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A Snow While Werewolf Tale: Part One of Three
By Kristin Miller, Candace Havens
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Kristin Miller
All rights reserved.
Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest White Wolf Pack
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall," I whisper, staring at my reflection, "please tell me how to seduce them all."
Because, apparently, I'm not even capable of seducing one werewolf, let alone seven of them.
My stepmother and I manage White Estate — a successful bed and breakfast built by my late father — but lately we've fallen into a pit of debt and despair, and we can't seem to claw our way out of it. There is a solution, though it's far-fetched. This month's full moon celebration is special: it's my twenty-fifth birthday, and I'll finally be declared Alpha of our pack. Everyone is required to be here, including Malcolm Taylor, the super-hunky and mega-wealthy jeweler from New York City. I've had a crush on him from afar — he really is the perfect guy — and now he's here, in my home, and I finally have my chance to get to know him.
My stepmother didn't have to mention that he could singlehandedly save the estate. I'm keenly aware of our money troubles and the successes he's had in the jewelry business. If he'd simply fall head over heels for me, the way I have for him, everything would be perfect.
There's one problem, though.
Last night, when I met Malcolm in the main hall of our estate, he mistakenly thought I was janitorial staff. He called me sweetheart and patted me on the shoulder as if I were a freaking child.
At midnight, when I met him in his bedroom, I sloshed ice over my chin, shoved half a banana in my mouth, and then dropped the other half on the floor like a slob.
Thankfully, there's a solution.
Hunter, my childhood best friend who also returned last night, has always been a playboy — a self-proclaimed master of seduction with the ego to match. He's absolutely drool-worthy and can back up every bit of his talk. Built strong like a bear, he towers over my five-foot-four frame, with wide, sloping shoulders, a thick neck, and a square jaw. It's his features, soft as his body is hard, that really get my engine revving. The sexiest set of dimples I've ever seen flank his full lips. His jaw is clean-shaven, always smooth. And damn me as a liar if his blue eyes don't twinkle when he smiles.
He's the only one who can help me capture Malcolm's attention, for two reasons. One, he's only here for the weekend, which means we can get freaky without it being awkward afterward. His ski lodge business takes him all over the world, far from here, and he has no plans to stay. Two, he's always been able to get anything, and anyone, he wants. I need him to show me how he does it.
He agreed to teach me, of course — he's such a great friend — but he seduced me instead. I was panting with desire not once, not twice, but three times before half the night had passed.
Bottom line? I tried to seduce Malcolm and failed. Miserably.
I wasted away my Saturday morning and afternoon at the estate, assisting staff with pack needs. I tried to bury myself in my duties, and avoided my stepmother at all costs.
Now that the sun has set, I'm back at Hunter's lodge for my second lesson in seduction.
He says it involves six of his friends. And I'm scared as hell.
He can't possibly plan for me to entice all of them. He has to know they wouldn't be into a woman like me. From what I've heard, they're testosterone-raging Alphas to the extreme, and I'm just ... me. A little clumsy, shy, and naive.
Not their type at all.
Two knocks on the bathroom door jar me from my thoughts.
"Snow?" Hunter calls, his voice a gravelly rasp.
"You okay in there?"
"Yeah." I've been collecting my thoughts for the better part of an hour. Time to face the music. "I'm coming out."
As I push the door open, the air hiccups in my chest. Hunter is standing on the opposite side of the hall, directly across from the door, his foot kicked up behind him, his arms folded over his chest. Although it can't be possible, he seems to get better looking every time I see him.
"Thought you might've fallen in." A sexy grin teases the corner of his lips, just enough to reveal the adorable prick of his dimples. "Come on. I want to introduce you to the guys." He takes my hand the way he used to do when he wanted to show me an animal in the forest, or a hidden stream he'd stumbled upon. But now, currents of energy spiral between his hand and mine, zinging through my arm. "You're shaking. You shouldn't be nervous, Snow. They're all bark and no bite."
That's not what I'm worried about.
It's something about Hunter's touch, even in something as innocent as holding my hand, and the way my body responds to him now. On contact, heat blooms through my body, making my chest tingle and my knees weak. I want his hands on me everywhere, toying with me, leading me to that delicious peak that's just out of reach. I want his lips to crush mine, his tongue to sweep through my mouth and press against my cheek. I crave the taste of him and want him more than I've ever wanted anyone else.
But it's physical only.
It has to be.
That's the way Hunter lives his life. Moving from country to country, from one adventure to another without a permanent home. It makes settling down with one woman nearly impossible unless she doesn't mind traveling constantly. I'm not that woman, so I know what I'm getting into with him. I don't even bother hoping for more.
"I'm not nervous to meet them, exactly," I say, more to quiet the rattling inside me than anything else. "But what if they don't —"
The second I step into the lodge's great room, my words cut short.
