Authors: Vivian Arend
This one’s for you—the readers. From Molli, who’s been begging for TJ’s story since day one, to the woman who emailed to tell me she read the whole series back to back over a weekend. You are why this story was even written. Thank you for taking the wolfies and giving them so much loving.
Pam let out a long, slow whistle and stared out the window to admire the scenery one more time. “Damn it, Maggie, I knew you were hiding something, but seriously. How many can I take home?”
A light tap on her arm dragged her attention away from the backyard and the succulent array of man flesh congregating there. “You’re supposed to be helping me, not drooling over the wedding guests.” Maggie turned her back and gestured over her shoulder. “Get the last of my buttons, will you?”
“Where did you get this gorgeous gown so quickly up here in the boonies? I mean, it’s been two months since you went north. Not that I’ve been calculating or anything, but sixty-seven days is a short time to fall in love, get engaged and arrange to tie the knot.” Pam slipped the last of the minuscule pearl buttons through the hoops. Two months since she’d seen her friend, and falling in love didn’t seem to be the only thing that had changed. Pam checked the bedroom they were in with a growing suspicion Maggie was keeping secrets from her. Something wasn’t sitting right, and over the years Pam had learned to trust her instincts.
“It’s my sister’s dress. I just had to add a little bit of lace to the bottom to deal with the difference in our heights.” Maggie twirled, the lacey layers of the skirt flying around her. Her short blonde curls bounced more wildly than usual, a thin silver tiara nestled amidst the chaos. “How do I look?”
Pam rolled her eyes. “Like a freaking pixie queen, as usual. God, why do you even ask? You’d be gorgeous in a paper bag.”
It was now or never. “I need to know, Mags. Is this really something you want to do? Or are you getting married this fast because, oh, you feel you have to…”
Her best friend frowned. “Do you think I’m being forced into this? Seriously, I’m in love and I want to marry Erik.”
“You’re not pregnant and thinking this is the only way to deal with it, ’cause, if you are, I’d be totally fine with helping support you—”
“Pam!” Maggie trapped her in her arms, squeezed with the tightest bear hug possible. “Oh, sweetie, I’m honoured you’re willing to help me, but I’m not pregnant. I’m honestly and truly in love. I know it seems fast, but with some…people, you know it’s right.”
That was possible. Maybe. Pam had rarely seen it. She turned away to stop Maggie from reading her expression too closely. Just because she’d never seen a real-life “love you forever” didn’t mean it couldn’t happen, and someone’s wedding day was hardly the time to point that out. She sighed and tried to distract herself with the man candy again. “So. When you and Erik take off on your honeymoon, do I get to sample the locals?”
Maggie’s laugh tickled her ears and then everything was okay again. “You’re such a flirt. Go easy on them, heartbreaker. Hey, I need a few minutes alone. Why don’t you go explore? Come back in about twenty and I’ll be ready to roll.”
Pam kissed her cheek. “If you’re sure you’re sure.”
“God, go on. I’m a big girl now.” They grinned at each other with the familiarity of long-time friends before Pam scooted downstairs. She peeked into the bustling kitchen before wandering out into the yard.
“Hey, can I get you a drink?”
“Are you hungry?”
Suddenly surrounded by tall men in formal suits, her mouth watered. Another voice lifted over the others and a light touch landed on her shoulder.
“Here. For you.” A Gerard Butler look-alike offered her a glass of white wine. She shook her head. Did they think she just fell off the turnip truck? She didn’t take drinks from strange men, even drool-worthy ones.
“You’re Maggie’s friend, right?”
“Would you like to go for a walk for a few minutes? I can show you around the yard.”
One of them offered his elbow and she batted her lashes as she took it. Why not? She had time before Maggie wanted her back. A couple of children raced past their feet and Pam smiled as she watched the happy chaos filling the festively decorated yard. “Nice crowd for the wedding. Do all you boys live around here?”
It had been awhile since she’d had such tasty company, let alone this many good-looking guys. While the attention was diverting, she wasn’t in the market for a relationship while she was in the North. Nope. She’d do the “support my friend” thing with Maggie, take off for a little sightseeing, then it was back to civilization all the way. And beautiful men like these—well, a one-night stand would be fun but the bridesmaid getting it on at the wedding was a cliché she really wanted to avoid in this lifetime.
Maggie’s fiancé strode over, towering above the other men. Pam chuckled. While he’d turned out to be one of the good guys, she’d still kick his butt if he needed it, no matter how big he was. No one messed with her friends, and Maggie was her oldest friend. BFF and all that shit.
“You doing okay? The boys treating you right?” Erik glanced around, his expression stern, and the fawning crew raced away like they’d been shot out of a cannon. Pam stared at their retreating backs with growing suspicion. No way. If he’d put them up to it…
“I guess that’s the question, isn’t it?” She narrowed her eyes. “I was getting the royal treatment. That your doing?”
Erik held up his hands, palms out. “Trust me. I don’t feel like having you tear a strip off me. If they’re hanging around, it’s because you’re interesting. Just don’t break too many hearts, okay? I’d hate to have to listen to sucky love songs during karaoke night for months after you leave.”
Pam laughed. “Okay, you’re safe. I believe you.” She shook her head as she glanced up and down his length. “What the hell do you guys eat up here? Is there like a fountain of hugeness or something? I’ve counted at least two dozen men over six-three in height.”
He grinned at her. “It’s the water. Seriously good. Hey, Maggie says she needs you one last time, but I was hoping to introduce you to my best man first.” He glanced around. “Only he seems to have disappeared.”
Pam waved a hand at him. “I’ll meet him when we do the little walk-thing around the yard. Maggie explained the procedure and I’m cool with the ceremony. I’d better run and see what she wants. Just in case she’s getting cold feet and wants me to call the whole thing off on her behalf.”
