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So I Married a Werewolf
A Seattle Wolf Pack Novel
By Kristin Miller, Rochelle French
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Kristin Miller
All rights reserved.
Men. Why couldn't they train as easily as dogs?
"Sit," Faith Hamilton said, holding the hot dog over Bailey's muzzle. "Stay. Staaaay."
The wirehaired terrier stared wide-eyed at the wiener, slobber dripping from his mouth. Drool puddled on the hardwood floor of her cabin, but Faith didn't mind. Living in the woods outside of Seattle had taught her not to sweat the small stuff. Dirt and drool were everyday occurrences.
"Good." Slowly, she set the treat on the dog's nose and backed away. "Calm. Breathe." She raised her hands, and then lowered them, hyperaware that her super hunky, amazingly sexy, yowza-did-she-ever-want-him next- door neighbor stood behind her, watching her every move. "You're being a good boy," she sang to the twitching pooch. "Almost finished."
Cross-eyed, the dog stared down his nose. He trembled in anticipation, but didn't move even a tiny muscle.
"See," Faith said. "He obeys."
"Look at him! He's like a different dog." Carter Griffin crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against Faith's kitchen counter. "Two weeks ago you would've lost your fingers doing something like that. His master is going to be impressed."
Bailey belonged to one of Carter's coworkers, who apparently needed help getting his dog under control. Carter had given Faith's name as a recommendation — must've been convenient having a professional dog trainer living next door — and she'd been happy to start up training.
"All it takes is focus, patience, and the willingness to really work with him." That, and being a twenty-five-year-old werewolf who can sense what a dog really needs. Well, she corrected, Carter and Bailey's master were werewolves too, and they hadn't had much luck. "He did great. As long as his master continues the training techniques at home, Bailey will be the most well-behaved dog he's ever had. Won't you, boy?"
The dog shook slightly, and then regained his composure, the wiener teetering on edge.
"What's your schedule like for the rest of the month? Pretty packed?" As Carter reached into his back pocket to pull out his wallet, his shirtsleeve crept up his wrist, revealing the tattoos hiding there. The designs were gorgeous and intricate, spiraling up his arm.
What she wouldn't give to spend the weekend studying the tattoos marked over every inch of his gloriously naked body. She couldn't help it — she shuddered. "Why? Is his master interested in teaching him a few more things?"
Bet Carter could teach her a thing or two ...
She shuddered again.
Carter shrugged his big, sturdy shoulders. "Maybe."
"Well, Bailey knows the basics, but tell him if he wants to get really advanced, I suppose I could teach him more tricks." Another couple weeks of lessons and she could get Bailey to fetch the paper or shut the fridge after he brought his master a cold beer. He might even be able to use the toilet if Carter's coworker really wanted to get crafty. "Do you know what he had in mind?"
"You and me, tomorrow night. He didn't have it in mind, I did. You get my drift." Carter dropped a bill on the counter to cover the training sessions. "Pizza. Beer. Some really cheesy action flick."
Bailey whimpered, begging to be released.
Faith knew the feeling: last summer, she'd watched Carter chop firewood on his back lawn, shirtless and sweating. It took every ounce of willpower she had not to rub her hands over his glistening muscles as he moved and flexed. She'd actually whimpered aloud, and thought he'd heard her, as he paused and turned her way.
What would he look like in his wolf form? she wondered for the umpteenth time. Although they often talked about Seattle Wolf Pack business, their Alpha, and other mutual wolf friends in the pack, they'd never shifted in front of each other. His hair would probably be dark and slick, but would his body be just as massive as it was in human form? Would he exude an overwhelming sense of power?
Did he ever wonder about her wolf form? He'd certainly never let on.
"Boy, you really know what a woman wants." Faith smirked as she imagined him shirtless and wielding an ax. "I don't have anything better to do on a Friday night than check out Jackie Chan."
Truth be told, action films weren't her favorite. And Jackie Chan needed to hop on the fast track to a retirement home. But for the last year or so, every Friday night, Carter had hiked the half mile from his cabin to hers and they'd had action movie marathons. It was always platonic, usually ending around midnight with Carter walking home and Faith going to bed alone.
No matter how much Faith wanted Carter to make a move, he wouldn't. She mentally snorted. Why would he? She wasn't his type, not by a long shot. The women he dated were tall, blond, Kate Upton look-alikes. Every guy's fantasy. Faith, on the other hand, was the exact opposite: five foot three, size twelve, brunette, and with a nasty scar running down the side of her neck.
"You sure I'm not taking up too much of your time?" Carter leaned over the counter and nailed her with a smoldering glance that warmed her cheeks. "I hate to monopolize your Fridays."
She shrugged. "I don't mind. What else would I be doing? Waxing my legs? Washing my hair?" She flipped the ends. "That's not me. But if you come over early we can give each other facials."
