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Authors: Gabrielle Holly

Animal Behavior

BOOK: Animal Behavior
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Animal Behavior

Gabrielle
Holly

 

Book 1 in the Wolf’s Mark series.

 

Alex and Gwen are both desperate
for change. They find it in an unexpected place.

When shy veterinarian Alex turns to
dark magic to cure his awkwardness around women, a botched spell transforms him
into a werewolf. By day he’s the star of TV’s
Dog Talker
and uses his
powers to communicate with pets. Under the full moon, he becomes a man-beast
driven by his unquenchable need for sex.

Gwen is running from a string of
bad relationships and a failed business venture when an unexpected inheritance
brings her to the tiny northern Minnesota town of Talbot. She’ll soon learn
that her grandfather left her much more than just his home.

As Alex struggles to keep his
insatiable libido under control, Gwen stumbles into his life and complicates
everything. Until she understands the werewolf pack—and her unique role in
it—Alex must be on his best animal behavior.

 

A
Romantica®
paranormal erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave

Animal Behavior
Gabrielle Holly

 

Chapter One

Present

 

Since his change, Alex’s senses had become incredibly acute.
Over the past few years, he’d learned that his supernatural powers waxed and
waned with the lunar cycle. At their strongest, they seemed like more of a
nuisance than an advantage.

It was almost moon week, and even with the convertible top
down Alex could smell sex on the woman in the passenger seat. Their two scents
mingled together usually turned him on, but today it just pissed him off. It
was a reminder of what he’d become—of what he’d
chosen
to become. Most
days he felt as if he’d hit the lottery—anything he wanted was his for the
taking. But every once in a while, the last stubborn bits of Old Alex struggled
to the surface to remind him of what he’d left behind when he’d escaped his
life of mediocrity.

New-and-improved Alex glanced at himself in the rearview
mirror. The hazel eyes were the same, but almost everything else about
him—inside and out—had changed. Sometimes he missed the shy, nerdy, slightly
awkward guy he’d been and the small circle of friends who had adored him in
spite of it. Now it seemed the only ones who gave a damn about Alex didn’t
really know him at all.

To the fans he was the handsome, confident television star.
To the network executives he was just a source of revenue. It was unlikely that
any of them would have given Old Alex the time of day—and he wasn’t sure he
could blame them. He spent a good portion of his obscene salary trying to bury
that guy under fast cars and sex. Why wouldn’t that part of him just die and
let him enjoy himself already?

Alex swiped the beads of sweat from his forehead, and
adjusted his sunglasses. Even the perfect California weather annoyed him today
and he couldn’t wait to get back to Minnesota. Up north, the leaves would be
changing and the nights would be crisp. They still had to film the last
Dog
Talker
episode for the season, do a little post-production work, then he
could head home and take a break.

He gunned the engine and swooped around the show’s tour bus,
ignoring the frantic honks from the vehicles around him. From the corner of his
eye, he could see Charlene swivel in the passenger seat and look over her
shoulder. Her fear seeped from her pores and the chemical signals filled his
nose. It agitated him even more and he was beginning to wonder if their
arrangement was worth the trouble.

Three months ago, it had seemed kind of perfect. He needed
someone to fuck on a regular basis and she was more than willing. They’d even
made the whole thing legit by filing a “consensual relationship agreement” with
Human Resources and having the network lawyer draw up a litigation-proof
contract. Alex got an almost-daily fix and a marginally efficient production
assistant in the deal.

The physical attraction between Alex and Charlene was
undeniable. She’d assured him from the start that she was only interested in a
fuck buddy, no strings attached. Alex had believed her, but knew that sometimes
sex could turn into something more.

When he’d suggested a legal contract she’d agreed without
hesitation. Either one of them could sever their business or personal
relationships without repercussions. Charlene’s employment with the network
would be based solely on her job performance and her arrangement with Alex
would be based on mutual desire. The guys on the crew all drooled over
Charlene. They made horny comments to each other about her enormous fake tits,
tight round ass and all around “rockin’ bod” . Alex didn’t give a shit about
any of that. He just needed a willing receptacle to keep him out of trouble.

Just before leaving for the shoot, they’d had a quickie in
the editing bay. The bleached blonde had been wagging her ass at him all
morning and he was happy to oblige. They kicked the editor out of the dim
little room and pulled down the shade on the door. She tried to kiss him—she
always did—but Alex wasn’t interested in her mouth.

