Destiny stared in dismay at the box in the middle of her kitchen table. Her stomach lurched, a ball of anxiety settling in the very middle of it. Gold gilt covered the small box, giving it an exotic look. An artfully tied crimson bow surrounded by curls of white lace sat cheerfully atop it, adding to the air of decadent luxury.
She knew who'd put it there, and she knew why. Jack. The Alpha of the Northern Rockies werewolf pack. The man who made her knees feel weak whenever she glimpsed him walking down the main street, or lounging at a local coffee shop. The man who'd made it plain that he intended to be her mate. The absolute last man on the face of the planet that she intended to get serious about.
She had a boyfriend, one carefully picked with the future in mind. A trial attorney she'd met when she attended a convention in Calgary, Quentin Karnes had everything she wanted in a mate. On the fast track to a partnership in his prestigious law firm, he was cultured, rich, and moved in the highest social circles. Their children would grow up attending private schools, vacationing at the most prestigious resorts, dressing in the latest fashions. They'd want for nothing.
She'd worked hard to carve out a niche for herself in Riverton. Her accounting office catered to farmers and small businessmen, and she'd slowly managed to gain a reputation of being the person you wanted on your side when the government called to audit your tax returns.
She steeled herself and reached for the box, somehow hoping that wishing would make it go away. When she'd moved here two years ago, she'd made it clear to Jack and every other member of the pack that she didn't intend to join their little social group. She preferred to run alone. She hadn't grown up in a pack, and if she could, she'd ignore her inner wolf entirely. So what if the sight of a full moon awakened an overpowering urge for a steak with the blood oozing out the sides? A girl needed to curb her baser instincts and make plans for the future.
No point in putting this off. Her sensitive nose could smell Jack all over the damn thing. She caught the trailing lace between a thumb and forefinger and gently undid the bow, dropping the cheerful piece of ribbon on the table. Taking a deep breath, she plucked the lid off.
Her breath caught in her throat. An exquisitely detailed chocolate wolf nestled in a cushion of crushed white velvet. Every detail from the tip of its muzzle to the dominant curve of its tail was perfect. Jack had reproduced himself exactly. She knew if she turned the little wolf over, she'd find a jagged scar running along its left flank.
"I suppose I could always bite your head off." Destiny felt a wry smile tug the sides of her mouth. Although she didn't like the idea, being the Alpha meant Jack had complete authority over all the werewolves in the Northern Rockies. Even those that didn't want to accept him. The fact he'd chosen not to force her to take him for her mate didn't mean he'd agreed to let her leave the pack. He'd said he'd give her some time to settle in. She'd hoped he'd forgotten about her and settled down with some other female. One who liked her inner beast.
She sighed and looked at the dark chocolate confection. The full moon was less than a week away. She'd been ignoring her darker side for a long time now, and she knew she wouldn't be able to avoid going into heat this month. What were the chances Jack's timing was coincidental?
Destiny jumped, startled by the sound of a loud knock on her front door. Quentin must have gotten out of court early. She hadn't expected him to show up for at least another four hours. Sweeping the ribbon up off the table, she stuffed the box and ribbon into a drawer and slammed it shut.
"Come on in, the door's open." She hoped Quentin couldn't hear the guilt in her voice. Not that she had anything to feel guilty about. Damn Jack and his fancy little chocolate creatures! She smoothed her hands down her skirt and tried to look calm.
"I know, I was just being polite." Jack strode into the room, a crooked smile on his rugged face. "You're not usually this happy to see me."
Destiny's heart did a little flip-flop. Jack was taller than her five foot eleven. His dark hair was tied at the nape of his neck with a strip of leather, and his sapphire blue eyes alight with mischief. Thickly roped muscles stretched his tight shirt and rippled with every step he took. He looked every bit as yummy as the chocolate creations he sold in his trendy boutique.
"I thought you were my boyfriend." She looked pointedly behind him as if she expected Quentin to materialize any second. "I'm expecting him to drop in after court today."
Jack ignored her reference to Quentin and gave her a toothy grin. "I intend to be a lot more than a friend, and it's been a long time since anyone referred to me as a boy." He advanced, his eyes sparkling. "Glad to hear you finally think of me that way, though, because unless my nose is deceiving me, you're going to be begging for my attention shortly."
Destiny felt a surge of color flood her cheeks and she turned away so he couldn't see her face. It mortified her to know he could smell her eagerness. "You wish." Now that was lame!
He took her by the shoulders and turned her around to face him, his touch surprisingly gentle for such a large man. "No, I know. The full moon is on Saturday. You haven't slept with that wimpy boyfriend of yours, and you're not going to if you want him to live to see Monday. A human male can't begin to satisfy your needs. I wouldn't have to lift a paw; you'd tear him apart yourself. Your frustration level is about to escalate to hellish proportions." A devilishly wicked smile curved the corner of his mouth. "Fortunately, I can help you deal with that."
He slid his tongue across her lips, and she felt fiery darts of lust flash along every nerve. He cupped the back of her head in his hand, angling it so he could thoroughly plunder her lips.
Damn, this wasn't fair. Against her better judgment, she melted against him, letting him wrap his arm around to pull her close. She could feel the thick length of his cock pressing against her belly, and she fought the urge to reach down and explore.
When Jack finally lifted his head, he didn't say a word. He didn't have to. His blue eyes gleamed with triumph.
Destiny felt a surge of anger push its way through her lust. She'd worked too hard at organizing her life and her future to blow it all away on a one-night stand, no matter how sexy the man. Damn Jack. He had no part in her plans for the future. She intended to marry the man carefully chosen to give her a secure life in the comfort of a real family. Something she'd never had during her childhood.
With a twinge of regret, she squirmed out of Jack's arms and stepped back to put some distance between them. "I don't need you." She had a sneaking suspicion that might be a lie. "And I don't want you." She knew that was definitely one.
Jack just smiled, an annoying smirk that made her want to shift and attack him with teeth and claws. She had a feeling he knew that and did it on purpose. Werewolves tended to act more impulsively in wolf form, and the Alpha's influence would be stronger. "Kid yourself all you want, but that fancy-assed lawyer is not going to make you happy." His voice had a definite bite to it.
She lifted her chin defiantly and ordered her hormones to back off. She ignored his remarks about Quentin. "I need to get ready for my date tonight, so you'll have to see yourself out." She pivoted on her heel in what she hoped was a regal fashion and headed for the stairs. A cold shower might be a good idea about now. Or a run in the woods.