UNDER A WEREWOLF MOON
BY MAE POWERS AND LANI AAMES
Eden Perez has learned to suppress her psychic abilities because of all the bad things she has seen come to pass. When Roark Anderson drops back into her life, on the run from a stalking vampire determined to enslave him, Eden’s special talent might be the only way to save him.
A contemporary paranormal romance novelette, approx. 14,000 words or 47 pages.
Coming soon to Kobo.
Roark Anderson scared the hell out of her.
It wasn’t that Eden Perez didn’t find the tall, muscular yet graceful man appealing, but her attraction to him was deadly to all her senses. Especially her psychic sense.
Eden gazed up at him now, trying to calm her nerves. He was the one that got away. And the one she’d never had a psychic vision about. She had to keep it that way. How could she tell him to get lost, that she wasn’t interested? She averted her eyes and sucked in her bottom lip then forced her internal warning system to shut up.
Looking up at him again, her resolve not to let those mysterious, sexy eyes of his lure her into his powerful web of masculine sexuality melted like butter.
“Hello, Roark.” She tried to keep her voice smooth and nonchalant. “It’s been a long time.”
He tilted his head to one side, a wavy lock of light brown hair falling over his forehead the way she remembered. He parted his tempting full lips to reveal perfectly white teeth. “Eight years at least, Eden. How have you been?”
Roark’s long lashes framed midnight blue eyes and gave his strong, angular face a provocatively sensual quality. A dark green polo shirt and black denim jacket accentuated his dark, richly tanned skin and enhanced the broad width of his shoulders. He wore black jeans and boots to complete the striking outfit.
She tried not to let her gaze stray down too far as she quickly assessed him. The man filled out those pants so well there wasn’t much left to the imagination. Oh, how she could imagine… No! She had to stop her wandering, wanton thoughts.
Roark had wrecked all her senses back when she’d known him in high school before they both went off to different colleges nearly eight years ago. Three of those years had been spent in agonizing loneliness, but it was better than what had gone on before, after he left her heart in the gutter. Remembering how he’d broken her young heart gave her the final push of willpower she needed not to let him get to her.
“I’ve been okay. Making a life for myself here in Rutherford. When did you get back into town?” She eased forward through the Pick-a-Meal buffet line as the people in front of her started moving. She only came here to eat once or twice a month to get out of the office for a bit. Sometimes a few of her co-workers joined her, but today they’d had other plans. Just her luck.
“A couple of days ago. I came from the Los Angeles office to work on a special project. The satellite office here needed my approval on something, and Eric was needed back in L.A. for a while. I’ve been keeping busy. Today’s the first time since I arrived that I’ve been able to eat out for lunch. Do you work close by?” He helped himself to some lean beef tips and spinach. For a muscular man, he didn’t put a lot on his plate.
She nodded while picking out a small bowl of English pea salad and a dish of wheat pasta with Alfredo sauce, two of her favorites. As easy as it was for her to pack on the pounds, she usually kept it to a minimum except when she ate here. At five-foot-eight-inches, she could carry a little extra weight.
Add in her two-inch heels and she didn’t have to crane too much to look up at Roark with his six-foot-two height.
Both of their workplaces were within walking distance of the busy cafeteria. Hers was just across the street and the Anderson Communications building less than a block away. Although Roark’s family had moved the main offices to Los Angeles, they kept the holdings here in Rutherford. Her cousin Eric, one of Roark’s old high school buddies, was a VP at the Rutherford office. She and Eric didn’t talk often, but he probably would have told her Roark was here if he’d still been in town.
“Are you with someone today?” Roark asked. “Perhaps I can sit at your table.”
The question caught her completely off-guard, and she answered too quickly. “Sure.”
She could have kicked herself. It wouldn’t take much for her to get nervous all over again. She took a deep breath and grabbed a bottle of tea. After paying for her meal, she walked to an empty table.
“Have a seat,” she offered in a flat tone of voice. It was her own fault for not telling him no in the first place. Part of her wanted him to join her–well, all of her did–but something in her shouted a warning that this might not be a good idea. “We can catch up on what’s going on. I have about forty minutes left.”
“Same here. When we’re done, I’ll walk you back to your office building.”
His seductive lopsided grin tore at her chained heart and the defenses she’d spent a long time putting into place around it. There was just something about Roark that kept one from getting mad at him. Or staying mad at him for long. She had to keep her distance after this and put an end to her lingering crush on him once and for all.
“I work across the street at Werner Industries as the Human Resources office manager. Been there a couple of years now. I didn’t come back to Rutherford right after college. I came back to help out when Mom got sick.”
“How is she now? And your dad? They were always nice to me when I hung out with your cousin Eric. And your dad’s cookouts were the best.”
