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Howl For It by Shelly Laurenston
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Sep 30, 12

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Shelly Laurenston - Wolf With a Bone
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Teduncho Expert:

Back Cover Copy:

HOWL FOR IT
“Like a Wolf With a Bone”

Quiet little Darla Lewis couldn’t be happier when the most-feared member of the South’s rowdiest pack kidnaps her. A girl gets real tired of being overprotected by her own shifter family, and there’s nothing like an oh-so-big bad wolf to start a pack feud, unleash her instincts—and have her surrender however and whenever she wants…



EXCERPT: (Unedited/Unproofed)

HOWL FOR IT
“Like a Wolf With a Bone”
From Brava
Available August 28, 2012!



Eggie stared down at the She-wolf until her pretty brown eyes opened, blinking wide at the sight of him.

“Hungry?” he asked.

“Hungry? Oh. For food.” Yawning, she sat up and stretched. That’s when Eggie realized she’d put on one of his T-shirts...and not much else.

“You know,” she said, her smile bright, “I am hungry. Starving.”

“Good.” He had enough food. Hell, he had enough food for a small army.

He reached for Darla, slipping his arms under her legs and behind her back.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Picking you up.”

“I can walk, Egbert Ray.”

“You’re still recovering.”

“Says who?”

He lifted her up, held her tight in his arms. “I do.”

She stared at him for a bit until she raised her hand and pressed her forefinger against his forehead. “You know, you’ve got this thing so dang low, it practically touches your nose.”

“I’m trying to intimidate you into doing what I want...this isn’t helpin’.”

She giggled, a sound he didn’t often hear that close to him and definitely not when he was the one causing it.

In fact, people didn’t giggle around Eggie. Or laugh. Or breathe too hard. Or make any sudden moves that might be construed as a threat. Nope. Not around Eggie.

But Darla did.

“Well,” she said, her finger stroking down to his nose, “if you’re gonna insist on carrying me, you better get movin’. I’m hungry!”

“All right. All right. No need to snarl at me like a Doberman.”

Eggie carried Darla down the stairs and cut through the living room to get to the dining room.

“Oh!” Darla squeaked, her hand covering her mouth. “Um...”

Eggie stopped. “What’s wrong?”

“Uh...nothing.” She cleared her throat. “I see you got furniture while I was asleep.”

“I couldn’t have you sittin’ on a barrel. Just seemed wrong for a lady. Momma said you wouldn’t care, but I asked one of my daddy’s sisters to send over some furniture from her mate’s store.”

“Ahhh. Yes. That explains it.”

Eggie looked at the big couch with the giant yellow and green flower pattern on it. “This doesn’t really say Egbert Ray Smith, does it?”

She pressed her lips into a thin line, shook her head. He had a feeling she wasn’t disapproving as much as trying not to laugh at him.

“Not really,” she finally managed to answer. “I’d probably go with more solid colors for you. Darker reds and browns. Maybe a dark blue. But you know what,” she added. “Ain’t nothin’ here we can’t discretely cover up.”

“It’s not like I’m ever here. Not sure it matters.”

“Trust me. It matters. Think about it, on those rare times you come home after months and months away...you walk through the door, throw on the light...and that couch is the first thing you see.”

Eggie nodded. “You know...my grandmomma made me a couple of quilts few years back. They’re in the upstairs closet.”

“Perfect. Because it won’t seem strange to your aunt that you’d put your Momma’s quilt on your couch. See? You can cover up dang near anything and never have to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

“Why would I worry about my aunt’s feelings? Actually...why would you? You don’t even know her.”

“Don’t have to know her. She was kind enough to rush furniture over here to her nephew and -- ”

“She charged me double on the shipping for the urgent delivery and no family discount on the furniture.”

“Oh, really?” Darla briefly pursed her lips. “Well, if you’re gonna pay full price with your own kin, you’re gettin’ what you want. We’ll take this crap back tomorrow and exchange it.” She folded her arms across her chest, fingers tapping against her bicep. He had a feelin’ if she were standing, she’d be tapping her foot right now.

“You don’t have to be upset, Darla Mae.”

“Who said I’m upset? Just ’cause family’s not treatin’ family right. It’s not like I haven’t gone through that or anything,” she finished on a mutter. She looked up at him. “I’m still hungry, Egbert Ray.”

“Okay, okay. No need to snarl.”

Although Eggie did kind of like when she did.

*****

Unlike that horrid furniture, the food was good. Of course, that food had been made by Eggie’s mother, Pauline Jessop of the Jessop Pack out of Alaska, which explained the She-wolf’s size. Jessop wolves were known for their size and speed, only outsized by Arctic wolves who descended from Vikings. The Jessops also owned the lumber empire Jessop Mountain Timber, which meant Pauline Ann came from real money...and had probably trained several years as a lumberjack. It was required for all the Jessop Pack, male or female.