His cock had been rock-hard by the time he lifted her onto
the console—pushing coffee cups and empty chip bags aside to make space. He
shoved his hand up under Charlene’s short skirt, tugged aside her thong and
fingered her shaved pussy. She was ready for him. She was always ready for him.
He unzipped his jeans and rammed into her so hard that she cried out in shock.

Alex liked to fuck her from behind and when she had tried to
kiss him again, he’d pulled out, yanked her to her feet, spun her around and
pushed her, chest down, onto the laminate worktop. Digging his fingers into her
hips, he thrust into her. The editing bay echoed with the sound of his body
slamming into hers and the slurping of her dripping sex. She reached back and
grabbed the edge of the counter to keep from being pushed into the blinking
stacks of video-editing equipment.

He was merciless, pounding into her fast and hard. The
cadence of her breathing had quickened and he’d felt her climax building. Not
that it mattered if she came or not. This arrangement was all about what he
needed.

The walls of her pussy clamped down around him in crazy
spasms. He loved the way her hot flesh squeezed his rod. When she cried out, he
was sure the crew could hear her. He didn’t care. By then his own orgasm was
building and he’d shut out everything around him. His balls tightened and he
slammed into her hard, filling her with his cum.

Alex draped himself over her back and used her body to
support him while his breathing returned to normal. When he regained his
senses, he withdrew from her, pulled a handful of tissues from the box by her
head and wiped off his still-throbbing cock.

The high hadn’t lasted long. It never did. The
all-too-familiar shame started gnawing at him immediately. He knew that
wouldn’t last long either. Soon his need would build again and the whole,
endless cycle would start all over.

Charlene stood and yanked down her skirt and he’d held out
the tissue box. “We should get going. We’ve got a shoot,” he’d muttered.

He left without looking her in the eye and headed to the
john.

An intern had been coming out of the men’s room just as Alex
walked in. The kid gave him a knowing nod and held up his hand for a high-five.
Alex had left him hanging, too agitated to celebrate his “score”.

Alex was convinced that this mindless fucking was a
necessity, but it was getting old. He’d entered into this supernatural
adventure with naïve good intentions. All he wanted was to gain enough
confidence to talk to women and eventually find a partner. Instead, he’d wound
up with a raging libido that kept him constantly on the prowl.

The urges gnawed at him endlessly and grew only stronger as
the great orb waxed. Like a man trekking across the desert, Alex tried to
satisfy himself at every oasis. He knew he had to get what he could now. During
moon week, when his urges were at their worst, he just couldn’t risk it.

From the beginning he’d been warned about that time in the
lunar cycle. His strength would be at its peak but his self-control would be
unmanageable, at least for the first few years. It had been nearly three years
since his change and he still hadn’t gotten a handle on the impulses that
consumed him nearly every waking moment.

Admittedly, Charlene had helped slake his needs, but he was
never satisfied. He’d definitely gotten more than he’d bargained for when he’d
gone seeking a cure for his lack of confidence. Now he wondered if the cure for
shyness was worse than the affliction. Hell, the cure had
become
the
affliction. There was no going back now, not that he was sure he wanted to.

Someday he would be able to master his sexual drive. In the
meantime, he’d have to concentrate on the positives. He’d become strong and
imposing. His career had catapulted to heights he couldn’t have even imagined
before, and he had more money than he could spend. And the way women looked at
him now was a rush. Only part of the attraction was his physical appearance.

He knew he was exuding something they couldn’t even
perceive. The pheromones rolled off him in waves that caused women to stop what
they were doing and look up when he walked by. Even though he was sure humans
couldn’t actually smell the sex chemicals, their influence was undeniable. It
was a primal signal that couldn’t be ignored.

Alex could have had a different woman every night, but the
risks were too great. There was no way of knowing when a one-night stand might
turn out to be a psycho stalker. And the human part of him had no desire to
leave a trail of broken hearts in his wake. Charlene was an indispensable tool
for keeping him out of trouble, even if she didn’t fully understand her role.

Alex fucked her nearly every day, but he knew he wasn’t the
only one. He could smell other men on her from across the room. She tried to
mask it with soap and water, and he supposed she wasn’t even aware that she
reeked of sex. It didn’t matter. Their agreement said nothing about
exclusivity.

