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Authors: Charisma Knight

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Renee dug into her purse on the dining room table. She pulled out a card and handed it to Pearl. “Carlos’s friends use Nicholas often.”

Pearl took the card and quirked a brow at the wolf logo. “Wolford’s Home Improvement?

Nicholas Wolford.
Oh my God, he tutored me in algebra a long time ago, Renee. I hadn’t thought to use him.”

“Because you’re chicken shit,” Renee challenged.

“I’m not even sure why I didn’t think of him,” Pearl said before taking a quick sip of tea.

“I’ve seen him in my travels and he waves. I’ve even tossed some business his way.”

“So, why don’t you contact him today? You know, he’s always asking about you,” Renee revealed.

Pearl smiled. “Really? What does he say?”

“He just asks how you’re doing. Doesn’t matter what we talk about, the conversation

usually drifts to you.”

“You’re kidding.”

Renee held up her right hand. “Serious as a heart attack. He likes you hon.”

“I crushed so hard on him in high school, too. Even when Danny and I were together.”

“I know you did. What’s stopping you now? Last I’d checked, you’re a free woman.”

Pearl shrugged. “He’s never approached me, so why should I come to him?”

“You can’t think like that. From what I understand, Nicholas is single.”

Pearl shifted in her chair. “Really?”

“You need to stop pretending you’re not into him.” Renee chuckled.

“I’m more than interested,” Pearl waved a hand at Renee. “But, I’ve got other problems right now. What if that guy comes back?”

“Get a freaking alarm put in,” Renee urged. “I told you to do that a long time ago.”

“Please don’t chastise me. Not after the night I’ve had.” Pearl sat back in the chair. “I’d rather have a gun. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the firing range.”

Renee frowned. “I don’t like having a gun in the house.”

“Try hiding in your closet praying to God an intruder doesn’t find you and you’ll be thankful for that gun,” Pearl admitted. “The only weapon I had was a stiletto and my baseball bat which was doing me no good laying down here in the dining room.”

“Let’s make a trip to Gypsy Rose Moon Goddess. You know the magic shop on the

outskirts of town. Perhaps setting up some magical boundaries may fend off that critter.”

Pearl shook her head. “I’m not up to taking a fifty-minute trip. I’ve got too much work to do. And I really don’t believe in messing around with stuff I don’t understand, you know that.”

“That’s why you should attend one of Gypsy Rose’s classes. She holds classes on Mondays and Wednesdays at the temple in the forest next to the waterfall, but suit yourself.” Renee’s phone vibrated in her purse and she pulled it out. “Oh shoot, Carlos is home early, he threw his back out again. Good Lord, the man is such a baby.” She looked up at Pearl and bit her lip. “Look, babe. I understand why you’d want a gun in this day in age. Just make sure you take your time in making a decision. Guns are dangerous.”

“So are people. I’d honestly like to know why there’s so much happening here lately.”

Pearl retorted before hugging her best friend. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Tell Carlos I said hello. And thanks for helping me clean up.”

“Anytime Chica.”

After Renee left, Pearl glanced at the card again. “I may as well call him now and get it over with. Can’t leave my broken door the way it is.”

She dialed the number and after several rings, a baritone voice answered that sent a chill over her body.

“Wolford’s Contracting. This is Nicholas, how may I help you?”

“Hey, Nicholas, this is Pearl Gordon. I’d like to schedule an appointment for an estimate.”

“Pearl? What a pleasure to hear from you. How are you doing?”

Her throat became dry at the sudden husky tone Nick’s voice had taken. She briefly

explained about the break in and how badly her place had been ransacked. Remembering the incident carried chills up her spine.

“I’m so sorry to hear that,” He said. “ Is there anything I can do? Did they catch the son-of-a-bitch?”

“No, they didn’t. By the time they’d arrived, he escaped.”

There was a slight pause. “I’ve got some time available tomorrow at noon. Is that okay?”

Pearl smiled as her body tingled all over and she’d almost forgotten her address. “Yes. My address is 69 Wolfbane Terrace. I’m looking forward to this.” She squeezed her eyes shut, suddenly feeling like that awkward teenager again.