“They’re fine now and taking care of themselves. They both retired early from teaching and are currently touring England on their annual vacation.” She glanced up at him, noting his genuine interest in what she had to say. “And your parents? I haven’t seen them since I came back to Rutherford. Do they still live on the outskirts of town?”
He shook his head, making his thick hair look tousled as if he’d just finished a bout of physical pleasure. “They kept the house, but moved to Los Angeles when they relocated the main office there. Mostly, they said, to be closer to me and the rest of the…uh, family. I love my parents, but they can be stifling sometimes.”
“Well, at least you get some peace of mind when you’re here then.” She smiled at him.
“For now,” he said and chuckled.
He licked his lips after tasting the beef tips, and she wondered how his tongue would feel raking across her nipples… She shook her head quickly, trying to rid herself of the alarming stray thoughts.
“Something wrong, Eden? I hope I didn’t inconvenience you. I just wanted to say hello, catch up on things. It’s nice to see a familiar face. I think most of our high school friends left to parts unknown.” He paused, wiping his mouth with his napkin. “Maybe we could go to dinner sometime soon? It would be great to spend some time with a…a good friend.”
Again his fast-talk startled her, but this time she was ready, composed, and totally lying to herself. She didn’t answer him right away. Besides, blaming him for her tattered heart was unfair. He’d never known how she felt about him. What had broken her heart was that he’d never asked her out. She’d been much too shy to do the asking. Looking back, it might have been a good thing they’d never dated–good for Roark, anyway.
What the hell was wrong with her? She felt a dampness between her thighs she hadn’t felt since Mark died more than three years ago. It both scared and excited her. It’d been a long time since someone as handsome as Roark asked her out. No, she took that back. No one as devastatingly attractive as Roark had ever asked her for a date. Most men thought her too strange and quiet.
Roark had always treated her well, and she’d tried like crazy to hide her crush on him. Perhaps, she reminded herself, that’s all they’d ever have, an easy friendship. It couldn’t hurt to go out with him, at least once, for a nice quiet dinner. She doubted anything would come of it.
She felt some trepidation because he didn’t know about her psychic abilities. She’d confided in very few people about them, and she’d spent most of her life repressing them because the results were rarely positive. Going out with an attractive man couldn’t hurt, could it? It wasn’t like she intended to sleep with him. Wanted to, yes, but she couldn’t take the chance. Could she?
“You look worried. I promise not to bite.” He made light of the invitation, but it had the effect of easing her worries. “Just a simple dinner, some good conversation. Promise to be a gentleman if that’s what you want.”
The deviltry in his midnight blue eyes made her melt and started to hypnotize her soul…and her libido. “Um, yeah. I think dinner would be fine. I’m free this Friday evening.”
“Great,” he said.
When they finished eating, he walked her across the street to her office building, promising to pick her up at seven on Friday, just a few days away.
What the heck have I done? she wondered. Mild-mannered Eden just took a bite from the devil’s apple. She sucked in her bottom lip, hoping she hadn’t made a mistake. She couldn’t let more than dinner and light conversation happen between them.
She didn’t want to be responsible for yet another man’s death.
Roark Anderson couldn’t believe his good luck. His first day out to have lunch and he ran across the very woman he’d come back to Rutherford to find. He had meant to look up Eden much sooner, but actually having to work on a real special project and fill in for Eric while he was taking management training in Los Angeles had kept Roark busy during his first few days in town. Today had been the first day he’d gone out to have a quiet meal by himself.
He’d caught her scent first, recognizing it instantly. Then he saw her walking from the entrance of the diner. He followed her before she disappeared in the crowd. He was excited to see her again, but he had to talk to her about his current problem, too. More than the fact that he needed her help using her particular talents, his heart had never gotten over her. Seeing her in line at the buffet, he’d nearly stumbled over the two people separating them. He quickly slipped around them, despite their dirty looks at his cutting in line. He had to speak to Eden.
She was no longer the slim, shy girl he’d left behind, but a tall, curvaceous beauty who had him thinking wild thoughts and aching with need. Even back when they were in high school, he’d wanted her. The scent of jasmine she’d worn drove him nuts, and he’d had a hard time keeping his hands off her. Besides her father being his history teacher, her cousin Eric had been a friend and classmate of his and his own cousin Kagan’s. The Perezes had cookouts often, inviting their students with their parents over.
That was how he’d met her because they never had any classes together. Her soft, cinnamon-colored eyes, lustrous deep brown hair, and tempting body had instantly captured his heart. He’d wanted to sweep her off her feet and never let her go.
He hadn’t asked her out because his family’s warning had been ingrained in him at an early age.
Werewolves don’t mate with ordinary humans.
Roark smiled to himself as he reached his building. There was nothing ordinary about Eden Perez.
As soon as he entered his office, his cell phone rang. He looked at the number and sighed.
“What do you want?” he growled into the phone.
“Just checking up on you,” his cousin Kagan, back in Los Angeles, responded. “Vanessa’s been snooping around, asking questions.”
