For Killian Marsden, werewolf romance is overrated. After all, he should know, since he’s a half-werewolf and an editor for a romance-publishing house. He’s tired of reading mate bond fairytales, because real life doesn’t work that way. In the real world, Alphas abandon their half-breed children. Not that Killian’s jaded or anything. Simply realistic. So when werewolf Alpha Brett comes knocking, demanding explanations on a rejected manuscript, Killian reels away, or at least tries to.
Brett is a walking, talking Alpha cliché: big, possessive, and growly. His last name is Wolfe, for crying out loud. But Brett is also trustworthy, devoted to his pack, and a little silly when in love. Soon, Killian discovers that maybe, just maybe, he might love Brett in return.
Unfortunately, Killian is not the only one who wants to claim Brett. He will have to set aside his beliefs about mate bonds and deadbeats if he wants his own happily ever after werewolf romance.
THE FOREST was dark and ominous, the crinkling of the fallen leaves under the woman’s feet eerily loud in the silence. She looked right and left, her heart beating faster and faster, her breath coming out in pants. She just knew something was watching.
“H-Hello?” she stammered out into the darkness. “Is anyone there?”
A distinctly animalistic figure emerged behind her. For a few moments, the woman didn’t see the creature stalking her, but then, the light of the moon revealed the shadow of the monster. She turned and got a view of claws and fangs before the growling thing pounced on her.
Blood and gore splattered on the screen. Killian burst into laughter and ate another mouthful of popcorn. “Yeah, that’s clever,” he mocked. “Is anyone there? Like serial killers and things that go bump in the night are going to respond to that.”
He wiped a tear from the corner of his eye. Damn, he loved watching these B-grade monster movies. For people like him, they were better than Jim Carrey comedies—and Killian really loved Jim Carrey.
The sound of his cell phone ringtone distracted him from the poorly filmed gory scene. With a sigh, he took one more longing glance at the screen where the wolfman invader from Mars—as per the title of the movie—ravaged the fallen body of the busty blonde, then went to pick up the phone.
He’d left the damn thing on the coffee table in the inches of space that served as a hallway, and he got there just in time to see it vibrate itself to the floor. Killian winced as the item struck the tiles with an ominous crack. Thank God he hadn’t bothered to invest in one of those little toys people called smart phones these days. His ancient brick-like Nokia did the job more than adequately, and it had earned several cracks for its loyalty.
Killian picked up the still ringing—an amazing performance after that rough tumble—phone and took the call. “You’re doing it again,” his mother snapped at him without preamble. “You’re watching one of your little movies.”
Killian prepared himself for a difficult conversation. “Hello, Mom,” he said. “How have you been?”
“Don’t ‘how have you been’ me, young man. They’re not good for you, Killian,” she ranted. “They cultivate self-dislike and distrust for your own kind.”
Killian rolled his eyes. “The last time I looked, I had no connection whatsoever with wolfmen invaders from Mars. Unless you conveniently skipped telling me some very important information, and my dad was actually an alien who returned to his home planet on his massive spaceship.”
He could have easily added some sort of innuendo about “lightsabers,” but for fuck’s sake, she was his mom, and just the idea grossed him out. Besides, stirring her temper further wouldn’t help his case. He could practically hear her biting her lip to refrain from a scathing comment. In the end, she said, “It’s Saturday night, Killian. I have more of a social life than you do. You need to go out, to meet people your own age. You can’t live in your little movies forever.”
“I’m perfectly social, Mom,” he answered. “I go to work five days a week. On weekends, I want a little privacy. Is that too much to ask?”
“Your work doesn’t count and you know it. Hell, it’s one symptom of the problem. You have so many talents, Killian, and you bury yourself in books and manuscripts. Why?”
“I like books,” Killian said defensively. It wasn’t even a lie. Other than his passion for B-grade horror flicks, books were what kept him going when he lost hope for people in general. Sure, some of the ones that passed through his hands were trash, just like people. Just the same, getting a job as an editor at a small publisher had been a dream come true.
His mother didn’t agree. “You could have done so much more with your life. But I’m not going to badger you about your career choices.”
Except she would. Killian knew the conversation wasn’t over, not by a long shot. She’d just called to pester him about something else, in this case, Killian’s sorely lacking romantic prospects. Confirming his thoughts, she added, “Oh, honey, I just hate knowing you’re so alone. You know I only want you to be happy. I want you to find someone who loves every part of you unconditionally.”
“Like you did with Dad?” he blurted out, wincing even as he said the words.
His mother released a heavy sigh. “The fact that my relationship with him didn’t work out doesn’t mean anything. He had his reasons for leaving.”