"You should give lessons on how to be the type of woman every man wants."
He was such a flirt.
"Knock it off."
He really shouldn't joke with her this way. It made her think things could be different between them. But if he thought she was attractive, he would've made a move by now. If he were interested, he wouldn't have wasted time dating other women; he certainly wasn't shy.
"I mean it." Chuckling, Carter shook his head, then headed for her fridge. "You're no-fuss. You don't spend hours in front of the mirror getting ready. How many times have I seen you in your sweats?"
She put up her hands. "Let's not go there." Oh God, she'd gotten too comfortable, too soon. The last few weeks had been rough, so she'd relaxed more than usual and broke out her yoga pants. That wouldn't be happening again.
"That's it. That's what I've been doing wrong," he said, bending over to pull a Coke out of the fridge. "I should be looking for a girl like you."
She averted her gaze from his backside moments before he turned, Coke in hand.
"Want one?" he asked.
"No, thanks." She shook her head. "And to be honest, you're not really my type. You yell at the television, you have holes in your socks, and you snore terribly."
"What?" He jabbed a finger her direction. "I only snored that one time when you made me watch Bridget Jones."
"It's a classic!"
"No way." He popped open the soda and drank. "It's like every other chick flick. Guy meets girl in some really corny way, girl wants guy, he plays it cool until he's bashed upside the head by some crazy feeling and calls it love."
"Chick?" She gawked. "You're such a downer."
"All those movies are the same. You've seen one of them, you've seen them all." He licked carbonation off his lip. "How could I not fall asleep?"
"It's not only chick flicks." She planted her hands on her hips and tried not to imagine sucking the carbonation off his lip the next time he took a drink. "You snored through Avatar."
Victory was hers.
"Okay, so my taste is limited to action and Westerns. Sue me." He stopped mid-drink. "Back up. What do you mean I'm not your type? Am I really that horrible?"
"No, it's —"
"I'm not as difficult to train as Bailey. I already know how to behave like a gentleman." He sat on the edge of a barstool as Bailey whined. "Look, I'm sitting, and you didn't even have to give me a treat."
Oh, he was a sight. Shaggy brown hair that fell past his ears. Icy blue eyes peering beneath light lashes. Round face. Short forehead.
Carter was cute, too.
"Release," Faith said, and Bailey dropped the hot dog to the floor. She'd almost forgotten about the poor little pup. He chomped on the end, tossing it back into his mouth. He licked his chops, and then stared at her expectantly. "I'm sure any of the dozen women you've dated this year would be able to vouch on your behalf." She snatched the Coke from Carter's hand and stole a sip.
"Give me a break," he said, eyeing her as she drank. "There haven't been a dozen."
Oh yeah, there had been. Not for her, though. Faith would've been happy to have a second date. Just one that went well enough to garner another.
Her best friend Tracy had set her up a handful of times, and things had never panned out well. Tracy couldn't exactly be faulted for setting Faith up with the wrong men: she didn't know Faith was a turned werewolf, able to shift at every full moon. And since the Seattle Wolf Pack lived secretly from the rest of the world, Faith couldn't exactly explain to her friend why she shouldn't date a non-shifter. There were werewolves in the pack who'd found their fated mate with a non-shifter — their Alpha being one of them — but Faith couldn't picture herself explaining why she donned fangs and grew more body hair than a yeti.
Dating werewolves wasn't easy either. They understood the pack dynamic and the differences between born and turned wolves. They even understood the concept of a Luminary, or a wolf's one and only fated mate.
But the ones she'd dated over the last couple years had never stuck around long. Tracy said it had something to do with the walls Faith put up around herself and the way she never let anyone in. Faith couldn't help but feel like it had more to do with her looks.
More specifically, the scar she couldn't hide.
"You pick the movie." Carter stood and hooked Bailey up to his leash. "I promise I won't fall asleep."
"I won't torture you with Leap Year, like I'd planned," Faith said, keeping the granite island between them. "I'm not feeling up for it."
"Bad morning?" His brows scrunched together.
Phone calls from her little brother didn't always set her day off wrong, but this one had. It wasn't what he said on the message that had her worried — it was the cautious tone and the tremble in his voice. "Dawson called this morning. I missed him, because I was out walking Bailey, but his voice sounded strange on the message."
"Sometimes it's hard to tell from machines."
"Yeah." As she scratched her head, the phone rang, making her jump. She removed the cordless from its base on the counter and glanced at the screen. "It's him."
Carter nodded, and instead of leaving the way she thought he would, he moved around the island and plopped onto her couch. Making himself comfortable, he kicked an ankle on the opposite knee, situated the Coke between his legs, and peeled open the pages of the magazine on the coffee table. Guess he didn't feel the need for her to experience any privacy.