Roark closed his eyes and shook his head. He was hoping he’d have a little more time before Vanessa Kingston sought him out again.
“Have you located Eden?” Kagan asked.
“Yeah. I ran into her today at lunch.”
“That was quick, but it’s a good thing. If Vanessa gets wind that you’ve left L.A., she’ll start searching for you elsewhere and Rutherford will be the first place she looks.” Kagan paused, as if waiting for a response. When Roark didn’t say anything, he continued, “Did you ask her?”
“Hell, no,” Roark snapped then drew a deep breath. “It’s too soon. I asked her out to dinner Friday night. She accepted.”
“Well, you know Vanessa’s reputation. When you were here, the pack could protect you from her, but in Rutherford, you’re on your own since the whole pack settled in L.A. What you were thinking, fucking a vampire, is beyond me.”
“I know, I know. Werewolves and vampires don’t mix.”
“Like oil and water,” Kagan said. “Granted, she’s one hot chick, but even I’d know better than to get mixed up with a vamp. They think they own us.”
Roark dropped into his chair and groaned. “I know. I was a little drunk, and it was a full moon. She was there, and I wasn’t thinking too clearly.”
The Knight Klub was an underground hangout in Los Angeles where creatures of the night could be themselves and not worry about normal humans other than those who knew about them and accepted them. That night, Vanessa’s scent was heavy and hot and too alluring during the full moon when he needed to mate most. Afterwards, she’d nearly bitten him, nearly had him. If clouds hadn’t moved in to cover the moon and bring him to his senses enough to escape, he might very well now be her pet.
When the rest of the pack found out, they encircled him with their protection, ensuring Vanessa had no access to him. She had disappeared from the underground scene, but all of them still felt her presence at the edges of their lives, searching, seeking the crack in their fortification against her. Unfortunately, their lycanthropic intuition couldn’t definitively pinpoint the location of a vampire.
Roark appreciated the efforts of the pack, but he couldn’t live the rest of his life that way. When Kagan mentioned that a psychic might be able to foresee a way to help him defeat Vanessa or to find a way to keep her from stalking him, his thoughts had turned to Eden. During their last year in high school, his maturing intuition sensed her psychic ability. It was another reason he’d kept his distance from Eden. He didn’t want her to learn he was a werewolf. The pack liked keeping their privacy so as not to draw human attention to their true nature.
“If you can’t get Eden to help, you can always come back here. We’ll think of something else or protect you until Vanessa gives up.”
“She’ll never give up,” Roark said. “Turning an alpha werewolf who will one day be leader of the pack and making him her slavering pet would ensure she became queen of the vampires. And that’s all Vanessa cares about, the power and prestige of being the leader of her people.”
Kagan tried again to talk him into returning to the protection of the pack, but Roark declined, assuring him he would keep vigilant. If he found he couldn’t get what he wanted from Eden, he’d return then. After telling Kagan to reassure his parents that he was all right, he closed the phone.
Eden. He hated deceiving her even for this short time, but he needed her help. If Eden was as powerful a psychic as he sensed, she could use her abilities to find Vanessa and figure out a way to keep the vampire at bay. Maybe permanently.
A few years ago, he’d learned through a mutual friend that Eden’s boyfriend had died. He’d wanted to come to her then, but he knew if he did, he’d never be able to leave her again. Werewolves don’t mate with ordinary humans. The words ran through his mind like a litany every time he thought of her.
Now he needed her help.
But how did he tell the woman who’d always had a special place in his heart that he was a werewolf and needed to tap into her special abilities? It wasn’t going to be easy, but it was something that had to be done. He was glad she’d consented to go out with him. Because he needed her help, but also because he wanted her.
Roark tightened his hand over the cell phone and nearly jumped out of his skin when it rang. He almost answered it, ready to cut short another round with Kagan or another member of the pack, but he checked the number instead. “Unknown” sent a chill down his spine. He waited until voice mail picked up then listened to the message.
“Roark, darling. I don’t like to be kept waiting. Don’t think moving out of Los Angeles will keep me from finding you. You were meant to be mine. Get use to the idea. See you soon…”
Maybe Eden had the answer to his dilemma. He just hoped she didn’t run from him or think him crazy. He had to convince her to help him. Most of all, he had to make sure he didn’t put her in danger. He’d never forgive himself if Vanessa got wind that he was interested in Eden.
The vampire would stop at nothing to come after both of them if she found out. Roark swore he’d make sure Eden stayed safe from the heartless bitch.
He frowned. Would she be safe from him and his animalistic desires? Because he’d had a hell of a time keeping the wolf in check from the moment he’d scented her. He sucked in his bottom lip, much like he’d seen her do with her tempting mouth.
Yes, Roark thought, the greatest danger to Eden could very well not be his vampire stalker, but his own dark desires.
Coming soon to Kobo.