Nicholas chuckled softly. “I’ve got you down for tomorrow at noon. See you then.”

He promptly hung up, leaving Pearl with moist panties and a racing pulse. He had the same effect on her now as he had back in high school, even though she and Danny were high school sweethearts and she wondered what the hell had she seen in her ex.

Pearl cringed at the memories as she walked through the rooms of her home. Every room held a memory all its own. Yet, she remained in this house of pain. Why had she managed to listen to her heart instead of her head? Deep down inside she had known he would bring her heartbreak.

She shivered while recalling the moment when Danny had cornered her in the guest room after he came home wreaking of alcohol. She’d only asked him where he’d been and he

jumped all over her. Later, she learned he’d been on an all night drinking binge with his buddies.

Their relationship had been so bad that she actually feared him. That fear had prevented her from verbally expressing her feelings to him, so she held everything in. There had been small instances when she tried to stand up for herself, but she was always met with a vicious outburst that left her sobbing for hours.

Tears stung her eyes. She recalled numerous evenings of sitting at a table made for two and Danny not showing up until several hours later.

She wondered why she had stayed with such a cruel, heartless monster. The night he came home with lipstick on his collar was the last straw. The next day she went straight to her lawyer and filed for divorce.

Despite his desperate attempts to woo her after the divorce, she discovered a happier, less stressful life without him. She smiled because she’d come a long way. Since the divorce, she had only dated one other man she’d met while vacationing in Cancun and just chocked it up as a weekend fling.

“You’re going to be okay, girlie.” She told herself. “You’re going to be okay.”

Chapter Three

After a restless night, Pearl went on another cleaning binge. She couldn’t escape the unclean feeling of her home being invaded and a total stranger pissing on her carpet.

She washed the dishes and quickly mopped the floor. Her mind focused on Nicholas. His visit was the one positive thing that came from all this mess. After an all morning cleaning binge and rearranging furniture, she settled down to enjoy a hot cup of coffee when the doorbell rang.

She exhaled sharply and walked through the living room to the front door. “Who is it?”

“It’s Nicholas.”

The man’s voice made her insides melt. If he had this effect on her on the other side of the door, how the hell would she react when they were face to face? She wondered if she could go through with this.

“Just a minute.” Excitement trickled over her wile quickly giving herself a look over in the gold trimmed hallway mirror. Releasing a breath, she opened the door to find herself staring at an incredible well-muscled chest. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she lifted her gaze to meet those familiar twinkling light brown eyes that captivated her all those years ago. Clutching a clipboard in his right hand, he returned her smile.

Nicholas must have spent hours at the gym over the years in addition to the manual labor.

His squared face had developed mature age lines around his eyes and mouth. Ah, that

mouth. His slightly crooked nose and the long scar beneath his eye led her to believe he’d been in more fights over the years than she’d wanted to imagine. The warm April breeze blew through his thick shoulder length brown hair. She also noticed his mane had a light dusting of gray throughout.

“Hello, Pearl. May I come in?”

“Hey, Nick.” She stepped back, opening the door wide enough for him to enter.

As he strode past her, the slight scent of earth, musk, and man made her pussy clench. Her nipples pressed painfully against her bra and her cheeks burned in embarrassment at the fact that she could be so easily aroused.

“You’re looking good,” he admitted, his gaze quickly sweeping over her body. “Good

enough to eat.”

With a nervous smile, Pearl closed the door. “And you’ve changed quite a bit yourself. It’s really nice seeing you again.”

Nicholas’s eyes darkened and a serious look crossed his face. ”We only see each other in passing, and that’s a shame. You could take the time to stop and talk to an old friend.” He admitted wryly.

She smiled at his brute honesty. “When I see you, you’re usually working outside with your crew, and I really didn’t want to be a bother.”

“Obviously, you need to be taught some manners,” he said with a low growl.

She had no words for his last statement and tried hiding her hardened nipples by folding her arms across her chest. A few minutes of silence slipped by while he watched her intensely.

“What’s the matter? Wolf got your tongue?” he teased.

Pearl cleared her throat and swallowed as the room suddenly became hotter. He had her in his clutches. “Nicholas,” was the only word she could muster.