I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but four guys huddled around a circular poker table, fisting beers in one hand and cards in the other was not it. It's not the poker table or the chaos ensuing over a busted hand of Texas Hold 'Em that has the breath frozen in my lungs. It's the guys' drop-dead, double-take–worthy good looks. I'd seen them when they'd first arrived and were exiting their cars in the driveway. But I must've been preoccupied because my brain didn't register the details of their hotness.
Golden tan skin. Square, stubble-covered jaws. Strong, wide shoulders. Full, lush lips revealing Colgate-white teeth. Roughed-up jeans. Arm tattoos peeking from beneath the sleeves of black T-shirts.
As my gaze skids from one to the other, I realize each one is better looking than the last. With the exception of Hunter, of course. The level of his sexiness is untouchable.
With a curse, the smallest werewolf of the bunch pushes back from his chair storms into the kitchen. Only then do I notice their size.
Holy Zeus, they're huuuuuge.
Not a single runt in the bunch.
A few of them must have Viking blood or something. Or maybe they've got mutated superhuman genes that make them larger than the average male. Whatever the cause, these guys are the most muscular men I've ever seen. Stripped right from a men's muscle magazine.
My mind careens straight for the gutter. Shirts ripping in half, revealing ripples of hot, wet corded muscle. Six packs. Twitching chest muscles. Dark tattoos. Pants dropping to the floor, revealing their long, thick —
"Snow?" Hunter's touching my arm. "You all right?"
"Mm-hmm." I suck up the drool that was collecting in my mouth. Did someone kick up the thermostat? I feel like I'm sweating. "Fine."
Every single one of them. F-i-fuck-me-fiiiine.
It's as if I've walked into a room full of the Avengers, drop-dead sexy and fully capable of beating anyone's ass. Only, these guys are hotter. And single.
"Winning, Cash?" Hunter says.
"You know it." Cash shuffles the deck, and the sound of cards slapping against one another fills the lodge. "Want me to deal you in?"
"Not this time. I'm still angry about the fifty bucks you stole from me last week." Hunter places his hand on the small of my back, and I can't help but press against the heat flowing from the heart of his palm. "Guys, I'd like you to meet Snow White."
They nod, mumble something about it being their pleasure, meet my eyes for a flicker of a second, and then return to their game.
What the hell?
My ego deflates. I may not be the most gorgeous woman they've ever seen, but they're a group of unmated male werewolves, and I'm the only woman in the vicinity. If I can't capture the attention of four playboys, how can I possibly expect Malcolm Taylor — a guy who chases after Jessica Rabbit types — to like me?
Hunter has to teach me more.
"Nice to finally meet you," the blond says, extending his hand, though he still doesn't meet my gaze. "I'm Derek, but these idiots call me Cash. Feel free to do the same."
"Nice to meet you, too." I take his hand and shake. His grip is firm, but his hands are soft, as if he's never worked a day in his life. "Can I ask the reason for the nickname?"
"Because he doubles his cash every time he sits down at this table," the burly one to his left snaps. "Though, he won't be doing that tonight. Not as long as I'm warming this seat."
"Ignore Harley. He thinks he's got a sense of humor." Cash flings a card, hitting Harley in the chest. "The White Estate is yours, yeah?"
"My father's actually, but since he passed, my stepmother —"
"You don't go to many of the full moon parties, though. Haven't seen you around in ages."
I cross my hands in front of me. "I don't care for crowds."
"If you don't show up every now and again," Cash says, dropping a fistful of chips into the center of the table, "people will start to think your stepmother keeps you locked in the tower."
"The lodge doesn't have a tower, moron." The one who looks like a sexy lumberjack — coarse, dark hair, thick beard, haunting onyx eyes — looks at the cards he's dealt and smacks them down again. "But Hunter does have a thing for locking women up. Remember that one we had to rescue from the bedpost all those years ago? She was a —"
"Diesel." Hunter's jaw is tight and set. "Don't you have a car to fix up or something?"
"Not here." Diesel shoots a megawatt smile at Hunter as Cash deals more cards around the table. "The Camaro's already in top form. Ran eleven-six in the quarter last month."
"He's a gearhead," Hunter whispers over my shoulder, his breath tickling the hairs on my neck. "Can't think about anything but American muscle."
"And women," Diesel interjects.
"He got his newest project last year," Hunter continues as if he didn't hear, "and hasn't stopped working on her since."
Now that I've tasted Hunter, I wouldn't mind him working on me ...
"Hey, gorgeous." Cash drags my attention back to him and for the first time, locks his eyes on mine. There's fire and determination in his steely gaze. "The game is 3-5-7. Jokers wild. And just for tonight," he says with a wink and a smile, "the ladies are, too."
Blood rushes my cheeks. He lets the innuendo fly loudly as he shuffles once more, and then his eyes shift to Hunter. A growl echoes through the lodge, though I'm not sure if it comes from Hunter or one of the brothers who just lost a good hand.
