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Authors: E. A. Price

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E.A. Price - Valentine's Wolf (Grey Wolf Pack #11)

BOOK: E.A. Price - Valentine's Wolf (Grey Wolf Pack #11)
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Valentine’s Wolf

(Book 11, Grey Wolf Pack Romance Novellas)

By E A Price

Copyright ©2015 by Elizabeth Ann Price

All rights reserved. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author.

 

Disclaimer

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

Front cover

Both images used to create the front cover have been deemed to be in the public domain, and available for reuse. The images have not been modified, and no offense is meant in the use of them.

The wolf picture ‘lonely wolf’ is by Gethu Daniel, found on Flickr at
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ghetzu/3535994578/

The embracing couple was found at
http://igotfiredsoibecameanactress.com/2012/10/26/3/

Three years ago

“Let her go, Morgan.”

The witch sneered at him and clutched the crying woman to him. “She’s an abomination.”

Jake ignored the bellowing of his wolf and forced himself to remain calm. His eyes flicked to the left where his fellow enforcer, Leo, lay sprawled on the ground in a pool of his own blood.

“Morgan, just let her go and I’ll put my gun down. Nobody has to get hurt.”

Morgan snorted, and the fireball in his hand crackled. He was preparing to burn her. Jake could see it in Morgan’s eyes. Jake could stand there and try to reason with him all day, but it wouldn’t do any good. Ultimately, Morgan didn’t care if Jake shot him or even if he shifted to his wolf and tore him to shreds.
Just as long as he killed the woman he was holding first.

She was just another one to him, another ‘abomination’ that he wanted dead. He thought he was answering to a higher power, and doing the bidding of some almighty deity.
Jake thought he was insane.

“Please, Jake,” whimpered Astrid. “Just do it.”

She was weak, tired and after having been trapped with the monster, Morgan for four hours, probably wishing she was dead. Her body was covered in blood from the cuts Morgan had placed on her body. Ceremonial markings, just like all his other victims.

His wolf roared at him to do something.

He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry.” He fired a round into Astrid’s shoulder; it passed through her and carried on its way into the witch’s body. He howled as he fell to the ground, and the fireball shot into the air, blasting into the ceiling of the basement.

Jake pushed forward and caught Astrid. He hoisted her into his arms and turned to escape the fiery basement. He cast a sorrowful look at Leo’s body and pelted out of there.

He careened out the house, hugging the limp body of Astrid to him. Other agents and EMTs ran to him just as the house exploded.

“Jake…” murmured Astrid.

He sunk to his knees in exhaustion. “You’re okay; you’ll be okay, Astrid.”

The EMT’s pulled her out of his arms. He felt strong hands on him as his vision darkened, and the last thing he saw was the flames licking at the burning house.

 

Chapter One

13
th
February – Three years later

“Surprise!”

Val screamed as about thirty people jumped out at her. Freaking hell, she almost wet her pants! She clutched her necklace to her as her heart thundered away like a freight train.

Everyone laughed with delight as they took in Val’s shocked appearance.
She really hadn’t been expecting that.

“It’s not my birthday until tomorrow,” she spluttered, still trying to gather her wits.

Her best friend, Hilary came forward and hugged her. “Yes, that’s why it’s such a big surprise.”

“No kidding!”

Hilary grinned. “Happy 30
th
sweetie!”

Ugh, 30. Val tried to hide her flushed face in Hilary’s shoulder. She needed alcohol.
Pronto
.

Everyone surged forward to wish her happy birthday and to make numerous tasteless jokes about her age. The same jokes she had lavished on them when they turned 30, and she was still safely ensconced in her 20’s.
How times change.

An hour later, she stood next to the drinks table trying to pretend she was having a wonderful time. She normally loved parties. If this had been anyone else’s birthday, she’d be celebrating the loudest. But it wasn’t. It was hers.
Her 30
th
.

Val nonchalantly tried to inch her way to Hilary’s downstairs bathroom when the woman herself leaped out at her.

“Are you enjoying the party?” demanded Hilary.

“I am; thank you,” lied Val convincingly.

If it were anyone other than Hilary, they would have believed her, too. But Hilary had been her stalwart best friend ever since they were randomly selected to be roommates in college. After finishing college, they both stuck around in the Georgia city of Ursa. Since the day they’d met, they’d been friends and Val couldn’t imagine life before her bossy, crazy best friend.

Hilary looked pained. “I’m sorry we couldn’t do it on your actual birthday, but it’s Valentine’s Day. I mean, I want to spend your birthday with you, but others…”

Val shook her head. “It’s fine, and you were right – this was a lot more surprising.”