If he’d had romantic feelings for Charlene, the thought of
her mating with another would have driven him crazy, but he didn’t. She could
screw every guy in Los Angeles for all he cared. It wasn’t as if he was going
to catch anything. He couldn’t get sick, and if he smelled disease on her—as he
could on others—he would have sent her to the doctor and kept his distance
until she was fixed up.

After their encounter in the editing bay, Alex had stood at
the men’s room sink and washed her sticky juices from his hands, straightened
his clothes and splashed water on his face. That would hold him for a while. When
he’d looked at himself in the men’s room mirror, his stomach contracted with
the phantom hint of remorse.

An hour later, he glanced at his image in the convertible’s
rearview and had the same gut-wrenching reaction.
I am such an asshole
.
The thought was a vestige of his former self—the one who would have felt guilty
for using another human being the way he was using his assistant. But that was
before. He wasn’t the same man he’d been three years ago. The reflection
smirked.
You’re not a
man
at all
.

* * * * *

Gwen Chaney wound her way through the stacks of boxes,
searching for the packing tape. She found it in the dog bed—along with two
tennis balls, a kitchen towel and the red lace bra she’d been searching for all
morning. Gwen lifted the golden retriever’s paw and gathered up the stash.
“Seriously, Jez? You’ve got a hoarding problem. At least you’re not a chewer.” The
dog thumped its tail.

Jezebel was built like a barrel with legs. Gwen had had high
hopes for turning her companion into a lean, mean, Frisbee-catching machine,
but after two years in L.A., the dog still waddled when she walked and wouldn’t
run after a flying disk if her life depended on it—unless, of course, it were
made of bacon.

Gwen’s plan to reinvent herself had fared about as well. Her
skin was still as pale as the day she’d left the Great White North and her
figure would always be Rubenesque. She loved her curves, but she wouldn’t be
roller skating down the Venice Beach boardwalk in a crop top and short-shorts
any time soon.

In all respects, their West Coast adventure had been a
complete bust. Gwen had dreamed up a picture-perfect new life under the
California sun. As soon as her online store had started to show a positive cash
flow, she’d decided to load up her rusty Jeep, chuck the cold Minnesota winters
and head to the coast. She’d found a small apartment within walking distance to
the beach, set up an internet connection and gotten back to hawking her wares
in cyberspace.

By this time she should have been able to move into a bigger
place, get a better car and have a steady boyfriend. None of those things had
happened. Gwen had never had a head for finances and she hadn’t taken into
account the increased cost of living. As she’d watched her bank balance
dwindle, she’d had to admit to herself that selling her upcycled, shabby-chic
furnishings on the web just didn’t have enough of a profit margin out here.

Back home, she could buy an end table for a couple of bucks
at a yard sale, strip it down, fix it up with some decorative paint and turn it
around for a little cash. But in paradise everything cost twice as much—the
garage-sale prices, the gas to prospect for hidden treasures and the supplies
she needed to make them magical. Her tiny third-floor walk-up was not ideal for
storing and working on inventory, but it was all she could afford.

Shutting down her virtual storefront had been bittersweet,
but the timing was right. Gwen was somehow relieved that she’d refurbished her
last diamond in the rough—at least for the foreseeable future. Lugging her
final piece—a solid-oak nightstand—up two flights had earned her a wrenched
back and by the time she’d finished giving it a faux-distressed crackle coat, she’d
been choking on paint fumes. The piece had sold fairly quickly, but with hardly
enough profit to keep the lights turned on. Just the morning before she’d
lugged it back down to her car, driven to the shipping station and sent it off
to—ironically—Minnesota.

Gwen unspooled a length of clear tape and secured the flaps
of the last cardboard box. She wrote
Kitchen
on the side in permanent
marker and tossed the tape and pen into her purse. “Well, that about does it,
Jez. Wanna go for a ride? A really, really long ride?”

Jezebel thumped her tail then struggled to her feet with a
groan. Gwen rummaged through her purse for her keys and her fingers touched the
edge of a padded envelope. She pulled it out and read the return address for
the hundredth time—”Jacobs, Jeffers and Callahan, Attorneys at Law”. She
pinched the envelope to make sure the keys were still inside, and shoved it
back in her purse.

It had been six months since her grandfather died. With no
other living relatives, the ironclad will had been uncontested but it had still
taken a while for the executors to transfer the property to her. She’d been
left the house and outbuildings on twenty-seven acres, an old pickup truck and
enough cash to start over.

BOOK: Animal Behavior
9.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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