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Authors: Maria Connor

Protecting a Mate

BOOK: Protecting a Mate
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She hit him with a door, so he stole her heart…

When wereferret Melanie Baxter meets werebear Foster Lawson, every part of her ferret stands up and takes notice. After her ex offers to sleep with her sister, Melanie isn’t inclined to listen to his sweet nothings. Then she meets a bear who smells
so
good, with the muscles and the ice blue eyes.

And… yeah.

He wants to take things slow, his bear doesn’t…

Werebear Foster never imagined himself with a mate. Not when his massive animal is constantly on a hair trigger. He definitely didn’t think he’d end up with a sinfully sweet and curved in all the right places wereferret named Melanie Baxter.

His plans for a slow seduction of his mate are destroyed when a man from her past steps forward and tries to take what’s Foster’s. Not. Happening.

Chapter One

Melanie ignored her ringing phone for the fiftieth time. She already knew who was calling and she had better things to do than talk to her asshole ex. Because, seriously? He offered to bang her sister when Paige needed banging and… It really didn’t matter. Right now, she had to get to her sister’s office at the M&M Mating Agency and drop off the file Paige had left at home that she so
desperately
needed.

Mel figured if her baby sis wasn’t banging her new mate every five seconds, she might have remembered the thing.

But she wasn’t envious or anything.

Much.

She scooted into the elevator as the doors slid closed and pressed the button for Paige’s floor.

Nervous energy flitted through her as she waited for the thing to freaking hit her floor already. She had to drop this off and then race to the other side of town to begin her rounds of fetching paperwork from each of the Catson Construction build sites.

Because, God knows, foremen for some reason couldn’t stuff their reports in an envelope and mail the things. Or even better, scan and email the information.

Build a skyscraper? Yes.

Slide a sheet of paper into a slot and push some buttons? No.

She wasn’t aggravated with the males.

Much.

The elevator finally came to a gentle stop, a low ding announcing its arrival, and the doors parted.

Melanie strode into the lobby, intent on the receptionist desk which held a
very
good looking male.

Helloooo there.

Dark hair, tanned skin, and those eyes… Oh, wait, she couldn’t forget all those muscles either. Her little ferret chittered and wiggled in appreciation for the man. And he smelled… divine. All predator and growly hunkiness. He wasn’t her mate, but he was still sexy as hell.

“Hi, I’m—”

“How
you
doin’?” His voice was deep, filled with sex, and… his identity hit her like a ton of bricks.

There was one constant at the M&M Mating Agency. Well, two, but only one who drove Paige up the wall.

“You must be Max Rowe.”

“I am. Are you looking to sign up, baby?” His gaze traveled over her, from toes to nose, he took in her body. “Lemme start a file on you. Twenty-nine, five-five, and just waiting to hop on my di—”

“I’m looking for Paige. I’m her sister, Melanie.” Melanie forced her lips to form a smile. Her little sister told her Max was a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen.

“Oh.” And like that, his passion was replaced with… fear. “Can you not tell her—”

“Mel! Thank you
so
much!” Paige raced down the hallway and snatched the papers Mel brought along. “I’ll see you for dinner, and Max, don’t think I didn’t hear you! I’m sending you to sensitivity training. Again.”

Melanie tried not to giggle. She really did. And… failed. She ignored Max’s glare and spun on her heel, anxious to get to her
real
job. The one where they actually paid her to race all over the city, stare at hunky, sweaty guys, and pick up after them. Paper-wise, anyway. She’d cleaned up after a guy once, for years, and she wasn’t getting hauled into that trap again.

What had her new friend Chloe’s mom said?
When you first start dating and living together, don’t start doing
things for him unless you’re willing to do them for the rest of your life. Rest. Of. Your. Life.

Melanie got back on the elevator and not-so-patiently waited for it to return to ground level. Once there, she raced through the lobby and out the front doors. It took no time to hop in her car and then she was gone, racing out of the parking lot toward her first stop.

She pulled onto the highway, blinker clicking, as she merged with traffic and once again her cellphone rang. One good thing about having a steady, asshole ex-boyfriend who never wanted her to work—he bought her everything she wanted and put it in
her
name. Including the lovely little Mercedes convertible she currently occupied.

She listened to her car identify the caller and groaned when the voice simply said, “caller unknown.”

Which meant it could be any one of the job sites.

As she slid across lanes, only a few horns blaring, taking her exit, she pressed the call pickup button.

“Melanie Baxter speaking.”

If she were at the office, she’d go into her whole spiel of “thank you for calling blah, blah, how can I make your day wonderful?”

Lame.

But she was driving, so there had to be some leeway there.

She still hadn’t gotten a response. “Hello? This is Melanie.”

Mel put on her blinker once more and pulled into the construction site, only one horn spouting behind her, following the makeshift road to the construction trailer. The new foreman wasn’t hanging around outside, nor did she spy the truck assigned to the site for worker use. Which meant she’d be going it alone. Good, yet bad because she would have really appreciated more eye candy.

She turned off her car and looked at the car’s nav screen as if she could see the caller. If the person didn’t answer, she’d have to end their one-sided conversation because she had things to
do
. “Hello?”

“I saw you.” The voice was mechanical, distorted, and unrecognizable. “I saw you go in there, you little slut.”

Then pure silence, telling her the call had been cut.