“What’s wrong, darling? Why so shy?” He moved toward her, but she slowly backed away.

“My basement,” She pointed toward the stairwell trying to change the subject. If they continued this little game of cat and mouse, they’d be all over each other.

Smiling slyly, he extended an arm toward the basement. “Yes, of course. Lead the way.”

She walked down the hallway to the door and descended the basement stairs. With

Nicholas so close behind her, the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. She felt his burning gaze on her back and knew he hungered for her. After all, she was fair game now.

She tightened her fist as the burning sensation blossoming in her belly became stronger.

“Oh God.”

“Is there something wrong?”

“Uh, no.”

Pearl couldn’t speak. If she did, she’d stammer or trip down the stairs, she was sure of it.

There was something in his voice and the way he looked at her that made her want to let him have his way with her. She didn’t know quite how to deal with these feelings, but she wanted Nicholas, and she wanted him bad.

Once downstairs, Nicholas walked around her basement, wrinkling his face in anger.

“Wish I’d been here when he’d broken into your house. Do the police know who did it?”

Pearl shrugged. “Not a clue, they just informed me the intruder was a wolf shifter.”

“What’d they take?”

“That’s just the thing, nothing.” She went on to explain how she hid in her closet, clutching the stiletto while fearing for her life.

Nicholas shook his head. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that, darling. I’d rip his damned throat out had I been here.”

“I think it’s just an omen,” she admitted freely. “You see, I haven’t been one hundred percent comfortable since my divorce.”

“Then what the hell are you still doing here?” Nicholas jotted some things down on his clipboard before laying it on the leather sofa. He pulled out a measuring tape to take measurements of her glass door.

“Nicholas, I don’t know. I’ve worked hard for this house. After all that man has put me through, staying here made me feel like it was the one thing he couldn’t take away from me.”

“I understand that. But, your stubborn nature is causing old ghosts to stir.” Nicholas told her. “Don’t you think it’s time you’ve moved on?”

Pearl chuckled and wondered how it was so easy for her to tell Nicholas these things. It all seemed so natural. “I’ve been thinking the same thing, just last night. I’ve been divorced for a year now, I should be over all of this.” She laughed. Enough about me, what about you?”

“Darling, you can talk to me anytime. Maybe, that’s why I’m here. As far as I’m

concerned, I’m just doing the same shit different day routine. My life is simple.”

“Aren’t we all?” Pearl laughed.

He put his tape measurer away and glanced at her. “I suppose that’s how life goes. But, I can’t help but feel there’s something missing from my life.”

Once again, he’d rendered her speechless. Why hadn’t he come on this strong when she’d been chasing Danny? Licking her lips, she decided to push the envelope. “What do you think is missing in your life, Nicholas?”

“I don’t know. Maybe someone to hold me tight during the night, that special someone I can open up and bare my soul too without fear of judgment or humiliation. The person that makes your heartbeat automatically sync with yours while making love.” He stopped

talking and held her gaze with his intense one.

“Have you found that special someone yet?” Pearl asked, suddenly curious and a feeling a bit jealous.

Nicholas smiled. “Maybe I have, but it remains to be seen.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“There’s someone I’m crazy about, but she seems like she’s hell bent on pushing me away.

If I didn’t know any better, I think she wasn’t interested in me. Maybe you could give me some advice.” He grinned when she shifted her weight uncomfortably from one foot to the other.

Pearl’s gaze dropped to the floor. The man was talking about her, but she didn’t know how to handle this situation. “She’s interested, but she’s a little nervous.”

Chapter Four

“What could you possibly have to be nervous about?” He inquired. “I’d never do anything to hurt you.”

“I know you wouldn’t, Nicholas.”

“I’d never treat you the way he treated you.” He reached out to stroke her chin.

She gasped. “You knew?”

“Of course I did. Carlos and Renee told me. He was never worthy of you Pearl. I would have placed you up on a pedestal if you were mine.”

His chest tightened when she pulled from his grasp. “No. This is just happening too fast for me. I think.”

BOOK: o 90a29c48d0ad7f81
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