Taken by the Billionaire Wolf

BOOK: Taken by the Billionaire Wolf
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Copyright 2015 by Julia Sparks - All rights reserved.



In no way is it legal to reproduce, duplicate, or transmit any part of this document in either electronic means or in printed format. Recording of this publication is strictly prohibited and any storage of this document is not allowed unless with written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.


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Taken by the Billionaire Wolf


Werewolf Romance






Julia Sparks


Taken by the Billionaire Wolf

“Joanna, have I got a story for you.”

     Seated behind her plain wooden desk at The Benington Bugle, Joanna Brighton sat up at once to acknowledge the entrance of Penelope Pryce; the tall blonde editor in chief who invaded her office space with a booming voice and a broad beam.

     “What’s up, Penelope?” she asked, running an absent hand through her frazzled dark hair as she settled the curves of her rubenesque figure in the depths of her cushioned chair.  “As much as I appreciate the assignment, my plate is already pretty full right now.  I have an interview set up today with the executive director of the Benington Chamber of Commerce about the upcoming car show fund-raiser, and tomorrow evening I’m covering an organizational meeting for next week’s charity art show…”

     “Well actually this relates to the art show,” Penelope interrupted, adding with a meaningful smile in Joanna’s direction, “It also relates to an exclusive and very intimate interview with the most gorgeous man in Benington.”

     Joanna arched her eyebrows.

     “Did I accidentally and very foolishly say that my plate was full?” she asked, adding as she laid a firm grip on her pen and notebook, “How utterly ridiculous of me—my schedule is as clear as friggin’ Saran Wrap, newly bought.  When can I meet him?”

     Penelope laughed.

     “Down, Girl,” she advised Joanna, adding as she perched her petite form on the edge of Joanna’s desk, “Just be aware that this dude is not a bachelor—well, not exactly, anyway.  He and his fiancée live in a huge McMansion on the edge of town.  And while they made their fortune through the establishment of a winery on their property—one that, or so I can testify, produces some blasted good brews—they are now doing double time as wildlife artists.  They have an exhibit planned at the art show, and are planning to donate proceeds from all sales to the Paws for Effect animal shelter at the edge of town.”

     Joanna smiled.

     “Well as royally bummed as I am to find out his marital status, I am thrilled to learn that he’s helping out the shelter where I volunteer,” she enthused, adding as she rose from her seat, “So what’s his name?”

     Penelope grinned.

     “His name is Rafe Cole,” she said, adding as she commandeered Joanna’s much used notepad and scribbled away on an empty page, “And you’ll be meeting him this afternoon at this address.”

     Her wide brown eyes perusing the page that contained the noted address, Joanna nodded knowingly as she said, “Ah yes.  That’s the part of Benington where the low end houses cost more than the estimated construction costs of most sacred Egyptian temples, bronze statuary figures and peasant common areas included.  Figures he would live there.  And I for one can’t wait to meet him.”


     “I cannot believe that you invited her here.  Are you completely insane?”

     Rafe Cole stood in the confines of his mirrored, crisp tiled entryway, face to face with his worst nightmare.  And unfortunately for him, his worst nightmare was a woman who shared his home, his heart and his toothpaste dispenser.

     And at this point, he was ready to take back all three.

     “Ariel,” he released on a sigh, extending his arms in the direction of the petite raven haired woman who stood before him, hands planted staunch on her narrow hips as she pinned him with a piercing glare.  “If we’re going to raise money for the animal shelter, we’ll need publicity.  How are people going to know about the art show if we do nothing to advertise it?”

     His fiancée sighed.

     “They’ve been running announcements in the paper all week, and we’ve been posting fliers all over town,” she reasoned.

     Rafe shook his head.

     “Neither of which featured photos of our artwork, or any information about why we support the shelter,” he pointed out, folding his muscled arms before him as he met her cold gaze with one of his own.  “We need the help of the press to spread our message.  And to help us in this mission, I’ve asked to speak with my favorite features columnist at The Benington Bugle.” He paused here, adding with a broad smile, “Joanna Brighton is bright, funny, and she always gets her facts right.  When she writes, people read—I know that I myself learn so much from her columns.”