“I’m sure he did,” Killian bit out, his hold on the cell phone tightening so much the plastic creaked. “Look, Mom, thanks for the advice, but I have to go. I promise I’ll try to be more social.”
“Fine.” She didn’t sound convinced, not that Killian blamed her. “At the very least, drop by tomorrow, okay? I want to have my baby home for a change.”
Killian couldn’t deny her that. Before she could launch herself into a rant over his living conditions—her second topic of choice when she nagged him—he morosely answered, “Okay, Mom. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He ended the conversation with that promise and dragged himself back to the living room. It wasn’t like he didn’t want to find a partner. He did, and his mother had been very supportive. She was a proud member of the local We Love Our Gay Kids group, and his homosexuality had never been an issue in their little family. She would have joined a We Love Our Werewolf Kids group if it had existed. It didn’t—and sadly, his arguments with her all rotated around his werewolf abilities.
Courtesy of his supernatural legacy, he’d always been stronger and faster than other kids. His advanced senses had given him real trouble growing up, since he hadn’t known how to control any of it. On occasion, he’d been forced to pretend he had asthma, so that he could explain the violent seizures he had whenever he passed by certain locations. Pollen from a good number of flowers still made him sneeze, and he didn’t even want to think about laboratory work. Just stepping into his school’s chemistry lab had made him feel like his lungs were burning.
The boys’ locker room had been another type of hell. Suffice to say, with all the scents of male musk and sweat, he hadn’t encountered any trouble in understanding his sexuality from a very early age.
It was only in books that he’d been able to find refuge. Oh, he could have been at the top of his class in most athletic disciplines, especially track, but he’d always felt he had an unfair advantage so he’d kept it all in check. But in the library, where the scent of old leather and ink surrounded him, he felt safe.
How could he possibly explain that to a normal human? His mother might have been able to accept his father’s nature, but that hadn’t worked out so well either. Not to mention that people like her were rarer than genuinely good werewolf movies.
Grumbling under his breath, Killian plopped back down on the couch. He’d forgotten to pause the movie, so it had played up to a scene where the hero, a muscular body builder type, faced the evil monster armed with only a silver dagger. Already irritated, Killian turned off the television. He hated werewolves, but he hated heroes even more.
THE FOLLOWING workweek found Killian in a terrible mood. As he’d expected, his visit with his mother hadn’t gone well. He’d tried to convince her that he just needed to take his time to find someone, but he hadn’t managed to get through to her. By the end, he’d lost his temper, and when he’d left, she had been in tears.
To top it off, his coffee machine broke, and the only place that sold coffee on his way to work was a busy shop run by regular, and less than scrupulous, humans. Killian would have rather cut off his own hand than to use it to pay for that kind of slush. His taste buds shivered in horror at the idea of re-experiencing the one time he’d dared to enter that place. It might work for humans, but his senses kept him away from such establishments.
By the time he reached the building that housed his publisher and drove his car into the underground parking lot, morning traffic had annoyed him even more. For that reason, instead of taking the elevators, he used the stairs. It might have seemed a little odd—his work place was on the twentieth floor, after all—but the physical effort helped him clear his head. Hell, he didn’t even break a sweat. Sometimes being a paranormal creature really was convenient.
The front desk secretary, a perky blonde named Samantha Donovan who looked dubiously similar to one of the werewolf invader’s victims, greeted him with an enthusiastic smile. “Hey, Killian. Why so glum?”
Killian shrugged. “Bad weekend. What’s up?”
“The usual. I hear some more submissions came in. Just try not to have a face-off with BB. There’s been a problem with one of the distributors, and she’s fuming.”
Killian grimaced. He was still only a junior editor, so he had to tread lightly if he wanted to keep his job. People like him were the first ones who got sacked if the boss lady went on a rampage. Getting fired would be the absolute apex of his so far terrifically bad day.
He surreptitiously made his way to his small office. The space seemed more like a matchbox than a working area for a person involved in a creative process, but as a rule, it didn’t bother him. Now, it caused his wolf stir restlessly. To make things even worse, someone had decided to cheer up the bland place by adding a bouquet of colorful chrysanthemums. Because the best addition to his already frustrating life would be tormented sinuses.
With a heavy groan, he leashed his wolf—something that came easier to him when he wasn’t under a lot of stress—then took the polluting bouquet and carried it back to Samantha. She must have been the one to place it there, because she looked disappointed. “I’m afraid I have bad allergies,” Killian told her apologetically. “They’re beautiful flowers, but they look better on your desk anyway.”
