Shutting off the engine on his black Audi, Miles let out a loud breath. He looked at the building in front of him. He had no idea why he'd allowed Jaden to talk him into this. It wasn't going to work, no matter how accurate Dirk thought his online dating service was. There was no way in hell Miles would find his mate this way.
He got out of the car and then pushed the button on the remote on his keychain to lock it. To make Jaden happy, and to make her stop bugging the crap out of him, Miles had finally caved in and set up a date with the mortal woman who was supposedly his closest match. From her picture on the dating service's website, this Gail looked attractive enough, but he really had his doubts she'd end up being his mate. For one thing, she was mortal. Her lifespan was so much shorter than his. He was almost a thousand years old and was guaranteed to see another two thousand birthdays. And Miles knew, along with the rest of the werewolf population, there was no way to turn a mortal into one of their kind. He'd prefer his mate to be a werewolf so he wouldn't have to suffer through losing her too early.
Miles headed for the entrance to the restaurant-slash-bar where he'd chosen to meet up with his date. He snorted. He'd never thought he'd "date" anyone again. Ever since his relationship with Jaden's mother--who hadn't been his mate--had ended, he'd only sought out women who would be happy with a quick tumble in the sack and then moved on. He hadn't wanted anything else until Jaden had brought up the subject of him finding his mate. Deep down inside, he wanted what his daughter had with her mate, Leif.
He stepped inside the restaurant and went over to the hostess who smiled as he approached. "I have a reservation for two," Miles said, and then gave her his name.
She took him to a table in the center of the room and placed two menus on its surface before she left. As Miles snagged one and pulled it in front of him, he hoped his date wouldn't keep him waiting long. A quick look at his watch told him he was a few minutes early.
A waiter appeared and asked if Miles would like to order a drink. Miles decided he might as well and asked for a beer. A minute or so later, the waiter came back with his drink before leaving Miles alone once again.
More people came into the restaurant, but none of them was his date. Having an excellent view of the entrance from where he sat, Miles looked in that direction each time the door opened. And each time he didn't see the mortal who was to meet up with him.
Fifteen minutes went by and then a half hour. Miles was already on his second beer when he reached the conclusion that he'd more than likely been stood up. Just to make sure, he took out his smart phone and checked the email account he'd set up just for communicating with his would-be "dates." Sure enough, there was an email from Gail sent forty-five minutes earlier, saying she had to cancel and asking if they could arrange to meet another time.
Miles mentally crossed her off the list, not that there were any others on it besides Gail. This also gave him another reason why the online dating service wasn't for him. He didn't like being stood up by a woman he hadn't even met and had only communicated with through the Internet.
With a sigh full of disgust, Miles lifted his bottle of beer to his lips and took a swallow. He'd finish this then go home. There was no point hanging around. Maybe he'd even order something from the restaurant for take-out.
He'd just looked down at the menu in front of him to see what he'd like when a new scent barreled into him like a speeding train. His head snapped up, and his gaze focused on the entrance. His grip on the bottle he held tightened as his cock went instantly rock hard, his mating urge slamming into him and riding his ass hard. Miles had to hold back a growl that threatened to punch out of him as he spotted a group of four women who'd just come into the restaurant. One of them was his would-be mate. He separated her scent from all the others in the large open space and dragged it in deep, memorizing it.
As the hostess led the small group farther into the room, Miles kept his gaze glued to them. They came closer to his table. It was then he was able to zero in on which woman was meant to be his. He focused solely on her. The urge to go to her and drag her into his arms was hard to resist.
Instead, he settled for taking in everything about her. Shoulder-length light brown hair shined in the overhead lighting. Miles guessed her to be around five-foot-seven, tall for a mortal woman. Her dark brown eyes flashed as she laughed at something one of the other females said. He ran his gaze down her from her beautiful face to a slim, curvy body and long, toned legs showcased in a pair of snug-fitting black jeans.
Miles's cock jerked as he drew in another lungful of her scent as she walked past his table. He continued to follow her with his gaze, pleased to see the group snaked around tables and ended up sitting at a booth straight across from where he sat. He had an excellent view of his would-be mate as she slipped onto the bench seating.
He drained the last bit of his beer then set the bottle on the table. A short while later, his waiter approached him. This time Miles ordered something off the menu, not for take-out, and another beer. He'd be staying right where he was until the woman who was meant for him showed signs of leaving the restaurant. Drawn to the female who was meant to be his, the mating urge making it hard to focus on anything but her, he wouldn't be going home until he'd taken steps to have them on the road to becoming mates.