     Ariel rolled her eyes.

     “And what facts will she garner from her interview with us, sweet love?” she spat out these last words as though they were venom, “What will she tell her ever loyal readership about us?  You know how frigging nosy these reporters are, Rafe.  Sure, they might start out asking casual questions, in pursuit of an innocent feature story.  Then the moment that they suspect that a juicier story lies just beneath the surface—one likely to sell more papers—then they will stop at nothing to uncover it.  I just know that she’ll reveal our secret.”

     Rafe rolled his eyes.

     “And just how will she learn our secret, by simply looking at and asking questions about our artwork?” he pressed her, adding as he dismissed her concerns with the wave of his sturdy hand, “Look, Ariel, we should know better than anyone else that animals’ lives matter.  The shelter is in need of help, and they’re relying on this fund-raiser to keep their doors open.  Don’t you think we should do everything we can to help promote the fund-raiser?”

     Ariel sighed.    

     “What about our lives, Rafe?” she shot back, adding as she turned away, “Of course I wish to help the shelter—but not at the expense of our own well-being. If our secret gets out, my dear, then we will be the ones without homes, without security, without lives.  We’ll be in no position to help anyone, let alone ourselves.”

     Rafe shook his head.

     “For once, Ariel, can’t you just trust me?” he asked with a sigh.  “I know it would be a rare and shocking precedent, to be sure.  Yet considering that we’re going to become husband and wife in just three months’ time, you might just want to give it a shot.”

     Ariel parted her ruby red lips, no doubt prepared to deliver a scathing rebuttal meant to cut her fiancé to the core.  Yet even she jumped startled as a loud, resounding knock rang throughout the quiet walls of their upscale entryway.

     “Well it appears as though our reporter has arrived,” Rafe announced, walking with long, smooth strides in the direction of the front entry; a set of brass handled double doors that stood inches away from him.

     He froze in his place as his short, slender fiancée blocked his way; staring up at him with cold eyes as she folded her arms before her.

     “Go on into the sitting room and prepare our artwork for the reporter,” she instructed him, adding as she turned for the door, “I need to have a little talk with her before the interview.”

     Meeting her words with yet another pronounced sigh, Rafe shook his head as he turned away from her.

     Suddenly he felt very sorry for the woman known as Joanna Brighton.  And, coincidentally, for himself.


     “Is this a house?  I mean, well duh it’s a house—but do people actually reside here?  Or do they just stand out front and brag loudly to everyone in ear shot that they can actually afford the mortgage and general utilities on the thing?”

     These were some of the questions that plagued the mind of Joanna Brighton as she stood before the largest, most opulent home she’d ever seen; a three story work of pure pink sandstone that came complete with stained glass windows, encircling ivory porches, arched roofs, and brass handled double doors that now swung open before her; revealing as they did a short, petite beauty with wide, emerald green eyes and a spiraling fall of curly ebony hair that extended nearly to her waist; framing a chiseled, flawless face drawn into an angry scowl.

     “I assume that you’re the reporter?” she asked, ignoring Joanna’s outstretched hand as she continued, “I am Ariel March, one of the presenting artists at next week’s show.  My fiancé and I have talked, and we have opted to forgo the interview.  If, however, you would like to come in and see some of our artwork, to take a few photos and take down just a few notes about our planned exhibit, then we’d be pleased to oblige you.”

     She gaped outright as Joanna met these words with a smooth round of answering laughter.

     “Well if I may say so, Ma’am, you don’t seem pleased about much of anything today,” she told a gaping Ariel, adding as she made a broad gesture in the direction of their opulent surroundings, “If I lived in these digs, I sure would be.”

     Ariel made no verbal response, just sniffed sharply as she opened her door to Joanna.  Then, after leading her with her head held high through a crisp tiled front room, she directed her to a lovely, eye catching sitting room that boasted an even lovelier and significantly more eye catching centerpiece.

     Her mouth fell open as she beheld the walls of pure scarlet brocade that contained this little dream room; as well as the crystalline chandeliers that hung from its vaulted ceiling, and the Victorian style rose print furniture that filled its confines.