She hid her amusement as his smile drained away. “You don’t think she would? But…”
It had taken years to perfect the fake concerned expression she wore as she nodded sympathetically at him. “I’m sure it will be fine, but I’d better go settle her down. You stay here and try not to worry.” She patted him on the arm and went back upstairs, snickering evilly.
Maggie met her at the top of the landing. Pam tried to wipe her face clean of her grin, but they’d been best friends for too long.
“Who are you tormenting now? Pam, you promised not to freak people out with your weird sense of humour.”
Someone stepped to the side of Maggie. Pam turned to face the young man and stopped dead.
My oh my.
She flushed at the expression in his eyes. The last time a guy had stared at her like that, the two of them had been naked, in the middle of a heated sexual exchange. He stripped her with his gaze and rather than feel indignant, her own interest rose. Of course, he was too young for her, but still… Hot damn, he
hot. Darkish skin, black hair. Eyes so black the pupils and irises bled together. That must be it—his pupils—it only looked like he was one step away from ravishing her.
“Pam, I’d like you to meet TJ. He’s a good friend and works with Erik as a wilderness guide. He’s going to be our best man.”
TJ held out his hand, stepping closer, and she forced herself to resist backing away. She grasped his fingers, intending to give him a firm business-like handshake when he flipped her palm down and raised her hand to his mouth. “My pleasure. Really.”
He leaned forward and kissed her knuckles. An icy chill slipped up her spine and oh my God, her body grew instantly wet.
Did he just lick her skin? She knew she was staring, but there seemed to be no way to tear her gaze from his. Even after he straightened, he refused to let her fingers drop and she stood there like some freaking garden gnome statue with her hand limp-wristed in his, hoping by some weird circumstance they’d magically turn out to be standing alone in a bedroom with a mattress on the firm side bumping the back of her knees. Lust stole her tongue.
“TJ?” Maggie elbowed him and he shook himself, like he was waking up. He took a deep breath and his eyes widened even farther. Pam glanced away, anywhere had to be safer than staring into those fuck-me-now bedroom eyes. Until she noticed she’d lowered her gaze and watched the front of his dress pants tent, his erection growing more and more obvious.
“Pam?” She dragged her gaze up to see Maggie examining her with concern. “I think we need to go downstairs. Right now.” Maggie tugged her arm, pulling her toward the top of the stairs and away from the fascinating young man in the tuxedo.
With a deep sense of regret, Pam turned her back on the dark god who watched her with hungry eyes.
TJ swallowed hard and immediately regretted it. His tongue had picked up the flavour of the woman Maggie had dragged off and now the chemicals once again raced through his body, making him ache.
How was it possible? Maggie had pulled him aside to warn him, again, he couldn’t let her friend know anything about them being wolves because Pam was full human. He was not to let the werewolf out of the bag, so to speak. He felt a little indignant Maggie treated him like a child and expected him to screw up. Just because he’d accidentally shifted once before. Or twice. But both those instances were years ago. He was twenty-two, and while he still preferred his wolf form for high-dexterity moves, his human was getting better. Besides, Keil had already issued orders in his high and mighty alpha voice for all pack members to remain unfurry for the duration of the wedding. No one would disobey his direct command.
It was a good thing Maggie
warned him, because incredibly his first impulse upon laying eyes on the beauty was to shift and bury his nose in her dark brown hair. He wanted to sniff her all over, then change back to human form to lick her, starting at her toes and getting delightfully distracted long before reaching anywhere near her throat.
His cock ached, and his vision blurred. Damn if his hearing wasn’t buzzing as well. Suddenly the world began to shake and he wondered how badly he’d lost it before he realized Erik had grabbed him by the arms and stared into his face with concern.
“TJ? What the hell is up? Maggie called me through our mental link and told me to get up here and deal with you. Were you about to shift?”
That settled TJ quickly.
“No!” Crap, not another doubter of his ability to hold it together. Although something was seriously fucked. He sighed. “It’s just…”
He closed his eyes and took a deep sniff. Erik’s scent was the strongest, followed by Maggie’s, but wrapping around them both was a tantalizing and intoxicating aroma that tickled his libido and kicked it into overdrive. “Erik, are we
Pam doesn’t have wolf in her bloodline?”
Erik leaned back and crossed his arms. “Positive. Maggie lived with her for years. Both the Omegas have met her and she’s pure human. One hundred percent.” His gaze narrowed. “What are you not saying?”
TJ wrinkled his nose. “You know how you’ve always said I’ve got a keen sense of smell?”
“The best in the pack.”
He snorted and shook his head. “Then you’ll be pleased to know my awesome sniffer has just told me Maggie’s best friend, fully human and not possibly eligible for the honour…is my fucking mate.”
He’d found a new form of hell. TJ paced slowly around the outer edge of the backyard, his freaking mate on his arm and all he could talk about was…nothing. He couldn’t tell her he was weak at the knees at the thought of finding her. Couldn’t say how important she was to him. He concentrated on keeping his feet on the ground because there was no way he was going to trip and be an ass in front of her.
Erik had made him swear he wouldn’t say anything prematurely. Until TJ talked to his brother, the Alpha, chatting up his mate was outlawed, and the kicker was Erik had actually pulled a Beta move and
TJ to stay quiet. The damn hierarchy of the pack froze his tongue. Now torn between the dire need to haul Pam off somewhere private to bind them together for the rest of their days and the violent need to obey a direct command—TJ was screwed.
He glanced sideways to admire her again. A few dark strands had fallen from the fancy hairdo, framing her face. She smiled at everyone, but the tension in her body screamed at him and all he wanted to do was ease her burden.
She met his gaze then flushed darker. “How many times do we do this?”