"Here's to the birthday girl," Kareena said as she lifted her glass of wine toward her friend, Alice. "And to Lacy, who finally woke up, realized how much of an asshole her boyfriend was, and dumped his ass." Kareena, Alice, Lacy, and their other friend, Natalie, took sips of their drinks.
"I guess that is something to celebrate besides me being one year older," Alice said. She looked at Lacy. "Kareena is right, though. Evan was an asshole, and you can do so much better."
Lacy sighed. "I know, I know. All I can say is the sex had been pretty damn good, and I stupidly turned a blind eye to Evan's bad points because of it."
"At least you came to your senses before you wasted years with him," Natalie said. "He was the type of guy who would keep you around until he'd found something better."
Kareena nodded. "Yeah, count yourself lucky. From firsthand experience, it's not fun having to go through that."
Up until last year, Kareena had been engaged for seven damn long years. Her ex had asked her to marry him when she'd been twenty-four. They'd been together for a year at that point. She'd been so happy and had agreed when Victor suggested a long engagement. Kareena had figured it would give her plenty of time to plan the wedding of her dreams. She'd never expected it to be quite so long. After a while she'd wondered if Victor actually really wanted to get married. She'd put some pressure on him to settle on a date. That had blown up in her face when he'd suddenly decided he didn't want to be with her anymore. Now at thirty-two, Kareena figured Victor had taken some of the best years of her life. Ones she'd never get back.
Lacy, who sat next to Kareena, patted Kareena's hand. "Your ex was an asshole too. And he has no idea what he gave up, but it's his loss."
"Thanks, Lacy," Kareena said. "Now no more negative thoughts. Let's get this celebration going."
With their food and second round of drinks served, Kareena relaxed and set out to enjoy herself. She and her girlfriends didn't get together like this as often as they used to. With all of them busy in their jobs, it was hard to find time when they all could meet up without someone's schedule coming into conflict. Being an ER nurse, Kareena's was the hardest one to work around.
On her fourth glass of wine and feeling a bit on the drunk side, Kareena figured one more drink would be her limit. She'd take a cab home, so it wasn't as if she had to drive. After a week of twelve-hour shifts at the hospital, she needed to let her hair down and unwind.
Natalie, who sat on the opposite bench and on the outside like Kareena, cleared her throat. "Ah, Kareena, I think you've caught the notice of the hottie sitting alone a couple of tables away."
"What?" she asked as she went to turn her head to look. Natalie stopped her before she could even get a glimpse.
"Don't look," her friend said. "At least don't be blatant about it. Don't make it appear as if you've noticed him. Make him work for it."
Kareena rolled her eyes. Natalie was the type of woman who liked to make a man practically jump through hoops before she agreed to go out with him. Kareena wasn't like that, but to make her friend happy, she did a slow sweep of the room, her gaze lingering for a few seconds longer on the table Natalie had indicated before finishing up with the rest.
She met her friend's gaze. "Holy shit. You weren't kidding when you called him a hottie. He's freaking gorgeous."
Natalie smiled. "I told you. And he's stared at you since we sat down."
Her other friends made sounds of appreciation when they too looked at the man. He wasn't hard to miss with his blond hair so light it almost appeared white and his cover model face. And from what Kareena had seen of his upper body, the guy was really muscular, his wide shoulders and chest filling out the dark blue button-down shirt he wore to perfection.
"Who is to say he's looking at me?" Kareena asked. "He could be watching any of you as well."
Alice shook her head. "Nope, his gaze is right on you." She moaned. "Oh god, he just smiled, which makes him even better looking."
Kareena had to look again to see if Alice was right or not about him being only focused on her. She turned her head in his direction then had to bite back a groan. He did indeed seem to stare at only her. Their gazes met, and her body responded with arousal. Her pussy clenched, and her nipples grew taut when she thought she saw hunger flash in his eyes even from the distance between him. Her blood heated, and she felt her face grow flush. She had a hard time tearing her gaze off him.
"I think you should go pick him up," Lacy said.
Kareena stared at her friend as if she'd lost her mind. Kareena was drunk but not that drunk. "No," she said firmly. "I'd have to have a hell of a lot more than this to drink to even consider it."
Natalie pushed her drink over to Kareena. "Here, have mine. Pound it back, then go over to his table."
"Go on," Alice added.
"You can't let him get away," Lacy said, making it so all her friends had ganged up on her.
She couldn't believe she even considered doing it. Kareena reached for the drink Natalie had given her and drank it down in a few swallows. She then grimaced at the taste. Her friend's drink had been vodka mixed with cranberry juice. Kareena hated cranberries, but the vodka would hit her harder than the wine.
"All right, here I go," she said as she slid off the bench and stood.
