehicle and over to the stairs.
"That's a nice one you have there," one of the men yelled to us.
Stanley glared at him. "Hold your tongue, you idiot," he snapped. He hurried us past and into the stairwell that led up into the building. "I have to apologize for my friend. He's a little drunk around this time of night," he told me.