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Mating Claire [Sea Island Wolves 1] [MultiFormat]
eBook by Jenny Penn

eBook Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
eBook Description: Following the trail of a serial killer and a demon, Claire Hallowell arrives in Wilsonville, SC. As difficult as her case is, it is the small town police chief with his easy smiles and blatant sexuality that threatens Claire's highly structured world. Arrogant and cocky, Derek Jacob knows his mate when he meets her. As the Alpha of the Narian Pack, Derek is not about to let anything stop him from claiming Claire. Claire might fight it, but there is no denying the instantaneous heat between them. Sex comes easy while trust comes harder for the couple with secrets to hide. Follow Claire and Derek's journey to overcome the obsessive attention of a demon and killer to find love.[Erotic Paranormal/Romantic Suspense: Contains graphic sexual content and adult language.]

eBook Publisher: Siren-BookStrand, Inc./Siren, Published: 2008, 2008
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2008


314 Reader Ratings:
Great Good OK Poor


"5 Cups: 2008 Coffee Time Reviewer's Recommend Award: Ms. Penn uses suspense, humor, raunchy sex, action, and adventure to grab the reader in this hot tale of paranormal fantasy. Claire is an independent character who is strong and capable of handling any alpha male character. Derek is a no nonsense dominant male without being overwhelming. The first line in Mating Claire is hilarious, and I was riveted from there. The author uses wonderfully vivid words to describe everything from the office, the forest, the passionate encounters. Paranormal stories usually have me jumping for joy to read, but this novel had me excited to spread the word about the sensational book I read. Readers, pay attention because here is a tale fit for any book lover. Spectacular read! CAUTION: This book contains graphic sex scenes and passionate encounters. Not for the weak hearted."--Danielle, Coffee Time Romance

"5 Stars: Demon, werewolf, serial killer...Mating Claire is a very sensual book. The tension between Derek and Claire is undeniable; the reader can feel it. There are twists and turns throughout the plot that will keep the reader eagerly turning pages."--Debra Gaynor, Review Your Book

"4.5 Blue Ribbons: Mating Claire: Sea Island Wolves 1 was a great read, knowing that it's just the beginning of a series makes it even better. I love it when I get to meet new characters and get new glimpses into their lives with each new adventure they take. Ms. Penn is a new author to me and after reading this book I will definitely try to keep up with the series."--Ladybird Robi, Romance Junkies


Chapter 1

Monday

11:47 AM ... 11:49 AM ... 11:50 AM.

Claire Hallowell glared at the clock, having half a mind to take her heels off and throw them at the offending timekeeper.

Was the Chief ever going to show up?

She slammed the file drawer closed and stalked back to her desk. She had worked so hard to make sure his welcome back would go smoothly. At seven sharp, she had arrived and made a fresh pot of coffee. All the papers and files he needed to review were neatly stacked in order of priority and waiting on her desk.

After a weeklong vacation, she had expected him to arrive early, anxious to catch up on work. As the minutes had expanded to hours, her annoyance had grown to exasperation. Exasperation had bloomed into amazement. Now, she was outright mad.

The police chief was supposed to set the example all his officers would follow. No wonder his crew was so laid back. While they enjoyed going out on patrol or answering distress calls, they were all lax about the paperwork and follow-ups.

That affected her job. In her one week working there, she already had several minor skirmishes with some of the officers about getting reports done in time. None of them had taken offense at her abrasive attitude. Just the opposite, they appeared to delight in prodding her temper, finding some twisted form of amusement in it.

She had not let it bother her. There were more important things to worry about--like her case. This assignment was turning out to be a champ. Missing girls nobody could prove were dead, visions of a demonic serial killer and town full of werewolves, this was not the kind of investigation they'd trained her for in the FBI.

Not that the FBI would touch this case. They certainly wouldn't have assigned her a ghost for a partner. Technically the Masters of Cerberus hadn't assigned Kate to her.

Then again, Kate was not technically dead, either. She had just lost her body, or it had been stolen from her. Kate didn't know exactly how she had lost her physical form.