She was used to it. Being born on Valentine’s Day, although her mom had thought it was great and romantic, wasn’t exactly fun.
Nor was it wonderful to be called Valentine, which is why she always went by Val.
People always had something better to do than celebrate her birthday on that night of the year. She didn’t blame them. Hell, if she had a hot date, she’d seriously consider ditching her own party to be with him.
That was unlikely to happen…

She was kind of going through a dry spell. Hot guys were hardly falling over themselves to ask her out. She was seriously considering giving in and going on a date with Zach, the copy room guy. The only thing standing between her and a date with him was his enormous collection of spiders.
She shuddered
. If it weren’t for them she could actually get over the fact that he still lived with his mom, had a huge tattoo of a naked woman on his arm and was once arrested for stalking a girl.
Ugh, god she really was desperate.

It wasn’t that she hadn’t dated before –
she had, prolifically!
– but she was tired of it. She had trawled her way through eligible men and had even been close to marriage a few times, but… she couldn’t explain it. No matter what, she always felt like there was something missing in her relationships. Something she couldn’t quite put her finger on and something she couldn’t get over, either. And boy, she had really wanted to for that media mogul with underwear model looks, a house in Tuscany and shares in the Happy Heart snack cake company. But no, she just couldn’t get over the feeling of emptiness that invaded her whenever they were together.
It was depressing.

Hilary gave her arm a squeeze and sauntered off back to her new man-cougar, Jason. He gave her an indifferent look but settled his arm around her waist anyway. Val shook her head. Hilary had married straight out of college with dreams of lots of babies and a house in the suburbs. But it wasn’t to be; her husband died in a bike accident less than two months later. Since then, she had preferred to concentrate on work and had only dated older men, perhaps trying to protect her heart by not committing to men who would want any of those things either. Her affairs rarely lasted longer than a couple of months, and by the looks of things, Jason was on his way out.

She looked around at her friend Nina and her husband. He was lightly stroking her buttocks. Another friend, Carole was in the middle of an argument with her partner about home DIY. While a friend from college was attempting to sing karaoke while her boyfriend tried to hide his head in shame.

Awww, she wanted that – she wanted all of that, the good, the bad and the ugly. Her heart twinged. She wanted someone to look at her like she was the most special woman in the world.

Hang on a second.
Jeez Louise!
Was she the only single person here? She looked around the room, taking in all the other couples in various stages of arguing, kissing and telling funny stories about their kids. Yep, apart from Hilary maybe, she was the last girl standing.

As if turning 30 wasn’t bad enough…

Well, it wasn’t like she had nothing in her life, she, umm, she had her job; she had her own apartment, a cat, and an unhealthily large collection of shoes.
Okay, that wasn’t so bad.
Maybe her love life was the pits, but it wasn’t like she hadn’t had offers. There was nothing wrong with being a little picky, and being careful about whom you let close to you. It was just the empty feeling that worried her.

“Hey, Val!”

She almost groaned out loud at seeing her college boyfriend, Damon –
or Demon as she preferred to call him
- making his way toward her. His simpering wife Susannah followed in his wake.

He smirked at her, they way he usually did, and gave her a hug that lasted a couple of moments too long. “Susie and I have to get home for the kids, you going to be alright if we leave?”

No, she’d fall down on the ground and start weeping with sadness.
“I’ll be fine, De – Damon.”

She wasn’t prone to violence, but he gave her such a look of mock sympathy that she just wanted to punch his face in. She’d been the one to dump him, and he’d never forgiven her for that. Every chance he got he was trying to rub her nose in it and show her the life she could have had if she’d stayed with him. One look at Susannah’s weary face was enough to convince her that she had a lucky escape. The guy was a douchebag, and he was just getting worse with age.

Val held her tongue when they were joined by her boss, Conrad, and his much younger wife, Candice.

“So, Val, I’ll bet a single gal like you has big plans for tomorrow hmmm?”

She inwardly sighed at the word ‘gal,’ but soon smothered it with a big, flashy, fake smile. “Yes, definitely.”

Damon looked like he was about to ask her to elucidate on that matter, right before Hilary bustled her way into the conversation. She quickly started talking about her most recent holiday to Italy, and Conrad soon joined in. Hilary gave Val a conspiratorial wink.
The woman was a lifesaver.

Damon and his wife soon slunk off, and Val was soon free to lapse into her miserable reverie. Hey, it was her party, and she’d cry if she wanted to.
God, turning 30 sucked.