Slut? Her? She’d had the same friggin’ boyfriend for years until he decided fucking Paige was in the best interest of his career.

Had to be a wrong number. Had to be. Because otherwise she’d have to be scared and Mel refused to get worked up about it. Not when her life was finally going the right direction.

Melanie snatched her purse, tossed her phone in the bag, and then shoved open the door, swinging wide and right into the path of… a hot hunk of yummy man.

Yeah, he was sweaty and dusty from the site, but that didn’t matter. Not when she took a deep breath, captured his scent and realized the male currently clutching his stomach was one hundred percent
hers
.

*

Foster Lawson had imagined the day he met his mate for years. Year
s
. Emphasis on the plural there.

In fact, so long, he’d resigned to the fact that maybe he wasn’t destined to mate. After all, what woman in her right mind wanted a mountain of a werebear with anger management issues so deep, they’d need a nuclear blast to get to the bottom of them? None. Not one.

Didn’t matter anyway. He had never picked up that special scent that meant a woman was destined for him. All his.

A scent he wasn’t thinking about as he jogged through the construction site he supervised. He headed toward the five-bedroom monstrosity currently being wired by Archer—one of the owners of Catson Construction—so he sure as hell wasn’t paying attention to the sports car that squealed to a stop in the site’s impromptu parking lot.

Then two things hit him. First was the vehicle’s door as the occupant shoved it open without checking if someone was nearby. The top got him right in the gut and sent him stumbling backward, a growl jumping to his lips as anger overtook him. Not only at being hit but being delayed as well.

Time was money on a construction site.

The second was a scent—her scent—as the tiny, curvy little woman bounded out of the car. The flavors had his bear running forward, the animal snarling and growling at him with each step. It reared onto its back legs, scratching and scraping him. It wanted free. Now. Shit, it took everything in him to keep the beast at bay. It reacted as if he was in danger or some shit. As if someone had stepped forward and was ready to take them on. But it wasn’t fury that drove him—this time anyway—it was something else. Something foreign. Something…

Holy shit, his mate, and she gut-punched him in more ways than one.

“Oh my goodness, I am so,
so
sorry!” she cried, shutting the door and hurrying to his side. “I didn’t hurt you did I?”

Her tiny hands nudged his out of the way, and she yanked his shirt up to look at his stomach. He tightened his abs even though they hurt like a bitch. A guy had to show off even if he was in pain.

“Shit, you’re bruised,” she whimpered in distress, her voice taking on a chittering quality, as her gentle fingertips stroked his stomach. His cock took notice, the beast south of the belt rising to the occasion. Hurriedly he grabbed her hands and diverted her attention, adding a smile in case he scared her.

He was a big fucker and he knew it. He found moving slowly and carefully kept others’ fear of him at bay. He’d actually made women faint before. Clean away. Just like that. He also caught them, held them close, and enjoyed… Right. He shouldn’t think about other women while his mate stood inches from him.

“I’m fine. It’s nothing,” he coughed, uncomfortable with their position. If she glanced down, she’d see how fine he was. “I’ll heal. Err…” He really needed her to stop staring at his body before he threw her onto the car’s hood, flipped up her skirt, and tasted her. He bet she’d be sugary sweet.

“My eyes are up here, doll,” he rumbled as she twisted and turned to look at his injured stomach.

Then again, when even more of her scent filled his nose, the wind gathering it and blowing it to him, he figured he’d let her look at him a little longer. Fuck, she smelled so good. All spice and forest and…

He frowned. “You’re a ferret.”

She blinked, looking up at him with wide eyes and he felt sucker-punched all over again. His mate was a beauty with chocolate brown hair, light brown sugar eyes, and lickable curves. He wanted to trace each with his tongue, learn every dip and bend of her body. He still clutched her delicate wrists in his big hands, and the fear he’d break her rushed forward.

Dammit, he reminded himself how small she was.

“Yeah, I’m a ferret.” Abruptly, she yanked her hands away, a scowl on her perfect little lips. Her perfect little
kissable
lips. He expected her statement to be followed with
got a problem with it,
but instead, she slid into professional mode. “Do you know where I can find Foster Lawson, the new foreman?”

“Yeah,” he nodded in reply to her question. Still struck dumb by her beauty, he wasn’t sure he could get much else out. “He’s around.”

She tilted her head and narrowed her eyes. “Do you plan on sharing more of this knowledge, or are you going to make me guess where? I have to tell you, I’m not in the mood for games, and if I have to bust out with animal, mineral, or vegetable I’m gonna be annoyed.”

Great. Now she was even more pissed.

“You found him.” He pointed at himself. “Whatcha need, doll?”

*

Mel needed many things. Many, many things. Like a bed—she licked her lips—with him in it and naked as the day he was born. Because… gorgeous.

Dark brown hair, chocolate-hued eyes easing toward black the longer she stared, and muscles for miles. Muscles she got to stroke, even if only a little while. Then he’d put his hands on hers and then with the speaking and then… he ruined it with the whole “you’re a ferret” thing. No shit. She’d been one since she was born.

That was her mate, Captain Obvious.

Well, if he had a problem with ferrets, she still had her vibrator, so
there
. She had the urge to stick out her tongue but held herself in check. Barely.

“Doll?”

Oh. Right. He was speaking and she was still mad at him. Right?

BOOK: Protecting a Mate
7.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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