Not being a true ghost, Kate was not trapped into haunting a single location or person. She could travel to wherever she wanted. For reasons that were only known to the contrary apparition, she chose to annoy Claire.

Everything about her current assignment irritated Claire. The only thing that had gone her way was getting the job as the chief's assistant.

Of all the undercover assignments she'd done over the years, playing Dorothy Walker was the easiest. Being Dorothy, Claire could be the uptight, anal-retentive person she really was. All she had to remember was to respond to the name Dorothy.

"Hey, Derek! How'd the fishing go?"

11:56 AM.

Claire rolled her eyes as she listened the officers out in the small lobby greet their boss. About damn time the man showed up, not that she understood why he had bothered. In a half hour, it would be lunchtime.

Her phone rang, interrupting her silent criticism.

"Chief Jacob's office. How may I help you?" Claire pulled the message pad across her desk.

"I've got some news for you."

The sound of Mike's grim tone brought a scowl to Claire's face. If their organization were more formal, he would probably carry the title Director of the Southeastern District. As it was, his title was simply "Boss."

"What's up, boss?" Claire flicked the pen in her hand away as she tilted her chair back on two legs.

"It's bad."

"You never call for any other reason."

She tried to make light of his comment, but her stomach muscles quivered with nerves. She had been waiting for this, expecting it for the past several days. When she stumbled into a pile, she normally ended up neck-deep in the manure. As it was, she was only up to her ass. She was due two more feet of crap.

"Agakiar was released yesterday afternoon."

That was not two feet. It was a full-scale drowning.

"Shit!"

Claire lost her balance at that startling news, barely managing to stop from toppling backward. As the legs of the chair slammed down, she flew forward into the pile of papers on her desk. The neatly organized stacks fell into a chaotic mess on the floor with a plop.

"Damn it!"

"You alright?"

"No. It took me two hours to organize all those reports. I stayed late last night to get it all done. Not that the jerk cares, showing up five hours late! What kind of example is that to set? I tell you, these small town badges have it too easy. It's no wonder they aren't even aware there's a killer running loose in their town!"

"Uh, Claire."

"Great. This is just great. So now what?" Claire slid to the floor. Attacking the files allowed her to vent some of the aggression prowling through her body.

"About?"

"About Agakiar."

"Now, nothing." Mike's voice remained calm.

"What do you mean nothing?"

"I mean nothing."

"You can't do nothing!"

"What would you have us do? We can't make the state's case for them. The only option is to eliminate him, and that can't be done without endangering you."

"So he just walks away?"

"We're going to monitor him. Don't worry, Claire, he's not going to get away with anything we can stop."

"So who are you going to send down here to replace me?" Claire cradled the phone between her shoulder and chin so she could restack the papers into a neat pile.

"Nobody. You're staying on the Wilsonville case."

"You can't leave me here in boondocks of South Carolina. I have a right to be in on whatever you've got planned for Agakiar."

"Sorry, kiddo, but that's too dangerous."

"Dangerous? How much more danger can I be in? I'm already branded."

"You could be in hell."

"And who says Wilsonville isn't hell?"

"Claire--"

"Don't play dad, Mike. It's not your role."

"It's my job to keep you safe."

"Bullshit. You know my newfound psychic ability comes from that damned demon's brand. Every time I use my new gift, it strengthens Agakiar's connection to me. If you were really worried, you wouldn't have me on any case."

"You're making a really good argument for why I should lock you up in a safe house and let you rot, Claire."

"I thought that's why you sent me to this no-where town."

"No, I sent you there to find a serial killer. You should be glad I'm not pulling you completely out of the field."

"Gee, I'm overjoyed."

"We're not arguing about this. You focus on your case and leave Agakiar to us. Got that?"

"Guess I don't have a choice."

"You keep me posted and your guard up."

"Whatever."

She did not bother to place the phone back on the hook, but dropped it on the floor so she could crawl further under the desk. It took a moment to round up all the scattered pages. As she checked to make sure she had collected everything, the flicker of white caught her attention.