A sneeze—not entirely intentional—convinced her of Killian’s honesty, and she smiled. “I didn’t know, Killian. Leave them here. Next time, I’ll remember.”
Killian handed over the bouquet, and their hands touched. Much to his dismay, even over the perfume of the flowers, he could smell the moment when her scent changed. In hindsight, he should have realized earlier that she was attracted to him, but they weren’t all that close. Or maybe it was a new thing. Either way, she was barking up the wrong tree. He didn’t have any inclination whatsoever toward females, and even if he had, he would have been loath to get involved with someone at work.
However, telling her that would make them both profoundly uncomfortable. And so, with one last smile, Killian retreated into his now flower-free office and booted up his computer. Dwelling on the failure of his personal life wouldn’t be constructive. His job waited, and besides, he kind of looked forward to it.
Although his job description implied that he’d have to handle already accepted manuscripts, he got to work in acquisitions as well. Six months ago, their acquisitions editor, his boss’s sister, had eloped with her then-boyfriend, supposedly to Barbados—which had caused quite an upheaval in the firm. For the publisher to survive, the submitted manuscripts had been distributed to various editors around the firm, including him. It had felt like a promotion, although it really wasn’t, since it didn’t come with an increase in money. Just the same, Killian was proud of it.
Whatever positive emotion he might have mustered faded away when he clicked on the first e-mail that waited in his inbox. After the first few words, or rather insults, it became obvious that this person—Anastasia Black—was very angry with him for an earlier refusal of her work. For his own sanity, Killian just deleted the e-mail. Irate would-be authors appeared now and then in his line of work. He tried to be polite in his refusals of manuscripts, but people tended to take offense anyway. And really, he didn’t need that sort of thing today.
Besides, he remembered Anastasia. Her work had been a paranormal story that had struck him because the heroine had been completely perfect in every way, except the one that mattered. He would have recommended her submitting the story again, but he didn’t think the unlikeable main character could be fixed. After two years’ experience in editing and another half a year working in acquisitions too, he was confident enough in his opinion to refuse the book. He couldn’t say it felt pleasant to be hated by someone, but he knew he had done the right thing.
Another manuscript was waiting in his inbox—also paranormal, also a werewolf story, like Miss Black’s. Hoping it would be better than his previous reads, Killian downloaded the file and double-clicked on the document. Instantly, he groaned. He didn’t feel very optimistic about it when he realized the author had failed to format the manuscript as per the submission guidelines.
Just the same, he gave the story a chance and started to read. The author’s voice felt a little awkward, a little inexperienced, but the story itself had flow and was pretty engrossing. It also boasted the regular clichés—the meek, virginal heroine who brought the powerful, strong Alpha wolf to his knees. But it was well done, and in spite of her less than impressive temperament, the heroine had some good points.
He made a few notes on spots that could be revised and areas that were cluttered with info dumps or head-hopping and started composing an e-mail of acceptance. The author was obviously a newbie at publishing, but some aspects of writing could be taught. He was willing to give her a hand, as long as she accepted it.
The day dragged on after that. He took a break for lunch, but maybe he shouldn’t have, because none of the other stories to be considered impressed him. He marked one other manuscript as a “maybe” and forwarded it to a coworker to ask for her opinion. After that, he opened an already accepted work and began the actual process of revising a manuscript.
Finally, the clock pointed its merciless hands toward five and twelve, letting Killian know that the workday had ended. He finished the chapter he’d been reading, added a few more comments, and saved his progress. He could continue working from home, and sometimes, he did, but tonight, he felt restless. A run through the park would do wonders for his mood.
Before he turned off his computer, Killian decided to check his e-mail again. To his surprise, he found another message from Anastasia Black had come in. For some reason, he opened it, and instantly knew he shouldn’t have. “I’ll make you sorry for ever messing with me, Killian Marsden” it read.
Killian sighed heavily and made a mental note to scan the computer for viruses tomorrow. One never knew when an angry person launched an attack, and e-mails could often carry nasty bugs. He marked any further communications from the address in question to go into spam and shut down his browser. Whatever. He’d have the IT guy make sure everything was safe. There were scarier things in this world than one person’s hatred, his mother’s disappointment being one of them. Besides, stories about things that went bump in the night made him laugh. He knew too much about the paranormal world to be intimidated by one angry author. If Anastasia Black actually wanted to make good on her threat, she’d find herself with quite a surprise.
This was a fun story to read.
Read the full review at
From their clumsy first date to the twists and turns of the plot that followed, the author had me laughing, yelling and blushing from one page to the next.
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