Kelsey Adams wondered how long it would be before she died.
She’d spotted him as soon as she entered the steakhouse. Kind of hard not to notice how his tawny-coloured hair curled around his handsome face, or how his full, well-defined lips lifted at the corners in a charming smile. A face so perfect, almost angelic, it was as if he’d been sent from Heaven in some cruel twist of fate to remind her what might have been.
Except he wasn’t an angel, and he wasn’t smiling at her.
No, Tyler Knight was a werewolf, but not from her pack.
His picture on the Love Bites Dating Agency app didn’t do him justice. In the flesh, the guy was romance novel swoon-worthy. A total hottie. Uh-oh, she shouldn’t have used the term ‘in the flesh’, because now she was thinking how much she’d like to lick his tanned skin…
Delusional, that’s what I am.
Why would she even think he would be interested in a geeky, plain Jane like her? She’d left him a message via the dating agency and he’d ignored it. End of. Fantasies dashed.
“Is your steak not cooked to your liking?” Alvaro asked.
Kelsey tore her gaze away, only now realising her hands, holding her knife and fork, were hovering aimlessly above her plate, her food untouched. She focused on her date, Alvaro. A Fae, a good-looking one too, but since he hadn’t stopped glancing at his reflection in the smoky-glass mirrors along one wall of the restaurant, she suspected he knew it. He hadn’t stopped preening since they sat down either. He’d even taken a selfie at the table, spending a tedious amount of time on getting the right angle, and pouting like one of those girls on TikTok.
She gathered her cutlery in one hand to push her glasses up the bridge of her nose, then swallowed, hoping she hadn’t been drooling at the guy on the other side of the restaurant.
Alvaro. She was supposed to be enjoying a meal with him, not getting distracted by the dreamboat werewolf, who was smiling at a dark-haired Mediterranean beauty, presumably his lucky date.
“Sorry, Alvaro. The steak looks fine, and the chips here are supposed to be amazing, according to the reviews. Triple cooked, apparently.” She popped one into her mouth, then chewed and swallowed. “Hmm, they are tasty. I’d go so far as to say they’re the best chips I’ve ever tasted.”
Alvaro appeared uninterested by her attempt at conversation, once again admiring himself in the mirror.
She blundered on regardless. “I never go anywhere without reading the reviews first, and this place has five stars all the way. A good choice of yours.”
A modern steakhouse with simple, wholesome food cooked to perfection—so the reviews stated. The best thing was, the restaurant catered for supernaturals. Its secluded, countryside position on the borders of Hampshire and Surrey meant the only humans who came in were those who stumbled upon it by chance. She suspected the couple sat in the corner were human, totally unaware they were sitting in a room full of paranormal beings. A sweet, elderly couple who looked like they’d been together for decades, but it was clear they still had a spark. So cute. They reminded Kelsey of her parents.
She continued talking to fill the awkward silence. “It’s owned by a super-rich vampire, apparently. Damon… something. A French-sounding name.” Kelsey sipped her wine. Her date looked bored to tears. “What do you think of the chips? Have you tried one yet?”
As if out of politeness, Alvaro stabbed a chip with his fork and put it into his mouth. He didn’t answer for what seemed like minutes, his gaze now fixed on her. Amber-coloured eyes, a nice colour, she supposed. She found herself wondering what colour Tyler’s eyes were.
Alvaro dropped his gaze to her collarbone and then to her cleavage, licking his lips slowly. “Delicious.”
Kelsey touched her throat, suddenly self-conscious—a first for her—of her low-cut, maxi summer dress. Being a wolf meant it didn’t bother her to show some skin, and she’d gotten used to wandering around naked after she shifted—until she found some clothes, of course—the only drawback to wolfing out. Her body was nothing special, all the parts in the right places. Good legs though, and pert breasts that thankfully showed no signs of heading south despite the ripe old age of thirty looming around the corner.
And, judging by her date’s interest in her braless girlies, maybe she hadn’t bored him after all.