A piece of paper was trapped between the back of the desk drawer. It was not one of her papers, but it annoyed her nonetheless. Everything had a proper place, and sticking out of a drawer was not it.

Tugging on it did not get the paper to budge. Narrowing her eyes, she yanked hard and the page ripped in half. The sudden loss of tension sent Claire falling back into the side of the desk.

She banged her head on the underside of the table. It was not her day, Claire grumbled as she rubbed the sore spot on the top her head. Slapping the scrap of paper on top of her files, she crawled back out from under the desk.

A pair of black boots crossed in the doorway drew her attention and her scowl. They were standard issue for the officers. She was not in the mood for any teasing. Sitting back on her heels, she looked up to give the man a set-down.

The words froze on her lips as the piercing blue gaze of the stranger trapped her eyes. He was large and heavily muscled. The charcoal gray shirt was pulled taut over a solid wall of steel.

His black slacks rode a little low on his hips, held down by the heavy gun belt. It added to the air of danger he exuded, emphasizing the narrowness of his hips and the thickness of his thighs.

Handsome was too pretty a word for his features. They were rough, rugged and inspired a primal thrill in her. His dark hair was a little long, falling around his ears and framing those amazing eyes.

Claire could sense the wolf prowling, stalking her, through those eyes. He was leaning against the doorframe. His stance was deceptively relaxed, but Claire wasn't buying into that lie.

She could feel the tension coiling in him as he studied her like a hunter sizing up the prey he was about to take down. Not with violence, though, but with barely restrained sexuality.

Her heart began to race as instinct whispered she should flee. Claire ground her teeth together, her hands curling into fists as she watched him sniff the air, scenting her arousal.

Her body's response to his blatantly sexual look riled her already inflamed temper. Narrowing her eyes on him, she rose to her feet. Carefully, she set the stack of files on her desk and replaced the receiver.

"Can I help you?"

"I'm Chief Jacob." The man nodded his head slightly. "You must be Dorothy."

"Very perceptive." Claire was unable to keep the sarcastic edge out of her tone.

"So you're my new assistant."

The smooth southern drawl dripped like honey down Claire's spine and pooled warmly between her legs. Claire clamped her thighs together in a futile effort to hide his effect on her.

She looked at Derek Jacob, keeping her eyes off his face and away from those captivating eyes. The problem with that tactic was it meant she had to look at the rest of him. His hard, toned muscles were no less mouthwatering, no less mesmerizing.

Her mouth went dry as she watched the bulge in his gray slacks grow impossibly larger. Quickly she looked away, feeling her panties dampen in response.

The bastard sniffed the air again and her eyes shot back to his face. The edges of his lips kicked up in a satisfied smile, and Claire knew exactly what she was dealing with. A werewolf.

Her eyes narrowed to dangerous slits as his gaze traveled downward, stopping and staying on her breasts. Despite her annoyance with the jerk, she felt her breasts tighten. Her nipples hardened, straining against the flimsy silk blouse.

The phone rang just then, jarring her out of her growing anger.

"Chief Jacob's office. How may I help you?"

Claire saw Derek snicker as her tone changed, becoming pleasant, almost cheerful. It was a farce. One she pulled off with ease as she listened to a breathless woman asking if the chief was in.

"Yes. May I ask who's calling?" Claire had to stop herself from rolling her eyes. With the Chief back, she was probably going to get a lot of these calls. No doubt, the man had a whole harem of women who loved hard-bodied men in uniform.

"Never mind." The line went dead before Claire could respond.

"Well, Assistant Dorothy." His joking use of her title had Claire's teeth grinding. "You ready to catch me up?"

"Of course, Chief Jacob." Claire managed not to snarl. Just barely, but she managed. Gathering his schedule, the files he needed to review, and papers needing his signature, she turned.

"After you." Derek gestured to the open door of his office.

Lucky girl. That man is sizzling.

Kate's hungry voice echoed through Claire's mind. Claire saw the ghost materialize for just a moment before fading back into the air. The apparition's habit of popping in and out always irritated Claire.

"Something wrong?" For the first time the chief sounded serious, almost alarmed as he looked around the room.