Kareena found she wasn't very steady on her feet as she slowly headed in the hunk's direction. She was thankful she hadn't worn high heels. She would have already ended up on her ass if she had. And wouldn't that made a great first impression?
Her heart beat faster as she neared his table. You can do this, she told herself as a pep talk. But as his gaze latched on to her and didn't waver, Kareena lost her nerve. She quickly changed direction and walked as fast as she could in her drunken state to the women's washroom.
Once she was closed inside, she groaned as she silently called herself all kinds of vile names. While she was there, she used the toilet. Kareena was sure her friends were all shaking their heads at her. She hadn't always been like this. Before her ex, she'd been more outgoing with the opposite sex. But since her breakup, she'd found she couldn't get back into her old groove. Even though it had been a year, Kareena hadn't been out on a single date. With her busy work schedule, and trying to get over being dumped by her fiance, she hadn't made a point of getting back into the dating world. And being over thirty, she didn't think that would be an easy task, anyway.
She washed her hands and took some deep, calming breaths. She'd march back out and walk straight to the guy's table. She'd introduce herself, and then ask him to take her back to his place and screw her brains out. No. Kareena wouldn't say that. Maybe he'd be more interested in sneaking her into the men's room and taking her against the washroom stall door. She shook her head, which only made the room spin a bit. Where the hell had that idea come from? The men's room? Ah, gross. She had to be drunker than she thought. Or horny enough to do the hunk anywhere. It had been a year since she'd last done the horizontal mambo, after all.
Kareena left the washroom and headed once more in the direction of the table where, thank god, the hottie still sat. His gaze latched on to her, and it felt as if he physically touched her breasts when it lingered there. She forgot to breathe as her pussy grew wet, an ache building deep inside it.
In her inattention, she stumbled into a chair, which made a screech as the legs dragged across the hardwood floor. Embarrassed by her klutziness, Kareena lost her nerve again and made a beeline for the table where her friends sat. She couldn't even look over at the hunk to see what his reaction was.
Sliding onto the bench seat, she was grateful to see a full glass of wine on the table in her spot. Kareena picked it up and took a big sip. She looked at all her friends and found them giving her disappointed looks.
Kareena shrugged. "All right, I'm chicken shit and couldn't do it."
"You need to get out of the slump you're in," Alice said.
"I will. It just won't be with him unless he comes over to talk to me."
"And if he doesn't?"
"Then it wasn't meant to be."
There was still disapproval on her friends' faces, but they didn't say anything else. Kareena finished her wine, knowing full well she'd gone over her limit and would probably come to regret it in the morning. Right now, she just felt way too good to care.
Once they'd taken care of the bill, all four of them slipped off the seats, then headed for the restaurant's entrance. Kareena was definitely not very steady on her feet, but she managed to keep in a straight line.
It didn't remain that way when she reached the doors. She stepped back so Lacy could open them, and Kareena felt her sense of balance go all out of whack. She would have fallen, but a set of strong arms wrapped around her waist from behind and pulled her against a hard, male body. She turned her head to look up at who held her and saw it was the hunk. Her mouth suddenly went dry, especially when she felt the unmistakable ridge of his erection pressing into the small of her back. Arousal tore through her, making her knees feel even weaker.
He smiled. "I've got you."
"Hi," she said, the one word coming out a bit slurred.
"Let me help you outside."
Kareena didn't say a word as he shifted her to his side and tucked her under his arm. He was tall--at least six-foot-three. She liked tall men since she was no munchkin. The heat from his body seemed to envelope her as she put her arm around his waist to anchor herself. The scent of his cologne hit her nose, and she dragged in a lungful of it, liking the smell.
Outside, her friends gave her encouraging smiles and said their good-byes, leaving Kareena alone with the hottie. She was sure she'd get phone calls from all of them tomorrow.
She looked at the hunk and found him intently watching her. Her pussy clenching with need, Kareena said the first thing that came to her mind. "I'm Kareena. Why don't you take me back to your place?" Of course all her words kind of slurred together, but the smile he flashed her said he didn't seem to mind.
"I'm Miles," he said in his deep voice. "Are you sure you're in any condition for that?"
"I'll admit I'm a bit drunk, but I'm good."
"How about I drive you home instead?"
"Okay. You can spend the night with me."
He chuckled and walked her over to the parking lot and a fancy black Audi. With a push of a button, he had the car unlocked. Once he had the passenger door open, he helped her onto the leather seat and waited until she'd buckled her seat belt before he closed her inside. In a matter of seconds, he was behind the wheel and starting the engine.
Kareena settled deeper into the seat as Miles backed up, and then drove out of the parking lot. Her eyes grew heavy when he merged with the traffic. Unable to keep them open any longer, she fell into a deep sleep.