For some strange reason, she felt the need to glance across the room again, only to catch the wolf staring at her. Her cheeks heated. Did he recognise her from her dating agency profile? Now she felt like a fool for gawping back like a bitch in heat. But what if he did recognise her? She looked away. It didn’t matter—he clearly preferred dark, curly-haired goddesses to geeky blondes with glasses.
Get over it, Kel. He ignored your message. Mr Dreamboat wasn’t interested in her. He was with someone else.
More to the point, so was she. Kelsey returned her attention to Alvaro; at least he’d replied to the message on the app.
Okay, you can do this. No more boring librarian. Have some fun for a change.
She was a grown woman, a she-wolf in her prime. There was no harm in flirting, right? It wasn’t as if she was looking for commitment. She was happy with her life—mostly.
Her parents and her sister had been lucky in love, had found someone to share their lives with and, although she hadn’t ruled out the possibility of finding someone special herself, she preferred to take a more practical approach. After all, just because they were happily married didn’t mean that was what fate had in store for her. So, rather than be disappointed if it didn’t happen, it was better to not let anyone get too close. All she needed was a little spice now and then, and goodness knows she couldn’t remember the last time she’d had any.
Lowering her voice to a raspy whisper, or at least what she hoped passed as seductive, she said, “I’m glad you enjoyed it.” For added effect, she trailed her fingertips along the strap of her handbag, which she wore diagonally across her chest, its strap nestling between her breasts.
His amber eyes glinted with mischief. “I wasn’t referring to the chips, Kelsey.”
Maybe she wasn’t as out of practice as she’d feared. She smiled, going for demure and sexy. “Neither was I. You’re quite delicious yourself, Fae.” Corny? Probably.
Alvaro reached across the table, took her hand and kissed her fingers.
She arched an eyebrow. “And charming, too. Not at all like the rumours I’ve heard.” Fae were known to be on the vain side, and Alvaro had proved that, but the rumours also implied Fae could be manipulative when they wanted something.
But wasn’t she being manipulative too? A niggle of doubt filtered into her head. Granted, she’d gone without sex for far too long, but could she really partake in a casual romp with a Fae?
“You shouldn’t believe everything you hear. Except for the part about how well-endowed we male Fae are,” he waggled his eyebrows, “and I’m particularly blessed in that department.”
Eww. She didn’t want to know now.
Alvaro caressed her hand, but it didn’t feel as good as she’d wanted it to. She put it down to the fact she hadn’t been touched in a while, maybe she’d forgotten what it was supposed to feel like, but the niggle inside her head became a blaring alarm bell.
Damn those good girl morals her dear parents instilled in her. Why couldn’t she be sexy, fun Kelsey, not dull, sensible Kelsey? She tried to wriggle her hand away, but his grip tightened. “I… my steak is getting cold,” she stuttered.
The Fae’s eyes turned predatory, the amber flecks gleaming with lust. “Forget the food. I want you, she-wolf. Now.”
Oh, shit. What have I done? Kelsey attempted to free her hand again. His hold on her turned vice-like, his fingernails digging into her flesh.
“Outside,” Alvaro ordered, his voice quiet yet menacing. “I want you bent over that silly little moped of yours. I’m sure you know a thing or two about showing a guy a good ride.”
Fear raced up her spine. Shit, shit, shit. She looked around the restaurant; the other diners were oblivious to her plight. The Fae was calculating, she’d give him that. He’d made sure the way he was holding her hand would look like nothing more than a show of affection between a couple having a meal together, and he’d kept his voice low so no one could hear him.
She had to say something, do something. “I… I’m sorry… I don’t want…” Kelsey despaired at the pathetic tremble in her voice. Where was her powerful wolf when she needed her? She squared her shoulders. “There’s no need to hurry, Alvaro. It would be a shame to waste this lovely food,” she said, attempting to keep her tone light. She’d be safe in the restaurant with people around, at least until she figured out a way to get herself out of a situation she’d so stupidly encouraged. But staying in the steakhouse meant she couldn’t call on her wolf, not in front of the old human couple who were sitting in the corner.