Yeah, he has too many clothes on.

"No."

Tell him to get naked.

"Nothing." Claire's words were sharper than necessary. This time though her annoyance was not directed at the chief.

Trying to ignore Kate, she focused on Derek. That was a mistake. Trapped in the small office with him not more than a foot away had a disastrous effect on her equilibrium. As sexy as he was at a distance, he was outright gorgeous close up.

The small scars on his forehead and chin, the bump from a break on his nose, the laugh lines around his mouth, every little flaw added to his appeal. Derek Keller was the living personification of the sexy bad-boy.

A walking wet dream, that's for damn sure.

Women don't have wet dreams, Claire mentally retorted, exasperated with the ghost.

The hell they can't.

I never had one.

I'm having one right now.

You don't have a body!

That's not stopping me.

"You alright?"

Claire took a deep breath, trying to clear her head. It didn't help. She stepped back, trying to put some distance between them.

It was a futile effort, one the chief took notice of with a raised eyebrow. His infernal smug smile reappeared. Arrogant wolf, he was probably used to women responding this way to him.

"Are you sure you're alright?"

"I'm fine," Claire muttered.

"A little hot maybe?" The humor in his tone was evident. "You look a little flushed?"

"No."

"Hmm." He considered her for a moment. "You're breathing a little fast. You got asthma?"

"I said I was fine."

"No need to be snippy." Derek shrugged.

"Snippy?"

"I was just being polite."

Polite was not the word for what the man was being, but Claire held her opinion back behind clenched teeth.

"Are you ready to work?"

"By all means." Derek nodded to a chair as he moved around his desk. "Have a seat and let's get to it."

* * * *

Derek was having trouble concentrating on what Dorothy was saying as she went over his schedule for the week. Unable to take his eyes off her, he completely ignored the slips of missed phone calls, reports, and whatever else as she went through the stacks of paper she had piled on his desk.

None of that mattered. All that mattered right now was Dorothy and the amazing effect she was having on him. Never before had he been so instantly, so totally aroused by a woman.

Short, curvy with wavy honey hair and swirling hazel eyes, she was perfect. After years of waiting, here was finally the woman who evoked all his primal instincts. His mate, the perfect woman for him, was finally within his reach.

When he had walked into the office and seen her on her knees, waving that plump ass in the air while she crawled under her desk, he had been tempted to walk right up behind her, slide that prim skirt up to her waist and give her the ride of a lifetime. Once they knew each other better, he would not restrain those kinds of urges.

Once he had her completely under his thrall, she would be his to use whenever, however, he wanted. His cock pulsed with the idea, quickly conjuring up all sorts of images.

After a minute, he realized she was not speaking anymore, but looking at him expectantly. Shaking his head, he tried to clear all the fantasies running through his mind.

"Pardon me?" He fought the urge to drag her across the desk, shove her prim black skirt out of the way, rip off her panties and bury his face between her soft thighs. He would make a feast of her.

"Are you paying attention to me?"

"Of course, sweetheart. You're the sole focus of my attention."

"I'm not your sweetheart." Dorothy leveled a finger at him. "And keep your eyes right here," she pointed to her flashing ones, "and off my chest."

"I'm still concerned about your breathing, doll." Derek intentionally dropped his eyes back to her straining nipples. "You still appear a little short of breath."

"The only thing I'm short of is patience."

"There's no need to get upset. I'm just worried about your condition." Derek lowered his voice to a husky drawl, knowing its effect on her. "Perhaps there is something I can do to help you ... relax."

Her eyes were darkening to chocolate and he knew he shouldn't tease her, but he couldn't help himself. The guys had already made it clear she was a paperwork Nazi, a stickler for rules and procedure. A real tight ass.

His cock jerked at that. He liked tight asses. Especially nice plush ones designed to cushion a man while he...

"Chief Jacob!" Her fist hit the desk with a small thump.

"Sorry, sweetheart," he said unapologetically.

"I am not your sweetheart and I demand you behave in a professional manner!"

"Professional?" Derek blinked in innocent confusion. "Have I been anything but?"

