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The werewolf paid cash, sliding the change into the hip pocket of his jeans.
At the other end of the counter Samantha pretended to study the flyers on the cork bulletin board—a high school production of The Tempest, a ten percent discount on acupuncture, a tai chi class at the local Y. The scent of coffee and the whir of an espresso machine filled the air, suddenly stifling.
Samantha had time to grab coffee but not for a were encounter. And if she was late for work again tonight she’d lose this job, just like she had all the others.
Don’t see me. Don’t see what I am. I am normal. I am invisible. I am shielded by a protective light…
Too late. Her heart roller coastered downward. He was striding toward her.
She met his eyes, determined to show no fear. The werewolf almost looked human. His plain white tee stretched tight against washboard abs. There was a hint of a shadow about his chiseled jaw and in her mind’s eye she caught a flash of rumpled sheets and sex. Like a photographic overlay, the spirit of the wolf shifted inside and around him. It snarled at her and her spine stiffened, the skin on her arms tingling. There was no call for the were to be rude, she thought.
He stopped in front of her and leaned against the counter. His gaze took a leisurely stroll from her low-heeled boots to her mahogany hair and corkscrew curls. Petite and curvy, she was a twenty-something morsel in a lipstick-pink trench coat.
“What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?” His voice was a husky growl.
“I think you’re supposed to say, ‘nice girl like you’.”
“No.” He grinned. “I meant what I said.”
Dammit. He did know what she was. And worse, she was responding. Her pulse rose, warmth flooding her cheeks.
She hated this because a part of her wanted to smile, to flirt. Sam was lonely and not proud of the fact. But once the were and his clan discovered she was broken things would go bad. Fast. The weres were all about survival of the fittest, and the broken were a danger to the pack. She’d be driven out at best and at worst… She pushed that memory aside, the beating from a pack of female weres who had left her for dead. The surgeries that had followed. The drugs. The confusion. She’d wanted to die then, had expected death.
God, how she wanted to be normal.
“Sam?” The barista slid a white paper cup across the counter.
Samantha snatched the coffee, heedless of the heat burning the ridge of the cup into her palm. She turned to leave.
The were moved to block her and pressed a broad hand to his chest. “Sam? That’s my favorite name. Now I know it’s love.”
She rolled her eyes and stepped around him.
He bent his head as she passed. “Don’t leave, wolf shaman.”
“Excuse me.” She wove through the coffee shop and he followed her into the drizzly San Francisco night.
“Have dinner with me.”
He grinned. “Breakfast then.”
She shot him a black-layered look. “No.”
“Why not? I’m charming, good-natured and I don’t bite. Much.”
“I’m sure. But trust me, it will only end in tears.” Her own.
He stopped beneath a streetlamp, the cone of light illuminating swirling droplets of fog. It sparkled in his hair like shards of glass. “What’s life without a little risk? Take a chance.”
She shook her head and hurried down the slick street, the noise from the coffee shop fading behind her. He was wrong.
Title: Spirit on Fire
Book length: Novella (25,000 words)
Genre: Paranormal romantic erotica
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Author: Katlyn Conrad
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