"Hey, Dawson." She shuffled around the island so she could watch Carter as she spoke. She simply liked looking at the man. "What's up?"
Dawson called only when he was short on money. She worked three jobs to pay her younger brother's way through college, and oftentimes it wasn't enough. Mornings were devoted to walking dogs for people in the neighborhood, afternoons were consumed by private dog training lessons, and evenings were spent in front of her computer creating her question- and-answer dog blog, Have a Little Faith.
"Don't freak out," her brother said.
"Then don't start conversations with that!" She smacked her hand to her forehead. "Spit it out."
"Do you know that professor I've been studying under for the last year?"
"The communications one?" She peeked at Carter from between her fingers. He grinned. She frowned.
"I don't know how you manage to remember every minuscule detail of my life. You must take notes when I call." Something crinkled on the other side of the line. "She wants me to go with her to a conference in San Jose next weekend."
Faith sighed. "That's great!"
"Mm-yeah," Dawson said, sounding like his cheeks were full of something gummy. "But it's three grand."
Faith did a mental check of her body. Nope. Not bleeding money. Yet.
"How important is it?" she asked.
"Professor Reynolds said if I pick up the concepts at the conference, I could be her intern for the rest of the semester." He cleared his throat. "She's amazing, Faithie. You should see what she can do with something simple like Photozone."
"Oh, now we're getting down to it." Faith strode into the living room and plopped beside Carter. He turned his attention to her, draping his arm over the back of the couch. When she didn't acknowledge him, he playfully kicked her foot. She kicked him back. In the shin. "Just how amazing is she?"
"It's not like that. It's an opportunity to meet people on the cutting edge of the business. There's a big group of us going."
"What else?" she asked. "There's more, isn't there?"
"You're good," he said. "Better than Mom and Dad were."
As if on cue, Bailey barked and nuzzled his head between Carter's legs. Carter lifted the magazine and spilled soda all over his crotch.
"Damn it!" he hollered, jumping off the couch. "Bailey!"
"I want to go for my MFA in graphic design ..." Faith heard Dawson say over Carter's grumbles. "At Yale. I found out I was accepted yesterday. Professor Reynolds encouraged me to apply in the fall. I didn't want to tell you before I knew if I'd gotten in and —"
"Whoa, whoa, hold the phone. Did you say Yale?" Faith's skin went pinprickly and she stopped staring at Carter's wet crotch. "I'm feeling faint."
Carter froze, hands out from his sides. "You okay?"
She waved him off.
"I got in," Dawson went on. "I actually did it."
"That's great, Dawson. I'm thrilled for you." Then why did she feel as if a pile of bricks had settled on her shoulders? She leaned forward and slumped a little. "Did you apply anywhere else?"
"I want Yale, Faith." He sounded sincere. Pained. "I really want it, but even with my job, grants, and loans, it won't be enough to cover books, tuition, and my living expenses. I'm going to need your help."
She sighed. "I know. You don't have to say any more."
Images of dollar signs and massive amounts of green dough spun through her head. She'd be paying off his student loans forever. She'd never get on her feet.
Guilt soured her stomach as those horrible thoughts trickled in.
Dawson had graduated high school as valedictorian, and then majored in design at WSU, just like their father had. Going to Yale, continuing in their father's footsteps, probably made Dawson feel closer to him.
If she could help him reach that dream, she would.
She threw herself back against the cushions, laid her head back, and closed her eyes. "I'll deposit the cash in your account first thing in the morning. Go to the conference and we'll talk when you get back."
She was going to need a winning lottery ticket to get out of this mess.
"Seriously?" he screeched. "You're the best."
"I know. Love you, dude."
"Love you, too."
She ended the call, fell over, and screamed into the couch cushion.
"You okay?" Carter said through her scream.
She looked up at him and nodded. "Nothing too major."
"Good. Then I'll let you have your mental breakdown in peace. I'm going to head home and change," Carter said, dragging Bailey out the door, his arm covering the wet spot on his pants. "I'll pick the movie tomorrow night. And I'm bringing something harder than beer."
"You're a good friend," she said.
But every second of every day she wished he was something more.CHAPTER 2
When Carter awoke the next morning, he was still thinking about Faith and the phone call she'd had with her brother. It had bothered him. Probably more than it should've, since her family dynamic was none of his business. Dawson had asked for money, and of course she'd send it to him. She always did; she was warmly generous that way. Carter hated someone taking advantage of her kindness ... even if that someone was her only living blood relative.
He'd see her tonight for their movie ritual. Maybe he'd ask her why she didn't just tell Dawson to stand on his own two feet ...
Excerpted from So I Married a Werewolf by Kristin Miller, Rochelle French. Copyright © 2014 Kristin Miller. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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