*

15
th
February

Val toweled off her hair and yawned. All in all, she’d had a good birthday.
Better than expected
.

She and Hilary had gone shopping, she’d spent an obscene amount of money that she didn’t necessarily have on clothes she didn’t necessarily need, and in the evening they had ended up in a bar flirting with younger men. She’d resisted their gracious offers to take any of them home with her, but having younger men find her attractive was a definite confidence boost. Yep, maybe she’d take up a career as a cougar now that she was in her 30’s.

She bit her lip as she felt that ache again.
That awful, empty ache inside of her
. Oh, it was only getting worse. She could barely even think about having a fling without her innards doing the Macarena.

Reflexively, she rubbed her thumb over her ring – a family heirloom she couldn’t get off her finger. Maybe she should talk to someone about this. She’d already tried a psychiatrist, and she’d left him scratching his head. Apparently she was mentally sound –
who knew?!
There was no way she was going to see a doctor – she loathed doctors and hospitals. Maybe she should try a witch; maybe some kind of natural remedy would help.

She brushed her hair as she pondered whether it was just a fear of commitment. Maybe deep down she enjoyed being single too much to want to settle down.

Val looked around her small apartment, frowned at the look of disinterest her snooty cat Tumbles gave her and decided that no, it couldn’t be that.
She was hardly living la vida loca.

Oh, she should just bite the bullet and start dating. She needed to get over whatever this aversion was and just find herself someone decent. It’s just that when she managed to wrangle a man, and get him out on a date, every flirtatious gesture he made, and every smidge of small talk that fell out of his lips made her heart sink.

“That’s it!” she exclaimed out loud in a Eureka moment that had Tumbles looking up in mild interest.

The men she had been dating were boring
. They hadn’t been able to hold her interest, so she’d been edgy and sick about them. Yes, that made perfect sense. She almost had herself in full agreement on that matter.

She just needed to find someone more interesting to date. Visions of the copy room guy and his many spiders swam in front of her eyes.
Okay, maybe not that interesting.

Rather than looking close to home, she should try internet dating. Hey, it worked for her friend Carole. Who knew how many fascinating men there were just waiting for her to get online?

Carole had raved over it after she met her partner. Now, what was the name? Val pulled out her laptop and waited for it to boot-up. Hmmm… Intimate Connections.

Val soon found the website and ignored the cartoon hearts and cupids dancing across the screen.
Ugh, so sappy.

She read through the terms and conditions, balked at the price and rolled her eyes over the real-life testimonies. ‘I found my soul mate through Intimate Connections…’
Blurgh
.

Still…

Within minutes, Val was working on her own profile. She’d found a picture of her upper torso, which carefully highlighted her ample breasts and cut off her plump hips. Hey, she wasn’t ashamed of being a curvy girl, but she knew she was hardly everybody’s cup of tea. She was just trying to give herself a fighting chance.

Okay, so name – Val.
Not Valentine
; it was unusual, and men often laughed or looked at her suspiciously and told her it sounded like a hippy name.

Age – she winced as she typed it in and then told herself to get over it.

Hair color – hmmm, could she get away with smoldering blonde? It was preferable to pale, limp red, anyway.

Eye color – chocolate brown. That sounded a lot sexier than mud brown.

Preferences in a partner…

Well, he had to be male, but they were perhaps looking for something more specific. She clicked that she would prefer their age to be between 25 and 45. Anything within that would be fine.

With regard to looks, though… no, she really didn’t mind. Eye color, hair color, skin color – none of it made a difference.

Species – she paused at that. She’d never dated anyone who wasn’t human. She wasn’t exactly averse to it; it just hadn’t come up before.
Friends had
. One in particular had raved over the virility of her wolf shifter boyfriend, but then lamented over his temper that would rival an active volcano when it went off.

Should she say yes to any species? Would it be different from dating a human?

She felt guilty about it, but she clicked for humans only. She could always change her mind in the future, but, for now, she would play it safe.

An hour later, after agonizing over her profile –
how intimate should she get with her likes and dislikes?
– she was happy with it. Well, as happy as she was ever going to get.

Grudgingly, she entered her credit card information, and before she could change her mind, she posted her profile online.

Half in elation and half in trepidation, she watched as her profile appeared in the ‘new lovers’ section.

She turned her laptop off and stowed it away. She would not sit and watch what was happening. She would give it a few hours and then see what had happened. Or maybe two hours, or one… or half an hour.
How long had it been?

No, she had to take her mind off it.

BOOK: E.A. Price - Valentine's Wolf (Grey Wolf Pack #11)
13.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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