"Hunter might not want in, but that doesn't mean you can't play with us. What do you say?" a gruff voice rumbles from behind me. As he passes by, he hands me a glass of something that smells like bourbon. "I'm J.D., and I saved you a seat." He plops himself onto the nearest chair and pats his lap. "Come on, baby. Hop on."
"Oh — well, all right," I stutter, my cheeks flushing hot as I shuffle closer. "I don't really know how to play, though."
J.D. laughs huskily as Cash waggles his eyebrows.
"Oh, we'll show you," Diesel says, nodding slowly. "Don't worry. You'll be in real good hands."
"Snow, can I talk to you for a second?" Hunter touches my elbow gently, but heat blazes up my arm as he leads me toward the kitchen. "Probably best not to feed the animals. At least, not yet."
"What do you mean?"
"Nothing." He pulls out a stool from beneath the island and motions for me to sit. Removing a Guinness from the fridge, he pops the top and takes a long swig. "We should get back to those rules. You'll be going back to that asshat in the morning."
"Malcolm's not an asshat," I counter, frowning.
As he shrugs, averting his gaze from mine, waves of jealousy ripple in the space between us. I don't need heightened werewolf senses to pick up on it. But what reason would Hunter have to be jealous of Malcolm? It's not like Hunter wants to stick around and build a forever with me.
"Anyway, we need to go over the second rule." I'd almost forgotten. But I need to stay focused. I'm not here to play poker with Hunter's friends. I mean, he said the next rule involved them, but he couldn't have meant losing all my money. "Lay it on me."
"Oh, don't I wish." He exhales heavily, pounding the table with his fists. "Focus." He pinches his eyes closed and clenches his jaw, as if the last part was spoken for his benefit rather than mine. "The second rule of seduction is that you have to become the center of the object's universe ... while ignoring him completely."
I frown, taking a sip of my drink. The spicy, woodsy liquor trickles down my throat, warming me from the inside out. "You have to give me more than that."
Again, his jaw clenches and a dark shadow passes over his sapphire-blue eyes. "Contrary to what you might think, becoming the center of someone's world doesn't happen by constantly getting in front of them. It has nothing to do with close proximity at parties. In fact, it's the opposite."
I try to follow where he's going, but the sound of chips crashing, voices booming, and cards flying through the room is more than distracting.
"Let me get this straight." Leaning over the granite island, I rub my temples. "The first rule is to be the physical lure, glancing at him from afar, talking slowly, eating seductively, drawing attention to my mouth, touching him, but all the while pretending I really don't care at all. And the second rule is to become the center of his world without actually being in it?"
He nods decidedly. "You got it."
"No, I don't."
"It's exactly as you said."
"But ..." This isn't making sense. "How will he know I like him if I don't show him? And how do I become the center of his world if I'm standing on the outside?"
Behind me, one of Hunter's brothers accuses another of stacking the deck. Some kind of fight ensues, but I won't tear my eyes from Hunter's. I like Malcolm, I do. He's a perfect gentleman and fits the image of the dream guy I have in my head. Malcolm's amazing. Everyone in the pack knows it. If I can get him to fall for me, not only will I have nailed the most eligible bachelor in our wolf pack, but my family's debt will disappear. Bye-bye problems, hello happily-ever-after.
I have to know how to do this. And Hunter is the only one who can show me.
He leans over the island, matching my distance, and whispers, "You seduce his friends, instead. You become the life of the party, irresistible to everyone in his inner circle. Then, when you're surrounded by his closest friends, and each of them is absolutely captivated by you, he'll wonder why he isn't, too. You'll have the attention of every male in the room ... including the one you want ... without involving him in the seduction at all."
As my thoughts race, trying to catch up to his seductive genius, I worry my lower lip between my teeth. "I see what you're saying, but it's harder than it seems. If I knew how to be that captivating, I wouldn't be single."
"I bet you don't get asked out because you're closed off." Standing once more, Hunter takes a stiff drink. "You give off the vibe that you don't want to be asked. You'll have to flip that switch. Be alluring without actually inviting him closer."
"How, exactly, do I ... flip it?"
"When you first arrive at the party or event, grab one or two friends and head to the center of the room. Rather than smile all the time, over every little thing, only laugh if it strikes you — it can't be forced. Smirk. Wet your lips. Hold eye contact longer than normal, with every male you can."
"Isn't it rude to stare?"
"If you're staring blankly, yes." He narrows his eyes, and my skin prickles with heat. "But you're going to be imagining each guy in bed, screaming in ecstasy, his cock pulsing inside you."
Holy freaking shit.
Just like that, I'm wet, nearly panting, unable to rip my eyes from his.
Excerpted from Snow's Submission by Kristin Miller, Candace Havens. Copyright © 2017 Kristin Miller. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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