Sounded like a lot of work to Darla. She’d stick with managing bread dough, thank you very much.

Darla pushed the remainder of the macaroni and cheese toward Eggie.

“What?” he asked.

“You’ve been eyeing it. You might as well finish it.”

“Have you had enough?”

“Eggie, I’ve had enough if I was three people. So go on.” But when he didn’t move fast enough for her, Darla helped him out by putting one of the steaks on his plate and followed that up with several big spoonfuls of the mac and cheese.

He studied his plate for several seconds before he looked at her. “You tryin’ to tell me something?”

“Yes. Now eat.”

While the wolf ate, Darla picked up her glass of sweet tea and looked around his kitchen. She had a feeling his mother had a lot to do with this room. It was nicely equipped and roomy. Maybe she used it when she needed extra space.

“So, Egbert Ray...what do you do in the Marines?”

He stopped eating, his fork hovering by his mouth. His eyes focused on her and narrowed a little bit. “Why are you asking?”

“Because I’m a spy.”

He lowered his fork. “What?”

“Oh, yeah. I’m just sittin’ here pumping you for information. That’s what I do for the, um, Viet Cong.”

His fork hit the plate. “Do not joke about that, Darla Mae.”

“Oh, come on,” she scoffed. “Who’d believe that I would be helping the Viet Cong?”

“Everybody. They’re all paranoid right now, so I wouldn’t joke about that if I were you.”

“Nice Southern gals like me don’t spy.”

“Then why did you say it?”

“Because I’m trying to get you to talk. It’s called a conversation, Egbert Ray.”

“I ain’t chatty.”

“Fine.” Darla pushed back her chair and picked up her plate and fork. She carried them to the sink and turned on the faucet. As she began to search for soap and a sponge, she realized that Eggie stood next to her, carefully placing his own dish and fork in the sink.

“I’ve never been to Vietnam,” he told her, his gaze out the window. “Never had a tour there.”

Nearly everyone that Darla knew who’d been in the military in the last ten years had spent some time in that war-torn country.

“But you’ve been somewhere, right?” She could tell by the scars, the way his body always seemed coiled and ready to spring into action at the slightest provocation. This was not a man untouched by battle.

Eggie scratched his forehead before facing her. “I’m in what they just started calling the Unit.”

“Oh!” She nodded. “Uh-huh.”

“You don’t know what that is, do you?”

“Do I need to?” When he rolled his eyes, she quickly added, “Look, I don’t believe in all this war and fightin’. As a matter of fact...I’m a pacifist.”

Eggie stared at her. “How can you be a predator and a pacifist?”

“It’s possible.”

“Do you still hunt down your own meat?”

“I’m a pacifist, Eggie Ray. I didn’t say I was a vegetarian.”

“A vege-what?”

“Forget it.” She motioned him away from the sink. “Go on and get the rest of the bowls and things. I’ll do the dishes.”

“You should be resting.”

“Do not annoy me, Eggie Ray.”

“Thought you were a pacifist -- ow! What was that for?” he demanded while rubbing his ankle.

“Gettin’ on my nerves. Now do as I tell ya and don’t even think about arguing with me.”

He lowered his leg. “You sure are a pushy pacifist.”

Darla grinned. “Because I’m also a feminist.”

Eggie’s head tipped to the side, reminding her a little of a dog hearing a weird noise. “Why?”

“What do you mean why? Do you actually believe that women are treated fairly in this society?”

“No. But you’re a She-wolf.”

“So?”

“So no wolf is ever going to tell you that you can’t do something unless he really hopes to get his throat torn out.”

And what really annoyed her was that he was right, but that wasn’t the point. “That’s true, but I’m thinking about all women.”

“But you’re a She-wolf.”

“I know what I am, Eggie.”

“Then I don’t see the point.”

“You know what?” she snapped. “We’re done talking about this.”

“You were the one who said you wanted a conversation.”

“Well I changed my mind!”

“No need to yell, Darla Mae. I’m standing right here.”

She let out a heavy sigh and again faced the sink. “Get the rest of the dishes,” she ordered.

“Sorry,” he muttered. “Didn’t mean to make you mad.”

Startled, Darla looked at Eggie. “I’m not mad.”

“You’re not?”

“Lord, no, Eggie. Annoyed? A bit. But not mad. When I’m mad...you can really tell.”

“Is it worse than...this?”

“This?” Darla laughed and patted Eggie on the arm. “This is nothing.”

His brow lowered but he didn’t look angry this time. Just confused. “Really?”

“Egbert Ray,” she laughed, again focusing on the dishes, “you are just the cutest thing!”

His confused frown worsened. “Really?”
Copyright © Shelly Laurenston 2012


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