"No." Dorothy's control was obviously slipping.

"No? What have I done that's unprofessional?"

"I don't know." She mocked his blank expression. "Perhaps it's the fact you are lewdly staring at my breasts. I'd say that was crass and completely inappropriate!"

"Oh, I see. Like when you looked me over in the doorway and were trying to decide whether you could handle the ride I'd give you?"

At his words, her ears went hot. He could swear he saw smoke come out her cute little nose as it flared. The pencil in Dorothy's hand snapped. Derek's smile widened.

"I'd rather ride a porcupine naked."

Derek broke out in full laughter. As much fire as she was showing now, he could imagine what kind of wildcat she would be in bed. Hell, he would probably have to tie her down to the bed just to keep from being bucked off when he fucked her.

"A porcupine, huh?" Derek rubbed his chin. "Hell, darling if you enjoy the feel of bristles between your thighs, I'll grow out my beard for you."

"How very professional of you. Tell me Chief, have you ever heard of sexual harassment?"

"It's not harassment if the woman enjoys the attention."

"Of all the arrogant, backward ass, chauvinistic things to say! You're a cop, for God sakes." She jumped out of her chair and leveled an accusing finger at him. "You should know better!"

Without a backward glance, she stormed out of the office. That went well, Derek snorted to himself as he stood. He should probably apologize and try to make it sound sincere.

Dorothy was doing a good job of ignoring him as she slammed her desk drawers. Before Derek could think of something to say, the bell over the lobby door chimed. Derek looked up and groaned. He did not need this and he was going to have to handle it quickly.

* * * *

Claire looked up at the blonde woman entering the station. She was dressed to be noticed. The short-sleeved sundress flattered her tall, lean frame and displayed her large, perfect breasts. With her big blue eyes and lip-gloss, she looked like a Barbie doll.

"Derek! You're home!"

Derek had moved quickly to intercept his beautiful admirer as the blonde launched herself into his arms. That figured. The bastard probably had lots of centerfold wannabes stored somewhere.

I want to join.

Shut up, Kate.

Oh, I should have said you want to join.

Go away.

Disgusted and, for some horrifying reason, jealous, Claire turned away as the woman planted a deep kiss on the chief's mouth. She tried to ignore the spectacle they were making as she gathered the mail.

It was lunchtime, and after she stopped by the post office, she had a half hour free from this insanity. The only thing stopping her was the chief and his woman. She was not about to go into the lobby until they left. Hopefully, they would do that soon.

Fiddling with a pen, she waited, looking for something to do. She saw the scrap of paper she had dislodged from the back of the desk drawer.

She studied the image of a young girl that looked frighteningly familiar. Long, light brown hair, big hazel eyes, about sixteen. The girl could have been a twin for the other twenty-six girls whose pictures were plastered on Claire's wall. Finding those girls' murderer was the whole reason she was in this small southern town.

With no evidence, the cases would never be picked up by law enforcement. All Claire had was her own visions and that really wasn't much, but it was enough to convince the brains at Masters of Cerberus to send her here.

Or so they claimed. They'd probably known Agakiar was getting out and had shipped her here to get her out of the way. Agakiar was smooth and slick, and for some unexplainable reason, completely focused on her.

There was no telling what it was that had drawn the demon's attention to her. He'd said it was because of the purity and the strength of her spirit, but Claire knew she was far from pure and weaker than a rotted tree limb in a hurricane, just waiting for the wind to snap her free.

Never trust a demon. They never spoke the truth. Whatever attracted Agakiar to her was his secret to keep. The only thing Claire knew was that he enjoyed the suffering of humans, enjoyed torturing and tormenting them before he took their last breath.

Agakiar was not alone. Lucifer had many legions in his army, and, thanks to Agakiar's brand, she had eyes that could now see into their darkest desires. She couldn't stop them, couldn't eliminate the threat they presented. All she could hope for was to save their victim.

Claire looked back down at the scrap of paper. There was nothing much on it, just a name, the small picture and a general description.

Kathleen Harper, welcome to my case.

* * * *

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