     And draped most decorative across the plush cushions of a luxurious rose patterned settee was the room’s most striking accent; one who also conveniently doubled as the most gorgeous man she ever had seen.

     Boasting a fall of thick ebony hair that fell graceful to his muscular shoulders, the man boasted a pair of dark eyes that seemed to penetrate her psyche; gazing out as they were from a bronzed sculpted face that also boasted carved cheekbones and full, moist lips—which now parted to dazzle her with a stunning white toothed smile.

     “Might I be meeting my favorite female journalist?” he asked her, surging upward to take her hand in his and raise it to these same delicious lips for a soft, gentlemanly kiss.

     Joanna grinned.

     “Barbara Walters?  Isn’t she pretty much everyone’s favorite female journalist?” she queried, adding with an awkward shrug, “Well the paper would have sent her over today, but it turns out she’s covering a rummage sale tour currently winding its way through downtown Benington.  Barb does love her rummaging, and who can resist free Coney dogs to boot?  So ya got me instead.”

     Rewarding her good humor with a second resounding kiss, Rafe motioned her to sit beside him on the floral print settee as he told her, “You are Joanna Brighton, indeed.  I can tell by that divine sense of humor.  And do allow me to introduce myself in return.  I’m Rafe Cole.”

     “Of course you are.  Very nice to meet you,” Joanna returned with a grin, adding as she turned to face a silent Ariel, “Would you like to join Rafe as he shows me samples of your beautiful artwork?”

     Meeting her request with a loud, sharp sniff, Ariel turned on her heel and cleared the room in a single smooth flourish; leaving in her wake an uncomfortable silence—one that Joanna broke with the words, “Something I said?  Everything I said?”

     Rafe chuckled.

     “Not at all, Miss,” he told her, reassuring her with a warm smile, “She’s been having a bad day since….”

     “1985?” Joanna supplied, adding with an apologetic grin, “I’m sorry, I’m sure she’s just having a bad day.  And I must say, she’s very beautiful.”

     Rafe shook his head.

     “I learn more and more each day just how little that beauty means, in the big scheme of things,” he muttered, more to himself than to Joanna.  “Ah, but let us turn our attention to brighter matters.  I can’t tell you how pleased I am, Joanna, that you are willing to help us promote the find-raiser for Paws for Effect.”

     Joanna nodded.

     “Well let me thank you in return for supporting such a worthy cause,” she told him, adding with a broad beam, “I’ve been a volunteer at that shelter for years, ever since I was a teen-ager.  And for my internship at journalism school, I edited their newsletter, Paws in Print,” she paused here, adding through gritted teeth, “I was a sophomore.  Please rest assured that my creative and my publication naming skills have improved since then.  And significantly.”

     Rafe chuckled.

     “You are an absolute delight, and I admire your dedication to our four legged friends,” he praised her, adding as he inclined her head in his direction, “How do you explain your devotion to animals?”

     Joanna shrugged.

     “I guess I was always the kid who brought strays home to feed and take care of them, much to my parents’ chagrin.  Animals are, for the most part, so trustworthy and pure of heart,” she revealed, adding as she flipped open the cherry red notebook in her hand, “But we’re here to talk about you.  What inspired you to participate in this fund-raiser?”

     Rafe thought a moment, appearing to consider his answer with some degree of seriousness.

     “I’ve always felt more comfortable with animals than people,” he revealed finally, adding in a low, intense tone as he stared deep into her eyes, “I guess I have a strong animal instinct.”

     He paused then, seeming to monitor her reaction as silence fell between them; a quiet she broke by clearing her throat loudly and asking, “So I guess your love for all things furried and feathered lends itself well to your career as a wildlife artist.”

     Rafe nodded.

     “Absolutely, though I wouldn’t exactly call what I do a career,” he clarified, adding with a shrug, “The winery that we keep here pays our bills.  I paint portraits of animals because I love to do it—and, furthermore, I seem to have a knack for it.  Ah, but I shall allow you to be the judge of that.”

BOOK: Taken by the Billionaire Wolf
11.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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